Just a Gwai Lo Redesigned by Raincity Studios

After having the design public for a few weeks to test it out, I'm pleased to officially announce that Raincity Studios based here in Vancouver have redesigned Just a Gwai Lo with a gorgeous cherry blossom theme (their announcement).

I met with their creative lead, Mark Yuasa in late February and he gave me a two-sided sheet that asked things like what my favourite colours were to what kind of music I listened to. He then asked me some questions about what kind of look I wanted to get an idea both of what I wanted and why I wanted it. I wanted cherry blossoms to be a prominent part of the look, because the Lower Mainland in spring and summer has these beautiful pink-leaved trees all over the residential areas. Also, the colour pink was somewhat in vogue with website designs, though sites are possibly moving to a green/yellow combination. Or maybe I just have Brazil on the brain. As to what the real answer is, I don't know, since I read most of the web sites I follow using an aggregator.

After a couple of weeks of letting him think about the design and making some mockups—that struck me as a pretty fast but I've gotten to know that a week of thinking and sketching and a week of designing a site is about the right amount of time for someone with a lot of design talent to come up with a beautiful site—he showed me a couple of comps. The first was a predominantly white site with a stylized cherry blossom tree in the sidebar. That was my first choice, actually, but after running it by some friends, I went with the second one, which those reading in a browser will see.

Some first reactions by those who saw comps were, shall we say, not enthusiastic. They loved how it looked, but didn't think it matched either my gender or personality. ("Are you a girl?" is still my favourite reaction.) They're probably right: the design is very pink and flowery, but I wanted something that I can stare at that wasn't manly, so the other direction seemed right. After a couple of weeks with the design public, it still feels right.

Some of their other work reflect very well on them: Geeky Traveller, Club Fat Ass, and Vancouver 2010 Olympics Coverage are recent examples of their work. The company has some interesting announcements in the next couple of weeks along with a relaunch of their site, but rather than steal too much of their thunder, I'll point to them when the time comes.

I am aware of some display bugs in some browsers, and know that some rogue sections have not been fully converted to the new design. I should have those fixed in the next week or so. This new design represents a big shift for Just a Gwai Lo, as it will undoutably affect my writing style and possibly even subject areas, as I start leaving some of my other sites to gather dust.

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