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Friday
Jul092004

Rohdesign Redesign: Part 5

It's another Friday and time for an installment of the Rohdesign Redesign chronicles. This week was not as active as last week, though I've learned some things from objective feedback and have made decisions on color.

More Objective Feedback
All along the process of redesign, I've been asking for feedback from other people — friends, family and readers. This weekend, my brother Steve and his wife Janet were in town for the 4th of July, so I had Janet take a peek at my layout progression. Color ChipsShe's a creative person (kitchen designer), yet she is still far enough away from this project to offer some more objective opinions.

She liked the globe logo, and seemed happy in general with the overall design. Janet liked the 'Lowdown' section, both for the word used and the brief intro to the weblog and its writer (me). One item bothering her was the use of only a start quote on the block quote. I hadn't even considered this, but it made me take note and think about the design.

I've also received feedback from my friend Andy, who has been advising me during the project. He had suggestions about graphical treatments of the navigation to better match other areas, ideas for a right aligned navigation, use of grey as a color, and thoughts on color densities. Again, good food for thought.

Jason Santa Maria wrote in to suggest a treatment of some sort be applied to the navigation, maybe moving to graphics rather than text links. This focus on navigation being maybe a bit too plain or not in sync with other parts of the site seemed to be a theme to consider.

I intentionally left my layouts alone until Tuesday. My only contact with them was to bring them for Janet's review, but even then I only took her comments down mentally.

Consideration
After some away time, coming back to the layouts felt fresher, and the comments made by friends and family made more sense. That single quotation mark did start to bother me a little, and the navigation did seem lost in the shuffle.

I'm still not completely sold on the 3 column layout, wondering if maintaining a sideblog, and adding quotes each week is just more busy work I don't need added to my plate. In the end I may choose to ditch the 'Quotable' section, but hold on to the 'Notable' area.

Why? The Notable area seems a good outlet for links when I'm too busy for a full blog post — I can update the site easily, offer a new tidbit to readers, yet not invest much time unless I choose to.

Navigation is a tougher call. I want to try using unordered lists for the nav section, and I like the idea of text-based navigation, because it's easier to change. I don't want to create a gray header and icon called 'Navigation' as a navigation area should be obvious to a visitor. I think the solution will be a combination of an unordered list with background graphics. How that will look? I'm not sure yet.

Color Shift
The last large issue from my grey box and color process were colors. As I progressed through the designs, I grew less and less happy with purple. I liked the gray, the orange, the slatey blue/green, but purple was just not that interesting to me. My idea for color was to maintain it from the old site for consistency, but now I'm not so tied to this idea.

So, I spent a little time picking two main colors for the site that I did like, to see what variations I might prefer. This resulted in a palette of 4 color variations. I've not yet settled completely on any combination, but I am leaning a bit more toward the slatey blue rather than slatey green.

Next Steps
This weekend I hope to settle on a color palette, decide what to do about navigation and crank out a few more color layouts with these ideas in mind. I'd like to have settled on a design by Monday, so I can start building the site.

I'm going to use a construction approach that uses no tables for page layout — pure CSS. At work, I've just built my first website layout this way. It's gone quite well. I've been very pleased with the results, and I'm learning a ton about CSS construction. I expect the Rohdesign project will teach me even more.

Thanks for stopping by, hope this episode has been interesting and useful. :-)

Have a great weekend!

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