The design of jamesrobertwatson.com
This site - emphasizing rational and logical thinking in design and culture - is about the ideas, thoughts, theories, and work of Jim Watson, a designer and educator living in Oklahoma and New York. Its purpose is to provide insight and explanations to educate, motivate, and inspire readers about design, creativity, and problem solving. This work-in-progress site will never be finished. That is what is so great about weblishing - info can be updated and changed easily. It is interactive: as readers email suggestions and questions, I can respond and clarify by altering the information. The cycle created by the interaction of the reader and the author keeps the site current and dynamic.
Why the title is WensdayDesignCulture.
I needed a deadline to provide a structure and motivation to upload new information each week and I wanted followers to be able to rely on new inspiration at least once a week. But, which day. Hump day, the middle of the week is a nice time to take a break from routine and check out the site.
I have long been fascinated with word origins and spellings. Like why do we still spell February with an R that very few people pronounce? And Wednesday. Who says Wed Nes Day? Most of us shorten it to Wens Day (or Wins Day). We have already respelled the original name: Woden's Day. Woden, like other day names, was a Teutonic God.
We have been altering words since the moment they were created. God be with ye evolved into goodbye. Streamlining spellings is a common and natural step to clarify and ease communication.
So, I had this favorite word, Wensday, and thought this would be a significant way to represent the blog. The unique spelling provides some intrigue to attract the curious browser. Improving the spelling of Wednesday represents my desire to make things better, easier, and more clear.
DesignCulture represents a way of thinking, an attitude that design and culture are so intertwined, they can't be separated. My interest and passion is design, but I am fascinated with how design and design thinking impact our culture.
• Emphasize rational logical thinking, skepticism, innovation.
• Highlight Great Ideas
• Educate: convey info - design, problem solving, issues
• Inspire: encourage people to think, open up, question
• Inform: updates of news and events
• Enlighten: address politics, culture, and religion
• Raise design consciousness, standards of good design
• Challenge reader to think
• Increase reach, readership; influence, impact.
• Short download time: minimal graphics, no Flash gimmicks
• Easy to navigate and access: constant menu on the left side
• Minimum number of pages to get to destination: use menus or search index
• Easy to read: readable point sizes, common fonts, black type on white background
• Simple to follow: menu bar on left
• Seekers: someone accessing specific information
• Users: someone specifically exploring this site
• Browsers: surfers accidentally hitting site
• Single font, Arial/Helvetica - no serifs (too busy on screen)
• Red graphic elements - power and clarity
• Flush left text and photos - fewer wraparounds of images
• Purity: primary color, sans serif, basic shapes
• MoMA interiors/graphics
• Target ads/graphics
• Apple stores/products
• Before & After magazine and website
• Vignelli purity
• Frank Lloyd Wright's logo
• Tom Peters books and website
• iPhone and Facebook square buttons
• Post on Wensdays, whenever needed
• Post classics from archives and The Idea Kit
• Major post: create essay, add to pages, add keywords, date for archives
• Keep home blog at 6 weeks worth, move older
Image disclaimer notice
This is a non-commercial educational site. Images are assumed to be in the public domain. If there is infringement with copyrighted material, it is unintentional and the material will be removed upon request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evolution of site design
An early diagram and notes of content made in the fall of 2000. The yellow page was an early home page with contents. It evolved to the contents menu on the left so that the menu would remain open no matter what page one went to.
Redesign with angled headings 2004, design conference, Chicago.
Redesign with red squares 2010, Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, NYC.
2004 and 2010 versions side by side
jrw.com 2.0 Summer 2011
Since January, 2001, this website has been read and referenced quite a bit. I got emails from Europe, Asia, and Argentina and the site was referenced on other design blogs. The essays on the poor logo at the World Trade Center site and the Thunder logo were very popular. As a result, I got several requests for an RSS feed so people could subscribe and be informed when new posts were uploaded. Another feature I had long wanted was a search engine button since the site was growing with so many files and essays.
I set up and tried a WordPress blog. I named it WensdayDesignBlog (see top of this essay for why). I wanted to brand WensdayDesignBlog as a source for design lessons and visually separate WensdayDesignBlog from the culture blog since culture included some controversial essays on politics and religion. But, it was a chore to transfer this jrw.com site to WordPress - this site has 500 essay files and over 5,000 images. And there were other issues with WordPress, so after a few weeks, I forwarded the wensdaydesignblog.com domain over to jamesrobertwatson.com and returned to just one website. I saw the combined site anew and reordered the contents menus and the home page. I wanted the emphasis to be on logical rational thinking and thoughtfulness. To keep it positive and educational, I included Lessons, Tips, Recommendations, and Suggestions. I may offer this challenge in the future: email a jpg or pdf of work - I'll reply with ways to make it better. Design can almost always be improved.
Revised jrw.com site improvements
• New focus: Thoughtful, Rational, Makes sense, Reason, Logic; in both design and culture
• Added RSS feed
• Added Google search feature
• Purged essays
• Grouped essays of Culture, Religion, Politics into one: Culture
• Updated the blog home page on a regular weekly schedule
• Shortened the home page
• Added a new intro band on the home page with an overview of the site
• Revised and simplified the Contents menu
• Put a light grey background behind the Contents menu
• Designed the site to be clutter-free, as a response to so many busy websites
• Emphasized the content, not the vehicle
Changes between these two 2012 versions:
• The site details and the search window moved to the bottom of the content menu on the left, to simplify the home page.
• Red bars added between all blog entries to distinguish posts.
Initial design and layout: fall and winter, 2000-01
Date jrw.com went online: January, 2001
Angled headings: November 2004, Chicago
Red squares: January 2010, New York City
Red bars and search engine: August 2011
Grey content menus and thin red bars: March 2012
Replaced dateline with "Inspiration from rational thinking": 2013
Home • Email Jim Watson • Filename to share: http://www.jamesrobertwatson.com/websitedesign.html