Tanit Sakakini is a commercial photographer and aspiring director based in Los Angeles. Her work is so completely unique and attention-grabbing that you can’t help but be sucked into the surreal world she creates. Tanit came to us wanting to re-evaluate her portfolio website and entire online presence. After some thought, she decided to move forward with a Web Template Customization, followed by a blog customization. We were excited to work with Tanit because she’s extremely passionate and has a vision all her own.
Tanit’s existing site definitely suited her style but was more of an artistic statement in itself, which made it difficult to navigate through her work and appreciate it without being distracted. The existing site was Flash-based, opened up fullscreen in a pop-up window, and had an embedded eery soundtrack that you couldn’t control or turn off. The main issues with the site were that it wasn’t mobile-friendly and there were multiple elements distracting from the work itself, including the soundtrack, short looping background videos, and confusing site navigation.
After a few phone calls to discuss web template options, the process, and our approach, we got to work. We decided on PhotoFolio’s Design X template, which is a mobile-optimized template with lots of customization options. Tanit recently had a new logo designed which was much simpler than her existing one, but also eye-catching and cohesive with her style. She sent us several color variations, but the one we were most drawn to was the black-and-white version.
We wanted to loop in the quirky and unexpected feeling of Tanit’s existing site but with a more subtle and less disruptive effect. We did this by having the logo fade in and out as a splash page element while setting the background as a very pale grey, allowing the black and white logo and navigation to really pop. We also set an intriguing and mysterious image to be fullscreen on Tanit’s landing page, setting horizontal images to line up and overlap Tanit’s name at the ’n’, and then chose a mosaic grid style with no padding between images as the style for her thumbnails in each gallery.
The design of Tanit’s About and Contact pages are now more simple and conventional, but her bio is interesting, and the black, pale grey and white motif really carries over in the link and hover styles on her Contact page.
Once we wrapped up the design of Tanit’s new website, we moved on to her blog. Tanit chose to have her new blog on Tumblr since she wanted to take advantage of the creative community there, and we found a responsive theme that I was able to customize so it feels cohesive with her portfolio site.
One additional thing we want to call out, beyond the actual design of Tanit’s site, is the value of vision and collaboration during this process. Tanit and ourselves may come from different creative backgrounds and didn’t always see eye-to-eye on everything as we redesigned her site, but in each instance, she communicated her vision and we made sure to give her our professional opinion when we felt things may not come across well to her site visitors. While projects can seem easier when you agree on everything, we think together we reached a lot of solutions and ideas that we otherwise wouldn’t have without that creative discussion. Our different perspectives culminated into something much greater and made for an even more rewarding collaboration.
We asked Tanit to send us a brief quote about our work together on her new site, and this is what she had to share:
I love working with a creative person who has a different sensibility and skill set from my own, but who I trust entirely. Then it becomes fun handing over your work and ideas and seeing how they interpret them or where they take them. This was my experience working with Melissa. In particular, I appreciated our dialogue around the areas we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on. I think in creative work people are sometimes afraid to step on someone else’s toes by having a different opinion, but I love when people really care about what they’re making and are passionate about a point of view, as Melissa is, because then the project takes on a life of its own and becomes bigger than just your own idea. I know maybe that sounds a bit over-the-top, talking about building a website, but there were a few points where this happened on our project together and I thought, wow, this is cool – I’m really excited about what we’re doing here.
For a complete before and after critique of Tanit’s site, you can watch our screencast below:
Tanit’s new site is now live and looking great, so be sure to check that out right here.