C3 has a new website!

Considering that I’ve been waiting over a year to be able to post that headline, you think I wouldn’t have waited nearly a week to write this blog.

FINALLY!

A bit of an improvement over the old one:

website.jpg

The new site was well over a year in the making. Not because it’s all that complex, but it’s been difficult to focus a very small organization on all the moving parts that had to go into a ground-up rethinking of a website on a small budget.

Some details…

Continue reading “C3 has a new website!”

I am no longer a graphic designer

That’s a news flash, considering that I took a fulltime job in nonprofit operations 2 years and 9 months ago. Still, somewhere deep down a part of me identified myself professionally in the world of graphic design and design-related technology. Who wants to put a college degree in a drawer?

This afternoon, I removed all the design-related feeds from NetNewsWire. It had been months since I looked at them anyway.

The realization that the design phase of my life is over and will likely never return came to me during Call-on Congress, C3’s grassroots advocacy training and lobby day we held last month. I designed the Cover Your Butt logo last year.

CYBLogo_outlines_blue.png

That logo was everywhere, including on shirts our advocates were wearing. Someone commented on the logo (positively) and I nearly forgot in the conversation that I designed it. It didn’t matter to me personally. I designed it to save C3 the time and money of having to find someone else to do it. A few years ago, I would have identified myself as part of the project by the role I played as a designer. Now, I’m fully involved in the project for reasons the least of which is for the design of a logo.

It’s been an evolution over the past 2.5 years, moving me slowly from one world into the next…a world where I’m more focused on colorectal cancer advocacy, nonprofits, and the strategic and practical applications of technology than I am about image resolution, CSS and layouts. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have to be creative anymore. My job(s) are still very much about taking fragments of ideas and strategies from different sources and pulling them together to solve a problem.

I completely outsourced the redesign of our website to Hiten Shaw of ACS. Can’t wait until the new content is in place so we can launch it and I can show it off. It’s gorgeous. And far better than anything I could ever do even when I was at the top of my graphic design game. We’ve also outsourced the redesign of our print newsletter. I’ll still produce it, as we turn it around quickly and it’s easier and cheaper to work with someone in-house on rapid-fire editing. We all agreed it was time for a visual refresh, and we all agreed I wasn’t the person to take that on. I was surprised at just how much that didn’t bother me. If anything, my overwhelming feeling was relief.

Now I can be honest: I never felt completely comfortable in my skin as a graphic designer. I had what can only be compared to stage fright on every new project. Once I got going on it, had a vision, a plan, and got to producing that vision, I was fine. But getting to that idea never got easy for me. Never felt natural. And I never felt I was good enough.

I never have that panic/anxiety feeling in the work I’m doing now. Sure, there have been days where I’ve been stressed beyond belief and have struggled for solutions. But it’s different. I can’t quite explain it. Even when I’m the most stressed, I’m still professionally at peace at my core in a way I never felt before. I’ve said it on this blog before…this feels like what I was meant to do.

Adobe CS3 at last

This morning, I had a bad scare with Laini’s blood test results. Everything’s fine, but it took an hysterical phone call to the pediatrician’s office to calm me down. After my heart returned to its normal rhythm, I did what I’ve been known to do when life caves in a bit…shop tech. Always does the trick. I’m just grateful I’m no longer a stress eater or I’d be 400 lbs. by now.

I had Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium upgrade on order at Amazon. It was due to ship today and arrive on Tuesday. It hadn’t shipped yet, so I canceled that order and downloaded it from Adobe instead. Not much difference price-wise.

2.52 GB download! Remember when it would take an hour to download a few megabytes? Nonetheless, the Adobe hamsters are running wildly on their wheels, because it took just under an hour to get the whole thing.

I had the Photoshop CS3 public beta, and I was beta testing Fireworks so I had some housekeeping to do before installing the package. I’ll be honest, I was very nervous about Adobe’s new installer while testing. It’s not exactly fast and it was prone to some strange errors. But Adobe pulled it out, because the final version installer worked just fine. I do miss the little teaser splash screens that used to come up while the applications were installing in CS2, though. The new installer is nothing to look at.

Overall, I’m pleased with the CS3 applications. I love the new interface in the Adobe Adobe applications (Dreamweaver and Fireworks still look like Macromedia). Since I know InDesign best, I’ve spent the most amount of time getting familiar with its changes. The control panel is much improved. In CS2, you were constantly switching between the character and paragraph sections of the palette. In CS3, you can change the font even if you’re on the paragraph side, and you can change the alignment even if you’re on the character side. The difference in speed on my Intel Mac is incredible. Launching and quitting no longer take an eternity.

There are a few things that I had hoped would make it into CS3, but didn’t. This isn’t meant to be a whine…it’s still a great suite…but…

In Fireworks, I was hoping for more Adobe-like interface improvements…such as the ability to change values by clicking on the field’s label and then using the keyboard arrow keys. Or moving an object 25 pixels to the left by appending “-25px” to whatever number is in the “X” field on the properties bar. Font handling in Fireworks still leaves a lot to be desired. I use Fireworks to comp web layouts and optimize graphics, so none of the new features are all that interesting to me. Maybe I’ll be more excited about Fireworks CS4. For now, I’m just glad that the application survived and is Mac Intel-native, and I’ll be satisfied with that.

In InDesign, I was hoping for better integration with Adobe Acrobat review and commenting features. I can’t be the only one who exports layouts to PDF, then uses Acrobat’s Shared Review feature to send a PDF out to colleagues for comments/editing on our WebDAV server. They use the free Adobe Reader to mark up their comments/changes. When they save the file, it publishes their changes back to the server. I then have a file with all the comments in a layer over the PDF. It would be cool if I could take that comment layer and bring it in to InDesign so I can make the changes right in the file, instead of having to bounce back and forth between the marked up PDF and the InDesign document in two completely different applications.

In Illustrator, I’m disappointed that there’s still no “rubber band” for the pen tool. Photoshop has it. Makes no sense to me that the application that “invented” the pen tool doesn’t. What am I talking about? When you use the pen tool for bezier paths, a rubber band feature shows you where the path will land before you actually commit to it. You spend far less time correcting your drawing, especially when you’re tracing around something.

Just in time for C3’s Summer 2007 newsletter that I’m starting to lay out this week.