Cococello is Deb Pang Davis. Independent print and digital designer, educator and soon-to-be-author.


Ta-da! Launching the New Cococello Site

After many months of work, my business, Cococello, has a website! It isn’t quite finished (Is a website ever finished?) yet going public seemed to be the right move, even with deeper pages still in progress. Finding ways to improve is a driving force in my life, and that is reflected in the crafting and polishing and enhancing as I continue to put my business online.

I hope to write more soon about my design process for this project and the reasoning behind many of the decisions I made, but I’m a one-woman show and that means intense deadlines, so my priority now is to thank the people who helped the new Cococello become a reality and tell the story of finding them.

My Partners in Crime

I couldn’t have created this new site without the expertise and professionalism of two people: copywriter and editor Carolyn Wood and front-end developer John Knotts. If there were mastheads for websites, Carolyn and John would be at the top.

The Not-Just-a-Copywriter

Content isn’t just writing. It isn’t just words. It certainly isn’t all about keywords. It involves your navigation and structure; it is your brand, your voice, your choices about what to include and what to omit. It’s all the information, of every type, on your site. Still, I don’t know that “Content is King,” as some people say. Content and Design “ruling together” seems to be a better prescription for a successful site. Having a copywriter who also has the brains for structure and strategy and “gets” design is gold for any business. Hiring and bringing one in at the very beginning of any design is my ideal scenario.

I first learned about Carolyn while reading about Duoh!‘s redesign. Intrigued, I popped over to Pixelingo and found someone incredibly thoughtful and someone I could surely laugh with. She has a subtle and keen sense of humor, I thought. I liked her and even though I was intimidated about contacting her, I did it anyway. (I’m like that.) She works with rockstars (See her “other web work” paragraph.) so I was expecting her to turn me away.

I’ll spare you all the details about how long ago we started the conversation and how I suddenly showed up at her door, so-to-speak, demanding her services. Luckily, she thought I was worthy of her masterful word smarts and took me in.

Coming from the world of publications, I’ve worked with many writers and editors. Damn good ones. I was spoiled and used to a non-linear process of thinking about and designing around content. Working alone at home, I craved and missed the dynamics of my editorial background.

Carolyn challenged me. She re-energized me. We gently debated as we examined decisions. We laughed a lot. We understand each other and magic happened. I delivered rambling sentences and bulleted lists of random, inconsistent thoughts. What she delivered was beautiful, thoughtfully selected words, and perfectly crafted sentences.

Carolyn is more than a copywriter. She is a strategist. She is a designer’s writer and she’s worth every Benjamin.

The Engineer

John and I met during a Train-ee class in Portland nearly one year ago. I wasn’t expecting to meet the developer of my dreams and as mushy as that might sound, it is an accurate description.

I firmly believe that in order to take on more business and do it well, you need to partner up with like-minded, professional peeps. I knew I needed a master code monkey and was ready to give up that responsibility so I can concentrate on growing my business. But, with my standards, I needed someone exceptional.

It helped that I got to know John in person. I’ve reached out to a few developers over time, and time zone differences, expectations, quality of code, attention to detail, and choice of tools are just a few of the important factors determining whether a designer/developer relationship will work.

I can depend on him. He thinks like I do and we value the same criteria for designing and developing websites. The fact that he graciously puts up with my anal-retentive designer side is a beautiful bonus. The meticulous designer can be a nightmare for some developers but John takes my 1 pixel change requests with grace and humor.

He whipped Cococello into shape with some custom jQuery, a few jQuery plugins (Cycle, Lightbox and Nivo Slider), standards-compliant CSS/XHTML, integrated with ExpressionEngine 2.0 Public Beta. Thank goodness for Matrix 2 and Freeform 3.0! The release of those two great EE 2 compatible add-ons could not have happened at a more perfect time.

Am I satisfied?

Just like many other designers, I’ll never be finished with my own site. We have a tendency to constantly tinker and question and redo and finesse when it’s our own website. But, yes, this site is a good representation of who I am, how I think and design, and what I offer. It paints a picture of what is important to me in my work and the kind of people and businesses I enjoy helping. It communicates my love not only of design and the type of work I do, but of the things that I find vital in life and in our world, and reaches out to potential clients who have a heart for the same things. And, yes, there’s much more to come.

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