Over at YourTotalSite, I wrote about how nice it is to see big and bold designs. Since there was more thought put into this site than you might guess at first glance, I wanted to take some time and provide some insight into the thought process that led to this “design”.
I prefer to keep things simple with almost everything, and if I was going to make a personal site, that had to be the driver behind every decision. Everybody talks about two columns this, three columns that, etc. I don’t think it’s possible to get much simpler than one column, so that’s where it started.
Nothing screams usability and simplicity louder than large clickable targets. Fitt’s Law says so. Well, it kind of says something like that. The headlines. The buttons. Commenter’s names. It’s all big. That’s two major decisions.
With regards to the commenters, I feel they are just as important, if not more important than the site itself. So their names are large and in charge. Conveniently enough, since everybody is providing great and interesting commentary that would make you want to visit their site, you can easily click on their large blue name and continue the exploration. One more obvious decision was taken care of with that.
Content ~First~ Only
This site really exists as an evenue for discussion of the ideas that float around in my head. Reading and commenting is almost all there is to do. And the reasoning there is to put the spotlight on everyone’s ideas. There’s an about page, but it was more of a supplemental afterthought. I figured people would at least want a little bit of knowledge who was running the site to make it more real. This wasn’t really a decision, it was more like a guiding principle.
I’m sure it seems a little odd to think of a blog as having a flow, but I felt that there was. I wanted people to show up to the site, read whatever was on the home page without any distractions, and then continue to explore or, preferably, interact.
Instead of navigation at the top of each article, it seemed that the best place to try and engage visitors would be right below the content. That way, when you get to the bottom of the article, you are offered some basic choices.
Comment is first and has the most distinctive button because it is the most important action, and frankly, that’s really what I’m really interested in. The next thought is that if you liked what you read, you might want to read more. Thus the second button is the Archives. Lastly, if you really like it, and you made it all the way here, you might be interested in grabbing my RSS feed. There is the button in traditional RSS/XML orange. This button arrangement was supposed to support my hopes for large scale interaction and interesting conversation.
The whole idea behind the site was to move the visual design out of the way and focus on the content and comments. One column. Very few graphics. Big and simple headlines.
I never in a million years would have guessed that I would have received all the positive feedback that I have. Thanks to everybody for all the encouragement.