Hiba Ali is an artist and scholar who’s work follows the flows of women of color employed in precarious labor and experiences of immigrants and refugees. As a doctorate student with frequent publications and exhibitions, Hiba found her website difficult to update and the presentation too constrictive for imagery from her exhibitions.

  • Services: Web Design, Web Development
  • Market: Contemporary Art, Higher Education,
  • Project Type: Portfolio

Choosing the Right Platform

Hiba’s previous website was built using Ruby templates on the Heroku platform. This situation, while being performant and highly customized, restricted content updates to just a few areas. To solve this, we decided to create Hiba’s website using a content management system (CMS). WordPress, was the first choice that came to mind, but instability in the Gutenberg Editor outweighed its ability to create flexible content. Therefore, we decided to try Grav, a lightweight CMS, which ended up being a great fit due to its weighting of simplicity over features.

Creative Direction

The design choices made focused on clear, legible typography since reading long articles would be one of the main activities for visitors to the website. Images were emphasized by allowing them to take up the full page width for a more immersive experience. Additionally, a masonry layout was used for its ability to clearly structure variable content such as portfolio pieces featuring images and articles focused on text.

Minimalist design was chosen to let visitors focus on the content of the site rather than its aesthetics, and to match the stylistic choices found in modern art galleries. However, the drawback of this presentation is that the simplicity that aids in legibility also appears sterile and uninspiring. Therefore, a palette of randomly displayed pastels were used as background colors that lent an element of intrigue for visitors while still allowing legibility. 

Moreover, to question strict hierarchies, one the main concepts of Hiba’s work, many of the titles and headings are fully lowercase. Round corners on content containers and waves were also used to soften the edges to address the binary, linear thought promoted in modern times.

Web design involves the technical processes fostered by computers and the creative thinking that is necessary when working to achieve human needs. Working with Hiba, we were reminded of how something creative, inspiring, and meaningful can grow from a set of simple objectives.