Posts tagged ‘CSS’

A fresh coat of paint…

As you may have noticed, the site has undergone a change. While the cosmetic change to the site may seem significant, there was actually little done other than some new graphics and fonts. In actuality the pages themselves have changed little structurally, thanks to semantically correct markup and the alchemy that is Cascading Style Sheets. The serious changes are things that are not visible, such as a new and improved admin for the site manager (bringing it into XHTML compliance as well), switching to Sessions-based logins and a nice “Remember my login” feature, a niftly in-browser web editor (by Moxiecode systems) and some abstracting of the job runner and site settings (with an eye to making the site manager more of a “product”). But for you out there in internet land, the new look is what you’ll be seeing as significant.

I’ll be honest, the new look is strange. I’ve used my old “chrome” look for a while and its become familiar. This new look constitutes the fifth distinct look for the site. The first one was actually Flash-based, but not the subtle use like nowadays: big, kludgy, sound effects every page load. There were even our good friends spinning GIFs. Next was a new version of the Flash version, minus the Flash: spartan navy-blue with static pages and some “cutesy” javascript elements. Next was the original look built for the PHP based content system I’m using now. I recall my friend Brian commenting that the site had the requisite amount of cyan, which illustrates my lack of design skill. Then came the good ‘ol white & metallic look we’ve grown to love.

Its always strange to see major redesigns of sites. They just seem weird. Its like when a company goes through a reorganization and has a new logo. It feels wrong. But over time we do come to accept it. An interestng note is how successful sites accomplish change in subtle ways. Take for example a famous design story involving online giant After extensive focus group research it was decided that the site would be better if the plain white backgrounds on pages were replaced with a softer, “manila folder” color. They promply rolled out the change, and were barraged with complaints about the sudden, drastic change. So the designers, whether as an elaborate joke or as a way to prove they were right, switched back to white, then over the course of many weeks gradually added more yellow to the site, until they returned to the so-called drastic change. They got no complaints.

So this begs the question, do sites NEED redesigns? Definitely, if the site is not very functional or usable. But what if the site is very functional and very usable? Probably not. Familiarity with the interface is a goal most internet locations covet, since familiarity breeds use. Yet as is what happens in buisness, companies become convinced that changing things is the road to success, even if their website is not the thing that’s holding them back. Change for change sake.

But look at two major players on the net: Yahoo and Google. Yahoo has constantly permutated their look, moving from busy to less busy, rearragning items, etc. Google has not deviated from their established mantra of “simple” over the years of their success. Google, because of its efficacy, hasn’t found the need for changing their interface.

Is this the end of the line for changes to the look of this site? No. I like building interfaces, and with the finalization of the XHTML code and improved use of stylesheets, I can change this site on a whim. And I just might!