Seeking examples of scientists' websites
February 16, 2010 7:40 PM   Subscribe

I would like to see examples of simple, well-designed websites run by individual scientists.

I'm seeking web design inspiration within a particular web genre.

Remember those semi-personal, semi-professional scientitific pages which were once prolific on university servers? They're usually maintained by one person and filled with photos and descriptions of their experiments, equipment, idle tinkering and occasionally their personal hobbies. The scientist might be available for hire as a consultant, but the website's primary purpose is as a reference resource ("You'll find the specs for that on my website...") and as a general record of one person's adventures in science.

Many of these sites have interesting content but are a visual and structural mess. I'd like to see some counter-examples, where simple, clean design supports the content and makes the site a joy to use. I'm not really looking for regularly updated blogs or sites which host science journalism.
posted by embrangled to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
To clarify the first line: the content will almost certainly not be simple. The design should be simple and clean.
posted by embrangled at 7:44 PM on February 16, 2010

I like this one.
posted by special-k at 8:00 PM on February 16, 2010

I should note that most scientists with somewhat elegant sites end up using free templates. I won't like to my lab page but several of our colleagues use the same template.
posted by special-k at 8:01 PM on February 16, 2010

Simple, clean design is the rule rather than the exception, in my experience. Within "simple and clean," you tend to find the gamut running from more style-conscious designs like that of Ken Goldberg to less-modern-looking sites like Donald Knuth's that are still clean and simple.

I personally use that first search link-type-thing I posted and just add the subject I'm looking for -- most of what comes up is a "joy to browse," IMO. But "inspiration" in terms of design is heavily dependent on what you've seen before and what you've liked.

I would also suggest finding books by professors/instructors who write about design-related topics like typography. The best-of-the-best in these areas know what simplicity really has to do with design. One example might be the website of Ellen Lupton.
posted by circular at 8:14 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and it looks like I sort of skipped right over your "scientists" requirement. Oops
posted by circular at 8:18 PM on February 16, 2010

Does computer science count? I love Jeff Erickson's website and uh, his 795 pages of downloadable course material.
posted by yaymukund at 8:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Paul Bourke FTW. I made his page an FPP in Metafilter's more innocent days.
posted by tss at 8:53 PM on February 16, 2010

While we're on Pauls, Paul Debevec?
posted by tss at 8:54 PM on February 16, 2010

Probably, jwz's website is better designed than say Luis von Ahn's. The front page is definitely designed demonstrate the author knows what a hexeditor is, and probably puts off the kind of people who wouldn't be interested in the content anyways.

On the other hand, I really liked this page even if the research is a bit weak and the theme is likely blatantly stolen. It's pretty rare for research projects to have a decent homepage, but not as rare as well organized faculty webpages. I'm guessing it's because you can tell a grad slave student to update the project page but not your homepage.

I think your problem is that the counter examples you want are driven by CMS's, which are popularly used for... regularly updated blogs. Good engineers keep lab notes as a personal reference; it seems obvious enough to substitute that for blogs. Even jwz's site mostly seems to contain content from before LJ.
posted by pwnguin at 10:51 PM on February 16, 2010

My friend Alex is a Biochemist. The site for his small lab doesn't suck. It looks like he's in the middle of transitioning from static pages to Wordpress.
posted by Good Brain at 11:29 PM on February 16, 2010

People chipped in with a few examples over at The Life Scientist room on Friend Feed:


None of them are what I'd call amazing design, but all of them are definitely better than the average lab website.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:54 AM on February 17, 2010

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