Drama. No Pretension: A Website for an Upcoming Opera Star

One of the upsides of freelance work is that I get to work on a wide variety of projects.

From building an interactive screen for a new daycare to providing a starter site for a hobbyist who wants to eventually start a non-profit for the protection of African Pied Crows (I’m not joking!), I run the gamut. My latest client adds a new dimension to that diverse horde, as she’s an opera singer! More specifically, her mother is giving her the site as a gift for Christmas. An awesome gift, if you ask me. To preserve the surprise and her privacy, we’ll give her a nickname for now—Adrianna Michaels—and I’ve also subbed in all her portraiture into her compositions.

Because this site is a gift, I’ve had minimal contact with Adrianna at the onset. I had an initial design brief conversation with her, and after that I’ve mostly worked with her mother. It’s been an interesting process! Typically, I allow for one round of revisions with my low-budget clients and I set aside time in my project estimate to allow for that communication and implementing the changes, usually around 5-10 hours, depending on the size of the project. But here, because I’m effectively designing for two different people who aren’t talking to each other about the project, we had to approach things a little differently. After I had the initial conversation with Adrianna, I worked with her mother, who gave me a handful of revisions to make in preparation for the gifting. We kept this down as much as we could, because we wanted to save time for Adrianna to make revisions after she gets the site on Christmas. After that, Adrianna will work with me to make her revisions to the compositions. Once she signs off on that, I’ll get to building it out!

Despite the different approach, we’re well within our time and budget for the project, and I think the first stab looks lovely already.

Adrianna’s package included a “mini” branding, which includes colors and two type selections. Here, one script and one body font. I lay this out on a spread for my clients to use later in case they decide to expand their brand onto other products (like a business card, social media presence, or what have you). In our first conversations, Adrianna mentioned to me that she liked deep, dark colors, particularly blues.

Both Merriweather and Tangerine are available via Google Fonts, so she’ll have access to them later for free, and integrating them into her site will be that much easier.

Adrianna said that the most important function of her website was to give potential clients a way to contact her, second was to give an impression of who she was as an artist. In that spirit, I started out her home page with a dramatic photo of her and a direct response contact form overlaid on top.

The general consensus, though, was that it was a bit too aggressive, so we nixed it for a softer opening.

The original agreement was for one home page and one custom internal page design for whatever the client needed or wanted. However, when I asked Adrianna’s mother what she might like for this page, she told me that Adrianna really wanted a blog, so I split the time for the second page and made two basic layouts to get her started with a blog.

One of the tools I’ve been using for this project is a free package of Photoshop actions I picked up from Spoon Graphics. Often design freebies leave a lot to be desired, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised since picking this up how helpful I have found it. The selenium action set gives off super dramatic black and white images with a slight cast of blue. Perfect for my client’s blue site.

I’m happy with where the design is right now and excited for Adrianna’s insights into what might take it to the next level. Check out my first stab at it below!

~G