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I find myself occasionally smitten with the very tiny, very minimalist sites on the web. Websites found at the 1MB club, the well known "best motherfucking websites" out there.
It always makes me think: shouldn't I be doing this too? Is there any way I can implement that on my existing sites? What would I lose and what would I gain?
I am a minimalist outside of the web. I like avoiding visual clutter. My walls and my furniture are white, my doors are white. I try to find most stuff that will be displayed in white. I wish my floors were white too, but they aren't. My home is something like Kim Kardashians all white home, if she wasn't rich and lived in an apartment instead.
At the same time, I like to avoid bloat, wanna use less energy and resources, and care about the climate. I implement some zero waste ideas in my life to save on plastic and packaging.
Why not then remove the "packaging" of a website, or make it as clean and blank looking as my home? It would further accessibility too - better readability, better mobile compatibility, quick internet speeds, saving mobile data, working on older machines and browsers like Lynx. So whats not to love?
The thing holding me back is the implications such a design has for me as a person compared to others.
Others who may use such a minimalist, lightweight and focused design are different from me. They may be male, they may be older, they may have a portfolio full of amazing tech stuff they have built. They are cut-to-the-chase people, they may not be artistically creative but they are seen as very logical and good at tech things. I get the impression that when they do it, they have enough of their work, their personality and other markers such as gender or age working to ensure others are seeing it as the deliberate choice that it is, and not lack of skill.
Meanwhile I, on the other side, have so much left to prove due to a young age, still having to build more things and increase my portfolio, and also gender and looks. There is still a bias against women in tech, if not in the job field, it happens privately online. It is similar to my online gaming years as a teen - even if you don't want to, you are kind of assumed to be a noob who's carried by male members and coddled by white knights, and you have to work twice as hard to prove you can do it. If you succeed, then that means /you/ are one of the "good ones" and an exception. If you fail, you are proof that women just can't do it. There are lots of places and niche hobbies you somehow have to carry the image of your whole gender on your shoulders, and it kinda sucks. You don't wanna prove anyone right who has a negative view, but it's also unfair to have to carry that.
What doesn't aid me is femininity. Usually, good looks and adhering to societal standards of beauty can get you some advantages, since people think you're kinder and more competent on average when they perceive you as attractive. I find the opposite is true of some more tech or nerd spaces, where you are expected to strip yourself of, or basically completely denounce, femininity. The more masculine people perceive you there, the more it seems to make sense for them that you are into male interests and the more competent they seem to subconsciously think you are.
The impression I got all the time in this life is that if you are a woman in tech who is not conventionally attractive, wears baggy nerd shirts and no makeup, you are somewhat more accepted and one of the bros. Meanwhile, if you are conventionally attractive, wearing makeup, long hair, dresses, get your nails done, or even like the color pink, then you are somewhat perceived as a dumb bimbo. It is assumed that you suck at math, you don't understand how computers work, and you must be into this field to impress men. No way you did that yourself, your boyfriend must have coded that for you.
Unfortunately, I am the "dumb bimbo" who has long hair, long lashes, a very feminine body, likes to wear dresses and revealing clothing sometimes, occasionally makeup, has her nails done and loves pink. I have a doll-ish looking face, looking younger than I actually am, and I am conventionally attractive. People assume that I am straight and ask me about boyfriends all the time.
I actually do suck at math; I have dyscalculia. However, one day I decided I wouldn't let that be my limit anymore and I can do a good job regardless, even if I need more resources, easier language and different examples for some math explanations - and at worst, just learn it by heart and accept that's what the correct thing is and move on.
So from general experience, I am used to people nodding and smiling in a condescending way when I talk about tech stuff because they seem to assume that I am parroting something I overheard my boyfriend say (I don't have one). I am used to people being surprised that I am responsible for our database at work, and I am used to telling people something about said database and they don't believe me until my male coworker says it. I am used to my male coworker telling others that I am the official contact but they ask him anyway. My job was previously done by a man and I can tell that since I have it, some people think that job just vanished and there is no one to contact about issues anymore. It's been over 2 years and sometimes people still debate reaching out to that guy instead, who hasn't even seen the database in that entire time and works somewhere else.
Even completely removed from any tech side of it - I also love making art in my freetime as a hobby. I don't intend to monetize it ever, which is great because I don't have to appeal to an audience to sell things. I don't technically have to give a damn about what someone thinks of my site relating to art. However, so many artists' websites are really elaborate and art in itself, showing their skills and style off perfectly and giving the viewer a really cohesive experience between the art itself and the website it is presented on. The website serves as its own little frame for the art, underlining aspects of it and making it pop. It's so much better than a timeline.
With that in mind, is anyone ever going to take you seriously as an artist if your site is just black and white text, no pictures? Or what if the pictures are there, adding a bit to the bloat, but they are presented one by one in just a very lackluster way? Are you really going to be seen as skilled and creative? I think this presentation can really harm how people see you and your art skills. Not having a creative website to go with your art almost seems insulting or lazy. We want the artists website to be an interactive work of art.
So far, that means my creative personal website just offers a minimalist summary page if you click the minimalist mode button. It doesn't really offer as much in terms of the advantages listed above and it is not as radical and clear of a message as the small, minimalist websites committing to it fully. But it is one step.
I will grow older, I will build my projects and portfolios; I will make an impact, and maybe the world will grow kinder, more openminded and accepting too. Maybe in the future, I will be able to have a website like that without looking unskilled, lazy or uncreative.
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