RBJ designs

Learning New Things

At work, I’ve been doing a lot of development in Geographic Information Systems. I really know very little about cartography, but the project I was working on required it. I couldn’t just load up Google maps and go, this project was much more complex than that. So I had to learn!

At first, it was super frustrating. Not only was I dealing with terminology and technology that was new to me, I was developing almost entirely on the front end using a library I didn’t know. Super frustrating.

But then, I really started enjoying it, things were coming together. Even though I had to go back at one point and fix my base structure, it was great!

All this to say, try something new. Develop something for fun, or even in a sector you know little about! It’s great for stretching yourself and expanding you bag of tools!

Challenging Yourself

Jared Spool talked at An Event Apart about being a ‘design unicorn.’ Meaning that we shouldn’t become compartmentalized in our profession. This really stuck out to me because I tend to fall in a rut and stay they. I like the same thing and don’t really stray.

So, I took the challenge this week to try something new. Most of my designs are very photo-centric (which is not a bad thing), but it’s always a similar feel. So, instead, I decided to try my hand at a design centered much more around illustration.

I’ve dabbled in illustration, but never based a design on it. I really loved how it all turned out! I sent it to our client on Friday afternoon and can’t wait to hear back.

I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes, but the point is this: don’t get stuck in your rut. Try something new even if it might be terrible. Stretch yourself! Be a unicorn!

Responsive Design is Web Design

Lately, I’m finding myself not asking clients if they want me to make their design responsive. I’m just doing it. Because, they don’t expect it, they love it when they visit their site on a mobile device and find out that it looks great. That’s a big reason why I do it, it’s a great way to give the client a nice little surprise.

But, shouldn’t I charge them for that?


If you are a web designer, you design for the web. Period. If the web is increasingly becoming more mobile, you must design for mobile. And you must design for the bazillions of different screen sizes that are out there. The only way to do this well is to design responsively.

I encourage you to give it a try, even with something small. It’s not terribly hard, and once you get started, it’ll get easier. Do it.

Thoughts from An Event Apart

There were many great talks from every speaker, I loved them all! See a full listing. My thoughts follow.

We really need to challenge assumptions of how we are doing things. There are some common things like saying 404 when a page can’t be found. Why do we do it? Users could care less, why not give them a nice error.

We are never done. The web is a living, breathing, changing medium. If we ever assume that our project is done, we’re lying to ourselves.

It’s okay to launch at 80%. The web is used to enhancing after a launch. It’s normal, and it’s good to keep making minor revisions.

Mobile is becoming THE Web. 31% of Americans do not have a computer or internet access in their home, but have a smartphone will mobile access and it is their ONLY access to the web. We can’t say “No one would do that on mobile” anymore.

There are some great layout tools coming. View Height, View Width units (vh, vw) as well as ViewMin and ViewMax (vmin, vmax) are new attributes that are coming and will change how we do things.

A new layout style is coming. It’s a new layout method. Divs, much like tables, were never meant for layout, W3C is attempting to fix that with things like flexbox. Also, CSS regions and Grids are on the horizon, but no one supports them yet. Flexbox is actually fairly widely supported, and there is an IE shim in javascript to make things happy in IE.

There is not one input method on the web. With the advent of touch enabled everything, and the recent trend that touch will become a part of the desktop experience, we have to make sure that we are planning to support all input methods. We have to go beyond “does it look good” and make sure that it is good for touch.

Mobile Read/Write. Mobile is not just for consumption. More than half of social network sharing content creation is done on mobile. This trend is not unique to social media, it is happening across the web.

HTML 5 APIs are not the future, they are now. HTML 5 APIs are widely supported now (even IE8), so start using them.

There is a mobile ONLY user. A mobile device is the only internet for many Americans.

Low income/minority users are more likely to be mobile ONLY. 59% of these are low income. In the Black and Hispanic populations, more than half of them do not have broadband. But 50% of them use their mobile for their internet access, and are mobile only.

Make a content strategy. 1. Understand the workflow of the content creator, 2. Have good writing. 3. Your content need to be mobile optimized, because the web is mobile always.

Research your users. It’s not about what someone likes or hates, it’s about the users.

Annoyance is easy, Empathy is hard. You are the reason your users suck, you are in the service industry, serve. You need to map things out for users, they don’t understand. But IT’S YOUR JOB to help them understand.

Don’t be afraid to add emotion and personality. It’s what makes your product/service unique and memorable. Emotion and memory are closely tied.

Mobile First means Web First. Things like Responsive and mobile design aren’t a fad, they are what the internet is becoming.

Nordevin Group

My latest project brought me to a company that needed to have its real estate properties stand out above the rest. We developed a custom Word Press theme, as well as some custom functionality that allowed the client to really showcase their properties.

Site: www.pacificplaceolympia.com

City of Yakima

The City of Yakima site and applications are my day job. This site is special in that it fully employs Responsive Web Design. When we launched the responsive version of the site, our mobile usage rose from 6% to 25% in a matter of months!

I really love my job, and the challenges it brings. Yakima is a full-service city, meaning it provides most of the essential services to it’s citizens. With that in mind, the challenge of the web is a fun one because there are a plethora of departments and divisions within the city that need specific services that I provide.

Site: www.yakimawa.gov

Royal Family Kids Camp – Bothell

I’d worked as a councilor for Royal Family Kids Camp for a number of years, and when they were looking for a web presence, I knew I was their man. I love doing work for worthwhile non-profits such as RFKC, because the work they do is truly life-changing.

Site: www.rfkcbothell.com

Fulcrum Real Estate

For the Fulcrum Real Estate Site, they needed a flexible design that was not only easy to update, but could really showcase their beautiful properties. We worked with a local photographer to really capture the beauty of the properties, and provide potential customers with a glimpse of their future homes.

Site: www.fulcrumre.com

Anderson Ellis

Anderson Ellis came to me looking for a logo that was not only strong, but also familiar. We choose a serif/sans-serif mix to convey that message.

Site: www.andersonellis.com