Ultraq's Final MooCow

Bits and pieces by Emanuel Rabina

Site redesign time... again

It's that time again: time for a redesign of this website.

I'm not really sure what it is that makes me think that the look of a website is 'old' or 'dated', but every now and then I come across a website design that makes me really pay attention; makes me bother to take a look at the page source, scripts, styling information, and how everything just works together to create this visual marvel before me. Then after having dipped my mind into that wonder of a website, I look back at this website with a bit of an inward sigh.

I've been doing that quite a bit lately - looking at other websites showcased on web design galleries, all bright, shiny, and new. It wasn't really triggered by the coming of the New Year (the usual checkpoint in life that makes people take stock of what they've got what they've done, and what they hope to do for the next 12 months), but rather with seeing this website through my iPad.

I viewed it first in landscape mode and, since the screen has a width of 1024 pixels in that orientation, this site showed-up just fine. Maybe the font is a little small, I thought, but otherwise it looked as it should.

Then I rotated the iPad to view the thing in portrait mode, and it scaled this site down to fit the new width of 768 pixels across. If I thought the font looked small before, everything looked really small now. Then I borrowed my brother's iPhone for another peek at an even smaller resolution and found that my website was pretty unusable (well, usable if you don't mind putting up with some serious eye strain).

Huh, this isn't ideal, I thought, eyes still squinting at the tiny font on the tiny screen on this tiny device, and thus began my trek through the web design world once again.

If I look back at the history of this site, it's had this general layout since 2009. That's 3 years of this light grey gradient, headed by a picture of a planet from one of my space pics from 2007, covered by GDI and Nod logos from the original Command & Conquer games of the 90s.

The internet has changed a lot since 2009, and so the web design landscape has also moved to try and keep up: HTML5 and CSS3 support have taken off thanks in part to innovative browsers like Firefox and Chrome (allowing web designers to do a whole lot more with their websites with less effort), and browsing on mobile devices is very prevalent with the proliferation of larger-screen smartphones and tablet devices.

All of this has created new challenges for web designers, many of which they've already taken to address with things like responsive and adaptive design philosophies. Things I didn't really know about until a month ago.

Combining all of the above, suddenly that 3 years seems like 30 and I feel like I'm at least 2 steps behind the internet curve.

So: site redesign time! The goals: a new look that scales/adjusts to different device resolutions, making use of the advances the HTML and CSS languages.

If it's anything like before, this should take about a month of my spare time to accomplish. I've already tried using this last long weekend to do something with it, but I ended-up spending that time scribbling layouts in a notebook then staring at the computer screen in an attempt to translate my scribbles into code, turning it into something that I actually like.

I also took at Google Analytics just to find out what browsers visitors used to come here so I can figure out where to put my effort, and found that 12% are still on Internet Explorer 7, which supports almost none of the goals I mentioned above :'(

Oh well, since when was life supposed to be easy anyway?