Kitten Lane

03
Dec

Paperleaf Pantry ~ handmade goodness

Monday, 03 December 2012. Tags

photo or invitation pouches
photo or invitation pouch
organic invitation
gift tags
hessian gift bag

Florals. Naturals. Rustic. Vintage. Leaves. Twine. Lace… mmmm crafty goodness.

Paperleaf Pantry is home to vintage and earth-inspired stationery, accessories and wedding items that are 100% handmade. I love the organic feel of each creation, which has left me feeling very inspired with my own projects.

Beautiful!

23
Nov

Twinkle E-course Illustration

Friday, 23 November 2012. Tags

This is a custom banner illustration that I designed recently for the TWINKLE children’s creativity e-course by Simply Hue, which is coming in Spring 2013.

This is going to be an amazing class for young children and their parents, along with hospitalised children, kids with disabilities, kids in foster homes or those facing other traumatic events, so I was more than a little excited to be working on this website with Vicki Dvorak.

I’m really enjoying the illustration design work at the moment, it’s a welcome break from coding websites!

21
Nov

Website Love ~ Free People

Wednesday, 21 November 2012. Tags

Free People clothing boutique feminine web design
I love the illustrations, fonts and soft colours of the Free People website, which reflect femininity and spirit.

The brand is aimed at the twenty-something year old woman; smart, creative, confident and comfortable in all aspects of her being, free and adventurous, sweet to tough to tomboy to romantic. A girl who can’t resist petting any dog that passes her by on the street.

Love!

17
Nov

Illustration ~ A boy and his dog

Saturday, 17 November 2012. Tags

A boy and his dog illustration

A boy and his dog make a glorious pair:
No better friendship is found anywhere,
For they talk and they walk and they run and they play,
And they have their deep secrets for many a day;
And that boy has a comrade who thinks and who feels,
Who walks down the road with a dog at his heels.

He may go where he will and his dog will be there,
May revel in mud and his dog will not care;
Faithful he’ll stay for the slightest command
And bark with delight at the touch of his hand;
Oh, he owns a treasure which nobody steals,
Who walks down the road with a dog at his heels.

No other can lure him away from his side;
He’s proof against riches and station and pride;
Fine dress does not charm him, and flattery’s breath
Is lost on the dog, for he’s faithful to death;
He sees the great soul which the body conceals–
Oh, it’s great to be young with a dog at your heels!

–Edgar Guest

One of the design exercise words for this week was “friendship”. This illustration was inspired by the unshakable bond we often have with our childhood pet.

12
Nov

Blog Design Tips + Q&A Session

Monday, 12 November 2012. Tags

Hello to my fellow Raining Umbrella students! As Vicki mentioned, I’ll be contributing to the blog design lesson and will be available to answer your questions afterwards. The tips below are add-ons to the interview with Rachel Follett from Lovely Clusters, so I recommend reading that article first ;)

Why is it important for artists/designers/photographers to have a blog?

In addition to it being a great place to showcase your work, having a blog adds a personal touch to your website. Your viewers get to know who you are and what inspires you.

Posting regularly to your blog is also great for search engine optimisation and getting yourself out there on the web! I won’t go into too much detail with SEO here (that would be a whole article in itself!), but you can read more on seo tips for your blog.

An aesthetically pleasing blog

You want your website to be easy to navigate and easy for your viewers to read. Don’t try to design a cutting edge website layout just to stand out from the crowd as these designs usually come across as amateurish (you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reason).

You don’t need to be an expert web designer though to have an aesthetically pleasing blog – simplicity is key. Choose a simple, clean template and add your own banner and buttons to make it uniquely your own. A clean design will make your blog look less cluttered and allow your blog photos and portfolio pieces to really stand out.

Also keep colours and font choices to a minimum (usually a maximum of 2-3 fonts is recommended).

Planning for your design

I like to look at things from a functional point of view before thinking about design. You first need to define what the focus of your blog will be, who your intended audience will be, and what you want to add to your site.

Think about what kind of blog layout you would like and why this would work for you. For example, before you decide on how many sidebars you want, ask yourself, “What do I want in my sidebars?”. Sidebar items might include:

  • About bio
  • Favorite links
  • RSS and social media icons
  • Post categories and archives
  • Featured or popular posts
  • Advertising/sponsors
  • Newsletter signup box
  • Search bar

If you only decide to add social media icons to your sidebar, then you probably wouldn’t want a layout with a left and right sidebar!

As a starting point, I recommend taking a look at blogs that you really like and make notes on what features they have and what would work for your blog.

These website notes will be extremely useful for you to refer to if you choose to design the blog yourself, or  you can send these through to your web designer to give them an idea of what you are after.

Optimising your blog

Once you have your website up and running, there are a few things you can do to keep everything running smoothly:

  • Try to keep plugins and widgets to a minimum. Remove any plugins that you are not really using as these can slow your website down.
  • Resize your images before you upload them to your website to reduce file size. Large images can make your pages take longer to load. If you do not have an image editing tool such as Photoshop, you can find a free image optimiser and resizing tool online, like this one.
  • Always add keywords into the description and available text fields (called ‘Alt’ text) when adding images to your blog post. This makes your images more search-friendly and can even assist visually impaired users.

Additional resources

If you are interested in designing your own website, I also highly recommend Jo Klima’s Your Darling Blog course, which is a 6 week workshop on how to design your own custom blog. You do need a copy (and a little knowledge) of Photoshop though.

Q&A: your turn

Thanks for reading – I hope you find some of the extra tips above useful for your blog. I’ll be online from 2.00pm PST onwards on Monday Nov 12, so if you have any questions you can add them to the comments section below.

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