Vassar Web Design

Vassar College

September 16, 2013

Cascade Server Product Roadmap notes #csuc13

Notes from “Cascade Server Product Roadmap,” September 16, 2013, 9:00-10:00am.  Speakers: Kat Liengens and Bradley Wagner.  This was typed at a conference and is being posted without editing.  Report any typos and missing content in comments or to mebrown@vassar.edu.
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May 14, 2013

Redesign Recap: Vassar Department of Film

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Vassar Film Homepage

The new Vassar Department of Film homepage, launched May 7, 2013.

Vassar’s Film Department was long overdue for a redesign, and I was really psyched when the project was assigned to me. Having a film degree myself, I have warm and fuzzy memories from my years on set. Filmmaking is a highly collaborative art form, and students in film school can’t help but create strong bonds as they work on each other’s projects. It was those memories, and that feeling of kinship and collaborative creativity that I wanted to come through in the new Film Department website. Read more →


April 23, 2013
October 25, 2012

Designer’s Block: 3 ways to conquer and create

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Designing websites is a time-consuming and often tedious process. It takes patience, attention to the most minute details, and the ability to surrender control, accepting that your creation is an evolving organism that will never fit perfectly into your carefully-crafted mold.

Just like any creative endeavor that requires a balance of expertise, problem-solving skills, and raw intuition, sometimes the mysterious process of creation gets curiously derailed. And regardless of whether you’re tackling a new project or you’re weeks or months into a complex one, Designer’s Block—the feeling of being completely out of ideas—is frustrating and inconvenient. Read more →


October 24, 2012

IE8 support dwindling

How long will we need to fully support IE8? It’s about 10% of our traffic now but with no media query support, and our push for responsive designs, we’d like not to (we’re not using respond.js). I had thought IE8 would die a slow death like IE6—since you can’t upgrade IE8 on Windows XP (still a large market share) and it got into installs of Windows 7—but other factors may speed it’s demise. One is Microsoft’s almost year-old agressive IE upgrade policy. Another is in less than a month, on 11/15/2012, Google will discontinue suport for IE8 for all Google Apps services. With Google leading, others may follow. Google is recommending Google Toolbar for IE which includes Google Chrome Frame (GCF). We’re already supporting GCF via our htaccess (ala html5 boilerplate; see “Better website experience for IE users”) and we should be seeing GCF activity increase in our Google Analytics. On a related note, back in June, jQuery announced v.2 would not support OldIE (IE6/7/8) then clarified v1.9 would, and would be supported “As long as oldIE is a significant factor on the web.” Time will tell.

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October 8, 2012

Links I emailed my kids: ’cause they’re that good

Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of sharing links with my children via email. I’ve always shared with them but usually just when we’re all in front of my laptop. Links get saved to Delicious and tagged as “kids” but I wanted to see if we could get more out of the experience by having a dialog. So far, I have to prompt them to read it and comment back to me. We’ll see how this social experiment goes. In the meantime, here’s some of what I’ve shared:

Some more interesting video (not shared with the kids):

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September 25, 2012

An Introduction to Wireframing: Organize now, design better later

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One of the things I love about working on the small-but-stealth Vassar Web team is that while each of us has areas of specialization, we all still wear many hats. None of us is just a designer or just a developer, and the planning of sites is just as much our responsibility. This means that when we’re leading a project, we handle all facets of the process: the information architecture (IA), user experience design (UX), content organization, and so on. We also have the freedom to choose the techniques and processes that work best for us individually.

This makes me very happy. Why? Because just as much as I love design and development, I also love the puzzle that is website planning Read more →


September 18, 2012
September 17, 2012

Data visualization

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I can’t tell you how many times a visual example has helped me understand some concept or idea more easily. Whether I’m listening to a lecture or reading some instructions, a slide or diagram usually helps get the point across. Read more →


September 10, 2012

Tools of the Trade

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I’ve come a long way from the days when my primary design tools were Photoshop and Illustrator. As I develop new methods, refine my processes, and figure out what works and what doesn’t, I usually get to the point where I need something that my existing software doesn’t do. At this stage, I’ve grown to rely on a wide variety of programs and utilities: apps for design, development, communication, and organization.

I’ve found the following three apps to be especially useful. Maybe they’ll be useful to you too.

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Design is poetry.