My website has some new clothes as of this week, and a little new content. The upgrades (I hope!) were inspired by a need, I thought, for greater ease of use on both ends: yours and mine. Yours, because interacting with my website should be smooth and pleasurable and easy, or at least not annoying; mine, because I plan to make more frequent updates in the near future, and updating the old design was a huge Chore.
I’ve become very interested in the design of interfaces, and the particulars of how humans interact with them. Little details have begun to catch my attention more and more. For instance, why do the credit-card readers at Shaw’s say, “Welcome to Shaw’s!” on the screen? The only time I interact with it is when I’m buying my groceries and am about to leave. Plus, they have a human greeter at the door to make me feel welcome when I come in. Why does the machine need to be friendly, anyway? Can’t it just be simple and direct? I wonder who made this design decision. Today, when I was building some new composition pages, I was trying to figure out how to provide controls for my imbedded audio clips. Turns out, in GoLive, you have to actually type the word “true” in the box next to the word “controller” in the “attribs” tab. Why not just a simple on/off check box?
My website is the main arena that I can do experiments having to do with interface design, and as such, it’s a labor of love. The new design provides all kinds of new useful (I hope) visual and navigational feedback. Links are now more obvious and plentiful, and color-coded according to the section of the site; forward/backward buttons provide little text rollovers; page headings are more strongly delineated; audio samples, as I mentioned, are imbedded into the page, so you can read about the piece while listening to it; there are now little “click-back” maps at the tops of more deeply-buried pages, to let you know where you are. The structure has changed, slightly, with the contact and headshots sections now rolled into the biography page instead of their own separate pages.
The entire experience of using the site should be faster, too, because I’ve converted most of what used to be images into nice, CSS-formatted Helvetica text. This is the main improvement on my end of things, cutting down my editing time by about 75%. The overall result is that the website is now more purely typographic; I’ve done away with most of the needless graphical frippery (no more roundrects!) and replaced it with 3‑point horizontal lines and styled text. The exception, of course, is the icon bar, which I refined back in May. I think the icons still serve their purpose well.
Oh right, and new content, too: Sorbet finally has its own page, with a recording kindly furnished by Jay. Shy and Mighty has some new audio files, too, as well as the one-piano version of How can I live. Also, new links aplenty, and some new upcoming events (stay tuned for more).
As always, don’t hesitate to email me if you encounter any problems/aesthetic conundrums with the site. Still to be updated: the performance and especially the visual aids section (that divided circle has been on my website ever since its first incarnation back in 2001).