Non-color visual distinction for links as a Best Practice

As a functional component of a web page, a link should look like a link—and obviously so. On some of our sites, color alone is used to indicate a link, but, according to WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), color isn’t sufficient for a link to be accessible. For general usability, when WCAG are applied, our sites become easier to use for everyone. I’d like to suggest using underlines on links as a best practice and here’s why: More

Redesign Recap Vassar Department of Film

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. More

Designer’s Block 3 ways to conquer and create

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.

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An Introduction to Wireframing Organize now, design better later

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 More

Tools of the Trade


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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The Vassar Library homepage gets a facelift

Earlier this spring, I was asked to take a critical eye to the Library’s homepage. The Vassar library is not only one of the most beautiful and historically-rich buildings on campus, it’s also an important resource (and second home, perhaps!) to Vassar students.

The library’s website is one of the largest and most complex on campus, bringing together numerous search tools, catalogs, and a wellspring of resources and information. It’s absolutely essential that the homepage helps visitors More

Dynamic Weather with NOAA, PHP, jQuery, and HTML templates

One of our aims with our new alumnae/i site was to give alums who may be far away a chance to reconnect with the campus they know and love. Of course we have the usual imagery, stories, social networking, etc. but there was one feature—weather—that could evoke the moment, in real-time on campus.

In order to make that connection as immediate and palpable as possible, we couldn’t allow the weather to cache, or only update on page load. All it took was some jQuery and HTML templates added to our existing PHP script which was already pulling an XML feed from NOAA. Read on to see how we did it…

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