C2-06 From Abstract to Visual, Step 1

C2-06 From Abstract to Visual, Step 1

After taking a break this weekend from all things website (well, I did tweak my image post format to do some cool custom stuff :) I’m hitting this marketing challenge with fresh eyes. Today’s morning 15 minutes was spent as follows:

  • 30 seconds – rereading Day 5’s raw notes (see bottom of page for the raw text)
  • 2 minutes of sketching
  • 1 minute of being aghast at how difficult this was
  • Doing a second sketch until the timer alarm went off

I’d started by first sketching the three main things that I thought needed to be present:


Quick Sketch The First When I tried sketching these into place like blocks, I quickly ran into a feeling of “wrongness”. What seemed clear in the abstract seemed very difficult to express. In the photo to the right, which is a half-sheet of paper, I wrote my name at the top and immediately hated it. I drew an oval to represent my head and hated it more! Then I started drawing rectangles below as smaller thumbnails, and realized I was hitting a major unexpected barrier. This was all in the space of about two minutes.

Stepping back, I analyzed the negative feelings.

  • I didn’t like the idea of just starting with my identity and head, and them proclaiming CREATIVE INDEPENDENCE and MAKER. This seemed too forward, too much like TELL instead of SHOW. And I tend to not like to draw the limelight to myself; creating a more Dave-focused home page is something I am forcing myself to do. I like to SHARE information, but I don’t really like putting myself forward as a GURU or EXPERT. At the same time, I need to promote myself.
  • Furthermore, I hadn’t really thought-through how the Dave identity (name, headshot) and CREATIVE INDEPENDENCE are related in a page-narrative sense. MAKER is more relatable to Dave Identity, but as I’m a noobie maker I am a little embarrassed to proclaim this as a major section.


p>My immediate negative reaction, it seemed, was just about proclaiming myself to be more than I thought I really was. The desire was to hide. Which actually suggested an approach!

Quick Sketch In the second sketch (shown above) I stacked the sections. The top section is an IMAGE HEADER (which I like anyway) with a side menu of some sort that lists important cues to the site. Immediately below it is my tag, and the below that is a “content slider” of four different aspects: creative independence, process, making, and recent posts. Below that is the footer. I can optionally create an ABOUT DAVE between the footer and the content slider.

What I like about this is that I get to hide under the content. If I were to rationalize this, it feels better because the content is first, and then I am second. The image area can establish the tone and purpose of the website before my name/photo appears, which is probably the way it should be. This serves the audience first and helps them orient. I’m still visible on the site, but more like a host than the central attraction. Which is fine with me.

So the next step is to spend some time doing a Photoshop mockup in the main areas, then back that into InDesign or Illustration for the typography work. That’ll probably be the focus for this week.

About this Article Series

This series is about improving my website, thinking about it for 15 minutes a day first-thing in the morning. You can see the raw 15-minute text here. These posts are collected on The March 2013 Challenge Page.


  1. Federico Figueredo 11 years ago

    I’m a bit late to the party but I just started reading these articles.

    I liked the quick sketches, something that I’m usually bad at implementing (and then suffer for it.) The only think I believe missing from this analysis (at least on its blog post form) is what type of experience/process you’re crafting for the user. I’d be interested to know how you think people will use the site and the decisions you’re making to implement your own agenda.

    Finally, I keep being surprised at web designers who sketch on Photoshop; I’m sure this obviously stems from my lack of mastery with the program but I find it incredibly easier to sketch a website in my preferred text editor (in my case Sublime Text) rather than creating the actual visual assets.

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 11 years ago

    Hey Federico,

    If you go backwards to the very beginning (click the March Challenge link at the end of each article) you’ll find my definitions, unless you’ve already looked at the first day post onward and I am still missing what you’re talking about.


  3. Federico Figueredo 11 years ago

    Hey Dave,

    I’ll make sure to re-read the posts since I know for a fact that I missed some. Thanks :)

    To be honest I think I just need to follow/suscribe to the Agenceum section separatedly since I always seem to miss out on content amidst the deluge of cool stuff you put up.

  4. Author
    Dave Seah 11 years ago

    Yeah, it’s a huge mess! :D

    I just made a new convenience feed that is all the process blogs only: http://feeds.feedburner.com/DavidSeah-Supplemental

    There’s also the “All Network Feed” that is everything. http://feeds.feedburner.com/DavidSeah-All

    I just updated it to include some of the missing process journals.