Playing With Fire

Redesigning one's site can be a tricky endeavour. Before any decent readership (read, the majority of the lifetime of this blog), I'd redesign frequently. Every few months (um, weeks) I'd try something new. Then I got to the design you see here.

This came about back in May of 2005. I had come up with the fixed comments idea and the whole design was really centered around it. I really wanted to make it easier for people to comment on the site (seriously, no required fields or captcha's here). Here it is almost a year later and not much has changed. I've managed to polish up the design but it's almost exactly the same as it was when it first launched. Andy Budd was even nice enough to add it into his latest book, CSS Mastery. With this kind of attention, I'm more apt to leave well enough alone.

Then Veerle redesigned.

Since then I've been trying to redesign. But it's like hitting your head against a brick wall. I believe in the personal brand and as a result, I really want to stay true to the essence of the site. The black and green are staying. Of course, fixed comments are staying. At SXSW, I felt like I was getting to be known simply as 'the fixed comments guy'. One of the goals in the new redesign is to bring focus to additional content that I've created that may not have been highlighted before (This is finding it's way into the site already with featured content now in the sidebar).

To force my own hand, I've officially entered into CSS Reboot. On May 1st, a new design will be unveiled.

Published April 02, 2006 · Updated September 14, 2006
Categorized as Design
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20 Comments · RSS feed
eric said on April 02, 2006

I hope with the reboot you take narrower window widths into account - the current design is great, but doesn't take kindly to 800 widths. As a widescreen user, I like to keep other things open while browsing, mandating a narrower-than-1024 width.

Working in some of the 'fixed but resizing' magick that's getting passed around lately might do the trick!

Nathan Smith said on April 02, 2006

Jonathan: I know what you mean. Prior to my current design, I didn't have much readership at all. Then, it was featured on CSS Vault, and a few other places. I too, want to redesign my site, but for whatever reason can't think of anything I'd really like to do with it. It's a case of writer's block, or designer's block, I suppose.

Jeff Croft said on April 02, 2006

I know the feeling, too, but I've managed to come up with a redesign I like pretty well. Now, I'm just trying to decide to go ahead and roll it out or save it for May 1.

Whatever you do will be great, jonathan. Just don't force it, let it come to you. It will. :)

Ian said on April 03, 2006

This site is already the envy of so many designers (before this site, I wouldn't have even touched green!) plus all of it's CSS beauty and the fixed comments ;)

I'd really like to see how you could improve it as I think it's already (for lack of a better term) ideal!

The only improvment I could think of is to use CSS to specify a width on the 'subscribe' input field - as opposed to using the input fields 'size' attribute (looks crap in firefox mac) - but really, that is it.

Can't wait to see the next version!

Jonathan Snook said on April 03, 2006

eric: the whole 800 wide debate is an interesting one. While not ideal, the first and most important 3 columns do fit in an 800px wide screen. This was on purpose.

An earlier iteration of the upcoming redesign did change the site down to 3 columns and fit at 800 wide but I felt that it made the fixed comments handling a little more complicated.

Dustin Diaz said on April 03, 2006

Does this mean I should hold off on posting that screenshot you sent me? ;)

Lookin' forward to it bro.

Shawn Grimes said on April 03, 2006

I know that feeling of wanting to redesign very well Jonathan. I will be looking forward to whatever you come up with on May 1. I'm sure you've got a couple of tricks up your sleeve.

Shayne said on April 03, 2006

Looking forward to the new design Jonathan.
This design will be missed, unless the new one everyone away.

Sean Sperte said on April 03, 2006

To force my own hand, I've officially entered into CSS Reboot.

You and me both, Jonathan. I just hope I can pull it off with my busy schedule and don't turn into another Go-To Splash Guy.

Adam said on April 03, 2006

Im trying to design my business website at the moment, the original was rushed and isnt how I wanted it but needed to get it online, but everytime I open a copy of photoshop or pick up a pen to sketch an idea I just ran straight into a brick wall. What ever i create I just dont like it.

I think im getting somewhere now. Its just one long process.

good luck with the reboot!

Adam said on April 03, 2006

Thanks for participating, Jonathan! It's great to have you -- can't wait to see what you come up with :)

eric said on April 03, 2006

Jonathan, I do appreciate that for sure. Making everything fit 800px would be a bonus, not a necessity – the site, as it stands, is already pretty tops.

Jules said on April 04, 2006

Lately, I have been thinking about alternate designs for my blog (Pen and Ink) but I feel that because of the name of my blog, I can't just create any new design, I feel it must fit in with the name. You have the advantage of having used your name: other than the people who know you personally, there are no restrictions on what you might use as a design. The same might be said of blogs that have names that mean little if anything such as Stuff and Nonsense, Alt Tags, or Hullabaloo.

I have tried to think of various uses or imagery associated with pen and ink and came up with the standard range of stuff until I was watching a bit of a show called Miami Ink which is about some tattoo artists in Miami and then I realized that I could use tattoo imagery.

Good luck with your redesign and CSS Reboot.

David Benton said on April 06, 2006

I just wanted to say: I came for the fixed comments, but stayed for the programming/scripting tips and links, and the general web design commentary. The writing ain't bad either; keep it up.

Derek Punsalan said on April 08, 2006

It's tough finding a design that you can sit on for months on end without the need to change things up a bit. I've always considered your page to be the top of the class example of how intuitive layouts prevail. The fixed comments is something that I've always wanted to try but never found the time to implement. I can't wait to see what materializes between now and May 1st.

jakub zalewski said on April 10, 2006

come on, guys.. innovative designers should push standards up, one of them is leaving the 800px behind

good luck with the redesign, i hope it'll be so good that we won't miss this one :)

kartooner said on April 11, 2006

Looking forward to whatever you happen to have up your sleeves, Jon.

I think for the redesign, you should have "fluid" (instead of fixed) comments, eh? ;)

eric said on April 12, 2006

Jakub, how is 'leaving the 800px behind' actually 'pushing standards up'? Do you browse full-screen all day? If you ever view a site windowed, for whatever reason, and horizontal scrollbars show up (1024 and up, generally), you'll know what I'm talking about. It's kind of annoying.

From an accessibility standpoint, which I would hope is a more important standard, I think narrow sites are potentially better as well. IE7's new 'page scale' function is great for accessibility too, and works with fixed-width sites amazingly.

jakub zalewski said on April 12, 2006

Eric, I mean that we are in an era when cheap home/work screens have res minimum 1024, in most cases bigger, even on notebooks. Designing for 800 makes useful space wasted and that's not usable, because you force putting information in a very vertical layout, when you can organize it more a more comfortable and handy way.

The case you are talking about ('i watch sites windowed') is the same as was on all resolutions, even 800, f.ex. 'i have my site windowed on 800' or 'i have an additional toolbar on the right', so make sites 640 an so on?

i have 1680@home and 1280@work, so i watch windowed and all sites have free space, byI'm not trying to convince you to do for 1600. 1024 simply IS a standard right now, so designing for 800 is wasting information space.

kovka said on March 15, 2011

Я обязательно добавлю вас в избранное...)

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