What Happens When You Rethink Your Design

Last week, I wrote about my upcoming domain layout and the design issues I was having with it. Check out what happened when I started rethinking all the bits I didn’t like!

(click picture for larger image in new window)

This layout has a very, VERY different feel from my first design; the lighter, more neutral background color and the longer, thinner sidebar feel like the biggest changes, because those were my biggest problems with the first layout (too dark and crowded). But I also made some smaller changes, depicted below:

Text Shadows and Box Shadows, EVERYWHERE!

The headings have a subtle shadow behind them to make them pop; so do the boxes holding the various website feeds. Even the sticky navbar at the top of the page has a little shadow! (I was following my own advice, LOL!) Though at first I was afraid I was going shadow-crazy with the layout, the design seemed to need a little extra detail, and I find that the text shadow on the headings especially looks good without being overdone. What’s your verdict?

Social Network Sidebar Slightly Revamped

Since I loved the social network sidebar as it was, I didn’t want to change it too much…yet the taller, thinner dimensions of the sidebar in this design called for me to make some sizing changes, at least. Instead of two wider rows of icons, I now have three narrower rows. However, I’m not sad about these changes–in fact, I like this more compact design even better!

*GASP* A Background Gradient!

I’ve written about background gradients positively and not so positively, but after struggling with several background tiles and finding them all too “busy,” I finally chose this subtle gradient style, which highlights the top of the page AND scrolls with the sticky navbar as it glides down the page with the user. (I like this option better than the other ones I tried, but admittedly I’m still not QUITE sold on it…what do you think?)

New Quick Links Section

After receiving a couple of complaints from visitors about not being able to find certain sites on my domain, I decided to include this little section–and quickly realized it would be just as helpful for me as for others! These are the sites that are the most active these days, so this Quick Links section could help draw attention to them as well as make it easier to navigate my network.

Less Blathery Welcome on the Sidebar

Part of what made my first layout feel so crowded, I realized, was the super-long welcome paragraph I had shoved into the main content area. It felt clunky and distracting…so, with a ruthless Backspace key, I edited it and put it at the top of the sidebar instead, where it can properly greet people without overrunning the layout’s prime attention-grabbing space.

Bottom Line: Rethinking Isn’t Scary or Annoying–It Can Be Fun!

Revamping and rethinking my design seemed like a huge pain at the outset, but once I started digging into my layout and really trying to revision what I wanted for it, I found myself unexpectedly freed. For instance:

  • If I didn’t just love a layout feature, I wasn’t expected to keep it
  • It’s MY layout, so I can choose to have features wherever I wish/wherever they make sense
  • I can make several different versions of changes and compare them

In fact, doing this redesign gave me carte blanche to try styles and formatting I hadn’t messed with much before (such as the text shadows and the welcome message on the sidebar)–I found myself thinking, “why not try it?” After all, if I didn’t like it, the all-powerful Backspace key and Undo button could help me change it back. That was incredibly liberating! (Just make sure to save your work under different filenames if you want to compare two or more versions!)

So if you’re currently stuck on a webdesign you’re not sure about, I hope this post will inspire you to look back at your design and think, “Hmm, what could be different?” You may only make subtle changes, but it could end up creating a very different look–as I discovered!

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