Keep your sanity through the holidays

The holiday season is a frenzy of gifts, food, friends and family. Your mind is more susceptible to chaos. So to help you get through the season with a clear mind, I’ve compiled a few ways to keep calm over the next few months.

Make a list

It’s easy to forget about that last minute task you were assigned, or about the 3 dozen Christmas cookies you were supposed to pick up for your kid’s holiday party at school. Take the time to write down things that you need to do. For some it might be easier to create this on your phone to have it with you at all times. Being able to have a visual of what you need to do and what you’ve already done will help you to feel more in control. You will also have the satisfaction of crossing tasks which you have completed.

Once you’ve made your list, organize your tasks. The list can be sorted in many ways. If you have to meet deadlines then it’s best to organize your list by due date. You can also prioritize by importance. For example, if you have to get a gift for you spouse or mother, you would most likely prioritize that over getting a gift for a friend.

Give yourself permission to relax

Having a few days to unwind without the pressures of deadlines will be a great reset for your mental health. Take a few days off and spend time with family and friends, or even by yourself to renew your sanity. Turn off your email notifications and set your phone to silent. Enjoy your time away from work and rid yourself of stress.

Don’t stretch yourself too thin

I’m sure you’ve been invited to multiple Christmas parties; you’re shopping for various secret santa gifts and you’re expected to make an appearance at the next family get-together. However, don’t overwhelm yourself by over-committing. Do not feel pressured to attend every event. Be sure to have some balance between social events and down time.

Get into the holiday spirit and have fun. You’re more likely to be more pleasant to be around when you’re radiating with positive energy! And of course, be sure to have a happy holiday!

 

-Season’s Greetings

Best photoshoot locations in Houston

If you’re looking for the perfect spot in Houston for your next photoshoot, look no further. Gathered here are the 5 most picturesque locations in town.

 

Sugar and Cloth Color Wall
Since its opening in late spring, the multicolored site at 3302 Canal St. has garnered much attention from many of the locals. The wall is divided into eight segments of color that extend six feet out onto the ground, which creates a photoshoot set feel. To see how others are using the wall check out the hashtag #SugarAndClothColorWall on Instagram and browse through thousands of posts highlighting the vibrant scene.

 

Eleanor Tinsley Park
Capture the essence of Houston in your photos with the city skyline as your backdrop. The vast area of the park provides many different angles causing each of your photos to be unique. The park is conveniently located near the Buffalo Bayou and its picturesque artpark.

For more info on the park click here.

 

Kemah Boardwalk
Visit during the day and you can catch nautical scenes of sailboats out on Galveston Bay. As the sun sets, the bright lights emanating from the carnival rides will illuminate the night providing a whimsical effect for your photos.

 

McGovern Centennial Gardens
Take photos of your subject in the lush gardens of Hermann Park. The multiple backdrops condensed into one central area make transitioning from scene to scene easy and convenient. The gardens’ biggest attraction is its sloping waterfall spouting from a 30-foot hill surrounded by spiral paths, creating beautiful lines and symmetry for your photos.

 

Biscuit Paint Wall
The wall in Montrose will add a pop of color to your photos without overshadowing the main subject of your shot. Its dripping paint design has been visited by thousands near and far. The eye-catching backdrop is often used to showcase clothing for fashion bloggers and has been featured in publications like Southern Living, Houstonia, HGTV Magazine and more.

Biggest Trends in Web design 2017

Trends in web design are constantly evolving. And in today’s fast-paced environment of marketing and media it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends. However, gathered here are a few key trends sure to stick around.

 

HD Hero Images:

Sure, having high quality photos on your site seems like a given. However, HD images can be used in many ways. In most cases the use of a high quality photo as a hero image on your site is likely to gain the immediate attention of users without further scrolling.

Hero images can be used to set the tone of your site, highlight your most important content, or feature new products, services and best sellers. Paired with a call to action, HD images are sure to catch the eye of your consumers.

If this is a trend you’d like to implement on your own site, finding or even taking high quality photos for your site won’t be hard.

 

Grid Layouts:

Designing with grids has become a popular trend and there are many reasons why. The first benefit you gain from using a grid layout is order. By combining like content into the same grid, visitors will have easier access to the links they’re looking for.

Grid designs also provide cleans lines and consistency to keep your site looking uniform. However, if uniformity is not what you’re looking for you can break up the average grid design by adding text or leaving negative space, while other grids can be filled with photos.

 

Long Scroll:

Long scroll is not a new concept. But with the amount of mobile users surpassing that of desktop users it has become more prominent lately because of it’s mobile-friendly design.

The fluidity of long scroll gives you the opportunity for storytelling, which is harder to do when users are jumping between separate pages. With a long scroll design you can give your site character by adding animation that correlates with the navigation of your page.

For examples and inspiration, check out onepagelove.com

 

Animation:

Our eyes are immediately drawn to movement and utilizing animation on your site can cause users to stay on your site longer. Animation offers users a more interactive experience. It can also make transitions between pages feel smoother and give your site personality, allowing your site to stand out from the crowd.

However an overload of animation can be overwhelming to users. implementing these moving illustrations can be as simple as adding a loading bar or hover animations.

Be sure that you are using a theme and color scheme that correlates with the personality and aesthetic of your site.

 

With the popularity and growth of these four trends, they’re likely to become more commonplace than ever. Don’t fall behind. Keep it simple while keeping users engaged.

Weekly Round-Up: Welcome to 2015!

The holidays are finally behind us and projects are starting to pick back up! We are finally rising out of our food and Christmas movie comas and diving into New Years resolutions. This week the web has been abuzz with tips on how to start the year off right and follow through with all those goals for 2015. My favorite list of resolutions comes from becoming minimalist and they are supposedly proven by science to “make a better you” at least it sounds good.

Along with all the motivational advice there are some great trend reports forecasting what will be popular in 2015. I love how food, furniture, interior decorating, fashion, art and of course web design all seem to inform each other in terms of what is most current and up and coming. I think these Maker Talks do such an exceptional job of showing all of the relationships between the disciplines.

OUT: Chevron print and Fo-Vintage
IN: Authenticity and Pastels

And last but not least! An excellent list of website trends to look for in 2015 – Just as mentioned in the above clips authenticity is in! (in the form of ditching stock and using custom images) and clean clean clean – no more clutter and un necessary minutia in 2015!

Find Some Inspiration This Friday

Working on projects with out any imagery can be challenging. Stock can be tired, trite, and not to mention expensive. So what is a designer to do when the go to sites just aren’t cutting the mustard?

Here are a few of my favorite place to find inspiration and images for your projects, computer wallpaper, or even that empty frame you have been looking to fill for months. And did I mention they are all FREE?

#1. The Internet Archive – This place is a treasure trove of copy right free books with fabulous illustrations. I recommend searching for botanical books or even comics.

#2. The Flickr Commons – A great resource for vintage photos. Check out the Library of Congress photo account. AMAZING. You can find images from the Chicago World Fair and other hard to find historical even images.

#3. Getty Images – What you say? This is not free. Well that is only partially true. If you want to embed any image from Getty on your blog or share on social media you can! Heres how to do it. You just have to give credit where credit is due.

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

Obsucure holiday? Great excuse for some fun design! I would not have even known today was a day for celebration if it were not for my unhealthy Starbucks addiction – where I spotted this little gift card design for Administrative Professionals Day. I have also found a few other places on the web capitalizing on this exciting day, and if you want to have a little chuckle and waste a little time head to this favorite site.

Graduates In Wonderland Blog Design

A tale of a blog design –

Last fall, one of my oldest friends from childhood, Jessica, sent me an advanced copy of her forthcoming book, Graduates in Wonderland. It’s the true story of her post-college adventures in Beijing and beyond while she searches for love and the story about her college friend Rachel who is in New York and Paris, trying to find her own way through life.

The book is an epistolary memoir – the format is letters between Jessica and Rachel – it’s very personal, brutally honest and also really funny. (Sidenote: I make a small appearance in the book when Jessica comes home to Texas). I loved the book and when I came to the end of it, I realized that I wanted to know more of their story.

GraduatesinWonderland_Authors_photos copy

Rachel and Jessica, co-authors

 

What happens next? The book ended but their stories go on.

Wyatt and Co. came up with the idea to create a blog for the book. Jessica wanted the website to be personal and funny (the same tone of the book), but also to be helpful to recent graduates who are also struggling to find their way in the world.

She wanted it to also look a little bit like the book, but for the blog to have its own distinct brand.

Most author websites are just sites to promote the book — they are static with a blurb about the book and an author photo, but I wanted to showcase more of Jessica and Rachel’s amazing writing (they write for sites like The Hairpin and The Toast). I decided to play off the theme of the title “Graduates in Wonderland” and the book cover.

The cover is like the modern day wreckage of a tea party for adults: overturned tea cups, colorful half-eaten macaroons, broken dishes and a huge teapot. I thought the font was particularly great and wanted to incorporate it into the website (especially that Victorian-style W). From there, we tried a few tea party images for the banner, but in the end, we decided to keep it simple. I found an image of a spilling teacup that looked great with the swirly font.

Graduates_FINAL cover

the cover

 

As for content, Jessica and I discussed that she wanted to have various sections on her website, not just a simple rolling blog. I asked her what sorts of things she would write about and she said it would be funny advice pieces, silly adventures she and Rachel have in London (they both live there now), travel stories and graduate advice. We decided to have five distinct categories, but within these categories, we had drop-down menus.

For example, on her travel category, a person could hover over the category and see the options for different places (China, France, Australia, the US and everywhere else). I came up with a template, sent it over to Jessica, and after a few tweaks with font and color, she was really happy with it. I added in a Most Viewed section to highlight the most popular posts (with photos on the side to entice readers).

We also added buttons so readers could easily share posts on Facebook and Twitter. I also thought that with this kind of book and blog, readers probably want to get involved. I pitched the idea of having the Graduates Instagram – readers can take their own photos of their versions of being out in the real world (Wonderland), tag it with #gradsinwonderland, and they would appear on the website (changing with each refreshed page).

Jessica and Rachel could post their adventures there and their readers could share with them, too. We named it Grad-stagram. And voila! Graduates in Wonderland is up and running! Take a look at it – here’s a preview:

 

Screen shot 2014-08-05 at 6.51.37 PM

 

Oh, and the book is out now – be sure to grab a copy!