Tuesday, December 16, 2008, 10:28 AM
After a couple of years of design and an intense final few months of production, today we're finally flipping the switch on the new pressureprinting.com.
Though the things we make –one of a kind handmade fine art prints made of real stuff like paper and ink– are about as far from the internet as you can get, in many ways one could call us a web company. All of our business takes place on the web, and for the sizable majority of you who've never toured our Denver, Colorado headquarters and who don't buy each and every project, Pressure Printing really is the website; it's the only way in which you interface with us and our projects. It's a pretty important part of who we are and what we do.
The old site served us tremendously well over its long, long life (circa 2002 - yesterday, R.I.P.). Like "Whip It" and your parents, it was rather radical in its day. We used Macromedia Flash for a neato scrolling-artists-names-navigation-bar. The site was entirely made up of images so that we could freely utilize fonts outside of the "web-safe" canon and have big, beautiful photography. Back in those days (before anyone knew what a YouTube was and MapQuest was blowing peoples' minds) it may have taken a little while to load on your 56k modem but once it did, www.pressureprinting.com was a pretty slick little site.
Time passed. As our list of artists grew longer the scrolling artist nav bar grew increasingly akin to a carousel, where one had to grope fleetingly for passing brass rings, and less like a workable user interface. Screen resolutions doubled and tripled but our website stayed the same size, eventually becoming a tiny box adrift in a huge, seemingly wasted sea of black. We made jokes about not being able to work with any new artists for lack of space on the front page ("Sorry, Mr. Crumb, but facts are facts and we're out of real estate"), and then nervously laughed, and then became silent.
We were overdue for a change.
And so a couple of years ago we started sketching some stuff out on paper and talking of something new. There would be bigger photography of course. A simple, streamlined, classic-looking design that would put everything you wanted at your fingertips and never get in the way of the art. Words like "honest," "clean," and "best website ever" came up whenever we discussed the look and feel of the thing. Here's an early version:
And here's a later one:
We went back and forth on whether it should be on black or white more than a few times.
Seeing as how most of our stuff is either on white paper or in black frames, there was no easy choice, but after much deliberation and a brief, misguided foray into grey we settled on the purer, brighter, cleaner, more gallery-esque choice.
Information moved from separate sections of the site into drop-down tabs, letting you learn more about various things without having to leave what you are looking at. We re-photographed every project, exchanging the dramatic, moody lighting of our old site for a clean and clear aesthetic which emphasizes texture and volume. What you see on the site is exactly what you get when you receive your print.
And a tiny subsection of the early versions of the site –a timeline of the history of Pressure Printing– came out of nowhere to really become the new site. As we fiddled and fussed we discovered that a timeline was an ideal way to organize all of our content on a single, clean, organized page which encouraged exploration, conveyed a wealth of information, and just plain looked good. Being able to quickly flick around and see all of the projects from the get-go instead of choosing from a text list was a huge leap. And with all of the projects there on view we could establish a few relationships between them. Obviously they are all laid out chronologically, so one can see at a glance what's new, what's old, and indeed the entire arc of Pressure Printing's history. But just as importantly, every project is displayed at relative scale. For the first time people can see just how big, say, "Exorcism" really is, in a way that reading "36in x 36in" doesn't fully convey. And once you click on something, we've tried to make drilling down into a project's detail images and information as seamless, intuitive, and silky-smooth as possible.
Design in hand, we worked with one of our closest friends and and longest-running associates to to realize it in all of its timeline-y, interactive glory as a full-fledged, honest to goodness, database driven, dynamic website / showcase / e-commerce solution.
Our sincere hope is that this second major version of pressureprinting.com is as unique, useful, and as eye-catching in the winter of 2008 as v1.0 was in the summer of 2002. We're ecstatic to finally get it out the door and share it with the world.