New Site Theme

By Shamus Posted Thursday Oct 4, 2007

Filed under: Projects 133 comments

Some people have already begun commenting, so I thought I’d start a proper post so we can have all the comments in one place.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m working on a new site theme. The old one was (I think) very good looking but I’m weary of the thing now. I’m still working on this one. I might chuck it and start over. I might give it a new paint job. I’m not sure just yet, but I know we’re due for a redesign.

Feedback welcome.

Later: Okay, based on feedback so far it looks like this design is:

  • Too colorful.
  • Not colorful enough
  • Too businesslike.
  • Too childish.
  • Too clutterd.
  • Too barren and stark.

It’s perfect!

I kid. Please don’t stop with feedback. I’m gathering it all up, and I’ll decide what I’m going to do once I see what the major problems are.


From The Archives:

133 thoughts on “New Site Theme

  1. Rawling says:

    Gah, my brains…

    Seriously, though, not bad. Might just take a little getting-used-to, is all. I miss the old category pictures!

  2. Freya says:

    Not entirely sure about the yellow box around the comments. It is going to take some time to get used to; think I like it though!

  3. Jansolo says:

    I don’t like it.

    It looks like an IBM site.

    The new separators (text within oranged-line table) are simply worse than the previous images. Big size of letters (well, Verdana is a good choice in my opinuion, better than times new Roman) Try smooth colours.

    I prefer the old one.

    But don’t give up (just ignore people like me ;) )

  4. Alex says:

    I agree with those who’ve said the text is a little too large.

    Whilst I wouldn’t want to suggest you make your site less accessible to the vision-impaired, it currently looks a little… clumsy? Childish? Amateurish? And since the rest of your site is adamantly none of those, that’s quite the wrong impression to give.

    Actually, it’s a vile varicolored background and a “sign my guestbook!” link away from being a Geocities site.

  5. I like larger fonts. I’d go for a lighter cyan than what you are using right now for the alternate comment box, and non-bold links on the right. I’d add a bit of whitespace around the header. I’d get rid of the orange background for the subtitle.

    Cheers. :)

  6. Shamus says:

    Text: Smaller.

    Many other small tweaks to tone down the colors.

  7. Itzchy says:

    I miss the little anime cartoons that accompanied each post to show what topic it was filed under. :(

  8. Scott says:

    I like the new look when it comes to most of the site except the roundy looking icons for the different categories… I think they take too much away from the text and it’s hard to see anything but them.

  9. Sam says:

    Change it back

  10. Shamus says:

    Sam: That is the least helpful feedback. Ever.

    Also: No.

  11. hevis says:

    The old one was better. This is too blue for me.. :)

    And those old anime- category pics were lots better than new ones.

  12. Phil says:

    It’s crispy, it’s crunchy! I like it!

  13. maehara says:

    those old anime- category pics were lots better than new ones.

    Agreed. But then I’m an anime nut to start with…

    I’m assuming the current look’s still very much a work-in-progress, so I’ll hold off the praise / criticism until Shamus tells us he’s done with the redecorating…

  14. Ian says:

    Whoa, definitely a mite surprising. :)

    I like it. It makes better use of horizontal space than the old theme, which is always a good thing. The colors are nice and, of course, change is always good.

    The only thing that doesn’t completely agree with me are the italicized names in the comments. Not a big deal.

  15. Shamus says:

    maehara: Go ahead. Don’t hold back. The feedback from Alex Schrà¶der and Ian is exactly what I’m looking for.

    The anime icons did have more personality, but after a while they struck me as… i dunno… messy. Maybe anime faces on the blue buttons instead of symbols?

    I’m still mulling it over.

  16. Shawn says:

    The blue icons seem a bit too generic web 2.0, but then the anime icons were far too 1998. If only you knew an artist person who could tweak together some icons for you…

  17. Shawn says:

    More generally, I like it. The blue isn’t my favorite shade, but it’s very clear and readable. The only issue now is the site doesn’t really match your logo.

    Also, the white and blue alternating in the comments is a huge improvement over the old white and yellow.

  18. Joe Werner says:

    I like some of it. What I find irritating is:
    – The windowsy ‘icons’, at least to me they look like those newfangled Win XP icons, all soft and round and quite a contrast to the sharp (right word?) outlines of the “Twenty Sided” font.
    – I am not sure about using italics for the names… too many font styles perhaps?
    I like:
    – the new colours. The contrast is good. The site also looks ‘cleaner’, sort of ‘more professional’?

    I will still need a while to get used to it, though…

  19. Joe Werner says:

    The new logo
    – fits the rest of the design
    – contains _three_ colours (one too many?)
    – the white “blog” is nearly unreadable
    – is there a reason to change the colour from blue to red for the last two letters? I find that you use too many effects:
    1. the colour change (blue + red)
    2. the reflection of the letters
    3. the usage of two shades of colour per letter
    3.b) the change of the height of the colour shade per letter
    4. the ‘sun’ with a circle around it (which is messed up by the resolution) and the white word ‘blog’

    I like most of those but the combination might be a bit too much…
    On the other hand I enjoy your site for its content and as long as it stays as good I probably shouldn’t care about the design. But still, humans don’t like changes…
    Your logo was some sort of “trademark”… at least in my eyes

  20. Shamus says:

    Hmmm. And now it looks a bit naked without the yellow circlething.

    Ah well. Time to start my actual, real job for the day. I’ll let this sit and see what other people say.

    Thanks for the logo Shawn.

    Thanks for the feedback Joe & everyone else.

  21. Greg says:

    Personally, I loathed the anime subject pictures. But, at the same time, I’ve also always loathed anime :P. So, for me, I actually really like the new site design. Just seems a bit more professional, and less like something my sister would do. (Of course, this is from the same guy wearing a shirt and tie at his computer…)

  22. ngthagg says:

    I like the projects girl on the blue button, but the picture is faded at the top, which kind of ruins the effect.

    The blue and pink is bad. It looks like a child’s bedroom. Simply making the colors darker would be better.

    The bottom line on the thread title (ie, under posted by Shamus on . . . ) should be dropped a few pixels. It’s too tight to the text.

    Still it isn’t horrible. Not like:

    Times New Roman title, with a blink tag for emphasis.
    64 x 64 picture tiled for the background.
    Content not matched to size of said frames so that every frame has a full set of scroll bars.
    Built in midi player that plays by default.
    Built in midi player that plays be default and doesn’t have an obvious stop button.
    etc . . .

  23. Matthew says:

    I like the use of color contrast on the Twenty Sided logo, however, having the pink highlight solely on the “-ed” gives it a weird verbal emphasis and makes it read (at least to me) something like “twen-tis-id-ed.” I like the style, definitely, but perhaps moving the color to match the emphasis of pronunciation would make it look more presentable. My humble suggestion? Highlight all of “sided” in pink and you’re golden (color pun not intended.)

    Other than that, the format looks clean and presentable, and the color choices work with each other. The most important thing a reader should be worried about is whether or not the information will be presented in a clean manner for optimal viewing (one of the reasons I hate MySpace so much, with all of those heavy picture backgrounds that clash with the text.)

    But yeah, I think it looks sharp. I was originally going to suggest going with a color scheme that matched the proud, venerable d20 on the upper right, but two seconds of contemplation realized the folly of having gold text on white background.

    Hopefully some of that feedback is useful! :)

  24. Mattius Caesar says:

    I’m not a design expert so I don’t think I can offer *good* constructive critizism. However, my initial reaction to seeing this page as it is now (7:50am EST, Oct4th) was “OMG! The site has been taken down and replaced with one of those ugly ad sites that appear when you type in the wrong URL for a website!!”

    No offense, its ugly. To empty, like there isn’t enough effort put into it. Even if there *was* a lot of effort it doesn’t seem like it. If I were you, I’d try more colour. But as I said, I’m not a design expert…or layman for that matter.

  25. Chargone says:

    you know, i always liked the old arrangement. this one’s harsh and… ‘cold’

    ‘course, personally i tend to prefer silver text on black backgrounds… its’ quite possibly the easiest on the eyes of any color combination you can do on a screen. not sure how good it is for people with eye sight problems other than my own high sensitivity though

    i dunno, it just looks Really stripped down.

    also, the pink ‘ed’ doesn’t really help matters, but that’s partially mitigated [or made worse, depending on your point of view] by the fact that the entire logo disappears from one’s focus due to being right at the very top and then having that eye grabbing black bar directly underneath.

    actually, looking at it again, that category icon would be good if it didn’t wash out to white up the top.

    and now, to render the bulk of my post irrelevant, looking back at it, if there wasn’t so much harsh White [capitalized as much for the color it’s self as to make a point], it’d be just as good as the old one, possibly even Better. [‘cept for the logo. it really does disappear like i said]

    make of that what you will.

  26. Gwen says:

    Let’s try to make smart remark about it : Err, I much prefered the old skin…

    More seriously, the “blue and pink” colors are so “Web 2.0 hype” that it will be out of fashion in a few month. Usualy when I visit a site with such logo, it can means only two thing : i’m a on technological site and the author desperately wants to appear hyped. If you don’t believe me, just go to the Web 2.0 Logo Generator page (, you’ll see i’m not overreacting to your logo.

    Moreover I find the color so cold, so… hygienical. I would like the warm old skin back.

    Last but not least : I didn’t write anything in English for month. I hope my post is understandable. ;-)

  27. DaveJ says:

    I like it.

  28. kat says:

    I like it too. The color scheme is a little cold, maybe, but the layout is nice and clean.

  29. Issachar says:

    The new theme doesn’t work equally well on all pages. Pages with a high density of topic headings, such as the main DMotR page or even the month-by-month archive pages, look uglier than the main page.

    I agree with those who have complained that the new theme is overly blue, giving the site a vaguely cold, sterile feel. It could use a touch of warmer color somewhere in the design.

  30. Palette says:

    I personally can’t stand the pink “ed” at the end of Twentysided. When my brain sees two colors in the same word like that, it tries to break them into to two separate words.

    So to me, it looks like the title is now “Twentysid Ed.” Who is Sid, and why should I care that he’s twenty? Furthermore, is Ed his buddy, or is it an abbreviation for Education?

    If you absolutely MUST have a dual-color one-word logo, I suggest “20sided,” with the 20 being a separate color.

  31. Pugio Rosso says:

    I’ll have to go with “Too buisnesslike” and “Too barren and stark”.
    Now I’m not saying that this design is bad: it’s actually very professional-looking, without useless clutter and flashy “stuff”. ;)
    But I do not think it’s appropriate for a website about hobbies and geek culture in general.
    Your previous one was a tad more colorful (without being painful to watch) and more “personal”, while this one seems more “detached” and less welcoming.
    Nontheless the reason I visit this site is for the content so even if I don’t like the design, I will keep visiting it. ;)

  32. clodia says:

    My opinion: poor choice of colors, too barren, too business like. I thought at first that I had been routed to a site that would tell me that you were no longer online.

  33. Rob says:

    I’m not too picky. I like the blue. I like the comment shading. However, my only gripe is that I hate the pink. I think it looks a little tacky. I also kinda felt that your old theme fit with the D&D side of your blog. This one fits better with your VG side. Don’t know if there’s a compromise! :) Either way, I’ll get used to whatever you do so don’t worry too much about me!

  34. theckhd says:

    Most of my comments have already been covered by others.

    * Like the new title graphic, but the logical part of my brain wants to color in the “sid” with pink to match the “ed”.

    * The “Projects” logo is neat, but the only reason I can identify the anime girl is that I’ve seen her on your site before. I like the glare effect, but toning down the intensity of it slightly might help.

    * The white-backgrounded comments seem to “float” a bit. This is probably just the organizational freak in me coming out, but I like a clear delimiter between content and background. This might just be my quirk though.

    * The pink seems underused. Other than a splash in the twentysided logo and two lines in the post title, it’s nowhere else. Maybe shading every other comment with a pink background so that it alternates b/p/b/p instead of b/w/b/w would help tie it together. It would also soothe my “boundary issues.”

    * I do miss the old color scheme, as I think it had a nice feel to it. This one feels a lot more flickr-esque. That may be what you were going for though. In any event, it does feel colder than before. A happy medium ground might be blue/yellow rather than blue/pink, since the soft, warm yellow you used in the past seems to have endeared itself to a lot of your readers. Just food for thought.

  35. Chris says:

    I’m with Sam. What was wrong with the old design?

    At least change the blue.

  36. beno says:

    Hmmm, the blue and the pink clash. If you change the colours I think that will help a lot…

  37. JKPolk says:

    ARGH the “web 2.0” phenom takes over yet another site. I’m sick of the whole idea of web 2.0 being a theme, and not just an idea of socially networked sites.

  38. Asmogard says:

    I think it’s colorful enough, but you’re just using the wrong colors. Blue and pink don’t feel like colors that represent the contents of this site. I know that I should offer alternative suggestions if I’m going to criticize, but I just don’t have any good ones right now. It’s one of those “I know it when I see it” sort of things.

    Also, the site is far from cluttered or childish. Perhaps it’s a little too barren and business like.

  39. Phlux says:

    I think your new design is pretty good, but personally I think the black bar at the top looks out of place. Maybe if it didn’t stretch wall-to-wall, or were a different color (blue maybe?).

    As for the “web 2.0” thing, I hate that term anyway. It’s a pointless distinction that serves no real purpose in distinguishing new web technologies from old ones, has no agreed upon definition, and irks upon my pet peave of assigning version numbers to brand names and slogans.

  40. ShadowDragon8685 says:

    It just feels wrong. A bit too much like a bisuness’s corporate website, or maybe even their corporate intra-web.

    After all, the name of the site is 20-sided, the website icon is a d20. Perhaps the redesign should take as inspiration the new WotC site for D&D 4th Ed?

  41. M says:

    It was a bit of a shock seeing this; my major problem with it has to be that the pink and blue clash. With the post headings as just text on a white background, it seems a bit…sparse, as well, but I think I’ll get used to that – the pink + blue is just plain nasty on the eyes.

  42. azrhey says:

    I think most things I would have to say have already been covered. When I first arrived here from the RSS by first thought was : Ohhh, I was redirected to flickr. It is very flickrish colour palette.

    The rest seems fine ( I like the cold cold colours, but that is just me ).

    Although will you keep the dice comment counters? It is pretty neat but they don’t fit with the minimal-techno-design.

    But as others said, I come here for the content whatever the design.

  43. Dan says:

    Not stark enough! Too personal!

    Just kidding. I actually really like this direction. The old design was a great one, so it is tricky to follow that up, so I think a radical change is in order. It vaguely reminds me of the old Paranoia! documents.

  44. Nixorbo says:

    I second everyone who doesn’t particularly like it but doesn’t hate it.

    Looks too much like Flickr.

  45. ShadoStahker says:

    Alrighty, totally candid opinion, plus one bug.

    Yes, a bug.

    Opinion first:

    Looks pretty good. The blue category icons (blue and… lighter blue) can be a bit hard to see, especially if you have vision problems. A bit more contrast in the icons might be good, but I’ll leave that to you to design.

    It’s very much less casual, which is both good and bad. I won’t say businesslike, as the colour kind of goes against that, but less casual for sure. As I said, though, that’s good and bad, depending on who’s comenting.

    I agree with those above that said the logo changes colour at an odd place. Having “twenty” in blue and “sided” in pink would probably look better. As it is, it looks as though the site belongs to a guy named “Ed”.

    Altogether, I like it.

    And the bug.

    When comments are closed, the template doesn’t display properly.

    Check out the controversy thread, and you’ll see it. In Firefox on Windows, at least:
    – the sidebar menu is at the bottom of the page (centered)
    – the search box is below it
    – the footer (“powered by WordPress”) is on the right-hand side
    – the text google ads don’t exist
    – and the google ad banners are on top of comment 114

    If you check the sources on this page, and that one, you will find that the table tag that holds the comment form is being opened, but not closed. As such, the td tags holding the sidebar are being placed into said comment-form table, and not into the main site table.

    (By extension, the main site table isn’t being closed which, while it will display properly, is just bad form. :-P )

    Hope that helped!

  46. axcalibar says:

    Magenta? Why’d it have to be magenta!? Pure red would look great with that shade of blue. It works here:

  47. Rhea says:

    I think it’s the blue, pink, and white color combination that makes it look childish. And a lot like flikr. Then, all the white and the rounded edges on the icons make it look too soft and simple. I’m not sure how I feel about the all lowercase in the header there, but maybe I’d like it better with different colors?

    Anyway, it feels too streamlined and too childish right now. I would try changing the colors and then see how that changes it?

  48. Hal says:

    I’m sure the new design will feel more comfortable at some point. Still, I must chip in with the people who question the color scheme.


    I dunno. I guess if you like it, that’s what’s important. I’m not that big on pink, myself.

  49. Hal says:

    Hey, I just noticed that each comment is numbered by the dice at its side. How long has that been there? How high will it go?

  50. Jessie says:

    Well, I had a moment of, “Wait, is this the right site?” this morning. After that, my initial reaction was also, “Wait, pink?”

    I don’t think the pink makes it childish. I think it, with the the baby blue, makes it look a bit girly. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Hell, I am a girl.

    Ah, I suppose we’ll get used to it.

  51. siliconscout says:

    UH dude. the Magenta might as well be pink, and in my never to be humble opinion is a little too “cotton candy”.

    I would do with a more red or burgundy to get a more “grown up” feel.

    Other than that I am OK with it however I do prefer to read light text on a dark background. It’s easier on the eyes.

  52. lplimac says:

    It’s definitely blue, I’ll give it that. Personally I like sites that look more business like then one that has glaring color backgrounds. Only thing I’d really change with the new design is use the old post icons, or new ones in the same style. But hey, it’s your website not mine, so do what ever you want!

  53. Maddy says:

    All I ask is that you don’t screw with the dice. :-)

  54. axcalibar says:

    Perhaps if you used the blue cubes with colorful pictures within. You could have them go outside the cube’s borders for a nice impact.

    siliconscout: Magenta is a euphemism for pink.

  55. Shamus says:

    Yeah: No matter what I do, we’re keeping the dice. They’re just too much fun.

  56. asterismW says:

    I’m with the others, who’s first reaction was, “Gah, what happened to TwentySided??” I thought I’d stumbled across some imposter site, and I almost left to try and find the “real” one. I much preferred the old logo (to me, it’s what defined the site the most), and I think the whole theme is too blue. Also, the old icons were easier to differentiate. Before I could just glance at them and know the category of the post. Now I have to spend a few extra brain cycles deciphering the image.

  57. Avaz says:

    I didn’t have time to read all 50+ posts ahead of me, so I apologize if this was mentioned, but I think the reason you’ve gotten “too childish” is because of the magenta/pink and sky blue combination. I’d expect to find those colors painted all over a newborn’s nursery or something.

    (on further browsing, I have found this topic has been touched upon a few times)

    Aside from that, I think the rest just needs getting used to.

  58. onosson says:

    I think it looks great!

    I was actually thinking you should do something to update it a while back… nice job.

  59. maehara says:

    I go away for a few hours and it’s all changed again. I’m guessing the redesign is maybe another way of moving on from the DMoTR era? I know I’ll always associate the old logo with that. Ah, the memories…

    Anyway. I do like the clean / minimalist look, so I quite like how this is turning out. The smaller text makes better use of the space & is still big enough to read, the blue and pink (er, magenta) works quite well together (although the new logo’s a little too plain), and +1 for Winry on the Projects icon – although the images “under” most of the icons are a little hard to make out.

    A few more tweaks and I’d call it a job well done. But then, my web design skillz are hopeless, so what do I know. :)

  60. Joe Werner says:

    Yeah, light text on dark background… the old feeling of dos… the current feeling of the console under *nix… While I also prefer this for my “everyday business”, I’d rather go with dark text on light background for a webpage. The contrast tends to be better if you are using a small or lightweight font. (Contrast is good on my terminal with a grey monospace bold font on black background, but I’d rather not use bold fonts for webpages and such)

    I’d love to second this (the dice), but they don’t seem to be in the same ‘style’… ah, well, but I really love them… hard to say what to do with them.

    About the font:
    I am not sure about the relation between the logo and the main font. I am just starting to get some grasp for those design things, so I am by no ways an authority. I have one issue, namely the number of fonts and font weights (right word? I’m no native speaker, sorry).
    You use one font for the logo and another one for the content. In the content you use different fonts / weights / sizes for:
    – The caption “Unrelenting nerdery” (Probably better use the same font as in the logo, it is “part” of the logo)
    – The subject of the page
    – Author (bold) and date (normal)
    – The previous in this category
    – The content
    – The number of the comment
    – The timestamp of the comment (same as “previous entry”?)
    – The subtitle of the logo for the category
    – The captions in the sidebar (capitals)
    The problem I have is mainly that you use two sans serif fonts quite close together and I cannot decide if thats good. I also suspect that you use too many different font sizes / weights too close together. I especially mean the comment section whenever it says “#blah SomeOne Says”.

    Oh, and the capital “S” in “Says” sort of keeps irritating me…

    And I think I should probably not post so much since reading all the comments might keep you from actually creating new content *feels slightly ashamed*

    I probably should also say that I am not really unhappy with the design. I admire people who can do such things, who are creative enough to create a site with that much great content and who attract such a mass of readers!

  61. roxysteve says:

    The DM of the Rings doesn’t really work with the new theme. Perhaps it should be moved to an archive with the old wallpaper and fixtures put back up?


  62. Joe Werner says:

    Rereading my post…. (last paragraph)
    I wanted to say that I actually find the design to be quite good, I need to (and most probably will) get used to it.
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound unhappy, harsh or unfriendly. It tends to happen when thinking in German and writing in English… sorry.

  63. I like it in general, but not for this site. I think it looks a bit too high-tech for a blog that’s based around a tabletop RPG idea. I think it could use a slightly more organic look.

  64. roxysteve says:

    [After thinking about it for a bit]

    Shame the blog can’t be skinned to taste.

    The sparse look isn’t as striking as the old one from behind my eyes, and unlike everyone else here I prefer the browny-yellow comment background to the mouthwashy-blue one.

    The typeface is also a bit small for these old eyes.

    Where’s my dinner?!!!


  65. Schmidt says:

    I humbly ask that if you are a rippin’ this site apart would you consider using a black background (or darkish) and a white or light font?

    like the ol’ hardocp forums and pages.

    It is so much easier on the eyes, especially if there is a lot to read. Plus if I try to override the firefox defaults, the cyan boxes are ignored and I get dark pages with white text and Cyan Boxes of Pain hurting my brain.

    Font size, style, meh. As long as it ain’t wingdings I can read it.

  66. Lain says:

    Hmm, they use twentysides dice at Cyberpunk?
    Sorry, Shamus, for my opinion it simple not fits with your intention of this homepage. New logo also not.

    Nothing against changing something. Try again, I don’t want to give you tips, what I like, it’s your Page. But this one doesn’t get “it”.

  67. Dan Bruno says:

    I like the redesign.

    And for what it’s worth, I think the Flickr-style logo is goddamn hilarious.

  68. Rolf Kreuzer says:

    * blue
    * icons
    * mirroreffect (logo)
    * content! ;-)

    * magenta, pink, whateveritis
    * “ed” (logo) in different colour

    * Hmm, the dice for the comments-counting are really nice, but do not really fit the new theme – somehow it’s like “cold techy computerthingies” vs. “actionloaded dicerolling”

    Everything ofcourse IMHO

  69. mos says:

    I like it (I prefer cool blues in my UIs), but I don’t like black-on-white text. A light gray box around the post would make it easier to read.

  70. Browncoat says:

    That’s it. I’m totally starting my own blog and using your old format.

    Now, if only I could find the “Start your Own Blog” button on IE. . .I assume it’s right next to the “Steal Other’s Format” button. . .

  71. General Ghoul says:

    Nothing wrong with change, but I just don’t like the pink and blue. What made you think of those colors, did I miss an announcement of an addition coming to the family?

  72. Luke Maciak says:

    Didn’t read the comments above so I’m not sure it was mentioned but the site title is a bit… I don’t know, Web 2.0 Super Generic. Everyone uses one of those two color + reflection kinds of things. Old theme had much more character.

    Also, the pink and blue theme makes the site look like a cheep Flicker theme knock off. Not that it’s a bad theme to imitate. It’s just that everyone does it these days.

    Also, the blue category icons hardly look like anything. The sheen and polished look kinda dissolves the character inside so the whole thing looks like a distorted, faded out milky swirl. Maybe they could use a bit more color inside… Or less of the shine effect? Don’t know, but I don’t like how the look.

    So to summarize:

    – your old theme was very pretty and very original
    – new theme is ok looking, and very generic
    – the web 2.0 look is kinda clishe right now

  73. Terran says:

    It may seem to be a small and unimportant detail, but I’m finding that I really miss being able to see the number of entries beside your “Category” headings. It always saved a little bit of clicking.

    I agree that the colors are on the cold side for the present, and add that I feel they clash with the dice motif.

  74. roxysteve says:

    [Shamus] I think you should deep-six the dice. They don’t fit with the rest of the look. Change the blog name too. And yours. And write the blog in Flemmish from here on.

    That should cover it.


  75. Kameron says:

    An improvement over the old theme. Not a fan of the pink.

  76. Alexis says:

    To my eye… The top banner is nice, nice blue/pink contrast. It’s too tall. The black separator is too harsh.

    The pure white background is hard on the eyes. Go off-white.

    the right bar is too close to the main flow. The main flow doesn’t stretch.

    I’d prefer more floatboxes to define the structure of the page. I’d float: banner, main flow, sidebar, sidebar portlets, main post, each comment, reply form. Bottom credits can sit bare in main flow float.

    The d20 logo could go to the left of the banner text, raising items in the right sidebar. Categories and Search should go above Archives, imho – check your weblogs for relative popularity. Search probably deserves top spot, even above Pages.

    I still love the design of my (abandoned) website. It’s very stretchy.
    See how I used a background change instead of a line separator between my banner and main flow.
    I also like the light grey lines around the floats, it defines them without breaking up the page too much. It’s like antialiasing.
    The banner is actually just text, with some CSS trickery to space the letters. That means it scales.

    btw check out

  77. Alexis says:

    I just noticed the blue comment floats. Padding, please, think of the children!

    reading a couple of comments… also have to agree the blue dominates the page and is very cold. I like warm autumn/earthy colours generally, it makes me feel cozy as I read.

    oh, and on my site, there’s an absolute-position link in the lower right so you can see the freaky homebrew site code.

  78. MOM says:

    As I scrolled down, my first reaction faded somewhat. It is really not bad. The color modification might be all it needs.

  79. axcalibar says:

    Good choice. The orange makes the category buttons stand out well and the logo looks great.

  80. Blackbird71 says:

    Yeah: No matter what I do, we're keeping the dice. They're just too much fun.

    Honestly, I think this is part of the problem. The new design is very “cookie-cutter” so far as websites go. It tries very hard for the techy “new age” feel with the soft colors and the rounded button icons. This contrasts horribly with the beloved dice theme. None of us want to see the dice go, but they really don’t work with this motif. I’m afraid that if you’re really determined to use this style or something similar, the only way to make it work is to dump the dice. However, I’m sure most of us would rather you kept the dice and found a more appropriate style.

    I don’t really mind the blue, but the pink has got to go. It’s too much of a contrast, and as others have pointed out, when combined with the blue it looks like a site for infant products.

    What I miss about the old site was the unique and personal touch. The design, the artwork, everything gave teh site a feel consistent with the material. The design felt personal, like we were actually getting to see an extension of you. It made it feel like when we came here, we were all chatting with old friends (and in some cases we were). To use another poster’s word, the new setup feels more “detached.” It’s become just another faceless page on the web.

    In short, if you want to change the theme, that’s all good and well, I just don’t feel that this is the right change. I’d try to go for something that fits better with the dice, something with a personalized look to it, not something that got cranked out of the Standard Webpage-Making Machine. If possible, I would revert the DMotR pages to the old style, as it fit very well and helped set the stage for the story.

    Anyway, that’s my $1 worth of $0.02 advice, take it for what it’s worth. In the end, it’s your site, set it up however you like, we’ll still come here and enjoy what we read. Best of luck to you.

  81. Shamus says:

    The sad thing about this “cookie cutter” look:

    I made all of this from scratch. The buttons, the layout, the colors, everything. I haven’t even seen that many “web 2.0” pages and wasn’t aware that this was a trend. Most of the blogs I read are old-old school.

    Sort of sucks. It’s like hand-crafting an object, and then going into Wal-Mart and seeing they have a whole shelf of identical objects.


  82. MissusJ says:

    I don’t mind what I see on this page that much. By this time “sid” and “ed” are both yellow and I do like that better than the pink. This is not a pink site.

    However, as clean as it looks, the design does seem to leave the dice out in the cold. Could, perhaps, the background in general be changed to be a color we often see under dice (table brown, pool table green, crown royal dice bag purple, concrete gray/taupe*, carpet warm/neutral, etc.)? A lighter color would certainly be called for under any text, and I do like the light cyan better than the old yellow for the alternate comments, but… you get where I’m going, right? Warmer or more neutral colors in the main, and blue and/or white for accents.

    um… yeah. I know nothing, and this is probably not even worth $.02. But here you go. Have fun!

    *just plain gray would be a bit cold for this. And there really should be a paint called Crown Royal Dice Bag Purple, just for the fun of it. :)

  83. Joe Werner says:

    Hi Shamus,
    you did some great changes to your site! I appreciate them, I like the new colours and the new icons (and the new logo). But it seems that I am always finding something that bothers me… (something seems to rub off of my advisor, always complaining about one thing and changes he suggested etc.). I just realized that, but will nevertheless write what bothers me:
    Continuity of colours. First (with cyan and pinkish magenta), the background for the comments did match one of the colours of the logo. Now the logo mathces the d20 but the text background doesn’t match the logo. On the other hand I cannot really tell this since we all know that reproduction of colours on a TFT is kind of… not good. That’s why many designers still use CRTs… So: just keep it this way ;-)

    @MissusJ: Yes, white / blue is cold. This will most probably not improve too much by using light grey / blue. The usage of more colours should be avoided (in my HO) since this could deliver the user a colour shock… Hm… thinking about this some more: you might be able to recycle the orange from the logo, “thin” it out (mix it with white) and use this as alternate background…

    Oh boy, colours are difficult. I’m happy that my university actually has introduced a set of “allowed” colours for our corporate design….

  84. Krellen says:

    I just have to really disagree with your “No” stance, Shamus. Your old design was beautiful, and made me comfortable while reading it. I never had a single complaint looking at your site, and it simply had an essence that spoke of tabletop roleplaying, old-fashioned video game fun, and in general a nostalgia value that reflected what was so prevalent in your posts.

    If it was April, I’d laugh.

    What it looks like now is the 2kGames version of Shamus Young. Flashy, techy, new-age and blinged out. “New and Improved” simply for the sake of being new, without actually being that improved. Before, Twenty Sided Tale was your little corner of the internet. Now it just looks like the rest of the internet, complete with the god-awful black-on-white that works in print but destroys your eyes when projected at you from a CRT. And no offence to Shawn, but that logo is way too phpbb.

    Even if you don’t go back to the old theme, your new theme should be more like than unlike it. Right now it looks like you’re going for change for the sake of change, without acknowledging that your previous theme was, in fact, part of the branding that makes up Twenty Sided Tale.

  85. Nazgul says:

    I liked the old version better. This version is cleaner but more sterile. The old one was warmer, and in a nerdy way that was in synch with the theme of the site. The old version was also clean, so I don’t see the new look as an improvement.

    I understand and relate to you wanting to change the look because you’re tired of the old one… But I liked the old look better. Perhaps you could frshen up the old version rather than replacing it entirely?

  86. Hal says:

    Yeah, the blue and the gold work better together. I like it.

  87. MissusJ says:

    @Joe Werner: I realize that light grey was still cold, that’s why I suggested some taupe in with it. I said so in my footnote. Since I first saw D&D played outside on a school sidewalk, I could hardly leave out concrete as a backdrop for dice. :)

    Come to think of it, taupe (grey/tan/with a bit of purple, I think) is a pretty good carpet color, too…

  88. Shamus says:

    Someone needs to explain to me:

    Why all the comments about black-on-white? The old site was black-on-white, but people are acting like this is a change. What’s different here that I’m not seeing?

  89. Shawn says:

    I should note that the web2.0 logo I linked above was a joke.

    A joke Shamus fell for! Sucker!

  90. M says:

    Much, much better – blue and gold > blue and eye-searing magenta.

  91. Shamus says:

    Yeah. I saw it and thought, “Cooool!”

    I still like it.


  92. Krellen says:

    Regarding black-on-white, I tried to find an archived version to compare because I wasn’t sure, but I know that was the first thing I noticed; the site just seemed whiter, or brighter, somehow. The old theme is down, so I can’t really compare, but I know there was something about it that didn’t make it such a glaring issue that it is now.

    Maybe if you put up a sample page with the old theme I could compare better and let you know why it’s an issue.

  93. Shamus says:

    Does this help:

    It’s only a corner, but it’s handy.

  94. Krellen says:

    Not really, since there isn’t a large block of text to compare to. :)

    It could just be that the yellow comment boxes broke things up better than the cyan ones do. Or it could be a lot of us have been spending too much time looking at the Fear the Boot forums. Hard to be sure.

  95. Shamus says:

    If you register at the FtB forums, you can override the green-on-black death theme for the phpbb default, which is far less likely to cause blindness.

  96. Krellen says:

    I /like/ FtB’s green-on-black. I agree with those that say dark backgrounds are better for electronic presentation.

  97. roxysteve says:

    [Shamus] Some technical observations rather than aesthetic opinions, all centered on the Threade Thatte Shoulde Notte Bee.

    Although the comments are closed (and remain so, thank Azathoth), the site now shows the comments whereas it didn’t once they were locked on the old theme. Dunno if this is An Item or if Action is called for.

    Within the item itself, the formatting of the sidebars is screwed up. Again, this may be a non-issue but I’m pretty sure it isn’t what you were expecting to happen.

    I’m liking the earth-tone buttons more than the dreamy blue ones, and the banner is infinity percent better than the Flickr inspired one. I never saw the joke in that anyway (but I am notoriously humour resistant).


  98. roxysteve says:

    Sorry. I snuck in some opinion at the end there. I forgot I said I wouldn’t do that. Sorry. Mr Brain is not my friend any more.

    Mere Cullpepper.


  99. Mr. Son says:

    Rahg! My eyes! The orange! >_

  100. Mr. Son says:

    (It cut off my text! Trying again)

    Rahg! My eyes! The orange! Please no, it’s hard to look at for long periods of time. Chuck it and start over. Chuck it.

  101. DocTwisted says:

    The one criticism I have is that the icon in that square left of the header isn’t as nice as the images you used to put in the headers with the old system.

    Other than that, it looks clean and is very readable.

  102. Inane Fedaykin says:

    Eh, I don’t particularly care for it.

  103. roxysteve says:

    Mr. Son:
    (It cut off my text! Trying again)

    Rahg! My eyes! The orange! Please no, it's hard to look at for long periods of time. Chuck it and start over. Chuck it.

    Then don’t look at it for long periods. All the interesting stuff is far away from any orangeness. It’s not like Shamus is forcing you to deal with one of his revolting traffic-cone D20s. Those are beyond cruel.


  104. stuff says:

    It looks far too childish for a site that as good as yours is. Just my personal sense of design at work here, but darkening the blue and gold on the side bars, and giving everything a sharper edge would make fit your style of writing better.

  105. KIC says:

    Better than before. :)

    Looks more polished, easier to read. I hated the link column on the right, the yellowness of it, the shape… *brr* This one’s got some spacing issues (with the header, the black line and title of the post) and it’s really top-heavy. Well, not heavy as such, it’s just like all the effort has gone on designing the top of the page and the rest of the stuff’s just dumped below it all. A more powerful, stylis footer does the trick (repeating the style and design of the top/header)!

    Looking forward to seeing a new, clear, crisp and stylish design with future posts!

  106. Kacky Snorgle says:

    The blue-and-orange is much preferable to the blue-and-pink (which I fortunately never saw, but can imagine). *shudder*

    I second the earlier suggestion of using a very-pale-orange background on the comments, rather than the current semi-pale-blue. I’d also suggest tweaking the blue slightly in the warm direction–make it more cornflower than robin’s egg, or some such thing.

    I liked the old icons better, but the new ones aren’t awful.

    The only thing I hate hate hate is the typeface. There’s a *reason* TNR nearly took over the ‘Net; it’s much easier on the eyes than these sans-serif abominations that are now trying to supplant it. (I have a vague idea that this might actually be the cause of some of your black-on-white complaints; the white background seems more glaring, somehow, when I have to look harder at the text to make it out….)

  107. Taelus says:

    Yes! A chance to rinse and repeat what’s already been said because I was late checking it out today! Woohoo!

    That aside, I have to say it’s a bit bright. That might very well be fixed by a background of some kind, but for now, the bright blues on the white thing makes me wonder if I’ve dropped accidentally into Candyland (no insult intended, I just couldn’t help myself when I thought that line up).

    Also, the dice are completely wonderful, but somehow feel out of place with the rest of the theme. I’m not sure how that can be corrected aside from making a new set of dice images that seem rendered in something more akin to cell-shading?

  108. Matthew says:

    I didn’t have a problem with the pink but the new color looks even better and the changes to the logo looks super spiffy. Thumbs up.

  109. Will says:

    One suggestion. There are two shades of blue in the twenty-sided logo. Make the hyperlink text match the darker of the two. The current bright electric-blue is very harsh (almost painfully so) against the white background.

  110. Matt T. says:

    I find, to me that the site is stale and lacks the personality that the old look had. The new title looks like the default title for a ‘do it yourself’ web site. I applaud you in wanting a fresh look. Good luck!

  111. BRANDING!

    At the very least, bring back your logo.

    More generally, the new look just doesn’t look like Twenty-Sided to me. In fact, it doesn’t look like much of anything at all.

    Justin Alexander

  112. xbolt says:

    To be honest, I liked the old look much better. The new look lacks something… Like Matt T. said earlier, it looks like the default setting for a DiY site, and rather stale.

    (And I also really liked the old anime category icons.)

  113. Kirk says:

    I think it would be much less business-like if you just changed the top logo to something else. I think the top logo should express more fun. Does the old logo with the new other stuff work?

  114. Will says:

    Ah, the darker blues are much easier on the eyes.

    The newer banner is nice. Much less minimalist.

    Changing the black banner bar was a good idea too. It looked like those little memorial banners some people use to recognize a death.

    To start nit-picking, try to have the style of all the category icons match. Some have a bit of shading to give them depth while others don’t.

  115. Vegedus says:

    I’ve been absent for a while so I’ve only seen the one in place now, and the only thing I can say is that it’s… Very Web 2.0. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

    The vista users will probably love it, though.

  116. Jansolo says:

    You’re doing a great job.

    Now you can try a “rounded” look and feel, something like the engadget web site (

    You could create a frame with the text within, a grey colour or pale blue for out of the table and the rounded-shape for the boxes (like the blue ones of the replies)

    Note that simple pale colours are enough for a great appearance (yes, black and white, with grey, blue and magenta is wonderful)

  117. Leon says:

    Seems nice.

    I have to ask, though: why is a picture of Major Armstrong from FMA your “Projects” thumbnail? :)

  118. ngthagg says:

    I like the blue and gold. Very classy, very bold. I also like the blue and gold d20 matching the rest of the site.

    This scheme is a keeper . . . until you want to change it again.


  119. xbolt says:

    Hmm… Could you make it so visitors could choose what skin they want to use? (Choosing your skin on a forum kind of thing)

    Probably not possible, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.


  120. Ben Finkel says:

    The colors are much better now. The subdued yellow really works.


  121. onosson says:

    I think you had a nice thing going with the logo and the new look… then you changed the logo.

    I seemed to like the small one better. Just a personal preference. CLEARLY you’re not going to please everyone on this! And clearly, we’re all going to keep reading, whatever this site looks like.

  122. SteveDJ says:

    I haven’t read all the comments, just adding my own:

    The old “Heading” theme had a different background color, and the new one has the same background as the rest of the post. I don’t care for that as much, as the new heading just kinda gets lost on the page.

  123. ShadoStahker says:

    I have to say, it looks spectacular now.

    But there are still problems on threads with closed comments.

    The sidebar menu (and ads) display at the bottom of the page when the comment form isn’t there. I gave the reason this happens up in post 46. Essentially, you need to move the table open tag that precedes the comments into the comment script, or move the /table close tag that follows the comments out of the comment script.

    As of right now, it is opening the table, but since the /table is inside the comment script it isn’t closing it. Thus, the td tags for the sidebar believe they are in the comment table, and display at the bottom of the page.

  124. Palette says:

    The new logo is a Brazillion times better than the “old.”

    Regarding the complaints of “too bright”… I think it’s because of all the white space. And the white seems VERY white, somehow.

    Perhaps if you used a pale brownish-yellow to simulate parchment?

    I’m just tossing ideas at the wall right now.

  125. Davesnot says:

    Not enough dice.. if we don’t have all these comments then our opening hit is just one big d20.. we need more dice in our lives.. not less..

    The header is slick.. well done.. but I dunno if it captures the tone.. it seems kinda .. I dunno.. corporate.

    of course.. shadowrun and such may be the new game in your life.. if so.. we need some grime added to the corporate stuff… and… more dice :)

  126. Joe Werner says:

    Great job!
    The font is slightly bigger, the colours match the big d20, the number of fonts is reduced, still have to get used to the new logo…

  127. Meems says:

    You appear to have changed it again, toning down the text on the post titles. This is good. The orange hurt my eyes.

  128. Joe Werner says:

    Ouch. Frames.
    There an empty field to the left.
    There an empty field on the right side of the “post headline”.
    The coloured background is bigger than the frame?
    The comment text is too close to the border of the frame
    Might be browser / system dependant… here: Iceweasel (debainized Firefox) 2.something.
    Question to everybody with a different browser: Do you see the same tings or is it just my system? (sorry, I’m at the moment too lazy to install another browser…)

    The designer I worked with used to say:
    “When you tink you have to use frames around texts, figures etc. then something else is broken. Don’t use frames, rethink the spacing.”
    I really liked it better without. You might improve matters by reducing the spacing between two subsequent comments to one die height or two lines (of the text font). I understand that it was hard for the eye to find some sort of border to the comments and the brain was basically screaming for a separation line between two subsequent comments. So: while it was by no ways perfect (as several people pointed out) I actually don’t think you have improved it.

  129. Thomas says:

    The chain of thought that went through my head upon seeing this was, roughly, “This doesn’t look like twenty sided tale, did I typo the URL – no, can’t have, used auto-complete. Did something happen to the site?”

    After telling Opera to grab a couple of the images (I’m temporarily using a low-bandwidth connection) it looks a bit better. I personally prefered the old style – it seemed to fit better with the DnD aspect of the site. I’m also not too keen on the logo, but that’s most likely due to being fed up of seeing the same glossy reflection effect everywhere.

    Certainly it does look smarter than the previous style, and, yes, more inverted commas Web 2.0, but it just doesn’t seem to fit. ‘Course, in a week I’ll have forgotten all about the previous layout.

  130. lost chauncy says:

    In the famous words of Garth (Wayne’s World): “We fear change.” I like the old one. Comfortable. Reassuring. Unrelenting in Nerdery.

  131. Christian Groff says:

    I think the new site theme is prety good! I’ll miss the old theme, but change works wonders, especially since this new theme is cleaner. ^_^

  132. NeedsToHeal says:

    Do you like the new site? That’s the question for the day. If it works for you, everyone will find a way to deal with it.

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