A New Site
I’ve been building and maintaining websites for a long time. I’ve worked to bring style, function and technology to my client’s sites and all the while, neglecting my own web space. I’ve never had a true online presence — only simple sites that came and went over the years, all serving some short term purpose that was needed at the time. Looking back I find that kind of sad.
I suppose one of the reasons I’ve never maintained a site of my own is that I’ve lacked the motivation. Questions such as: “Who would visit?”, “What function would it serve?” or “Do I have the time?” all hindered me from taking action. I still don’t have the answers to those nagging questions, but I just don’t care about them so much any more.
Any life change makes me take a step back and look at life from a different perspective. With Kristin and I moving back to Chicago after almost 5 years in Texas, I’ve been able to focus on different areas of my work. I truly enjoyed my time at Texas A&M, it was a great experience and I do miss it and the people. But moving allowed me to step out of my box and take a hard objective look at my work.
What did I see? Well I saw a lot of design for design’s sake. Sure I worked to design with brand, image, goals and objectives in mind. I’ve been able to create ascetically pleasing sites. I don’t see anything wrong with that, but I began to find it blasé. And the more I looked around at the web as a whole, I found a lot of the same. There are so many websites that exist just to exist. One site was really no different than another, just shells holding words. The majority of sites I came across were uninspired, most riding the current wave of trends. I began to see design for what it really is, a delivery mechanism for the content. This wasn't a revelation or an epiphany, just something I had lost sight of.
Design is timeless and transcends the media. Good design 50 years ago is still good design (dated, yes, but still good). The basic design fundamentals apply the just same to any media, whether it’s print, web or motion graphics. It isn’t all about the design, it’s about the message — the content. Does the design support the message?
So now I launch yet another personal website. Is it doomed to wither away and die like the rest? I don’t think so. I am invigorated more now then ever. The web has come a long way, but it’s always evolving. My experience in print design has always supported my design for the web, but now I want to pull from print even more and get back to the fundamentals. Line, value, shape/gestalt, color, texture and format are elements that make up design. Never did I hear anything about gradients, reflections, cute icons or rounded corners in design class.
This new site of mine will serve as an experimental ground for me to “reconnect” with my past and bring new direction to my designs online. No one may be reading this, I don’t know where this site will go and I can only try to make the time to keep it fresh. I’m not doing this for anyone else, but for myself and at the end that’s why I believe this site will have a long happy life.
When I began to shift my perspective, I turned to what I loved from my college days. I pulled out my old Jan Tsichold book The New Typography for inspiration and as a way for me to reconnect with my past. This site is heavily influenced by this book the designers of Tsichold's time and place.
Also, when I set out to bring my site more inline with my revised ideas, I found I wasn't alone. I was searching for ways to add more structure to my sites and include grid systems closer to those used in print, rather than the popular and simple three column layouts. One article in particular helped realize that it is indeed possible to move beyond the basic column layouts. Making Modular Layout Systems by Jason Santa Maria is an insightful article proving the point that websites can be more flexible.