Thinking of a redesign

I’ve been around the blogosphere for a while now, and I’ve noticed that the ol’ media empire here is starting to look a little dated. There’s a definite “pro” look these days, propagated by the templates available in the popular online blogging services. Some of the hallmarks of the pro look seem useful, like limited width so the eye can comfortably scan text. There’s also a feeling that all the parts are fit together into a nice, integrated, whole.

It made me think about what I would like this blog to look like. In the end, it still won’t have that pro look. The thing I most want to do will not work in Internet Explorer 6, and maybe not even 7. What I most want is an end to rectangles. The ampersand breaking out of its box in the header (unless you are using Crappy Browser 6) has had people asking me “how did you do that”? Making the top of the what’s new box not line up with the top of the sidebar was another somewhat tricky little bit of coding, just to break the lines.

What I’d really like to do is build on the “mad scientist” theme. I’ve got some thoughts on how to do that, but as usual my ambitions far outmatch my abilities. We’ll see, though. I might be able to pull off “slick, high-tech mad scientist”.

I’m curious what you guys like or don’t about the current design. Certainly the most important aspect is readability. That’s what it’s here for, after all.


This isn’t quite what I was shooting for, but is does have visual appeal (and rounded bits).

10 thoughts on “Thinking of a redesign

  1. It’s a little busy currently and takes some fishing to figure out where things start but I can only criticize without an idea of how to fix things. The What’s New is for your software and it takes up real estate, but I don’t know where else to put it while still keeping it prominent. When I scan blogs I look to what is just under the short masthead in order to see if anything is new.

  2. The drop shadows look nice as do the rounded corners. I also like the wallpaper you have on your site here that goes beyond the flat colors found on most blog sites. Of course, your use of fonts is excellent too.

  3. Thanks for your input!

    As far as I know, IE6 is incapable of correctly rendering graphics with an alpha channel, which makes those shadows problematic, and I have my doubts that it would position all the elements correctly either. Remarkably, about 25% of my visitors still use Crappy Browser 6.

    I suppose if I was true to my own credo, I would go ahead and do it my way and let it look awful for the CB6 crowd. Maybe a couple more of them would switch.

    It’s tough, though. I can’t help but think that if there’s one class of people still using CB6, it would be “editors, literary agents, and other people I want to impress”.

    When one of those people drifts into the Muddleverse, I want them to dislike it for the right reasons. It’s bad enough that I put the period outside the quote marks when that’s where it should go.

  4. I’m trying to use bold type in the “What’s New” section to make it easily scannable for repeat visitors. Unfortunately, I think the most regular visitors of all learned to ignore the entire thing before I thought of that trick.

  5. Well, Ive always been a fan of the current setup because it is easy to navigate and conducive to reading. Unlike other blogs Ive visited where I can’t figure out what the heck is going on. If you really feel like agents and publishers will start visiting, my personal feeling is that the bio-stuff (i.e. the Who is this guy section), is not prominent enough. And the self promotion of traveling around the world and giving up the safe suburban life needs to return.
    In fact, if one of these agents ever sees the light, takes you on, AND wants to give advice on how to decorate your blog, take serious look at the advice (much as I am sure I will HATE their advice, but…).

  6. That sample is a little too pink. I like the blue’s you are already using more.

    Also, have you considered putting in some un-obtrusive text ads?

    And your page titles could have a few more keywords besides the general title for better SEO.

  7. The same background would still be there and the tags for the different categories would be different colors. When the design is stretched to the full size, I think the color balance will be restored.

    The thing is, I’m not really up for chopping up the graphic bits and coding the site just to discover that I was right, CB6 really can’t handle it. IE7 might even have trouble, judging by the difficulties it’s having on the sidebar. (Internet Explorer 7 is coming close to earning the name Crappy Browser 7.)

    Already a large percentage of the people who come her are coming off search engine hits. Traffic’s been down a bit lately, but I kind of like having a higher percentage of visitors be people who came here on purpose.

    I was starting to put links to Amazon in my reading episodes but the new blog software is getting totally hosed on them. The next beta release, I’m assured, will resolve this problem.

    Meanwhile, you can help out at no cost to yourself by clicking the link in the sidebar when you to to amazon to buy stuff. (Note that if you want to bookmark it, save the link itself straight off this page, not the page you end up at over at Amazon.)

  8. Just a bit of a techincal glitch … While Firefox is working fine back in Albuquerque, where I’ve downloaded and installed the latest version, here at Five O’Clock Somewhere, it’s rendering the page somewhat scrambled — some of the stuff that’s supposed to be in the sidebar is showing up at the top of the page, and much of what’s in the sidebar is mixed up.

    It’s doing the same with Beer and Trucks and with Sitemeter (where ads get misplaced so as to obscure content).

    Sometime when I have a few hours to kill, I will be downloading the upgraded Firefox over the glacially slow rural dial-up connection. But in the meantime, you might want to temper the “if this doesn’t look right, stop using that crappy browser” thing. I really do believe that Firefox is way better than that crappy browser, but right now the older version of Firefox doesn’t render your page correctly.

  9. Let me know if the new Firefox fixes the problem. there was a period where there was a problem with the blog that caused that very behavior, but that’s fixed now. It’s possible, I suppose that Firefox was loading an old, bad page from cache, but it doesn’t seem likely.

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