Designing a Designer's Site. Introduction | WebReference

Designing a Designer's Site. Introduction

[Dmitry's Design Lab]
Dmitry Kirsanov's monthly column
October 1998
Designing a Designer's Site
If creating a well-designed site is not easy, building a designer's own mansion is trouble squared. Read about what it took me to create my own virtual premises.

After we've spent some time investigating the dry theoretic matters of XML and orthogonal design, it's time now to get back to visual design issues.  This article is an analysis of one Web site, my own design studio at  Since its launch in June 1998, the site elicited a number of comments from surfers and generated a wave of interested business inquiries.

In fact, dissecting and explaining my own design decisions in building the site is as interesting for myself as it may be for my readers.  In the creative process, many decisions are made subconsciously and are never verbalized unless the author takes the trouble of doing so.  Of course anything you achieve in a project is, one way or another, deposited in your "skills bank," but it is done much more efficiently if you stop for a minute and try to realize the reasons behind each of the many creative choices you make when working.

Most sites are shaped by the two interacting forces: the designer and the customer/owner of the site.  In the real world, they often have different sets of priorities, different and even conflicting visions of the future site, and quite different level of familiarity in the areas of content and design.  Of course the customer's view has a priority, and no designer will succeed without the ability to elegantly adapt his ideas to the customer's requests.  But the "division line" between the realms of the designer and owner/maintainer and the traces of their struggle are in many cases still noticeable.

The most notable exception to the above rule are the home sites of Web designers themselves.  This makes the case of my design studio site especially interesting for our purposes: here, the struggle was between the different sides of my ego rather than between myself and the customer, and I know first hand what was involved at each stage of the project.  So, you're welcome to check out what I have learned in this project, which is probably the second best method for you to learn something - after doing it yourself!

As most other design case studies in my Lab, the article starts with examining the site's logo.  Then we'll recollect some bits of the theory of colors to understand the color choices I've made for the logo and other elements.  The site's front page gives me an opportunity to discuss some issues of a Web site's style and attitude towards its visitors.  The last section focuses on navigation features of the site and touches upon the choice of tools for Web graphics.


Created: Oct. 13, 1998
Revised: Oct. 14, 1998