Archives for March 2009

Old Barn Texture


When we bought our property more than 20 years ago, we inherited an amazing architectural gem: A fachwerk barn. With hand-hewn beams, rough, weathered bricks and bent, rusty nails, it’s a photographer’s dream. My limited skills, however, could never quite capture its essence.

Now I’m learning to see things differently. There’s art everywhere we look and sometimes capturing the parts rather than the whole can be very intriguing.

I like how this shot turned out.

I’m still working on texture assignments for my photography class and this shot came up with texture galore. The nails are the old, square kind; possibly handwrought in the early to mid-1800’s. And the ragged chunk of wood is part of a large beam separating brick sections in the fachwerk design.

I like how the viewer’s eye is drawn back and away. My mind does the same when I think of days gone by and the work that went into handcrafting the nails and timbers of this barn. Simply awesome.

Will people ever say that about the work we do today?

Nitardy Funeral Home, Fort Atkinson, WI


Nitardy Funeral Homes is a family-owned business that has provided personal and caring service to families of south central Wisconsin since 1932. Knowing a website is a necessary part of today’s funeral home industry, Nitardy’s have been online for many years. Their site, however, had become outdated in content, functionability and design.

Third generation owner David Nitardy and his staff desired a new look. They also wanted independence from the industry service they subscribed to for their website. Together, our goal was to create a site personal to their organization, professional and still welcoming to the small town communities they serve. The staff also wanted an obituary page they could easily update themselves.

The resulting design reflects the warmth and compassion of Nitardy Funeral Homes. It highlights Nitardy’s rural history and their identifying logo is carried out in various elements throughout the site. It’s a simple site, easy to navigate and a great source of information.

After discussing several options, Nitardy staff chose to go with a WordPress blog for their obituary page. I customized it to match their website and provided several hours of tutorial time. The Nitardy staff now feels comfortable maintaining the blog and is doing a great job answering the needs of families they serve.

A Study of Texture


I’m continuing my photography classes and this semester I’m studying lighting. Who knew there could be so much to learn about light shining on a subject! It gets a little technical at times but so far I’m managing.

One of our assignments was a study in texture. This awesome ball of Chilean Mapuche yarn was a gift from my daughter-in-law and perfect for the project. By shooting in a tented backdrop with a light source coming from the side, I was able to capture the intriguing nubbiness of the strands and all its hairlike fibers.

Now to get going and knit something with this beautiful wool!

An Up-to-Date Website: Accessibility

When it comes to today’s websites, of the Three A’s (Audience, Application, Accessibility), perhaps accessibility is most important. No matter who your audience is or how well you’ve applied good elements, if your website is inaccessible, it serves no purpose.

We hear this word all the time these days. What’s it mean?

Accessibility means making your website accessible, or viewable, to as many people possible, no matter what browser or device they’re using.

The internet isn’t just for computers anymore. According to The Kelsey Group, almost 40 percent of users of mobile devices such as ipods, iphones and Blackberries are using them to access the internet. And you don’t have to live under a rock to know mobile devices are commonplace to anyone under the age of 50.

As Christians, there’s another online presence we should consider: those with disabilities using special browsers to accommodate their needs. Many of our old ways of designing, such as frames and outdated coding, are inaccessible to people using such browsers.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) offers extremely detailed instructions for online accessibility. In reality, this reads a bit like Greek to most of us. Here are a few basics, however, to get you started:

Limit Flash
Flash is fancy. Flash is fun. And nowadays most computers can handle it. But mobile devices and many browsers for visually impaired viewers still cannot. Use Flash as an accessory but never for vital content.

Think scrolling
Mobile device screens utilize lots of vertical scrolling. Now’s the time to get rid of that introductory splash page and your wide width dimensions. If you’re designing specifically for mobile devices, downsize your site to a width of 320 pixels and put your best and most sought after information at the top of the page.

Use semantic code (at least HTML 4.0 Transitional)
Sorry folks, Word, Publisher and FrontPage just don’t cut it. These are not reliable web design programs and the code they deliver do not meet today’s standards. Learn to code. Use a true WYSIWYG program such as Dreamweaver.

Does all this seem too complicated?

Well, sometimes it might just make more sense to consider a professional. Let them do what they’re good at, so you have time to do what you’re good at.