At first, was the custom (though very basic) Wordpress wedding website I put together for Livvy and myself.

I had wanted to do something custom partially because I didn’t like any of the existing wedding website builders, and partially because I had some kind of pride as a graphic designer around my own ability to put a website together. I had also wanted to craft something with care, I think, and that involved dialing things in exactly how I wanted, including a custom domain. I can’t actually remember what it looked like—and it seems I didn’t take any screenshots—but from what I remember the execution did not at all match my ambitions.

After our wedding, I repurposed it as my new design portfolio. I messed around with customizing a different Wordpress theme, and worked at loading up all the projects that had a chance at gaining me employment. It served its purpose well, helping me get my apprenticeship at Upstatement, and a brief contract gig with another Boston area studio after that.

When Livvy was getting ready to graduate from her coding bootcamp a few years later, we started to talk about making the site a joint portfolio. She now had her own projects, and was starting the kind of career for which a portfolio could be handy. But she landed a job before we could get around to it, and glided into her next job using Notion pages.

On my end, after starting Types & Symbols with Mark I was pretty set on making it work, so the site remained a mostly neglected catalog of old work. Professionally speaking, Livvy and I both understood the potential value in having a current portfolio site, but we simply didn’t need it enough.

But after five years of being married, I began to feel a couple of things. First was that we had started to accumulate a long list of non-professional but personally meaningful projects, some individual and some collaborative, and it could be nice to have a home for them. The second was that the management and communication of some those projects (Fortnight, Moonlight, Sabbath Dinner, Summery, Church) might deserve to be upgraded from a scattered set of links on Notion pages. The last was that I really liked living and creating with Livvy, and it would be nice to give our marriage and its output the kind of attention and care that I give to my design clients.

So for one pandemic Moonlight project, I finally got started.

It’s been almost two years since then, and progress has been slow. In that time we’ve had lots of other side projects to work on, content to consume, and socializing to do. There was also a major move in there. I’ve been slow to design and Livvy has been slow to code.

At first we simply put the writing pages up, so I could post a birthday reflection. Then we got the events pages up, so we could promote another Summery. And then we hurriedly put up some projects in time for our first (and maybe last?) Eyeo Festival. Lately we’ve been on a little bit more of a kick, though I’m sure we’ll fall behind and continue to be very forgiving to ourselves about it.

Like our wedding website, it has not yet matched my ambitions. But the progress, though glacial, has been tremendously satisfying. And the thing I keep feeling is that we are arriving somewhere; that we are building and settling in to a place. And I think it’s because our most cherished possessions are immaterial. The things we care most about are either transitory or non-physical. They are ideas or plans or experiences or content. To make a place for those things—to build a home for them that we can invite people to—it feels like we’re building a home for our selves.

The site is and will always be in progress. It will get polished and revised and redone. I’ll probably revise these reflections as well. But here are some things that have gone into it so far, and some things I’m looking forward to getting to.

Branding: Leading up to our wedding I designed a monogram for us. That, paired with Maison Neue and Calluna, and a handful of colors, was the extent of our visual identity. In coming back to this after all that time I wanted to take the opportunity to revisit that. At the time I think I was going for something really clean and corporate. I don’t think that instinct was entirely off (and I find it really hard to improve on Maison Neue), but the identity did lack some humor and warmth. This time around, Livvy and I went through a brand tone exercise and arrived at the idea of coming across as “playfully serious.” Which led to the choice to go with “Ruiz & Knott,” the slightly top-heavy custom wordmark, and the inclusion of testimonials, among other things.

Type: I’ve been dabbling in type design for a few years, and inspired by a few other people I decided I wanted make my own fonts for our site. They are still pretty rough, but I’ve enjoyed getting to sink this much time into something that’s just for us. And using them on our site is a good way to test them—I’ve caught a lot of poor kerning, drawing errors, and missing glyphs from using them in a real context.

Image handling Rather minor, but I’ve always felt like the way images of different orientations are handled on mobile feels a little off. Things that are portrait tend to get more real estate by default, which makes them seem more important hierarchically. In project preview and page toppers, I’ve explored decreasing the width of portrait images so they feel more balanced. Still in progress.

Color themes: I’ve liked the idea of of having colors change based on the season, day of the week, or time of day. This is very much still in progress, but the basic theming necessary for this has started to come together. Dark mode for the current set has also been designed, but I still have to work on the UI for selecting it.

Structure: So far we have projects, writing, and events pages, but we want to also include pages for visitors (we host out-of-towns friends a few times a year) and a section for recommendations.

Audience- and user-specific views: This idea encompasses a range of things, from privacy gradients (certain things are only visible to specific friends, all friends, family, employers, the public, etc.) to custom collections of projects or recommendations made for individual people or groups.

Microsites: Earlier I mentioned upgrading the management and communication of certain projects from Notion to something nicer. In addition to this there are a few web app prototypes we’ve made. It would be nice to include these on here, as independent parts of the site, using their own branding, but still getting tied in with their URLs.

I plan to update and expect to neglect this list as we continue work on some of these areas. One thing, not listed here, that I can now check off is adding more pieces of writing to the currently slim writing list.

Thanks for visiting.