I must confess, even though I find Barack Obama to be an intellectual lightweight with a resume thinner than Kate Moss, I have to admit that his website is absolutely the best campaign site ever devised. It makes me not a whit more likely to vote for him, and it doesn’t make up for his appalling lack of substance, but I’ll give damnation by faint praise where damnation by faint praise is due.
I get back from running errands, and all of a sudden I notice this site got a nice mention on Signal vs. Noise – which happens to be the blog of the absolutely brilliant Web 2.0 pioneers 37signals. This, for a web design nerd like myself, is about as cool as it gets.
The liked the way I use print-style headers on the site, which is good since it took many iterations before I got them the way I liked. Georgia looks fantastic in high contrast, larger sizes, and a slight decrease in letter spacing. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to online typography, which is why I spend months tweaking text, colors, and layout on this design – and I’m not entirely sure I’m totally happy with it yet. Then again, part of the “getting real” philosophy of design is the willingness to make iterations over time.
And as a nod back to 37signals, if you’ve never tried Backpack, Basecamp, or any of their other ingenious and nimble little web apps, you’re missing out. Especially for small businesses, these tools are inexpensive, very flexible, and incredibly fast.
CSS guru Eric Meyer indicates that Microsoft may make Internet Explorer 7 compliant with basic web standards. There’s been some back and forth on this about whether or not the IE team will finally embrace basic web standards (despite the fact that they helped write them) — hopefully the continual pressure from the developer community will push them towards finally embracing standards.
If IE would just get things right when it comes to CSS design and other issues, it would make the lives of web developers such as myself infinitely easier. IE’s broken support for things like PNG transparency and it’s half-hearted (and half-assed) support for CSS positioning not only make life harder for developers, you poor schmucks still using IE are missing out on some features that would make the web more visually exciting and easier to use.
Besides, I’m rapidly running out of hair to tear out when IE barfs on yet another layout or mangles another design due to a broken box model. Tables are so 1996, and when the browser that has 90% of the market finally gets things right everyone can finally move into the 21st century.
I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on the new design, which I appreciate even though a lot of the elements of this design come from the incredibly nice Kubrick template for WordPress which deserves every bit of popularity it gets.
However, the most important critic of this site doesn’t particularly like this direction — me.
It’s a nice, functional, slick looking design. It’s also full of last years design trends. Minimalism is out. Detail is in. White is out, brown is in — and while I’m not particularly interested in slavish adherence to the latest design trends, I also realize that this design doesn’t hit the design aesthetic I want.
The best design for this site, IMHO, was this design, started in mid-2003 and running with some variations for over a year. The light tans helped the blog stand out from the rest of the blues and the grays, and Voluta Script is by far one of my favorite script fonts. It’s dramatic, yet old fashioned. This design, codenamed “Jefferson” really fits with the whole aesthetic of a site about conservatism – an ideology that looks to the past for inspiration and a design that does the same.
The “worn” look is currently in, and when you see sites like Photodude and Jason Santa Maria’s design blog you see how this aesthetic can make a truly stunning site. If you look at the old-fashioned design aesthetic from the “Jefferson” design of the site, you can start to see how the “worn” look really takes that concept and runs with it.
So, I’ve made the decision that this design is going to go. Granted, with the end of the year coming up and the fact that working as a web developer full-time makes me want to do anything but do design when I get home, the “worn” aesthetic just calls to me in a way that this design doesn’t. Plus, it lets me return this site to its roots – including large serif type in body articles and a design that looks more towards the past than the future. As nice as this design is, and as nice as the Kubrick design that inspired it is, it strikes me as a little too sterile for my tastes. Clean is nice, and I like clean, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Give me a little grunge, a little age, a little gravitas — which is hopefully what this new design concept will allow me to do.