Another milestone in Bonanzle’s history was reached this week when we finally found a design partner up to the task of imagining the site’s design future. So without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemens, I present to you Bonanzle’s deity of design: Geoff Harrison of geoffco. His site is filled with a number of attractive and well-thought-out sites that geoffco has created as part of its design portfolio.
In his relationship with Bonanzle, Geoff will help us lay out seven of the site’s most critical pages. He will also assist us in creating a design template that can be reused across the site as new pages arise during development. We like to believe that Bonanzle will be a defining site in geoffco’s portfolio, and that we can continue to work with geoffco as the site reaches its future development milestones, expanding its reach with each month that we draw closer to beta.
** Posthumous Update **
Summary. I see this is pretty high in the search results for “geoffco design,” so let me comment posthumously on the experience we had working with geoffco. First of all, we are a CSS-heavy, web 2.0 site whose design emphasis is on simple, simple, simple. When we worked with geoffco (from about March to July of 2007), Geoff was one of the most impressive designers I could find from the Seattle freelance mailing list. Plus, he gave us a great price on what we were doing. He stuck Adam Faja on our project, while Geoff worked in an overseer/advisory role. I will henceforth refer to the Adam/Geoff combination as “geoffco”, though I worked more closely with the former.
Results. I was very satisfied with the overall process of working with geoffco. I entered the relationship with geoffco only having a vague idea of what our site might look like, and geoffco was very patient with the many iterations it took to get the design looking the way I wanted it to look. Our process was usually that I would give geoffco a high-level overview of the requirements/goals I had for a certain page, and geoffco would send me back a PDF (presumably created with Photoshop) to get us on the same page. The first pass usually wasn’t what I was looking for, so I would either ask geoffco to revise things (which they grew a bit weary of toward the end, given that I did it quite a bit), or get into Photoshop and re-arrange things myself to send back something that was more in line with my vision (they seemed amendable to this arrangement).
After a couple design revisions, geoffco would create the HTML for the pages. At first this was something of a touch and go process, as I believe Adam didn’t have a lot of experience writing HTML (the HTML we received appeared to have been auto-generated… lots of font tags, spacer gifs, entirely table-based layouts, all the good web 1.0 stuff). After talking with Geoff directly about our needs (div-based layout, well structured markup with nothing extraneous) we reached a compromise and Adam started learning CSS-based layout. He was a quick study, and after a couple pages, the quality of the markup was consistent with other design-first web designers I’ve worked with (which is to say, not all that great, but serviceable without all that much tinkering).
In the end, I thought that for the price we paid, we got a great deal, and I would work with geoffco again. If we needed our design to ultimately end up in HTML, I would probably double-check that the designer we were going to be working with had some experience with tableless layout. But other than that, it was a good experience, and the design we ended up with was sound starting point, especially since they really had to start from square one in figuring out what our design was going to look like*.
* At this point, about 6 months later, we’ve revised (I believe) every page that geoffco had given us, but the skeletal layout for what-goes-where on those pages are still very similar to what geoffco had provided us, a sign of their knack for UI.