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.