As I had recently mentioned, I took a short break from publishing articles to focus on a number of things. One item mentioned was personal projects, the first of which being the design of this website. If you’re currently reading in your favorite feed reader and you’d like to see how things have changed, feel free to check things out. For those that are interested, I’ll take some space to lay out what was done and why I did it.
I’ve always been a huge fan of minimalist design, especially on the Web. I wanted to have a hand at something even more stripped down than the first three versions of Monday By Noon, and I think this is it. My main focus with this design was on the content. My hope is that when you’re reading articles on-site, you’re able to get the information you’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible.
I was also really happy to move this redesign to the front of my personal project queue as it was timed really well with the release of the Adobe Fireworks CS4 beta. As you may know, I’m a recent Fireworks convert, and I was completely thrilled with my first glance at CS4. Needless to say, I really enjoyed working in Fireworks CS4, and I’m in love with the new (to Fireworks) type rendering engine. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly suggest doing so.
It’s in HTML
We’re all intimately familiar with the extensive debate between HTML and XHTML, and I’ve set up camp on the HTML side of things. For a long time (since starting this website, in fact) XHTML was living under the hood, but after trying to take in as much as possible, I feel that HTML is a better fit.
There’s quite a bit to say about the issue, and I’ll be explaining my decision very soon.
It’s more personal
For a long time I tried to treat this website as a simple medium in which to publish what I had written, but it’s turned into more than that. I’ve been able to get in touch with some of my idols through Monday By Noon, and I thought it to be a good time for more detail.
It’s not complete
As with every relaunch, I haven’t quite taken all the time to clear out the cobwebs around here. My personal process is to work locally as much as possible and push live. I know it’s nothing groundbreaking, but the changes I’ve made in this revision are going to require some maintenance article-to-article. Instead of worrying about making edits locally and ensuring they’re correctly transferred live along with the redesign, I’ll be cleaning things up over the coming weeks.
If you happen to notice some quirks, that’s probably why. If you’d like to help out and send me a quick note letting me know, that would be great. One of my highest priorities is to ensure that every article has valid markup (given the change in DOCTYPE). I’ve got a decent sized list dedicated to maintenance and cleanup alone, but I wanted to get the new digs up and running first.
Well, what do you think?
I like the new design. It’s clean and easy to use. My only criticism at this point is that the links may be a little difficult to find. All in all, good work.
I’m looking forward to reading your discussion of HTML vs. XHTML.
I’m digging the type treatment in this version.
Is Fireworks really that much better than Photoshop?
I’m a fan of stripped back designs, especially on sites like this where the content is strong enough to do the talking.
Whilst I don’t have a strong objection to the new design I prefer a *few*more design elements and colours. It looks like a wireframe to me at the moment. The vertical rhythm on the typography looks great.
Congrats on v4!
Very nice! I’m actually working on something surprisingly similar (though different enough that I’m not going to look like I’m copying, at least, I hope not!)
The first time around I created my WordPress theme I turned it out as HTML but having changed to XHTML on the current version there seems little point in going back. It’s not that I believe XHTML is the better of the two, though I do like the strictness of XML, it is just easier not to bend WordPress out of shape to do your bidding.
I like your sprited heading images too, speed and number of requests is something I plan to concentrate on too.
Overall, I like the simplicity, the emphasis on content (what else is a blog, but content?) and the typography. Nice work!
Love the minimalist look and feel to the site. Very much so. And, I am glad you have chosen HTML and I look forward to your reasoning. I feel like I get in this debate daily, so it’s always good to hear why others choose HTML.
Overall, nice work.
Thanks so much for the compliments! I really do appreciate each of you taking the time to leave your thoughts on the redesign. Definitely some good tips for things to look into!
Sorry for my delay in response — I’ve just overcome some technical difficulties, but things are on track now. There are a few more issues to iron out, however.
@chris: I loves me some Fireworks. Have you tried it out at all?
I’m with George on this. While I like how clean the site is I feel a few well placed design elements could really lift things.
Otherwise it looks good
Excellent design! I’d ignore the requests for ‘well placed design elements’: the design’s strength is its purposefulness: if there’s no real reason for adding anything, I don’t see the point in doing so.
My only gripes would be:
– red links that aren’t underlined are indistinct for colour-blind users (check out your paragraph text with ColorOracle)
– why have you used images for some headings? Maybe some fancy CSS could have been used (Arial with some negative letter-spacing, for example)
And not really a gripe, but:
why use Fireworks in the design of this site? Wouldn’t going straight to HTML be easier?
With you on HTML instead of XHTML, by the way.
@Leon P: Thanks very much for leaving your thoughts. I used image replacement on the headings because of the type used. I opted for image replacement instead of sIFR simply for the sake of simplicity. The design renders respectably with images disabled (although I have some notes on updates to make).
Regarding Fireworks: I designed the site in Fireworks because I find it’s by far the quickest way for me to comp a layout. I can quickly move elements structurally, which takes a bit longer when you’re going straight to code. I know this particular design doesn’t seem to be too involved, but I honestly spent quite a bit of time playing with the grid to make sure the end product was what I was looking for.
@Jonathon: apologies for the delay in responding. I wasn’t trying to imply that your design wasn’t complex enough for Firefoworks; it’s absolutely my kind of design! I can see that you’ve thought about the structure so as to make it readable, navigable etc. I’m trying to find out why people use packages such as Fireworks: I’m a self-taught, new ‘designer’ who uses HTML, a little PHP, WordPress and CSS. I find that desiging on paper, focusing on the site structure and then diving straight into the CSS and HTML is a pretty painless process, and I think being able to tweak positioning, padding and margins in HTML must ultimately save time.
Perhaps it’s because I just don’t think visually, or maybe I design a certain type of text-based site.