Where contrast is a cornerstone element of immediate impression for any website home page, I decided to completely under-utilize Adobe’s design products to achieve that end for my submission in the Interface Design portion of Digital Media studies at Conestoga College. Foregoing drop shadows, gradients and the myriad of other subtle and finite adjustments available through products like Photoshop and Illustrator, I decided to emulate the two-dimensional designs of the 1960s, focusing on bold solid colors, large block shapes and a one- or two-color palette selection that would have been a prime budget consideration back in the day when color separation and reproduction were costly and time-consuming. Beginning with a five-swatch palette drawn from album-cover art for A Hard Day’s Night (a truly classic album-cover design), I settled on red as the main color choice and decided to completely let the design breath (or, have lots of space uncluttered by text or inset graphics). I also ignored traditional approaches toward logos (which we had to design and incorporate into our submission). Where designers tend to size logos down and set them in tandem with a company name set in large text, I allowed my logo (the stylized “M” and circle on the left side of the image) to dominate the canvass, set left-justified with simple buttons right-aligned to follow the PARC rules of design. The final mock-up (submitted as a Fireworks file) had simple rollover buttons and the five small cream-colored circles running down the right margin were set as disjointed rollovers to five images that would appear on the page as portfolio examples by the fictitious design company Midnight Designs.
As is the nature of academic assignments (or projects in general), there was a list of criteria, and while I was happy enough to creatively meet the requirements, I don’t know that I would have included a Links button on the main page. Contemporarily, it feels to me like an honorary design practice from the early days of websites, and while links are always useful and welcome, I think their placement within a site (or even their inclusion) should carefully be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The name Midnight Designs was inspired by Midnight Productions, a name invented in the mid-1980s for a four-track analog recording studio co-owned and operated by Gord Bell when he was bassist for a band I was in called the Stray Katz. Indeed, the stylized logo in my submission is a contemporary take on a basic design created by Gord. So the assignment felt a bit like a client project, and was personally rewarding. The final project was rendered for submission as a Fireworks file.