when life gives you nazis, make lemonade

December 17, 2004
Random Quote of the Moment
"Come on, Hitler, I'll buy you a glass of lemonade."
--from the movie "Max", "the risible portrait of the young Hitler as a second-rate artist", quoted via David Edelstein in this oddly rambling Slate movie review thing.

Sick Sad World of the Moment
"The U.S. state of Missouri has warned authorities to be on the alert after a fetus was cut from the womb of a homicide victim in the town of Skidmore, the Nodaway County Sheriff's Department has said."
--CNN.com news article. Ugh. The article makes it sound like a kind of bizarre homebrew Caesarean Section/homicide. Also there was some local coverage including the sheriff's quote "Someone was wanting a baby awful bad."

Ponder of the Moment
What makes a website look professional? I realize that there is a certain corporate "look" that tends to express "this is a serious organization" and I can't quite put my finger on what it is.

For example, I'm working with a friend of Ksenia's who runs an interesting balloon artwork company (and btw...trying to find a way of explaining what that is, as opposed to little twisty balloon animals, is a tremendous challenge.) He's not crazy about his site, it's not bad but it looks a little amateurish, and not very corporate. In contrast, he had us click over to this site, comissioned by a woman he knows. Now that site isn't perfect, but I know what he means...it seems "professional". It's frustrating for me, because I know this professionalism when I see it, but have a hard time knowing exactly what "it" is. Some ideas: My own sites are pretty hit or miss. The old Love Blender Digest design wasn't bad for its 1998 heritage, but violated the first rule. The current layout, designed with help from Lupschada, isn't quite "fixed width" but makes better use of the space, and follows the second principle of boxes and the third principle of a sans-serif font. This site follows all three principles to some extent, except for the main text. Ksenia thinks the soon-to-be-retired Alien Bill frontpage is some nice design work, but it's more artsy-fartsy than professional. (Heh, come to think of it, it follows all 3 principles pretty well, but I think its use of color and big images takes it out of the "serious site" column.)

Any thoughts or other ideas about gimmicks are appreciated. (heh, like judicious use of happy smiling corporate people clip art photos...) I have a sneaking suspicion that while great as opposed to good web design might be a better of training and highly polished aesthetic sense, the difference between good and bad is more one of a small bag of tricks...