Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Design epiphany.

On a completely different note, tonight I was fiddling around with this design that I'd put together and my client had pretty much already accepted. I'd found some stock photos, picked out some colors, and had started to merge those into the design, but I was feeling sort of meh about the whole thing. I'd been working on this project for a while, and the design still wasn't clicking. The layout was fine, the colors were fine, the whole thing was fine, but it wasn't cool.

Then something snapped. Specifically, one of my basic design principles. Anyone who's familiar with my work knows that I gravitate towards straight lines, grids, and lots of boxes. Oh, yes, plenty of boxes. This design was no different: boxes in the navbar, boxes holding the whole thing together, boxes boxes boxes. In this design, I was going to put a wide photo in the middle under the navbar, kind of like the way Apple does, but the page's background was a very light off-white and the background of the photos were pretty much plain white as well. The result: almost zero contrast, just a black outline holding the page middle stuff together, dividing white from white. It looked awful.


I ripped out the boxes. All of 'em. OK, well, maybe not all of them, but I traded in the boxes on the nav for staggered lightly-colored shaded areas behind each nav element. The white photos are now floating on a white background, with a single gray line dividing the bottom of the photo from the content below, and that content is floating in the middle of plain white. It sounds really stark and minimalist – and it is – but it's also beautiful. It's reminiscent of the text you see sometimes screened onto the walls of a museum – it's really just plain stunning.

Man, I hope the client likes this. I gave her an excited phone call at like 9:30 PM EST asking permission to explore this new design, and she granted it. I've sent it on – I guess I'll find out in the morning.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, OK?

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