I’ve been working on a new site design for the last few weeks and would like to announce that it’s finally been launched! Let me know what you think!
For my design friends that are curious, the whole site is done in WordPress, which is a free content management system that you can install on most web sites. It is basically a blog setup, but it is pretty easy to customize it so that it does not look like a blog. There are a ton of cool plug-ins and built-in features that make managing a complex site very easy. For example, for my image pages I can upload all of my images at once and they are automatically formatted into a gallery. I can create a new post, and it will be added to my navigation and menu areas in the appropriate place.
One of the main motivations for the site was to create a better archive and record of my exhibitions and installations. Although I liked my old site, with the Flash animations I had not seriously updated the site since I designed it in 2006. Now I am able to easily post and update galleries and exhibition information as I am planning my shows. In addition, I have created a ‘vita’ and ‘artist resume’ page where the entries are automatically added to my curriculum vitae and short version of my resume. What is really cool, and may make it a rarity for me to open InDesign is that when you go to print those pages from the browser they are formatted for print. I may add a background image of my letterhead to finish it off.
The other couple of things I am happy with is the Processing Tag Cloud and the iPhone version of my site. The iPhone was easy, a fantastic plug-in called WPTouch. Things like the iPhone version and print version are only possible with a modern CSS-based site design, which is something I wanted to take advantage of in my re-design. The tag cloud I wrote from scratch, well almost, source code is available if anyone wants to use or improve it. It will probably crash a few browsers, but what the heck.
I think design has changed so much over the years, that it really makes you think about how to use information dynamically. There is a debate about designers needing to know how to code or not, and I think it really depends on the purpose of the design. If it is something that is permanent, and does not change I think designers don’t need to learn code. If there is any kind of interactivity or if the information changes, I really believe that a designer should know how to access and re-use information through code writing. The relationship between how to access and print information coming from a database is quite interesting and I think artists are well suited to think of new ways to utilize visual tools in the presentation of data.