chapter introductions
Website Graphics
the best of global site design
Bis / Thames & Hudson, 1997


When graphic designers start off, their first natural assignment is to make a house style for themselves. To a lot of designers this is a nightmare. I've known seasoned graphic designers who rather went to the card-o-mat at the supermarket, than design their own address card...

For graphic designers, making a presentation for themselves is a confrontation: Every formal detail, every content driven association will immediately trigger a response: ha, that's what they are about... But they are about so much more! That's one of the reasons graphic designers may love the Web; there they can show all the different faces at the same time. Not only can they present their portfolio of work, and make pontifications on what design is all about ("We are in the midst of profound changes in consumer attitudes..."), and how this designer can help you out. The true attraction of the WWW as a medium to promote designer's activities and skills are the extras: the experimental pages, the annexes where the professional can disclose a more personal side, or work as an artist.

Regular features of designers' sites are such experimental environments where one is warned not to enter without a suitcase full of plug-ins. Rather nice things can be seen there - if you can spare the download time: ingeniously moving alphabets, images and texts that morph into each other, colors and sounds and 3D spaces that give a glimpse of a communication space to be.

And there's always room for input from the outside. An interesting way to interact with colleagues and clients is the old Surrealists' technique of the cadavre exquis, a drawing or text or image by one, that is commented by another, etcetera, ad infinitum. With the added value that the visitor of the site might get curious in a few days or weeks for what has been done since their last visit. Other designers will make their site a place for discussion, or share their cultural interests with you - sometimes transforming part of their Website in an e-zine on music or visual arts. For the designers' work is not only what they make for clients. It's also about research and development and cultural responsibility. There is a world of software out there that yearns for creative and sensitive application. And an enormous territory of not yet fully explored communicational tools and possibilities. Designers who take their role as cultural agents serious, will enhance their self-portrait on the web by showing to all what they make for themselves.

max bruinsma