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mozilla.org Notes

October 16, 2003

If you don’t have thick skin before doing work for a high profile organization with fans who are very opinionated, you develop it in a hurry. The response has been great, but there are still points to be addressed.

Branding

A big one. What happened was I got asked to put some thought into that, but because of a restricted timeline I couldn’t explore it as much as I would have liked. There are plans to spend some quality time on this in the next few months, but it couldn’t happen all at once so I did two things.

First, I decided we wouldn’t try a paradigm shift just yet. Colours were culled from the existing site, logos were tweaked rather than redesigned, and the only thing I really contributed that was completely new was a bug image for Bugzilla. Anything but the hideous devil chip that exists now.

Second, I worked on a new treatment of the logo which, by most accounts isn’t right. Bad: the boxed head. Good: the text treatment. Most didn’t even notice the typeface swap, and those that did liked it. It felt wrong dropping a floating dino head in a white area, so the black box was conceived out of necessity. Chances are that both will be scrapped in the end, but it’s something for now.

Layout

There are a few things that are problematic here, and again I’ll have to defer to the restricted timeline. Most pages are full-screen, but the home page is constrained to a hard pixel width. This, if you can believe it, was because I couldn’t figure out the necessary CSS in time. It’s the only way I got it working across all platforms consistently, although now I’m finding there’s a bug in Konqueror anyway.

The main header is a little light on functionality. There was more that should have gone into it, but the focus changed as we developed. I originally designed for a more portal-like site with different search options, a font switcher, and the like — but that all got dropped.

Accessibility

Well, I thought I did a hell of a job here with my extraneous titles and skip nav links and relative fonts sizes and such, but it appears 90% doesn’t exempt one from criticism. What’s being discussed is how much we should defer to a user’s settings, and allow their preferences to prevail. Particularily, no specifying of underlining or not underlining links (an issue I will happily concede) and no specifying of a default font size (one which I won’t).

Markup & Validation

Content was frequently copied & pasted from older documents, so a lot of pages will spit out errors. My templates were okay, so we’ll have to blame the content here. There are a lot of pages to retro-fit, so this isn’t going away any time soon.

As well, the whole XHTML 1.0 and MIME type issue has reared its ugly head. I debated what to do about this at the beginning, and in the end I think chose wrong. HTML 4.01 will probably be the final goal, if for no other reason than to quiet the pedants.

Conclusions

It was tough work, and it’s definitely not over. Reactions have been great, and those that haven’t were (mostly) constructive and useful. Obviously you can’t please everyone, but a lot of the basics have been covered.

I had about two weeks to throw design and code together. The project started last month, and my initial deadlines were ultra-tight. My involvement was strictly voluntary, and I’ve kept my standards as high as they are when building commercial work, but I didn’t get everything right. Which isn’t to say that I got most things wrong, but to explain that I can’t be everywhere at once.

There are things you would do differently. There are things I would do differently! But this is what we have, and what we have is mostly good.