Minimalism to the Extreme

February 24, 2007


For the last few months, I’ve been spending as much of my rare free time as possible working on the complete redesign of the Underground Railroad. If anyone were to click that link, there would be no need to explain the need for such a redesign. That particular design is several years old, and dates back to a time when I had little technical knowledge and even less artistic knowledge. Now, I have at least some of both, and I hope for good results.

Essentially, I have written a CMS for this site, which strives to be portable, robust, and secure to the fullest possible extent. This step is close to complete at this time.

Currently, I’m attempting to finalize the design scheme that is present on the site, and ensure that it

  1. Properly represents the values, ideas, theories, and passions that lie behind the Underground Railroad
  2. Does the same for myself, as an artist and a designer
  3. Mixes the two in an authentic, powerful way

Generally, as a designer I’m a big fan of simple, clean, maybe somewhat minimalistic design. If something doesn’t have a purpose for being there, it shouldn’t be there. This fits artistically, semantically, theoretically, and in countless other ways. I love cork’d, a list apart, and countless other designs, designers, and ideas that present effective communication in an artistic way.

That said, I think there’s an extreme to which minimalism can go. I see this a lot among advocates of web standards, and I find that to be unfortunate for advancing the cause of standards-based design. The web is about content, but so is design. Form follows function, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any form.

Anyway. This redesign that I’m working on is not particularly minimalistic. As I’ve been observing this, I’ve been thinking about its implications. I think it’s somewhat difficult for sites that are based on black to be minimalistic. Movie sites. Band sites. Sweet Flash sites. I know there are exceptions that are done very well, but of all the minimalistic sites that are done well, there aren’t very many black ones; and of all the black sites that are done well, there aren’t very many minimalistic ones. So, I’ve decided not to worry about it.