Category Archives: Social Media

A soft, remote control landing within the design grid

In the summer of 2014, I was approached by Pamela Donleavy a Jungian analyst from the Boston area about a complete redesign of her website. I explained my approach to web design and after a little back and forth we agreed to work together on the site.


This is the Homepage of the main site .

The first hurdle, and a big one, was establishing rapport with someone over the phone that I had never met in person. I don’t dictate design, but rather, work closely with my client’s, trying to tease out a visual identity that they feel represents them well. Not meeting someone face to face or seeing where or how they work makes that process all the more difficult.


So, I asked a lot of questions about her practice. I even emailed a whole list of questions, asking her to answer only those that triggered something in her imagination. She showed me examples of websites she most responded to and I asked her to send favorite photos she had taken or that friends had sent to her.

Analysis, being a mind to mind sort of thing, doesn’t suggest much in the way of images
without making the site look either like the History Channel (Photos of Jung etc.), a Dali exhibition (you know, Jung, dreams, etc.), or a psychedelic hallucination (mandalas), any of which might scare off potential clients. After looking and talking a lot we decided to focus on representing some of the qualities of mind that clients might hope for as an outcome to the therapy – clarity, freedom, peace and so on.


That’s when we started looking at photos in earnest.- lots of photos. In the meantime, I began working on a way of laying out the pages that somehow reflected those qualities just mentioned. One thing that emerged from that effort was establishing the size and proportion to be applied to all of the images.

Pamela liked the direction things were heading and by my sending her proof revisions we worked out a color scheme and finalized the elements in the layout. All while that was going on, Pam was busy writing content for the page headings we decided on.


We then focused on narrowing down photo choices which I had presented to her in the low, wide landscape format we decided on. Sometimes that meant choosing not to use a particular photo or recropping it, etc. I did several photo shoots so we would have plenty of images to work with and gradually we narrowed things down to a single image to represent each page.

At that point I began constructing the web pages and configuring the blog. The method I use to construct pages utilizes a series of rectangular boxes arranged top to bottom and side by side and often nested inside one another. It is a very boxy, hard edged universe that I’ve made it my mission to soften up. One of the things I like most about this site is that other than the main photo, everything else fades into the background. The clarity of the images contrasts well with the softness of everything else.


I try, whenever possible to include a visually matching blog closely integrated into the site structure. The blog consists of Posts which appear on the main blog page and moves down that page as new posts are written, ultimately being removed from that page and archived. The blog also contains pages similar in function to most other web pages.

WordPress is a company that provides the blog structure that I use to integrate into my clients’ web pages. There are other companies that provide the same service but I’ve enjoyed working with WordPress and I am familiar with how the sites are structured. I do not build my sites using code, at least for the most part and probably never will. For those that do, WordPress blogs can be completely custom designed using code. The rest of us must rely on templates created by WordPress developers. Many of them are well designed and quite beautiful, but ultimately limited in design options for code impaired designers such as myself. That said, there is still quite a bit of flexibility in how the templates can be configured and I am able to make the blogs bear a close resemblance to the main site.


I try to include a blog with the formal website for two main reasons. One is to allow the site owner to add content, words, photos, etc. to the site by posting as well as updating pages that contain information that is likely to change often. It is fairly easy to learn how to post using WordPress. What appears on the main site is the more permanent information about the business that is unlikely to change much. I prefer not to create a dependent relationship with my clients requiring a lot of site updating and maintenance on my part.

That brings us to the second reason for the blog. The internet abhors anything static. Websites that just sit there without evolving on a regular basis are unlikely to get the attention of search engines. By updating blog pages and posting regularly, your website becomes more dynamic and that gives viewers a reason to return to learn more about what it is that you do.

Pamela’s blog page is shown below. It’s much in keeping with the main site but lacks the subtlety of the main web pages. The blog pages are more functional and somewhat less formal than the main site, but make the whole of the website experience more useful to visitors.


In spite of the distance that made it impractical for us to meet in person, Pam and I were able to arrive at a web design that represents her practice well. The internet really makes such an undertaking possible, but it’s always reassuring when the outcome is such a happy landing.


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Sharing icons: Weaving an open ended, virtual, word-of-mouth network


When it comes to hawking your wares, stop sweating your SEOs and start building and using your social media infrastructure. Why not? It’s free and the connections you make are much higher in value than those you might get from a newspaper ad for instance. That’s because, like the garden variety word-of-mouth, however far down the chain the message is spread there is ultimately a human contact at its source who has positively interacted with you in some way. “Oh! My son-in-law’s best friend’s girlfriend’s mother, just had her toenails painted with glow in the dark polish at Nails ‘n Rails and was able to toss out all her night-lights.”


Social media comes in all shapes and sizes, but you don’t have to sign up to any or all of them to make them work for you. I can install a plug-in in your WordPress blog that will automatically place a row of social media icons that your customers might regularly use, before or after each post and page you create. This allows them to post your article on their Facebook page, etc. – instantly, I might add. It’s that quick and easy response that puts your information in front of the connections of those who find some value in what articles you’ve posted or information you’ve provided.

One icon is in the shape of an envelope. If someone finds one of your posts valuable, they just have to click on the envelope and an email window opens that they can address to themselves or anyone. The email will contain an automatic link back to your post. That same process happens with each of the other Social Media sites. They click on the appropriate icon and the link is posted on their Facebook, Tweeted on their Twitter, Pinned on their Pinterest and so on.


It’s all so fast and easy that visitors to your site barely have to think about it. If they have a positive response they just click. Others who are connected to them will be able to see that post on whatever social media site it appears and if they like it, they can instantly share it with their connections.

You can choose which social media icons you want displayed and in what order you want them to appear. You also have some control over how they appear on your blog site.


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Social Media: People is good for business


You have access to each Friend’s information and Timeline as they do yours depending on each Friend’s settings deciding who gets to see what.

Each of the social media sites allows people to interact in unique ways. The Facebook description below is about just one such approach. Because each one serves its members in a particular way, it is not uncommon for one person to belong to several social media sites. That means more potential exposure for anyone who wants to promote what they do through social media. Your primary social media tool should be your email, since that usually involves anyone who has already used your services or will use them. Without becoming a nuisance, you can connect with these people intermittently to let them know what you are up to by sending a link to a recent blog post you made, etc. From there, you can branch out to some of the social media sites through Sharing Icons or even developing your own Business Page on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Those are great places to offer specials, etc.



You are able to visit anyone’s home page. How much you will be allowed to see, is up to the owner of that home page. Often you need to become that person’s Friend in order to view their content. You can Search for Friends or browse your Friend’s Friend list. Better yet you can find out who Liked a post that you liked, or Commented on it, or Shared it.

Social media sites are pretty simple to use but very hard to wrap your head around. In Facebook, for instance, you open an account and start posting whatever you want to post, with the latest post showing up first and older posts disappearing down the page (Timeline). Then you ask someone to be their Friend as others ask you to be their Friend. Friend basically means that you both agree to let the other visit their timelines make comments, share, etc. Unless you are a complete party animal, you may want to be somewhat selective at first in how you choose Friends, especially with those you know nothing about. Designating someone as Friend doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re your friend. It’s just a FB designation for someone you feel ok about interacting with, mostly on a pretty basic level.

So let’s say that Facebook limits you to 5 Friends, which which it doesn’t. Your list of five Friends is different from each of your five Friends’ list of five Friends. Because each of your five Friends group of Friends is different from your Friend group and each others’ groups, the way you experience Facebook is different than the way your Friends are experiencing it and their experience is unique to them as well.. What a mess!



Your Newsfeed is unique to you including Posts from all your Friends. However, your Friends cannot see each other’s posts since they each have their own group of Friends unique to them. The diagram on the left shows you the makeup of your unique newsfeed. On the right, Friend A sees only their unique Newsfeed which includes you since you are one of A’s friends.

Then there’s the Newsfeed, or Home. Each of your five Friends and you are regularly making FB posts. Without visiting your Friend’s FB home pages, you can see some of what they are posting by clicking on the Home button in the menu bar at the top on the right, which brings you to your Newsfeed. Like the Timeline, the most recent posts are at the top and move down the page as new posts appear at the top. Unlike the Timeline it’s not just your posts, but some of your Friends’ posts as well. Which ones appear are decided by some mysterious cyber force. Reading your timeline is somewhat akin to reading the daily newspaper except that the news is being generated by your Friends and no two newsfeeds carry the same stories. Oddly, what your Friends post about can be pretty compelling, even addictive. Addictive means captive audience which is why social media is well worth the effort to learn your way around. What you see in the newsfeed is unique to you only. Since your Friends are reading posts in their newsfeeds that their particular group of Friends are writing, they’re not seeing your Friends’ posts and your not seeing their Friends posts.

Now, to make this really exciting, no one is limited to having just five Friends and some people have into the thousands! The problem is that regardless of the numbers you remain somewhat isolated from all those Friends’ Friends. What allows you to break through those barriers is Liking, Commenting and Sharing which your friends can do with your post and you can do with theirs. Once your post is Liked or Commented on they leave a fingerprint on your post that others, outside your circle of Friends can see. If someone Shares your Post, they can decide who they want to show it to. It’s at this level of interaction that the word-of-mouth process becomes really dynamic.



Liking, Commenting and Sharing breaks through the walls separating Newsfeeds.

If one of my Friend’s posts something and one of their Friends, not in my circle of Friends, comments on the post, then I can see that comment in the Newsfeed and if I choose, I can comment on the comment. I can also visit the commenter’s home page and learn something about them and perhaps invite them to be my Friend. Normally, if one of my Friends makes a post, then I can see it in my newsfeed, but my other Friends cannot see it in their newsfeeds. However, If I value my Friend’s post, I can share it and it will be seen in my Friends’ newsfeeds as well. Like and Comment also break through the isolation barriers. Like, by the way essentially means that you think a post is worthy of sharing, which often means that you really like it as well, but not necessarily so. Who you Friend and what you Like should not be taken as an accurate barometer of your personal tastes. Commenting allows you to be clearer about how you actually regard the post.

As I said, easy to do, hard to comprehend! The thing to focus on is what you post and how you interact. This is not a good venue for hard sell. You can post whatever you want, but unless it’s interesting to others, it won’t get Liked, Commented on or Shared and thus will be of little value to your business. If you are too heavy handed promoting your business you might get ‘Unfriended’ in a hurry. No one wants to see your commercials. Friends are pretty open to your accomplishments though as well as information they might find useful and in fact, your posts might have nothing to do with your business at all yet still draw people to your business. If folks become interested in you they might get curious about what you do.

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