Frank Chimero redesigns

Documenting and sharing the process of redesigning my personal site

On This Design

A quick note about the design of this site: it is kept intentionally default-ish—no webfonts, no Javascript, and only a dash of vanilla CSS to constrain the body width and aid reading. I don’t intend to have my site’s redesign turn out like this; my thought is that the more boilerplate this redesign blog feels, the easier it will be to see and consider the posted designs and sketches.

Over the last few years, I’ve found myself repeatedly making a comment about websites: you can design a blog that’s superior to most with a couple lines of CSS.

p {
  font-family: Georgia, serif;
  line-height: 1.5;
  max-width: 33em;
}

And that, pretty much, is the design of this site. (Though, this page’s stylesheet clocks in at about 200 lines to make things pretty, like the code block above.)

Why does all of this matter? Most experienced designers want concision—clear, robust, consistent, elegant systems that avoid redundancy. Concise designs are smoother to implement, faster to render, quicker to understand, and easier to hand-off and maintain. Achieving a simplicity with clarity means that you’re engaging with the fundamentals of the problem (and of your craft) at the correct fidelity. You’ve cut through complexity with insight, understanding, and committed decision-making. That third one is critical. A lot of complexity comes from an unwillingness to commit to the things that insight and understanding surface. This is one of the things that makes design so frustrating—it can act as a truffle hog for incongruencies in message, materials, and expectations, while also frequently being left without a means to resolve those incongruencies. (Maybe this is a quality of any field that deals with the practical realities of decisions made in the abstract.)

That said, it’s nice when different disciplines share a common goal. Designers, engineers, and writers all agree on the importance of concision. Sometimes I think that if we all had our way, there’d be hardly anything at all, which is sort of how I think of the design of this particular blog.

Anyway, I’ve strayed from my point: Georgia’s a good font. I still like it, even after all these years.