b*designs :: photo blogs

Hello, lovelies. Happy new week. Happy new day. Happy new projects to share. It’s been awhile since I’ve shown you anything from the studio. Rest assured, I’ve been a busy girl, designing like mad. This fall was full to the brim with great projects, and I’m going to be sharing many of them in the coming weeks. Today, let’s kick it off with two blogs for two photogs.

My dear friend Emily contacted me in September about a blog refresh and a couple custom websites. Emily was in the midst of re-branding, and she wanted to extend her new look to her online presence. Using the brand created for her by the ladies of Making Things Happen, I went to town on designing a new blog for her, as well as a website for her photography and her newest venture, textile design. The fun of working with Emily is that we get each other so well. We effortlessly communicate, and our styles mesh incredibly well. Thus, designing for her is a TOTAL joy! Go take a peek at her new blog, photography site and textiles site. Check out the fun details, and leave her some love!

The next project I want to share with you is the Beautiful Moments Photography blog from down under. When Cathy Crawley, an award winning photographer from Australia, contacted me last summer, I knew right away that we would hit it off. Working with her was a complete joy. She had a clear vision for her new brand, and I had the privilege of putting it all together. Cathy wanted to use her existing logo, but cast a new light on it. Using soft, vintage elements, we transformed her look into something warm, delicate, and inviting. Check out her new blog, and lose a couple hours perusing her amazing work!

b*designs :: lavender joy weddings blogsite

Hello dears! I’m short on time today, but I really must show you this project before the weekend arrives.

Lavender Joy Weddings is the Texas-based event design and planning company of Stefanie Miles. I met Stefanie Miles via Twitter. A flurry of messages led to long emails and conversations on the phone. We talked about life, faith, business, marriage, Christian womanhood, and the wedding industry. I knew instantly that if the distance between us was less, we’d be spending a whole lot of time together. When Stefanie asked if I would design a blog and minisite for her company, I jumped at the chance. Working together was a complete joy. This project had it’s share of challenges, but Stefanie was consistently understanding, graceful and positive. She also had a strong vision for her brand, and it was a complete pleasure to help bring that vision to life.

I am pretty crazy about the way this baby turned out. The muted tones, warmth, textures, and casual elegance are a perfect fit for Stefanie. Head over to her site, and visit her blog, too. I promise you’ll fall in love with this woman, her style, and the gorgeous line-up of posts she already has. Happy Friday, dears! Be back next week.

*Lavender Joy Weddings logo by Lowcountry Press

b*designs :: jeff loves jessica blog

Hello dears. I’m here today with a new blog project to reveal! This one has been in the works for quite some time. Jeff and Jessica are a husband/wife photography team, and from the moment I met them, I knew that they were my ideal clients. Their project is one of my favorites to date. I mean, the name of their company is Jeff Loves Jessica, and their tagline is “husband.wife.capture.life”. Don’t you love them already??

As with every project of mine, the branding and blog design was a collaborative process. They came to the table with a strong vision. I got lost in their Inspiration Files, and by the time my hand hit the mouse, I knew with certainty the look and feel that these guys were after. I loved getting their feedback and working together to execute the perfect look for their logo and blog design.  The color palette is quite fantastic (navy, gray, light teal, dusty blue, touches of pink, and lots of white space) and was actually inspired by a spread from Crew Cuts catalog. Inspiration is hiding in the most unique places, I tell you! I created several hand-sketched icons, which were used in roll-over features and on the sidebar. We worked with only a handful of fonts (really GREAT fonts, I must say), and kept the overall feel clean and organized.

Okay. Now, head over to their blog and check out the design and their amazing photography work!

b*designs :: the lettered cottage blog makeover

Good afternoon! I’m getting a late start on the whole blogging thing today, but I promised to share this FRESH.NEW.FAB blog design before I sign off for the weekend. So here we go!

Some months ago, Layla of The Lettered Cottage contacted me about doing a redux of their current blog. The more I communicated with Layla, the more excited I became about her project. The Lettered Cottage, if you don’t already know, is a big-time decorating and design blog, and authors Layla and Kevin are actually in the process of filming a new series for HGTV. Big stuff!! They also happen to be incredibly down to earth people and a total joy to work with. I share a sincere appreciation for cottage style, so it was no surprise that my design aesthetic fit with their vision for the new blog.

Designing the new Lettered Cottage was a fairly in-depth process. Layla and I worked closely together for a few months to realize her vision for the updated look and feel. We also had to pack a ton of function into the site, since they have loads of great content that we wanted to have easily accessible for their readers. The blend of form and function was a fine line that we walked, and the web developer was involved in all stages of this project, since it’s fairly large in scale and complexity. The blog went live earlier this week, and we’ve been working through a few bugs since then. Oh the joys of technology.

This project was perhaps one of my most challenging, simply because of it’s sheer scope. But the experience was priceless. I was beyond honored to work with these guys. They were way too cool for their old blog, and it’s great to finally see them “moved in” to this shiny new one!

b*designs :: a book blog, part 2

Picking up where we left off yesterday, I’m continuing today to explain the process that I use when designing a blog.

[step no. 2 - design] Generally, once the inspiration phase is complete, I begin by building a digital style board that includes a color palette, fonts, textures and design elements. In the case of Biblio-Files, I knew that Kelly wanted to use shades of gray and orange. I rounded out the palette with a few other neutrals and a subtle pop of soft teal blue. I chose fonts that would seamlessly integrate with the slightly worn, library-book feel that I wanted the blog to exude. Then came the fun part. I knew that I wanted to incorporate several book-themed textures into Kelly’s blog, so I fired up my scanner. The background of the blog is the linen from a vintage hardback book (complete with a few scratches). The library card that doubles as the categories, search and archives tabber was the actual card that Kelly sent along with her inspiration files. I scanned a small envelope, just because I liked the look of it. This was later used for the GoodReads feed in the sidebar. A torn book page was scanned and later became the sidebar texture. Several strips of masking tape were stuck to a blank sheet of paper, and then incorporated into the design. After the scanning was complete, I began building the layout.

I typically start by building the basic structure of the blog. In this case, that meant wireframing the area needed for posts, sidebar, header and footer. The sidebar is almost always designed first. For Biblio-Files, the library card was the first thing on the sidebar that I tackled. I had the idea of incorporating a card that would slide out of the pocket, and I wanted to include reference to the Dewey Decimal system by numbering the categories in a unique way. Kelly helped to figure out which numbers to use for what. The front of the card became a placeholder for Kelly’s brief “welcome”. Slowly, the elements and the design came together. Kelly and I communicated frequently, and I would often shoot over a quick email posing a question or needing an opinion. The last thing I set out to design was the header. I know that this seems backwards, but I almost always end up working that way. In the case of Biblio-Files, I had the idea to incorporate a stack of books. I photographed actual books that I had at home, then brought the image into photoshop to get edited, clipped and transformed into a blog header. The original layout included a stack of books with the pages all facing (no spines seen).

[step no. 3 - proofing] When I sent off the first-round proof, I explained to Kelly that her feedback was very important. Hearing a client’s reactions to a design, as well as their ideas for edits, tweaks, or things they want to see different is what makes for a successful end product. I always stress the importance of combining their style with my design. The bottom line is that I don’t want to create something that looks great, but is miles from what they really love. I say all of that to explain why I value client feedback so much.

After Kelly looked over the first proof, she had a few edits that she wanted to see made. Most were fairly minor, and easy to change. The biggest one was the header. She was struggling with the script font on the face of the book, and suggested “turning” one book around so that the title would be on a spine. BRILLIANT, people, brilliant!! I mean, why didn’t I think of that? This was one of those shining moments that mades me so, so happy that I work with amazing and creative clients all the time. The title on the spine (which we worked with so that it looked like it was engraved) turned out to be the perfect solution for the header. A couple more rounds of edits, and the blog design was completed and approved to code!

[step no. 4 - coding] The last stage of any blog design is arguably the least glamorous and the most important. The development, or coding, of a blog is what takes my static design and turns it into a live, working blog that you can access via the interwebs. I work with two developers, who “slice and dice” my photoshop files into WordPress templates. Typically this process takes 3 – 5 weeks, depending on the complexity of the project and if there are technical challenges along the way. In the case of Biblio-Files, the developer struggled a bit to get our sliding library card to function in the way that I had envisioned, but in the end, it all came together (don’t ask me how… it’s magic). After the online proof was approved by Kelly, we took the blog live online at http://biblio-files.com. There were a few bugs to work out (as there often are in the first few days after a launch), but everything came together beautifully, and Kelly has since been hard at work blogging.

[step no. 5 - blog away!] Once the blog is live online, it’s time for the author to get to work! Filling up the blog with content is the best part, and I always love visiting blogs that I’ve designed to see how they are taking on a life of their own with the author all moved in. Biblio-Files is no exception. Kelly has done an amazing job with her first few posts (it helps that she is a fantastic writer and an expert on her topic), and I can’t wait to see where she takes Biblio-Files in the future. Make sure to stop by, check out her new blog, and say hello!

So there you have it… a very brief glimpse at the process of a blog design, from start to finish. If you’ve read both (long-winded) posts, I am impressed. Be back tomorrow with a (more concise) intro to another big blog project that went live this week!

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