June 23, 2005

Thinking about a redesign

This should not be a surprise to those of you that know me. After all, the tag line of this site is Where redesign is the new black”. Today I came back from a week away from the blogosphere (which I highly recommend)— imagine my suprise when I saw a bunch of folks visiting this site from shauninman.com. Actually, surprise” is an understatement— I was practically shitting myself. It seems that Jani, who I don’t know and didn’t pay anything to for this (I will, however, buy you your drink of choice should we ever meet), linked to my site as a design different from Shaun’s but pleasing. [Edit: for the record, I really like his redesign, and I envy his skills in design, javascript and flash. The aesthetic aspect isn’t my cup-o-tea, but the quality of the features and execution of the design make his site a favorite of mine.] There followed some critique, which is nice to finally get from the web design community. Some comments were right on, and I totally agree with them— these comments stated that the site is hard to navigate, and it’s difficult to tell where to begin. I have been thinking this lately as well. The confusion happened as a result of this site suddenly having information, and therefore needing information architecture. I have been writing a lot more lately, and about a lot of diverse topics. I didn’t have the backend sufficiently thought out, and it didn’t accommodate this radical change in my behavior. It is hard even for me to find things I’m looking for. Other comments are personal opinion— the site is busy and overloaded with color. This is true, and it was done on purpose. Every time I redesign this site, I try to challenge conventions and my own design abilities. I thought sites were becoming too monochromatic and sparse— I wanted to see if I could pull off a design that went in the opposite direction. This is the place for me to do that, since experimenting with client work is not always such a good idea. The only comment I have issue with is one that stated that this site is a little cliche. To that I have this to say: gradients, plastic-y buttons, little pixely icons, wicked worn, whitespace with grey type and a punch of color, repeating squidfingers-esque backgrounds— these are the design elements I consider cliche right now, and which I deliberately avoided using. I kind of like rounded rectangles and used them extensively-, which could definitely be considered cliche, but I haven’t seen them used in such an asymmetric way before. I got suckered into a drop shadow by my own insecurities at the last minute. I can tell that no one spent enough time to tell whether or not my writing is cliche. So say you don’t like the design, that it’s not well-done, that its ugly, that it’s not working— anything but that its cliche. So, I am thinking about a redesign to address the information architecture issues. Things that will not be going away:

  • the animals. These have an important meaning to me. (Although I’m considering retiring the wood duck, because for some reason I hate that color scheme)
  • the colors. I consider this part of the animals, as all the colors come directly from the critters.
  • the meters. These help keep me sane, and I love it how Steve always knows the exact numbers whenever I see him. It would be great to get some constructive criticism from you folks, as well. What about this site works? What doesn’t work? What would make it more useful to you (besides better writing— I don’t know if I can do much about that…)?

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