I was pretty close to skipping this week altogether, as my sketchbooks have been neglected this week in favour of other things. Most of the time I can prattle on and find something to write about, so I thought this week I'd substitute the pens and pencils for something a bit closer to the blog.
Whenever I make a web site for my own projects, I tend to iterate a lot and change layouts over and over. I think it's partly because I have the ability to change my own stuff on a whim, and partly because I often get tired of whatever's there, so like to change it up. Either way, I never seem to settle on how something looks or functions when I'm my own client. On one hand I'm a great client because I don't care what the end result is, but on the other I'm terrible because I lack a lot of direction.
So anyway, that's a long-winded preamble to say that I've been thinking about the layout of this site (which is using a simple template with a little customisation) and how I could improve it. I'd rather not do a complete overhaul, so I'm thinking about what's lacking and what could be improved or streamlined.
Overall I'm not one hundred percent happy with how the blog layout functions because I'd rather include some kind of indexing function that would make older posts easier to find. I'm still about eighty percent happy with it, so it's here to stay for the time being, but I imagine re-doing the front end of the blog will be on the cards soon enough.
The home page is also pretty lackluster, which is what brings me to this post. Half of why I made this site in the first place was to hold an artistic portfolio for work that isn't commercial. I was a bit tired of having my paintings mixed in with logos and branding, so I felt like a clear separation was required. Thankfully I'm pretty happy with how that all turned out, as I feel this site is much more focused on creativity and expression, than business and commercialism.
However, despite that meta function being achieved, I'm still struggling with the nuts and bolts of it all. So as I stared vacantly at the home page the other night, I figured I need to highlight the portfolio aspect a lot more. This has also been on my mind as I've spoken to people out in the world who have asked for a link or something to my art portfolio. I like to keep things simple so would much rather hand them a card with the .net address on it, without the added /portfolio/ caveat.
Thus, I figured some sort of banner on the home page pointing out the portfolio would be useful, as the menu item at the top is easily missed. I'm still tweaking it, but I eventually started working on the banner you can see there as I write this post.
There's nothing super special about the banner, other than it uses a few little techniques in Illustrator to create the panel effect that displays the different sections of the portfolio. As you can see in the graphics, I was initially thinking of using a title on the graphics that's similar to the page logo, but ditched it soon after as it felt a bit tacky.
Instead I figured I'd just put the categories written on the three panel layout to show that there's more to the portfolio than a simple collection of images. It's always been important for me to distinguish the difference between traditional and digital work, as they are blatantly different mediums.
When I was setting out the home page with this banner in place, I tried adding in a title for "portfolio" in the same style as the "welcome" and "recent posts" headings, but it still felt tacky. So in the end I just went with the banner standing on its own as part of the welcome message, which I hope expresses the fact that there's more to look at if you click on it, but it's not screaming with a big arrow pointing "CLICK HERE".
A long time ago I designed an abstract site layout featuring a grid of coloured squares filling the page as a menu, with each square launching a lightbox with content. It's funny thinking about it now because it's technically a simple design, with everything being coded as tables and cell functions. These days with everything being a bit fancier, I've actually found it harder to do something similar to that design whenever I've tried. It's the kind of thing that I could code in notepad, but as soon as I have to adapt a modern template to make it happen, I'm toast.
I've been thinking about that layout lately, as I still want to resurrect it one day. Maybe sometime in the future I'll be able to spend some time in notepad and code it again to integrate into something modern. Until then though, I'll stick to tweaking out these little changes here and there to try and get something functional and acceptable.
Edit: I have since decided to move my portfolio back to abatagestudios.com.au completely, so atelier arcade is just a blog from here on out.