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Chevron Hicks, graphic designer
Rich Rodecker, programmer
Heavenspot, project design and development
Chris McPherson, client

“Simple, clean, professional site. Within two minutes of accessing it, this quick loading, but photo-heavy site makes me want to hire Chris. Love the transitions—they remind me of the Prodigy days when vectors would draw in as they were downloaded.”—juror Dan Mavromatis

“Innovative navigation and a wise use of Flash with small, quick-to-load SWFs (instead of a single, giant hog of a file) with conceptually-integrated visual-loading information that’s especially valuable to visitors in a rush or on slower connections. In addition, the site reflects the photographer’s personality, adding tone and emotion to clean functionality.”—juror Deb Koch

Overview: Its playful interface distinguishes this photographer’s site as more than a standard online portfolio. Simple spot color animations and basic geometric shapes make this site easy to navigate.

• Average download size for an image is 60k
• Use of Flash Remoting MX allows client to easily update content
• 3 months, 2 people

Comments by Chevon Hicks and Rich Rodecker:
“The design challenge facing us with this project was deciding how to best showcase Chris’s photography. He requested a site that he could update himself—he wanted the ability to upload his most recent images and text—and wanted all illustrations to be based on his photography.

“Wanting the viewer’s eye to go directly to the photographs, meant that everything else had to be lower in the visual hierarchy. We took a minimalist approach to the navigation, logo and color scheme and arrived at a stark gray design with clean geometric shapes that fit into a smashed grid—like a depressed Mondrian. We chose Myriad as the typeface for its legibility and classic design.

“In contrast to the starkness or ‘mechanical’ aspect of the design, we gave the animation an opposing ‘organic’ quality. The basic difference between Mecha[nism] and Orga[nism] is the appearance of randomness—the way leaves flutter on a tree, the way their branches grow, or the very shape of the tree itself. There is a similar conflict apparent in Chris’s body of work, so this theme supported his images well.

“We achieved a ‘natural’ quality by generating random starting and ending positions; the detail will go largely unnoticed, but it subconsciously makes the site seem fresh—especially to repeat visitors. The illustrations were initially created in grayscale, then warmed up with color to add another layer of depth to the designs.

“All of the artwork was created on Macs with Adobe Illustrator while the programming and engineering were done on PCs. We used a MySQL database to hold the site’s content and used AMFPHP (Flash Remoting for PHP) and PHP to communicate between Flash and MySQL. Flash Remoting is a great technology that simplifies Flash communication with a backend server.

“Our real success lies in the fact that we’ve empowered our client, who now has total control over a dynamic Flash site, with a friendly Web-based admin tool. Chris was blown away. This was a real evolution in both functionality and appearance from his previous site and it’s served his specific needs well.”

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