During the creation of this website i thought a lot about website as spaces and how we constantly invoque spatial feelings or concepts while using the web.
I decided to write some documentation of how I wanted to organise and think about my own little space that is this website.
A place is something we experience by visiting it, to which we can attach feelings, it can feel like a home, a shelter, it can change over time and we can have memories of what we lived inside of it. I want my website to really play on that, being a place is as important as being a medium to present information or content.
An opportinity to explore. The access to the information does not have to be optimized - put in front of the visitor in the fastest and most clair way possible - but let the visitor make their way through, as we would go for a walk. For example I decided not to use search bars, menus or image grids. Instead the information can be distant or scattered, and the navigation process can be twisted or present obstacles. This is a way to push to take the time to visit and to motivate the curiosity of exploring.
- It is not intended to only focus on presenting something specific such as my artistic practice. It is firstly a space that I can use in public or intimate ways but also collective, poetic, social, politic, artistic... I want to blur the line between the formal artist CV, the personnal blog and the public space.
- It begins with a minimalist homepage that invites to enter before really accesing the rest of the website, inspired by old Geocities blogs. The door is hidden to feel like unveiling the potential space of the website after the flat first page it can seem to be. Also it asks to the visitor if they want to enter, as a way to oppose the current strategy of constantly grabbing attention without they knowing.
- For the central room I choosed to modify the usual topology of websites, into this infinite horizontal looping ring shape. It makes it feel like a room but I also like to see it as a poetic metaphore on the idea of cycles or self-feeding systems. It brings playfullness in the movements of the visitor and in my content arrangements, experimenting with the web interface to become more aware of it. By offering new ways to propose content it also changes how I think about what I put in this space, making me ask myself "where do i want to put this" in a nearly physical way.
- This architecture is also a strategy to escape from the modern website that act like a storefront. Personnal pages often go with personnal branding, and they can sometimes feel like they are trying to sell us something, going hand in hand with the neoliberal ideology that governs the web right now. I want my website to be more than this flat pannel advertissing myself but to invite you to come into my space and welcome you there. That you can really go in the website not only on it.
It is completly handwritten. I do not use CMS, and try to keep it light and simple as much as possible, in terms of js or php for example. I want to feel I know every little parts of my home and to learn to build it by myself.
I choosed to keep a kind of raw html aesthetic, using defaultism as a way to display the look of the web medium. I like this design process of choosing to not choose and use the standards as an aesthetic in itself. It's also a way to reinforce the contrast with the experimental topology of the space.
Horizontal scroll was a big question. I tried to implement an horizontal scroll with the classic vertical mousewheel by remapping it in various ways (pure css, js library). As it started with the aim of proposing a more fluid and natural experience, it felts more like breaking the tools that already existed. For example it contradicts the vertical mouvement of the mousewheel hardware itself. In fact, I discovered there are already a lot of ways to move horizontaly that are interesting and coherent. Here are some of them you might not think of:
swipeon trackpad or touchscreen
dragthe bottom bar
My strategy was to firstly cut a part of the content to indicate that the space extends past the side of the screen. The floor is the first visual indice that you can not scroll lower. If you try to vertical scroll a light show you the horizontal scroll bar, or emphaze the presence of the floor, indicating that mouvement is in another direction. On the floor I added a new way to move around: your cursor change and you can click and drag. It felt ok because it's already how we think of it on mobile.
The looping effect is done with js. It has to clone the starting view to the end of the ring, so there no jump cut when the horizontal bar teleport from one side to another. There was a lot of subtilities to make this effect work.
Of course the experimental nature of this navigation make it less instinctif and goes against "good UX design". But again this website is not made for easy access with invisible interface and in the minimum amount of time, but to explore. Exploring take time, has obstacle and need curiosity.
space: senses & representations
When thinking of my website as a space I tried to avoid automatic skeuemorphisms. I do not wanted to represent the physical world, for example by creating a 3D environement or have litteral representations everywhere. By always trying to copy our physical environement we can tend to put aside the natural spatiality of the web mediums and to replace it with superficial representations.
Lots of the spatial feelings on a website come with its kinesthetic design - how you move around. I tried to experiment with this with the entrance door, the ring topology but also the fact that most links are spatial pictograms.
While the deal was to not copy the physical space, I still wanted to create some objects - made with html and css - with purely illustrative purpose, like the window or the fireplace. Those brings in narrations in the space, as visual indices. I like that you'll find them everytime you come again, given an identity to the place through recognizable but not fonctionnal objects. They are not really there to make the site a place but more to tell the story of this place.