Redesigning WillyG Productions

In lieu of other topics to write about, and in case you may not have noticed it yet, I recently redesigned my online identity. Part of that can be seen in the banner at the top of this site. The best example, however, is at my new “hub of operations“.

The Logo

Showing the evolution of my logo from late 2009 (left) to present (right).

Showing the evolution of my logo from late 2009 (left) to present (right).

My logo has remained relatively unchanged over the years, but this month I really cracked down on making the final iteration as professional as possible. This is a far cry from 2009, when I made my first version for a high school graphics assignment. We were tasked with designing a product label, complete with nutritional information and a fake company. I decided to instead make a logo for myself (the name was, of course, different back then). I took the W from the font 28 Days Later, put it over a diamond, and colored the whole thing the first okay-looking dark red I saw in Photoshop.

During the summer of 2012 I decided my logo was a bit unclean (see all those little blood streaks in the W?) so I resolved to vectorize it. The way I did so was almost equally unclean; I just used the Pen Tool and traced the outline of the original W. As a result, the lines were straighter and the speckles were removed. I thought it looked fine, but…

Note to Self: NEVER create a geometric logo without using pure geometry.

With that in mind, I built the 2014 version completely from scratch out of a diamond, two ellipses — the subtle top/bottom curves of the W — and four extremely long triangles canted at precise angles. The red was also carefully chosen, and by “carefully” I mean stolen from Solarized, one of my favorite color schemes…although in my defense, Ethan Schoonover has spent quite a lot of time perfecting the colors to look good across a wide spectrum of applications. So, too, will my logo.

The Tagline

“I make things that do stuff” sounds rather dull and generic, but there’s a story behind it.

In my computer science program we frequently have to do group projects. Thankfully, we also usually get to pick who we work with. My default teammate is an army vet who happens to be just the right combination of smart and cynical, on top of being a great public speaker. Good for me, since I despise public speaking (can you tell from my YouTube videos?).

For the longest time, he would introduce our project by saying something along the lines of, “So yeah, we made this thing and…it does…stuff.” Created a database application that maintains WoW player information? “Our project was this database thing. It has data and does stuff.” Made a 1970’s text adventure parody of Oregon Trail? “So this is our game. We made it. Will’s gonna show you the stuff it does.” You get the idea.

I always hated it, because our grade was on the line and in 2-3 sentences he could make our cool project come across as…well, dull and generic.

But then I got to thinking. What do we really do as programmers? I’m not talking game designers or application developers or kernel hackers. I’m just talking programmers. Most of the time — no, not all of the time, life is never that easy — we’re making things. And these things do stuff. What they do depends on what the programmer is interested in, but the common trend is that we’re all creators.

Out of nothing, we make something.

I can no longer call myself strictly a game designer. I’m also not just a web designer or app developer. But I do make things that do stuff. So there you go.

The Site

Back to willyg302.github.io. One thing you might notice right off the bat is that it’s designed in discrete tiles. The root of this idea came from Google, but I took it a step further by making everything tiles, from the social icons to the welcome message to the list of projects I’m working on. The whole thing is powered by Isotope, giving it several unique properties:

  • The site is instantly responsive, no extra work needed. Try resizing the browser window to see what I mean.
  • Tiles can be filtered. This means creating a “site menu” is as simple as assigning categories to tiles (“Contact”, “Project”) and adding the filter dropdown.
  • Tiles can be sorted. Not much use now, but likely useful when there are 70 projects or something up (not that I’ll ever be involved in that many projects).
  • Tiles can expand. Click the “Research Assistant” tile for a demo. This allows for more, not immediately relevant information to be displayed if necessary.

I think it’s a cool idea, and definitely unlike any personal site I’ve ever seen on the Interwebz. One thing that’s great is that I don’t have to worry about formatting at all, and the content works even better when it’s jumbled and chaotic. Try doing that with a Bootstrap theme!

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