The design of kottke.org has been mostly the same since 2000…a garish yellow/green bar across the top and small black text on a white background everywhere else. (See the progression of designs since 1998.) People absolutely hated that color when I first introduced it1, but it stuck around — mostly out of laziness — and that pukey yellow became the most visible brand element of the site.
Two days ago, I refreshed the design of the site and, as you may have noticed, no more yellow/green. The other big changes are: bigger text set in a new font, a blue “zoom” border around the page, and the addition of titles to the short posts.
(A brief nuts and bolts interlude… For most of you, the site will look like this. If you’ve got Myriad Pro on your machine — it comes free with Acrobat Reader and Adobe CS — it’ll look like this…this is the “intended” look. And if you’re a fancypants designer with Whitney installed, you’ll get this rarified view, which I did mostly for me. On IE6, the site will be legible and usable but somewhat unstyled. If you’re not seeing something that looks like one of the above screenshots — if the text is in all caps, for instance — please drop me a line with a link to a screenshot and your browser information. Thanks!)
The blue “zoom” border is the biggest visual change, and it’s an homage to what is still my favorite kottke.org design, the yellow zoom from 1999. I like that kottke.org is one of the few weblogs out there that can reach back almost ten years for a past design element; the site has history. In a way, that border is saying “kottke.org has been around for ten years and it’s gonna be around for twenty more”. At least that’s how I think about it.
I’ve already gotten lots of feedback from readers, mostly via Twitter and email. There were a few technical issues that I’ve hopefully ironed out — e.g. it should work better on the iPhone now — and a couple which might take a bit longer, like the border messing with the page-at-a-time scrolling method. Some people like the changes, but mostly people don’t like the new design, really dislike the blue, and generally want the old site back. This is exactly the reaction I expected, and it’s heartening to learn that the old design struck such a chord with people. All I’m asking is that you give it a little time.
My suspicion is that as you get used to it, the new text size won’t seem so weird and that blue border will likely disappear into the background of your attention, just as that hideous yellow/green did. A month from now, your conscious mind won’t even see the blue — chalk it up to something akin to banner blindness…brand blindness maybe? — but your subconscious will register it and you’ll just know where you are, safe and sound right here at good ol’ kottke.org. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll tweak and move some things around. Design is a process, not a result, and we’ll get it to a good place eventually, even if it takes twenty years.
 I wish I had access to my email from back then…everyone hated it and wanted the old design back. Before landing on the yellow/green color, I tried the golden yellow from the previous design, a blue very much like the blue in the current border, and then red. I think each color was live on the site for a few days and my intention was to just keep switching it around. But then I got bored and just left the yellow/green. Gold star to anyone who remembers that short phase of the site. ↩