Back in November of 2003 I started a little experiment. I created a web design company site along with a blog with the intentions of seeing how easy it would be to acquire new clients from a really simple design and also to see how people treat and look at a company’s blog compared to that of a freelancer’s. With regards to gaining clients it was just a matter of finding the ones that were attracted to simple design and could see the value in it. I wasn’t doing this to fool anyone so every prospect that came along I simply told them that I was too busy and referred them to other designers.
Now with the blog it was really interesting because almost immediately I could see how people looked at a company differently than an up and coming freelancer. Hell, I even started to receive resumes from college grads looking for work. What made this even more interesting is that not once did I ever post my name on the site, but instead used two nicknames: The Scholar and The Dunce. Now it really wasn’t difficult to know that it was me running the site if you knew me back then, but for total strangers I learned a lot about what people can expect from a clean layout and a company voicing their opinion on design.
Eventually I let the site stagnate and I haven’t touched it in over 15 months…until now.
Simpl(e)y Done is a site that I have rejuvenated for one simple purpose and that is to take me back to my roots both in design and in life. I have always designed simple and liked to live a simple life (eat, sleep, party), but found as of late that I have ventured away from these trends. I was complicating a lot of things. Even though the sites still remain graphic-free, I was too busy trying to figure out ways to increase the revenue of them with more ads and affiliate marketing instead of putting the focus on the content. Last week I began to think to myself that I could more than likely make the same amount of money, if not more, if I simplified things and took a different approach to how I run my sites.
Yesterday’s conversation on Breaking All the Rules occurred because I realized that many times if we look for a better way to design our sites, we might also be making them easier to use for our readers. However, saying that logos shouldn’t be at the top because it makes reading the content harder might not be the best way to go.
Simpl(e)y Done will not only focus on web design, but also on product design and the design of our lives. It’s just a site about making things easier and in turn making our lives better.
Close to as simple as one can get. I wanted the readers to view the content and not worry about anything else. On the homepage you only get one entry. I know that we are use to seeing more than one entry on a page (a couple of sites have broken that trend as of late), so coming across an one entry site is a bit deceiving. Some people have been trained to think that they need more information on the page, but seeing how none of the entries on Simpl(e)y Done will be just links to other sites it’s important to make sure the reader focuses on the content on the page and not what’s coming next.
As for the navigation, let me first say that I hate thinking about it when designing a site. It’s almost an afterthought and a part of the site that I try to get out of the way as quickly as possible. In all honesty I wish I could get rid of navigation altogether, but that would make a multi-page site practically useless. Instead, of treating the navigation of the site with dread, I tried to make it as fun and interesting as possible.
The traditional navigation scheme for a site consists of these elements:
The site has all of these elements, but I didn’t want an about page because users coming from search engines or external links shouldn’t have to click a link to know what this simple site is about. Other sites with longer ‘about’ content definitely warrant having their own pages, but this site did not so I wasn’t going to force the issue. So I figured it would be best to have a paragraph at the top describing what the site consists of and within that about paragraph I stuck the archive links.
I do wonder what will happen if I decide to add new categories, but realize that doing so would only complicate matters because I am beginning to broaden the site to a capacity I can’t handle. For example, Forever Geek is the hardest site for me to write for because there are just too many options. Weird huh?
So I was able to take care of all 4 site elements without the use of a traditional navigation scheme. Home link is the logo and the contact is the email in the footer. Easier to use and navigate? The jury is still out on that one, but I do know that reading one entry at a time without distraction has definitely become easier.
Many of the elements seen on the site have been in my head forever, but I must thank Garrett Dimon (design-wise) and Johnnie Manzari (content-wise) for bringing these ideas out of me. This is also my first WordPress blog on my own so bear with me if you find any quirks.