In a few months, ekynoxe will celebrate 10 years on the web! There won’t be that many celebrations, but for me, it is a great marker to show that I keep doing what I do best, and what I enjoy the most professionally: websites.
Over 10 years, ekynoxe went through several changes, both in function and in design, and it is now my professional showcase and point of contact for prospective clients. Here’s how it got here.
I’ve been asked this question many times. Why “ekynoxe”? And why the strange spelling? I’ll clear the spelling one straight away since it’s the easier: there’s no special reason. The spelling “ekynoxe” is my take on the otherwise well known solar event, the equinox. I just needed it to be different, but very close or identical in pronunciation to the correct spelling. In French: “equinoxe” is pronounced the exact same way that you would pronounce “ekynoxe”, with a hard K and no “w” sound after it. It obviously gets lost in translation, but that spelling stuck.
Now for the meaty part: There are several elements into relating to the equinox in the first place, and although it wasn’t initially visible at all in the first identity, I kept evolving this as an integral part of the “brand” since then.
First what is an equinox? It is “the time or date (twice each year) at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of equal length (about 22 September and 20 March).” (Oxford dictionary) The link between me and these dates is simple: my name day in France is on September 21st, start of autumn, and often the autumnal equinox.
The early years
Back in 2004, I was in Wales with some friends for a computer course with our French university. As proper geeks, all my friends and I were starting to dab into websites, and wanted to create an identity for ourselves. At the time, it was a way to be personal amongst our group, and a way to be independent of pretty much any online service, as having our own domain name allowed to setup our own web and email servers.
That’s when I had a first taste of what the initial steps of creating a website are. Like many to this day, I quickly found an idea for the identity, but I didn’t have a real clue about content. What should I display online?
So much has happened since then, but the name stuck. It was July 2004 and “ekynoxe” was born.
At the beginning, the logo didn’t show much of the underlying meaning that ekynoxe had for me. It was only a photoshop doodle that I liked. However, I did have a go with the favicon to played around with a representation of this special date.
These early attempts came out as crude pixelated icons and small images. I’m pretty sure I’ve done the first ones in paint, but that’s what I could do at the time with limited tools and knowledge about graphics software I had.
The intention there was to have both elements of day and night included, with a moon crescent and rays more usually associated with the sun, or for the second iteration, the moon crescent looking like it was going to gobble up the sun. At the time I was incredibly proud that this little image was me!
Initially, the website was a simple photo gallery. I had coded it all by hand in notepad, and I was very proud of it! But aside from a few pretty photos I use to make back then, there wasn’t much on it. Oh! And it was dark. A fully black background, with only a touch of colour coming from the photos themselves. It was intentional, but in retrospect: a little bit depressing.
This first version lived on for quite a few years, and it’s only in 2007 that I started changing it.
After 2005, I greatly improved my illustrator and photoshop skills, and I tried a few more logo options. I had had a though about it, and I now wanted to try and present exactly which equinox I was talking about in the identity: the autumnal one. The following came out and was briefly used in a few sites, including on some of my first clients' for a reference back to my studio.
The new version of the website was still dark, but the actual definition of the logo was getting closer to the origin of the name: dark and light together, or more “sunshine and night”. Simply put, the idea was to represent the night taking over the day, hence the black elements reaching for the sun to pull it down.
That version was never published, though, as I didn’t really have a drive or the time to fully work on it.
The idea of this logo and the “arms” around a central disc is a bit far fetched (and still is, just read on…), but interestingly, I wasn’t the only one thinking about it. There was a website in France with a very similar name: ekinoxe (with an ‘I’) that had a logo very close in idea to this version. The similarities don’t stop there as their domain name was registered less than a month after mine, back in 2004, and it was also the site of a web development company.
I still find it amusing that we never got in touch an I didn’t know about them until late 2011, just before they went into administration.
The previous website lived for around 4 years, but as I sharpened my development and design skills, my personal preference went for simple, clean and minimalistic designs. I then had another go at modifying my identity to reflect this, and going all light in colour, and much more polished. The sun was still there, the “night reaching out” too, but in a much simpler form, and in a symmetric way this time. This brought better balance to the logo itself and the identity, while making it a bit more professional and polished. I also took the opportunity to invert the theme and go light in colours rather than full black. It was very much the “aqua” years where everything on the web had to have what we now think as a horrible “water bubble” effect and gradients everywhere.
This was the ekynoxe identity for many years and was still on some of my error pages for several of my websites until I recently decided to redesign them all completely. You may well still find it around on some web caches!
What’s interesting, and what attracted me in the equinoxe is that it talks about balance, equilibrium, and without being too pompous, some kind of perfection. Thinking along these lines lead to the le latest instalment of my identity which I have just published
A few months back I decided to take a leap and get rid of the heavy and cumbersome CMS that Wordpress has become for my needs. I removed the style on my portfolio site, and stopped caring about how my blog looked like, so I could focus on redesigning them at the same time. Given that I was going to start from scratch with all of them rather than try and transfer themes and outdated styles, having a clean slate on all fronts was the perfect thing to do.
It took some time, but only because I wanted both style and platform to work well for me, and for what I publish. Platform wise I went with Jekyll, and that will be the subject of other, more technical, posts.
For the design, my ideas are now definitely more minimalistic designs rather than overcharged colourful patchworks, and I decided to incorporate this into my identity too. That would convey a sense of cleanliness with no over-complication of things which I try to apply to my business. I realised that I didn’t really need the ‘night reaching out for the sun’ anymore. The circle alone would be enough. But I still kept the balance in the logo with the use of the circle shape itself. It’s a lot more subtle, but in the end it’s quite simple, really:
- Balance: the area covered by the circle is the same than the contained disc.
- Autumn: the default logo on a white background is a dark circle, the night, around a white disc: the day being absorbed by the night. On any other background with enough contrast, it’s a white circle.
The simple mathematics above helped to get the correct shape: get one of the radius, and you can build the rest. The area of the inner disc is the same than the thick circle around it.
For me that is the balance of things. A circle is a perfect shape, and it should work pretty much anywhere.
I have now completed only one part of all the redesigns I want to do. I started by merging and redesigning my blog and portfolio (on this site), and moving all triathlon related blog posts to their own website (now on http://tri.ekynoxe.com). But there is still a lot of work todo: I still have to bring back old work items to the portfolio area of this site, and present them in a more detailed way than they’ve ever been.
Then there will be redesigning my triathlon pages with a design on the same base, but overall more sporty, than this portfolio. And finally there will be my little personal site that I host at http://www.mathieudavy.com which is in urgent need of attention!