Silverthreaded is a literate web design studio located in Santa Barbara, California, serving corporate, non-profit, technology startup and small business clients. We are an informed and active node in the global renaissance of web design.
Silverthreaded offers expertise in information architecture; graphic design; html & CSS; client- & server-side scripting; Wordpress implementation; database design & development; screencasts; copywriting; domain & hosting facilitation; search engine optimization (SEO); e-commerce integration; and ongoing rapid-response site maintenance.
We are web standards enthusiasts with a passion for planning and structuring the presentation of information. Employing lightweight, web-based project management, we guide our clients through the development process in a staged, logical flow. Epiphanies along the way—arising from painless virtual collaboration—are by no means rare.
The way that you present your business online, whether large or small, corporate or non-profit, has become an ever more meaningful piece of the puzzle of abundance and success. A web site, to our minds, should clearly and tastefully provide a mirror of your highest aspirations, individual and collective.
A web site is no longer an afterthought to marketing efforts; it is the essential centerpiece of self-presentation. We like to think of sites as spaces, architectures with specific structures and interior design that are not just visited but actually lived within by you and your clientele.
Ask yourself: does my website feel like a place I can relax? Do my visitors find what they need, effortlessly? Does the space have a natural and logical flow? Your site can, with some planning, attention and care, easily become a destination of choice and a true reflection of your vision.
The logical flow of design happens by means of an ongoing dialogue between a craftsperson and a client. At Silverthreaded, we like to facilitate the co-creation of something special, something that emerges from the flow of a client’s business and creative vision into its implementation, within what has become a very rich and expressive medium. We realize too that there is always a third stakeholder involved – the "end user" or visitor. Design for the web is a translation of the needs of a client’s set of goals into a rich visual presence that is then offered as an experience to the user. For a site to truly be successful, these three modes – enterprise, design and usability – must be placed into harmony. There is a flow to the process of creation that is then reflected in the flow of the actual experience of arriving at and making use of a site. We imagine this flow to be a kind re-introduction of nature into the world of the screen.
Getting that sparkle in your eye at the prospect of a fresh new website is a joy that we hope you’ll take with you throughout the process of site creation. It certainly doesn’t have to become a difficult path. We would like to help you, in fact, to make it painless and perhaps even a learning experience, an adventure in co-creation. We present here a summary of the phases in our systematic approach to taking your vision from concept to completion.
We conduct thorough discovery by quickly learning your initiatives from the ground up, thoroughly understanding your goals and tapping into knowledge that may reside in the minds of your team rather than on paper or in files. To this end, we conduct engaging stakeholder interviews (in-person/phone/email) to solicit such key information.
We aim to learn everything about your various audiences, their needs and your needs as an organization, so the site can fulfill its purpose. We believe that many designers, developers and agencies underestimate this phase of site design; we prefer to approach web development from a discovery point of departure – a fundamental effort to come to a deep understanding of your needs – that leads to an exact design, content and technological fit, rather than to assume anything while diving into pixels and code.
This approach is sometimes known as web ethnography, and leads in our experience to sites with far richer and more engaging content than you may imagine initially.
We approach from high level and drill down to detail level from a set of key architectural views of the site. Site structure will be presented using best practices in information architecture, including visual flowcharts that express all navigation paths, page-level wireframes that detail content blocks and priorities, and anticipated publishing workflow charts. These living documents help trigger decision-making about content needs and navigational pathways. They show, prior to graphical design decisions, the amount and importance of what should be presented and are a vital reference for the build-out of a site.
We present designs and gather feedback, incorporating feedback in delivered iterations, leading to a sign off on the look and feel of the overall site. Designs will be developed with SEO (search engine optimization), accessibility and web standards firmly in mind from the beginning, which will greatly aid the production of individual pages and added functionality. During this phase, a dedicated graphic designer/digital artist/illustrator with experience in web user interface design will be involved to bring imaginative possibilities into view.
The core to web design are the dual components of markup and stylesheets. Markup is the actual html code of the page or template. CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, governs the appearance of elements that appear in the markup, from overall layout to navigation, header, paragraph, list and form styles.
The CSS framework for a site is a critical and high-value translation of the visual interface that has been graphically produced into code that plays well in all major browsers. As the core of the site’s presentation layer, it governs the look and feel of the site. CSS coding is perhaps the single most important piece to give your site that “wow” factor, and to assure that it accurately represents the content in different browsers.
CSS styles are consistently and iteratively tested against the markup (html) for all pages, optimized for performance and modified for special cases (such as the handling of pesky Internet Explorer bugs). It’s important to keep in mind that CSS is also evolving and can accomplish things that had to be done graphically before, such as rounded-corner boxes, drop-shadows on text and so on. These touches can set your site apart and please the eyes of your visitors.
With the navigational, visual and content structures in place, we collect, edit and fill in the gaps of relevant content. This is a closely collaborative phase in which we help your company gather materials, polish content, translate unstructured content into structured content, and create additional audio-visual materials – such as screencasts, illustrations & photography – that complement or supplement your written content.
Concurrently, we fully develop the site’s functionality. We put in place any technical enhancements needed to store, query and manipulate data, achieve e-commerce, conversion or ROI goals, validate forms, make the building blocks of the site more modular and provide a secure online environment. This phase can include installing and setting up a customized company blog as well. It can also include putting in place SSL certificates for serving secure pages such as sign up forms or shopping carts.
We create the QA (quality assurance) plan, incorporating best practices to review, test and polish the site to ensure its elegant presentation on a wide variety of platform-browser combinations. We fix bugs and do final tests before launching the site. Web browser testing is done to a specification based on audience; if the site requires compatibility with older browsers or mobile devices, for instance, all phases of development will take that into account, and the site will be thoroughly tested against those user agents, as well as all modern desktop browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Chrome on both Windows and Mac.
At launch, we open the site to the public, including search engines, and help further with marketing communications and further search engine optimization, as well as social media marketing and newsletter campaigns, if desired. We also estimate maintenance needs and create a maintenance plan and budget, as needed. If a Content Management System (CMS) has been deployed, we provide training on this system so that you can update your site in house, while still relying on us for technology and plug-in upgrades, backups and more involved content updates, as desired.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Teamwork PM | Basecamp
INFORMATION DESIGN: OmniGraffle | Lucidchart
GRAPHICS PRODUCTION: Photoshop CC | Illustrator CC
PRINT DESIGN: InDesign CC
FRAMEWORKS, RESETS, TEMPLATES: Twitter Bootstrap | normalize.css | html5boillerplate | Foundation
PLATFORMS: Windows 7 | Mac OS X Mountain Lion
BLOGGING + CMS PLATFORM: WordPress
HOSTING: Linux | Apache
PREFERRED HOSTS: MediaTemple | Rackspace | Digital Ocean
TIME TRACKING & INVOICING: Freshbooks
COPYWRITING + EDITING: Chicago Manual of Style
WEB FONTS: Typekit
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter | Quora
COLLABORATION: Dropbox | Google Docs
2004 – Present
Principal | Web Designer & Developer
Silverthreaded Information Design
Santa Barbara, CA
As principal of the web design & development firm Silverthreaded, I have been performing UI and information design, client- and server-side coding, copy-writing & project management for corporate, non-profit and small business clients desiring clean, modern, rapidly-developed sites. I approach this work via expertise in web standards – xhtml markup, CSS layout & DOM scripting – supplemented by a technical foundation in LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP). These base capabilities are supplemented by a systematic understanding of SEO, WordPress, screencast production and e-commerce.
My main client currently is FastSpring E-Commerce. I have also designed and developed sites and solutions for Intuitive Surgical, AngioDynamics, the Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA), CPC Search, Veterans for Peace, Sierra Conveyor Company, Computer Motion and RITA Medical. For corporate clients, I provide special expertise in project management, running the entire cycle of web refresh development: planning; graphical UI design; sub-contractor supervision, database design; stakeholder interviews; 3rd party vendor management; resource allocation; copywriting; review cycles and QA.
For FastSpring, a highly successful e-commerce start-up known for its rich, intuitive platform and outstanding customer service, I handle a variety of creative, technical and project management duties. My work for FastSpring includes multi-site web design & development, corporate blogging, screencasts, marketing communications, localization and creative direction.
Director of Information Design
Computer Motion, Inc.
Santa Barbara, CA
Taking the project management lead for the Marketing Communications department of this prominent medical device company, I produced documentation, design and copy for interactive and print products. On the ocassion of the company’s merger, I developed a systematic communications strategy and project plan. In 2002, I consulted as copywriter and information architect in a major refresh of the public web site.
Santa Barbara, CA + Boulder, CO
For DigitalMed, an eLearning technology and content company serving the second-largest hospital system in the US, I conducted information design, project management and technology acquisition for the Learning Content Management System (LCMS). I produced detailed documentation and project plans, while managing teams and vendors.
Director, Information Design
I directed startup Salus Media’s information architecture and content design using XML and XSLT. Salus’ “LifeStyles” product comprised a suite of web-based content modules serving dynamic health and wellness programs via corporate intranets.
Addictive Media / Netlogix, Inc.
Santa Barbara, CA
For this successful interactive development studio, I produced seven on-time, on-budget CD-ROM titles and two Location Based Entertainment attractions for industry-leading publishers. Major clients included Walt Disney Imagineering , Mattel Media and The Learning Company . I oversaw client relations; wrote design documents and technical specifications; handled milestone deliverables through Alpha, Beta and Gold phases; directed art and engineering production and QA; managed external animation teams; designed and implemented video projects; and led multiple web design projects.
Interval Research Corporation
Palo Alto, CA
For Interval, the famed “best & the brightest” technology R&D company founded by Paul Allen, I contributed to major qualitative and quantitative market research projects focused on tween, teen and GenX demographics, in collaboration with market research firms ImageNet and Cheskin-Masten . My work involved field and focus group interviews, videography, photography, video logging, web design, UI design, company-wide presentations, hosting of guest speakers, and detailed research reports for internal and external clients. I built a major hand-coded multimedia website presenting research conducted at Lollapalooza concerts, in conjunction with the Electric Carnival traveling multimedia exhibition. Internal clients included Brenda Laurel and Marc Davis; external clients included Thomas Dolby; hosted speakers included Peter Gabriel and Douglas Rushkoff.
1987 – 1991:
Dept. of Comparative Literature
Taught self-designed Freshman Writing Seminars for six semesters, covering topics in composition, literature, and film. Among the writers and filmmakers studied were Albert Camus, Breyten Breytenbach, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, David Cronenberg, Nawal el Sadawi, Michel Foucault, Godfrey Reggio, Marshall McLuhan, Kobo Abe and Carolyn Forche.
Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature, 1986-1992
Major subjects: German Studies
Minor subjects: European intellectual history; French literature; Media theory
M.A. received May 1990
Dissertation topic: The Essay Film as Art of Memory
B.A., Honors Humanities and Comparative Literature
1979-1984: Graduated June, 1984.
Overseas study: Tours, France, 1981 and West Berlin, 1983-84
Freie Universität Berlin
DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship: 1988-89
Wilhelms-Westfälische Universität Münster
Fulbright scholarship: 1984-85.
Awards & Scholarships
John S. Knight Writing Program, Dept. of Comparative Literature,
Cornell University, 1986 – 1991
Speaking, writing, and reading knowledge of German and French; working knowledge of Spanish, Russian and Latin
For further information and recommendations, please visit my LinkedIn profile:
“I consider myself extremely privileged to have had and to continue to have the opportunity to work with Daniel L. Potter. Daniel has wonderful insight into the entire process of design and implementation. He is always full of ideas which are thoroughly researched and analyzed before they are presented. I just cannot say enough good things about him!”