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Time for a New Design?

As you may know, Perishable Press was redesigned only several months ago. As much as I enjoy the transparent imagery of the Quintessential theme (opens new window or tab), I find it too distracting and complicated for everyday use.

So I have redesigned, yet again. The new theme is called “Requiem” (opens new window or tab) and is return to my minimalist roots (opens new window or tab). There is something calming and yet energizing about working with a streamlined, no-fuss interface, especially when you are extremely busy. The new theme was completed in December of last year, and I have been using it behind the scenes ever since.

Now I want to know what you think about the new design. Is it an improvement over the previous, more colorful theme? I will be taking your feedback into consideration when deciding whether or not to keep the new “Requiem” theme as the default. Let me know your thoughts! Thanks :)

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Jeff Starr = Creative thinker. Passionate about free and open Web.
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57 responses to “Time for a New Design?”

  1. Oh I realize there’s no rule… and that you care about typography. It’s why I was surprised to see it here. “evil” was a bit of hyperbole, but full justification distorts the word spacing and, unless the type is carefully laid out, makes copy less readable.

    Look at the word spacing on, especially, paragraph 2. It’s stretched out and less readable that if that same paragraph was left justified. In fact, the posts are less readable (to me, of course) than the comments.

    There’s little point to caring about the spacing of letters and words if you’re going to full justify them. If you LIKE it… cool. But since you don’t have fine control over widows/orphans, hyphenation rules on the web it’s harder to ensure that text set this way will always look good.

  2. Jessi Hance 2009/01/19 2:14 pm

    I really like the new Requiem theme. It looks thoughtfully designed and coded to me. However, like other commenters here, I’d prefer left-justified posts.

  3. Stan Rozenraukh 2009/01/19 2:36 pm

    I like it, But something about the black on white, is a little too stark and harsher on the eyes.

  4. Jeff Starr 2009/01/19 2:42 pm

    @rick: You raise some good points. I realize that there is a trade-off between the “macro-aesthetics” (i.e., looking at it from the page or paragraph level) of typography afforded by justified text and the “micro-formatting” of text on more granular levels (words, phrases, links, sentences). For many designs, the irregular right edges of text blocks are easily favorable to the inconsistent spacing introduced via justification. This design, I felt at the time, benefits more from the sense of graphical unity facilitated by uniform blocks of text and consistently symmetrical text edges than it would from evenly spaced words throughout each paragraph. Judgment call. And an experimental lesson in justified text. To my eye, it looks clean, crisp, and precise, although I am fully aware of the slight readability sacrifice.

    @Jon: Thanks for the feedback! Keep in mind that Quint. isn’t ruled out as default just yet.. I wanted to get everyone’s feedback before making a final decision. So far, it looks like I may be switching back.

    @Jessi: Many thanks! I am glad some of the design’s inherent value (due to long hours of coding, tweaking, testing, etc.) is available to and noticeable by others. Nonetheless, I hear your (and rick’s) concerns about the justified text and will consider changing it to left-justified text if I decide to run with this theme as the default.

  5. Jeff Starr 2009/01/19 2:47 pm

    @Stan Rozenraukh: Thanks for chiming in! I used to get tons of complaints about the light text on dark background — never would have thought that I would be hearing concerns over the traditional and widely used “black on white” configuration! ;) So many sites are using this particular combination that I can’t help but wonder if your screen is adjusted too brightly or with too much contrast ;)

  6. Hmm ok I see where you’re going with that. I wonder if there are other design elements that you could use to reinforce that block, rectangular feel. But hey, no experiment, no learning.

  7. Normally I’m an “evolutionary” design style guy. Major major design changes I find can freak people out in a bad way. Also I feel like super nice designs are rarely achieved in the first iteration, but rather in tweak after tweak after tweak. So a HUGE change sort of “resets” that meter and the tweaking needs to start again.

    That all being said, I think return to minimalism might be the right move for you. I think it fits your writing style, which needs little visual embellishment to stand =)

  8. Jeff Starr 2009/01/19 4:20 pm

    @Chris: yes, one of the reasons for the extreme return to minimalism was that I found it too difficult to concentrate on reading and writing while working with the previous theme. I have been using this new design now for nearly a month and find it very relaxing and energizing at the same time. And, I have already been actively improving and tweaking things incrementally along the way. I agree that doing so is essential to making a design the best it can be. Thanks for the comment, Chris — much appreciated! :)

  9. A little too minimalistic methinks, needs the stuff at the bottom to go down the side – but a definite improvement for me here on FF3/Vista/Quad Core/3GB, which was VERY slow and sluggish when scrolling, I assume due to all of the content hidden by JS. :)

  10. Jeff Starr 2009/01/19 5:41 pm

    @Michael: One reason why pages may have been slow and sluggish while scrolling via the previous design has to do with the numerous transparent PNG images, transparent background colors (via CSS), and rounded corners on <pre> elements and post images (again, via CSS). That sort of graphical intensity tends to gobble up the CPUs, especially on slower machines, and especially when scrolling because of the dynamic rendering involved. There is a bit of JavaScript used for the theme as well, but it was optimized and weighs hardly anything. ;)

  11. Kim Woodbridge 2009/01/19 7:12 pm

    Hmm … the Quinisessential theme is beautiful – a work of art really. But, it is hard for me to read. I have to admit that when I really needed to concentrate on one of your articles, I would read it in my feed reader. The beauty of Quint… was also a distraction to me – I would just sit there wondering how you did various parts and would think about your talent.

    I wonder if there is something between the two. While I appreciate the readability of this theme it does seem very minimal.

  12. it looks like its a art gallery…but the compartment retains the look of blog

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Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
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