I've been working on a new design for a while now, and am at the stage where I need a second opinion. So, in the manner of the BBC here's the new I like beta home page. It's been redesigned for a few reasons:

  • I wanted somewhere to put the del.icio.us links that wasn't in the main part of the page.
  • A third column would come in handy.
  • I've lost the copy of the old font I used for the headings so have gone for my new favourite, Clarendon.
  • It was generally looking a bit tired after all these years.

Although I work with websites all day I don't usually design them. Poking about with CSS is fun for a while but ultimately not my forte. So I'd be really glad of comments, particularly from those of you with non-1024 screen resolutions*. It only goes as far as the home page at the moment but I'll do the rest once it's been road-tested for a wee while. All comments gratefully received - if you can't be kind be constructive.

*Technical details: It's a fluid 3-column layout. Not sure if this is the right way to go. Let the audience decide.

Hmmm I'm not sure. I like the clean new design in particular the new font for the website heading and the tabs, but I like the third column less I think it looks a little busy with it . . . perhaps I'm wrong though ?

Love and stuff

Simon James x

Thanks for being first in. Fair comment!

I have my resolution set a bit narrower than 1024 (dual monitors, my web browser is vertical), but it looks fine. I do miss the colors though. The light greens and blues make it more inviting. The starkness of the new design doesn't quite jive with what I've seen as your aesthetic.

I agree with the first two comments, there is something about the warmth and "crafted" look of the current site that the new template is missing. The new look has a minimal, structured quality that doesn't hit the right note. I think mixing some
decorative, lighthearted elements into the design would help.

The three columns work for me. My suggestion would be making the each right columns a different shade of blue to separate and distinguish them from the main column.

That's my two cents, from a guy who visits almost daily.

Harry, Robert - thanks. Very valuable comments. I wondered myself if it was stripped back a little too far. I hoped the pictures would perk it up. I'll have a tinker and see what can be done to warm it up a bit.

I think I like it mainly, esp the tabs, but I am rather torn as to whether I like the busy-ness of the 2 sidebars or not. I didn't yesterday, but today they make me think of a village hall noticeboard, which is cool. Each bit needs little drawing pin icon to complete the effect! But then it might go wacky, and no one wants that...see, I really don't know what I think!

(It niggles me ever so slightly that there are two links to the postcards though, but then I am notoriously picky like that, so I wouldn't pay attention to me on that!)

Hiya Anne, here's a stream of thoughts:

I miss kitty's eyes a bit. (The logo's smaller.) Did you used to carry your cat round that? I did :)

I prefer the old logo's script to a slab serif. Not that I don't like Clarendon – it's lovely – it's just the old one feels more personal, adds to the crafted sort of feel that the other posts mentioned. By the way, a quick investigation leads me to think that the old font's a slightly squished Lauren Script, which is free to download here:

Speaking of which, I'd be tempted to combine the logo and type into a single graphic, maybe use CSS image replacement on an h1 element so it's a little more accessible to screen readers.

The old blue's a bit nicer than the new darker shade? Maybe that's another thing putting the others off?

I'd put some hover effects on the tabs. Maybe reverse them, so the white one's the active tab, with the blue ones being inactive – this might keep some of the familiarity of the old navigation bar. Dunno how well this'd work, maybe an edge highlight would help if you did it like that.

It may be nice if the main column's first post headline lined up with the sidebar heads. I gave this a quick go in Firebug and it seems to work well.

A little more space between the posts?

Maybe make the headings a little bigger? I've tried 1.3ems and it looks quite good. Perhaps use (styled) h3's for the sidebar heads to differentiate them and make them a little easier to style?

Maybe a little less gap at the top of the sidebar boxes? Probably be sufficient to set the margin-top to 0 for both of the sidebar h2 elements.

Perhaps set a min-width and a max-width. Yes, they're ignored by IE, but for other browsers they're helpful in stopping the site becoming completely squished or, at the other end of the monitor scale, the line length becoming huge.

On the footer, I'd prefer either a "back to top" link or stripped-down navigation links, shifting the copyright notice to the right.

Your Analytics code is in the wrong place at the moment, so is repeated for each post. It needs moving to the bottom of the page, just below the bloglines javascript. The markup could do with some general tweaking, though I'm guessing that'll come later. (I'd be happy to help if you need.)

There's a horizontal scrollbar in IE6 and below. Not sure if you want to fix that.

Maybe do some accesskeys for the navigation? (I tend to use the same set as the BBC.) It's a minor one but may be of use to disabled readers.

Might be worth upgrading to Movable Type 4, while you're doing a redesign? 3.2 is getting on a bit, not sure if it's still supported and secure.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Overall I think you've done a great job, the new design's cleaner and better structured, but I reckon it still retains the feel of the old site. Nicely done!

Bugger . . . ManxStef did far more homework than I did. Must (as ever) try harder.

Simon James x

Alix - fair point about the postcards. It crossed my mind as well.

Stef - thanks! That's an amazing list. Some of those things are there for a reason. Not necessarily a good reason but I'll get back to you for some more help if that's okay.

I dunno, I like the three columns. You like me I expect, have lots to show and two columns doesn't always cut it. I've just moved onto 3. Lots to add in. It's still messy but that's what permanent Betas are for, right?

I like it.

I agree that the header could represent some of the more colourful, flat graphic styles that you like. But. It's only a blog, right?

A change is good. And it's New Year and all that. Go for it.

Charlie, Ben - liking the way this discussion is going. You're right. No point sweating about it. I think it's almost there.

i think the new one looks great, but i love your cursive font for "i like" it goes with the m.sasek stuff.

Right, I'm only writing again because I've just changed mine again. I had three columns like yours, with two on the right and it started to look too muddled, with the side columns falling on top of each other somewhat.

Now I have one skinny one far left which is basic into - links, categories etc and then middle is the main blog and then right is another content column, with youtube and music and interviews coming soon...

just thoughts...

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