May 1, 2017
Shortly after I published my blog article about ChamberlinSax.com, I got an inquiry from an actual human who wanted me to build them a website. Chris Condon is another saxophone-playing friend of mine in the US Army Europe Band. He currently has a squarespace site he’s not totally happy with, and asked if I could spruce it up for him. After a brief attempt at trying to apply some of the design principles I’d learned over the last two months, I decided custom was the way to go. Once I showed Chris the type of content management system I’d make for him, he was on board.
First Client Meeting
Like true professionals, Chris and I went to lunch at a coffeeshop to go over what he wanted out of a website. His list of requirements was familiar enough for me to feel comfortable taking on the project, and he also wanted a few things that would give me the opportunity to stretch into new territory. In addition to the website Chris was also looking for a logo and wordmark for use on the web and possibly future letterhead and business cards.
Chris—if you’re reading this—that was totally new territory for me. It was a funny coincidence that so soon after finishing a project that highlighted my design weaknesses I would be asked to do some design work. I looked at this as an opportunity to grow some new artistic muscles, and I was eager to take on the challange.
For his website Chris wanted a few different sections. A basic “Home/About/Contact” section to help people get to know him and get in touch. An “Events” page to highlight upcoming performances and lectures, while also preserving a history of past events. A “Projects” page to serve as a publishing platform to showcase videos and albums Chris is working on. Finally, an “Albums” section would show people a list of albums and give them the option to view details about each one on its own page.
Most of these features seemed pretty simple, but a few were intriguing. For his “Events” page I would have to write a data model and view method that had the server check the date of each event and sort them accordingly. For the “Projects” page Chris wants projects to either have a header image or a header video, but not necessarily both. The template in this case will have to be flexible enough so that the detail pages for each event can adapt to the content presented, while still presenting a unified appearance. The “Albums” section will need a list of the albums, with each one having a more detailed view that would allow users to listen to track samples and purchase on amazon or iTunes.
The final feature is the most interesting. Chris frequently contacts venues that need access to his music to decide if he’d be a good fit. In addition he’d like to be able to send his album digitally to media outlets for review. In order to keep his music unavailable to just anyone, this full album section will need to be accessible only via a hidden url and be password protected. I got an intro to user authentication in CS50, but haven’t done it yet for a from-scratch app.
Chris’s current squarespace site has a logo I slapped together from the free icons and fonts available, but it definitely lacks individuality. Chris was interested in getting a custom logo, and I’m interested in learning illustrator. Win-Win (unless I can’t pull it off). In addition to the logo, he needed help picking a good font combination for the web. Since I just finished Practical Typography by Matthew Butterick, this part was just fun.
Rather than do a big write-up after this project is over like I did for chamberlinsax.com, I’m going to write up the challenges I face on Chris's site as I go. After discussing it with him, I’m not going to publish images or screenshots until the big unveiling. You can look forward to that sometime in the next month or so. Until then, stay tuned for updates on my progress. Soon you’ll be able to read all about it on the brand new chriscondonsax.com.