Web Design

November 2, 2001

I've been having an interesting conversation over the course of the last few days with someone who has been criticizing the design of this website. Well, I addressed--mildly--the issue over on my LiveJournal, but it seemed every bit as appropriate to do it here as well. Here, I feel as though I have more... free reign, shall we say. She said two fairly specific things, possibly contradictory. First, that the design was boring, and second that I didn't have one.

Let's deal with the second issue first. I believe it's ridiculous to claim that there is no design to this site. Whether one likes it or not is mostly immaterial, anything that exists has design to it. As does this page. Believe what you like, there are a number of people who will be willing to attest to the amount of time and energy I have devoted to this website--in its various incarnations--over the past seven and a half years or so. What you see now is merely the latest version of it. Will it be the last? Who knows. I thought the last one would be the last, because I thought I'd never get around to redesigning it. And look what happened. Regardless, there is a specific design to this page, one that took me a lot of time to come up with.

Now, the first issue. It's "boring." I learned a long time ago that trying to predict or cater to others' emotions is mostly a waste of time. One man's trash is another's treasure, as they say. My personal software and music libraries would be meaningless to most other peoples' on this planet, yet some of my closest friends in the world listen to music that makes me sick if I'm exposed to it for over a minute or two. Everything is subjective.

So, if you perceive this page as "boring," then I need to accept that, because it's valid. Whatever anyone thinks or feels is valid. Their actions may not be, but that's an issue for another time and place. I can't help the way anyone perceives this website. That's up to them. I merely control the content and the layout. But it troubles me that people find the design "boring," because that means they are focusing on the design, which is precisely what I didn't want. Now, I based the design of this website on a number of very specific sources (most of them not tremendously difficult to guess if you know me well enough), but, above all, I wanted people to not focus on the way the page looked, but rather on the content itself. I'm biased, of course, but I think there's some worthwhile stuff to be found in these pages.

It would appear, though, that I'm wrong. If the content were really interesting enough, no one would care what the pages looked like. Now, I find this more puzzling still, because the person who brought all this on said she did think the content was interesting. The two statements don't reconcile in my mind. Obviously it's not, or the physical aspects of the page would be meaningless. Still, I'm glad to know that someone feels this way, because it tells me that there is a significant problem with the content that needs addressing. It's very difficult when I get almost no feedback whatsoever about this page (especially from a group of people I asked to investigate it before it went live), so I find this very helpful.

Unfortunately, I don't know what else to do with the content. There's only so much it can ever be. This website is specifically about me, so it has to deal with me and my interests. The instant it doesn't is the instant it stops being relevant. And it's important to me that the site be relevant. But, well, it pains me to say this, but the content can only ever be as scintillating as I am. And, for the people who know me... Well, finish the sentence yourself.

I've been doing this for seven years. It was my minor in college. I worked as a professional web designer for a period of time. I do know what I'm doing. I am capable of doing practically anything I want when it comes to web design, but I chose this. If, for whatever reason, it doesn't work for you, I'm sorry. I'd love to hear about it. Please e-mail me and tell me about it. But I can't promise it will change anything, and unless you make a particularly strong case, it most likely won't.

And that's all I have to say.

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