kottke.org redesign JUN 27 2004
My long personal nightmare is over. The redesign is live. More or less. You folks in the newsreaders might want to launch a browser and check it out (quaint I know, but humor me).
You wouldn't know it by looking at it, but I've been working on this design for almost two years. You read that correctly. It's ridiculous. There were two major false starts, I moved across the country, freelanced, got distracted by NYC, spent a month in Paris, got a job, updated kottke.org near-daily, and made incremental improvements to the site, most of which are rolled up in the new design. The biggest reason for the delay was kottke.org itself...adding new features to it (photo albums, remaindered links, book & movie reviews), keeping it updated with fresh content, and not really needing to redo what was a perfectly serviceable design (especiallly with the incremental design tweaks). This design has been a very off and on affair to produce and finish...lots of off and very little on.
So anyway, you're probably thinking it's not much to look at. It's spare, not flashy, and looks a lot like the old design, especially the home page. Here are a few of the changes I made and why:
- The only site-wide navigation is at the top of the page (and repeated at the bottom). Most of the site can be reached easily from those four links (home, archives, about, contact). Tried to make it very simple.
- The yellow-green thing at the top is a tag. Like the red tag on Levi's jeans or even the red stripe on Prada shoes. It's small, out of the way, but when you see it on something, you know exactly what you're holding in your hands. Some may recognize the tag's kinship to the one I designed for 0sil8. This is intentional for reasons that will become clear at some point in the (hopefully near) future.
- For transition purposes, the tag is currently that same yellow-green as the header of the last design. It may change color or design at some point.
MostSome pages on the site are valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional. CSS for layout. The ghost of Siegel has been exorcised. The cobbler's children have shoes at last.
- Every page is the front page of the site. People dropping in for the first time from Google or from another weblog should be able to figure out where they are from the contextual information in the right-hand sidebar of most pages (monthly archive pages and individual archive pages especially.)
- New about page. I rolled the "about Jason", "about kottke.org", and FAQ pages into one page. And (bad) photos of me.
- Trackbacks are being accepted going forward and are listed on individual archive pages.
- I mentioned false starts above. Late last year, I had an entire design that I'd been working on for almost 9 months (on and off) done in Photoshop, ready to be cut up and coded. It was boxy, had a tiled background, diagonal stripes, drop shadows, and lots of ornamental finishes. It was pretty, clean, lots of personality, a nice design all the way around. And if there's a dominant visual style (trend? fad?) right now, that's it (some fine examples here, here, here, and Lance beat it over the head here). I just didn't want to go there. So I went in a different direction, partially to avoid the crowd and partially to challenge myself. Do you know how hard it is to design text-heavy Web layouts that don't use boxes? Boxes are the lazy Web designer's best friend. ;) I felt bad enough relying on all the horizontal rules.
- The site may not work in your old browser. Heck, it may not work in your new browser. Bug reports on modern browsers are appreciated. If you can't read this, you're probably using a pile of crap browser like Netscape 4 or Cello or something. Upgrade to something useful. But you're not reading this, so just ignore what I said. (Wha?)
- Link color went from red to blue. Don't know why.
- Tweaked the styles on the remaindered links.
- PC users, you're missing out. This sucker looks great in Safari, Camino, or Firefox on OS X. Lucida Grande. Smooth type. Wundervoll.
- A tour of some of the best/most representative content on the site is available for new visitors or those wishing to peer deep into the guts of the beast.
- The movie section is on hiatus and will return soonish.
Some things I'm not satisfied with yet:
- The archive page. Almost every weblog has one and for the most part, they're useless. People can't easily find things (gosh, maybe that entry was in June 2001), it's not conducive to relaxed exploration...about the only thing that works is the Google search. I've not come up with a satisfying answer to this problem nor have I seen anyone else come up with anything that works well. An area for improvement.
- The tour is not what it could be. Why is there a tour and an archive page? And a front page? Seems like some simplification and/or consolidation could be done here.
And now I'll stop talking. What do you think? Comments, questions, bug reports, and constructive criticism expected and appreciated.