Ides of March

Mar 15, 2014

It’s halfway through March, and I’ve started to see signs of spring, even if it is from inside my kitchen window.

It’s halfway through March, and I’ve become a proud auntie of a week-old baby girl named Isa.

It’s halfway through March, and I’ve designed three websites already.

It’s halfway through March, and I’ve sipped iced tea on the porch one day and bundled up in single-digit temperatures the next.

It’s halfway through March, and I’m going to be a mom in nine weeks or less.

Words can’t describe how much I love this month — and it’s only halfway done.


Let’s Talk About Scrolling

Jan 16, 2014

Long scrolling websites are all the rage, and let me start by saying that I have designed and advocated for them on several client sites, like this one:

Pursuit Website

I started noticing crazy long web pages a few years ago, thanks to tablet and mobile devices that making scrolling easy and fun, usability studies that show scrolling is preferable to clicking, and improving internet speeds that allow us to present more data at once to users.

However, just because users accept scrolling doesn’t mean that we as designers should use this as a cop out to just slam a bunch of content on one page so we don’t have to think through prioritization of messaging and a good overall site strategy. In fact, the “fold” still matters — web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold. (from a study by usability god Jakob Nielsen).

Before you start laying out a web page with a height of 5,000 pixels, ask yourself these questions:

Do you have a story to tell?
The best long scrolling sites have something to say. They have features to explain, chronological content to share and scannable, succinct headlines to lead you along. Also, beware of copy fort the sake of copy. Keep it clear and consistent. Get to the point. Just because you have infinite space doesn’t mean you need to fill it with crappy content.

Do you have interesting creative assets to keep the user engaged?
Let’s face it, not every client or every site has amazing imagery to keep the user interested. If your site is one of them, perhaps consider a different approach. On the other hand, if you have enticing imagery, it is an effective tool for breaking up copy and encouraging the reader to keep discovering.

Do you have good navigation and headers to guide the user along?
Nothing is more annoying than scrolling down a page with no concept of where you are or how much further you have to scroll. Provide sticky navigation at the top of the page that follows you and allows the user to jump easily between sections.

Do you have visible and enticing calls to action?
Remember, users spend 80% of their focus above the fold. This is where your most important call to action should live. After that, put yourself in your user’s shoes. Did they just scroll down and learn about a really awesome feature? Would they want to learn more at this point? Offer a clear call to action at this point on the page.

Overall, my best advice is just to keep using your awesome little design brain. Think about prioritization of content— no matter what anybody tells you, the content at the top of the page is always going to be the most important. Ask yourself if there is a REASON you are creating a really long page, or if you are just doing it because that is what everyone on Dribbble is doing these days.

And, to inspire you a bit more, here are some great sites that are lovely but fairly succinct when it comes to page length! Enjoy.

Bonobos Website Feb 14

Square Website Feb 14

Everlane Website Feb 14


Resolutions for a Creative Career

Jan 06, 2014

This is an email I shared with my team last week, and thought it would be fitting as we start our first full work week of 2014. Happy Monday, folks!

Hi team!

I love New Year’s because I love the challenge of setting goals for myself. Usually, I set health-related goals, but I’m eating a bag of peanut M&Ms and gaining a pound a week anyway (#pregnancyprobz), so this year I want to focus on our team here at CWT. :)

I’ve made a few resolutions, and thought I would share with you all to not only inspire YOU to set some professional resolutions, but to help keep me accountable to following through with mine. Feel free to respond back to the team with your resolutions if you want feel comfortable — we can help encourage each other and foster more and more good vibes as a team.

#1 Bring back the long-lost inspiration meeting. For those of you who have been here awhile, we used to do weekly 30 minute meetings where we shared articles/ideas from around the web/world that were inspiring to us. We got really busy and these faded out, but I think it’s worth making the time for. I’ve got tons of stuff bookmarked that I love, so I’m going to use that as a “stockpile of inspiration” that can get us started. I don’t want these to be a rushed, “oh-shoot-I-forgot-to-find-something-inspiring” kind of meeting. I want these to be quality, thought-provoking meetings. Would love if everyone participated since you will all get sick of my ideas really fast. Shoot me an email when you find something inspiring and you can lead the weekly meeting that week. I won’t force anyone to participate but hope it’s something that eventually we will all find really awesome.

#2 Double the amount of feedback I provide. I’ll be popping around to everyone’s desks everyday to just check in on how things are going and to see if you need help. I’ll do my best to provide strategic, tactical feedback for your projects so that you don’t feel lost or without direction. Feel free to TELL me when you want more feedback as well (more direction, more challenging work, etc) — that’s why I’m here.

#3 Foster an open desk policy. Along the same lines, I want to make it more clear to you all that even though we are all crazy busy, and I have a terrible poker face when it comes to being busy/overwhelmed, my first priority is always making sure you guys know how much you matter. We would have no work, no clients, no Red Bull fridge, NOTHING if you guys weren’t here. If you ever need anything, know that I’m not too busy to hear what’s up, and if I can’t solve the issue immediately, know I’ll get back to you right away.

#4 Do a better job of promoting how awesome we are. 2014 will be the year everyone learns that we do WORLD-CLASS work that can rival any other agency out there. I know we all take a lot of pride in our work and we should do a better job sharing it with the world. I am committing to two blog posts per month and one social update per week… so if you have a passion about anything and would like to blog about it, I would love for us all to collaborate on this task.

Email rant over. Happy New Year everyone!


January Challenge

Jan 01, 2014

Last week I blogged about my hopes for this coming year. I’ve got some pretty lofty goals, so I thought I’d chunk them up into tangible, small challenges for myself. Each month, I’ll be giving myself a different challenge to work on that focuses on balance, nourishment, mindfulness or enjoyment.

This month, I’m focusing on nourishment by drinking a green juice every morning for breakfast. I eat a LOT of McDonald’s Egg White Delights and Tim Horton’s Oatmeal right now (I know, I know) so I’m excited about starting each day off on a healthier foot.

Here are few recipes I plan to use. I made these up, so enjoy at your own risk. ;)

MANGO KALE JUICE
2 mangos
2 apples
2 bunches of kale
1″ of ginger

PEAR CELERY JUICE
6 pears
2 stalks celery
2 bunches of kale
1 tbsp fresh mint

CHIA CUCUMBER PINEAPPLE JUICE
1/2 of a pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cucumber
1 pear
1 bunch of kale
10 mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp of chia seeds

GINGER ORANGE CARROT JUICE
3 oranges
10 carrots
1″ ginger


2014

Dec 26, 2013

I read something the other day about how you should be mindful of the person you pretend to be, because that is the person you become. This year, I want to pretend to be a person who is nourished mentally and physically. Who has their shit together. Who can plan the direction of their life and work towards the person they want to become while knowing that plans change and life is unpredictable and one of the best skills is gracefully embracing change… in the small daily things and the big life things.

I know this year I will experience one of the most drastic changes in my life: becoming a mom for the first-time. My only New Year’s resolution is that I embrace this gracefully, soak up the time slowly and find balance, nourishment, mindfulness and enjoyment as I experience this crazy year.

Balance | Continue to find that elusive symmetry between work and life. Sometimes that means putting more into my career: I resolve to be more involved in local community groups this year and to spend more time in learning how to be a good leader through spending more time with a mentor and reading some good books recommended to me. Sometimes that means putting more into my family: I resolve to go for more walks around the neighborhood with Alex, getting home on time to help make dinners and making more of an effort to be involved in my entire family’s day-to-day life.

Nourishment | Give up the junk food addiction and start nourishing my body, especially knowing that for the foreseeable future, I’m nourishing TWO bodies. Make an effort to eat fresh, whole foods and get the juicer out of the top cupboard where it’s covered in dust.

Mindfulness | I feel like I live in a constant state of distraction sometimes. I just want to pay more attention to the present moment. Taste my food. Focus entirely on a friend during a conversation over coffee. Stop constantly checking my phone. Listen to the birds when laying in bed in the morning. Do more yoga.

Enjoyment | Find more hobbies I enjoy, especially ones that 1) are free and 2) are physical. We bought bikes on Craigslist last year and come spring I can’t wait to get out and explore our new neighborhood. Walk to the library. Jog with Murray at the beautiful running trail/park by our house. Plant a garden this summer.

Over the next few days, I hope to refine this list of hopes and turn them more into a list of small, tangible goals. I’ll keep you updated on the progress, but in the mean time, I hope that you find peace, balance and nourishment in this coming year and rock the shit out of 2014.


Target.com is Making Me Sad

Dec 09, 2013

Tis the season for online shopping, and so I spent my Saturday on several ecommerce sites buying gifts and racking up cashback offers on my Discover card. Target.com used to be one of my favorite big-box retailer shopping sites — they valued simplicity and style over in-your-face promos and price cuts. They found a great balance between usability, information architecture and aesthetic that is really, really hard to do on a site that serves millions of visitors daily with thousands of SKUs and a million different possible user paths.

But sadly, it seems like their most recent site refresh is taking a turn for the worse. There is just SO much going on — a banner ad above their navigation, FOURTEEN calls to action on their large intro banner, and this terrible dropshadowy, Pinteresty mess at the bottom of the page. Good job, Target, you were successful at showcasing hundreds of products on the homepage, but what happened to your minimalist look that we’ve all come to know and love?

My biggest fear? That this redesign isn’t just a redesign of the homepage… what if it’s a redesign of their brand in general? DEAR TARGET, PLEASE DON’T TURN INTO WALMART. You’ve taught us all that design has value, whether that’s on your site or in your amazing home decor department, where I find awesome throw pillows and trinkets on the daily. You’ve trained us to pay more to shop at your stores over Walmart for better designed products and punchy end cap displays, and I’m okay with that.

Anyway, I know it’s easy to criticize sites when you have no idea what the goals and metrics driving the decisions are, but there is just no way this site can live up to Target’s design standards, or if they do, then I need to seriously reconsider my view of Target’s brand.

What are your thoughts?


Embracing Randomness

Dec 04, 2013

This post is simply a huge brain dump of the many random thoughts running through my mind lately. You’re welcome.

  • I posted five (!) non-selfie, fairly cool (I think) Instagrams last week and it was really fun… I hadn’t posted anything since October before that and I forgot how much I loved documenting everyday life. Also, my life had been really boring until last week and I had no idea what to post. Which is sad.
  • Speaking of last week, Alex and I moved to Clintonville on the first snowy day of the year. I’m totally obsessed with our charming little bungalow and can’t wait to post some photos of it soon… but I obviously need to get everything picture perfect first. It is a showplace after all. ;)
  • When we moved, we rented a Budget truck and the experience was so terrible (broken down trucks, no dolly even though I pre-ordered it weeks ago, rude representatives) that I wrote my first every complaint letter. It was super liberating.
  • After a really busy summer, I dropped off the face of the internet world and haven’t kept up with any of my favorite blogs. I just reorganized my Feedly account and am enjoying getting back into the swing of things.
  • I just found out that toast and other foods aren’t recyclable, which seems weird seeing as how it would just disintegrate anyway.
  • I’m ordering every single Christmas gift online this year. Partially because I get 5% cash back and partially because I’m lazy.
  • I found this ring on Etsy and had a true inner battle with myself over buying it, which is totally ridiculous because it’s $800 and completely unnecessary, but still…
  • I want to create a PSA about how terrible peplum tops are, or at least start a petition to rename them to muffin tops.
  • I now live 1.5 miles from Target, which is amazing for my home and devastating to my bank account.

Saturday Blessings

Oct 05, 2013

It’s Saturday morning (and my birthday!) and I’m taking a moment to give thanks for the calm. Reading a book, drinking coffee and listening to music with the two cuddliest animals around. Wish it were a bit chillier out, but this is pretty damn close to my version of perfect.


Dream House

Sep 18, 2013

Alex and I have been talking about buying a house. We watch a lot of HGTV, take strolls around different Columbus neighborhoods and eat brunch bent over an iPad scouring realtor.com for the latest listings. I’ve come up with a few dream house requirements:

  • Walking distance to a boutique, coffee shop, restaurant or other fun local businesses
  • Hydrangea bushes in the front yard
  • A neighborhood where we will get trick-or-treaters
  • Older home with lots of personality and charm
  • A yard for Murray
  • A built-in breakfast nook
  • Lots of natural lighting
  • Hardwood floors throughout (preferably old, creaky and beat-up ones)

It’ll be fun to look back on this list someday when we get our dream home to see how close we got. How about you? What’s on your dream home wishlist?

P.S. I snapped this picture while walking around in Denver… this house would DEFINITELY meet my requirements. Don’t you just love it?!