I’ve been procrastinating on setting up a new blog for over a year now. Not because I don’t have anything interesting to say, but because I’m scared of designing one.
This may come out as a surprise to some people. At the very least, to the dozens of people who’ve come up to me after a conference to ask “what designer from GitHub did your slides?” and then looked astounded when I said I did them myself. It is true that some of my slides look fancy, or at the very least, flashy, but it’s quite a stretch to say that my slides are designed. I’d expect my colleagues who are actually designers to do better, and they consistently do.
I do my slides the only way I know how to do artwork: Compose, mix and match, blur and dirty up, and then dirty up again. Hide imperfections behind a hundred layers of effects, and try to flash the viewer before he notices that there’s not much left behind the smoke screen.
It works well enough, and that’s what I’m trained to do; that’s the kind of shit you need to do when you’re trying to finish the assets for a game on a tight schedule and a shoestring budget. There’s quite a difference between that and designing for the web, though. The emptiness of a blank webpage is daunting, and styling markup with CSS feels a lot like being back to writing systems code: there’s nobody to hold your hand, very little margin for error and no way to hide or disguise your mistakes.
Of course, one can always always bullshit his way into a design with a composition in Photoshop, and start drag-and-dropping faux leather, brushed metal and other skeuo-aberrations into a web browser. Not that I haven’t done that plenty of times in the past (and with decent results, if I may say so), but that doesn’t feel like design either. It feels like too much, and now I want less.
That’s the reason why I decided to design this blog in an afternoon. Without a previous composition, without Photoshop, without images nor effects. Only a web inspector, my trusty text editor, and a single column of text, which I typeset to the extent of my ability.
A design so simple that it cannot possibly go wrong. And yet I feel like my line heights are off.