An Analysis of the the Jaredigital: Black Layout.
It all started on July 17, 2004 when I went down to Borders and bought Designing With Web Standards. As I read through the book, I investigated many of the websites listed on Zeldman’s externals page, studying CSS styles, options, layouts, and markup. It was through my visits to these sites that I began developing the design for my Black design. CSS had opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities, and I was ready for the good times.
It all started with three influential websites: Justwatchthesky, Coudal Partners and Airbag. Taking a cue from one of Cameron Moll’s Sitepoint articles, I set out to strip from these sites the elements that I admired and shape them to my own design. Although I ultimately chose a more tame typographical style, Coudal’s large headlines made an impact on me, as well as Ryan Sims’ article format.
Before embarking on this design journey, I had to establish the scope and placement of my content. What sections did I want to include? What did I want on the front page, and where and how did I want to arrange it? My previous design had left me wanting for more content on the front page, and more organization for future expansion. A site map and layout schematic were the first steps. After some rudimentary mapping on paper and coming to an understanding of the desired content placement in my mind, I continued on to the visual design.
Coudal and Airbag’s three-collumn layouts were really the visual impetus for my redesign. This was the page structure that I wanted to have, since it allowed for more compartmentalized content areas than a standard two-column layout. With a reworking of the column widths and a few visual cues from Airbag, I soon had the content structure that I desired.
Palette & Visual Treatment
I have been rocking the “Wicked Worn” look since way back in the day, long before I knew it had a name or such a loyal following among designers. I have always been fascinated by old electronics, packaging, crates, signage, and typefaces. Chosing a visual treatment for my new design was not hard at all. Having already chosen a ‘rock & roll’ theme, I simply chose a color palette, typefaces and weathered textures that properly represented the theme. The black on cream color scheme reminded me of yellowed concert handbills, crudely photocopied and left plastered to telephone poles and the sides of nightclubs. It was perfect.
Content Management System
Textpattern was the final step in the equation. Admittedly, the decision to use a CMS should have been made at the very beginning to minimize development time, but I console my unorganized self in the fact that Textpattern was a pretty simple install. Transitioning my old articles was the most time-consuming task (aside from actually learning how to implement Textpattern), and unavoidable in any case.
So there you have it, in all its geeky glory. I’m happy enough with this layout and design to not change it for a while. I simply don’t have the time to pour into my own selfish projects anymore. And after a long day of designing at the office, sometimes the last thing I want to do is go home and do more of the same. This design is going to stick, and my wife will thank me.