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March 26, 2009

More //

Never far from my thoughts since making the big announcement official last week and after reading through Snook’s announcement from a couple days ago, I realized I still have a bit more to say about why I made the decision to shake things up. If nothing else, to clarify how this all came about.

Identity Crisis

A while back we received a RFP for a project that would have lasted six months to a year if not longer. It was complicated and well beyond my comfort zone. Ultimately we declined to respond but while reviewing the project specs I realized something that I felt had been staring me in the face for some time, something I just hadn’t seen until then — Wishingline had a major identity problem.

Although recognized primarily as designers by other designers (and developers), to the outside world, Wishingline (and me by extension) were developers or some sort of hybrid. Not what I had in mind. That project RFP and the resulting conversation with the client confirmed it.

Insert panic attack here.

After walking home that night and mulling over the situation I had a pretty good idea where that perception problem came from. It turned out to be partially, if not entirely my own doing. Looking back through some of the more technically minded entries in the notebook and our previous enterprise application work made it abundantly clear.

I’m a designer first and foremost but I like to tinker. I’m innately curious and have always liked to know how things work but I’m not a developer. Building or fixing things comes naturally and I’ve always found that characteristic allowed me to be sympathetic to developers, resulting in better decisions and ultimately better sites or applications.

Development experience also meant I could bring more to the table when working with clients. What I didn’t realize at the time though was the cost of that knowledge and what it ultimately meant in relation to the type of work that showed up on our doorstep.

My involvement in the development side of the web increased out of interest and necessity but also from the type of work that Wishingline was already involved in — a considerable amount of application design (Rails, Sproutcore, iPhone, embedded web widgets, etc), rarely from the commercial website part of the business.

At this point I have about zero interest in doing any more web app design work. Those are problems I’m just not interested in trying to solve now. It’s too easy to get caught up in the minutia and technical details which can quickly suck the life and momentum out a project.

For now I’m only interested in focusing my time and effort into things I can get behind 100%. To some extent that means getting back to my roots and focusing much more on design rather than mucking about in code or someone else’s app framework.

The Intangible Web

The intangibleness and the seeming repetitiveness of the web is something I’ve struggled with for some time, leaving me feeling like the web is just too much of the “same old, same old” to be really interesting. I know that’s not really true but constantly being handed the same basic problems to solve over and over or being pigeonholed into one design aesthetic hasn’t helped bend my opinion to the other side.

Anna, Ned and I talked about this quite a bit in the office — how we could make the web more interesting (for us at least) by introducing more tangible visual elements and interaction into our work without resorting to Flash. We looked at potentially building actual “set pieces” and working more with real objects that we’d photograph and use as building blocks for site designs. Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to put this into practice, but I’m not done with that idea yet.

I come from a largely traditional design background: paste-up by hand, processing my own film, print (litho, screenprinting, letterpress, flexo) and the like. I’ve used more than my fair share of Letraset and Rubylith.

I’ve always been passionate about typography but being as focused on the web for as long as I have left many of my typographic senses dulled. I’ve been chipping away at that problem for a little while now but I need to step that up, if only for myself. It’s not that I’m sick of Lucida Grande, Verdana or Georgia… Ok, maybe a little.

I also miss working with my hands instead of being glued to a desk and computer screen — whether this means sketching or working with real materials (paper, ink, film, traditional photography, etc) instead of doing everything digitally in Photoshop. Analog is where it’s at. I made a record for crying out loud.

Personal Projects

Like Jon, internal projects at Wishingline have been constantly sidelined. It’s a problem when the client vs internal/personal work division is almost always 100/0, and one which has weighed heavily on my mind for a long, long time.

A perfect example is the main Wishingline site which hasn’t been significantly updated in nearly 5 years and in desperate need of attention. There’s also a big sketchbook of creative project ideas that’s been sitting on my desk untouched for nearly as long. Paying the bills is all well and good but without a striking proper balance between client work and personal projects it can be difficult to stay engaged.

Simply put, a big part of why I started Wishingline in the first place, aside from the flexibility of being choosey about the for-hire projects I would work on, was to be free to work on these “fun” projects; to dedicate a portion of my day to reading, writing and doing whatever would allow me to stay creative, motivated and engaged so that the “work” projects don’t somehow become a burden. That hasn’t worked out quite the way it should have and in the end I’m the only one who can do something about it — and so I am.

Taking Back The Reins

Time is one of the few (only?) finite variables in life and the reality for me was that I didn’t want to look back and feel like I wasted an opportunity by trying to “tough it out” in a situation that wasn’t working. I have a wife and a young daughter and need to consider how what I do for a living affects those relationships too.

I’ve had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects with some smart people — many I’ve enjoyed for one reason or another, but there’s also been some real duds. There’s been times where I found myself severely overbooked and overwhelmed too. Sometimes it was my fault but other times it was entirely out of my control. Stress is ok in small doses but long-term, relentless stress is really, really bad even if you’re getting paid for the overtime. Trust me.

Perhaps naively, I almost always put client work first. That proved to be wrong. It’s important but only if it’s the right work or if it doesn’t occupy every waking moment of your life, in the office or out. Maybe that sounds selfish but personally I don’t think so. I’m honestly too close to really be objective anyway.

Let’s be totally clear — I’m not saying I’m done with the web or design in general. Far from it, but I need to redefine my place in it by better understanding what I want from it and by hopefully contributing something back to it that I (and others) think is truly interesting, engaging and worthwhile.

More on exactly what that means soon.

March 12, 2009

Watershed //

Somewhere along the way I remember reading something along the lines of “the best strategy is an exit strategy”. Today, more than any day before that holds a lot of meaning for me because I can finally let the cat out of the proverbial bag and announce that not so long ago I had a watershed moment and made a decision that’s ultimately led to the next big change for me personally and Wishingline which is officially on hiatus at least in the sense of accepting new client work for the foreseeable future.

The exact wording I used in trying to explain this to the few people who were told prior to now was “closed”, but more and more in mulling that over I thought “hiatus” would ultimately to be a better choice. “Crazy talk” some have told me so I’ll give you a moment…

Uh, what?

Let’s not have any illusions, it’s hard work running a business and Wishingline for the last 4+ years has been exactly that. It’s hard doing it by yourself as a freelancer and just as hard if not more when employees and other management responsibilities are thrown into the mix. The provincial and national government bodies here in Canada don’t make that any easier either. These things can constantly weigh on your shoulders (they certainly have mine) and deserve as much attention as the clients paying the bills.

Owning and managing a small but successful design agency (I can’t stand that term but it’ll do) can mean wearing a lot of different hats and juggling conflicting responsibilities. That balancing act can be exhausting, especially if many of those frequently conflict with your individual needs.

When it comes to “work”, I’m a designer first and foremost but also happen to have some background in a lot of other areas thanks to a solid and varied university education, previous jobs and generally being exposed to nearly every possible side of “the biz” at one time or another.

Even though I’ve had the opportunity to work on some interesting projects, particularly some of the more recent projects, I haven’t been feeling particularly creatively satisfied or engaged. Unfocused. Remember all those hats I mentioned a moment ago? Yeah, exactly.

Ultimately I think there’s little point in doing something where your passion is wavering, doesn’t provide sufficient purpose or from which you’re not deriving the right level of personal satisfaction. Some people might be able to get away with that but I’m not one of them. It’s not in my DNA.

For the last few months I’ve hummed and hawed over what to do, in part because of the implications to the business, clients, family, and the two talented and exceptionally smart people working with me in the office, but the reality was that, for beter or worse, change was inevitable. Thankfully there’s been no crying and no staplers, chairs or computers thrown in my general direction. At least not yet.

…Next

What that change ends up being is entirely up in the air right now. It might be a small change or it might be something more significant. For now it means that Wishingline is back to being just me while I tie up loose ends on a few projects and sort out what to do with the office, furniture, computers and such. Beyond that I have a few ideas and opportunities to explore though I’m in no hurry to rush into anything. I need to regroup and recalibrate first.

The one thing that’s for sure is that SXSW officially starts tomorrow and I’ll be down in Austin, TX for the next week, celebrating my birthday (today), shaking hands and kissing babies, uh, I mean hanging out with friends and undoubtedly letting off steam. I’ll have some nifty hotdog squiggle buttons with me along with a handful of copies of the new release from George, so please do say “hello”.

Shout outs

Wishingline’s clients deserve a very special thank you for their extreme patience and understanding through the current transition period. Ensuring they are taken care of and projects either wrapped up or in a state where they can be passed on has been, understandably, a huge concern. Thank you also to friends, dotcomrades and family for their unconditional support and encouragement.

December 22, 2008

An Unforgettable Year //

2008 has been a fantastic year for Wishingline.

Scott took the leap from freelance designer to small business owner, a decision that I’m sure has had it’s nerve-wracking moments along the way. I was thrilled for the chance to join him in March leaving my cushy, but increasingly uninspiring marketing job for the opportunity to learn about a side of the design industry I barely understood (…and learn I have). In the summer, developer extraordinaire Ned Schwartz joined us, bringing his wealth of knowledge in Javascript, AJAX and a ton more acronyms into the fold.

We’ve also been lucky to have had opportunities throughout the year to work with our good friends Brian Warren, Luke Dorny, Neil Lee, James McNally, John Martz and Theresa Neil.

The Wishingline crew -- Anna, Shawn, Scott and Ned
The Wishingline crew — Anna, Shawn, Scott (me), and Ned

The year brought new friends, awesome clients (both long-standing and new), and while we’re not able to talk about most of the projects currently in development (pesky NDAs), we’d like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who’s helped make this year so special. We’ll tell you about the ones we can shortly.

We’ve got big plans for 2009 which we can’t wait to share including a new wishingline.com (finally!). So until then, on behalf of Scott, Ned, Shawn and myself — we hope you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Kickass Kwanzaa, Splendid Solstice and very happy New Year.

September 7, 2008

A New Server and a New Face //

Our planned move of wishingline.com along with a number of other domains to our lovely new slice at Slicehost didn’t go entirely as planned a couple weeks back due to a significant memory leak discovered when attempting to rebuild the Notebook.

The problem, after a few hours of debugging was found to be a broken version of ImageMagick installed on the slice which resulted in memory usage going through the roof, excess swapping and services crashing. All in all — very bad things.

On Friday night though, after a few additional minor changes and tweaks to the site, we finally flipped the switch and everything is now (we think) running smoothly at Slicehost. Most things should be a bit snappier too as a result of some simple under the hood server optimizations performed in the process.

Here We Grow Again

It’s been a crazy year all around, and although we weren’t planning on expanding Wishingline beyond myself and Anna this year, particularly during the summer, the absolute necessity to do just that made itself abundantly clear. We were slammed, as Greg would say.

Hello!? Recession? What [kitten parade] recession?

And so enter _the new kid: developer, code wiz, dude with the ‘stache, and all around man of the intertubes — theinterned himself — Ned Schwartz!

Ned of the interneds
Introducing the newest Wishingliner — say hello to Ned Schwartz

We first met Ned interned back in June during our Lunch 2.0 event where he obviously made a good impression on us. As it turned out, Ned was the first, and only person we got in touch with when we realized we needed to bring in the big guns.

As the song goes (don’t sue us Huey Lewis) — “Who ya gonna call…?”

Aside from his keen wit and wacky sense of humour, Ned brings truckloads of experience and a sharp, thoughtful mind. Even though he’s only been with us a week so far, he’s been kicking ass and taking names. Frankly, we don’t know what we did without him!

August 14, 2008

Upcoming Downtime //

The Wishingline site and our Notebook may be inaccessible for a short period of time this weekend beginning around 12:00 midnight EST on Friday as we move everything over to our new slice at Slicehost, something we’ve been quietly coordinating for a few weeks now.

Just about everything should already be in place, so we’re hoping that the transition will be more or less seamless and hiccup-free. The big unknown is always “how long will the DNS take to propagate” once we flip the switch…

May 12, 2008

Join Us For Lunch 2.0 //

Join the Wishingline crew (Scott, Anna and Dale) for Toronto’s second Lunch 2.0 event which will be happening on Friday, May 30th, from noon until 1:30 at the still kinda-sort new Wishingline studio in Toronto.

Lunch 2.0 Canada

Come out and meet like-minded people from Toronto’s design and tech communities and help us inaugurate our new studio space, rock out on the finger drums, and check out the comings and goings of our strange neighbours across the street all while enjoying yummy pizza and fizzy or otherwise bubbly beverages.

The event is totally free, but space is extremely limited and once the tickets are gone, they’re gone. Full details including location, time, tickets and anything else you might need to know are available at Eventbrite.

For the scoop on what Lunch 2.0 is all about and who’s behind it in Canada, check the official Lunch 2.0 website. Hope to see you on the 30th!

Get a ticket

January 26, 2008

And Then There Were Four //

Because starting the year off by moving into a exciting new office space and bringing on one new person wasn’t enough, I decided to shake things up a bit more and have already bumped the Wishingline team from three to four.

What’s that — madness, you say?

Not in the least. Just the start of something great and now that the cat’s out of the bag, I can say a little more about these new peeps.

So Who’s Are These People?

First — Anna McLuhan. Anna, an unbelievable score for Wishingline will be instrumental in helping manage projects along with playing a key role in developing the company beyond my original vision. Aside from being amazing at what she does, Anna brings a fresh perspective, a brilliant mind and great ideas, infectious enthusiasm, and a well-rounded set of skills that will help improve internal processes and enable us to take bigger strides (not just because she’s 6ft 3 either).

I’d continue to extole her virtues but I don’t want to give her too big an ego :)

Next up — Dale Harrison, with whom I’m still finalizing a few details, but who will be coming on board in April as a design intern. Currently finishing up his final year in Durham College’s multimedia design program, Dale has the right level of technical and design skills and a great thirst for knowledge that will let him flourish especially in a small team environment where everyone can really have an impact on the larger whole.

Internships can be hit or miss, particularly depending on the size of the company and the amount of attention given to interns. For students, it’s a great chance to experience the real world; the often challenging reality of creative work. Hopefully it allows them to use skills they’ve been learning and pick up new ones which let them to evolve as designers — not scare them away. An internship is a great way to experiment, learn what you’re good at, what you like to and don’t like to do; to find the things that will make you happy in your working life.

For Wishingline, internships are an opporunity to learn more about what’s being taught to design students in Canadian post-secondary schools such as Durham College, Humber College or OCAD and hopefully have a positive impact on the career of a young, bright designer.

To both Anna and Dale — welcome aboard!

One More Thing

I’ll be in Vancouver next week for Web Directions North between Jan 29 to Feb 1. While I’m not speaking at the conference exactly, I will be introducing my friend Jon Snook who’ll be giving a short talk on Ajax frameworks along with Andre Charland and Walter Smith who will be talking about Adobe AIR and Microsoft’s Silverlight respectively. Expect awful jokes and good-natured ribbing.

Web Directions North 2008

I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and will hopefully arrive home having made some new ones. If you’re going to be there, please do say “hello”.

January 24, 2008

A New Office and Other Announcements //

2008 is already looking to be a big year for Wishingline. Projects scheduled throughout the year are piling up at a feverish pace, plans are being made and there’s a lot of behind the scenes activity going on.

Our new home at 1402 Queen Street East in Toronto
The new Wishingline office at 1402 Queen Street East

The first item being that, yesterday, I picked up the keys to a new studio space on Queen Street East at Vancouver Street. There’s a bit of minor renovation work, painting, packing and unpacking to do, but the plan is to be in the new space full-time beginning in March. Just in time to disappear briefly for SXSW in Austin, Texas.

And if that weren’t enough, earlier this week I hired a fantastic new account manager who’ll be coming on board sometime in mid-to-late March. A more official announcement with actual details will come later.

The search for designers is still on and I haven’t forgotten about those who have sent in their resum├ęs and portfolio links. The call-back list has been whittled down from the 100+ submissions I’ve received so far and I expect to begin to respond to those selected in the next few days. Thanks for your patience!

January 8, 2008

Clarification //

In the off-chance this wasn’t clear in yesterday’s announcement that Wishingline is hiring (which clearly it was not), you must live in Toronto and be able to work from our office in order to be considered. Unfortunately this position is not open for telecommuting.

There wasn’t an option to indicate a locality for the job on Authentic Jobs which is why it says “Anywhere” and which is why, if you read the description all the way to the end it says:

Candidates are expected to work from our office in Toronto, Canada.

I appreciate everyone who’s sent in their CV from around the world, but the position is only open for local residents. I’ll be contacting those who’ve make the first cut by the end of next week and periodically from then on if anyone else happens to pass muster. A final decision, if there is one will be made in early February.

January 7, 2008

Looking for Designers //

I hinted at this earlier (ok, I came right out and said it), but it’s now official and Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. is looking for a designer to come on board in our Toronto office. Although this position is initially on a contract basis, the right person will have the opportunity to move to full-time.

Good talent is hard to find as Greg so eloquently pointed out which is why our ideal candidate is perhaps a bit younger and looking to gain real, practical experience in both design and across a number of interesting technologies. In finding the right person, my hope is to do a little bit to help pick up the slack where our educational institutions may be going wrong in instructing students, particularly in how to design for the web. And for that design to be inclusive of all people.

You can read the condensed version of the job description and perks at Authentic Jobs.

July 17, 2007

Inc. //

While perhaps a few weeks late in making an official announcement, as of June 18th, 2007 Wishingline Design Studios (also commonly referred to as Wishingline) is no longer a going concern, at least in the eyes of the Canadian government.

This doesn’t mean we’re going anywhere though — oh no!, quite the opposite. In its place is the newly formed Wishingline Design Studio, Incorporated — now with all new super-seriousness, renewed vigor and more paperwork than you can shake a stick at.

Wishingline Design Studio Inc

For our clients, this doesn’t mean much aside from us having to make a few minor wording changes to our general business terms and conditions, and updating our stationery, estimates and invoices to reflect the name change. Everything else is business as usual. Same design insight and problem solving. Same creative drive. Same bad jokes. More paperwork.

Taking the leap to go from a sole proprietorship to incorporating the company (still operating as a private enterprise) was a big step and one which will be bringing other changes later this year including bringing on employee no. 2, a clearer, more focused direction and tuning the design services we offer to better differentiate Wishingline among the highly competitive design marketplace.

Incorporating is perhaps just the preface to chapter two of our story.

An Event Apart //

Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. will be representin’ (but not presenting) in Chicago at the end of August for the third An Event Apart conference of 2007 which will be featuring talks from such web luminaries as Dan Cederholm, Jeffrey Zeldman, Derek Featherstone, Jeremy Keith, Lou Rosenfeld, Jim Coudal, Eric Meyer, Jason Santa Maria and more. We’re looking forward to seeing a few old friends and hopefully making some new ones, so please do say hello if you see him milling about between sessions.

An Event Apart Chicago 2007

At the moment, there’s still a few tickets left, so if you’re looking to attend what will surely be a great two day conference, you had better hurry as they undoubtedly won’t last long.

May 23, 2007

Get Your Cart On //

Everyone loves go carts right? Well, they should.

And anyone who’s headed out for the @media conference in San Francisco, CA should take some time out on Friday night, May 25th to take part in the inaugural Avalonstar Grand Prix, a sure-fire fun event that we just happen to be sponsoring and have donated the grand prize for — namely a full license of Adobe Fireworks CS3 (for the Mac, though Adobe will let you easily switch platforms if necessary).

So, go out. Have fun. Race your asses off and make sure to take lots of pictures since we can’t be there for the event ourselves!

May 8, 2007

Everyone Likes Schwag //

Everyone likes schwag. We know it. You know it. And now we’ve made it even easier to get your hands on official Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. schwag such as our world-famous coffee mugs and infamous 1” hand-crafted buttons. There’s no limit to how many mugs you can order aside from the fact that we only have a handful left and once they’re gone… that’s it. No more will be produced. Ever.

72 were made. We know at least 2 have been damaged during shipping over the last year or so, leaving 70 or less in existence, so if you want one, you’ll need to act fast. Visit the store now!

We’re planning a few new surprises to be added on a later date. Once we have some time to actually do something about those things, that is…

May 1, 2007

Two Years //

My wife graciously reminded me this morning that today marks the official 2nd anniversary of Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. as a full-fledged, self-propelled and monkey-navigated business entity.

I’m amazed that it’s been two years already consider how much has changed during the last year alone. I’ve got a few more announcements coming that will help push the business forward and hopefully open up new possibilities. But I’m saving those until all the details have been worked out.

My sincerest thanks to clients (past and current), friends, family and interweb peeps who’ve all been a great support mechanism. A tip of the frosty glass and coffee mug to you all!

April 28, 2007

See You in Portland //

Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. will once again be attending RailsConf, this year in Portland, Oregon with our friends, clients and colleagues from FiveRuns, who, incidentally, are one of the big sponsors of the event.

The FiveRuns crew have a few special announcements for the Rails community planned for the event and they’re going to be giving away another new MacBook Pro at the conference too. So if you wouldn’t mind walking away with an awesome new computer, be sure to stop by their booth at the conference or pre-register for the draw at their website.

We’re looking forward to seeing what’s coming next for Rails and catching up with a few friends we haven’t seen in a while. If you’ll be in attendance, be sure to say hello!

April 5, 2007

Rename The Podcast Contest //

My good friend, and one heck of a funny guy, Garrett Murray asked if I’d be interested in sponsoring a little contest he’s having to rename his critically-acclaimed comedic podcast, and of course — how could I say no?

First prize
Win an iPod nano, a set of DS Buttons, and more

The rules are simple: send in your ideas on a new name for the podcast (full contest details here). Send as many entries as you like before June 1st to qualify for the chance to win a spiffy new 4GB iPod nano in your choice of colours, a set of DS Buttons and a personalized message from Garrett and his partner in hilarity, Shawn Morrison. There’s even a pair of runner-up prizes which aren’t half bad either.

What are you waiting for? Get on it!

March 7, 2007

South By Southwest //

On Friday, March 9th I’m headed south to Austin, Texas for the annual web, film and music geekfest known as South By Southwest. As such, the office will be closed for between the 9th and the 16th when I return.

All systems will return to normal on March 19th. While I’ll make every effort to respond to any inquiries promptly please take note that it’s unclear the exact level of connectivity that will be available at the Austin Convention Center throughout the day and throughout the city during the evenings.

If you’ll be attending the conference, please stop and say hello. Ask nicely and I’ll even hand over a shiny button (may not be exactly as shown). Ask really nice and you could get yourself a fancy mug.

January 19, 2007

Offline For January 23-28 //

The Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. office will be closed during the week of January 23rd through January 28th while we’re away in Reston, Virginia at The Rails Edge where we’ll be learning more about what’s new in Rails 1.2 and other interesting, related Rails topics from Rails luminaries such as Dave Thomas, Mike Clark, Marcel Molina Jr., Chad Fowler, Justin Gehtland, Stuart Halloway and more.

If you’ll be attending the conference, please stop by the FiveRuns (primary sponsor of the conference and one of our clients) table and say hello.

November 29, 2006

Holiday Remodelling //

‘Tis the season and Wishingline has been working with new and existing clients to help remodel their sites, applications and identities. Some of these have gone live, others are coming soon.

Over the last few months we’ve worked again with Toronto Life, this time to help with the redesign of some secondary screens of the venerable lifestyle and entertainment site. The changes required reworking some of the template code developed earlier this year.

We’ve also been working with Sabre Airline Solutions developing a modern design framework to help unify their various applications and provide cohesive branding across the board. During this time we also completed identity projects for programmer/designer and writer Dan Benjamin, and user-experience designer Theresa Neil whom we’ve been working with since March on the FiveRuns project and whom we’re continuing to work with on other upcoming projects.

During September and October we collaboratively redesigned and produced HTML/CSS template code for Toronto-based e-retailer Glarkware and during November, we rebuilt Epireon Capital Investment’s website with clean, valid XHTML and CSS and with a touch of Microformats thrown in for good measure.

During all this we’ve also continued working with our friends in Austin, TX, FiveRuns, iterating through new screen designs, new functionality and other general improvements for their premier hosted application. I’d say we need a vacation, but we’re just getting warmed up.

October 9, 2006

Canadian Thanksgiving //

Today is an official national holiday here in Canada as we celebrate Thanksgiving a bit earlier than the US. As you might expect, the Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. office is closed. We’ll be back online tomorrow morning.

Happy turkey day to all our clients and friends in Canada.

September 25, 2006

Our New Office //

We recently undertook a major renovation of our office space here in Toronto and are now finally finished and ready to show it off.

New office design
The all new Wishingline office

The major goals for the office were simple: increase the general workspace area, make better use of the space available, and incorporate some of the Wishingline visual identity via colours and furniture choices. Through this we ended up rewiring the entire office, put in new lighting, new windows, flooring and space-saving pocket doors. Nearly everything is new.

More photos coming soon.

August 22, 2006

A Real Winner //

FiveRuns was a big hit last week at LinuxWorld, as it has been everywhere it’s been shown (JBoss World, RailsConf, Interop and the MySQL UC) and has been garnering praise from all corners of the tech industry including members of the cross-platform UI team from Apple. Coming from Apple, that’s high-praise indeed.

Rob from Sugar CRM had this to say about FiveRuns:

Built on Rails and Web 2.0 buzz, their next-gen system management interface was definitely best of breed visually. Concerns over scalability of a Rails based application, especially with a Software as a Service model definitely popup immediately, but on interface alone they have a real winner product. Neatest feature: Updated links from Google for frequently occurring error messages displayed contextually with a service problem. Super rad.

August 16, 2006

FiveRuns Goes GA //

Tuesday, August 15th marked the official announcement that FiveRuns’ self-titled systems management application has been declared GA.

Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. been working extensively with Austin, Tx-based FiveRuns since March of 2006 on the front-end design of the application along with the underlying XHTML/CSS structure.

On top of the application design, Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. has also been involved in creating the company’s public-facing website, a number of marketing-focused HTML e-mails, and their booth at LinuxWorld.

Although the application has been declared GA, we still have work to do to tie up some loose ends and will be travelling back down to Austin next week to work closely with the team there to deal with these minor outstanding bugs and UI tweaks.

FiveRuns is currently showing off the application this week at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, California.

June 12, 2006

FiveRuns Systems Management In Beta //

Since March, Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. has been working with Austin, Tx based FiveRuns and UI/interaction designer Theresa Neil to design the front-end interface for their premier hosted web application along with other components such as their public-facing website and marketing e-mails.

After countless hours of design, coding, squashing bugs and making general improvements we’re proud to announce that the FiveRuns application has been rolled out for the first round of beta testing, primarily focused on overall UI interaction and general usage.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement and feedback from users to ensure we release a solid application that stays true to the pragmatic approach while also pushing the boundaries of the systems management application market space.

A big tip of the JBM mug to the FiveRuns team and all who had a part in getting us this far!

May 1, 2006

It Was 365 Days Ago… //

It was 365 days ago that I officially launched Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. as a true business entity and on from just being a side-project. The last year has brought great change, new challenges and new opportunities, nearly all of which were a bit expected but very welcome!

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great clients, such as FiveRuns, HSBC Private Bank, St. Joseph Media, BeamEcho, Group Kae, Sahara Dance, Big Image, Cocoa Stuff, Masterfile, Digital Cement, IndexCore (IC), Floral Fetish Design, Michael McLuhan and more.

It’s thanks to them that I can say the last year has been a tremendous success and has left me looking towards and even better 2006!

Cheers!

March 1, 2006

More Than Just Shiny //

These days it’s difficult to avoid ‘shiny stuff’. It’s everywhere — in product packaging (just take a look at recent cereal packaging design), advertising and on the web. It’s here now, but has been for a while; it’s popularity growing substantially over the last year.

Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. was there very early on and was recently recognized as part of this movement by our inclusion in a chapter at Design Melt Down.

Thanks, Patrick!

February 7, 2006

Recent Identity Projects //

Lately we’ve had the opportunity to take a break from strictly web-focused projects to work on a couple identity/logo and icon design projects. These breaks are a nice way to let the part of the brain focused on resolving Internet Explorer-related bugs to take a breather while other parts of the brain get to flex their other design and problem-solving muscles.

Both projects presented different problems to be solved based on their unique situations — one, an independent Macintosh software developer while the other, a startup technology and systems integration consultancy.

The goals and potential audiences of and for each were very different and as a result, so were the final results of our work with them.

December 18, 2005

Holiday Vacation //

The office will be closed for the Christmas holiday between Friday, December 23, 2005 and January 5th, 2006. Emily, Newton, Lionel, Pippin and I will be taking some well-earned time off away from the wonderful world of web design and instead relaxing with our friends, family and hopefully catching up on some reading. Nick Hornby’s new book is calling my name along with a few other more geeky titles.

We may also take this time to play catch-up on delayed correspondence and sending RFP responses.

Thank you to all our clients and friends for a great year! Best wishes from us to you this holiday season. See you in 2006!

November 21, 2005

Interviewed at mcville.net //

Marko at mcville.net interviewed me today as part of his web designer interview series. Point your news readers and browsers in that direction to see what I had to say.

September 17, 2005

IndexCore Site Design Completed //

Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. has been working with Virginia-based newcomer web hosting provider IndexCore since August to redesign their existing public facing website and give it a fresh, cohesive and contemporary facelift. During that time we have worked with them to create what we see as an approachable and user-friendly design that will lend itself well to “Web 2.0” technologies such as Ajax.

IndexCore (IC
IndexCore (IC) homepage design screenshot

A total of 46 different base screens were designed using an overall visual framework along with a series of custom-designed icons, buttons and an easy-to-follow, user-friendly order process which will allow the user to see exactly where they are in the order process when signing up for a hosting account.

At this time we are pleased to announce that the site design is now complete and ready to enter the code development stages, though due to previous project commitments, Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. will not be handling that aspect of the project. The final site launch is expected sometime in October.

For more information, visit the IndexCore website.

September 16, 2005

Featured on Screenspire //

Thanks to Thomas Marban who found our site inspirational enough to list it on the wonderful (and even more inspiring) Screenspire site. It’s an honor to be featured amongst such good company.

There’s a major revision on the books so expect to see some changes around these parts sometime before next year’s May 1st CSS Reboot. At least that’s the plan ;)

July 13, 2005

As Featured In June CSS Import //

We missed this late last month, but CSS Import, one of the new kids on the CSS showcase block included our humble site in their directory. Thanks to Stephen Saugestad and everyone else involved!

June 5, 2005

Supporting A Good Cause //

Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. was a proud supporter of the second annual Southern Ontario Amazing Race event which took place over the June 3-5th weekend in Guelph, Ontario. Racers from all around the province congregated in Guelph for the weekend to make like the TV show and support a good cause, The Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington.

Collectively the 20 participating teams raised over $32,000 in sponsor money which is going directly to the charity to provide local underprivileged youths with summer camp, sports and other activities. Compared to the previous years’ event, more than three times the amount collected was donated to the charity.

Over the course of the last two years we’ve donated our time and services to this great event and to the charity it supports and we will be continuing to do so in the future. This year, we were also happy to help out by aiding the video crew in capturing the event challenges, obstacles and atmosphere.

For more information on the Southern Ontario Amazing Race, visit the race website. If you would like to participate in next year’s event, applications will be available early in January of 2006.

May 5, 2005

Stylegala Likes Us! //

They like us, they really, really like us! In all seriousness we were very pleased to find that we made it onto the wonderful, and highly inspirational Stylegala site today. We’ve received a small boatload of e-mails from folks all around the world (gotta love that internet) offering praise and we read and greatly appreciate them all.

Stylegala
The wishingline.com site on Stylegala

The Stylegala site was one of the ones that really solidified our decision to push the envelope a little by not restricting ourselves to even a 1024 × 768 screen size and to go a little further. Although designed for 1280 width, the site still comfortably fits into a 1024 window but with a bit of the logo cut off. That said, it still fits with our own identity — just look at our business cards.

Muchas gracias to John Peele for the kind words and David Dickerson for submitting the site!

May 2, 2005

Fixes And Updates In The Works //

There are still a number of major outstanding issues lingering following our May 1st Reboot launch (technically May 2nd, but who’s counting…). We are actively tracking down the Movable Type issues we experienced immediately following stage one of the launch plan (backing up the existing server data). Hopefully these bugs which generally affect us more than you will be resolved shortly.

On the plus side, now that we’ve had some time to sleep and recover from what was one of the longest nights we’ve had in a long time, the ‘…On A Long Piece Of String’ blog is back up and running and should be accessible from both its old location and new home thanks to the magic of symbolic links. They really saved the day this time.

Rounding Applause

Thanks to all the cool cats (not literally, though we could tell you a story about an ice-cold cat) who wrote to us today and who stopped by to look around the site — there’s been a lot of you and that makes up very happy. Come back again soon!

Look for a big blog design update sometime in the coming weeks (hopefully sooner rather than later) along with improved site code happiness, software distractions and more.

Almost There… //

Due to some unexpected technical problems with Movable Type and our current web host, we didn’t end up making the May 1st deadline as some of you might have noticed. We’re close — it’s only May 2nd (and extremely early in the morning here we might add).

We’ve had to temporarily remove the majority of the contents of the ‘…On A Long Piece Of String’ blog. We know you’re going to go into major withdrawal and you can rest assured that we’ll be working on it — right after we get some sleep.

You just had to know it couldn’t go that smoothly… Everything was going too well…

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