Announcing “Scrapbook,” the New Site Design


You might have seen a peek of it earlier, but now the real thing is here: "Scrapbook," the new design for!

This design reflects Sherree and I more than the previous one did in quite a few ways. The scrapbooking elements--layered papers, leather photo frames, and "coin" letters--represent one of Sherree's big interests. (Though I picked out much of it!) The XHTML, CSS and PHP that drive it represent some of my interests. The brown monotone reflects a part of us both pretty well, I think, giving a nod to our Scouting and outdoors interests. It's also not too feminine or masculine, important to keeping things inviting. (Though initially, we were planning on either a blue or green monotone design.)

And most importantly, it's something we did together (on several levels). The previous design was from my late-'90s personal site. When we started this site, I just used that old design and adapted it as necessary. Ideas that seemed good at the time--like a menu with "Dan's Stuff" and "Sherree's Stuff"--proved wrong once the site's content and visitor base grew. With nearly 800 pages of content, knowing where to go became much more important. Similarly, if you didn't know us or our interests, how would you know which menu to look in? The need for a site design that unified us and our content--as well as simplifying such things--was necessary.

"Simple" was a key idea when planning this design.

  • Gone is the confusing menu I touch on above: "Dan's Stuff," "Sherree's Stuff," and "Our Stuff" were concatenated into one menu, "Journal"--after all, it's all "Our Stuff." An About Us page could provide some background information on who we are and what we're writing about (or photographing, as the case may be). Searching is important, so a dedicated search also goes on the top of every page. It's all tied together with a nice "" graphic to make every page feel the same.
  • Gone is the sidebar with "related entries," "most commented-on entries," and the like. None of that is important. If you're a new visitor, you want small doses of information; if you're a frequent visitor, you want the information you came for. A new sidebar simply provides a path from "Home" to the current page, and "Next" and "Previous" links.
  • Gone is the useless footer with only an e-mail link. You'll find it replaced with links to Newsfeeds, Notifications, Site Map and Search, as well as a brief copyright notice.

"Scrapbook" isn't perfect and will receive a few tweaks in the coming days and weeks. Small pages show the footer in the middle of the screen. In IE, the Journal menu pops under the About Us button. The search suggestions appear underneath the header. (Fixed!) If you come across any other weirdness, I'd appreciate it if you left a comment or sent an e-mail. I'd also like to hear any other comments you might have about the design.

Lastly, something I really like about "Scrapbook": random right-hand thumbnail backgrounds and "gallerycontainers." For example, have a look at Book Review: Real World Adobe Photoshop CS. Look at the leather-like background that the bookcover thumbnail is sitting on. Now, refresh the page! (You might need to refresh a few times to see it change.) This effect can also be seen in any photo gallery. Slick! It's not so different as to make each page feel different, but it's different enough to make each page feel fresh.

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Older Comments (2)

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I think it looks good, and I like that you made it "ours" together with your wife. The design descions mentioned are interesting to read about. The site is simple to navigate without a lot of extra navigation elements to wade through. Nice work.

Wow I love it. Congratulations :)

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