Funny how your own site is always the lowest priority when your job is to create websites for other people. It’s like the auto mechanic with the broken down car. Well, last week (while I was on vacation with the family) I was finally able to sneak a couple of hours to get the site for Pixel Lab (that’s my budding young company) out the door. You can see the (kind of) finished product here.
I say kind ofbecause I haven’t had a chance to build out the “case studies” section under services yet and, frankly, that’s probably the thing people want to see. For now, I’m just happy to have something live! Case studies will be coming soon.
It’s fun to be your own client. The design reasoning went something like this: first of all, it’s a lab, so it needed to be kind of sciency. For me, the quintessential science feeling happened in labs in the late 50s and 60s. The feeling I wanted is something like Flubber meets Heisenberg. So, I was drawn to retro science photographs and equipment.
It turns out that there is also a very strong design aesthetic associated with that era: the International Typographic Style is an an aesthetic that has, arguably, become an archetype of design. It’s instantly recognizable as Design (notice the capital “D”). International typographic (sometimes called “swiss style” or “swiss typographic”) is known for strong order, use of grid, black and white imagery, bold colors and, most of all, Helvetica (and a handful of similar fonts).
So, I was settling in on a style: swiss typographic + retro science stuff. It was a nice package, all from the same era. To move the aesthetic forward a little, though, I introduced a second font (the one that matches the Pixel Lab logo) for the main headings on each page and I built out some gradients (some softening on the pixels in the logo and highlights on the zoomed in content), and added a bunch of motion. Then I went about building content.
For fun, I also played around with some sound. I’m not normally a fan of a lot of sound, but my wife had to talk me down from actually using music! So, I got a little caught up in the whole sound thing I guess. In the end, sound is off by default because I still haven’t gotten it quite right (plus as we all know, sound can be a little annoying if you weren’t expecting it). I really like how sound can influence a mood though. The song I was trying to cut up for a soundtrack, by the way, was “Don’t Give Up” by Whites Boy Alive. It’s a cool song and the perfect mood for the site. I think my wife was right, though, that not many people can pull of a soundtrack on a website (although, for the record, Scott Hansen can).
At a technical level, I learned some stuff about sound and wrote some handy code that is worth sharing so expect a forthcoming post on Silverlight and sound effects.
Incidentally, the design happened quickly on this one. It was much less labored than other designs that I’ve done with myself as the client. I’ve been trying to figure out why that would be. Perhaps inspiration just struck, but I also keep being reminded of Hillman Curtis and the emphasis that he places on discovering a theme. With this project, I discovered the theme early on and I think that may have made the difference.
Either way, it was a fun project and, even if there is still a little more to do, it feels great to have it live. So, let me know what you think!