How We Created My Website: Designing with Text in Mind

For design of my new website, I turned to a good friend who is a very gifted graphic designer. We’ll call him Ben Harmon, because he prefers to remain anonymous and focus on his other artistic pursuits. I told Ben I wanted a light, clean feel to the site, and we agreed that the text was the focal point, but needed a strong design to avoid feeling text-heavy.

I also asked him to come up with some kind of homepage graphic that illustrated the act of listening. And I wanted to use white, black and red—mainly because I like that combination for its crispness, but also because it ties to the cover of my book, Trees at Risk, which we link to from this site.

A New Web Typeface
The result is what you see here—meeting all of those criteria beautifully. To convey attention to detail and an appreciation for surprise, Ben encouraged me to try out a new typeface, Chaparral Pro. We used to embed this font, now that websites are no longer limited to the standard defaults of Arial, Tahoma, Verdana and Times Roman.

Highlighting Key Concepts
He used the type to pull out key concepts in the text, both to make it easy to skim and to enhance the design. We played with a cup phone for the homepage illustration of listening, to introduce an element of fun. I directed his photo shoot of my portrait, which I wanted in black-and-white to tie into the color scheme and to use as an unexpected design element. Ben also added some beautiful touches, such as the shaded fields with disappearing questions in the Contact form.

Overall, the design is full of subtle surprises and well-reflects my personal aesthetic, demonstrating how I approach both medium and message. Let me know your reactions to my new site. And please tell me how you found me!

Next: The Web Coding Challenge

Credit: Free images from

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