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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Geek Makeover

A while back I got an email enquiring about converting a site from a table-based layout to cleaner markup and CSS. So of course I er… disregarded the client’s requirements and almost badgered them into letting me also do a complete redesign.

Find Your Geek screenshot

Luckily Tom, the site’s owner, gave the go-ahead and liked the design, and the shiny new Find Your Geek site launched a couple of days ago. I’m sure there’ll be details to tweak, and with hindsight I’d have structured some bits slightly differently, but so far it seems to have been received well.

As with any project, I learned/confirmed things:

  • With a community site, you mustn’t forget you’re tampering with an entity people are investing their time, attention and emotions in. Being led by them would result in messy design-by-committee, but you do have to logically evolve the site and sometimes hold back from radical, jarring changes. For example, in this case I developed the colour scheme from the previous one, keeping a sense of familiarity and continuity.
  • Some JavaScript widgets don’t do enough to override page styling; both reCAPTCHA and AddThis caused problems with CSS clashes.
  • Forums always take longer to restyle than you expect, with nooks and crannies that almost inevitably require an iterative approach.
  • Currently it’s hard to recommend anything other than jQuery for unobtrusively applying effects and interactivity.
  • For anything vaguely comic-like, Blambot’s fonts are a must (logo uses customised Boogers characters, navigation/headings are Anime Ace).
  • I am so old compared to most people on the site…


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