The simple fact is, I like to design websites. I like everything from art directing the layout to actually coding the backend. This explains why I really enjoy the initial process of creating a website, but get bored with maintaining one. Take for example, the previous version of this site. In January of 2009, I converted it to a blog. After several months I lost the drive to post new content because I was simply plugging text into a design template. My role with my own website went from designer to writer.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value and importance in generating good content. After all, without content there is little need for design. But, why does good, original content have to be dumped into a generic template when it comes to blogs? Why can’t each new blog post have a fresh new layout accompany it?
If you look at websites such as Apple and Nike, the content of each page is married to an appropriate layout. Content and design are one. But when you look at websites that revolve around articles or blog posts, such as CNN, Smashing Magazine, or The Ministry of Type, the design template reigns supreme. This raises a big question. Can art direction even attempt to keep up with the speed at which content is generated?
There are a few sites and designers that have dared to experiment with this concept. Jason Santa Maria, a web designer out of Brooklyn, has created a new layout for each new post on his site since June of 2008. Travis Gertz and The Bold Italic both have systems in place that allow for each of their articles to have a unique design.
Although creating a unique layout for every new post or article within a site may not always be feasible, for some sites it is proving to be a new approach to online publishing. For the designer who thrives on creating new layouts, this idea is both exciting and refreshing. I’m looking forward to getting in on the fun.