If you have an interest in Scandinavian poetry but isn’t able to read it in the original languages, here’s a real treat for you!
Five years ago I translated the collected poems of Edith Södergran from Swedish to English, and Gustaf Munch-Petersen from Danish to English. First, they were posted on my then poetry blog, later they were split out into PDF files. I was surprised by how many people interacted with said files, and contacted me regarding specific poems it would often take me eons to locate myself in order to reply. Therefore, I figured it would be better to make a website for the poems – it would make them easier to find for search engines (and therefore, users), and easier to search through for
me the users as well.
I spent half a year trying to think up a good design that would make it easy for people to navigate to any collection or any poem they would like to go to, and I ended up with something that looked like this:
That was in 2015. The reading experience was emphasized; the text was big and easy on the eyes. However, I was never satisfied with the navigation pattern. The idea of having two separate menus just didn’t work – it added unnecessary complexity to the site, and I could see that the users found it difficult to maneuver. Also, the things I had originally wanted to express with the colors may have been right enough, but the site simply turned out too dark and too reddish. Several attempts at adjusting the colors failed because it would require a more thorough reworking of the site in order not to look half-baked – and I just didn’t have the necessary time.
Fastforward to now: August 2017. I was working on a project that – sadly – fell flat. It was a sort of encyclopedia web app. It was very close to completion when the organization behind it pulled out, and I sat there looking at the final product not knowing what to do with it, until I realized: This was the exact navigation pattern I’d been seeking all along!
It was simple. It was straight-forward. It was an experience to navigate through. It felt light and fun and quirky, and it was written in a way so as to make the code easily extendable.
Two days later: The first implementation of ScandiPoetry’s redesign.
Thing of beauty, eh? And now it’ll also be much easier for me to add new collections and / or poems than it was before. I know that I personally, as the creator and editor, will benefit, and I hope that the users of the site will as well.
The idea of translating the poems in the first place was to make them as widely available to the non-Scandinavian-language-speaking world at large, and I think I’m getting there now at last. I hope I am. Go check out the website, and come back to let me know what you think.