Only 10 days left until the design reboot (unless I get antsy and launch early) and I thought I'd share some previous iterations of the design. You can get a sense of the direction I went in with the new design.
I can't tell you how much I've been stressing over this redesign.
The First Iteration
I started this back in March and even showed a few people the first version while at SXSW. People were very positive about the design (or just didn't want to say anything bad to my face) and was getting very confident that this would be the version I'd launch with. I saw one major problem: the fixed comments. With shrinking things down to 3 columns and adding more content into the sidebar, the fixed comments wouldn't have had the same impact as before. If anything, they were darn near useless. Plus, I worried that I was taking too much from Veerle's design.
The Second Iteration
From there, I decided to play with some of the elements from the current design. I made heavy use of the triangles, adjusted column sizing and worked some of the shading. I think it's pretty clear that I was heading in the wrong direction. Everything felt too blocky and disconnected. It was too disjointed. But I switched back to four columns to allow room for the fixed comments. I pictured them appearing from under the On Topic section when you scrolled down.
The Third Iteration
The third iteration dropped almost all the pointy triangles. This layout started feeling like a mere readjustment of the current design. It certainly had a number of the elements that I wanted to introduce but I wanted to be a little more daring than just this.
The Fourth Iteration
At various points in the design process, I'd take a detour and play with some elements. In this case, it was the layout. I shifted the green from the side to the top, moved the right-most column to the left and started creating a tiered approach to the content. Let's just say I didn't bother spending too much time on this version. Nothing about this was working for me.
As I'm sure has become painfully obvious, I am focusing on using a light-on-dark concept this time around. To some degree, I'm jumping on the bandwagon but I also wanted a contrast from snook.ca with it's black-on-white design. It's a work/play, yin/yang thing. In any case, there are still plenty of surprises for the full launch.