Like 90s hip-hop, The Web We Lost™ retains a near-mystical hold on the hearts and minds of those who were lucky enough to be part of it. Luke Dorny’s recent, lovingly hand-carved redesign of his personal site encompasses several generations of that pioneering creative web. As such, it will repay your curiosity.

Details, details.

Check Luke’s article page for textural, typographic, and interactive hat tips to great old sites from the likes of k10k, Cameron Moll, Jason Santa Maria, and more. 

And don’t stop there; each section of the updated lukedorny.com offers its own little bonus delights. Like the floating titles (on first load) and touchable, complex thumbnail highlights on the “observer” (AKA home) page. 

And by home page, I don’t mean the home page that loads when you first hit the site: that’s a narrow, fixed-width design that’s both a tribute and a goof.

No, I mean the home page that replaces that narrow initial home page once the cookies kick in. Want to see the initial, fixed-width home page again? I’m not sure that you can. Weird detail. Cool detail. Who thinks of such things? Some of us used to.

And don’t miss the subtle thrills of the silken pull threads (complete with shadows) and winking logo pull tab in the site’s footer. I could play with that all day.

Multiply animated elements, paths, and shadows bring life to the footer of Luke Dorny’s newly redesigned website.

Now, no site exactly needs those loving details. But danged if they don’t encourage you to spend time on the site and actually peruse its content

There was a time when we thought about things like that. We knew people had a big choice in which websites they chose to visit. (Because people did have a big choice back in them days before social media consolidation.) And we worked to be worthy of their time and attention.

Days of future past

We can still strive to be worthy by sweating details and staying alive to the creative possibilities of the page. Not on every project, of course. But certainly on our personal sites. And we don’t have to limit our creative love and attention only to our personal sites. We pushed ourselves, back then; we can do it again.

In our products, we can remember to add delight as we subtract friction.

And just as an unexpected bouquet can brighten the day for someone we love, in the sites we design for partners, we can be on the lookout for opportunities to pleasantly surprise with unexpected, little, loving details.

Crafted with care doesn’t have to mean bespoke. But it’s remarkable what can happen when, in the early planning stage of a new project, we act as if we’re going to have to create each page from scratch.

In calling Luke Dorny’s site to your attention, I must disclaim a few things:

  • I haven’t run accessibility tests on lukedorny.com or even tried to navigate it with images off, or via the keyboard.
  • Using pixel fonts for body copy, headlines, labels, and so on—while entirely appropriate to the period Luke’s celebrating and conceptually necessary for the design to work as it should—isn’t the most readable choice and may cause difficulty for some readers.
  • I haven’t tested the site in every browser and on every known device. I haven’t checked its optimization. For all I know, the site may pass such tests with flying colors, but I tend to think all this beauty comes at a price in terms of assets and bandwidth. 

Nevertheless, I do commend this fine website to your loving attention. Maybe spend time on it instead of Twitter next time you take a break?

I’ll be back soon with more examples of sites trying harder.


Simulcast on zeldman.com

Posted by apartness

“King of Web Standards”—Bloomberg Businessweek. Principal Designer and Creative Director, Automattic. Founder & Publisher, A List Apart Magazine. Co-founder, An Event Apart UX and front-end design conference with Eric Meyer. Publisher and co-founder with Jason Santa Maria of A Book Apart—brief books for web and interaction designers. Have written two books, notably the foundational web standards text, Designing With Web Standards, currently in a 3rd Edition co-authored with Ethan Marcotte. It has been translated into 15 languages, including Italian, Chinese, Hungarian, Polish and Portuguese. Faculty member on the MFA, Interaction Design program at School of Visual Arts, New York. Host of The Big Web Show (“Everything Web That Matters”). In 2012, was the first designer inducted in the SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame. But what I really want to do is direct.