By Anna Nahmias, Media Intern

Logo Cat

The Scratch programing language is a great example of visual/code collaboration. Targeted towards the younger mind, Scratch lets users create projects from animations to video sensing with little-to-no coding. Collaboration with Scratch doesn’t stop at design and code; it’s also collaboration with the creators, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and its users, like you and me. It’s people building off of each other’s knowledge and experience.



The interface has bright colors and building-block-coding. As mentioned on the Scratch about page, “Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively”1. It would be amazing to see this software in middle school classes, perhaps a digital media or animation class. Then the student gets to decide what they want to focus on when considering colleges or even just a hobby.


The “inside” screen, or coding screen, of a project made with Scratch

Kids are smart. If you give them the tools they’ll figure it out. Maybe it’s the lack of pollution in both their minds and life. I suppose this idea could apply to us adults as well, if you give us the tools we’ll build it.

A quote from a Scratch user, “My 8-year-old brother and I have been active participants of the Scratch Online Community for over a year. I enjoy designing and programming games and animations with other kids, because different people have different skills, and when you work together, you can build a much better project than you can alone”2.

Collaboration is key; you can only accomplish so much yourself.



This Is Not a Post About Heartbleed

About a month and a half ago, I started writing a blog post about Leena Snidate, the influential and talented Finnish designer who produced the now-iconic Heartbleed logo for Codenomicon in “just a couple hours.”

Heartbleed Logo

Heartbleed logo is free to use, rights waived via CC0.

And it’s a brilliant logo — vivid and emotionally resonant. It probably contributed to a lot of people becoming aware of the bug and taking steps to mitigate their risk.

You should check out the designer’s story. It’s pretty cool.

But something kept nagging me…

What struck me most was the irony of the events: graphic designer beautifully and evocatively illustrates one of the most serious security flaws yet to surface in the history of the Internet. That’s all she does. That is where her role begins and ends.

Visual imagery has enormous power. It jump-starts the emotions; conveys in a split second what might take hours to explain with words. We usually consider visual thinking to be primarily a tool for advertising or communications. But visual thinking is also a means for problem solving. It is creative, dynamic, and sequential. It is also one of the most powerful means to make the abstract concrete and comprehensible.

Art meeting code can mean much more than logos that describe software. Even beautiful, effective, high-impact logos. We want designers, artists, and students to know that more is possible.

In the coming weeks, we will be be sharing some examples of creative collaboration between the art and tech worlds that push boundaries and inspire us to build better tools to create and share. We are still accepting stories and examples — send to

Greetings everyone!

My name is Anna Nahmias and I am a student studying digital media and website development and design. I’ve always loved technology and digital media. I enjoy digital photography and have recently dived into the world of website development and design. There’s something about clicking a computer mouse or the shutter button of my camera that feels natural to me opposed to a holding a brush or a stick of charcoal. Well it’s not just anything; it’s the instantaneous results. Being able to see a mostly finished product before I’m done working on it and having the ability to change it back or continue working without a problem is huge plus for me. I’ve thrown myself over hurdles and pulled myself through the hoops of programming and it simply takes more than what I can do to merely program or develop; I crave instantaneous and visual creativity. When I first met with Yes Exactly’s CEO Tess Gadwa she mentioned “Thematizer” and honestly it sounded awesome. It was very exciting for me in that great artsy-nerdy way.

The Thematizer, art meets code, is huge for the digital industry whether you know it already or not. The current relationship between design and development, art and code, is basically having the idea or dream of making or doing something, without the ability, recourses. This lack of individualism causes the dreamer to network, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem with networking is that the dreamer has to share their vision with another person. Ideas, views, feelings, emotions, anything can be lost in translation from one to another. Everyone works on their own levels of technicality, some very precise, others broad and general. Saying, “I want a clean simple website template” brings numerous ideas to my mind, but they all look pretty different from each other. Thematizer will give the dreamer the tools to make their dream a reality, with little to no risk for misunderstandings.

There are tools out there that are like the Thematizer, so in a broad category it’s not the first of its kind.  Thematizer is put together by people who have a passion for design and or development. It is built by people who want to connect not by people who want to make a fast or big buck. There’s love, sweat, and passion in Thematizer, and that’s not something you see in not only most applications, but most things nowadays.

The Thematizer builds a bridge, a bridge connecting the creator and the constructor; the designer and the developer. Similar to how artists and architects, or engineers and technicians can be grouped together, yet they both have different purposes. Having the Thematizer around will make constructing a website much easier, simpler, and personal. Whether you’re a designer or developer this is definitely worth looking into or even getting involved with.

In the News — “Brain Meld”

The Thematizer was featured in this week’s Greenfield Recorder. Check out the article…

Brain Meld


There’s some-thing of a disconnect between web-site developers and graphic designers, even though a lot of times, they inhabit the same turf.

Art Meets Code, a collaboration between a Greenfield Web developer and a Lowell graphic design studio, attempts to get everyone working on the same screen….. <<Read More>>

Why an Independent Web Matters — Part Two

Making the Case for an Independent Web

Part Two of Two

Last week, I was lucky enough to see Amy Goodman speak at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She and the other speakers made an impassioned case for the importance of independent media: film, radio, books, and other forms of journalistic storytelling. What is interesting is that the open source and free software movements share very similar goals and ideologies to independent media creators, but their points of intersection are few. When tech and indie media do come together, it tends to happen because a particular talented individual possesses multiple sets of skills (for instance, is both a musician and a programmer) and not because there are formal or informal communities organized to facilitate these interactions.

Gutenberg Printing Press

Gutenberg Printing Press –  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Our sponsoring organization, 119 Gallery of Lowell, MA, provides a place-based, experiential model for bridging this divide.

My company, Yes Exactly experiences the divide somewhat differently — in the form of artists, journalists, and other independent culture creators coming to us in search of affordable, professional websites. In our first years of operation, this was pretty much our niche. I was able to create a simple framework that worked to create  unique, aesthetically pleasing sites that did not require a lot of custom programming — however, as we grew, I found that designers who were not themselves programmers required more structure and better ability to preview their work. Hence, the Thematizer.


Our company was built on open-source technology (primarily WordPress and Drupal), so we felt it was time to give something back. We decided to go ahead and build something that would make the web a more interesting, aesthetically pleasing, and usable place. Something that would make it just as easy to create a custom design using open-source platforms as using corporate, proprietary software. Something that would give independent artists and businesses a vital tool to compete and communicate in the online world — even against much bigger, better-funded players.

If we’re successful, our competition will be using this tool too. And we’re fine with that. In fact, it’s a benchmark of our success.

Tess Gadwa

CEO and Founder
Yes Exactly, Inc.

Why an Independent Web Matters — Part One

Making the Case for an Independent Web

Part One of Two

I had the opportunity to sit down with a reporter from a local paper yesterday and do an interview about Thematizer. I had some talking points thought out ahead of time, but when you’re in the moment and you’re trying to answer somebody’s questions, prepared nuggets of information don’t quite seem to cut it.

The big question I keep coming back to, for somebody who is not computer-literate or all that familiar with the web, is why building another software tool is important. After all, we’re drowning in information already — for-profit, not-for-profit, proprietary, open-source. Our options for apps, editors, and interactive experiences seem at first glance limitless.

Venture a little further into the world of code and you will discover that there are a finite number of languages and toolsets applied for the vast majority of development projects. You will also discover that expert visual designers and user experience professionals are sought after as much so, and often more so, than top programmers. What’s more — although there are approximately 260,000 graphic design jobs in the United States and 343,700 computer science jobs — most graphic designers are not trained to design for the web, but work instead in the shrinking, economically imperiled print sector.

The end result is that to build an original application that looks really good and is full-featured and usable, you need a large budget. In fact, you are probably working for an advertising agency or a large corporation. Meanwhile, thousands of recent graduates have have fabulous graphics skills but no way to interface directly with programmers. The process of working together, when tried at all, feels like pulling teeth. The two professions simply do not know how to communicate the information that helps them both to do their jobs.

Web development is a new field, so the methods and processes for collaboration that we see in art forms like film or music simply have not had time to evolve.

If graphic designers and programmers are not able to talk to each other, tomorrow’s online spaces will be built largely to corporate specifications. Concerns about privacy and freedom of expression can mostly go out the window. Opportunities for creativity and risk taking will also diminish. Open-source web platforms like WordPress and Drupal that are geared toward end users will find themselves at a disadvantage, as graphic designers jump ship for proprietary platforms that offer the promise of custom design.

Thematizer will make it easy to build a great, custom look-and-feel for a Drupal or WordPress website — with about the same time and effort that is required to produce an original design for a concert poster, an album cover, or a business card. Designers understand these media because they are physical and bounded. They know the rules: where the margins and the bleeds lie, what they cannot and cannot do, what will result in tripling the cost of the final job, and what will save the client money. Until now, gleaning the same information about a web design in progress has required either an existing programming background advanced psychic skills — designers are typically given no parameters at all, and then criticized when the design they propose turns out to be time consuming or unwieldy to implement.

Unlike do-it-yourself web design tools, Thematizer makes it easier for designers and programmers to collaborate directly. Hence, art meets code. Because the templates that designers use are themselves open source, developers can modify the code if a different feature set or layout is desired, or to support additional templates such as new implementation on a mobile device. Because Thematizer templates generate clean, editable CSS, developers can make small changes to the design quickly and on the fly, without having to wade through bulky, difficult-to-read auto-generated markup of the type typically generated by commercial visual web editors (WYSIWYGS) such as DreamWeaver.

At the very least, our goal is to build neat tools to download that will make building visually interesting websites easier and a lot more fun. If we do our jobs right, then we’ll also get people talking to each other.

Tess Gadwa


Thematizer receives nonprofit fiscal sponsorship from 119 Gallery

Thematizer is pleased to announce nonprofit fiscal sponsorship from 119 Gallery of Lowell, Massachusetts.

“119 Gallery promotes contemporary and new media art, innovative ideas and cutting edge techniques with a rich and diverse program of exhibitions, performances and community-based arts services; and welcomes people of all ages, backgrounds and means to explore and experience new, innovative art.

119 Gallery opened its doors in 1992 as the 911 Gallery at 911 E Main Street in Indianapolis, IN. It gained worldwide recognition in 1994 when it became one of the first art galleries to exhibit artwork on the World Wide Web. Its exhibits have been published in print media including ARTnews, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Art New England, The Boston Globe, and Lowell Sun”

This means that contributions to our upcoming crowdfunding campaign will be tax-deductible. The online campaign is slated to begin in early April. If you would like to make a pledge in advance of the campaign launch date, please contact us via email



Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Contact: Tess Gadwa, Yes Exactly Web Design

New open-source tool is ‘Rosetta Stone’ for designers, developers

Greenfield, MA — Whether we’re working in code or in words, on paper or online, sooner or later we realize we work better together. That’s the driving force behind the creation of the Thematizer, an open-source collaboration tool for designers, developers, usability experts and other visual thinkers.

The Thematizer is a template-based, visual framework that helps nonprogrammers generate clean, editable CSS code while also helping graphic designers easily and quickly create original, custom themes for open-source platforms such as WordPress and Drupal. All templates are built to be responsive, enabling them to work on multiple mobile and traditional devices.

“We want to make it as easy to create a great website as it is to create a great concert poster,” says Tess Gadwa, CEO and founder of Yes Exactly Web Design, which developed the Thematizer. “The open-source community has been a real boon for developers and technical professionals. We wanted to build something that provides more ways for designers to collaborate directly with developers at an advanced and sophisticated level.”

The Thematizer will have designer and developer versions, both of which will be available for download at no charge. Future releases with multi-user functions – such as support for teams and versioning – may be priced differently. A prototype is currently available on Github.

Yes Exactly has formed a not-for-profit initiative in partnership with Gallery 119 of Lowell, Mass. to foster the Thematizer’s evolution. A crowdfunding campaign will launch this spring. “We welcome volunteers – particularly students and women pursuing web development and design – to help us test, expand and extend the Thematizer’s functionality,” says Gadwa. “We strongly believe that making good design accessible, affordable and ubiquitous enables everyone to communicate and create social change. We are excited to work with the open-source community to make the Thematizer a true bridge between techies and visual thinkers.”

Learn more about the Thematizer at You can help spread the word via Twitter (@thematizer, #thematizer and #artmeetscode) and Facebook.


About the Thematizer

The Thematizer is an open-source collaboration software solution for graphic designers and web developers. It gives students, marketing professionals and beginning web developers and designers the ability to quickly and easily build true custom websites without any requirement to purchase expensive software. The Thematizer builds a bridge between disciplines and helps visual thinkers understand the world of code. Support our Kickstarter campaign at


About Yes Exactly, Inc.
Founded in 2010, Yes Exactly, Inc. is a woman-owned company that provides turnkey web design, hosting and support services to make creating and maintaining high-performance, full-featured custom websites that are simple, fast and hassle-free. We developed the Thematizer. Find out more about us at

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Crowdfunding Rewards Poster #4*

Code Caveman

Art Meets Code* Rewards Poster #4 by Eraklis Petmezas

Look for the crowdfunding campaign to launch in early April.


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Thematizer Featured in Design Blog: Create-affeine



“How many people can you reach with one website? How many lives can you affect with one viral video? Sure, the internet is consumed with funny cats, angry rants, and inappropriate images (rule #34), but this is all a reflection of the human mind. After all, the web is nothing if not a repository of the content we feed it. So, as a designer who has a serious dislike of code, how can I hope to make my voice heard above the din?”… Read more at Create-affeine.