Web International Awards

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OCT 2009 3

Awesome interview with Tyler Finck, horizontal websites enthousiast and developer

Tyler Finck's website screenshot

Webia: Hello Tyler. Tell us something about yourself and your background?

Tyler: I grew up outside Portland, Maine (USA) in an environment that promoted creativity: arts, crafts, music, space to explore. I left Maine to pursue a film degree which I received from Ithaca College, New York (USA). However, I ended up enjoying the fine arts - such as drawing, designing or music - more than cinema. I did pick up a basic web development class along the way which started with notepad HTML building and concluded with Dreamweaver rollover buttons. From that point forward, everything I learned technically I picked up on my own or by watching someone better do it. Creatively I've been continually inspired by music and analog design though I still appreciate a wonderful website.

Webia: You grew up in a creative environment. Does thinking back to those days help your inspiration or were those days just the kick you needed to pursue a creative career?

Tyler: Those days were pretty special but at the same time I was learning so much in the process, whether it was structured or not. While I'm still learning now I think less about "how" to get something to look or feel the way I want. I definitely think back to those times for inspiration, for "why" my work looks or feels the way it does.

Webia: You're inspired by analog design. Are there any galleries you go trough in search of inspiration? Offline or online.

Tyler: There aren't any places I turn to but rather two completely different offline sources: my son and music. With a four year-old I'm constantly reminded to look at things from a younger, simpler perspective. That has allowed me to relax a bit as a designer and artist. Music has a huge impact on my visual world, both listening to it and creating it. I'm still really inspired by what design accompanies musicians, whether it is album art, hard copy or electronic, concert posters or videos from YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo or wherever bands are posting them.

gavincastleton.com screenshot

Webia: Your site Sursly and Gavin's are quite unique. Their navigation systems are unique. Tell us about how you came up with the idea of such a navigation system.

Tyler: I had seen a lot of vertical smooth scrolling websites and while I loved them, I just wanted to move sideways. I stumbled upon The Horizontal Way and realized that I could have a little fun during that transition between "frames". I developed my site about 6 months before Gavin's site, so I learned a lot in the process. His site uses a different script that actually allows for diagonal scrolling, vertical and horizontal. It was developed by the folks at ScripterLative and works differently than similar scripts. I actually tried to get in touch with those site developers, with no results unfortunately, because a friend and I modified the script to center the target destination horizontally in the browser.

Webia: The two sites have navigation in common, but sursly.com has some nice smooth lines and transitions and lots of whitespace while Gavin's site impresses with loads of visual elements and fast movements. If this is no secret, could you describe the difficulties that appeared while developing these two sites?

Tyler: Constant challenges with both sites were and still are bandwidth and load times. Keeping the graphics as small as possible on both sites is something I wrestled with and somewhat ignored in the end. My site has changed code-wise over the past year since I built it somewhat rushed, so it has always been a work in progress and was never meant to see the amount of attention and criticism that it has received, but that is okay. Gavin's site had to be a lot closer to "finished" on launch, even though I don't think a site is or should ever be finished. But because of that, I had a lot of content to work with which is always wonderful and challenging.

Webia: So you think a website should always be in progress as opposed to finished and forgotten. Why is that? Simply because there are always new technologies? Are you a perfectionist?

Tyler: I can be a bit of a perfectionist but I'm more concerned with keeping content updated and visuals fresh. Easier said than done, I know and I urge clients, friends and anyone else with a web presence to not think their site or blog are set in stone. At the same time it is self-serving as you're hurting yourself by having a copyright in the footer that is two years old. Laziness shows, every time.

Webia: Why jQuery to power such sites? Flash can do basically the same things, and you get to play visually in order to build it, while jQuery needs programming, math and so on.

carrotcreative.com screenshot

Tyler: Even though I'm comfortable in Flash and could have accomplished something similar with both sites in half the time, it just wasn't new to me, or interesting. I think a lot of people probably followed me on Twitter or sent emails because it wasn't Flash, which is kind of what I was going for. I didn't focus on iphones or mobile, flash-less platforms as a delivery method, but I'm happy that the site at least shows up, broken or not, on a lot of devices. A big "sorry" out there to you folks with slow internet though.

Webia: What are your favorite blogs you're subscribed to and would warmly recommend?

Tyler: Smashing Magazine is always a decent resource, even if they're not necessarily the first ones to find something. The amount of useful information over there is overwhelming. I've been lurking around Khoi Vinh, Veerle Pieters, and Elliot Jay Stocks blogs for years now, never disappointed… And there is a wonderful cactus blogging at Wendy the Cactus that I can't get enough of.

Webia: What are your favorite horizontal scrolling websites?

Tyler: The only horizontal one I can think of off the top of my head and really enjoy is Carrot Creative. Very well done.

Webia: To round things up, any tips and tricks, things to look out when developing a horizontal scrolling website?

Tyler:Less is WAY more, leave Flash behind, and try something different.

Published on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 at 11:29 am in interviews.

About Bogdan Pop

Bogdan Pop is a young Romanian entrepreneur who runs WebRaptor. He is a web developer with awesome design skills, who enjoys writing about everyday's work and usability. He relaxes by taking photos every once in a while and by mixing french electronic music. Connect with him via Twitter.
  1. Trackback says: November 2nd, 2009 at 4:31 am

    […] Interview With Tyler Finck, Horizontal Websites Enthousiast And Developer […]

  2. Showcase says: November 5th, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    […] just published a great interview about horizontal websites in which Tyler Finck has shared his knowledge and thoughts with us. Keeping that topic, today we […]

  3. Eric says: August 22nd, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Nice suggestion on image sizing and keeping bandwidth down. I’ve always run into such problems. Thanks for sharing your input on the matter. Great interview.


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