Jason McDowell is also known as Little Tiny Fish. He is the Creative Director for OnMilwaukee. Occasionally he freelances. Mostly he rides bikes. is not a cohesive blog, but a repository of musings on an assortment of topics, such as design, art, cycling, Milwaukee, and other personal experiences.

“Please find attached a current photograph of the switch back, just beyond the Marsupial Bridge at Kadish park.

I have often had to put forth a request to have the bike paths and recreational trails cleared after a heavy winter storm. When make the request I always ask why these trails are not cleared in an immediate way, considering how vigorously the streets are salted and plowed (though I could go on about the state of the bike lanes every year).

The response I usually get (if any) is that the city doesn’t plow the paths because they assume it is too cold for anybody to want to use them.

Well, here I offer you undeniable proof, in the form of rutted, iced over foot prints and tire tracks. Continue reading ›

Viewing app updates in Windows 8 is a pain in the ass. When you see a small number in the corner of your Windows 8 Store tile this means you some apps with new versions. To get started you open the Windows 8 Store and then click the Updates link in the top corner. Good so far, though Microsoft might want to consider making that number indicator on the Store tile into a shortcut in order to save a click. This would mean you’d be able to bypass the store altogether; at this point Windows 8 is pretty antsy for you to wander in and check out their goods once in a while, so this will likely not be the case for a while.

So now you’re in the updates section. Let’s say you’ve got at least two apps that need updating. In Windows 8 both start out selected to make in easy to hit the Install button and install them all in the quickest way possible.

But c’mon, this is a Windows crowd. We want the dirty details. You can’t tell me that an app is updated and NOT tell me what’s been changed. Continue reading ›

One of my big endeavors last year was to learn a new language and here I am learning two. I am planning a blog explaining the path I took to dive into both languages, and review a myriad of apps that have helped. But that is for another time. My two new languages, German and Norwegian, have characters that are unique to their languages that we don’t find in English. Instead of switching between two keyboards with two different layouts, you can build an entirely new keyboard with the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator 1.4.

By far, the easiest way to get the keys you’re looking for is to add languages from your control panel and swap between the layouts you’re looking for. However that may require you to learn a new layout, or your keyboard may be incompatible.

Microsoft does have a free keyboard builder. This can also be useful for people who are learning two languages and require a couple of different character sets. I’m in a unique position of learning two different character sets PLUS I use the Dvorak keyboard layout. So basically all my letters are totally rearranged. I’d like to keep using Dvorak while accessing these unique characters, so that’s where the Keyboard Layout Creator comes into play. Continue reading ›

Redesigning the new OnMilwaukee may have been among the biggest undertakings I’ve had to embark upon since starting at the media company, but the whole thing started on a whim. I had a little free time and I took a look at a couple of small elements. But the more I pushed the data around, the more I realized we could probably be presenting our information a lot more clearly.

I scrapped the small ideas and started looking at the bigger picture. This was the result.

There are quite a few differences between the old site and the new site. You may instantly see (to the left) that the new site feels much more open and inviting. I wanted to make sure there was a lot more breathing room on the new site. There is significantly less text on the new design but it’s only about 12% shorter. This is because the information that is left in tact has a lot more space to exist.

On top of the extra space I worked to unify the design elements. The red banners help separate the sections. The widgets all have a unified background color. Instead of having three or four different forms of widget navigation I cut it down to one. I also developed a grid pattern to help decide how large certain elements should be and how much space should be allotted between them.

The biggest change, as far as usability goes, is the presentation of information. We discarded the formality of having sections on the home page. Articles are still organized, structurally, within sections that you can access from the navigation bar, but on the front page those sections matter less. What matters more is the newness of information. Initially the redesign asked for a Twitter-style list of new stories, but other staff members wanted a more curated feel. They didn’t want quick blogs to have the same importance as the better composed stories. So we moved the new article list to the top and added a more magazine-like, curated section on the main page. This allows users to a) easily see which articles are new and b) easily see which articles are most important.

The business listing widget was simplified, while the event calendar was given more presence. Our Weekend Preview, an important weekly article, also finds prominence on the front page. In the old design it had a tendency to disappear quiet quickly. Now there is a permanent link right on the homepage.

The logo was updated to move away from the passe Web 2.0 look to the softer gradients that are more pervasive in design today.

Listed here are only the major considerations for the entire redesign. There were countless other smaller calls that added up to one big idea.

You can see full-sized images of the old site and compare it with what the new site has to offer.

OnMilwaukee circa 2011
OnMilwaukee circa 2011
OnMilwaukee circa 2012
OnMilwaukee circa 2012

It looks like I’ve been nominated for Best Album Art (twice!) for Radio Milwaukee’s Fourth Annual Milwaukee Music Awards!

Nomination #1 was for The Scarring Party’s “Losing Teeth”

The Scarring Party's "Loosing Teeth" album cover.
The Scarring Party’s “Loosing Teeth” album cover with illustration by Ray Caesar.

For this album I did the typography, layout design, and back illustration. The main illustration was provided by Ray Caesar.

Nomination #2 was for Pezzettino’s “Lub Dub”


Pezzettino's Lub Dub album cover
Pezzettino’s Lub Dub album cover

On this album I did the whole design, from illustration on up.

I’m not sure if you can only vote for the one category or if you have to select something from each category, so you may need to know something about Milwaukee’s music scene. (However, if you had to cheat, all the info you need to know, really, is in this post.) You can find out more about the individual albums here.

Give it a shot. Show your support and vote!

RANDOM FACT: The 88nine image for this article happens to be the 88th image uploaded to my site.

Archived Comments

These comments were pulled from the archives after a site failure in mid 2014. Though I no longer accept public comments on my site, I’ve included them for posterity. If you’d like to submit a comment, send one to

  1. Congrats, Jason! These are great works and the honor is very well deserved. Count my vote.

    Tim · 2011-01-24 14:15 · #