By Kari Parker Design

Whimsy is defined as "playful quaint or fanciful behavior or humor. When I began to design By Kari Parker (BKP) that was the word I kept in mind. 

Technically, the design of this website was both a new design and a redesign, as I migrated my blog, The Kari Diaries, over and reworked many of those features. In that manner, the design of BKP is uniquely situated to explain the process and as an example of the design work that I offer.

At first, I'd only intended for By Kari Parker to be a site for me as a freelance writer, serving as a place to direct employers and host my portfolio. However, I quickly realized that I wanted to integrate my entire internet presence into a single site. I was tired of logging into my website and my blog separately, and as I began posting more and more of my fiction, I realized that I wanted my fiction work to be both a part of my writing site and my blog. Combining seemed to be the most logical option and somewhere after launching Skylights Magazine, I got the nerve to just do it. In fact, it was the designing of Skylights that was the first push for me to begin offering design services as well. 

So I knew I wanted BKP to be the hub for everything related to myself - writing, reading, designing and blogging. As a combination of the professional and the personal, I had to find a delicate balance between the pretty and playful that I envisioned and more conservative look of a business website. And this is what I came up with.

                   Brand Board for By Kari Parker

                   Brand Board for By Kari Parker

I began the design process by collecting images that inspired me. Personally, this was probably the most difficult part because it required finding a vision. It was here that I was required to play both parts, the client and the designer. I probably collected over 50 photos before I capped it off. Once I finally stopped collecting, I was able to discern quite easily that I was attracted to a whimsical aesthetic, reminiscent of fairytales, enchanted forests and the classic Alice In Wonderland. From there I assembled a color/theme inspiration board.


The colors are girly and varied without being too bright or vibrant. To me, the muted colors give the perfect touch of femininity. Of course, books were a heavy inspiration as can be expected, but it's the cluttered table setting picture in the center that struck a cord with me. It reminded me of the wrecked tea party of Alice In Wonderland and the enchanted, topsy turvy feel of that world. It is perfect for that feeling of wonder and magic I wanted as a part of my brand. 

With these ideas in mind, I crafted a header and logos.

I knew I was taking a chance with my header. It's definitely a bit out there, and I knew some people wouldn't get the appeal. But that was okay because just as it may not be for everybody, neither am I :) I wanted a somewhat magical element on my website. Drawing inspiration from two of the photos above (the butterflies taking flight from a book and those flying from a woman's hands), I decided I wanted a cascade of butterflies flying across my page. And in a moment of Disney-inspired creativity (think Belle's teacup and Alice's tea party), I thought "what if more than just tea spilled from a falling cup? What if instead it was magic?" A little weird, I know. But that's the thought that lead to BKP's header.

It's the idea that even from presumed disaster something quite magical can spring. 

{click to tweet this!}   

Once I created the header, I moved on to designing an alternative header for my blog page. I loved my header for The Kari Diaries too much to leave it behind and thought it'd be interesting to switch it up for the blog page. This was my way of holding onto The Kari Diaries despite the evolution of my brand. 

As you can see above, logo design got a little crazy. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted at first and began playing around with elements willy-nilly. I eventually decided on the 3rd and 4th ones, both of which landed on my sidebar, but who knows if one of the other will make an appearance one day. The submarks above, two coffee stains linked together, are for watermarking any original images that I use, and because I couldn't decide if I wanted color or black and white, I made both. 

With a header like that, I knew I had to keep the rest of my design elements pretty simple. I couldn't play around with different, interesting shapes, multiple sidebars or heavily worked elements if I wanted to avoid a cluttered-looking space. While sidebar titles and social media icons were given a bit of flair and cut out of a wooden pattern, other elements were kept relatively plain. The fonts used are both rather basic texts, and the category icons in the sidebar, which are one of my favorite features, are a bit cutesy without being overbearing.   

Although I have yet to create any collateral items for my design (like business cards, an email footer and social media banners), when I do, I'll be sure to post about them.  

Designing BKP was a month long project full of joys and frustration and hard work. But mostly, it was just downright exciting to watch as the website began to take form before my eyes and create a tapestry of everything I love and wanted to represent. I really hope you like it!

*Please note, the design process above may not be exactly the same for everyone. I was designing for myself here without a clear deadline, and playing the roles of both client and designer. For more information on the design process, see my process page.