I have updated the look and feel of the Kindel Systems, LLC website and this blog using a crowd source design. And I like how it turned out.
Now that I am no longer working for a big corporate giant I have a bunch of endeavors I am working on (including my yet-to-be-announced new company). I’m doing consulting, angel investing, serving on boards of directors/advisors, and several other things that either generate income or assets. A limited-liability-company is a no-brainer for anyone doing these sorts of things as it limits your personal liability if anything goes wrong.
The www.kindel.com website has existed since 1994 and has undergone multiple revisions, but I’ve never invested in an actual “design”. For this update I decided I’d get some help.
But, as is typical for me, I had to do it in a way where I would learn something new. So I decided to use this as an excuse to use a “crowdsourcing” service for the design. I picked crowdSPRING. I bid $750 for the design which was just below the average for a “Small Website (uncoded)”. In about a two week period I got 91 entries and in the end had to pick between 3 designers who basically coalesced on the same design. I ended up choosing the designer who’s communication with me was the clearest and who had the best prior reviews on the site. You can see the project here on crowdSPRING.
The result of the project was a set of PSD files containing the design. This left me with the task of figuring out how to do the CSS and XHTML coding to translate the PSD files to a useful website.
I could have used any number of services that do PSD to CSS translation (just search and you’ll find several). But I had already spent enough money just getting the design and didn’t feel like spending more. Plus, I figured, I used to know CSS, how card could it be?
A weekend of work later I got it done and you are seeing the results here (and on www.kindel.com). CSS has improved drastically since I last spent anytime with it but it’s still a total bitch dealing with differences between browsers and all of the quirks. It is just a way too flexible language with too many ways of doing the same thing.
Since the web server that has always run www.kindel.com is running Windows Server 2003 and I have an old web app that I built that uses Microsoft Index Server that I know I’ll never be able to port to Linux I decided to stick with the Microsoft stack for this update. I decided to try ASP.NET MVC “Razor” and really enjoyed it immensely. It was extremely easy to get a nice template coded and whack out all the individual files.
My old Porsche Option Decoder is written using the original Active Server Pages (ASP) and it took some fiddling to make it work under the new Razor site. In the end I decided to not even try to fix the PorscheFiles Archives app (the one that uses Index Server) because a check of the logs shows that hardly anyone still uses it.
Last spring I did a little project to teach myself Ruby. Now that this site is up and all CSS/XHTML clean I just might really learn Ruby by porting it to Heroku. Then I can finally retire this old box (it’s really a VM).
I’m convinced crowd sourcing design can work. Now that I’ve done it once I can now engage on projects for the brand, logo, and site design for my new company. We will be building a full design competency as soon as possible, but in the short term crowd sourced design work is absolutely “good enough” for the “minimum viable product” stage of a startup.