Me before you

It's been a really long time since I've had my own website. I've made a few attempts, but always lost momentum or enthusiasm with my work. In the meantime I've looked on as others have designed and developed their websites, aware that my holding page was sat there, redefining the meaning of ‘coming soon’.

Designing for yourself is something that a lot of designers have written about, and the same things come up each time. We tend to have really high standards for our own work, and that, coupled with the array of options open to you when you don’t really have restrictions, can be pretty debilitating.

The turning point for me was my desire to start writing, I’d spoken about it a number of times in the studio and the general opinion was that it would be good for me both personally and professionally. Now, I’m not much of a writer but I’ve always felt that being able to communicate your thoughts and explain your work is such an important part of being a designer. As an introverted character, this has always been something I struggle with. I want to use this blog to improve those skills and try and gain some confidence. If someone happens to find something I write interesting, or even useful, that will be a lovely bonus.

The design

As well as intending on writing for my own benefit, another reason this post is named ‘Me Before You’ is because this website is one of the only I have ever designed where I put all my preferences before that of potential users. I knew to get this thing live I had to attempt to create something that I actually liked and felt excited to develop.

I realised that it was fashion magazines, specifically, ELLE, Vogue, Marie Claire and Esquire that inspired me.

In the end, I went right back to one of the things that first made me love graphic design, and that thing was magazines. I have been a complete magazine junkie since my early teens. It seemed to me that the throwaway nature of magazines allowed them to be far more brave and experimental. I pulled out the file I keep containing all the pages I’d torn out of old issues and I bought a ton of magazines, from all sorts of genres. After immersing myself in the pages, and spending way too much money, I realised that it was fashion magazines, specifically, ELLE, Vogue, Marie Claire and Esquire that had layouts that inspired me the most.

Magazine inspiration
Magazine inspiration

One of my favourite things about fashion magazines, are the combinations of typefaces. This was something I wanted to achieve on this site, without it looking too crazy. I’ve combined four typefaces. It really seemed a lot compared to the two typefaces that are usually recommended for a web layout, and I repeatedly tried to cut them down. Then I’d open a new magazine, admire their use of type and change my mind again.

This site will hopefully allow me to show and discuss what it is that gets me excited about design. I’ve used a grid that I hope will give me the freedom to have large, interesting areas of negative space around content and to have the opportunity to be flexible with layout in future posts. I don’t usually advocate being selfish, but in the case of your own personal site, I think it helps. Forgetting about the expectations that people may or may not have for your work and going right back to the things that get you really excited about design is something I recommend if you find yourself a bit disillusioned or overwhelmed by designing for yourself.

I’d like to try and write in a bit more detail about some of the topics I’ve briefly touched on in future posts, but in the interest of actually publishing the site, I’m going to stop here. I’m also going to continue iterating and polishing the design as update the site, but, I’m pleased to finally have moved back into my little home on the internet!

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