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Site planning

Website planning on Procreate 5th July. Got into the zone, and well beyond it into de Bono parallel thinking.

Drawn on a budget 2018 iPad using Procreate which turned out to be a pretty useful alternative to the usual Moleskins. Being able to edit anything easily is handy but there’s something about using an ink pen on paper for this kind of thing. Something to do probably with only moving forward on a trajectory of thinking by being locked in with every thought by indelible ink in a nice book.

In brainstorming/planning sessions I start with a strong coffee, my pen in the top left corner, and I write the date. If the mood is right it becomes almost fully-automatic writing from there, which can last for hours, with one thought leading to the next and all sorts of ideas popping up. I started here with just a couple of thoughts initially on what I wanted to do with my website. I had a Jimdo online store account for a year but not enough traffic and sales to justify the fees, and once the account expired I thought I could set up a simple page to handle that stuff, more or less. Then I got to thinking of the comics I wanted to upload to the main site, and that led to ideas about category/menu changes, including an integrated mini-comics and image gallery, and more significantly, the idea of releasing Life in the Gutter incrementally as a webcomic.

Thinking about how to layout a minicomic and image gallery, and how they would link to process entries.

Here I’m thinking about all the work I’ve just laid out for myself and if it might be better to pay someone to do it. A quick pros and cons list lays that to rest.

Now, if I’m going to start a serialized, ongoing, Life in the Gutter webcomic, what exactly does that mean, and how do I release it. Sometimes I don’t need to write down all the details, and just writing the words nice and big on the page allows me to feel if its a good idea or not.

After spending half of my ‘research day’ skimming over my exegesis, there’s a bit of motivation to do something with it. I’ve got a tendency to make things and then move on, but I should probably invest a little energy and time milking them afterward. So here, thinking about whether I could release the exegesis in parts on Storybordello, another enforced revision and updating process. Lots of benefits here, with one big possible con. If I submit a paper to a journal, will it fail their submission requirements, i.e. does putting chunks up on my site constitute prior publishing? Something to look into.

Okay now, so at this point, I’m still bubbling away. I’ve got an idea of the different categories I’d like to add, and now I’m keen to start laying them out and seeing where I can integrate what I have, with the aim to make the site as clean as possible, avoiding too many different menu selections and folders within folders. Here’s how the homepage looks at the time of planning, pretty clean and logical, but could it be better?

And so I go, listing the existing and the proposed, and at the bottom a quick menu mudmap.

Can I make it simpler? Can I combine more stuff into fewer categories with more ambiguous titles? Can I have an array of posts that self-sort in pleasing ways, with a comic panel aesthetic? Is a tag cloud something that could be useful, where a user can click on a keyword, leading to all the various entries with that tag? Am I making things simpler or more convoluted?

Here’s where things get parallel. My brain at this point has become hooked into a design process, and I’m helpless, only able to observe as I run this to its end point. This is what I’m thinking- first, what someone visits the site, and the title appears, something like this.

Then a bunch of tags and categories in little clouds, like thought bubbles, start to pop up. First, the categories appear in big clouds, and then the tags in smaller clouds. Clicking on any of these takes the user to a thread of posts either under that category or with that tag. But is that too chaotic? 

Would it be better to stay with something more organized, and in a way even simpler? How would a feed look like with 3 columns, each displaying posts under a specific category? Which posts go under each new category to keep things as simple and intuitive as possible? What am I making now, and what would this look like with the posts I’ve yet to make under this proposed restructure?

Refining, refining, simplifying, some obfuscation in honour of my fine arts friends.

I take this as far as it’s enjoyable before it becomes truly an exercise in time wasting, playing with the idea that these columns appear as slides on rolls of film. Which could be cool, but the trouble and effort of setting something like this up outweighs any potential benefits. 

This brainstorming process is something I do quite often. At its worst, it ends up a big doodling session, and aids in getting down stuff I’m already fully conscious of. At its best, the process allows me to crystallize less tangible thoughts, pulling others into existence that were previously unconsidered. Doing it on an iPad proved much handier than I’d anticipated, and a big advantage of that is Procreate’s time-lapse recording process, which you can watch below if you’re really bored. I guess this kind of thing is mostly just useful for me and I’d be surprised if many people were interested enough to make it this far. If you did, add a comment and let me know what you think. Do you use any processes like this?