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Redesign: Design Notes

June 08, 2004

I had planned to wrap up the redesign analysis series with a look at the design elements of Proton, but plans change.

Partly because I was tackling low-hanging fruit first, and partly because I needed the space to think after the many, many comments last month’s redesign prompted, I left a deeper look at the design elements until the end.

But extra time brings extra perspective, and looking back ‘Proton’ as it was released solved some problems and introduced others. Overall result — not the success one would hope a redesign should be. Sifting through the comments, a few trends emerge. The header is universally seen as a problem area due to low visibility of navigation and clutter, the content area is almost universally seen as an improvement over Radar.

It’s interesting to note that the new header spurred the redesign in November, but it has remained unchanged since as the content area got all the focus recently. Note to self: don’t let ideas sit for too long. It’s also interesting to note that while Proton began its life on a Windows CRT, most later development was on a Mac LCD. The gamma differences are startling when it comes to the yellow areas, which is something I realized only after launch.

At the moment incremental adjustments are being made to a separate copy of the stylesheet, which you can trigger as your new default stylesheet for this site to watch the progress. Some things may stay, some may change radically, and I have no great plan in mind other than to see where I can take this. At some point Proton will be finished; for now it’s a work in progress, and you’re all invited to watch.

Reader Comments

June 08, 02h

Now *that* I like =)
Look forward to seeing the progress

Rajeev says:
June 08, 03h

Much better, I agree with everyone else. But I have to say that I liked the yellow side column better. The grey makes the site seem too bland.

theresa says:
June 08, 03h

I’ve also had problems with yellows and light greens on LCD vs CRT monitors. I like what I see so far… should be fun to watch it evolve :)

Philip says:
June 08, 05h

Having set the new, in-progress stylesheet as my default I can say that I really like the changes to the main navigation. Moving it above the blue section of the header and making it appear “tabbish” is more encouraging for … grabbing hold of the site, so to speak, and using it. The narrower blue area is less monolithic and offputting. Not that it was as bad a design as others might have led you to believe in the first place, Dave. The innovations that it comprises are not at all unappreciated even if I, or others, don’t agree with every design element.

June 08, 07h

I also think that the yellow side column looked better and the gray is a little bland. I’ve had problems with colors looking different on LCDs and sometimes even disappearing. I used #F5F5F5 for zebra strips in a table (for tabular data of course) it looked good on a CRT but totally disappeared on a LCD laptop.

June 08, 10h

I like this “live” css redesign idea. I Look forward to the changes. It’s kind of like a “little secret” hehe. I honestly don’t know how I’ve been getting first post lately, just good timing I suppose.

Aaron says:
June 08, 10h

The new header is much, much better.

Also, you’re right about the yellows – I recently redesigned my site with a pale yellow splash that looks fairly striking on my desktop monitor, but is basically invisible on my Dell laptop screen.

June 08, 11h

Let me just say I liked Proton from the start. However, two things bothered me: the header image and the fact that the top navigation didn’t work in Opera 7.5. In this new version both issues have been adressed, and mezzoblue is finally working to full extent in my favorite browser (Radars top nav was always broken in Opera). Nicley done sir! *two thumbs up* : )

Tom T says:
June 08, 12h

I too like the live CSS concept :) And I think what you’ve got so far for the revised header is quite a bit more balanced than the initial release.

Now if you could only get a handle on the borken right column float in IE/Win :)

June 09, 12h

I must say that I was among the people who thought the new design was awful, but now I think about it, the only real problem is the header. I tried out the new header, and it’s much better! Congratulations!

Martin says:
June 11, 09h

The changes you’ve made via the in-progress stylesheet constitute a definite improvement. I rather like the grey sidebar, insofar as the design just seems better without two shades of yellow. Along with the more useable navigation, the larger area of whitespace and more explicit mezzoblue logo in the header, the design is attaining clarity, becoming more focused. And that gives it a much more assured air, in my humble opinion.

V.R. Comrie says:
June 14, 08h

Hi Dave:
I was wondering if you could provide a link to your first released Proton site, so that we, your rapt audience, can compare the initial release with your design-in-progress. I liked the initial redesign, although I didn’t find it as dramatic as Radar. I appreciate the small touches in Photoshop–tiny lines, dots, etc. I think that aesthetics does have a lot to do with usability, and stickyness, in that an visually attractive web site operates as an invisible marketing tool. To put it plainly: no one will want to use your site if it’s ugly. I’ve learned so much from your designs of Mezzoblue and CSS Zen Garden. Thank you for pushing the envelope.