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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 = Designer. Developer. Producer. Writer. Editor. Etc.
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57 responses to “Time for a New Design?”

  1. @Jeff M: Are you serious?! 20% added to the size of markup just for empty space? I would like to see the experimental results for myself on that one. Not that it would change my mind for this site, but for client sites, where they are paying me to optimize performance, I would certainly consider it as an option. No wonder Google’s home page just spits everything out in a single line.

    It is completely healthy to obsess over my themes, but you will have to get yourself a Gravatar to feel the full euphoric effect on this one :)

  2. @Donace: Did not do any Gravatar testing. Actually, I am using only a small, basic script for displaying the Gravatars in this old version of WordPress (2.3), which doesn’t support them on its own. Even then, the script is included not as a plugin but as a custom function placed in the theme’s functions.php file. One of the reasons for taking this route in the first place was performance; many of the other themes available on the site do not use Gravatars, so I removed the beastly Gravatars II plugin several themes ago and opted for the simpler, functions.php option. I do recall that there was a slight performance boost when the plugin was actually working properly, but half the time caching simply did not work. In fact, now that I think of it, the whole caching functionality of that plugin was a nightmare, causing far more errors and issues than it was worth. Would love to find a better way of doing this, so if you know of one, share it! :)

  3. I hate this, but I need to be honest: I don’t really enjoy the new wallpapers of the house. It’s hard to explain why the whole thing is not appealing to me, but I can try to share some thoughts.

    The header

    The header is pretty big for such a small logo. This makes me think that the logo has never been discussed. Well, this is a very delicate thing to talk about – I would probably be angry if someone was to discuss my NoPhysic’s logo – but PP is such a open-minded place that I dare to start a discussion :) So, let’s talk about the logo!

    When I think about PP, I think about a place of discussion first. These discussions you start, or feed, often take a very intellectual, abstract approch. It evokes me the image of some Harvard professors sitting at a table, discussing anything that comes to their mind.

    So when I think about PP, I think of a place that has some of presence, and this should be translated into the typography: I think the font needs serifs. It would add weight, but also be less friendly. The two aspects considered, I think it would be right with the atmosphere. But once again, I’m not you Jeff :)

    Also, back to the header as a whole, the unique rounded corner disturb me a little because it breaks the symetry of the main column.

    UI elements

    The first thing that surprised me when I loaded the page and discovered the new design, was the austerity of the colors. It’s quite professional now, but it’s also clearly less rich than the last iteration.

    The B&W is clean – why not? – but the links color is too close to the unstyled links color in my opinion. I don’t like this blue very much. I also find the metadata and visit counter too violent with their contrasted rectangular boxes around them. Reminds me of an administrative form, or a stamp. Finaly, the search form color makes it quite hard to see, and I’m wondering if such an important functionality wouldn’t be better put directly in the header.

    Aaah, something great now, the comments! They are awesome! The spacing is perfect, and the presentation fabulous. it’s clear to read, and the Gravatars make it more human. Very well done here Jeff, I love it!

    The comment form is quite handy too. The focus color is a little bit under-contrasted in my opinion, but for my young eyes, it’s no problem and I like the subtle variation. The textarea is a little too large though, remember that the maximum line lenght is usually considered to be 70 characters – it goes the same for the main content.

    The footer

    Minor details on the footer – which is great by the way.

    There is a problem with the position of the star before “Explore Perishable Press” in the footer on my browser. The star is glued to the “Explore” without padding.

    The search field is nearly invisible on Safari. Also, I’m against modifications of the browser natural UI, but that’s another story :d

    Final words

    I wanted to make a constructed criticism of the new design, so I underlined the points that I judge problematic. Though, it’s not very fair for the good things you’ve come up with this time. I talked a little about the comments, which I love, but there are a lot of things that I like too.

    So, I don’t like the new design very much, but don’t be disappointed, it’s not like I thought it was horrible; it’s quite pleasant. Just not the charismatic design I would imagine for Perishable Press.

    Now seriously, good work Jeff :)

  4. Jeff

    That would be a worst case, where the output is a DOM transform with indent=’yes’, which indents with contiguous spaces (not ideal). Using tabs to indent (which you are) mitigates the size of the void, but remember the void also comprises newlines.
    So in the case of your tidiness, the redundancy is actually around 8% or 9%.
    Still something to consider, though.

  5. mccormicky 2009/01/23 7:10 pm

    Requiem! I like it. Because I am a reader of this site,because your articles have helped me a lot. Quintessential was pretty but this I can read for days.I had to jump in and get out fast when you had Quintessential up.It is distracting. I think you have achieved usable minimalism without looking too plain.

  6. Shadow Caster 2009/01/24 12:59 pm

    I honestly prefer the old theme. This is just too plain.

  7. Hi Jeff! Sorry for taking so long to leave a comment about your new layout. The past few weeks were pretty insane for me and finally I have a long weekend to stretch my legs… on the Internet, that is :)

    What I absolutely love about this new theme is a readability. I wouldn’t say that the readability of your previous theme was bad (white against grey is good too!), but having a plain, solid coloured background makes things more readable and easy on the eyes. I love the single-column layout, which eliminates the potential clutter and distraction of a sidebar (some even have sidebar’S’ – three-columns or more).

    I like what you’ve did to the post metadata, by hiding them conveniently away from the regular visitor but also placing a link at the top to prompt others that it exists. The placement of post metadata is a big pain in the butt for me when it comes to creating layout because I have simply no idea where to chuck them – looks like the sleek hide/unhide is the way to go. I like it!

    Everything looks fine to be except for two – the lack of padding around the header and the footer, and the blue coloured links. I wouldn’t go on a wild bashing, since it’s your site, afterall *smiles* and I know you definitely have your own reasons and logic behind the elimination of white space around the header and footer. For the blue links, it just reminds me of the good old Internet days when visited links are purple and fresh links are blue :D

    Have a great weekend!

  8. Thank you everyone for the excellent comments! As announced, I have decided to keep the previous Quintessential theme for the time being. Behind the scenes, I continue to work with the new Requiem theme, as I find it to be preferable in many respects.

    In the meantime, I am brainstorming for a good way to combine the best aspects of both themes. Something dark-text on light-background with plenty of detail and a nice sidebar to boot. Sounds like I am going mainstream with that idea, but there is still plenty of room to exercise my creativity between the cracks. In any case, I am thankful to enjoy such a critically minded and challenging audience. Cheers!

  9. awesome them i like nice work.

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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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