Web Design

Remembering Hillman Curtis

Published on Apr 21st, 2012 by Jeff Yerkey

It’s been a tragic week for indomitable creative forces. First, Levon Helm, a founding member of The Band passed. And today I learned that Hillman Curtis died at an all-too-youthful 51.

Most of you will not know who David Hillman Curtis was. Musician, check. Filmmaker, check. Interactive genius, check check check! Back in 1999, when websites were grumbling to break out of the “brochureware” box, Hillman was creating dazzling motion-filled, interactive sites with a relatively new product called Flash. He designed sites for Yahoo and Adobe to name a few.

His landmark book, “Flash Web Design: The Art of Motion Graphics,” (New Riders, 2000) empowered thousands of website designers and artists to break free the web and create sites that were meant to be fully explored and appreciated on screen, not printed out and stapled.  My copy was dogeared and spine-broken within a year.

In the early 2000s, every time a client panicked, “How many web visitors have this plugin thing called Flash?,” they were unknowingly challenging Curtis’s genius of elevating the web to a whole new level.

Not content to stand still, Hillman Curtis moved on to direct films for the likes of David Byrne and Brian Eno. (In it’s narrowest interpretation, his legacy of Flash design sadly became relegated to countless 3 and 4 star restaurants where you still need Flash to view the menu.)

His belief that ‘good enough is not good enough’ is infused in the HTML5, mobile, app and cloud design cultures of 2012. He will be missed.

Links: HillmanCurtis.com | New York Times | Wikipedia

The Legal Website “Do List”

Published on Sep 24th, 2011 by Jeff Yerkey

Recently I responded to a question on LinkedIn about things to remember when rebuilding your law firm’s website. Not wishing to lose those keystrokes, Right Hat’s brand strategist Jeorjina Maltbie, suggested I repost it on the blog:
When launching or relaunching your law firm’s web presence, we believe the design and development of a great site must for starters include:

  • Background, interviews and research. Developing unique positioning in the legal web space is critical. What do you do best that you competitors either don’t do — or don’t do well? To that end, we’ll interview partners, associates, prospects and clients. This helps distill where your firm sits on the competitive landscape.
  • Positioning. What has the above told you that can be crafted into your website’s “elevator pitch”?
  • Careful sitemap. Review your site traffic logs in order to add insight into crafting an effective sitemap that allows visitors to find the pages they want quickly.
  • Effective wireframes. Is everything you need on the page? Do not forget Social networking tools.
  • Unique graphic design with attention to your brand, including the right imagery, fonts, colors grids and technologies. Try to steer clear of Flash™ except for that rare timeline or special section. The future is HTML5.
  • Social networking plan. Think it through. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others.
  • Forward facing technologies. Will your site view well on mobile devices, tablets of varying sizes, netbooks and overseas? Do you want a dedicated mobile or tablet site?
  • Back-end tech integration. Carefully think through what you want to integrate with your web back end such as case and matter databases, HR systems, proposal generators and extranet services.
  • Content “voice”. Make sure your site has a voice that is consistent and clear. Establish writing and editing guidelines.
  • Clear communication across Marketing partners, stakeholders, developers, PMs and designers.
  • Establish real-world deadlines to avoid mission creep.
  • Test, test, test. Don’t skimp on the time to review the site carefully before you publish it to the world.