Designing a Blog

(Only slightly ‘Art’ related… or am I clutching at straws?)
Regular reader(s) will know that I purchased a digital camera recently. As such I’ve got a few photo’s I’m proud enough of to put online. This of course gives me an excuse to re-design the site again. (There is a side article here about the propensity to re-design that is evident in a lot of us…)
Core to the design, of course, is the fundamental question of “Why do I have this site?”. Given that I still can’t answer that question I’m setting it aside with the knowledge that I have a site and leave it at that.

So, with a view to streamlining things here and to meet my “at odds” minimalism and gadget/script fascinations, I’ve begun to study how I use this site. How I interact with it, how it serves me, and of course how other people use it. For example, I know that I don’t write longer pieces as often as I used to, I know that the blog veers between personal journal and random links (random in number and intellect), and I know that the photo’s section will grow, particularly as I am about to get a camera with my mobile phone.

I know that of the 20,000 or so people who have visited here in the last year or so (since I started a new counter): 94% use IE 5 or 6, Windows is used by 95% as their O.S., 800×600 is a comfortable minimum resolution with less than 1% of visitors using 640×480, and I can plan on using at least 16.7million colours (24 Bit) if I so wish.

So how does all this information help? Well it kinda does and kinda doesn’t. My current theory is a simple one, personal sites, around which the core activity is ‘blogging’ have a focus which bring certain requirements into play. For example, it is a personal site, so you should have an ‘About’ page. Add in usability and readability and you start heading towards the ‘generic’ blog design. A navigation bar (top or side) featuring links both within and outside the site, and a content area. Yes colours, layout and use of images can personalise this to an extent, but there is still an underlying design that is followed.

This is not a bad thing, as such, but it bothers me. Why? Because this website is an extension of me, a reflection of my personality, and I’m not happy with that being ‘generic’. I may be pretty middle of the road with most things, but I know that, as a person, I typically fall into the ‘middle’ of many categories. So I’m trying to avoid that with the next design of this site. Obviously the core design cannot change radically or this site stops being what it is, similarly I know already that I cannot change my focus and usage of this site easily or the reason for this site ceases to exist, so I guess I’m headed back to where I started. I’m not sure where that will take me, but I’m gonna have fun finding out.