To Can or Not to Can, That is The Question

MeercatsI belong to several lists online for knitting designers. Handknitting designers primarily, although I am sure there are those who also machine knit. That has it’s own niche. We discuss a lot of different topics as it relates to the business of being a knitting designer.

One of the topics that comes up from time to time is websites. As designers are creative by nature, it is a natural tendency to want to do your own thing. Hey, I did mine with input from Katherine on what she thought of the look and how to do different things. But, I used professional graphic design software in the making of it. I also had to learn HTML, and read a number of books on site architecture and so on. It has since changed a little in appearance (the red side bars, and content in the middle for example). Katherine keeps it up as I frankly have forgotten half of what I learned…besides, she is a graphic designer and it is what she does.

I will simply say that as a designer, you can ill afford to have your main site look canned. That is my personal opinion. It is our portfolio, our chance to introduce you to our style and our sense of design. If our representation of ourselves looks canned, it does not bode well for the contents of the portfolio. I am not saying you cannot do it yourself (with professional tools and learning) or that you cannot use templates, but that a site has to suit it’s purpose not only in form and function, but in communicating visually what the designer is about. Actually to be honest I have a dislike for templates in a business site where the site is for a creative professional. At least, the ones that are obviously a template or generic looking.

I am sure by now you are wondering what a Meercat has to do with knitting and canned web sites. Well, nothing really, other than to illustrate what I mean by canned or not canned. I like taking pictures of animals, and I took a bunch at the San Diego Zoo. Meercats are very fast, so you just have to take lots of pictures in rapid succession to catch their personality. And I guess to me that is what defines something as generic or canned. Is the personality captured? The above photo is not your typical pose you see them in…at least in photographs. And while this might not make a spread in National Geographic, it is full of humor and personality. It suites the purpose to which it is intended.

That said I will freely admit that this site, my blog, is a template. I found this template and really like it. It makes me feel like I am sharing a journal, in large part due to the pen graphic. The colors are simple and the text easy to read. There is some customization possible in what I choose to put in the sidebars, and of course my own posts and the pictures and links they contain. I can highlight my patterns and design work, and the site itself doesn’t compete with the pictures.

The thing I like about this template is that it suits my needs, and doesn’t look, well, like a cheap template. Even though it is, since it was free. To can, or not to can…for me, the answer is always “do it with style”. Whether it is canned or not, well, if it doesn’t look canned, who is to know?

Peace and Knitting, JoLene


6 Responses to “To Can or Not to Can, That is The Question”

  1. LaurieM Says:

    This is the first time I’d seen your website and I think it looks great. I’ll be browsing it by and by. WordPress does a funny thing with links. It prepends this blog’s address to all links. Check your patterns link. I’m not sure if there is a work around for this as I use Blogger.

    I think a creative person can started with a “canned” template and then modify it to suit their tastes. This can be easier than starting from scratch and can help ramp the rather steep learning curve.

  2. jolenetreace Says:

    Thanks for the tip, I will certainly look into it. I may have to ask Katherine about that.

    You are most certainly right about modifying a “canned” template. That is when someone’s personality and tastes can come through, particularly if you are a designer or other creative professional. This is important not just for established designers but those who are starting out.

    We need to put some “zippity” in our “doo-dah”. Make ourselves memorable.

  3. jolenetreace Says:

    I re-did the link and it is working fine now. I don’t know why it did what it did. Thanks for letting me know.

  4. LaurieM Says:

    I had joined a group WordPress blog and that’s when I first noticed the glitch. I think WordPress is trying to be helpful. It may be that you can eliminate it through some option settings.

  5. Graphic Design Dude Says:

    There is nothing wrong in using templates as long as you personalise pitures, CSS and graphics to your needs.

  6. jolenetreace Says:

    I agree, as hopefully came out in some of my comments. The problem is in the world of knitting design (at least the ones I am referring to) really have no personality and style. I don’t know if it is because they don’t have CSS, or what the issue is, but the mantra I hear is “use a free template, it is quick and easy”. But then again, I don’t know how serious about design, these designers are. Are they more producers of patterns to earn a living at their craft? If so then I suppose it won’t matter much if they have a canned site or not.

    Thanks for stopping by, Graphic Design Dude! Glad to see your comments.

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