What Do You Think Of The Current Design For The Site?

I don’t know about everyone else out there but I’m the type of designer that gets tired easily of my own work, especially when it comes to the design of my sites. Historically, I’ve updated my designs every 6 months to a year. Recently I’ve re-designed my personal portfolio which I’m really digging (we’ll see how long that lasts) and now it seems like it’s time to update the design of this blog. Not really because I’m sick of it, just that I feel it needs to be freshened up. Maybe mess around with a new layout instead of the standard nav on the left, content on the right format. Also there are some functionality flaws that I think need to be addressed as well.

So, I want to hear from all you readers out there. Let me know if you love this design or if you hate it. What could be done to improve it or what you’d want to see in the new design. In the end I want the design to be something that everyone is comfortable with and is easy to understand and use. So let me have it, I won’t get offended. Leave me a comment below and together we’ll re-design this blog.

Oh one more thing… if you know of a really nice WordPress theme let me know about it and maybe I’ll use it.        

43 Comments on "What Do You Think Of The Current Design For The Site?"

  • andrei says

    it’s a funny thing, I’ve been recently thinking how I would redesign your blog. To me, design that relies so heavily on grid, horisontal lines and font weights interplay looks like it belong more to the printed matter world and while on screen, it seems slightly irrelevant to the content displayed. I’d drop the lines in favour of more airy, irregular layout.

  • dean says

    Aisle One is based on the Marber theme, correct? I like it. Functionally speaking, I think it works. I think it works fine visually as well, but I am biased when it comes to minimal grid-based design. In fact, I think Aisle One and September Industry are exceptional examples of grid-based blogs.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Antonio says

    Dean, yes it is. That’s one of the main reasons why I love this theme. There aren’t many themes out there that are based on a sound grid system.

    September Industry has a beautiful theme, I wonder what he’s using.

    I’ve been doing some research and I found this lovely them called Hemingway. I would have been perfect but unfortunately it’s no longer being updated.

  • Joey says

    I don’t think you need to find a new theme. This design works. If I were to change this site in any way it would mostly be minor changes (more or less). I’d love to see Aisle One use a white background.

    Something else I wouldn’t mind seeing is something a little more branded up top. Something similar to the header used on your Aisle One store, maybe? http://aisleone.bigcartel.com/product/enotmik

    All in all, Antonio, content is what’s most important and you’re doing a great job on that front!

  • Benjamin says

    It’s small, but something I’ve noticed several times over the past couple visits: your links don’t open up in a new tab or window. And so, whereas commonly I’d click on one entry, peruse the content of the linked site, and then return to Aisle One–tabbed and awaiting my return–I’m instead navigated away from the site. I can’t dig on that.

    In other news, I echo Joey’s comment in saying that content is the proverbial king, and you’re golden on that front.

    Words.

  • Antonio says

    Thanks guys.

    Benjamin, based on web standards opening a link in a new window is a big no no. The main reason why is because most people navigate the web using their forward and back buttons and by opening a new window you break this functionality. Personally I prefer opening all my links in a new window but I’d rather follow the standards than to force my habits onto others. On a mac I just command click on a link to open it in a new window.

  • Hi, Antonio,
    Linear is the theme on September Industry:
    Can find it here:
    http://armenthomassian.com/themes/

    Best!

  • Christian says

    I think it is nice the way it is. It really works well with the type of work you usually post up here. Keep it is my two cents.

  • Personally, this design really works for me. It’s clean, uncluttered and displays images beautifully. Although some might think it’s way to minimalist and I agree with Joey when saying you might need “that little extra” on top.

    I also agree with Benjamin, I’d really like links to open in a new window. I don’t want to leave your site when I click on a link, I just want to know what it’s about and come back to the rest of your posts. Hope this helps.

    I just launched a personal journal of all the great graphic works I find on the web, and I’d really like for people to comment on my site’s design too. I’m a graphic designer, but I’m a newbie in the blogosphere and I’m trying to make my site as functional as possible without sacrificing design.

    Great job, Antonio.

  • Chris L says

    I’d personally like to see you incorporate sIFR into your wordpress:
    http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/sifr/

    Helvetica is good, but it isn’t that fun ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Antonio says

    I think Helvetica is fun as hell! sIFR is interesting but personally I don’t see any use for it on this site.

  • david says

    Antonio, I think that what makes the blog unique is the design. Its the kind of blog that you can describe to someone without having to show them what it looks like. I did find 2 links that featured some themes that could look good (although I think yours looks best)

    http://www.plaintxt.org/2006/06/13/the-best-minimalist-wordpress-themes/

    hhttp://www.cssjuice.com/18-minimalist-design-wordpress-themes/

    I’m no theme builder but I do like taking existing themes and modifying them because designers for print and the web don’t always see eye to eye ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Antonio says

    I did a few small updates to the design, mainly in the header.

  • Antonio says

    David, thanks for those links. Some of them are nice but none of them really do it for me. I think I’m just going to stick with this for now and freshen it up a bit. Or maybe I’ll just steal yours! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Joey says

    Antonio, the new header is a huge improvement and looks great! I like the white background, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hello Antonio,

    I’m a big fan of minimalism, so you’re doing a great job. Perhaps the addition of colour would help give a fresh appeal, without the need for an overhaul. Even a single colour to compliment the black and white.

    One of my favourite WordPress theme designers is Derek Punsalan.

  • Renato says

    The current design is a great homage to traditional Swiss legacy, and updating it, well… I’m always in favor of progression. I’d update our brand identity to our liking but when you run a company it’s a bit harder to change your identity than an inspirational blog so I’d say go for it if it makes you feel better. As long as you don’t drive the Web 2.0 wave of gradients ๐Ÿ˜‰ ANd if you don’t change, don’t sweat it, this is one of the best blog designs I’ve seen in ages.

  • Sander says

    Hi Antonio, I like your new header. For the header text you could use a slightly bigger font and increase the line height, this will give a bit more balance in your template. Good luck.

  • david says

    Antonio, technically the theme isn’t mine, so feel free to use it if all else fails! Just know that it was SI that made it famous haha ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Dan says

    I very much like your design Antonio – it’s clean and simple, and lets the work you are showcasing take centre stage.

    I’ve been meaning to change mine for ages but due to server issues I haven’t/can’t. I know what you mean about easily becoming tired of a design, but one of the best maxims I was ever told was ‘If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it’.

  • david says

    Nicely put Dan

  • Marcus says

    hoi

    a few thoughts popped up when reading this:

    a) i subscribed to your feed so long ago that i didnt even remeber how the site looks like.
    so โ€“ if i was you i’d try to change the look of my articles in the feed. to differentiate them from all those other thousands of rss articles …

    b) dont just give the site a new look, add/improve some functionality as well … one option would be to reduce all this blog meta-info clutter to clean up the design even more โ€“ so going more ultra minimalist!

    c) invent a great way of using multiple text columns (fight the blog stereotype)

    =)

    m.

  • Antonio says

    Thanks to everyone for all the great input. Some great advice here. Seems like the current design is popular so I’m going to keep it and just make improvements over time.

    @David Airey – I’m definitely going to look for ways to add some colors. I also read your recent post about making new readers feel at home and I want to add a Popular Articles widget. The thing is I have so many items in the sidebar already and adding another one will just make it more cluttered.

    @Marcus – I have to look into skinning my feed. It’s through Feedburner and I’m not sure how much control I have over it. What do you mean by the meta-info clutter? Are you referring to the main navigation?

  • Marcus says

    i was a bit unclear, by “meta-info-clutter” i mean most of what is typical blog functionality like the sidebar, trackback links, forms etc. basically everything that is not the articles. i realize there’s a reason for all that, but it would be nice if that could be a bit reduced…

    guess i just dont like the typical blog-look too much…

  • Antonio says

    Ah I what you mean. Well most of that functionality is required.

  • One way to act upon what Marcus proposes is to offer different sidebar content depending on what page you’re on.

    For instance, on your homepage, you could show popular articles near the top, whereas on individual blog posts, you could add ‘related articles’ at the top, so people arriving via a particular topic will automically see similar content.

    A way to remove some of your sidebar content is to add an additional static page. Call it ‘resources’ perhaps. In there you could place your ‘goodies’, ‘friends’, ‘inspiration’ etc.

    Here’s something else to think about: does anyone actually use your ‘archives’ section? In all my time blogging, I’ve never searched a site by month. Especially when the categories are also listed (as yours are). I know you have the archives in a drop-down, which is great, but do you know if it’s ever used? I’d be interested in the answer.

    Maybe update your copyright notice at the foot of each page to include the current year (it only shows 2007), and remove the ‘log in’ link in your site navigation. I’m not sure how needed it is.

    Hopefully that helps out slightly.

  • Antonio says

    David, awesome advice.

    How do you control the visibility of the sidebar widgets on certain pages? I have no clue on how to do that.

    I like adding my links and other info into a single page. I’m going to try that out. The thing with that is all that content gets hidden and most people will miss it and some of it is useful like the links list.

    As for the archives, I have no idea if anyone uses it. I use it from time to time but I do see your point and it’s a very valid one.

    HA, I just noticed the copyright today.

  • How do you control the visibility of the sidebar widgets on certain pages? I have no clue on how to do that.

    It all starts with having the correct template pages. For instance, if you go to edit your index.php file, you should see a piece of code saying something like ‘get_sidebar.php’. You need to create a new template page. Call it ‘sidebar2.php’ for instance. Then edit the index.php file to include ‘get_sidebar2.php’.

    I’ve not actually tried it on my own blogs, but for my graphic design portfolio, the aim is to possibly show some testimonials in the sidebar, rather than ‘popular articles’ and ‘recent articles’.

    You make a valid point about moving your links into a single page. On the one hand, there’s less info to distract the readers’ attention from your content, but on the other, they miss your recommendations.

    You could always add your resources page not as a text link, but as an image link. Create a custom image to draw the eye towards ‘further resources’. What do you reckon?

  • johno says

    I like it. Nice to see the branding back in there.
    Just two things I’m not keen on:

    1. line-height: 1.5em is easier on the eyes;
    2. Not sure about the mixture of thick and thin dividers in the sidebar (one or the other, perhaps?):
    3. Need a space after “Tags:” as in “Tags: blog….”

    Oh, that’s three things.

    However, I’m nitpicking. Great job, Antonio.

  • johno says

    …and re:
    “How do you control the visibility of the sidebar widgets on certain pages?”

    WordPress conditional tags (I use them for different header images for different posts on iLT); shout if you need code examples.

  • Antonio says

    @John – The line height, do you mean for the main body copy of each post? I dig the mix of line thickness, to me it divides the sections better. Thanks for noticing the missing space after tags! I’ll fix that. Could you send me the sample code for the conditional tags? You rock!

    @David – That could be another way to handle the links page. I’ll have to mess around with some options to see what works best. Thanks.

  • semioticmonkey says

    I like Hemingway theme too.
    There is a mod here
    http://ninjamonkeys.co.za/ninja-monkeys-theme-widgetized-hemingway-for-wordpress-22/
    just in case.
    I’ve not tested it with wp 2.5 cause i’m now in love with ruby so i’m working and customizing the bare bone Radiant CMS but it is said supporting the 2.2 wp release.

    The current theme is in my opinion a good theme. Maybe i would push up the content a little bit, move the search box on right top and give the recent posts column a more raised position.
    In short, more above the fold content.

    The conditional tags examples are on codex
    http://codex.wordpress.org/Conditional_Tags

  • Antonio says

    Excellent! Thanks!

    I’m looking for a plugin that can display all my links in a dropdown menu. That would solve some space issues for me and I can even bring the dropdown up to the top. But I can’t seem to find a plugin that does that.

  • Antonio says

    I found a plugin that puts the links in a dropdown. It’s not live on the site. Let me know what you think and if it works properly.

  • I’m personally quite fond of your current design and think the contrast between thick and thin lines to be effective and appealing.

    I agree with David Airey that it would be nice to have related posts displayed on your single.php pages, and perhaps have the most popular posts listed on the main blog page.

    But I’m not sure if adding an additional page for archive links or recent material would be the best approach. Although it would help the content breathe by getting rid of the visual noise, this would come at the expense of reducing visibility and exposure to other parts of your blog. Considering the type of material that you post, I suspect that your readers want to be able to jump around from post to post and would rather not click on a special archive page to do soโ€”this would just interrupt their work flow.

    Maybe a better solution would be to place the archive/recent/related links in a horizontal sidebar instead of a vertical sidebar. I think the problem with vertical sidebars is that they create multiple columns of information within the browser’s viewport. This in itself isn’t a bad thing, but when content is generated dynamically, we don’t have control over the column heights. I think this breaks down the effectiveness of a grid layout because it introduces unpredictable irregularities. For example, the thin horizontal rules in your current sidebar don’t line up with the horizontal rules in your main content column. Some of the mismatched lines look fine, but some are within proximities of each other that cause a bit of tension, making it look a little uncomfortable.

    So maybe you can look into organizing your information into horizontal segments…? The computer is a horizontal presentation environment, so I think such a layout would allow the content to breathe without restricting visitors’ access to the information that they want.

    I’m personally not a fan of dropdown menusโ€”makes people have to work for the content because they can’t see everything at once. Actually, a while back ago, I was doing research on web user interfaces, and every person that I observed and interviewed absolutely hated dropdowns.

    Just food for thought.

  • semioticmonkey says

    @Dickson Fong
    You can control dynamically generated content. You can always use a limit in the sql select statement and a trim on the string in the array. In this way you can have a 10 elements list with every list on its own row in a fixed height div. A ‘more’ link is required (or a semantically equivalent icon).

    The dropdown menu is required in every information dense web application, no matter how much we hate it (or not. Me not). I use it every time there is a need of the user choice in a appropriate context. It is a good example of function dictates the use. A dropdown is very often a limit (see Amazon) so it is used in these cases where there is a need of vertical segmentation.

    I’m not convinced by the web as a horizontal presentational media. Tests all around the world show users are more distrurbed by horizontal scrolling than by vertical scrolling and HCI rules tends to prefers the vertical columns pattern.
    In the CSS3 specifications you can see more and more columns
    http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/CSS3_Columns

    @Antonio
    I agree with Dickson Fong on a footer (horz space) where in a vertical grid you can list your inspirations link, Colophon and Goodies.
    From what i said above you can get my opinion about the dropdown link list. I would prefer the footer above mentioned and a dedicated page linked from there.

  • Antonio says

    @Dickson Fong
    I’d love for the horizontal rules in the sidebar to lineup with the ones in the main content area but that’s simply impossible since the length of each post is always random. There would be no way to consistently line them up.

  • @ semioticmonkey: Wow, didn’t know we could do that! Obviously, I have a lot of programming to learn.

    For clarification regarding horizontal segmentation of content, I didn’t mean to suggest a wide layout that would necessitate horizontal scrolling. As you said yourself, that’s a big no-no.

    What I was suggesting to Antonio was to reduce the number of disjointed columns at any given time in the browser’s viewport by substituting full-width horizontal sections (less than 960 px total width). Regarding readability, there’s no need to take up the complete width, so proper line length shouldn’t be an issue if the grid is properly set up. A little difficult to describe without visuals, so I’ll just link to Andy Rutledge’s article because he’s more eloquent than I am :

    http://www.andyrutledge.com/quiet-structure.php

  • Antonio says

    Dickson, I just checked out that article by Andy and I really don’t understand why he has to brand it as a “quite structure”. It really doesn’t make any sense if you actually think about it. Just seems like such an inaccurate title for what he’s trying to explain. To me the difference between the CNN site and the USA site is very simple. It’s called bad design. CNN is well designed, USA isn’t. And the examples in the article show this. It was a decent article showing the difference between the two sites but I just don’t get why he’s trying to slap a label onto something that doesn’t need it.

  • i like it. all i’d do is cut down on some of the left hand edge content so that the right hand, featured design area has more weight – i didn’t think the nav/content balance was right.

  • Gorcin says

    Clean and nice design. I like it very much.

  • semioticmonkey says

    @Dickson Fong
    ah! i agree with you. sorry, I misunderstood your comment.

    @antonio
    well…well said. The ‘structure’ maybe is quiet maybe is balanced but it existed for so long on differents names (or no name at all) and there is no need of a new one.

  • Onur says

    I’m assuming you updated your blog design since this thread, because the site looks really different than Marber. Are you using a custom template now?

    -onur