Design, structure and status - October 22, 2005

The last month or so has been an interesting one for the site. I started the redesign about a month ago and it’s still going strong. This time around, it’s not just about looks, most of my efforts have been concerned with structure; thinking about how people visit the site and ways to keep them around. It’s not easy. If you’re really interested, read the change log. The site will never be finished but this layout should stabilize within the next few weeks, I still haven’t figured out how Michael is actually quantifying his progress.

Despite my best efforts at becoming a structural whore, eightface has managed to pop-up on the radar of a few CSS gallery sites — most notably, CSS Beauty, Design Shack and Fadtastic. So, hello to all the new visitors and thanks for the constructive comments and feedback. I’ve made a few changes a result, namely toning down the grunge on some of the headers.

A few people have mentioned their love/hate of the grunge stylings. I’m inclined to agree that a lot of the grunge and erasure sites popping up are a direct response to the austere 37 Signals school of design that we see so much of these days. And yes, it is a fad. One of those things that floats across the internet every few years. Usually in response to an outpouring of corporate work and people wanting to do different things with their personal sites. The vintage, worn look is very forgiving and has been one of my staples since the days of Photoshop 4 on the family P90.

Big-Ass Footers

The biggest initial change around here was the presence of the massive footer at the bottom of the page. It’s one of those things people have been talking about lately (ie bottom of the footer being valuable because the someone actually made it that far, etc), mostly in relation to Powazek’s redesign. Initially, I had all of the navigation down in the footer, but I think that’s a mistake — so the core sections are available at the top too. The footer has been removed from a few of the non-weblog pages, like the journal and gallery pages. What I choose to display in the footer will change, but I think its presence is a good thing and will likely persist.

What am I doing?

A footer can be useful for conveying a snapshot of your site to new visitors that allows them to dig a little deeper. That said, once you’ve got people actually sticking around you need to give them a few more tidbits. Merlin Mann points out that major hosts and services have status pages, so why not end users? If you’ve been visiting a site for awhile, sometimes you want to know what they’re into. So, bear witness to my rudimentary status page. There isn’t enough there to warrant a full post right now, but I might go into more detail later.

Finding old stuff

One aspect of this site that needs some work is the ability to the good older content. Usability guru and aesthetic asshat, Jacob Neilson, brings it up in his latest treatise against weblogs. In terms of actually implementation in real settings, it’s worth following the discussion regarding Joen’s post about tying the past to the present. I’m looking into some options, but for now there’s no real plan to deal with my noteworthy posts.

What to do with comments

Comments can be a pain in the ass to deal with. It’s easy enough to slap them under the post and throw the comment box down at the bottom of the page. It’s not that bad, but that big old footer can end up pretty far down the page. We’ve started to see a number of solutions for floating comment boxes, either in the sidebar or at the bottom of the page. It makes a lot of sense, allowing you to track through the page and make notes as you go.

For now, I’ve thrown the comments off into the sidebar. They take up less space and the discussion is more prominently visible. The comments form is collapsible, but that needs to be more apparent. For posts with more than five comments I might attempt some sort of shoutbox style scrolling window. Or possibly page results displayed with some ajaxy goodness.

The end

The end indeed.