Victor first got into web design in a way many will relate to – designing Neopets guild layouts and forum signatures on a pirated copy of Photoshop, for example. But aside from this, with his mum working as a taxi driver, Victor explains that art and design weren’t directly on his radar growing up. It was a few great art teachers – who let him tinker away on computers during art lessons – that helped his passion grow. One in particular, who had previously taught at Kingston, nudged him towards a graphic design degree at the institution. Since graduating, Victor has worked as a designer for the BBC and Parliament. Recently, however, Victor quit his job to focus on making websites for projects more aligned with his personal interests.
In realizing the Mater website, one of the elements both Victor and Maddie are most proud of is the top section of each contribution. “It was offered a space to play with imagery, transforming it in some way to develop a low-carbon common expression,” Victor explains. The first interaction of this practice is visible on the Chapter One page. Here, each contribution is listed and the name of the author is visible, before transforming into an image – composed of textural dots – when the cursor moves over it. To compress these images in such a visually arresting way, Victor explains: “I wrote a little bit of code to crunch the artist’s images into tiny files, and then we exploded each image back to its original size, while erasing darker or lighter pixels, to see what remains.” For the second set of contributions, Victor explains that they needed something that didn’t involve as much processing. And so, Victor shrunk down images and laid them over supersized text. “It’s an inversion of how lots of websites handle this section – with large images and small text. But again it’s one driven by the desire to find a creative solution that keeps our impact on the planet as small as possible,” Victor details.
Looking to the future, Victor hopes that this low-carbon approach will be adopted and integrated by large companies. “The reality is that a tweak to a site loads of people visit, many of which are bloated with unnecessary code, will have a much bigger impact than something that only reaches a niche audience,” he says. Moreover, Victor sees there as being a massive untapped realm of expression waiting to be unearthed. “Low carbon doesn’t need to mean boring! So I hope a reconnection between the underlying material of the web and the websites we build can lead to a more creative, interesting internet.” Using intuition and creative problem solving, all the while creating something arresting, the Mater website itself is a testament to the fact that low-carbon web design doesn’t come at the expense of beautiful, complex visuals. Planning on building your own low-carbon website? Read on below for some handy advice.