New site design again

So I changed everything around. Again. Like I say, I get bored with site designs every six months or so and the underlying code of Things Of Interest needed fixing up substantially, so I thought I might as well change what the site looks like at the same time. This is a pretty sketchy and uninspiring minimalist design at the moment since I am not very good at colour schemes and "vision" in this kind of area, but at least it's no longer white text on a blue background. Also I've moved to a nice serif typeface which I think will make the fiction more readable.

The biggest problem I have had with this site is width. I really wanted to stick to a relatively narrow fixed width, because very wide paragraphs are harder to read. But it turns out I have various pages with very wide tables which don't take kindly to being compressed. It's only a minor headache but it is a slight headache, nevertheless.

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Discussion (39)

2008-08-26 16:33:19 by Ian:

I notice you still haven't changed the comment section. However, any benefit you may have created by changing the typeface is completely overruled by the fact that black text on white background is difficult to read and it can strain the eyes if there is too much text. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Minimalism is nice and all, but you just end up making the site look as if there was an error in loading the page so all of the design didn't load.

2008-08-26 16:51:22 by Michael:

While minimalistic is one thing, I think that you'll find that many people see plain Black text on White background as boring, lazy, and a host of other choice adjectives. If you need help with color schemes, I'm sure some of the many reading this would have excellent suggestions.

2008-08-26 17:14:20 by Rob:

White text on a black background is less strain on the eyes. Also, I enjoyed your old site colors. It somehow fit with what I imagine your personality is like.

2008-08-26 18:29:59 by Ngamer:

Sam, I think your site may be broken- it's displaying black text against a white background!

2008-08-26 18:45:22 by MJ:

to be honest, mr hughes, i liked your old design better. personally i think it was less of a strain on the eyes than your current design.

2008-08-26 19:07:09 by qntm:

You are some strange people who have difficulty reading black text on white. Basically every other site on the face of the Earth does the same. Good thing I don't have shareholders, isn't it?

2008-08-26 19:50:35 by frymaster:

I actually refreshed the page twice, thinking the CSS file was timing out or something

I have to say I preferred the old layout; I do find light-on-dark more restful, but also you've taken minimalism a bit too fair in my not-humble-enough opinion. It seems... messy to me - might be the breadcrumbing isn't as clear, might be the fact that your google ads are still in the old colours, but in any case it just looks... odd

Anyway, you should be concentrating on writing more :P

2008-08-26 20:29:44 by Rob:

It's not that there's any "difficulty" in reading black text on a white background, it's that it's been proven that white text on a black background is less strenuous on the eyes over long periods of time. Just because "every other site" is doing it doesn't make it correct. Don't ask me to cite anything, I'm too lazy.

2008-08-26 20:53:08 by kabu:

I have to agree. My first thought when I read "new site design" was that it was unfinished and that this was the placeholder. However minimalist it is, at first glance it really does just look like a Microsoft Word document. Light font on a dark background looks much, much better.

I do like the new font, though. It's mostly the blinding white background that's annoying. Just making it lightish-grey would look nicer.

2008-08-26 20:58:43 by Treblemaker:

May we have visited links in a different colour again? I feel a bit lost, as one who knows not where he has been nor where he yet must go.

2008-08-26 20:59:01 by Mick:

I feel bad to be among the masses harping on you, Sam, but harp I must. White on blue was a MUCH better color scheme, and I personally don't see a difference in the font. I love this site and all of your work, and will continue to visit no matter what, but I sincerely hope you change it back.

Also, most sites I go to are not in black on white. Even if you like dark-on-light, go with a light blue or green. it is easyer on the eyes and looks better, too.

Thats my two cents.

2008-08-26 21:12:46 by kabu:

To clarify what I said above, I DO like the serif font a lot. I did like the old site design better, but this one is fine if you make the background grey-ish or something.

2008-08-26 21:18:52 by Alexei:

I am forced to agree with the above comments. How about a compromise? Something like the background of http://www.stevepavlina.com, where the black-on-white text is framed by a neutral colour to offset the glare and undo the inelegant left-align. Though scrapping the black-on-white colour scheme altogether would still be preferable.

I note, by the way, that you haven't had a single positive comment about the redesign overall (the best being "it sucks except for the font"). If our feedback actually matters as a tool for improving your site, the conclusion is fairly obvious.

2008-08-26 21:51:36 by Kochier:

Well I miss the javascript on the first page, the daily dose of randomness on your site. Also I miss the sitemap, it made navigation easier, but I suppose we'll get used to your new map at the top. As for the colours, I preferred the dark background, pages with white backgrounds just really light up my room at night, revealing the gruesome monster that stalks me, and I'd prefer not to be able to see him. As well your ads don't really fit in well anymore, they seem kind of out of place with their blue background. Though I suppose it's a work in progress, and any change to anything remotely popular is always met with resistance, so keep on trying. You are the person who taught me most about coding up a website, creating trails etc. (even if you don't know it, I've gone through your code a lot) so my site ended up looking a lot like yours, I guess this means people will finally stop comparing our sites. The only thing I find difficult is getting back to the main page now, before it was easy you could click on the big Things of Interest, or the main in the sidebar, though I suppose will have to get used to it, I'll try hard not to resist your changes.

2008-08-26 21:53:39 by Overmind:

The comment page apparently does not use the same CSS file as the rest of the site too.

As for the CSS links, we could all just come up with out own and submit it to him to use as a base, the more popular possibly all being added as alt's in the View->Page Style toolbar menu through meta tags, that should satisfy just about anyone. If you use Firefox or Opera (or IE with a certain plugin) you can specify CSS overrides per site so you can easily make your own and use it yourself.

2008-08-26 23:15:09 by kabu:

Sorry to keep chiming in, but I just did a little experiment. I just read through some of the more "sparse" pages again (the movie reviews) and now I'm seeing double and have a headache from the constant white glare. Seriously, there are little flashing lights in front of my eyes as I write this and they're not the pretty kind of flashing lights. I may be kind of a wimp, but I like to imagine there are other people out there like me. Somewhere.

2008-08-27 00:09:14 by Kochier:

Oh and I hate to nitpick but you said so yourself "the link changing colour if you've visited it" found here http://qntm.org/index.php?design , please make the links change colour when clicked on. As well on bigger screen resolutions there is a lot of white space, the text doesn't move to the end of the browser it just stays in it's nice little line.

2008-08-27 02:33:30 by jart:

white background hurts eyes

2008-08-27 04:04:24 by Mike:

I have to throw my name in the hat with everyone else on this one... I much prefer light text on a dark background.

2008-08-27 04:05:43 by Boter:

You got my e-mail about it, but I figured I'd add the public comment again - I have a preference for sans-serif fonts on the web, and in general I find light on dark fonts to be easier to read. I forget my source, but it was verified somewhere. The monitor emits less light to assault your eyes or some such.

This layout, with black on white and a plain serif font (there are interesting serif fonts out there, but this isn't one of them), just seems very late 90s.

2008-08-27 14:53:18 by Ian:

Ah, giving in to the will of the masses. It's such a pleasant experience when are your fan's whipping boy. Nevertheless, black text on white background is perfectly ordinary (if looking plain, as you said, the majority of websites around the 'Net feature it), but it *can* be a strain on the eyes if there are large articles and such to read.

2008-08-27 14:56:05 by qntm:

I can't help wondering if every single comment in this thread was written by the same guy under different names.

2008-08-27 15:18:54 by Luke:

I honestly don't like it as much as the previous design. I have to say that I thought the previous design was much more well-done and looked far more professional. This new font is dated, to say the least, and there was nothing wrong with the previous one.

Change it back!

2008-08-27 16:37:27 by MGargantua:

Like minds just think alike Sam.

2008-08-27 16:56:39 by Andrew:

I'm lost. How do I get to the rest of the website?

2008-08-27 18:42:33 by Crane:

Uh, I see the site as white on mid-blue still, even after the redesign. Did the reader-pressure make you change it back, or is my browser acting oddly?

2008-08-27 19:04:26 by Knut:

I'm afraid I have to join the whining hordes, I just liked the old design better. The new font is not bad, but the old one was better. Also I liked the spiraly things on the sides of the old design, they framed the page nicely.

I guess less is not always more.

2008-08-27 20:04:18 by Mick:

Sweet! The harping won out!

*does a dance*

2008-08-27 20:35:05 by Kochier:

"I can't help wondering if every single comment in this thread was written by the same guy under different names." Sam

Sadly I can vouch for my independence, at least as of the time writing this I appear to be but one being of one, not one of many, or many of one. Also thanks for changing the colours back, the rest I can get used to, but the white background was just too much.

2008-08-28 05:01:10 by Mike:

With the old colors back, I can definitely say that I like the new font.

2008-08-28 10:22:38 by Oolong:

I didn't mind the black on white myself - and honestly, I very much doubt *most* people would have any real problem with it - but I do actually rather like the mild blue-grey background you've got now.

The font's very nice. I've never seen a nicer font used effectively on a web site. There's only a limited range you can realistically choose from, and if you want serifs (and I approve of serifs) this is basically *the* non-ugly choice.

2008-08-29 04:37:28 by mcow:

Looks pretty good, although I think I preferred the old design - I've never been a big fan of serif fonts.

The only thing I would recommend is a little bit bigger line-height in the #content id. Right now the tight leading kind of gives me a headache.

2008-08-29 05:00:01 by Boter:

Okay - much better. I won't cry for the full old design again, but the return to the original color scheme, and therefore something of your visual identity with the site, is refreshing. Serif fonts I can get used to, and there are definitely a few good ones out there.

2008-08-29 10:21:39 by pozorvlak:

While I miss the old design, I'm sure I'll grow to like the new one - Garth's comments on new underwear are obviously applicable here. But is there any chance you could post the collection of taglines from the old design? I used to like those.

2008-08-30 04:53:25 by Kopper:

I'm on your side, Sam. I get bored of my own designs pretty quickly and like to change them a lot. That said, white on blue IS easier to read than black on white. Have you considered a (light) yellow on a (darkish) green? Imagine like an old school chalkboard, green with white chalk. Supposedly that's very easy to read.

I think black on light gray is nice too. It's the same principle as white on black, but with slightly lower contrast.

2008-08-31 11:40:59 by FFT:

I'm just wondering where the "new pages" section went as it's how I kept track of the new stuff.

2008-09-01 00:41:15 by Kochier:

It's called Latest Updates now, it's still there, and now the old latest updates no longer exist, or so I've come to believe.

2008-09-02 00:07:04 by YarKramer:

Hmm ... does the "latest updates" now only show new pages, or does it also have modifications to existing pages (in which case, it would be really nice if there was some indication of which is which)?

Myself, I think I rather like the new font -- it looks rather ... elegant, I guess you could say. Pity about not showing the "siblings of current page," though -- it'd be nice if you could go through all the installments of Fine Structure without having to hit "Back" every time.

2008-09-08 16:04:08 by tusho:

It's great but needs moar line-height. I suggest 1.7.

p { line-height: 1.7; }