Style Tile Success
If you've ever been here before, you may notice that the site looks totally different. We started DevCollaborative in January 2013. Erin Fogel, Michelle Murrain, and I were already working together, and had been in various forms for some years, but we decided to team up under a common name to make it easier to think and talk about ourselves as a team as we worked to develop more unified processes, better collaboration techniques, etc.
So, initially, this little site was just thrown up to be our "shingle"... a place where we could start developing our team identity and describe what we do and how we do it. I'm not a designer. I write front-end code. I do have an eye for design, but I don't have the specific graphic design training that a dedicated professional web designer has. Like many freelancers and small business owners, I also don't have much free time. So I found a pallette and tossed together a site, and then re-focused on client work.
Over the next year, we got really busy. We got to serve some incredible organizations that work on everything from solving global hunger to ensuring people can get health care. At some point last year, it became clear that were were having enough success that we should make our little site a bit easier on the eyes.
We know from experience that, especially with responsive design, a quick and iterative rebuild based on style tiles or collages, rather than full Photoshop comps, can be faster and cheaper. We'd heard through the grapevine that Pixels & Pulp is an excellent design shop. So we reached out to them to see if they might consider putting something together for us. We didn't have the budget for a full design process with thoughtfully designed layouts. We just needed a pulled-together look, and a logo. I was a bit concerned because, well, the name "DevCollaborative" doesn't inspire a lot of imagery. But they collected lots of feedback from us about other site designs we liked and didn't like. They listened exceptionally well to how we describe the way that we work together. And they came up with a logo treatment that, to me, captures our creative development process that brings order and style to the messy beginnings of a project. We are so psyched! They delivered it to us, after a few rounds, as a PDF file of a style collage, with our logo and icons cut and ready to go. (All the layouts here are ones I threw together... they could be much more interesting and creative... but... yeah... I have no time.)
Working with this PDF style collage without having to open Photoshop was bliss. Because I use SASS and Compass whenever humanly possible, I was quickly able to look at the style specs and set up variables for font stacks and colors, make mixins for font sizes and other design features, and set up sprites. And then I was so organized that writing the SCSS was easy. Yes, it's a simple design and a small site. And of course it's a lot easier to build a site for yourself and your two like-minded co-workers than it is for organizations with complex needs. But still... at least for our use case, we're really pleased with how our little site turned out. We'll see if I have any time in 2014 to make the site a little bit more fun! As it is, I can't believe I managed to write this blog post.
Happy 2014, all!