Blowing Out the Dust: Recent Work Edition

It’s very appropriate that the last proper post on this blog was titled “Designing for Permanence” — a post espousing an approach to web design in which one aims to create an enduring artifact — and so this blog endured: static, fixed and not updated for a couple of months. That’s not exactly the type of permanence I was shooting for.

In an effort to jump-start a couple of topics and provide context for future posts, I thought I’d share some recent work highlights.

Glassbooth

Glassbooth HomeHome page.
The actual questionsQuestions based on issues you chose.
Glassbooth issue-by-issue breakdownThese aren’t my actual results.

This was probably the biggest personal project I worked on in a while. It started as a thought exercise by a couple of buddies of mine on the current state of representative democracy and ended in an interactive tool backed by some of the best data on the current presidential candidates. It’s now a fully-certified 501(c)(3) non-profit. What’s great about a project like this is the autonomy afforded in making design decisions. In this case, I got the opportunity to design everything you see except for the icons and logo.

Because the aim of the project was to create a non-biased source of information for the upcoming election, the challenge was to present it as such. I also wanted to avoid cliched motifs: using red white and blue or the american flag. Colors in general were problematic, as their interpretation is often personal and subjective. Choosing any distinct palette would be tantamount to choosing a side (especially green). Not to mention the information design and interaction problems that needed to be solved.

Searchblog

Searchblog redesignedThis one looks better in person.

Having had a surplus of ideas on blog design, I decided to use them to re-think Searchblog. It was not prompted and I essentially imposed the design on John. Thankfully, he was a good sport about it and after a fun reader census, it’s now live. Speaking of reader feedback on design, this served as a good opportunity to revisit Daniel Burka’s presentation on that very same topic.

Feed Wrangler

Feed Wrangler screenshotMain settings screen where you can create new feeds and manage existing ones

Feed Wrangler is a WordPress plugin that came out of my work at FM. Feeds are an extremely important part of any publishing venture. Whether it’s to facilitate a syndication partnership or plug in to some third-party service. The requirements, however, can be quite diverse and unpredictable. For example, the feed widgets generated by FeedBurner are problematic if your blog is available on the Amazon Kindle.

To address the problem, Movable Type has the custom-feed-generation thing covered pretty well. On the other hand, there is a fair amount of work required to do the same if you are a WordPress publisher — this plugin aims to solve that, by making custom feed creation a more manageable process.

May 27 2008

But the design ROCKS. Thanks Ivan.

Ivan, it’s great to see some of your design work. Glassbooth is very impressive, all the more so because it is a personal project.