Career Week Kickoff Part 2 : Website Revamp Process

Again in the spirit of “find a job week” here at Neumont I went back and instead of doing photography I revamped my entire website over this weekend and spent about 20-30 hours designing, creating and implementing a completely new look, feel and theme for my site. For those of you who have a vested interest in Graphic / Web design I am going to delve a bit into the design and thought process behind how this entire image has been evolving and try to cover the different aspects that played a part in this particular design.

But first, a trip down memory lane of how this sites theme has evolved:

This is the first WordPress theme I used from March of 2007 until some point in 2008. It was a highly modified version freshy theme including a revamped sidebar and posts area, and I believe a revamped comments section as well (not pictured)
Paul Rohde Photography



A concept page, created as a design in late 2007 but never used or turned into a template.
Paul Rohde - Concept Page



This particular theme was created in June of 2008 to the point that I had an entire working template, all that would have been required was to insert all the PHP that was needed to turn it into a fully working WordPress theme and it would have gone into production on this site. At some point I realized it didn’t really reflect the media centric nature of who I was and the direction I was headed; it defiantly portrayed my technical software side and even the graphic/web site but it didn’t fit with all the photography and work I’ve put into developing my photography into a potential business. Eventually I stopped work on it and focused on other things (University classes among other things).
paulrohde.com



After finally getting really tired of the Freshy theme I went template hunting on http://www.wordpress.org/extend/themes and found a red and black theme that piqued my interest. After playing with it, removing some vines and flowers and replacing them with something a bit more ‘techy’, switching to a fluid width instead of fixed width site, I activated this theme:
Obsidion Tech



An interesting thing to note at this point was that this theme has been setting not only the color and tone, but also began reflecting the entire ‘brand’ I want to portray. After this theme I began transitioning away from the logo I had created when I first began at Neumont and moved towards using just my name as my identity instead of associating a particular set of shapes or a particular symbol to my name as well. Around the end of November 2008 I began to develop this whole concept of image and identity, about who I was, what I wanted to be, what direction I wanted to take myself and where I want to be in the next 3-5 years. That was around the time I began brainstorming identity, font’s, layouts, colors and so on. I wanted to start with the core, the basics of how I was going to display myself and the most simple level and then build out a web and print identity from there. So, I started with my name. I scrapped the logo I had been using for most of my time at Neumont and created about two photoshop scratch sheets full of ideas. The first sheet here is the original starting sheet, the second is taking the favorites and beginning to refine it down more.

(click to expand)
pjr_2009_identityscratchsheet1pjr_2009_identityscratchsheet2



The problem I inevitably run up against is the balance between technology, which is a rigorous logical and mathematical discipline, and art, which is creative, random at times and completely unique depending on the individual creating the art. I needed something that would appeal to both, especially as I knew I was beginning my job search soon. I ended up with a requirements spec in my mind that looked something like this: I needs to be clean, simple, not confusing, it needs to include at least my first and last name, and it to have enough flair to appeal to someone in an art position, models, photographers, other designers, etc… I finally ended with the logo that’s at the top of my site today, black or white text with a red J initial that gets slightly darker as you reach the bottom.

The first step in the design process was creating a watermark, I use it all the time, all over the place and on everything digital. Its also one of the hardest parts to get right and will let you know if the logo and colors you chose can be used effectively on a variety of different backgrounds and situations. It did require some minor tweaking and adjusting to get right, and I suppose the perfectionist in me will never stop changing it, but for now I have a fairly stable brand so to speak.

Finally, the current site. I built it off of the K2 engine I had used on a previous site for Arrowhead Bible Camp, and began with that template as the starting point. I’m a BIG fan of reusing things, modifying them to get what you need. Now, that being said, there are times when you should be creating things all the way from scratch, and I have in the past (the gray and orange template up above and all the logo’s I’ve designed to date for instance) so don’t get me wrong here. Anyways, that aside, I started by creating the backdrop for the site, working through various layout ideas, building a glassy menu bar to add some tech in there and adding feed for twitter right below the menu bar. If you look right now I only have one header image, but one thing that was important was that I could easily change the visual appearance of the site, and k2 allows me to use a folder of images and rotate through them on each page reload, thus my next step is to take a good chunk of my photography and build out several good looking header images with some color in them (I KNOW I don’t want to see myself in the header every time I visit my site).

New site and Theme


I hope you enjoyed my technical reminiscing and will look forward to hearing your comments,

Till next time,

Paul Rohde

Fracture > Retrospect

As I’ve continued working on this game due to the large amount of support from friends and professors here at Neumont, I’ve decided to rename the game due to another game being released with the exact same name by Lucas Arts (http://www.lucasarts.com/games/fracture/) I’m still unsure if I’m going to end up releasing a full game or trying to sell it at all via steam or xbox live or not, there is still a huge amount of work that still needs to be done on the game to make it production worthy.

As far as progress on the game goes, there are now power-ups, better game logic, a simple menu system that was thrown in last minute, several difficulty levels, level regeneration, two new space backdrops, new weapons, and the list goes on… needless to say there has been a good chunk of additional work put into this game since the last time you saw it.

In addition, I was given the opportunity to demo this game to the new prospective students this last Friday after they went through a XNA demo and had a chance to try out what you could do with XNA. A lot of the students were very impressed, though I couldn’t decide if it was a ‘oooo this is a cool game, or oooo this cool that someone here did something like this’ kind of reaction. Guess we’ll see when I get the chance to create and release a demo version :)

However, my blog is not complete without giving you some sort of media to look at, so, here is a desktop background made from one of the space backdrops in the game at 1920×1200 for your viewing / using pleasure.

Download at 1920 x 1200

New site design for Arrowhead

I just finished putting the finishing touches on a new site design for Arrowhead Bible Camp, the current site is in great need of an overhall and update, mainly because it is becoming difficult to update the existing content and keep everthing consistent across the entire site.

The new site is based off of WordPress, a PHP based blog and content managment system.  It’s light and extensable and most of all, easy to update.  The theme is based off of K2, a theme that adds a layer of advanced functionality to the existing core wordpress installation and allows for custom styling of that theme.  This is the third iteration of the design concepts for the new arrowhead site, starting from a primaraly white, open site with few images and rounded and angled corners. From there it progressed to primarly K2 style theme with a simple header image, menus, and minimalistic bent. For this last iteration I decided to go with a more modern, image heavy design that I feel portrays the look and feel of the camp much better than the other designs did.

Take a look, tell me what you think: (click to view full size)

Paul Rohde

PEAK Challange

As I mentioned in my previous post I’m entering the PEAK challenge put on by Neumont University. As a senator for Neumont USG (United Student Government) I was asked to do the poster that’s going to go up around the school advertising PEAK to get people to come and take a look at all the projects. At last count there were approximately 12 projects total, which is a big step up from last quarter.

One of the newest / coolest things about this particular PEAK Challenge (Which has been known in the past as the Neumont Summit Awards) is that the judging is being done by the companies that are sponsoring it! Now, I don’t know about you, but this is a great way to show off what you can do, what Neumont has taught you, and to make an impression on companies and people that you may be interviewing with at some point.

Peak Challange Poster

So… What do you all think?

Assassins

For those of you who have heard of street wars it’s a competition that is put on several times a year in major cities.  100+ people sign up and each person is randomly assigned a target to ‘kill’ by means of squirting them with a water gun, hitting them with a water baloon, or other method of getting the intended victim wet.  The assassin then takes the target of the person they just killed and goes after them.  The last person standing wins, or the winner of sudden death.

For my projects class at Neumont this quarter we decided to create a website that can take the game online so that anyone can play, people will be able to sign up, administrators will be able to create events, and players can sign up to play in events.  The system will take all the players at the start of the Game and assign them their targets and keep track of kills and statistics.  Right now I’m working on a mockup for the graphic design / layout for the site.  Take a look:

Assassins Front / Splash Page

Assassins - Current Target ViewAssassins - View Event

If the site turns out well enough we may try to release it to the public to use, now that would be cool!

Let me know what you think, I love feedback :D

Paul