Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

What a waste of (web) space.

I’ve been looking for a domain name this evening as I look to develop my own site. I’m clearly very late to the party or the world is full of more people called Robert Mills than I first imagined.

All the obvious domain names are taken. Now I don’t mind too much because the law states that if you snooze you lose. I snoozed alright. But what irks me are people who sit on domain names and do nothing with them. Look at for example:

Robert MillsWhat a pile of crap!

But this isn’t the only example of wasting web space that I came across this weekend. I was trying to find some information about Starbucks and branding so naturally I started with the Starbucks website. Now I’m talking about the UK site not the .com one. Check this out:

starbucks homepage

What a pile of crap!

I expected more from Starbucks. Perhaps they don’t see their online presence as being integral to their brand/marketing strategy. Shame.

Anyway, I’m sure there are loads more examples but I wanted to share those two with you. Grumble over.


Creative Processes

Our lives are dominated and controlled by processes. Registering on a website, signing in and out of websites, filling out forms for endless life laundry tasks, if we stop to consider all the formulaic behaviour we have to endure then it is clear how often we find ourselves moving through a process of some sort.

Finding structure in the chaos.

As a Project Manager I have a daily process or work method that allows me to do my job effectively. As a writer I have a less defined method when I settle down to write something, as creativity can’t be scheduled or predicted, but I often goes through stages of  brainstorming on post it notes, typing more detailed outlines, then writing draft one, two, three and so on. My writing method also includes blood, sweat, tears and an endless supply of coffee. Those last few are guaranteed.

The process of others.

It is with great interest then that I learn about how others work and it fascinates me how a designer, writer, director or other creative soul turns the very early idea into the final polished website/article/film.

I’ve recently been reading The Art of Wall-E by Tim Hauser and Andrew Stanton, a stunning book that chronicles the production of the film Wall-E from conception to release. Here are some pics from the book:




It makes for an insightful read into how a film, for the most part without dialogue, was put together, discussing visual storytelling techniques and all other strands that are involved in the process.

Illustrating the process.

On his website, illustrator Quentin Blake highlights his creative process by showing his rough sketches through to the polished pages. He also has a slideshow of his workspace and tools, both integral to any creative process. For those who aren’t familiar with his work, he illustrated the Roald Dahl books. An example is below and I urge you to check out his website where you can also see videos of him in action.


Start to finish (and everything in between).

Thinking back to the web, every design project goes through a creative process and it’s important for peers, prospective clients and for your own record, that these projects are well documented from start to finish. A portfolio is fine for showcasing the visuals but for a real insight into the effort, concepts, ideas and final design there is nothing better than a case study.

Case Studies

Some people loathe them, but presented in an aesthetically pleasing way with well written copy, case studies can and should be a key component of any website for people involved in creating and designing.

One of my favourite websites for how they present their own work is Huge:

Scholastic Case Study - HUGE (20091106)I’m also a big fan of Squared Eye and their case studies, leading the reader through the project step by step and making it clear what services they contributed, the challenges they faced and most importantly, the end result.

Family Life Network - a case study of Squared Eye, the web company with a monstrous appetite for details! (20091106)

Case studies are an opportunity for you to tell your design story and they should be written accordingly. Who are the characters involved in the project, what was the beginning (the brief), the middle (the creative process) and the end (the finished product).

As with all captivating narratives, challenges should be included along with how they were overcome (if they were) and every step of the project should be included.

And finally …

Check out the methods other agencies and people adopt. They won’t necessarily fit your own work ethic or clients but we can learn from others and improve our own creative processes. Just remember to document it and share it with others.

Our World. Our Design Inspiration.

Inspired by…

This week I was inspired by two posts. One by Huw David Design where Huw and his team take a photo of  ‘my favourite …’ each week.They post a photo and discuss their favourite anything, could be a tv show, a sign they have seen, some artwork and so on.

The second was a blog post by Ryan Carson that discusses how deep thinking time is needed in a world where we are constantly zapped by the media, social networking tools, and so much more.

The point?

What both these posts emphasise together is that we live in such a fast paced communication heavy world where we always seem to be in contact with someone or something, yet we rarely have time to stop and take time to absorb the world around us. A world that can be extremely inspirational.

I recently became the proud owner of two rascal dogs and even through them I have discovered or rediscovered a whole new world on my doorstep, that includes beaches, forests, and dinosaur fossils.

So I applied this to my house. I move around my house everyday not taking any notice of why we fell in love with it in the first place or why we like living there. Yet our house is full of the results of many design decisions and full of original features, so I set about rediscovering them, with my camera, and I want to share 5 of my favourites with you.

1. Tiles in our porch.

Our house is a 1919 mid terrace and thankfully it has retained some of its old features, including these tiles:


2. The stairs

When I painted the stairs I felt like an artist 🙂 The detail in the woodwork is intricate in parts and they make for a great welcome when we come home!


3. Archway

In between the aforementioned tiles and stairs we have this archway. Common in this type of house  but often boxed in or removed, thankfully ours was in tact.


4. Chimney Breast 1

The chimney breast in one of the spare bedrooms. Cleverly decorated by my multi talented girlfriend. Ok so they are transfers and not hand painted but there is no way I could have lined them all up as nicely as this:


5. Chimney Breast 2

One of the chimney breasts in the lounge had been boarded up. A hammer and clean up later and hey presto, a nice feature and as recently discovered, a hideaway for one of the dogs! (She went in there herself, I didn’t make her!)


To conclude …

We are often making personal design decisions, even people like me who is far from a designer! Those decisions are influenced by the media we consume, our culture and our environment. That’s why, as Huw David Design and Ryan Carson provide examples of, it is important to find time to take stock of the world around us and ensure we don’t become desensitised to our surroundings because we could be passing by some vital inspiration.