If you treat a website like a problem, the first thing to ask yourself is, “Has anyone else solved this?” I’m not advocating for theft. I’m advocating for research. No one will have solved the problem of representing ‘You’ on the internet. However, you can see how other people represented themselves, how they display their work, and so on. I tend to do this in Evernote, capturing screenshots and links.
What am I looking for? I’m looking for people we tried to solve the problems I listed in Part 1, and whether they succeeded or failed. Granted, failure is relative here. For example, if I notice you’ve tried to make your personailty known through your site, you’ve probably succeeded. The failure is secondary – instead, I know to treat the subject differently.
I also like to identify trends. The one I currently like involves moving away from ‘slideshows’ and towards a ‘case study’ style of presentation. It can easily become overbearing, but I think some designers pull it off well.
I think all three of these show this to one degree or another.
Whether you’re an individual or agency, your website is how you show what makes you unique.
- http://process.iancoyle.com/ – shows the personality through content, but navigation suffers
- http://www.ashsmash.com/ – the written content on the site gives a clear glimps into Ash’s personaily, but I question the value of linking every social network you’re a member of. And yes, that means I’m judging here about a Twighlight soundtrack being on her Rdio favorites.
- http://jessicahische.is/ – despite no overt personality outside of the “thoughts” section, all of the visual details tie into her work.
- https://unclegoose.com/ – yes, it’s an ecommerce company, not a designer or agency/studio. Hush.
- http://metalab.co/ – Personality sometimes means serious. The language may be a little generic, but overall, you understand metalab is a serious company – they want to make things that will be used, and useful.
- http://shlshk.com/shell-who/ – an amazing way to explain the nature of a company that is one person, with a network of regular collaborations.
- http://www.codeandtheory.com/ – that’s one hell of an intro
Navigation & Content
There are two basic ways work is presented: one page sites and the traditional work/about/etc divide. I don’t know if either is right. Single page sites are nice, but often lack ‘craft.’ To expand, it often feels like the designer didn’t bother to make decisions, and instead just decided to throw everything in that could fit. On the other hand, do single designers really require much more than a couple pages? If everything is a separate page, how do you call out the relationships between your work and your CV and your other content? I’ve got no answers here.
- http://www.hugeinc.com – I notice way too many people ripping off Huge. i don’t blame them. Huge has always had nice websites. However, I think all of the nav options they have are a bit overwrought for an individual and I’m not a fan of the hamburger menu.
- http://www.ashsmash.com/ – why do the Ash Huang and Work links take you to the homepage? Also, the info section? Overdone. I get the urge to promote varied skilled, but I question the tone. What I do like is the unification of design, short form and long form content.
- http://justinmezzell.com/, http://jessicahische.is/, http://www.nolbert.com/, http://buzzusborne.com/ – careful curation and visual treatments