I'm pretty sure that many of us would be pretty pissed at having a bag stolen but when that bag contains $5000 worth of electronic equipment, stuff that you need for work, you'd probably be distraught. Chris Rhee, fellow 9ruler, was helping out a couple of his friends when a thief made off with all his gear. He's currently holding a fund-raising drive at his site; I've donated a couple of dollars so if you fancy doing a good deed, why not drop by?
Someone posted a comment on the 9rules post asking why you would donate? Fair question, I guess and if it really comes down to wighing up what you'd gain, there probably isn't enough. But life's already a cynical enough place. Sometimes you should do a little good deed, tip the world slightly towards happy, earn some karma. $5 isn't that much to pay for a feeling of warmth and fuzziness now, is it?
If, like myself, you're a fan of pixel art and grew up in the 16-bit era, then you'll love Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight by Paul Robertson. Pure, unadulterated pixel-pleasure, even at a stonking 100mb it's well worth the wait. As Ben said, I'd love to see this turned into a game.
Robert Nyman provides a JS function to get the rendered style of an element. Potentially useful in a few situations. That said, we wouldn't need this if the style property wasn't reserved for inline styles…
Forget Web2.0. Web2.1 is coming with a killer feature: a replacement for everyone's favourite tag from yesteryear, the good old blink, only this time with standards-compliant AJAX goodness. Now you can have a blink tag without feeling guilty that you're using yesterday's technology.
Now all we need is a replacement for marquee tags and under construction gifs1.
- I forgot that we have that already. What else are Sign up forms and beta notifiers for? [back]
Drew recently put out a list of what he considers to be the 5 most important questions that you have to ask yourself when planning the website. Whilst I agree with all his points, I think we can encapsulate them all in a single succint question:
Why are you creating this website?
The reason this one question covers all is because in the act of answering it, you naturally consider arrive at all the other major considerations.
So, why are you creating this website?
OK, let's try answering this one. If the aim of the site is to produce a online shop, then in the act of identifying that, you've also identified the other key points. An online shop is there to facilitate the selling of products to the consumer. If you're developing a blog, then your aim may be raise your online presence, communicate to customers or just get your views out to the public. A products library is there to provide information for potential buyers to compare and investigate their needs.
Hence, the act of answering that question also provides the answer to Drew's other questions:
Who is the site for?
For an online shop, the answer is the customers or more correctly, the type of people who would buy your products1. The beauty of this question is that this provides the necessary information to drive your site design. It lets you know the sort of look you should be going for, the type of technical features you should be developing, how to approach the UI. A site designed to attract teenager customers is different from a site for retired homeowners which is different from gadget freaks.
What are visitors trying to achieve when they visit the site?
Are they looking to buy a specific product such as a particular book by an author ala Amazon? Are they looking for a fun tech gift for gadget enthusiast ala Firebox? Are they looking for the latest tech news ala Slashdot? Or maybe, they're looking for interesting content ala DaringFireball. Visual design and style all contribute to how easily the visitors can achieve their goals.
What do YOU want visitors to achieve when the visit the site?
Once again, this follows on from your answer to the big question. Now that you know what you want to get out of this site, you can design it so as to facilitate that. You can build in cross-sell and recommendation areas; maybe point readers to other interesting content. Highlight certain products perhaps. You need to know what you want before you can do it.
How frequently do you expect people to use the site?
True usage patterns can only be identified with analysis but you can make good guesses. If you're aiming to create a blog, you'd probably want regular returning visitors. If you want visitors looking for specific products then make sure individual pages are SE friendly and easily accessible. If you want regular visitors browsing for items that suit their needs, consider the impact of a tailored page. And, of course, if you're building a shop, holidays are always good time for visitors; take advantage of that with customised, and appropriately themed designs.
How will you measure the success of the site?
Unique visitors, returning visitors, high spending visitors, loyal visitors? Knowing what you're after allows you to design for that goal. You need to know this from the start as you'll be building for this. Without an objective, you don't know what direction to go. Without something to measure for, you don't know if you're going the right way.
So I guess to answer Drew, my five most important considerations are really 5 facets of one. Why are you creating this website?
- Which, of course, you can answer without a moment's thought if you have a business plan. [back]
Seeing as I've gone ahead and rebooted, all that remains for me is to wait till May 1st and see what other designers come up with. I had a quick browse through the list and have picked out a few rebooters who are on my watch list. Whether you're a spectator or an active participator, here are a few who you should definitely keep an eye on.
Pick of the list
Dan's already come up with one lovely redesign, yet he's still contemplating rebooting? As long as he leaves some time for blogging, I'll be happy:)
The man with an ever so relaxed logo. I guess living in the Netherlands does have it's advantages. Standardista, designer and only 18 to boot, I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with.
Nidahas currently has a wonderful design so I can't wait to see what awaits us come reboot. I'm sure it'll be lovely and I hope Prabhath continues to fuse some of his own identity into the site design.
Bowler, DDR dancer and winner of SXSW 2006 Blog of the Year award. Apparently, he's going back to black for this years reboot. I guess that means no more egg-rolls?
Mike's one of my favourite designers so I'm pleased to see he's rebooting not one but two sites this time round. As much as I hate to see the lovely BusinessLogs design go, I'm confident that we won't be disappointed.
James Archer and Jonathan Snook
I'm getting a bit lazy with this one but that's only because 9rules seem to gather together a lot of designers. My last 4 mentions are 9rulers and so are my next 3. Fellow 9rulers Matt Brett, Khaled and Firda have also signed up for CSS reboot. If their current designs are anything to go by, we won't be disappointed this time round.
OK, I cheated and rebooted early but I wasn't the only one. Natalie rebooted with nearly a whole month to go but as she did such a nice job, we can forgive her:) Andy Rutledge and Sebastian Schmieg also both redesigned their sites this month and, though neither officially signed up to CSS reboot, both caught my eye albeit for different reasons.
Andy's is the more conformist of the two; he manages to blend in well travelled elements into a professional and visually pleasing design. Sebastian has instead gone in the other direction; wild, edgy but most of all, unique. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but there's no denying it's individuality; he reminds us that we can be brave with our design and that true creativity is when you step away from the flow.
And finally, Jared Christensen is currently in the midst of integrating his redesign. It looks lovely so far; pink has never been my thing but Jared has a knack for pulling it off.
So those are my picks; who are you looking forward to seeing? Are you yourself rebooting this spring?
- I'm sorry. No more bad punning:) [back]
Having supported the last CSS reboot, I thought that it was time for me to join in and reboot this site as well. So, with not long to go, I decided to put on my designer boots, knuckle down, and work on the next iteration of ifelse.co.uk. Despite interruptions such as dealing with a kitchen renovation and FA cup football, I finished ahead of schedule. As such, instead of teasing you all with reboot previews, 1 I've decided just to go live with the whole gig.
Redesigned? Realigned? Rebooted.
Each of the last couple of redesigns for this site have brought major overhauls to the look and feel; not only did each of the design bring about structural changes (for example, moving from a 3/2 column switch design to what is now known as a fat bottom design) but they also brought in overhauls with the colour scheme and imagery.
And, to a certain extent, so does this iteration. Gone is the fat bottom and in comes a new flexible multi-column design. If you were a fan of columns and you own a wide monitor, then rejoice.
However, regular readers will notice little inklings of familiarity. Whilst the header has undergone change along with the colour scheme 2, it's change as evolution; I hesitate to use the words brand or identity but there's enough touches to help make this feel like the If..Else that you've remember.
The new look hasn't totally annexed the old; it's more a case of the old design gently ushuring in a new successor.
Horses for courses
The more astute of you will have noticed a few developments with regards to columns. Firstly, if anyone is reading this post directly, take some time to go to the front page. Then head back to this post. For those of you using a resolution of 1280×1024, try resizing to 1024×768. Those of you with 1024×768, try dropping down to 800×600. Don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Don't worry, I'll wait till you're ready.
OK, let's discuss the front page. This is the first place that many people will visit.
One of the things that I tried to do with the last couple of designs was to make the front page a real landing page. The home page shouldn't just be a chronological listing of your posts. It's also the place where visitors will arrive at for the first time. Let's try and hone the experience so that both the reader and ourselves benefit.
Let's highlight the lead/latest post so that we can draw attention to the important content. Let's segregate out our little asides, shorts and snippets so as to note dilute our main content. Give the readers a focused set of exit points to other content or parts of the site. By all means provide information but provide it in a way so as to not overwhelm the user.
Different layout for different situations
I don't want to provide an inferior experience to anyone, but by not taking advantage of improvements in screen real estate, that's what I'm doing. And so, with some help from our man in blue, this site is now sporting a resolution dependent layout. However, resolution dependent layout sounds so technical and sterile; I call it a tailored layout, a design that accomodates you. Besides, if Simon Collison gets away with it, who am I to argue?
There are 3 layout types; one for people with 1280×1024+, one for people on 1024×768 and one for those on 800×6004
Searching was neglected in the previous design; in fact, I didn't even show the search bar anywhere else apart from the front page. That said, I do find myself searching back for old posts (mainly my shorts which serve as my personal del.icio.us) and seeing as you can't develop a website without a mention of everyone's favourite kitchen cleaner, I decided to spend a bit of time plonking down a fancier search bar.
Different layout for different situations part deux
I've talked about two layout scenarios so far. There's the front page and as well as the resolution dependent layout. What we can look at next is the internal page layouts i.e. for a given blog post. Quick question: if you're viewing a blog post, what are looking for? The answer is content. So if that's what the reader is after, let's make it comfortable for them to read.
The general layout and colour scheme already gives the content an advantage but by increasing both the content area and the type size, it feels just that much more nicer for lack of a better word. Besides, this gives me an opportunity to use larger images which is always good, right?
If you've made it this far, you must either have superhuman willpower or a severe bout of insomnia. Well now it's your turn. Any feedback5? Besides, this is a good opportunity for the lurkers amongst you to come out of hiding and post a comment:)
- Yes Bryan, I'm looking at you:) [back]
- The last theme was dubbed Black Gold and though neither are dominant colours any more (in particular, the infamous gold colour has mellowed out and black has taken a back row seat to the other colours), they're still around albeit if only in more of a background role. [back]
- Personally, I've standardised on 1280×1024 but in the last month, there were over 3 times as many readers that ran their machines with even larger resolutions than those that were still on 800×600. [back]
- There's even a pseudo-big-footer of sorts. [back]
- That said, can I ask kindly that browser-specific issues/bugs are emailed to me rather than being added as a comment? Cheers. [back]
John Gruber leaves his job at Joyent to work fulltime on Daring Fireball. The quality of John's writing makes me feel guilty when I call it one of my favourite blogs because saying that DF is merely a blog doesn't do it justice.
So I wish him "Good luck, I hope it works" though I have full confidence that it will. And if you're an avid reader as I am and you haven't given him your support, now's a good time to do so.