Making websites daily for all sorts of people and businesses made me want to take on a project and brief of my own. With artist markets being closed to Covid it was a great chance to put my design, coding and marketing skills to the test, and create an online alternative to find, collaborate with and purchase from local artists, designers and creatives of all sorts. So I sat down, made a bit of a plan, opened Adobe XD and Visual Studio and got to work on the Vic Creative Collective.
- Make a website where you can find, collaborate with and purchase from local creatives.
- Keep it local to Victoria as a starting point.
- Make it easy to find the type of creatives you are looking for, and make their contact details easy to access.
- Keep the site free to join up (most other online artist communities have fees involved)
Step 1: Making a Brand
Starting off I needed to create a brand, that included a name, logo and look/style. The name needed to be easy to remember, easy to search for and something self explanatory. I settled on Vic Creative Collective for a few reasons.
- The domain name was available
- It describes my intentions for the group, being a collective of creatives of all types and categories
- It’s easy to remember and easy to search, SEO wise this name would work well
Next up was creating a logo and overall style for the brand. This is something I look back on as being a bit overworked, on reflection the brand should be minimal and stand back to let the artworks and creatives stand out and be the highlight of the site. I fell into the trap of creating a logo I would be happy with as a customer, unfortunately this meant I chose colours I myself like instead of colours that would compliment the artists I planned on marketing for. In the end, the logo and branding are something I am happy with as a standalone design, but for the purpose of this site, they could definitely use a rework.
Step 2: Making a Website
To get the site’s design started and planned out I created mockups for each different type of page layout I could think might be needed in Adobe XD, this included alternate bio pages for the different types of creatives that might be listed, and different standard content pages such as events, blog home and blog posts, about and plain text pages, contact us and FAQ’s.
I went through a handful of different navigation layouts and homepage designs before deciding on my most simple and straightforward option, coming back to the idea that the website is less important than the creatives on it and needs to highlight the creatives instead of being an artwork in itself.
Once the design was decided on, reworked and decided on again it was time to open up a coding app and get to work building this monster. This something I am super proud of from a technical standpoint, this site would be my first entirely coded from scratch completed website (there have been a few incomplete ones that we just won’t talk about). It was a massive challenge and was one of the reasons I looked into CMS solutions for my next website project (the one you’re reading this on now), but it was something I thoroughly enjoyed and was a massive learning experience.
I decided on using Visual Studio since the project file navigation worked well for me, and once the base html and css was built out, the design was mainly completed in Firefox Developer Tools with regular copy pastes into the project files on my computer.
My coding highlights for this project include:
- The shuffle feature for the creatives cards – each time you reload the page it will randomise the order of the creatives, this was a solution to deciding who appears at the top and bottom of the pages, ensuring each creative gets their time in the first row.
- The calendar – there are plenty of calendar widgets out there but this guy was a coding challenge for me at the time and helped me improve my jquery skills for my day job too.
In the end, it was a fun project and the site will be live for a few years (check it out while you can!). I didn’t end up marketing it too well to get other creatives on board, but I’m still proud of the point it got to. It helped improve my jquery skills, taught me more about SEO and meta, and got me thinking about all aspects which was insanely helpful when I started working on my own site.
After a few months more and more free online artist communities started popping up with larger creative bases and teams of people backing them, and I ‘ve decided to sit back and learn from them for my future projects instead of continuing this one.