January 10, 2012
The third version of my website is up and running, and represents a bit of a change from my previous sites.
The biggest change for me is that, after ten years, I decided to completely overhaul my identity. The old logo and brand was no longer working for me, it had ceased to represent the nature and focus of my work. So, my first task to was to create a new visual identity for myself; which I think is, possibly, the hardest job for a designer.
With a new identity designed, I started to think about what I wanted from my site. My previous sites were all-Flash affairs. Sometimes, the content on them felt almost secondary to having a platform to demonstrate my Flash skills in creating interesting interactive experiences. This time though I wanted simplify things and put the focus on my work, rather than on the site itself. This thinking led me into switching from a Flash based to an HTML based site using WordPress.
The drive towards simplification was partly driven by my experience of updating and maintaining Flash based sites in the long term. No matter what clever XML based system I devised for updating the content, it wasn’t user friendly enough to keep me updating the site in the long run. Inevitablity, over time, the site would become out of date. By moving to WordPress the update process will be more user friendly, and updates will be more frequent.
Additionally, the Flash sites weren’t flexible enough in the long run. They were highly flexible within the parameters I set at the beginning, but adding fucntionality outside of those parameters would require a lot of effort re-writing code. It’s no surprise therefore, that when time is precious and client work takes precedent over your site, that those updates would not happen.
One of the attractions of Flash in the past has been level of control over layout and design it offered, especially when compared to table-based HTML designs (back in the day) and inconsistent implementations of CSS. The development of standards compliant browsers, such as Firefox and those based on Webkit, has done much to give designers control over layouts. With the development of HTML5 and CSS3 designers have much greater control over, and flexibility with, layouts than before. Re-developing my site in HTML gave me the opportunity to explore these technologies.
Mobile Safari and iOS also influenced my thinking, especially with emergence of responsive design. Though this site has been optimized for smart phone browsers, it is not a fully responsive site. It has, though, given me enough experience to apply fully responsive techniques to a project I’m currently working on.