Category: "Management"

Dare to push the envelope ...

In today’s economic climate, traditional design, code, integrate with applications will become too costly.

The companies that will be most successful will identify opportunities to reduce the cost of labor for mechanical tasks like applying colors to skins so they can use their talented professionals to deliver better solutions to their clients.

Cost-Effective Design Strategies

  • Start with a skin, purchasing skins is almost always worth the investment. The layout of the skin is more important than the colors. If a skin isn’t available, have the design team build one that is flexible enough for most clients.
  • Develop a starting point and process to reskin it, even if it is just a list of manual operations. It may be more cost-effective to have an engineer do this than a designer.
  • Try to use supporting graphics with neutral colors, to reduce the number of images that have to be recolored.
  • Distribute the tasks to the lowest level possible. For example, recoloring images with image software can be performed by someone with limited technical experience.
  • Don’t expect to be able to fully automate the process.
  • Identify areas that are likely to be overlooked and ensure quality assurance is aware of them.
  • Check the log files to find any missing image calls.
  • Explain the cost savings and benefits to the client. Be sure they understand the limitations.

Engineering and Design Skills

Most designers don’t work directly with LAMP. Most engineers don’t create images and page layouts.

That is why a team is so important.

Usually, one person makes things look nice, and one person makes them work. In the best case scenario, each respects the other’s abilities and strives to avoid conflicts or applying limitations. The optimal environment is where they challenge each other, in every respect, with ideas and technology - always deferring, in the end, to the appropriate person. is a design tool, but it must be applied by an engineer. In a nutshell, the power of the tool, in its current implementation, must be applied by someone with Linux experience, which most designers don’t have.

The only way to overcome this limitation is to create a tool that can be easily used by designers, while still retaining the power of the tool.


  • Backup the CSS files, but ensure they are not overwritten by later execution. Perhaps allow an override.
  • Use PHP to execute the sed commands.
  • Provide a streamlined interface.
  • Provide clear documentation.

Let the client pick the colors for their site ...

Automated tools that skin a site allow people to choose the colors and see the effect without any technical knowledge or access. This is the perfect way for a web client to ‘design’ their own site. They have the time and ability to select the colors they like. Once they are satisfied, the site provider can ‘lock’ the colors. This saves a tremendous amount of time for the client and provider, as well as avoiding alot of friction.

The are obviously limitations to this approach, and clients and providers must be aware of them.

color map - a web marketing and design tool

The original intent of the color mapper is as a tool for web sales and marketing people. It allows them to quickly get the colors from a client’s site and apply them to the applications they use.

This would not be a design approach, but a way to help clients see their colors on a product.

The other value of this scheme is as a design tool. Many times, the first step in design is to get the client’s existing colors into a design. This approach provides the starting point. It probably isn’t feasible to extend the concept to images.

The code listed isn’t automated, and due to previous security issues, no live demo is available. To use it, you need basic Linux command line and PHP experience.

It is likely some level of manual editing will be required, but, again, the time savings with this approach is truly tremendous.