Posts Tagged ‘live creation process’

Live Creation Process, Step 2: Sketches

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Don’t even go near that computer! After getting inspired by other websites, books, art, nature or whatever, why would you go and ruin it all by diving in and opening Photoshop? What you need to do is buy yourself a Moleskine and doodle on the bus tomorrow. You need to be scribbling on napkins, sketchbooks, jotters, walls and in sand so you can get really down and dirty with the idea for your site.

moleskine paddy donnelly

Sure you can make it look so much prettier in Photoshop with your drop shadows and gradients but it will suffer from a lack of foundation.  Websites (and I’m talking about those special ones we all wish we had made) have to have a bit of soul, a bit of madness, a bit of Zig A Zig Ah as a certain quintette of ladies once sang about.

This can only come from spending the time pre-computer and getting your HB out. So without further ado, here’s a small sample of what I’ve been sketching for the past wee while.

The Moleskine

I try to always carry a Moleskine about with me so I can jot down ideas for blog posts, layouts, logos or try my best at sketching the variety of colourful characters on Belgium’s buses. Seriously getting the bus is like a free ticket to the zoo some days. Anyway, here’s the kinda thing I get up to.

paddy donnelly animals

The idea to use a few different animals as ‘mascots’ came from some doodles.  I kept drawing penguins and sheep attached to a rocket ship.  Don’t ask me why but there is something cool about attaching rockets to things. I have since found out that Pepsi also appreciates the attractiveness of rockets and small flightless animals.

paddy donnelly redesign

One thing that frustrates me about my current site and many others is that it’s so hard to find anything.  I could just see in my head these four animals representing the categories of my site – Blog, Projects, Interviews and Things I See (photos, twitter, delicious etc). I knew the penguin on the rocket had to be one of them, but I’m still working on another 3 which will tickle my creativity and quirkyness.  I’m think the Narwhal has to be in there too. How many people don’t know about Narwhals?! They are like unicorn whales!

paddy donnelly narwhal

You see what I’m talking about with the bit of madness? I just have this obsession with these little characters, which all stemmed from sketching in my Moleskine and they are a driving force behind this new site.

Proper sketches

After you have a collection of these fuzzy ideas roaming about on scraps of paper here and there, collect them all together and start making the beginnings of your proper sketches.

Here’s the way it’s in my head, or as close as I can represent on paper. It’s not easy to project what’s in your mind’s eye onto a piece of paper although it gets easier the more you do it.

paddy donnelly new website animals

The Homepage

I forsee a tabbed structure but not like the usual, overused, tired method.  I’m talking about big ass tabs, with these four charismatic animals standing guard on the homepage

paddy donnelly redesign

Quirky add ons

There’s a lot of quirky little things I’ve tinkered with and want to include on the site.  I don’t have enough hidden things on this current site and it annoys me.

paddy donnelly contact redesign

Little things like the contact page, which is a usually an afterthought, I want to dedicate some serious time to developing, including the language used, method of contact available, images, everything. I can see a photo of myself sitting at my laptop pointing at the message field of the contact form saying that I’m ready to reply.  Little touches like that will encourage people to get in contact faster.

textures paddy donnelly


Wanting to move further away from ‘web 2.0’ but still retain the principles, I want to use more textures in my sites.  This is something I haven’t done much with in the past but I have some ideas on using them to create some sort of depth. We’ll see if it works out.

In the end one of the prime goals of this new site is to make it so so so much easier to find my stuff, including a better search, featured posts, better categories and many other little tricks. I have a plethora of other sketches and ideas but I’ll save some surprises for next time.

Next stage

So I want to see you back here checking out the next stage: ‘Wireframing’. Follow me on Twitter and you’ll know when I know!

Live Creation Process, Step 1: Inspiration

Monday, June 29th, 2009

There’s a fine line between getting inspired and blatant copying. In the web design industry, this line is insanely skinny as it’s so easy to just lift someone else’s design or code. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but there’s nothing worse than putting hours and hours of effort in to creating something unique and seeing someone else just steal it and call it their own.

The Wall of Shame

tim van damme wall of shame

Belgian designer Tim Van Damme has created a brilliant homepage which houses all of his contact details and social networks.  This design was quickly snapped up and copied multiple times, which prompted Tim to create a Wall of Shame dedicated to the copycats.  Tim preaches on his site: ‘Don’t Steal, Be Inspired‘ and backs this up with a Wall of Fame dedicated to people who have taken his idea and created their own.

A peek at my inspiration

So now that we’re in ‘Don’t Steal, Be Inspired‘ mode, let’s get down to the first step of my Live Creation Process. ‘Inspiration‘. I have a million ideas floating around in my head at the minute about what I see happening on my new site, what goals I want for it, what structure, colour scheme, style etc.  They’ve all come together after the last couple of months of getting inspired, sketching little things here and there.  It would be impossible to list all the sources that have inspired me but here is a summary of some of the most influential.

1) Minimal

I am an avid fan of simplicity and minimalism when it comes to web design.  I am a big fan of cutting out things until it’s the bare minimum… and then trying to cut some more.  Here are a few sites whose minimalism inspires really tickles…

Just Watch The Skyjust watch the sky

Site Inspiresite inpsire


Minimal Showcaseminimal showcase

2) Breaking the rules of <cringe>web 2.0</cringe>

The web of 2009 is largely boring.  Let’s face it, every website is following the same road. Huge headers, large call to action buttons, big footers, rounded corners, gradients, drop shadows and reflections galore. Yawn. While there is nothing essentially ‘wrong’ with all these techniques, they’re overused and we’ve slipped into a comfortable style which has forced us to lose our creativity.  Very few web designers are pushing the boundaries now and doing something more creative.  I have a couple of ideas to help my site stay out of the common pitfalls of web 2.0. Here are a few sites which are breaking the rules.

Elliot jay Stockselliot jay stocks




3) Style

Some of these following sites just have that certain style, that certain quality where you know that a lot of work went in to making them just perfect.


Digital Mashdigital mash

Kiss Me I’m Polishkiss me im polish

Hot Meteorhot meteor


Toggletoggle journal

8020 Studio8020

Show and Tell Saleshow and tell

Deluge Studiosdeluge studios

Blow At Lifeblow at life

Alpha Multimediaalpha multimedia

4) Quirkyness

To get that ‘Ah, that’s kinda cool’ reaction out of people, you have to be a little quirky.  Trust me, there will be quirkiness aplenty on the new site. Here’s some other quirky masters who inspire me.

Behind the Websitesbehind the websites

Dustin Curtisdustin curtis

Leg Work Studioleg work studio

I Shot Himi shot him

5) Attention to the details’ details

The following couple of articles and sites fantastically illustrate the importance and effectiveness to attention to detail.  For my new site, no section will be a last minute job.  Pages such as the contact page, about me etc will be given as much priority as portfolio.

Quality within web design
quality in web design function

Elements of great web designelements of great web design

Squared Eyesquared eye

Next up: First sketches

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