New Site Theme: Cliché-arific!

By Shamus
on Oct 5, 2007
Filed under:
Projects

Yesterday while I was working on the site redesign Shawn jokingly sent me a new logo, which was a send-up of the apparently tiresome web 2.0 style. Except, I totally missed the intended irony. I saw the shiny letters and faux reflection and thought, “Oooh! Sexy!”

Later in the day I decided that what I didn’t like about the logo was that it didn’t do the glossy thing enough, so I made my own which was along similar lines, but with the effects turned up to 11. Only now do I realize that this is like having your buddy talk you into wearing a rhinestone shirt, but then running out on your own and getting a set of chaps to go with it.

I wasn’t aware of the Web 2.0 “style”. Many of the sites I visit are stone age practical, so the thing looks fresh and new to me. I don’t visit all these hip new sites, which apparently are so hip they have caused some sort of hipness overflow and become unhip. I guess things now go out of style the moment they become in style, so if you don’t want to seem out of touch you have to do things before they become popular, not after. Sheesh. You kids.

The main problem – and I’m only partly ashamed to admit this – is that I like the new logo. A lot. I’d make out with it if I could figure out how to do that sort of thing with a .gif file. Now I’ve found out I’ve been had and the new logo is a joke to most people. Not a good, ironic joke but a “it’s 1997 and you’re wearing a mullet” sort of joke. Now I have to choose: I can give up on my (to me) sexy new logo, or I can continue being a complete tool.

This decision is not as easy as it sounds.

Justin Alexander mentioned “Branding” in the comments. If the old Twenty Sided header was becoming my “brand” then I’m glad I got rid of it. I don’t want to be saddled with that thing forever. If anything on here is “brand” worthy it’s the blue & gold 20-sider, and the comment dice. Those are still dear to me and I can’t see getting rid of them, regardless of whatever other fads infect the site from year to year. I’ve changed my color scheme to match the 20-sider, and I’m happy with it now. Really all I’ve done is inverted my previous color scheme. It was gold / yellow with blue accents, and now it’s the other way around. I think I’ll stick with these colors.

The button-style icons to the left of each post are going to go. I think they push the “web 2.0” look over the top, and maybe people would tolerate the header if not for the buttons. They aren’t particularly engaging, informative, or even well made. Shawn has offered to help me out. We’ll see if he’s still interested now that I have the place tarted up like a tweener’s iPod.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to bore everyone with two threads on my site redesign. Maybe this is a precursor to next week’s seven-part series, “I’m cleaning out my garage! Whooopie!” Still, I’ve enjoyed the conversation, even if most of the feedback is negative. (This is a good thing, I’m glad everyone was honest. I think the site will be better for it.) Even if I ignore everyone’s advice, at least I’m making well informed poor decisions, instead of poor decisions borne of ignorance. At least I’ll know my mullet is out of style.

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From the Archives:

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  1. Pugio Rosso says:

    Now THIS is nice! Very nice, in fact.
    It’s less “cold”, the small images next to the post titles are easy to recognize and I like this new logo.
    And all you did is change the color scheme! :D
    Amazing how a couple of small changes can make all the difference, eh? ;)

  2. Mordaedil says:

    If it’s the current logo, I kinda like it. Whatever Web 2.0 is, you can’t argue that it does have a nice look to it. And this site is kind of the home of the “unhip” and retro anyway.

  3. Sara says:

    I like this look a lot better than the one that greeted me yesterday morning. I especially like how the scheme matches your twenty sided die.

    One idea, to take or discard as you wish – I think that having Twenty Sided repeated twice in the logo is a bit much. What would you think of putting your name “Shamus Young” as the smaller letters interspersed in “Twenty Sided?”

    My husband pointed out that you could never sell your blog if you did that, but that’s not the kind of thing you’d do, right?

  4. Sara says:

    Are there supposed to be lines around the comment boxes? I think that really detracts from the look.

  5. Shamus says:

    Gah! Yes, comment box frames are a total mistake.

    I was trying to track down some bad HTML and forgot to disable them again.

    Gimmie a few mins here…

  6. Shamus says:

    Ok, fixed. That sucked.

  7. Sean says:

    I don’t know anything about 2.0, but I do prefer the site without the pink. . .

  8. PinkCoder says:

    I too like the new logo. Like you, I haven’t spent any time with Web 2.0 and so shiny looks good to me too. However, unlike Sean, I miss the pink. Oh well, it could never last.

    Question — did you change your font size? I feel like I’m looking at the ‘vision impaired’ version since everything got BIGGER.

  9. Amanda says:

    Oooo, shiny! I like.

  10. Phlux says:

    I for one like the graphic. I don’t think that you’ve done anything bad of cliche. That particular “Web 2.0 style” is not nearly so pervasive as many would have you believe. True “web 2.0” (though I despise the term) is about the technology running your site and connecting it with others, not what color buttons and visual logo effects you use.

    I’m glad the black bar is gone and replaced with blue.

    You should probably catalogue the site layout in screenshots, otherwise someone reading this post will be very confused when you’re discussing a changes to a layout that have already gone through several iterations.

    That is the one problem I see with template-based web design…you have to go to greter lenghs to preserve a page as it was at a point in time.

  11. Chargone says:

    ‘cept possibly for the blue text in the article’s title [black might be a better choice there], it looks very good now.

    the logo doesn’t ‘disappear’, but it doesn’t distract from the article headings, and i Like it, unhip or not :P [actually, i think ‘unhip’ is sufficiently old to qualify in and of it’s self… hehe]

    the huge expanse of white still gets to me, but that’s just life, not a problem :) i can deal :D [and it wouldn’t matter if i couldn’t :P]

    just my thoughts :)

  12. onosson says:

    Leave the little anime characters, even if you don’t do it button-style… They’re friendly little guys, I like ’em.

  13. Ryan says:

    I like it, but I’m not sure what so “Web 2.0” about it.

    Since that’s a currently a buzzword without a strong definition (either connotative or denotative), I say just go with whatever you like!

  14. azrhey says:

    Oh! better than yesterday!
    Much better.

    I like it. I repeat what was said above, did you increase the font size? it is HUGE! Not a major problem as I am a ctrl+- away from having it smaller on my screen.

    Anyhow, today = good!

  15. mark says:

    I dont see whats wrong with the header. I’m just glad the pink is gone. :P

  16. Elethiomel says:

    I’ll be very sad to see Winry go.

  17. Henebry says:

    I like this latest iteration very much. The old “new” theme was a bit over the top with the jelly shaped lettering. The new “new” theme is easy on the eyes and renders better in Safari than the original theme did.

  18. Sanguine says:

    Shamus, by those “button-style icons to the left of each post” you don’t mean that picture of Armstrong do you? They dont have to go! I like the little icons. Even the pacman? but especially the Armstrong, keep the Armstrong

  19. roxysteve says:

    [Shamus] The site now give off a faint odour of carbon disulphide when loaded.

    Please check your CSS code is to ISO standards.

    Steve.

  20. Rupert says:

    I dig the new logo. I’m all for keeping it.

    (Of course, we could all be part of the conspiracy to have you get a mullnet…)

  21. Rob says:

    MUCH better! :) You’ve got a winner. I agree with Sara about the little letters in the title banner. I’d say either do the Shamus Young or nothing.

    /2cents

  22. Jackv says:

    Do you have an archive of the different looks? I sort of like the current look, is that the web 2.0 one? I’d say it looks cool and a bit ironic, and if that’s ok you should keep it. Did I miss an intermediate look?

  23. RedClyde says:

    The first thing I thought when I checked out the site today was “Ooh, cool new logo…”

    I had never even heard of this Web 2.0 before this post, so I say keep it. Keep the buttons, too, while you’re at it.

  24. Rask says:

    Don’t lose Cowboy Ed!

  25. Nick says:

    I really like this morning’s style. And while I appreciate that the shiny is a bit cliche, the fact that the rest of the site has a distinctly more classic look (and the fact that your background is still white) keep the mulletude at bay.

  26. Shandrunn says:

    Oooh, I like this one! Much better than the previous one, it seemed much too cold and unpersonal (especially the category logos).
    The logo is good, takes some getting used to, but I second Sara’s suggestion: instead of spelling out “Twenty Sided” a second time in the small font, why not spell out your name? I checked, it fits perfectly.

  27. Mark says:

    I kinda like the original web 2.0 logo. The only thing that grates to me is the reflection. I hate the reflection. On the other hand, if you still want to use the web 2.0 style, your best bet may be to make it an obvious parody. This means you have to have the reflection and also a “burst” with “Beta” in it, like this:

    http://creatr.cc/creatr/logo/TwentySided.png?1191594565

    The only problem there is that even parodies of web 2.0 styles have kinda gone out of style these days (hence my using a site dedicated to generating web 2.0 logos to make the one above – and I had several sites to choose from). Oh well, it’s all a matter of taste anyway. Do what you like. I don’t visit your site often because of the logo:P

    Also, don’t worry about having two posts for this. When I redesign, I plan to have a whole series of posts!

  28. Nixorbo says:

    This theme is muuuuuuuuuch better than that Flickr Sided Tale theme from yesterday.

  29. Eltanin says:

    I like the new logo. Keep it.

    I also kinda liked the buttons, and I’m sorry to see them gone. Perhaps they were too “Web 2.0” but whatever. I liked them.

    Web 2.0 is kinda funny. It always reminds me of Douglas Adams’ description of the Heart of Gold spaceship in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The interior decorations were always “excitingly chunky”. That’s Web 2.0 to me.

    The thing is, excitingly chunky is sometimes easy on the eyes. I say just go with what you like, and to heck with other people’s complaints (to a point). Let ’em design their own websites.

  30. AngiePen says:

    I like it too, for whatever it’s worth. :) Apparently I don’t hang out at any of the cool, hip sites either. [wry smile] Whatever. If you like it, keep it, and who cares what anyone else thinks.

    Angie

  31. Siobharek says:

    Go with that logo. I think it’s very cool.

  32. asterismW says:

    Ditto to everyone. Today is MUCH better than yesterday, and I quite like the new logo.

  33. theckhd says:

    I like the new title graphic a lot better than the flickr-esque one from yesterday. It’s much more individual. I think you might have a winner in this layout. Except…

    The text hurts my eyes. In textbooks, sans-serif fonts are an eyesore for large blocks of text. Normally this isn’t as bad on the web, but for some reason this post (and looking back at the archives, all of them) made my eyeballs threaten to quit in frustration.

    After fooling around a bit more, I realized that it’s not so much the lack of serifs making it hard to read, but the font size. If I decrease the text size by one increment in Firefox, the posts become much more readable (though the text in this Reply box is pretty small now).

    This might just be specific to me though. If others notice this too, then shrinking the text size in the posts and comments might be a solution.

  34. Matt P says:

    Someone may have said this but my only problem is the sheer whiteness of it all. There’s just too much of it. Everything else is nice, though.

  35. maehara says:

    All this re-designing has me looking at the design of my own site and wondering how to brush it up – and since my own design skills suck (and I lack the time to learn, no matter how much I may want to), that means spending the afternoon browsing through paid-for templates to see what a) is affordable, and b) looks cool to these eyes.

    Gah! Darn you, Shamus!! :p

  36. Palette says:

    Maybe I’m just getting used to the site, or maybe you did some subtle tweaking last night. Either way, I really like the current site format now. I’m casting my lot with all the others who are saying “You’ve found a winner! Don’t change it!”

  37. Robert says:

    Oh, bugger the style mavens. If you like your design, then keep it and never mind what some unlovable 21-year old fashionista in a glass-furnitured office thinks.

    Besides, that logo is pimp.

  38. Yahzi says:

    The old site was better. Because it was old.

    Old is the new hip!

  39. Dan says:

    Web 2.0? More like Windows 3.1.

    Me likey! Uh, still.

  40. kat says:

    I dig it! *especially* the doubling of “Twenty Sided” in your logo! Looks great! The new colors are a vast improvement as well!

  41. Jonathan Usmar (aka "This Person who points out") says:

    Well don’t take this the wrong way Shamus, but you’re not exactly ‘in the loop’ on the latest and greatest technologies. I see a lot in this blog that I could have sworn was invented years ago.

    But look at it this way –
    You like the logo, so stick with it.

    Web 2.0 is only tacky because it’s formulaic and fake, but you REALLY like it so that doesn’t apply. And half the comments above haven’t seen web 2.0 and like it too, and shiny dice tend to be cool so it strikes me as appropriate for this site to be shiny.

  42. Krellen says:

    Well, everyone is happy today, but I still don’t like the redesign, Shamus. I think the problem is the blue; the blue – meaning the blue background for alternate comments – doesn’t break up the white enough unlike the old yellow, which I think it what makes the site seem so much brighter/whiter.

    The logo looks tacky too. I’m not ashamed to say it – I still think the new design looks like a modern video game, with a high polygon count and “high-tech” effects that serve no real purpose but to be there. Now, granted, unlike a lot of modern games the content doesn’t suck, but there’s still way too much “polish” for a site that’s based around tabletop roleplaying and rantings against the direction of video game design.

    I’m keeping this next bit generic because this applies to just about everything, not just website design. One import question in re-design that doesn’t come up in initial design is “Why are we changing?” If the answer is “because it’s time for change”, you’ve done something wrong. Change simply for change is bad. Change should have a purpose: whether that purpose is “rebranding” because of a content shift, or to alleviate problems that have been addressed with the old, or to reflect some other change in substance are all good reasons to change. Changing because you’re tired of the old stuff – not so much.

    (Sidenote: change because your /audience/ says it’s time for change is something else altogether. Had anyone complained about the old theme?)

  43. tocky says:

    Much purtier. The blue and gold is pretty classy, and the icons are starting to look like your old icons, which are part of the brand, far as I’m concerned. Doesn’t mean you can’t shiny them up, but the corporate blue was a bit of a departure.

    The only thing that still bugs me is how the “Dork is the new cool” line spans the whole width of the page, which looks weird at a wide resolution, where the rest of the site fits in on only about half the screen.

    So maybe like:
    http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y13/tocky/twentysided-bluebar.png

  44. Shawn says:

    Here is my favorite web2.0 parody, a collection of fake 2.0 logos for major companies:

    http://shawntionary.com/z/web20.jpg

    And it would be kind of fitting for you to have a 2.0 logo, since you’re just carrying the decimal over one place. ;)

  45. Shawn says:

    Change simply for change isn’t always bad. What if the reason he changed is blog is “I’m tired of looking at this”? Does it have to be about rebranding or content synergy or revitalizing the audience or whatever?

    And I’ll put in a vote that Blue and White alternating comments are infinitely better than the old Yellow and White alternating comments.

  46. Krellen says:

    From a standpoint of delivering content, Shawn, change for change is bad. “I’m tired of looking at this” isn’t particularly relevant. “My audience is tired of looking at this” is, but when your goal is to deliver consistent quality, your personal nigglings about something are irrelevant.

    Now, of course, Shamus isn’t trying to sell anything, and he probably isn’t that worried about losing 1% (or even 10%) of his readership over a website design change, so the drawbacks to changing for the sake of change alone are minimised, but the principle remains the same regardless.

    In the end, yes, it’s Shamus’s site, and he’ll change it if he damn well wants to. And I’ll accept that if it’s his ultimate decision, but as long as he keeps bringing the subject up, I’ll keep trying to explain why I think he’s making a bad decision. :D

  47. Blackbird71 says:

    The new color scheme and logo is a definite improvement, it looks much better. (by the way, nice marketing strategy, put out something everyone hates first so that they’ll love whatever you do next! jk;) )

    I also am one who prefers the blue in the comments to the old yellow. I don’t know if it’s the best setup, but it is a better setup.

    I still believe that the DMotR pages are deserving of their own, content-appropriate theme, but again that’s just me and my ideas. Overall I like the new style.

  48. MOM says:

    You’re cleaning out your garage!? OOOO I’ve been dreaming for that to happen in my life for years. Be sure and take pictures.

  49. Edhering says:

    I like the new logo and I think you should go with what you like. It’s your site.

    But I am tragically unhip, myself, so don’t listen to me.

  50. Kacky Snorgle says:

    Yet another “much better than yesterday” comment here….

    The blue-and-gold look works well, especially since the colors now match the big d20. But once I scroll down below the bottom of the right-column menu, there’s no gold anywhere, and the blue-and-white look is a bit too bright and clinical still. I’d suggest finding *something* in the comments to make tan/gold/brown–either the date/time, or the background color of some comments, or….

    I think the header image would look better with the d20 moved *between* “Twenty” and “Sided” (shifting all the letters of the small gray “Twenty” one place to the left). I also have a vague idea that the small gray letters shouldn’t have reflections, but maybe that would just look silly.

    I still hate hate hate the sans-serif font, though.

  51. Matt T. says:

    I like the new logo! Call me old or unhip but I thought it really jumped out. And I do agree you have to keep the comment dice, they are like your trademark for this site.

  52. Chris says:

    I like mullets. And your site looks good. Don’t let the haters get you down.

  53. Archgeek says:

    I must say, the new logo is shiny; very nice. As for the white/yellow vs white/blue, I could go either way. The white/yellow looked nice, but during the initialization of the redecorating, it got morphed into a painful white/deep goldenrod, at least within the DMotR comments.
    Unrelatedly, in the previous new site theme thread, someone mentioned the anime girl in the projects icon. I looked up, saw the Strong Arm Alchemist, Alex Armstrong…and proceeded to snicker like a man possessed by a gagged hyena. Anime “girl” indeed. *gargantuan psychotic grin*

  54. Shawn says:

    Kacky Snorgle says:

    “I think the header image would look better with the d20 moved *between* “Twenty” and “Sided””

    Yes.

  55. ShadoStahker says:

    I’m with Shawn. Blue comments >> yellow comments

    Also, I love the new category icons. The single-colour yellow was better than the single-colour blue, but this is better still.

    And I’m happy to see that closing comments no longer messes up the page. Yay!

  56. ShadoStahker says:

    Oh, and the “Dork is the new cool” tagline? Perfect.

  57. Matthew says:

    I think a lot of times, people are negative because they are resistant to change. Honestly, I think that, if one year from now, people are still posting “man, your old format was so much better,” then yes, maybe there’s an element of truth to that. Doesn’t mean you should listen to them, though.

    Also, I think the new design looks great, and the revisions over the past couple of days are excellent. I don’t care what Web 2.0 (seems that term has been around long enough that we should be up to Web 2.5), this is a good design and I like it.

  58. Heather says:

    Hmmm–I think change for change sake when it is “I am tired of looking at this” is more important that whether the audience is tired of looking at it–since having a comfortable place to write is part of the point of a theme when the writer is a blog writer–Shamus did not set out to have a HUGE site, in fact as a natural-born introvert, he prefers to keep things small. However, he has a way of attracting people that makes people think he must be trying to market his blog–which by nature he doesn’t do. I know him pretty well–being his wife and all, and know that marketing isn’t his thing and that if he is sick of looking at something–whether a theme or his office or a comic then he has a hard time working on that thing and the content gets poor. For instance–the format of the new comic is throwing him off because he didn’t design the format (I know he would have gone for more panels because that is how he is comfortable) so part of the “the humor is “off” is because he isn’t comfortable. The same goes for his office–if his office isn’t the way he wants it it keeps him from working because he needs a particular work environment–certain things are necessary for his comfort and being tired of something makes for poor output.

    Sure if you are looking at things from a marketing standpoint then the buyer is always right–but I don’t see any sales going on here and in the end, regardless of fan base, Shamus is writing what he writes because he likes to, not because someone else requires it. When he quits enjoying it the site will go untouched. (The Lemon is a perfect example. Back when he was writing it he was enjoying it–when he quit enjoying it, he quit writing it.)

  59. Gothmog says:

    I LIKE the buttons on the side! They’re cool!

    Keep em.

  60. John says:

    Yeah I like it like this. You should keep it. But then again, I have mullet all the way down my back so maybe you shouldn’t listen to me…..

  61. SteveDJ says:

    I just noticed that when I click to view a particular month’s archives, the comment counts are now missing from that list. I miss that… :( I would rely on those counts to tell me if new comments were added that I might want to go back and read.

    But overall, I like the new look as well.

  62. Marty says:

    I like the new logo with the exception that the d20 seems darker than before. Perhaps it’s due to the smaller size of the graphic, but I liked that you could easily read the die before. Now it seems to have lost some of it’s photo-quality by being shrunk.

  63. xbolt says:

    Wow, the few changes you did since yesterday worked! I like it a bit better now. The title looks less boring with the (re)addition of the die, and the category icons have color!

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