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The Limits of Minimalism

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This article takes approximately 4 minutes to read.

NB: I am on a small vacation and I am quite tired. This post will (probably) be shorter than usual. 1

I explored Neocities for a few weeks earlier this year. It was an interesting journey. The main takeaway after surfing through literally hundreds of sites was that web design can be really creative. There are so many unique sites on Neocities. Colors are everywhere. GIFs are used liberally.

This is a version of web design that I fell in love with. It made me want to make websites again. I had forgotten about how much you could do with so little. CSS is a powerful technology. It’s just that you have to use it. I need to recognize CSS as a way to make more creative websites. In doing so, I will be able to harness its potential. Creators on Neocities done this well. I forgot how many different border styles CSS offered until I seen Neocities.

The Ethos of This Site

I designed this website with simplicity in mind. I adhere to my principles of bandwidth conservation. No fluff. All content. I am proud to say that this site should be accessible to most people who visit. The colors have been checked for contrast. Links are underlined. Text is left at its default size so that users can view this site according to the settings they have adjusted in their browser.

Part of me is starting to think that in my pursuit for accessibility I have forgotten what I learned on Neocities. I have lost the sense of creativity that comes with web design. There’s so much I can do. My page does not need to be black and white with some color.

Simple web design is easier from an accessibility perspective. The last iteration of my site (rather, how my site appeared until a few hours ago) was mainly black and white. I was confident that most people would be able to access the site. My website used as few CSS rules as I could get away with. My creativity was exercised through simplicity. Making my site as simple and unique as possible was the challenge.

The New Era

If you have visited this site before today, you should notice a few differences. There is a bit more color. There is a background. 2 The middle box now has a border. The site is quite different.

I decided to make these changes because someone commented that my site was rather simple. I initially did not take that comment well. I then realized that simplicity was what I hoped to achieve with this site. My journey toward accessibility was fun and interesting. What I will say is that I now know more about accessible web design than I did a few months ago. I used what I learned to model the changes I have made.

There is a small part of me that wants to design this site like so many sites on Neocities. I’d love to use the ’90s aesthetic and go overboard with GIFs. I am not going to do that because I still want to conserve bandwidth and provide an accessible experience. The real challenge now is providing the same level of usability but with more bells and whistles. Some of my new design changes are unnecessary. Technically, this site could be a list of semantic HTML tags with nothing else. I do want to take some creative liberty.

I realize that while bland websites are interesting to me for accessibility reasons, there’s so much I can do with the web. Building this personal website is like a hobby to me. I am on vacation but I am still thinking a bit about this site. When I have nothing else to work on, this site is here for me. I’ll probably never stop tinkering with it. I want to find my own style. My own style isn’t completely barebones. It’s one that is both accessible and unique. I’m still exploring exactly what that means. For now, it means more color, an image or two, and the same amount of love as always.

  1. This post was longer than I expected. I’m still tired. 

  2. The background has a hidden code. Email me at jamesg [at] jamesg [dot] app if you figure out what it means. :wink: 

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