Category Archives: Design Process

Design Process for the Wild Bird Emporium website


Steve and Nina are the owner and manager (respectively) of the Wild Bird Emporium, an independent store in northern New Jersey that sells supplies and gifts. They had never had a web presence before and wanted a place where people could find contact and location information, as well as possibly shop for some specialty items online.


Don’t use green! The default color for all things nature. I just couldn’t do it. I was excited to capture the quirky, outdoorsy spirit of their customers.


“Do whatever you think is best.” Seriously. This can be a blessing or a curse, but Nina and Steve were really open to any ideas and didn’t have any existing branding. The main goal of the site was to deliver the most basic information to people looking to visit or call the store, with a secondary goal of pointing them to their online shop.


I initially looked at things like scientific field notes, catalogues, and diagrams of different species. This kind of imagery was a little too scientific for their main audience, people who just like to feed and watch wildlife in their backyards. They’re generally not hardcore birdwatchers. But there were gorgeous etchings and woodcut illustrations that accompanied these field notes, and those had a quaint feel.

I wanted to hit the nature feel in a more organic way, not with cliche green colors and leaves. I compiled things with soft beige and brown colors, and focused on textures like burlap.

Steve and Nina wanted incorporate a design that their daughter, a jewelry maker, had made. This ended up turning into their logo.



The design came together quickly, and Nina and Steve approved, giving helpful feedback. We adjusted some aspects to cater to a large elderly customer base, making sure text and headlines were large and prominent.

I also set them up with a BigCartel account online, so they can upload and manage their products and online store easily.


I admire the hard work Steve and Nina put into running their store. They even set up a special mini homemade photo studio in their home so they can take beautiful light-controlled images of the products they’re selling online.

They smartly converted articles they were sending out in newsletters into blog posts that live on their website, drawing customers back to their site repeatedly.

Overall, I think the design nails the aesthetic of their wildlife-appreciating customers in an original way, without resorting to the stereotypes and cliches of nature imagery and colors.

Design Process for A Very GK! Holiday Website

Client Overview

Jeff is the owner of Killer Cool Entertainment and books underground music concerts at multiple venues in upstate New York and Connecticut. He approached me about creating a promotional website for an annual music festival he puts on at holiday time. High school kids (their primary audience) would be able to see the lineup of bands playing, purchase tickets, and get other information about the festival. Jeff would also be taking out a couple of ads in Alternative Press magazine and wanted those designed along with some other promotional flyers.
The event is sponsored in part by Glamour Kills, a crazy trendy fashion company, hence the name “A Very GK! Holiday”.

Initial Thoughts

My background in web design actually goes back to high school for me, when I started teaching myself HTML to create websites for my friends who were in metal and hardcore bands. 10 years later, I hadn’t done any design work in the music industry since then. I was excited to tackle this new industry and imagined I’d be able to have a lot more fun than working on some of the more corporate projects that had been filling my schedule.

The Brief

Jeff already had an initial idea for the website. It all stemmed from those tree-shaped air fresheners you see everywhere. He had purchased a costume and would have someone wear it at the event and hand out prizes. He hoped the design would continue on with this theme, maybe using the title of the festival to create the tree.

I expressed my initial concern right off the bat. Use of that air freshener symbol is actually trademarked. I contacted the company attorney to ask for permission to use the shape of the tree, something they encourage on their website, but was still denied permission. Time for Plan B.

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