Tagged: website

Merry Christmas from the Joneses

Abby and Christopher want to wish you a merry Christmas. Check out www.abbyandchristopher.com

 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. My wife and I decided to try a new take on the traditional Christmas card thing. We’ve decided a website card is more our style. Since we still have abbyandchristopher.com from our wedding website, we’re going to update it each year with a year in review and Christmas greeting for friends and family.

For me, it’s a great way to experiment with some Web design techniques. This year’s site uses the “full-page” trend that’s so hot now. It was fun to experiment with and I’m pretty happy with the final product. I was careful to craft something responsive since so many people will be looking at it on various devices. I wasn’t able to test on everything, but from the testing I did do, it works well at any size. I look forward to trying something new next year. I think I’ll archive each year’s site, which will be fun to look back at as time goes progresses.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Review: Gogobot

Gogobot

Gogobot bills itself as a social travel site. It is part reviews, part recommendations and part passport of your travels. I’ve been using it for almost a couple years now, and I love it. It is full of terrific information that seems much realer than Yelp or similar services.

I was originally drawn to Gogobot just before I left for Switzerland. I read about this new startup that was hooking up social and travel in compelling ways and thought it might be useful. One of the cool social features is its integration with Foursquare. I hooked up my account and now it auto imports places I’ve been right into Gogobot. On occasion, I go back through and look at my recent imports. This gives me a good place to start when I want to post reviews of recent places I’ve been.

You do not have to be a Foursquare user to take advantage of Gogobot. You can add other places via their website or mobile app. I went through and added a lot of trips I took before ever having Foursquare. After you have added a few places you have been, you start building your digital passport. It gives you a nice breakdown of the countries, cities and individual places you’ve been. Sometimes I find myself just browsing it to relive old memories.

Screenshot of a Gogobot passport page.

Like many other travel sites, reviews are part of Gogobot. You can add a star rating, a short text review and/or photos to any place on Gogobot. It is pretty standard stuff, but when combined with the other site features, it becomes quite handy.

One of the coolest features, and one that sets it apart from the pack, is letting users ask questions to the community. Let’s say I’m headed to Toronto for a weekend and want to know the best places to eat or how to spend my Saturday afternoon. I can head over to Gogobot and post a question. Anyone who has been to Toronto (or my friends) would automatically see my question show up in their feed. If my friends so choose, they can add places I should check out.

Something that makes Gogobot fun to use is its gamification. There are a number of badges you can earn for various things like adding photos or reviews and having other people like your reviews. Each time you do an action (even visiting the site once a day) you earn points. There is a site-wide leaderboard that you can compete to be on top of (I used to be in the top 100, but as the site grew and I explored the world less, I’m in the 300s now. Each year Gogobot chooses members with outstanding contributions and badges them as pros. I was a 2012 pro, and it was pretty cool to have that little badge on my avatar throughout the site. There are even pro meetups in major cities (SF, NYC, Chicago), but I could never attend one. Maybe next year.

I’ve watched Gogobot really grow in the last couple of years. When I first started using it, there was not a lot of content outside of some major cities, and there were not a lot of users. It has since really blossomed, and now contains a wealth of information. The site itself has added many new features like making reservations for hotels and restaurants right on the site. Overall I’m extremely pleased with it. I find it quite useful for planning trips, or even discovering cool places I want to visit someday.

Project: Partners in Dance

Screenshot of WMU Partners in Dance website.

I  recently launched a website project at work for Partners in Dance, which is a community support group for Western Michigan University’s Department of Dance. It was a fun project because there wasn’t a ton of content and I could have a little fun with the design.

I opted to keep it very clean and simple with a big, bold area for photos. The dance department provided me with some great shots from previous performances. I noticed most of the pictures had a natural “fade to black” quality to them. I capitalized on this by creating a black band at the top of the page. I then set it to randomly choose from a variety of images that all make it seem like the photo exists across the entire top of the page.

The “Partners in Dance” logotype at the top carries over from a brochure they had made previously. The rest of the type is a Google web font called Lato. I was trying to find a nice sans-serif with a good mix of weights and Lato seemed to fit the bill.

Below are a few more screenshots, but be sure to check out and explore the live site. Feedback? Questions? Leave them in the comments.

Screenshot of WMU Partners in Dance website.

Screenshot of WMU Partners in Dance website.

Screenshot of WMU Partners in Dance website.

Project: University Theatre 2012 Season Site

At work I’m often playing within strict guidelines. The university is moving everyone into the same look and feel on the web as part of their massive branding effort. It makes sense but it can be dull when you’re working on it day after day. Sometimes it feels like I’m just going through the motions.

University Theatre Season website screenshot

That’s why I was so excited to have a project that breaks the mold. The University Theatre at Western Michigan University was interested in a website to feature their upcoming shows for the new season. Luckily they fall under one of the areas I work for so I was happy to oblige. The overall design of the posters and other materials were done by interns in the Design Center (oh the memories). They were a great jumping off point for a new website.

I tried to keep the overall “awaken” theme the interns had come up with in their work but translate it to the web. I filled the site with the pertinent information about each show and how to get tickets. It is an extremely simple site and there were still some stiff requirements but compared to the templates I usually work in all day, it was creative field day. It’s nice to break away from the constraints every once in a while and think creatively. Make sure you explore the University Theatre 2012 Season Site and let me know what you think.

Disc Golf Course Review Quick Search [Updated]

I’m constantly looking for new disc golf courses to play. That means I’m visiting Disc Golf Course Review all the time. It’s a great site with a wealth of information. The only problem I run into is that it’s not a very mobile friendly site. This means when I’m on the go and want to search for a course, it’s a very clunky process. I decided there was an easier way and set off to create it.

I’m happy to introduce my one-page, mobile-friendly, mini-site for searching DG Course Review. It’s nothing fancy, in fact it only does one thing, but it does that well. You enter a course name or zip (or both) and press the button to search. You’ll be redirected to the DG Course Review site results page. It only took a few lines of javascript to capture the user input and then build out the URL.

Screen shot of DG Course Review Quick Search in Mobile Safari

I really like these simple projects. They’re very gratifying to be able to fill a need with such an easy solution. I think the whole site took me about 15 minutes to complete and I’m sure I’ll use it over and over again. I welcome you to give it a shot too. Eventually I’ll add in other search options offered on DG Course Review but the two there now are what I use most.

**Update July 18, 2012**
Turns out there is a mobile version of DG Course Review. I stumbled upon it in the forums. You have to navigate specifically to it (there’s no device/resolution detection to redirect you) but it is pretty handy.