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Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Client Site Launched! 

I launched a new client site last night: Ayuh Yoga.

It was a fantastic project to work on. Not only am I very happy with how the design and finished product turned out, but I also thoroughly enjoyed working with these clients.

I actually taught (color guard) most of the people on the staff of Ayuh Yoga when they were in high school in Union City 15 years ago. I lost touch with most of them over the years, but had the wonderful opportunity to become reacquainted with them via Facebook. I've enjoyed meeting up with them at different events and gatherings over the last couple of years.

It's been such a pleasure to become friends with all of these people again, and to have the chance to get to know each other as adults. It was such an honor to be asked by these friends to design and implement the web site for their new business venture.

Congratulations to the team at Ayuh Yoga!

I wish you great success in your business, and many more years of friendship! :)

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Geek Day! 

Firefox on Mac (Top Left) Safari on Mac (top right)
Firefox on PC (bottom left) IE 6 on PC (bottom right)

It was a long day, but SO well worth it!

I had bought a copy of Parallels about a year ago. This software would enable me to have a Virtual PC environment on my Mac, where I could test my web pages cross-platform (ie: on both the Mac, as well as PC) and cross-browser (ie: Internet Explorer (both on Mac and PC), Safari (Mac) and Firefox (PC and Mac).

As a web designer, one of the most frustrating part of the process is making sure that the site works and looks the same on all browsers and on all platforms. You'd be surprised how different a site can look.

My previous solution was that I had one of Dick's old PCs, and used a switch between my Mac to the PC, so that the two computers could share the same monitor, keyboard and mouse - I'd just have to switch between the two.

This method worked fine for several years, but I started having problems with the switch reading my mouse and keyboard. I was going to buy a new switch, but the inexpensive version I was looking at didn't support my new monitor.

That's when I remembered that I still had a copy of Parallels that I had bought last year. I had tried to install it, but ran into several difficulties. It was pretty frustrating, so I kind of tucked it away for awhile, until I knew that we'd have some time to dedicate to it.

So, that day turned out to be today! It was chilly and wet out today, so Dick and I stayed in our pajamas all day, and holed up in the office, working on this all day.

Why did it take so long? The installation of the actual program wasn't a problem. Actually, it was made easier by the fact that an upgrade had just become available, so we upgraded to that, and were able to get rid of the old version that had given me problems.

The problem happened with the installation of the Windows OS. I decided to install Windows XP versus Vista - I really needed easy access to IE 6 on Windows. It seems to be the browser that causes the most problems for me. We installed XP, but then tried to install the service packs which contain many security updates. Long story short, we had to reinstall XP a couple of times, as well as reinstall Service Packs 1, 2 and eventually, 3.

After 6-7 hours, we finally got everything I wanted up and running! I'm now running Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6, Firefox and (bonus) Windows Live Messenger (PC version - It's so much better than the version available for the Mac).

The bottom line:

I'm able to test all of my web sites on 5 browsers all on the same computer (my Mac) at the same time! (Firefox, Safari and IE on the Mac, as well as IE 6 and Firefox on the PC) I can hop over to Dick's PC to test IE 7 - I'm running low on space on my Mac to install another Virtual Machine Version to add it.

It's super cool! I'm very excited about this. I'm working on 4 new projects at the moment, and have been having a hard time checking them out on all versions of all browsers. This is going to make my job SO much easier!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Job Perks 

Well, I may not get benefits with my job, but occasionally, I get some really nice perks!

I had a meeting this afternoon with a new client - a seafood restaurant located in the San Francisco Ferry Building.

Our meeting was around 3:00 this afternoon, so I had already eaten lunch.

When I arrived, my client asked if I was hungry (which I wasn't) and
offered me a drink and some of their most popular dishes to try! How could I say no?!

The clam chowder was quite possibly the best I've ever had. Same goes for the crab cake. They also served me another amazing dish with fresh crab, avacado and grapefruit.

I wasn't hungry enough to finish it all while I was there, so they wrapped everything up (and even gave me more soup!) so I could bring it home for dinner tonight.

Super yummy. I also got some great ideas while we met for their web site. (good food must inspire me!)This will be a fun project!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Need a Webmaster in California? 

Last night, I got a very nice email from a Technology Recruiter. He had seen my online portfolio and was checking to see if I was available and interested in working as a webmaster for a Biotech firm in the South Bay. While it was very nice to be considered, the job was a permanent position, which isn't something that I'm looking for at the moment.

I'm always curious to know how people find me and my portfolio, so whenever I get an email like this, I ask.

This was his response:

I found your portfolio doing a search for webmaster, California and resume. You come up on the first and second pages of Yahoo and Google respectively.


I had no idea...
I immediately went to Google and typed in "webmaster california resume" and...


First listing on Google!

what a shocker! who knew?

I'm guessing that it's a combination of many things:

I often have people ask me how clients find me. I tell them that generally, it's through word of mouth (which is the nicest compliment of all), but it also could be because they see a site that I've done (I always have my by-line at the bottom of the main page) and every once-in-a-while, someone manages to find me doing a blind web search...

just like this.

But really, of all the web designers in all of Silicon Valley... I'm still amazed when people manage to find me.

That's really cool.

It kind of made my day.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Less is More 

When web design goes very, very bad.


SFgate.com changed their design format again today. It's the second time they've done that within the last couple of months.

Here's the thing: I love sfgate. I visit it frequently each day. I like it because I'm able to skim the headlines easily - which are both local news as well as world news. It's easy and concise, and I can quickly decide which stories/headlines interest me the most.

Bad news: Change is Bad.

Over the course of the last two design changes, they've somehow managed to go from a site that was unique because it was quick, and easy to navigate site with local and world news to a news site that looks a whole lot like everyone else. They've gone from having one feature story with one photo and one column with headlines of mixed stories, and quick blurb about the story, to becoming just another news site with multiple feature stories, multiple sections and multiple headlines.

I liked it because it was a "local site". It focused on local things. It always included the important World News Events, and had a small column for 4 or 5 AP stories, but the rest of it was local news. I have a routine of going to sfgate for my local news, and msnbc.com for World/AP news.

Now, it looks like sfgate is trying to compete with all of the big news sites. It's going in a direction that goes against the very reason why I was such a fan to begin with.

They have a little "Give us feedback" link which is already filled with dozens of readers bashing the new design.

I've been a web designer for 11 years. My first rule of thumb when designing a site has always been: "Less is More". Keep it simple. Don't over design. Let the user find what they want easily. Don't muck up the site with too much content.

Why is that so hard?
(or maybe it's just me, because goodness knows there are a lot of over-designed web sites out there that make my eyes bleed.)

I'm hoping that the design staff at sfgate.com will read the feedback and take it to heart. Hopefully, they'll go back to (one of their) old design that set them apart from the other news sites.


Okay, I know that this is totally over the top, but I've just found two screen shots of the from sfgate.com - an old one from 2007, and the new version as it debuted today. I thought it would be interesting to compare them side-by-side.

sfgate: then and now

Look how much more content this new design has packed into it, and how much harder it is to read. Seeing them side by side like this really makes me wish they'd just go back to the old design.

Is there enough crap in that site for you?
Seriously, my eyes hurt just looking at it.

Get a clue, guys. This is bad design.


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Friday, May 09, 2008

A new look for the e-commerce site 

One of my clients has an e-commerce store hosted by Yahoo's merchant services. We've had it up for a couple of years now, and I believe that they have had great success with it so far.

This week, we switched to their upgraded software which enabled us to have a few new options as far as design goes. I'm pretty happy with that, because the design options are fairly limited when you use their tools. (we use their online tools so that my clients can make as many changes/additions to their site as possible without having to go through me.)

Anyhow, here's the new look:

Unveiled's e-commerce store

They are a great store in Walnut Creek. If you're getting married, throwing a baby shower, etc., they have all kinds of stuff that you might want or need.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Kristi's Blog 

For those of you who are interested, I just put up a new Blog section on Kristi's site:


Kristi has already posted her first entry. She’s going to try to write at least a couple of entries a week while she’s on Dancing with the Stars. It should be a fun way for her to share her latest adventures with everyone.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Hattie Pinn 

Remember yesterday's post about the new web site that I launched called Hattie's Pins?

I got this funny email this morning from my friend, Andrew:

I knew that name rang a bell. The Schoenhut company (makers of wooden toys including Quacky Doodles & Danny Daddles) produced a series of simple dolls based on clothespins. They were called the Pinn Family. The mother's name was Hattie Pinn (there was also a Bobby Pinn, etc).

Isn't that funny?

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

One week, two site launches! 

It's been a busy week here at Trina Chow Design.

I just launched another site this morning!

Hattie's Pins.

This site is near and dear to my heart. One of my wonderful neighbors started a business last year of creating pins and pendants out of vintage buttons. I really love her products.

I was really happy with how this site design turned out.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Big Site Launch 

I've been working on a pretty big project for about a month, but have had to keep it under wraps until now.

As some of you may know, one of my web clients of several years is Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation. I've been working with the foundation for over 5 years, both on their web site, as well as helping with some administrative tasks, and also with the silent auctions during our fund raising events.

About a month ago, I was asked if I could work on a project that would launch towards the end of February. I was told that Kristi was being considered as a contestant for the new season of Dancing with the Stars. We had to keep our project under wraps until the official announcement was made.

Well, the announcement was made last night, and we launched our new site.

I'm really happy with how this site turned out. We managed to come up with a nice site design, and got it up and running in a short amount of time.


I've never watched Dancing with the Stars before - I've only seen a few clips here and there. I'm looking forward to watching this season. It'll be exciting to watch and root for someone that we actually know!


Monday, February 18, 2008

That's 3 hours of my life I'll never get back 

or, why you should never use Network Solutions for web hosting...

That was brutal.

After 3 hours, I just finished uploading a new site.

3 hours.


I can not believe how much I hate Network Solutions right now. I've never had a client use them for web hosting services before, and now, I'll dissuade anyone who is ever considering them.

Here's what happened: a few weeks ago I put up a temporary "Coming Soon" kind of placeholder page up. That took something like 20 minutes.

Anyone who has ever FTP'ed files up to a server knows this should take a matter of seconds. Not minutes, and certainly not tens of minutes.

So, my client called Network Solutions after I had that bad experience (I had told him to dump them, and to switch to another web hosting service). Well, Network Solutions claimed they were familiar with it, and that their servers were down, and that it almost never happens... blah, blah, blah.

I've been working on this site intensely for the last 4 weeks, with the intention of launching it tonight at 6:00pm PST.

I wasn't thinking. I should have tested the FTP connection earlier today. I should have uploaded all of my images files, and all of my secondary files. I shoulda,woulda, coulda...

But I didn't.

Instead, I waited until 6:00 like a fool, expecting everything to upload within a couple of minutes.

These are not large files. We're talking 200k files, and 4k thumb nail files. The thumb nail files were taking longer than 5 minutes each! I was about ready to pull my frickin' hair out!

The good news: my Hubby is a total rock star. We had friends over this evening (to help celebrate the launch). Dick fixed them all drinks, then, when we all realized that this was going to take me a while, Dick called in an order to our fave Thai restaurant, when out to pick it up, served it, AND cleaned up. All the while, I was sitting with my laptop, staring at it through glossy eyes.

Everything was finally up by 9:00, and we had an official launch.

That was brutal.

Worst. Web. Hosting. Service. Ever.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Productive Day 

Ah, I just love productive days.

Dick and I spent the afternoon/early evening working on a work project of mine that's been looming over me for several weeks now.

I've had a work project that I needed Dick's javascript expertise on.

I have a client, who is a toy manufacturer. They make two toys: ZOOB, and QUIZMO. I adopted this site from them earlier this year, and have been making regular updates, but we've always known that we had a larger project in mind.

For the QUIZMO section, they wanted a demo page that demonstrated how the toy works. Dick and I completed this section a couple of months ago, then I needed to wait for some more information from my client before I could implement it throughout the rest of the site. It's really cool, and I was happy that we were able to do it, and was anxious to get it up and running.

The client sent the rest of the information during the week before Labor Day weekend. It was my intent that Dick and I could complete the rest of the work during the weekend, for an early September launch. Unfortunately, that's when I came down with appendicitis!

My client was more than understanding that I needed some time to rest, and has been quite wonderful. After I got back to work, I had a lot of other work that had also piled up, and I still needed Dick's help on this particular project.

Needless to say, we worked on it today, and it was with great elation that we finished that particular phase of the site. It's something that I've been wanting to get done for several weeks now.

I'm really, really happy with how this all turned out. I'm also eternally grateful that I married a Javascript-God.

Here's the demo page that we created.

You can also see an example of how we integrated the same script throughout the site.

In other productive news, I also finished all the laundry today. Since the laundry room is in the part of the house blocked off by the contractors, it's something that I need to get done on weekends, when they're not here. Gotta love multi-tasking!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Site launch 

I'm quite pleased with how this one turned out:


Some of you may recognize one or more of the dancers. :)


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Pros and Cons of working for yourself 

Believe it or not, next month will mark 10 years since Trina Chow Design was hired by my first client to design and implement a web site! (That client, by the way, was Adler & Co Gallery way back when they were an animation gallery on Union Street!)

There are obviously many pros and cons to be said for working for yourself. Sure, I get the benefit of setting my own hours, choosing my clients, having creative freedom, etc.,

However, I also work by myself, which, after 10 years, I've learned can be somewhat limiting.

Case in point: I learned HTML the old-fashioned way...
About 12 years ago, I read the classic Teach yourself HTML in 14 Days by Laura Lemay.
I learned all about tables, formatting, how to code by hand, gif animations, image-mapping, frames, etc.,
Sure, I picked up some tips and tricks here and there, but I always stuck to the tried-and-true basics.

This limited knowledge worked well for me for a very long time.

About 3 or 4 years ago, Dick started to introduce me to the idea of CSS. (Cascading Style Sheets for those of you who aren't in the know...) I admit it: I shied away from learning CSS for months, and even years. I couldn't grasp the thought that I might need to change the way that I'd been doing things for years. (gasp!)

A couple of years ago, Dick helped me in the complete redesign of the Adler Gallery site (yes, the one and the same as my first client!). This would be my first major CSS project, and what an enormous project it would be! I came to embrace CSS, and learned to love it. Gone now were the days of doing layout using tables! Style tags don't belong in HTML! They belong in my .css page! Begone you table tags! Stop cluttering my HTML!

So, I've been enjoying a couple of years of basic CSS euphoria, when, every-once-in-a-while, Dick brings in something new and different (gasp - again!)!

Each time, I cringe! I shy away! I wonder why do I need to change?

Each time, I get over my fears and anxieties, and eventually learn that it's good to learn, it's good to expand, it's good to keep up. It's good to learn about "ems".

I feel very fortunate that my hubby is so interested, on a personal as well as a professional level, in some of the same technologies that I use for my small, one-person business. He keeps me up-to-date, and helps broaden my mind to new ideas that I wouldn't have if I kept to myself.

So, it turns out that I'm one lucky girl. I have all the benefits of working by myself, but I also get to benefit from the fact that my hubby will make sure that I won't fade away into HTML oblivion. I even get my own personal tutor who actually enjoys learning, and sharing his expansive knowledge with me!

It turns out that I'm not working entirely by myself after all! I get to work with my hubby!

In case I haven't mentioned it in a while, I love my techie-honey! :)

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

My head is full.... 

Dick has been teaching me javascript. We've only been doing this for an hour, (and we've made good progress) but my head is tired now.

Time for dinner.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Redesign of e-commerce site! 

I spent the better part of this week working on a redesign and reorganization of one of my e-commerce sites:


I'm really pleased with all of the changes that we've made. I redesigned the site so that it would tie in more to the store's regular (non-e-commerce) site: http://unveiledeventsandgifts.com. I also cleaned up the design of the sections and subsections so that it's now easier on the eye.

We reorganized the site so that the U.I. would be more user friendly. We created several new sections, then broke those down into even more subsections so that it would be easier to navigate and find products.

I'm really happy with the new design, and hope that it does well!

If you're planning a wedding, a shower, or any kind of party, you should check out this site. We already have hundreds of items in there, and we're continuously adding more :)


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