all-together now

Type Camp is never a ‘just me’ thing. I do make an effort to reinforce the team aspect of it, and campers do leave understanding it, but there is no better example of how an entire village made something happen than our new website.

For years, I’ve looked at the site, knowing that it needed restructuring and rethinking, especially as the oh-I’ll-just-do-this-once-in-a-while thing (unexpectedly) became my career focus. I’d stare at it, saying to myself ‘I’m a designer! I should know how to fix this!’, and yet, I didn’t. I didn’t know where to start and I couldn’t even identify the problems. All that I knew is that the typography had better be damn good. When you succeed by word of mouth alone, your webpage matters more than ever — it was so important that it could make or break the company and my dreams with it. Various students or former campers would periodically jump in and try to assist (thanks! you know who you are!), but it was really just wall papering over the wrong structure.

Fortunately, I happen to have the world’s best friends. Totally. They want me to succeed and they’re willing to help me in the process. Oh and also, they’re smart. Super smart. (That’s why I hired them in the first place to teach at the College where I used to work. I saw the wonderful in them, now they’re seeing the wonderful in Type Camp for me.) So Selma Zafar (Type Camp Instructor for India 2013), Lisa Hemingway (Type Camp Galiano 2007), and Kristin Liu (Type Camp India 2009) agreed to be the consultants and Daria Lanz (Type Camp Buffalo 2010, California 2011, Templeton 2012) and Erica-May Chan (Type Camp Galiano 2009, Templeton 2012) volunteered to be the designers. A family affair.

For once, I had to be the client, which I can honestly say taught me more about design than I’d learned in years. Sit yourself on the other side of your client meeting table one time, just once, and you’ll see what I mean.

I felt stupid most of the time. I didn’t know how it should be or how I wanted it or anything.  Good thing that Selma’s career is focused on helping designers design better. She’s not a designer and you know what? She knows more about how design should work than I do.

Under Selma’s guidance (we all call her ‘boss’ now), we worked on the purpose, the functions, the tone, everything. We had meetings together where we discussed the essence of the camps, and then, the clouds parted and it all became clear. We now knew what it needed to say but how to communicate it visually was a different matter.

Erica-May and Daria would ask me questions and I wouldn’t know the answers. I had been their instructor in numerous classes, but this time, they would have to figure things out, not me. Selma would often reply ‘but she’s the client, she doesn’t need to know the answers’, and you know? She’s right. They needed to approach it without the attachments and history that I had and the less I had to do with it, the better. I need to focus on organizing new camps, not on getting this site right.

So what you see now is a site that was truly designed for the user. I believe that my favourite part of it is the ‘about’ pages (interestingly, I click on the ‘about’ button first on new blogs and sites). Describing Type Camp is often difficult, but I believe that those three links truly communicate the experience, the attendees, and the structure. You can read quotes from former attendees, you can pick which camp style would work for you, and you can figure out more about it before you ever even register. Finally!

We’ve tried to structure the camps page so that you get all the information that you want, and as easily as possible. You can understand the characteristics of the camps easier and you can better see what your money will get you.

Type Camp is very much about the instructors and we needed a way to make sure that people learned how wonderful (and brilliant!) they were before they met them at camp. The instructors page features extended bios about them, quotes by them about teaching, and the hilarious Q&A invented by Erica-May.

The blog is a big feature that has been needing to happen for years. I’ve wanted a space where I could tell some of the stories that happen during camp or post photos or even give news of former campers. Now I’ve got it and I plan to post daily during a camp and several times a week otherwise. The other side of this is that I’m also really enjoying writing again. I blogged constantly during my first few years in Canada and then let it slip away as I began teaching full-time at various Vancouver schools. Thank goodness I have a location for these thoughts and updates and stories — Twitter is just not enough space!

So welcome to the updated Type Camp webpage. Our village has worked hard on it and we’re not done yet, but we’re getting close. If you have any feedback or ideas, do let us know for we’d be happy to hear from all ya’ll!