Welcome to Flat Land! The argument for my site's design

by phil on Sunday Jan 18, 2004 5:15 PM

UPDATE: I've since retired this wild and crazy all-over-the-place design of this site.

What happened to your site, it's so big!?

Why the horizontal scroll bar?! Scrolling left and right forces me to choose between liberal and conservative. And I can't think like that?!?! aaaah!

Chill. If the new scares you, you can always view the watered-down philosophistry. But don't you want something more like PhIl0sOph1stry rather than plain-jane .... philosophistry?

So you're not convinced? Let me put on my web-designer socks. Or rather my web-designer <socks> and walk over there and <teach> you a lesson.

Anti-Negative Reasons (Problems that a 2D layout solves)

My head is getting bigger, and so is the content on my site. Quantity wise, the amount of info I'm packing onto the site has not changed much since I started, but it's becoming more organized and having order to it.

So I thought of separate modules of content and had the challenge of figuring how best to organize it.

So here would be the standard options for those still living on line land:

  • Stack each item on top of each other so that one has to scroll through miles in order to get to what they want
  • Separate the content into distinct pages
  • Create a javascript roll-over doo-hickey that allows you to mouse-over to the new modules
  • Put previews of the modules on one page, and then separate the content out into other pages

    First, let's rule out separating the site into pages or mouseovers.

    If it's not on the front-page it's not relevant. I've seen people show me their main blog and link off to a separate linkblog. And because of this, the linkblog, thematically, appears as if it were left-overs from the main juice on the frontpage. As a web designer, as well, having separate pages to manage reduces your motivation to make the sub-pages that interesting. This happens to me often where I'll invest so much into the front-page and forget about what happens to internal pages.

    As for javascript roll-overs. Those in general are a big no-no because they enjoy crashing on people's browsers. Also, I felt these javascript roll-overs would require too much advance planning of how I wanted everything to be like. Plus, people hate them.

    So, in layman's terms, any form of separation would be like forcing the user to dismember the whole Philosophistry body with slices in the form of his clicks. Yeah, nasty image, I know. See, this is why we need two scroll bars.

    It's like keeping the party all in one room...

    Positive Reasons (New Realms to explore with this layout.)

    We have the browser, we have the bandwidth, we have the processing power, yo, let's take advantage of it.

    Who the hell makes a site that is 3000x5000??? The Philosophist himself, that's who!

    Packing everything in on one long snake of a page is a throw-back to days when ppl relied on HTML tables. Now, thanks to CSS's adoption, we can throw floating objects anyhere with reckless abandon. So the map-like layout of my site makes adding new features a cinch. In other words, my design is scalable. Whereas in a traditional brochure site, I'd have to rearrange so many puzzle pieces to get things to fit. Now I can just tack them on like post-it notes.

    I was also curious to see what designing for such a wide space would entail. I feel like a new painter who just bought his first large canvas. I'm tired of being all zen and cute, trying to figure out how to pack and miniaturize everything onto one small screenful.

    Okay, now take a deep breath, this is where I get into my hazy-mind territory.

    I also wanted to see if I can change the way people think. If people were so caught up in viewing sites with such constraint, I wanted to see if I could expand their mind to start thinking about sites in terms of maps and not pages.

    Maps, not pages, people! If we wanted pages, we would fire up Microsoft Word! This is 2004!! I feel like designers are still acting like magicians trying to figure out ways to move their limbs so they can fit into a small box. It's like, "Oh, there, look I got my pinky in, and you can still see one of my ears and eyes in this new positioning. I've been perfecting it for years." Man, think outside of the box <buddy>. Stretch your arms out and breath.

    And if you're still confused as to why I did this, in summary, here's why: because I can.


    Anish Dhingra said on January 18, 2004 6:14 PM:

    Ahhh.. this is too sick. It feels like I'm standing in the middle of downtown Tokyo. Everything is stacked up nicely and neatly, yet, there is an inherent chaos afoot. Badass. Philosophistry is like, opening up your e-mail box and getting 100 pieces of Spam. Except, you want to read each one. Muwahaha.

    Rej Dhingra said on January 18, 2004 6:35 PM:

    Philisophistry is when your simple life becomes a well thought out anime. One by one your comrades are morphed into big eyed and blue haired characters. The space around you has become this colourful yet industrial like voodoo 3dfx crap. Yeah!.. I said it!...

    Strange Loops said on January 18, 2004 7:11 PM:

    I really like this design idea. I navigate via my mouse's third button (pushing down on the scroll wheel) rather than the browser's normal scroll bars (which one has to shift between to move horizontally instead of vertically and vice versa). More free-form 2D control. Anyway, it works out pretty nice for your layout, which is actually pretty easy to surf now that I've visited a few times since the change. Keep the innovation coming.

    Chris Dhingra said on January 19, 2004 10:18 PM:

    This is cool, innovative, and best of all....dupealicious!! I always hate when the horizontal bar goes too much, but it looks cool on this site. Ya whaeva doo.

    Ron Bell said on January 21, 2004 9:46 PM:

    Well, it is definitely creative, and I admire that! It might also be useful to include some sort of master map so we could jump around on the page without having to scroll and look for things ourselves.


    Philip Dhingra said on January 23, 2004 1:26 AM:

    It might also be useful to include some sort of master map so we could jump around on the page without having to scroll and look for things ourselves.

    Absolutely. This is a great idea. I could have some floating layer with quick jump-points, or maybe a zoomed-out version to quickly move around with... haven't seen something like that before.

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