The design of gomepage

Today I’m going to give a little history for my personal site here on Ctrl-C. I’ve had the site for almost a year, starting on January 17th, 2022, and gradually built it up over that time. Since my username is gome, I refer to my homepage as gomepage, and sometimes I refer to my site as a whole as gomesite.

Discovering the world of tilde servers and other small web pages was exciting to me. One of the things I love about the internet is that despite how centralized it is now, it’s still possible to just build your own site and share it around the world. The tools are fairly accessible and offer a lot of room to grow your skills.

I do web development professionally, and have a site I coded myself for my composition work. But prior to 2022, I had not really built a website purely for the fun of it. So it was really cool to discover servers of people who build stuff on the web just for the fun of making & sharing things. It seemed exactly like something I’d like to be a part of.

The first mockup I made for the gomepage design

My vision for the site was something like the feeling of dry coziness that I associate with being in the woods on brisk fall days. I love woods like this. They’re bright & clear & full of life, and they give me a deep sense of belonging. At the same time, the woods don’t exist for your comfort like your home: they’re something separate from & greater than you. So I wanted the design of gomepage to somehow convey a similar feeling.

Another design element I wanted to include was gnomes. Gnomes and other folkloric creatures are associated with the aesthetic of comfy synth, a microgenre of music I enjoy. Also, gome & gnome sound very similar, so I thought it would be fun to play up that comparison.

After some searching on Wikimedia, I discovered a wonderful drawing of working gnomes* in a wood by Gijsbertus Johannes van Overbeek. What I love about these gnomes is that they’re not cute kitschy toy gnomes with their hats over their eyes. They’re busy at work, in their own world with their own lives. They fit perfectly with the feeling I described above, so I adapted them to create the first mockup of gomepage. Now I consider them essential in establishing the aesthetic of the site.

The original drawing the gnomes come from

As time has gone on, gomesite has slowly grown with new pages and features:

What I love about having a site like this as a side project is that it’s easy to work on intermittently. Most of these features were finished in a few days, so I didn’t have to devote a ton of time to get them done or leave things in a half-finished state. It’s like a digital garden where great things grow gradually over time. I’m looking forward to another year of tinkering with it!

Have you ever built a website or page? Have you ever made one just for fun? Did you have a feeling you wanted to express with it? Let me know your thoughts at my Ctrl-C email: gome ​@ ​

Bonus image: I once made a color version of the walking gnome, but didn’t use it. He looks like he belongs on the cover of an old programming textbook.

* Since this is a Dutch drawing, they are actually kabouters.