Why I dropped the simplicity bomb on www.brendandawes.com
Ten years ago I started www.brendandawes.com, my personal site where I store all my personal projects. The site was full of good intentions—a section for news, an experimental area, a so called sketches area and then a projects area. It sounded like a good plan at the time.
Years later however I found I had a news section that hadn't been updated for two years. And what was the difference between "sketches" and "projects" anyway? Cinema Redux was my most successful personal "project" yet was actually in "sketches". I now had a site that was part never updated blog and part confused archive. The stuff I wanted to show was being drowned out. It was a mess. It was full of noise, and what I needed was more signal.
So whilst on holiday in September—as I lay there in the sun doing nothing—I thought it's time for a radical change, time to go for the nuclear option and start again. So using my iPad I archived the entire site then wrote a mod_rewrite that directed every single request to a single text file that explained everything:
I've decided brendandawes.com needs to start afresh. It's time to get back to something very simple, without categories, sections, blog posts, comments or any other distractions or unneeded noise. I simply want my site to do one thing; to show the things that I've made in as simple a way as possible.
In sound engineering, when you leave the studio it's good practice to "zero the desk" - turning every control to a null state, ready for the next session. I'm zeroing the desk right now. If you need to get hold of me you can email bren (at) brendandawes.com. Be back soon. Brendan Dawes September 2010.
The stage was now set. So after getting back from holiday I started to look back through all the things I've done over the last ten years (personal not commercial) and I began to filter, only keeping the things I thought were OK.
But I still needed a simple way to simply show the work. I didn't want a blog. I didn't want comments. I didn't even want different sections. I wanted a system that allowed me to concentrate on adding the work, not building a website. So I chose Indexhibit. For me it was perfect for my needs and allowed me to worry about the work, not the infrastructure of displaying the work.
And then I erased my entire server. Everything. Yes old links were dead. I didn't care. This was year zero. And it felt good, really good. Now the things I've made were right upfront, without any noise surrounding them. The site itself isn't going to win any awards or get featured on awesomefuckingwebsites.com.
The site is exactly what I want it to be, no more no less. It's a simple as it can be but no more than that. I'm trying to bring inherent simplicity to everything I do, taking things away till there's nothing left to take-away, so the thing left behind can be as good and as pure as it possibly can be.
My final note is this:
YOUR PERSONAL SITE IS YOUR SHELF SPACE, AND YOU DECIDE WHAT GOES ON YOUR SHELVES.