Little boxes made of ticky tacky

Why I am doing it the hard way.



When I first began planning and implementing my ideas for an e-commerce website, I started with very little knowledge on the creation process. Luckily there are quite a few great options for website builders. Shopify, Squarespace, and the one I went with, Wix, to name a few. I started dropping images and shops into the site and positioning things in the standard way. The way that you are guided to do so. The way that almost every website created today will be set up. That is, rows and columns of boxes lined up across the screen, like the little houses on the hill from the Malvina Reynolds song - little boxes

This is a mocked up version of a website using the rows and columns system, to highlight the aesthetic failure of grid-style design.
Little Boxes made of ticky tacky

(this picture is a mock-up of what the little boxes sites look like. You see them every day. It is made up of products from my inventory, but in a design that I am avoiding using.)

Well, I got to a point that I thought was near the end of the building process, and I looked at what I had manifested. There was a moment of realization that flashed through me. I don't like how rows of boxes look. It is boring. It is unimaginative. It is unnatural, as there are no boxes in nature. This is not me, or what I wish to bring into the world. I went back to the drawing board, literally and figuratively, and began a new planning process. My stipulations on design were to be:

  1. Avoid the use of pre-created boxes and menus where possible, to prevent the cookie-cutter look of the little boxes sites.

  2. Do not use pop-up menus for advertising. It is annoying to me, and I assume other people when trying to read articles to have yet more little boxes, popping up in the reading zone.

  3. Use original drawings, backgrounds, and pictures, wherever possible, to create a much more original website.

  4. Create a truer to life space, using links within the pictures to filter to the various offerings, in place of standardized menus.

It is within these parameters that the concept of virtual-village-shops, and eventually Wineville, was conceived.

The system of drawing and exporting pictures and placing them into a logical and semi-realistic space, instead of floating frames, is much more time consuming, which explains why the boxes are so popular. I hope the final product will be worth all of the time and effort that I am pouring into it. As I write this article the website design is, perhaps, two-thirds complete. There are a lot of pages, with a lot of pictures. The site is live now,

but several of the 'shops' are yet incomplete. The home page is Wineville. There are five shops in the hamlet, each featuring one aspect of the array of products and content that the site will house. A single click on a shop will bring you inside to view the wares. Each 'shop' is then further filtered into the various offerings, articles, products, and general content.

A place to browse for various wine essentials, read articles, acquire books and knowledge.
Wineville - Virtual Village Shops

The new Wineville concept and design features a virtual twist to the standard website. The five shopfronts, though rectangular and two dimensional, are drawn with the perspective of three dimensions, as they shrink away into the background. The containment shapes are not nearly as obvious as a box, and I hope to keep them that way, relying on the intelligence of the user to locate and click on the various shops. I could outline them in blue, or something, to make them more obvious, but that would diminish the spatial realism concept.

Although I am still a few weeks away from the completion of the initial design, and subsequent re-launch, I am happy to receive feedback from anyone willing to take the time to give it. In particular, I am interested in how the webpages perform on different platforms and devices. I disabled the mobile app, meaning the smartphone version will be exactly the same as the desktop one, and since the designs are all created in landscape format, should fit perfectly when turned to the horizontal position.

If you do have feedback for me on the design or the functionality of the site, please email it to

If you like what I am creating and see the potential of the final product, please share this article with friends or use the social share link from the website footer bar.

If you want to create your own store, boxes or not, you can do it here:

or for more information read the article in the bookshop: Sell Online