It’s well known that we make judgements about anything – resumes, attractiveness, interests – within seconds. Websites are no different. We’re in a constant state of scanning & analyzing web content, trying to decide what we like and whether a page is worth a deeper look. This all comes down to visuals. You can have exceptionally well-written, witty, quirky, and downright interesting things to say, but you can also undermine all of that with a poorly-designed website. And here’s the thing: in the words of Austin Kleon, “Creativity is subtraction.” So no, you don’t need to worry yourself over fancy HTML and things like that, especially if web design isn’t your forte. Make it simple, stupid!
The following are three food websites that I love, each with a different design. Some are a little more complicated than others. But all of them are methodical, like a clean, organized kitchen. And if we’re going to take this metaphor and run with it, make your design simple and accessible, make your kitchen neat & clean, so that you can get up to some mischief. So that you can be creative, and messy, and ultimately have something to show for it. Did I also mention these food photographs are…amazing? Avoid the urge to stroke your screen.
Love & Lemons is a blog run by a couple based in Austin. Everything about the site, from the programming to photography to design, is a joint effort. It has a wonderfully quirky, retro design (I adore the font they use) and they have an ideal number of photos per post. This is something I think is pretty important: unless all of your photos are well-lit, sharp, and serve your “step-by-step” purpose well, keep it under 4. Some bloggers use more photos to take an instructional approach, like the Pioneer Woman. In most cases, though, they end up superfluous, and a burden to your reader.
Fashionably Bombed is a mixologist blog run by two sisters. The site showcases their love of candy, colors, and creativity. They’re not afraid to amp up the saturation, get a little crazy with fonts, and wear sombreros. Their site is always a treat to visit, and the design is fun but doesn’t get out of hand a la 90’s Geocities. Scrolling through all of their juicy-looking drinks wakes you from your desk job food-porn surfing. All you want to do is fast-forward to Friday and grab a bathing suit and a blender.
From the Source is a website I got wind of thanks to Twitter, and I’m so glad I did. Michael Lamotte photographs local food, identifying the vendor and the source in an attempt to “promote small, local food purveyors and foster appreciation.” The site is at its most minimal, like a gallery, allowing one to focus only on the photos. At first I was struck by Lamotte’s photos are they are all black-and-white. Normally, color is essential for conveying the nature of food. But Lamotte’s photos are meant to be focused on in a deeper way, beautiful meditations on texture and light. Spend time with these photographs, and you begin to see things – the ripples and lines of slab bacon, the fractal-like pattern of romanesco broccoli, a portabello mushroom that Ansel Adams would have loved.