Bafana, Bafana!

admin admin06. April 2010

So I was the webfactory's intern "march 2010". Since I'm planning to study Communication Design this fall, I don't only need application-folders filled with endless sketches and samples, but also internships to show my further interest in the field and gain first experiences.

So how did I end up in a web-oriented design office?

Not only is my big brother working there, I actually visited him before for a couple of times and had great first impressions of the webfactory, like a very friendly, casual but professional working atmosphere.

It seemed to be a great choice, also because I would stop focusing on what I thought interested me most for a while and experience a whole different field for a change.

And I don't regret it - it sure was one of the best experiences I have had so far.

Since it is difficult to find a good project for an intern – he/she can't really work on a project for a real client and shouldn't be used for minor things like designing the new desktop-background – I'm really thankful for my task.

The webfactory created a page where people can bet on the results of soccer games. It focuses on big soccer events like the European and World Championship.

Screenshot: webfactory Tippspiel Design 2006This year the World Championship takes place in South Africa. For the first time the page was supposed to get a themed layout, an african-soccer layout.

My first impression of the task was very positive, it seemed like a fun and interesting challenge, not only allowing me to play with animals, colours and african elements, but also facing professional webdesign issues for the first time. I have to say, I know a little bit about HTML and CSS, but never really learned anything about it in a professional way.

I started with a couple of hours of research, desperately trying to find any, seriously, any information about the championship, especially any information about the visual/corporate identity.

I pretty much ended up with only the official FIFA championship logo and the website of the South African embassy.

But those two factors already led me to first ideas. Of course I started off on paper, trying to get a feeling for all the elements involved.

Scanned-in sketch of first design ideas for the South Africa-themed layoutI was changing around the header, the navigation, the sidebar, african and soccer elements with nothing more than my common sense.

A few discussions with co-workers helped to sort ideas while I was trying to find the right path for this project.

Soon I switched from paper to Photoshop and started playing with colours and effects.

What looked so great on paper unfortunately didn't work out too well in Photoshop. It was surprisingly hard to find the right balance between soccer and african elements – without making it look like a website of an archeologist or a zoo.

This way I/we had to reconsider what was created so far, and choose a slightly different approach for the website.

Photo of Niklas sketching the new background idea of a collage of african and soccer elementsAll of a sudden we loved the idea of creating a sketched and coloured animal, plant and soccer element kind of a collage as a background that would surround the main body and content.

Now I just had to add bright/natural/tan colours, a navigation, sidebar and content.

Well, ok, it wasn't that easy.

Finally done with my sketch, I coloured it in Photoshop, added a tan background with a little light effect and then found myself in a week of experimenting with the content to get the right composition of all the elements.

While I was doing that, not only the online version of Designing for the web helped me, but mostly looking over everybody's shoulders – catching some layout rules here and there helped a lot to actually make it look like a website.

Screenshot: the design has been turned into a theme for the website

As a conclusion, I'm more than happy I went for this internship. Already after one week I had learned so much about webdesign, Photoshop, layout rules, and gotten advice and links from everyone that were really helpful not just for my internship but also for my own little “office” at home.

When I got up in the morning I was looking forward to going to work, when I was still sitting at my desk at 10pm I wanted to stay even longer.

What more can I say to show how much I liked it here, how it helped me to be more certain that design isn't the wrong decision for my personal career.

Most importantly, I haven't only learned so much, I also had a really good time and found new friends, met incredibly intelligent, nice and down-to-earth people and I'm thankful I had the chance to be one of them for four weeks.

Herby, another round on the foosball table?

A guest entry by Niklas Birkemeyer