Ben Thompson


Do Not Adjust Your Aperture

Welcome back patient reader! While it has been a quiet and uneventful two weeks here on the blog, the studio itself has been anything but.

Indeed, the last two weekends and many of the evenings between have been spent putting the final touches on the website. Now before you go flipping through the tabs to see what it is you might have missed, let me provide you with an important detail: the website in question is not the one belonging to the artist whose blog you are currently reading.

While the website we are discussing posses any number of images that will draw your attention and evoke emotions, none of them are produced by paintbrush or computer program. The eye responsible for these compositions achieves them not inches from a canvas or a computer screen, but instead by peering through the viewfinder of a camera.

I ask that you indulge my pride in this installment, as the artist in question here is none other than my very talented wife Helén Thompson

Helén entered the world of photography after abandoning the unfulfilling corporate world and the lack of creativity it inspired in her. It was behind the camera that she felt truly at home and the images she produces bear witness to this fact. Since that time she thinks of little else and her passion for capturing the perfect images provides her with the unbound energy only another artist could understand.

And so it was armed with this same energy and an over abundance of confidence from having recently completed my own website that I offered to redo my wife's. Having previously designed her company logo, I looked forward to putting some of my new found knowledge to work in ways that by now would seem almost pedestrian when you consider her site must surely be not unlike my own with its image gallery and biography page etc. right?

This was my mistake.

You see, much like the vast difference between the visual works Helén and I create, our websites are driven by a different set of needs and goals, and as such must be tackled in a very different manner. As we discussed the details of what information must be present and the priorities to consider when determining how it should be presented, it became readily apparent to me that I was going to have to apply a much broader skill set if these needs were to be achieved.

In addition to the expected gallery there is an "information" page where we needed to share a decent chunk of text outlining her process for her prospective clients. In addition to this there would be no less than four videos that would provide a visual outline and discussion of the same. The designer in me recoiled at the thought of simply linking these videos to YouTube or Vimeo, and so we set forth to embed these videos directly in the page for the cleanest user experience. This effort alone was responsible for an entire day, during which we learned exactly what it meant to prepare a video to perform as intended in a variety of browsers and devices. Combine with this the need to resize the video in such a way as to make it more space efficient in a page, but sacrifice as little as possible in the quality when viewed in a variety of formats.

Many of the other pages, while similar to the pages used in my own site, needed adjusting to suit the varied wants and needs of the viewer and as such required a different approach in their design. Add to this the fact that Helén and I have a slightly different aesthetic when it comes to these decision points and it made for some shifts in design direction that ultimately help the site stand out on it's own. One thing the viewer will notice immediately is the similarity in the overall feel to the site as it employs the same basic theme as my own. Because of the versatility built into the theme itself and the RapidWeaver program however we were able to give the site it's own voice and feel, and it was exciting to see the differences between the sites in the end.

The last touch was completed only this morning as the home page button icon was designed for those who wish to save the website to the home page of their iOS devices. This in turn prompted me to make some adjustments to my own icon, and add that last bit of polish to something we are both proud of.

Helén is still hard at work on some new additions to her company's product line and as such we likely have more to do going forward. In the meantime I invite you to peruse the results at and share your thoughts!

header image: Norman Rockwell

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