In some ways, my website doesn't look like much.
To be sure, it really isn't all that complicated of a website compared to a lot of larger, more media-heavy, and more complex sites.
Running off of the (absolutely kick ASS) WordPress application (version 2.8), my website is, for the most part, a smorgasbord of valid XHTML Strict coding (my work), WP-specific php hooks (their work; I just hitched it all together), and a crapload of CSS (my work).
Graphics are kept to a minimum (at the last count, I count two main graphics - the piece of artwork in the header and the EMG button - and a bunch of button graphics) and content for the site is divvied between the main content block (which houses the main 'splash' content) and the sidebar/aside content block (which houses feeds of relevant information related to the whole of my website) with smaller blocks sectioning off each major chunk of content.
But maybe... that's just the way my website is supposed to be and maybe... there's something to be said about not being 'all that'.
You see, despite me doing web design/front-end web stuff for several years now (started dabbling in it waaay back when WSIWYG first came out) and despite my love for a good computer game now and again, I never really kept my computer up-to-date on the latest hardware, OS changes, software, and internet connectivity options in my younger years.
Computers were still expensive and RAM (and hard drives) was stupidly precious and equally expensive to upgrade. Dial-up was every man's method for getting online and AOL (and other dial-up providers) was raking in the dough because of it.
What did this mean and what does this have to do with this site?
Well, thing is, because I never upgraded my hardware or software 'on time', I was behind technology for a little while and it was during this time that I had my first lessons in accessibility and usability in regards to the online world.
Because there are people - quite a LOT of people wouldn't you know - who have computer and online setups similar to the one I had before the geek in me rebelled hardcore, the things that I learned then still apply now.
Maybe other people don't think so, but I sure as hell do!
Music Embeds, Heavy Graphics, and Scripts Galore: In the age of dial-up, this was a killer. Nothing slowed down a site's loading time as much as heavy graphics, heavy content with heavy scripting, and the music embeds did that were all the rage at the time.
People still embed their music (now more often than not, using some Flash implementation) and people still post/use enormous graphics on their sites and people still use tons of scripting.
And guess what?
Amazingly, there ARE people who still use dial-up and in regards to Flash, there are still people who aren't up-to-date with their Flash players and browsers - even the best of the best - along with the computers still keel over poorly scripted Flash implements!
So I don't use Flash here.
I also keep my graphics usage to a minimum, relying almost completely on CSS to do the styling.
Flash Embeds: Shockwave and Flash, in their beginning (and even now at times) could be rather finicky creatures. Flash and Shockwave objects frequently crashed browsers and ate up all available computer resources.
As the years went by, the problems still exist. Poorly coded Flash embeds still do crap to people's browsers and eat up tons of computer resources and people using older browsers have a hard time keeping up with all the new Flash versions that keep coming out.
Since this portion of my website is mostly written content (like this post), I decided to keep Flash out of the picture. Written content is written content and I'm not much of a videographer anyways.
So all that brings me to part of the conclusion:
The fact that a lot of designers, coders, programmers, whoevers don't want to believe and accept is that there ARE - even in this day and age - people (a LOT of people) who still:
- use dial-up
- use deprecated, nonstandard browsers like IE6
- don't have super computers (latest RAM and CPU specs)
- don't use the latest web browsers
- don't use the latest Flash (choice or otherwise)
I used to be one of them (not the IE bit, though), so I know.
And THAT is one of the biggest reasons that my website looks the way that it does and operates the way that it does.
Because to me, accessibility is about people with all kinds of computers and browsing abilities being able to load a site and do what they want/need to do with minimal difficulties and irritations.
The other reason is... well, hell.
It's my personal taste.
In terms of layout:
I LIKE the blocked-out content and I LIKE how all the content is arranged and easy to get to and I LIKE how the content blocks are easy to distinguish from one another.
The navigation makes sense to me with the 'visit other major parts of my website' links being in the top navigational bar and the 'visit other pages on this site' links in the smaller navigational bar situated right above the main content.
The sidebar is useful and feeds in aside content from the other major portions of my website which allows visitors to get an overall glimpse of things - from additions to my blog to additions to my portfolio - without ever leaving the main/front page to my website and puts aside/not-quite-related content where it should be - aside.
In terms of design and style:
I like elegance and I like simplicity and I'm one of those people who believes that elegance can be found in simplicity.
It's like trying to decide on what to wear to a formal occasion - something colorful, differently styled, and flashy versus something striking with clean lines and only a few choice colors.
There is no absolutely correct answer, but for myself, I would go for the 'striking with clean lines and only a few choice colors' look.
In this vein, it probably doesn't seem too odd for me to say that I'm a big fan of Italian-designed and crafted suits and/or black slacks and nice button-downs for formal wear and classic Levi 501s and a well-fitted T-shirt for the non-formal.
Relating this back to web design, my preference and personal taste in style is reflected in the design and stylization of my website.
Black and white and grayscale. High contrast with the grayscale symbolizing the height of creativity. Touches of curves amongst all the angles and straight lines. No-nonsense blocks of content that stand out and make themselves known to be what they are. A few splashes of color to bring out life but not overwhelm. Function and form existing in harmony.
And because I've got a bit of dirt in me and because I come as I am, there's the alleyway grunge, too - the concrete wall and the layered 'graffiti' art in the header - mixed in with a bit of post-apocalyptic pop culture.
And these things - ALL of these things - combined with my desire for accessibility is what makes this site how it is.
The part of me that likes to look at the work of other web designers whispers that maybe I could have done more and in truth, I could have. I know how to do more so I could have done more.
I could have added additional styling by utilizing more graphics, scripting, and general coding to do things like round out corners and dress up the content blocks more and give the site a more graphical approach rather than a bare-bones content-only approach.
But I didn't. And I probably won't.
Because when I tune out the whispers and really ask myself, "Do you like what you've done?" I have no choice but to yell, "F*CK, YES!"
Because I really DO like what I've done here.
It's MY style.
It's who I am.
Note: I originally wrote this as an article for my website that I am in the process of rebuilding. For this reason, the name of my site has been changed to 'my website' for the purposes of sharing this article with Newsvine. I like how this article turned out and thought it might be a good start for my participation in the Newsvine community.