making things better, making better things

Sunday, February 22, 2009


After the Barefoot site launched, I got a lot of nice feedback about it, mostly from people who work for the cafe.  “Looks great!” they said, and I wasn’t quite sure how to react.  I was proud of how the site worked, but the look of the site, I thought, was entirely thanks to Conrad Altmann, the designer.

The first few times this happened I just stopped and tried to think of a response, which didn’t work out that well.  Then I tried explaining how the way it looked wasn’t really something I did, but people didn’t seem that interested.  Finally I learned to just say “Thanks.”  (It’s nice to accept compliments graciously, and besides, I was thinking a lot harder about what their words meant than they were, mostly – “looks great” isn’t different from “good job” unless you’re already in the weeds.)

It occurred to me today, though, that I actually did deserve some credit for how the site looked.  Conrad provided the design, the layout, and the graphics – if not for him, the site would all be black-on-white Times, with purple visited links.  But part of my job was making the site look like the design, and I did a pretty good job.

And not just making the pages he laid out look like he laid them out.  Part of the job is also making the pages look good when the stuff on them takes a different shape than the designer expected.  Part of it is filling in the gaps where the designer didn’t provide a spec.  Part of it, for better or worse, is helping the designer adapt the original vision into something that can be executed on the web with a limited budget.

So hey, me – good job on the site.  Looks great!

P.S. I want to disclaim, my point isn’t that I think the site we made is so exquisitely beautiful.  Just, to the extent that any web site looks good, it’s due in part to engineering as well as good graphic design.

P.P.S. This site, the one you’re reading,, is David Chait’s adaptation of a Douglas Bowman design. Good job, you guys! Looks great!

posted by erik at 2:14 pm  

1 Comment

  1. I concur, Erik did an awesome job of putting together what I conceived, I was a bit sloppy at times and your ingenuity was and is the glue that holds the site together.

    Comment by Conrad — April 10, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

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