The Jim Henson Company Proposed Website Redesign

Here's something weird - about a year ago, I visited the Jim Henson Company website, and I was not pleased with what I saw. I'll get more in-depth on Jim in the future, but suffice it to say, he's a a hero of mine - maybe the only person I look up to or idolize, and not just as an artist, but as a human being. So when I saw the (it's since been redesigned), I just didn't feel it was worthy of the man or his legacy.

The layout back then was simple, but inelegant, and broken in many places - links didn't work and images were missing. And for some reason, whoever put the site together (in previous and current versions) likes using Jim's "Henson" signature truncated at the top of the page. I do not approve.

The whole site is very 90's - it's not elastic in its layout - the content sits in one narrow area in the center of the page, no matter how wide the window is. The Flash elements have no smooth transitions (something Flash is ideal for), and I swear the frame rate on the Flash elements is too low (probably at the default of 12 fps) - an error that screams amateur. I'm not usually so critical of others' work, but this is Jim Henson here - maybe no site could ever be good enough for me, but I know it could be better than this.

Archived versions of

Click image for larger view.
Page Two Concept | Page Three Concept

So I did something a little wacky: I created some static layouts for a redesign, found the contact information for the company's Marketing Manager, and sent him links to my work with a short e-mail saying that I'm a designer, an admirer of Jim Henson, and I'd like to improve the site.

I kept the layout very simple, leaving the full Jim Henson signature intact and (after finding a vector version of the official Kermit image/logo) extracting the true Kermit color for the background. I found a few images and treated them with the color as well.

And... I never heard back from them. Or not "back" - I just never heard from them. The current redesign of the site went up a few months later - probably with no connection to my e-mail or proposal - as much as I'd like to believe I shamed them into reworking the website, I'll assume they were already planning the update. It was a step or two in the right direction, but still a long way from what a Jim Henson website could and (in my opinion) should be.

I believe this is the first time I ever did this - proposed a redesign for a company (especially a big company) out of a combination of disappointment at the current site and enthusiasm for what it could be. I doubt I'll ever try something like this again - not because it didn't work out, but because there's really only one Jim Henson, after all.

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