The things I'm learning from having an ugly design

A couple of weeks ago I went into WordPress.com, clicked on “Themes” and selected the one that looked the most plain that I could find. Why did I do that? Because I wanted to get everyone back down to the most basic theme I could. I wanted to get rid of the branding. The friendfeed widget. The advertising. The cool looking fonts. And get it back down to just the fundamentals.

I did that for a few reasons.

1. I wanted to see if it would have a major impact on traffic. It did not.

2. I wanted to see who would complain and who would praise it. Some complained that it was too unprofessional. Others complained it’s hard to read on high resolution monitors (the text goes all the way across the browser). Still others missed my “brand.” But something else happened. Other people said they really liked this new theme. In pressing in more I think they liked that it was different than, say, TechCrunch or Mashable and that it had an anti-advertising stance on it. Also, some people said it was more readable because I got rid of the advertising and the friendfeed widget.

So, what I’m wondering is why have a nice design at all? Why not just go with a plain theme? Especially if it helps you focus on my content more?

Just some ideas as I continue working to rebuild my blog. Regarding that, we’re moving my blog over this week to a Rackspace hosted server (hopefully, we had some problems figuring out some problems due to some custom stuff that Automattic did for my WordPress.com-based blog that you’re reading here). I’ll stay on WordPress, but will be on a standard install which will let me use all sorts of plugins and try some fun things out. As soon as that gets moved over we’ll start iterating on the design and “pave the paths” here.

Thanks for putting up with the dust and dirt as we rebuild the blog.

Comments

  1. my only real suggestion is to change the font to something more readable like a tahoma, verdana, etc or even arial.

    otherwise it’s all good.

  2. my only real suggestion is to change the font to something more readable like a tahoma, verdana, etc or even arial.

    otherwise it’s all good.

  3. A pretty interesting leap you took. Some are less able to completely abandon their customized templates. I’m in the process of starting a blog for the first time and have opted for a more simple approach as far as site design templates go. Glad to know that it didn’t effect traffic!

  4. A pretty interesting leap you took. Some are less able to completely abandon their customized templates. I’m in the process of starting a blog for the first time and have opted for a more simple approach as far as site design templates go. Glad to know that it didn’t effect traffic!

  5. Robert I would say that this minimalism is very cool -I try to use minimalistic themes too, but if you could change the font. Times New Roman, I think sucks! I believe that if you could make it to Arial or something it would much more perfect!

  6. It was nice of you to hire craigslist’s UI designer. :)

    At least, please remove this font which was made for paper, and use arial or verdana which are appropriate for screens. :)

  7. Robert I would say that this minimalism is very cool -I try to use minimalistic themes too, but if you could change the font. Times New Roman, I think sucks! I believe that if you could make it to Arial or something it would much more perfect!

  8. It was nice of you to hire craigslist’s UI designer. :)

    At least, please remove this font which was made for paper, and use arial or verdana which are appropriate for screens. :)

  9. Aha! I like this test!

    As a commercial designer/director, I believe that all good design has a purpose. In your particular case, Design exists to package and enhance the accessibility of your content. If in fact a minimal approach achieves this for your users, then that is the definition of good design.

    I would highly recommend a minimal approach. Too much Social Media design is over-glossed. Everything looks like it’s inside a glass container (the aqua effect) that is hovering over water (the reflection effect). These are design fads, not design trends, and in 3 years (or less) from now, they’ll be mocked.

  10. Aha! I like this test!

    As a commercial designer/director, I believe that all good design has a purpose. In your particular case, Design exists to package and enhance the accessibility of your content. If in fact a minimal approach achieves this for your users, then that is the definition of good design.

    I would highly recommend a minimal approach. Too much Social Media design is over-glossed. Everything looks like it’s inside a glass container (the aqua effect) that is hovering over water (the reflection effect). These are design fads, not design trends, and in 3 years (or less) from now, they’ll be mocked.

  11. I disagree with having no design. “Unprofessional” is the right track for the argument, but it needs to be expounded. The fact of the matter is, you care about your blog and your readers. Without conveying that sense through every aspect of a website: content, design, functionality, etc., you are sending out the message that you don’t care. If you want an anti-advertising, minimalistic, or even grunge design, you can certainly do that, but it must have some care put behind it i.e. it must be purposefully designed. And keep in mind that the default web font, Times New Roman, isn’t as easy to read on screen as san-serif fonts. (I think Times New Roman is an unfortunate choice for the web default). If you want to read more on why good design is important, there’s a great A List Apart article here: http://alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy

    Let me know if you want a great minimalist WordPress template. I would be happy to help.

  12. I disagree with having no design. “Unprofessional” is the right track for the argument, but it needs to be expounded. The fact of the matter is, you care about your blog and your readers. Without conveying that sense through every aspect of a website: content, design, functionality, etc., you are sending out the message that you don’t care. If you want an anti-advertising, minimalistic, or even grunge design, you can certainly do that, but it must have some care put behind it i.e. it must be purposefully designed. And keep in mind that the default web font, Times New Roman, isn’t as easy to read on screen as san-serif fonts. (I think Times New Roman is an unfortunate choice for the web default). If you want to read more on why good design is important, there’s a great A List Apart article here: http://alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy

    Let me know if you want a great minimalist WordPress template. I would be happy to help.

  13. I agree with Allen. Also, as you said on your post, the text goes all the way across the screen on my widescreen monitor. A little hard to read.

    Looking forward to see what you come up with on a new design!

  14. I agree with Allen. Also, as you said on your post, the text goes all the way across the screen on my widescreen monitor. A little hard to read.

    Looking forward to see what you come up with on a new design!

  15. I like your post, and I am all for clean design, but you have discounted all branding as unnecessary. Not true. Perhaps you have enough of a following that it doesn’t matter to you anymore, but branding does matter. Image, font, color and design provoke feelings, feelings such as familiarity, professionalism, clarity. Branding takes customers from “know” to “like”. Put that with your great content and we get to “trust.” That leads to sales. And that’s marketing.

  16. I follow you on google reader so you’re blog design wasn’t a big deal. Of course the design on the site isn’t that great, seems a page loaded without css. Difficoult to read on a commond 15.4″ display. Less contents is welcome (ads, various gadgets like flikr..) , especially on colums.

    The web doesn’t like fluid impagination. Don’t trus useit.com.

  17. I like your post, and I am all for clean design, but you have discounted all branding as unnecessary. Not true. Perhaps you have enough of a following that it doesn’t matter to you anymore, but branding does matter. Image, font, color and design provoke feelings, feelings such as familiarity, professionalism, clarity. Branding takes customers from “know” to “like”. Put that with your great content and we get to “trust.” That leads to sales. And that’s marketing.

  18. I follow you on google reader so you’re blog design wasn’t a big deal. Of course the design on the site isn’t that great, seems a page loaded without css. Difficoult to read on a commond 15.4″ display. Less contents is welcome (ads, various gadgets like flikr..) , especially on colums.

    The web doesn’t like fluid impagination. Don’t trus useit.com.

  19. So the toned down version has been effective since when?

    It’s quite interesting to hear that traffic as not affected at all. I’ve always considered people to be quite finicky when it comes to design and thought it impacted their stay.

    Was the length of stay per article unchanged as well when compared against previously published articles of similar content/length?

    I like the idea of putting more focus on the content. I feel overwhelmed sometimes with so much crud on sites like Mashable. Looking forward to seeing how you address and balance this with you upcoming redesign.

  20. The reason to have a so-called “nice theme” is exactly what you’re interested in: to help readers focus on your content more.

    Any theme that distracts from content with curlicues, shiny surfaces, colors, etc. has failed at perhaps the highest aim of site design, which is to clearly communicate the content of the site, and provide obvious and well-structured navigation to additional content.

    A theme needn’t be “plain” to be effective and clear any more than having a beautifully designed site automatically makes it less-usable (see, for example, the marriage of form & function in Apple gadgets, to cite a perfectly cliché example).

    Your site, to be specific, could benefit from a fixed width. It’d increase readability without at all becoming less “plain.” And alternative methods for navigating the archive might also be more usable.

    But your overall point is very well taken, and I think more folks should consider the design of their sites from the inside out, adding “decoration” only as necessary to communicate something integral to the audience.

  21. The reason to have a so-called “nice theme” is exactly what you’re interested in: to help readers focus on your content more.

    Any theme that distracts from content with curlicues, shiny surfaces, colors, etc. has failed at perhaps the highest aim of site design, which is to clearly communicate the content of the site, and provide obvious and well-structured navigation to additional content.

    A theme needn’t be “plain” to be effective and clear any more than having a beautifully designed site automatically makes it less-usable (see, for example, the marriage of form & function in Apple gadgets, to cite a perfectly cliché example).

    Your site, to be specific, could benefit from a fixed width. It’d increase readability without at all becoming less “plain.” And alternative methods for navigating the archive might also be more usable.

    But your overall point is very well taken, and I think more folks should consider the design of their sites from the inside out, adding “decoration” only as necessary to communicate something integral to the audience.

  22. So the toned down version has been effective since when?

    It’s quite interesting to hear that traffic as not affected at all. I’ve always considered people to be quite finicky when it comes to design and thought it impacted their stay.

    Was the length of stay per article unchanged as well when compared against previously published articles of similar content/length?

    I like the idea of putting more focus on the content. I feel overwhelmed sometimes with so much crud on sites like Mashable. Looking forward to seeing how you address and balance this with you upcoming redesign.

  23. From a designer’s perspective, this “design” could be much improved in regard to the typography, IA, and the grid. And legibility is shot at high-res; add a max-width. Overall it’s stark, cold, and impersonal and you’re a personable guy.

    So yes, it’s usable and traffic hasn’t dropped but I think over time you’d find growth impacted by it.

  24. From a designer’s perspective, this “design” could be much improved in regard to the typography, IA, and the grid. And legibility is shot at high-res; add a max-width. Overall it’s stark, cold, and impersonal and you’re a personable guy.

    So yes, it’s usable and traffic hasn’t dropped but I think over time you’d find growth impacted by it.

  25. I hate to critique mediums that I’ve never created in, but here it goes anyway. As a first time visitor, my initial reaction is that it’s a turn off. I’m not certain what your previous design was, so maybe some people prefer this new design to your last. And it may be that I’m so Web 2.0 trained visually that I like to see rounded corners, bright colors, etc. If I didn’t know who you were, I probably would not come back to this blog based on it’s current design.

  26. I hate to critique mediums that I’ve never created in, but here it goes anyway. As a first time visitor, my initial reaction is that it’s a turn off. I’m not certain what your previous design was, so maybe some people prefer this new design to your last. And it may be that I’m so Web 2.0 trained visually that I like to see rounded corners, bright colors, etc. If I didn’t know who you were, I probably would not come back to this blog based on it’s current design.

  27. It’s called designing for your content and users. I think your previous design was meant to make you look professional, it wasn’t for your readers, it was your own (and your designer’s) thought of how your site should look and what it should contain. You can still have a nice design but focus on the content. See simplebits.com for an example.

  28. It’s called designing for your content and users. I think your previous design was meant to make you look professional, it wasn’t for your readers, it was your own (and your designer’s) thought of how your site should look and what it should contain. You can still have a nice design but focus on the content. See simplebits.com for an example.

  29. I agree with Mohammad Ashour that design is all about showing you care. I think we should all be striving to make the internet a more beautiful place, and that includes you blog.

    That being said, there is a difference between a site design that adds to the experience and one that looks more like a pre-teen’s Myspace page. (not that yours did)

  30. I agree with Mohammad Ashour that design is all about showing you care. I think we should all be striving to make the internet a more beautiful place, and that includes you blog.

    That being said, there is a difference between a site design that adds to the experience and one that looks more like a pre-teen’s Myspace page. (not that yours did)

  31. “why have a nice design” – honestly, I’m not surprised your visitor numbers weren’t affected. You’re well-known to techies, you already have a large reader base that never visit your site (but subscribe via rss), and anyone else that does visit your site probably knows who you are.

    For a lesser-known person or someone starting out, they need to have as many things NOT get in the way of a click off the site as possible … and a nice design is one of those “don’t go away ’cause I’m ugly” easy fixes.

    (Says David, who paid for Thesis :-)

  32. “why have a nice design” – honestly, I’m not surprised your visitor numbers weren’t affected. You’re well-known to techies, you already have a large reader base that never visit your site (but subscribe via rss), and anyone else that does visit your site probably knows who you are.

    For a lesser-known person or someone starting out, they need to have as many things NOT get in the way of a click off the site as possible … and a nice design is one of those “don’t go away ’cause I’m ugly” easy fixes.

    (Says David, who paid for Thesis :-)

  33. I just thought you’d extended CSS Naked Day by a couple of weeks (like I did by accident before)

  34. [...] Robert Scoble är en av de så kallade A-bloggarna på USAs västkust. Jag har aldrig riktigt förstått vad uttrycket betyder men antar att det handlar om jättemycket besökare och stort inflytande. Vem vet? Det kanske är ett uttryck som myntats av en grupp bloggare som utnämnt sig själva. Hur det än är med det är Robert Scoble en väldigt synlig person i sociala media. Han är kändis på Twitter och Friendfeed. Det är klart han vill säga något med att strippa bloggen ner till den bara HTMLn men mest kanske det är en teknisk fråga. Scobleizer har ju nytt jobb på Rackspace och skall flytta bloggen.  Läs vad han själv skriver. [...]

  35. All those people complaining about the font might want to look into changing their default browser settings to a font they like then.

  36. All those people complaining about the font might want to look into changing their default browser settings to a font they like then.

  37. I do think basic HTML covers all the basics quite nicely. And I agree with most of the comments you cite above.

    What ever you do – just don’t over design it. Take what you have here, and add just enough to make it readable/scanable. Play with the hierarchy in the type and leave it alone.

    Identity really provides credibility to new readers, and assurance to old readers that you still have your wits about you.

  38. I do think basic HTML covers all the basics quite nicely. And I agree with most of the comments you cite above.

    What ever you do – just don’t over design it. Take what you have here, and add just enough to make it readable/scanable. Play with the hierarchy in the type and leave it alone.

    Identity really provides credibility to new readers, and assurance to old readers that you still have your wits about you.

  39. Actually, the font looks fine for me because the page is using your browser’s default font. I have mine set to Calibri.

    By default, IE is set to Times New Roman, which as many people have pointed out, is not an optimal font for on-screen reading.

    Try changing your default browser font to your favorite font and see what happens. :)

  40. Actually, the font looks fine for me because the page is using your browser’s default font. I have mine set to Calibri.

    By default, IE is set to Times New Roman, which as many people have pointed out, is not an optimal font for on-screen reading.

    Try changing your default browser font to your favorite font and see what happens. :)

  41. Apostolos also commented on this font being unreadable. What exactly is the problem with it as a default when compared to san-serif fonts? I don’t see Times New Roman as any harder or easier to read than Arial.

  42. I’ll take it a step further: if you look at some of the most successful web sites (Google, Ebay, Craigslist, Drudge, ) they have very spare designs. I would argue that they are not successful IN SPITE of these spartan designs but rather *BECAUSE OF*.

    All these fancy new web2-y UIs are a major distraction from the task at hand. And they are very expensive to build, maintain and modify.

  43. I’ll take it a step further: if you look at some of the most successful web sites (Google, Ebay, Craigslist, Drudge, ) they have very spare designs. I would argue that they are not successful IN SPITE of these spartan designs but rather *BECAUSE OF*.

    All these fancy new web2-y UIs are a major distraction from the task at hand. And they are very expensive to build, maintain and modify.

  44. You can have a nice clean display without having ugly layout and fonts.

    Well, maybe not with WordPress. I don’t know. But “Ugly” and “Clean” do not go together.

    Google and Craigslist are generally praised for minimalist clean designs, they sitll have some designers who work on making it actually decent to look at.

    Frnakly it doens’t matter to me though, your blog is in Google Reader as far as I am concerned.

  45. You can have a nice clean display without having ugly layout and fonts.

    Well, maybe not with WordPress. I don’t know. But “Ugly” and “Clean” do not go together.

    Google and Craigslist are generally praised for minimalist clean designs, they sitll have some designers who work on making it actually decent to look at.

    Frnakly it doens’t matter to me though, your blog is in Google Reader as far as I am concerned.

  46. Personally, as a designer I hate the look on your blog right now, basically for the reasons mentioned above (font, screen width, un-professional, etc.) I feel like we stepped back in to the 90′s again and the poor design.

    I’m quite certain you will not leave your site this way in the long run so I’m not to worried about it, however as some have kind of mentioned above, you can have minimalistic and still have good design. Right now you just have minimalistc and not good design.

    Gmail is minimalistic and has good design (for the most part), google.com is minimalistic but poor design, Live.com is minimalistic and good design. Craigslist.com is minimalistic with poor design, ilist.com is minimalistic and has good design.

    So clearly poor design drives traffic :)

    I hope you will keep a minimalistic design, I think there is lots to be said for a clean easy to use clutter free interface, Chris Pirillo’s blog simply has to much noise on it, to many things trying to load and get my attention. It almost always brings my browser to a halt. I simply stopped going there because it got to frustrating.

    I also hope you bring in some good design to the minimalistic format you will have something really nice to read, pleasant to look at and keeps the noise level down to a minimum.

    All the other places you are at (twitter, friend feed) are noisy when it comes to you (as a follower) it’s hard to sort things out and really get your opinion on topics because they fly by a mile a minute. (almost literally).

    That is why I like your blog (and most blogs) because it takes time to write a post, you have to actually give some real thought as to what you are saying and typically its a topic that you feel strongly about which is always a good read.

    Cheers,
    zebb

  47. Personally, as a designer I hate the look on your blog right now, basically for the reasons mentioned above (font, screen width, un-professional, etc.) I feel like we stepped back in to the 90′s again and the poor design.

    I’m quite certain you will not leave your site this way in the long run so I’m not to worried about it, however as some have kind of mentioned above, you can have minimalistic and still have good design. Right now you just have minimalistc and not good design.

    Gmail is minimalistic and has good design (for the most part), google.com is minimalistic but poor design, Live.com is minimalistic and good design. Craigslist.com is minimalistic with poor design, ilist.com is minimalistic and has good design.

    So clearly poor design drives traffic :)

    I hope you will keep a minimalistic design, I think there is lots to be said for a clean easy to use clutter free interface, Chris Pirillo’s blog simply has to much noise on it, to many things trying to load and get my attention. It almost always brings my browser to a halt. I simply stopped going there because it got to frustrating.

    I also hope you bring in some good design to the minimalistic format you will have something really nice to read, pleasant to look at and keeps the noise level down to a minimum.

    All the other places you are at (twitter, friend feed) are noisy when it comes to you (as a follower) it’s hard to sort things out and really get your opinion on topics because they fly by a mile a minute. (almost literally).

    That is why I like your blog (and most blogs) because it takes time to write a post, you have to actually give some real thought as to what you are saying and typically its a topic that you feel strongly about which is always a good read.

    Cheers,
    zebb

  48. I like the fact that your blog looks cleaner than it did. I agree with the others that Times New Roman is not the best font for it. Helvetica (Arial) and Verdana are good, but there are also serif fonts that are very readable. (The serifs make the stroke-ends visible… very helpful in reading a site. TNR is just a poor choice for on-screen reading.)

    Actually, the most important suggestion I have is to modify the h1 in your CSS to be black, not underlined.

  49. I like the fact that your blog looks cleaner than it did. I agree with the others that Times New Roman is not the best font for it. Helvetica (Arial) and Verdana are good, but there are also serif fonts that are very readable. (The serifs make the stroke-ends visible… very helpful in reading a site. TNR is just a poor choice for on-screen reading.)

    Actually, the most important suggestion I have is to modify the h1 in your CSS to be black, not underlined.

  50. @zebb

    Gmail is minimalistic and has good design (for the most part), google.com is minimalistic but poor design, Live.com is minimalistic and good design. Craigslist.com is minimalistic with poor design, ilist.com is minimalistic and has good design.

    I’m not a designer, but Google.com’s design is nearly perfect, simply because it does not distract users from their purpose for using the site. Ilist? Four columns of text on a page turns into a gray blur. Maybe Ilist’s design is “good”, but it defeats the purpose of going to the site.

    As for this site, I read it occasionally, and only for the content. I like an attractive, yet functional site, but if the content isn’t there, I won’t be back.

  51. @zebb

    Gmail is minimalistic and has good design (for the most part), google.com is minimalistic but poor design, Live.com is minimalistic and good design. Craigslist.com is minimalistic with poor design, ilist.com is minimalistic and has good design.

    I’m not a designer, but Google.com’s design is nearly perfect, simply because it does not distract users from their purpose for using the site. Ilist? Four columns of text on a page turns into a gray blur. Maybe Ilist’s design is “good”, but it defeats the purpose of going to the site.

    As for this site, I read it occasionally, and only for the content. I like an attractive, yet functional site, but if the content isn’t there, I won’t be back.

  52. For all of you complaining about the font, all Robert’s design is doing is telling your browser to use its default serif font. If you don’t like Times New Roman (or in one case Courier), why is it your default font? I changed my default serif to Bookman Old Style to remind me of my old Microsoft Office days, and Robert’s and Dave’s blogs look OK to me.

  53. For all of you complaining about the font, all Robert’s design is doing is telling your browser to use its default serif font. If you don’t like Times New Roman (or in one case Courier), why is it your default font? I changed my default serif to Bookman Old Style to remind me of my old Microsoft Office days, and Robert’s and Dave’s blogs look OK to me.

  54. Well it’s just that fonts with serifs (those little lines that appear on the ends of letters) make the text slightly blurry on a screen, so you have to concentrate harder to read them, whereas fonts without serifs (san-serif), such as Verdana and Arial don’t have that problem.

  55. Sorry Robert but for some reason I have a hard time believing you pre-planned to see what would happen. It seems more that now that you picked a plain interim theme you’re observing but what works for you doesn’t necessarily work or pertain to others.
    ——
    How do you want others to perceive you – as plain jane as this theme – I mean those that haven’t followed you for years through all the various changes?

  56. Sorry Robert but for some reason I have a hard time believing you pre-planned to see what would happen. It seems more that now that you picked a plain interim theme you’re observing but what works for you doesn’t necessarily work or pertain to others.
    ——
    How do you want others to perceive you – as plain jane as this theme – I mean those that haven’t followed you for years through all the various changes?

  57. Why don’t you switch to WordPress.org and then you can put all your widgets on? Karoli taught me to use Thesis, a very minimalist theme from WP.org that lets you use all kinds of stuff and customize your little heart out. I’m trying to do that, but maintain my old look and feel, which matches Stealthmode’s which is on Typepad.

  58. Why don’t you switch to WordPress.org and then you can put all your widgets on? Karoli taught me to use Thesis, a very minimalist theme from WP.org that lets you use all kinds of stuff and customize your little heart out. I’m trying to do that, but maintain my old look and feel, which matches Stealthmode’s which is on Typepad.

  59. Agreed that Google.com design doesn’t distract the user from it’s purpose, however from a design standpoint it’s visually not appealing (to me anyway).

    As far as ilist.com vs. craigslist.com, craigslist has 7 main columns and some of those columns are split up into additional columns, plus there is a white background between a majority of the links which in return causes a set of grey grid lines between each item which causes un-necessary noise on the page. Most people also don’t need to see a 100 different locations either, so why include them? Again it’s un-necessary clutter and noies.

    Where as on ilist.com you can quickly and easily search for something (which is what the world does these days) or you can easily browse listings similar to craigslist. Ilist ONLY has 4 columns which are far easier to read, have better line-height, uses slightly larger font(I think), and doesn’t show hordes of other locations that will never be looked at.

    I agree on only reading this site for content, I agree he should keep all his other noise machines off his blog and leave them where they are at.

  60. You will love self hosted WordPress. Word press is magical when you can mess with it to your heart’s content. Starting from scratch is a great way to build. Enjoy.

  61. Just be professional, keep the old design up, until ready with the new, no need for all the self-indulgent hand-wringing and ‘under construction’ signs. Does it really take weeks to create some generic WordPress template? Isn’t San Fran FULL of design freaks?

  62. You will love self hosted WordPress. Word press is magical when you can mess with it to your heart’s content. Starting from scratch is a great way to build. Enjoy.

  63. Just be professional, keep the old design up, until ready with the new, no need for all the self-indulgent hand-wringing and ‘under construction’ signs. Does it really take weeks to create some generic WordPress template? Isn’t San Fran FULL of design freaks?

  64. Robert… first taste of your work today – which I love and will follow. And as a former advertising agency owner and brand consultant, I’d say – site sans design – Big Mistake.

    To be blunt, your type and minimalist look now is hideous. It makes me think of university White Paper work that is posted by professors and other large-brained creatures that are only trying to disseminate content. Their audiences tend to be small and are only concerned with their work.

    What you’re completely ignoring in your decision to go “naked”, so to speak, is the first impressions of NEW readers.

    Right now, you seem to have a loyal following. You can do all sorts of crazy things and they know how good you are and the quality of your content. How your looks does not matter to 90% of them. So, their opinion carries weight, but should be less important in the larger picture.

    No business, writer, blogger can survive the long haul without constantly cultivating new customers, or in your case – readers.

    Your design is your store front. Everyone is stimulated differently. For new window shoppers, in my opinion, your present look is TOO minimal, and actually a repellent. You are potentially turning off new readers – specifically those that tend to take in the blog as a whole, rather than focusing strictly on content.

    Your content is fabulous. Your style is personable. I never saw your designed blog. I don’t know how radical this look is from the previous look.

    I used to tell my clients a simple story. I called it the “Mustard On Your Shirt” story. Once you develop friends (aka people that love and accept your brand), you can show up for work with mustard on your shirt and no one will care. But if you were being reviewed by a new critical eye, a big yellow spot on your wrinkled white shirt may have a very negative impact on the viability of the new relationship.

    A case study I should write a dissertation on was a barbecue client in Las Vegas. Mike Mills is the only three time World Grand Champion winner of the Memphis in May Cook-Off. He’s the Elvis of Barbecue.

    He’s got a little joint in southern Illinois. When established a second location under a different identity Memphis Championship Barbecue in Vegas, he did things the way he did in the tiny Illinois town – cheap and cheesy.

    The food survived his lack of style in a small venue. But they wanted to expand. I worked with them when they built their flagship store near McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. We looked at ever single thing a customer could see or touch. How can we make it our own? We tweaked everything.

    Several years later the Vegas chain had grown to four locations. Yet every single customer thought they were a national chain.

    PERCEPTION IS REALITY. It’s not what it is or what YOU think it is… it all matters what the viewer/customer/client THINKS it is.

    You have to strike an appropriate compromise between your present 100% content – 0% style and the rubbish on MySpace (aka The Modern Digital Museum of Visual Atrocities).

    From your post, you said you eliminated all the branding stuff. Sorry, buddy… that’s like saying, I left my iPod at home and my Soul.

    No, your brand is EVERYTHING YOU DO. It is NOT a thing, it is more a composite impression. Right now, your brand says, “I don’t give a rat’s ass about visual appeal.” Brand is not a commodity you shuffle around. A brand is every thought your readers and potential readers have about you titrated down to a positive, negative or neutral response.

    Right now, your brand looks to me like something out of academia that is only concerned with content. Which is a lousy marketing strategy, unless you’re trying to reduce readership and conserve global bandwith usage.

    You don’t need to add curtains, Persian rugs, flashing lights and gizmos… but you should have something visually that hints or suggests you talk tech. A light silicon chip graphic behind your title would be all you need. (And resize it to proportion. I vomit every time I see these office boobs with MS Word stretching clip art like it’s taffy or a carnival mirror.)

    Also, without traditional blog formating, text runs all the way across the screen. I have a large monitor with a browser that occupies about 2/3 of the surface area. I find myself moving my head to read your posts, in present form. Books are designed to be a certain size for a reason. The human eye works well within a justified or left-aligned frame three to five inches wide, depending on type size. A magazine may have cover dimensions of 20″ x 20″ – but content is still formated in columns.

    Comment #15 by RobOswald validates everything I’ve written.

    Get a form, better choice of type, and a picture of something techie… could be as simple as a cable. Don’t go nuts, just don’t be nuts. Right now, at a glance, I have no idea what you are about, observing visually. A shame because your content is exceptional.

    Grade: Content A++, Brand D, Visual Appeal to new visitors F-

  65. Robert… first taste of your work today – which I love and will follow. And as a former advertising agency owner and brand consultant, I’d say – site sans design – Big Mistake.

    To be blunt, your type and minimalist look now is hideous. It makes me think of university White Paper work that is posted by professors and other large-brained creatures that are only trying to disseminate content. Their audiences tend to be small and are only concerned with their work.

    What you’re completely ignoring in your decision to go “naked”, so to speak, is the first impressions of NEW readers.

    Right now, you seem to have a loyal following. You can do all sorts of crazy things and they know how good you are and the quality of your content. How your looks does not matter to 90% of them. So, their opinion carries weight, but should be less important in the larger picture.

    No business, writer, blogger can survive the long haul without constantly cultivating new customers, or in your case – readers.

    Your design is your store front. Everyone is stimulated differently. For new window shoppers, in my opinion, your present look is TOO minimal, and actually a repellent. You are potentially turning off new readers – specifically those that tend to take in the blog as a whole, rather than focusing strictly on content.

    Your content is fabulous. Your style is personable. I never saw your designed blog. I don’t know how radical this look is from the previous look.

    I used to tell my clients a simple story. I called it the “Mustard On Your Shirt” story. Once you develop friends (aka people that love and accept your brand), you can show up for work with mustard on your shirt and no one will care. But if you were being reviewed by a new critical eye, a big yellow spot on your wrinkled white shirt may have a very negative impact on the viability of the new relationship.

    A case study I should write a dissertation on was a barbecue client in Las Vegas. Mike Mills is the only three time World Grand Champion winner of the Memphis in May Cook-Off. He’s the Elvis of Barbecue.

    He’s got a little joint in southern Illinois. When established a second location under a different identity Memphis Championship Barbecue in Vegas, he did things the way he did in the tiny Illinois town – cheap and cheesy.

    The food survived his lack of style in a small venue. But they wanted to expand. I worked with them when they built their flagship store near McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. We looked at ever single thing a customer could see or touch. How can we make it our own? We tweaked everything.

    Several years later the Vegas chain had grown to four locations. Yet every single customer thought they were a national chain.

    PERCEPTION IS REALITY. It’s not what it is or what YOU think it is… it all matters what the viewer/customer/client THINKS it is.

    You have to strike an appropriate compromise between your present 100% content – 0% style and the rubbish on MySpace (aka The Modern Digital Museum of Visual Atrocities).

    From your post, you said you eliminated all the branding stuff. Sorry, buddy… that’s like saying, I left my iPod at home and my Soul.

    No, your brand is EVERYTHING YOU DO. It is NOT a thing, it is more a composite impression. Right now, your brand says, “I don’t give a rat’s ass about visual appeal.” Brand is not a commodity you shuffle around. A brand is every thought your readers and potential readers have about you titrated down to a positive, negative or neutral response.

    Right now, your brand looks to me like something out of academia that is only concerned with content. Which is a lousy marketing strategy, unless you’re trying to reduce readership and conserve global bandwith usage.

    You don’t need to add curtains, Persian rugs, flashing lights and gizmos… but you should have something visually that hints or suggests you talk tech. A light silicon chip graphic behind your title would be all you need. (And resize it to proportion. I vomit every time I see these office boobs with MS Word stretching clip art like it’s taffy or a carnival mirror.)

    Also, without traditional blog formating, text runs all the way across the screen. I have a large monitor with a browser that occupies about 2/3 of the surface area. I find myself moving my head to read your posts, in present form. Books are designed to be a certain size for a reason. The human eye works well within a justified or left-aligned frame three to five inches wide, depending on type size. A magazine may have cover dimensions of 20″ x 20″ – but content is still formated in columns.

    Comment #15 by RobOswald validates everything I’ve written.

    Get a form, better choice of type, and a picture of something techie… could be as simple as a cable. Don’t go nuts, just don’t be nuts. Right now, at a glance, I have no idea what you are about, observing visually. A shame because your content is exceptional.

    Grade: Content A++, Brand D, Visual Appeal to new visitors F-

  66. I never come here directly, I only read the feed through Google Reader and that has it’s own formatting.

  67. I never come here directly, I only read the feed through Google Reader and that has it’s own formatting.

  68. Of course, those of us who read via RSS are used to the no-bells-or-whistles look already. (Though Times New Roman hurts my eyes here).

  69. Of course, those of us who read via RSS are used to the no-bells-or-whistles look already. (Though Times New Roman hurts my eyes here).

  70. I partly agree on your post. Design is not everything and for a settled blog like yours, it is not as vital anymore. You noticed no traffic collapse with no design because your readers like your content and are not on your blog for the design (I guess that a large part of your readers read by RSS readers, so the design of the post is automatically secondary).

    For new blogs that just start up, the design is more important. You need to attract people to your blog and having a bad or no design will keep them away from visiting your blog frequently or even signing up to the RSS.

    It is like in “real” life – if you meet a person first time, you check (maybe subconciously) if she/he is attractive to you before you will even start speaking to her/him and get to know the personality.

    About your un-designing I guess it was a great attempt to show that popular blogs can really do it without all the design hype and your approach will severely scare all the theme sellers ripping the bloggers off with crappy themes. Nevertheless, my opinion is that you are maybe a bit too radical. Clean design is a good idea but no design isn´t. There are very nice and clean designs out there, maybe you check the http://frugaltheme.com/. Looks nice and is very clean.

  71. I partly agree on your post. Design is not everything and for a settled blog like yours, it is not as vital anymore. You noticed no traffic collapse with no design because your readers like your content and are not on your blog for the design (I guess that a large part of your readers read by RSS readers, so the design of the post is automatically secondary).

    For new blogs that just start up, the design is more important. You need to attract people to your blog and having a bad or no design will keep them away from visiting your blog frequently or even signing up to the RSS.

    It is like in “real” life – if you meet a person first time, you check (maybe subconciously) if she/he is attractive to you before you will even start speaking to her/him and get to know the personality.

    About your un-designing I guess it was a great attempt to show that popular blogs can really do it without all the design hype and your approach will severely scare all the theme sellers ripping the bloggers off with crappy themes. Nevertheless, my opinion is that you are maybe a bit too radical. Clean design is a good idea but no design isn´t. There are very nice and clean designs out there, maybe you check the http://frugaltheme.com/. Looks nice and is very clean.

  72. I don’t see how this is ugly or innovative. Maybe your previous design was ugly and overcrowded because of your poor decisions and now you just want to play smart by using Times New Roman and blue underlined links.

  73. I don’t see how this is ugly or innovative. Maybe your previous design was ugly and overcrowded because of your poor decisions and now you just want to play smart by using Times New Roman and blue underlined links.

  74. This “non re-design” indeed helps focus on content – i find very interesting that major blogs like yours starts experimenting with forms in different ways than the (so usual) mainstream one. It is by far much more interesting seeing experimentations – even if it doesn’t succeed – rather than people just sticking to a style without understanding the meaning underneath. Form is not just decoration, it is a tool that convey meaning; your abrupt decision to switch to something “plain” has a true and powerful meaning in regard to the content you are writing.

    Content is what lasts – whatever the package; and that’s indeed one of the aspects of feeds: transmitting raw materials. But form and research of a form according to meaning principles is what design is about.

    I really enjoyed reading this short report on your experimentation.

    * also: I recommend you to get and read some issues of Dot Dot Dot magazine – http://www.dot-dot-dot.us/ if you’re willing to explore form, then i think it’s a very good opportunity to discover this fantastic publication.

  75. This “non re-design” indeed helps focus on content – i find very interesting that major blogs like yours starts experimenting with forms in different ways than the (so usual) mainstream one. It is by far much more interesting seeing experimentations – even if it doesn’t succeed – rather than people just sticking to a style without understanding the meaning underneath. Form is not just decoration, it is a tool that convey meaning; your abrupt decision to switch to something “plain” has a true and powerful meaning in regard to the content you are writing.

    Content is what lasts – whatever the package; and that’s indeed one of the aspects of feeds: transmitting raw materials. But form and research of a form according to meaning principles is what design is about.

    I really enjoyed reading this short report on your experimentation.

    * also: I recommend you to get and read some issues of Dot Dot Dot magazine – http://www.dot-dot-dot.us/ if you’re willing to explore form, then i think it’s a very good opportunity to discover this fantastic publication.

  76. Welcome to the internet 1995. That’s the feel of your page now. Yes, that’s the way my pages looked back in 95, when we were *programming* HTML pages for Xmosaic (gosh, time passes fast).

    Seriously, you want to make a point about not caring for advertisement revenue? Well, you haven’t blogged anything useful for some time either. So, why care at all?

  77. Welcome to the internet 1995. That’s the feel of your page now. Yes, that’s the way my pages looked back in 95, when we were *programming* HTML pages for Xmosaic (gosh, time passes fast).

    Seriously, you want to make a point about not caring for advertisement revenue? Well, you haven’t blogged anything useful for some time either. So, why care at all?

  78. The design is not ugly. It is functional. Ugly is here: http://u.nu/7zz

    I’ll bet Jakob Nielsen would love this spare design.

    Any successful copywriter would tell you to emphasize content over design. Designers will give you white text on a black background (looks cool, unreadable). Copywriters will give you black text on a white background (no look, readable). The easier your content is to read, the more people will read it. This extends to strong headlines and subheds, great ledes, useful commentary, etc. It’s about the content, not the design.

    Design should enhance readability and organization. Unfortunately, too many sites suffer from artdesigneritis, where the design looks great in a frame, but is fundamentally unreadable. Thank G-d for RSS feeds.

    Classic book whose rules of copywriting and design still apply, and answers the question you pose re: “should I have a “nice” design?” Read the section on “Print.” You’ll find the answer is “yes,” if you redefine what “design” means. http://u.nu/6zz

  79. The design is not ugly. It is functional. Ugly is here: http://u.nu/7zz

    I’ll bet Jakob Nielsen would love this spare design.

    Any successful copywriter would tell you to emphasize content over design. Designers will give you white text on a black background (looks cool, unreadable). Copywriters will give you black text on a white background (no look, readable). The easier your content is to read, the more people will read it. This extends to strong headlines and subheds, great ledes, useful commentary, etc. It’s about the content, not the design.

    Design should enhance readability and organization. Unfortunately, too many sites suffer from artdesigneritis, where the design looks great in a frame, but is fundamentally unreadable. Thank G-d for RSS feeds.

    Classic book whose rules of copywriting and design still apply, and answers the question you pose re: “should I have a “nice” design?” Read the section on “Print.” You’ll find the answer is “yes,” if you redefine what “design” means. http://u.nu/6zz

  80. Well said Robert. Content is King. If you have something valuable to say, it does not matter if your WordPress theme is plain or not.

  81. Well said Robert. Content is King. If you have something valuable to say, it does not matter if your WordPress theme is plain or not.

  82. Nice insights, Robert, thanks. I read Chris Brogan’s blog and he had a post late last year about being in virtually the same shoes as you: He uses WordPress and was moving to Mosso (owned by Rackspace). Here it is FWIW: http://bit.ly/PKozH

  83. Nice insights, Robert, thanks. I read Chris Brogan’s blog and he had a post late last year about being in virtually the same shoes as you: He uses WordPress and was moving to Mosso (owned by Rackspace). Here it is FWIW: http://bit.ly/PKozH

  84. The design reminds me of early websites, the only downside is that a white background strains thr eyes too much, otherwise I like it!

  85. The design reminds me of early websites, the only downside is that a white background strains thr eyes too much, otherwise I like it!

  86. I don’t mind the plain, but the line length of the test gets a bit out of hand. Reading long lines is hard on the eyes. It is one thing to get down to the basics, another to make it harder to read. Optimal line length is 65-85 characters if you do choose to go to a fixed width

  87. I don’t mind the plain, but the line length of the test gets a bit out of hand. Reading long lines is hard on the eyes. It is one thing to get down to the basics, another to make it harder to read. Optimal line length is 65-85 characters if you do choose to go to a fixed width

  88. Robert,

    I think, like most things, a good compromise is probably ideal here. The best designs (think Apple) are often minimalist – but that doesn’t mean no design. It often means much much harder design, actually. Throwing stuff out and paring things down is tough.

    So take the good feedback (I can verify that high-res monitors aren’t as nice on this design, for example) and incorporate them into a new design – but keep it simple and barebones still.

    Best of both worlds = EPIC WIN.

  89. Robert,

    I think, like most things, a good compromise is probably ideal here. The best designs (think Apple) are often minimalist – but that doesn’t mean no design. It often means much much harder design, actually. Throwing stuff out and paring things down is tough.

    So take the good feedback (I can verify that high-res monitors aren’t as nice on this design, for example) and incorporate them into a new design – but keep it simple and barebones still.

    Best of both worlds = EPIC WIN.

  90. Genius! Looks much better now I’ve changed it to Gill Sans. This is accessible in Firefox via Tools>Options then the (third) Contents tab. Looks much better already,

    Robert

  91. I was wondering why it happened. At first I thought something was broken there somewhere, but the old School Netscape 1.0 feel to the page is good. and it gets the readers to the nuts n bolts of your topics. Not that we ever had a problem doing that before :) As a photographer I like some visuals, but its good clean page. And if the font was to small for me then I could just make it bigger with a scroll of my mouse wheel. :)

  92. I was wondering why it happened. At first I thought something was broken there somewhere, but the old School Netscape 1.0 feel to the page is good. and it gets the readers to the nuts n bolts of your topics. Not that we ever had a problem doing that before :) As a photographer I like some visuals, but its good clean page. And if the font was to small for me then I could just make it bigger with a scroll of my mouse wheel. :)

  93. I agree that design will make very little differnce to people that have now gone beyond the ‘first impression’ state and are now enjoying your blog for what it is… (by way of feeds or visiting your site)

    … but the current lack of presentation will not serve you well in the long term as it fails to

    1. position you as a professional,
    2. be easily recognized (I came by way of you at FC)
    3. (Sorry for this one) but keep up with whats looking hot, we are shallow beings and judge way too soon on what is good value and sometimes its not based on anything than how it looks…

    My suggestion is get engage a quality designer to layout your blog with a given brief of “simple and clean” as a part of the brief…

    Keep blogging …love your stuff…Alex

  94. I agree that design will make very little differnce to people that have now gone beyond the ‘first impression’ state and are now enjoying your blog for what it is… (by way of feeds or visiting your site)

    … but the current lack of presentation will not serve you well in the long term as it fails to

    1. position you as a professional,
    2. be easily recognized (I came by way of you at FC)
    3. (Sorry for this one) but keep up with whats looking hot, we are shallow beings and judge way too soon on what is good value and sometimes its not based on anything than how it looks…

    My suggestion is get engage a quality designer to layout your blog with a given brief of “simple and clean” as a part of the brief…

    Keep blogging …love your stuff…Alex

  95. All’s I can say is that the white background is hurting my eyes! Otherwise, great idea! Look at all the comments man! Maybe we should all start taking some tips from Mr. Bleizer…

  96. All’s I can say is that the white background is hurting my eyes! Otherwise, great idea! Look at all the comments man! Maybe we should all start taking some tips from Mr. Bleizer…

  97. Yes, but you–the website designer–can “choose” how your site looks. Most people do not CHOOSE their default font: in fact, I’ll assert that most folks don’t even know they can.

    Just set your default font to sans-serif; then folks’ computers will choose their default sans-serif font (and if they’ve customized it, it will keep with their preferences).

    Sans-serif has been proven (through usability testing) to be easier to read on screen than serif.

  98. Like Uomo_merda and others, I follow this blog on Google Reader. I don’t follow Robert through Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed etc. because I trust that his most thoughtful and valuable content is published here.

    I expect that the stats for viewers to the blog actually increases when Robert makes comments on the design because all of us using RSS visit the blog to see what he means.

  99. Like Uomo_merda and others, I follow this blog on Google Reader. I don’t follow Robert through Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed etc. because I trust that his most thoughtful and valuable content is published here.

    I expect that the stats for viewers to the blog actually increases when Robert makes comments on the design because all of us using RSS visit the blog to see what he means.

  100. I actually find the minimalist approach refreshing. Let’s face it, if you produce informative content on a consistent basis and therefore have a loyal subscriber base they are coming back because of the content not the design. Since most followers subscribe via RSS they don’t see the blog very often anyway. The design is for new comers I guess. Will they find you more credible because of a cutting edge design? Perhaps in the beginning. But my only reason for coming back to a blog is because it’s become a dependable channel. Change is typically a good thing, stagnation a bad thing. If all blogs looked the same it would get old fast. Focus on the content, switch up the design from time to time, try new things and dare to be different are all simple factors that contribute to a blog’s long term success.

  101. I actually find the minimalist approach refreshing. Let’s face it, if you produce informative content on a consistent basis and therefore have a loyal subscriber base they are coming back because of the content not the design. Since most followers subscribe via RSS they don’t see the blog very often anyway. The design is for new comers I guess. Will they find you more credible because of a cutting edge design? Perhaps in the beginning. But my only reason for coming back to a blog is because it’s become a dependable channel. Change is typically a good thing, stagnation a bad thing. If all blogs looked the same it would get old fast. Focus on the content, switch up the design from time to time, try new things and dare to be different are all simple factors that contribute to a blog’s long term success.

  102. While content is way more important than design, I don’t think you should under-estimate the design. If this was the first time I would have navigated over to your blog, I probably owuld have discounted it pretty quickly given the lack of design and a sense of a lack of professionalism. yet, a minimalist approach is definitely the way to go, whatever direction you choose.

    Rick.

  103. While content is way more important than design, I don’t think you should under-estimate the design. If this was the first time I would have navigated over to your blog, I probably owuld have discounted it pretty quickly given the lack of design and a sense of a lack of professionalism. yet, a minimalist approach is definitely the way to go, whatever direction you choose.

    Rick.

  104. While content is way more important than design, I don’t think you should under-estimate the design. If this was the first time I would have navigated over to your blog, I probably owuld have discounted it pretty quickly given the lack of design and a sense of a lack of professionalism. yet, a minimalist approach is definitely the way to go, whatever direction you choose.

    Rick.

  105. The comments are pretty amusing, a bunch of tin-eyed geeks commenting on design. It’s like watching a tone-deaf singer on American Idol :-)

    Obviously design shouldn’t distract from the content but there’s been many studies showing that visitors form an opinion of you (company/brand) within a second or two based on the design, long before they read anything. It’s why most notable brands spend money on design and it’s not being wasted. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest ways to polish and influence your brand image.

  106. The comments are pretty amusing, a bunch of tin-eyed geeks commenting on design. It’s like watching a tone-deaf singer on American Idol :-)

    Obviously design shouldn’t distract from the content but there’s been many studies showing that visitors form an opinion of you (company/brand) within a second or two based on the design, long before they read anything. It’s why most notable brands spend money on design and it’s not being wasted. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest ways to polish and influence your brand image.

  107. The comments are pretty amusing, a bunch of tin-eyed geeks commenting on design. It’s like watching a tone-deaf singer on American Idol :-)

    Obviously design shouldn’t distract from the content but there’s been many studies showing that visitors form an opinion of you (company/brand) within a second or two based on the design, long before they read anything. It’s why most notable brands spend money on design and it’s not being wasted. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest ways to polish and influence your brand image.

  108. [...] have a layout which they cannot relate to, they are likely to not invest time in you. The reason why Scobleizer can claim that his basic layout has no impact on traffic, is because due to the fact people already know him and people can use other sources to identify [...]

  109. Count me in the “like the new design” camp. Previously, I only checked in occasionally. With this layout I could see myself coming back more often; it speaks of a refocusing on content rather than distracting me away from the content.

    I think there are a lot of people who equate “cool looking” with “design”, and I’m with all those commenters who point out that simple and usable is a design, and think Google (and, yes, Craigslist, which I check regularly) succeed because of their designs, not in spite of them.

    I rather suspect that those who complained about the font are either using “ClearType” (snicker) or have their system font set weirdly (perhaps that means the default), and in this day of 26″+ wide monitors who runs their web browser full screen any more? I definitely like having text layout which adapts to how I want to view it, rather than enforcing how I have to.

    Hope whatever you end up with maintains the aspects of this that keep it usable.

  110. Count me in the “like the new design” camp. Previously, I only checked in occasionally. With this layout I could see myself coming back more often; it speaks of a refocusing on content rather than distracting me away from the content.

    I think there are a lot of people who equate “cool looking” with “design”, and I’m with all those commenters who point out that simple and usable is a design, and think Google (and, yes, Craigslist, which I check regularly) succeed because of their designs, not in spite of them.

    I rather suspect that those who complained about the font are either using “ClearType” (snicker) or have their system font set weirdly (perhaps that means the default), and in this day of 26″+ wide monitors who runs their web browser full screen any more? I definitely like having text layout which adapts to how I want to view it, rather than enforcing how I have to.

    Hope whatever you end up with maintains the aspects of this that keep it usable.

  111. Count me in the “like the new design” camp. Previously, I only checked in occasionally. With this layout I could see myself coming back more often; it speaks of a refocusing on content rather than distracting me away from the content.

    I think there are a lot of people who equate “cool looking” with “design”, and I’m with all those commenters who point out that simple and usable is a design, and think Google (and, yes, Craigslist, which I check regularly) succeed because of their designs, not in spite of them.

    I rather suspect that those who complained about the font are either using “ClearType” (snicker) or have their system font set weirdly (perhaps that means the default), and in this day of 26″+ wide monitors who runs their web browser full screen any more? I definitely like having text layout which adapts to how I want to view it, rather than enforcing how I have to.

    Hope whatever you end up with maintains the aspects of this that keep it usable.

  112. The neat thing about design is you can choose a new theme with the click of a mouse. Today I turned on a different one that will get a different argument going.

  113. The neat thing about design is you can choose a new theme with the click of a mouse. Today I turned on a different one that will get a different argument going.

  114. The neat thing about design is you can choose a new theme with the click of a mouse. Today I turned on a different one that will get a different argument going.

  115. Well, I actually like this design. It is minimalist and that theme seems to be running through the threads of my life. I am sure that there are many people who are yearning for a return to simplicity. We’ve had the flash, the WOW factor and many realized it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. No matter what you design you choose there will be those that hate it, and those that love it. If my little vote counts, I vote for the basics.

  116. Well, I actually like this design. It is minimalist and that theme seems to be running through the threads of my life. I am sure that there are many people who are yearning for a return to simplicity. We’ve had the flash, the WOW factor and many realized it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. No matter what you design you choose there will be those that hate it, and those that love it. If my little vote counts, I vote for the basics.

  117. Well, I actually like this design. It is minimalist and that theme seems to be running through the threads of my life. I am sure that there are many people who are yearning for a return to simplicity. We’ve had the flash, the WOW factor and many realized it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. No matter what you design you choose there will be those that hate it, and those that love it. If my little vote counts, I vote for the basics.

  118. I think it all depends on your target audience – I am a very visual person so an attractive interface is important to me now if I am doing research just for information? If it is really plain it may appear to visitor that you are not really successful and cannot afford something more.

    And if you are a designer – it better show some design…

    You get my drift…

    A lot of blog and website become so busy you don’t know where to go – and bad design is far worse than simple plain…

  119. I think it all depends on your target audience – I am a very visual person so an attractive interface is important to me now if I am doing research just for information? If it is really plain it may appear to visitor that you are not really successful and cannot afford something more.

    And if you are a designer – it better show some design…

    You get my drift…

    A lot of blog and website become so busy you don’t know where to go – and bad design is far worse than simple plain…

  120. I think it all depends on your target audience – I am a very visual person so an attractive interface is important to me now if I am doing research just for information? If it is really plain it may appear to visitor that you are not really successful and cannot afford something more.

    And if you are a designer – it better show some design…

    You get my drift…

    A lot of blog and website become so busy you don’t know where to go – and bad design is far worse than simple plain…

  121. I don’t think the design is ugly. but really – your content is more important to me.

  122. I don’t think the design is ugly. but really – your content is more important to me.

  123. Here’s an article I just sent all my clients and friends:

    http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy

    As a nearly complete convert to a variant of hard-core direct marketing known as ‘Kennedy-style’ or ‘GKIC’ (see http://dankennedy.com) that is only now, grudgingly, admitting that decent design does not, in fact, depress response rates when we keep our eyes on the ball, I walk a fine line almost every minute between design for its own sake and design to help make the sale. So I love it when I get ammo from reputable sources like alap.

    Because I just can’t do ugly.

    Oh – as to Times Roman: It doesn’t have to suck. Just set it biggish, in light weights, and kern it to a fare-thee-well. ‘Course, it’s hard to kern web type, but that’s why you set it big, so you can tighten the letterspacing to the point that nobody notices. Use the light weight for body text at about 14px and h1 heads at about 24px or bigger; mix with h2 and h3 heads in Arial Bold or Trebuchet Bold. The h3 subheads should be the same size as the p text; the h2 subheads can be somewhat bigger, maybe 16-18 px.

    On the subject of type running acrosse the browser window, I agree absolutely. Type gets hard to read at about 52 characters long; even a bare-bones, no-style design should still at least have a container that declares the main-content column won’t make anyone read farther across than that.

    And, finally, if we listened to every one of our esteemed male colleagues over 40 on the subject of readable type, we would never design anything except 12-point black type on white. Or 18-point black type on white.

    Guys, I went presbyopic starting on my 40th birthday and today can’t see the lines on my own hand. (The fingers are going fast.) I wear bifocals with two strengths of close – one for the computer and one for reading papers. When I drive I look over the top to see the road and the rest of the panorama in the distance (and look through them to see the speedometer and the rest of the in-car controls) and take them off to play tennis, at which point I can no longer read the numbers on the balls, to return strays to the next court. All of this is prelude to my most earnest entreaty: If you can’t read the type, please, just put on your glasses – your wife spent hours picking them out and I’m sure they look great on you!

  124. Here’s an article I just sent all my clients and friends:

    http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy

    As a nearly complete convert to a variant of hard-core direct marketing known as ‘Kennedy-style’ or ‘GKIC’ (see http://dankennedy.com) that is only now, grudgingly, admitting that decent design does not, in fact, depress response rates when we keep our eyes on the ball, I walk a fine line almost every minute between design for its own sake and design to help make the sale. So I love it when I get ammo from reputable sources like alap.

    Because I just can’t do ugly.

    Oh – as to Times Roman: It doesn’t have to suck. Just set it biggish, in light weights, and kern it to a fare-thee-well. ‘Course, it’s hard to kern web type, but that’s why you set it big, so you can tighten the letterspacing to the point that nobody notices. Use the light weight for body text at about 14px and h1 heads at about 24px or bigger; mix with h2 and h3 heads in Arial Bold or Trebuchet Bold. The h3 subheads should be the same size as the p text; the h2 subheads can be somewhat bigger, maybe 16-18 px.

    On the subject of type running acrosse the browser window, I agree absolutely. Type gets hard to read at about 52 characters long; even a bare-bones, no-style design should still at least have a container that declares the main-content column won’t make anyone read farther across than that.

    And, finally, if we listened to every one of our esteemed male colleagues over 40 on the subject of readable type, we would never design anything except 12-point black type on white. Or 18-point black type on white.

    Guys, I went presbyopic starting on my 40th birthday and today can’t see the lines on my own hand. (The fingers are going fast.) I wear bifocals with two strengths of close – one for the computer and one for reading papers. When I drive I look over the top to see the road and the rest of the panorama in the distance (and look through them to see the speedometer and the rest of the in-car controls) and take them off to play tennis, at which point I can no longer read the numbers on the balls, to return strays to the next court. All of this is prelude to my most earnest entreaty: If you can’t read the type, please, just put on your glasses – your wife spent hours picking them out and I’m sure they look great on you!

  125. Here’s an article I just sent all my clients and friends:

    http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy

    As a nearly complete convert to a variant of hard-core direct marketing known as ‘Kennedy-style’ or ‘GKIC’ (see http://dankennedy.com) that is only now, grudgingly, admitting that decent design does not, in fact, depress response rates when we keep our eyes on the ball, I walk a fine line almost every minute between design for its own sake and design to help make the sale. So I love it when I get ammo from reputable sources like alap.

    Because I just can’t do ugly.

    Oh – as to Times Roman: It doesn’t have to suck. Just set it biggish, in light weights, and kern it to a fare-thee-well. ‘Course, it’s hard to kern web type, but that’s why you set it big, so you can tighten the letterspacing to the point that nobody notices. Use the light weight for body text at about 14px and h1 heads at about 24px or bigger; mix with h2 and h3 heads in Arial Bold or Trebuchet Bold. The h3 subheads should be the same size as the p text; the h2 subheads can be somewhat bigger, maybe 16-18 px.

    On the subject of type running acrosse the browser window, I agree absolutely. Type gets hard to read at about 52 characters long; even a bare-bones, no-style design should still at least have a container that declares the main-content column won’t make anyone read farther across than that.

    And, finally, if we listened to every one of our esteemed male colleagues over 40 on the subject of readable type, we would never design anything except 12-point black type on white. Or 18-point black type on white.

    Guys, I went presbyopic starting on my 40th birthday and today can’t see the lines on my own hand. (The fingers are going fast.) I wear bifocals with two strengths of close – one for the computer and one for reading papers. When I drive I look over the top to see the road and the rest of the panorama in the distance (and look through them to see the speedometer and the rest of the in-car controls) and take them off to play tennis, at which point I can no longer read the numbers on the balls, to return strays to the next court. All of this is prelude to my most earnest entreaty: If you can’t read the type, please, just put on your glasses – your wife spent hours picking them out and I’m sure they look great on you!

  126. I think this works for you because you have a pretty big reputation and I’m not convinced at all that it would work for the ‘normal’ guys like me. I happen to like the stripped back design and I always thought this was the way that web 2.0 would go but as I say, if you have a loyal readership then whatever you put out will probably not affect their desire to come and read your posts.

  127. I think this works for you because you have a pretty big reputation and I’m not convinced at all that it would work for the ‘normal’ guys like me. I happen to like the stripped back design and I always thought this was the way that web 2.0 would go but as I say, if you have a loyal readership then whatever you put out will probably not affect their desire to come and read your posts.

  128. I think this works for you because you have a pretty big reputation and I’m not convinced at all that it would work for the ‘normal’ guys like me. I happen to like the stripped back design and I always thought this was the way that web 2.0 would go but as I say, if you have a loyal readership then whatever you put out will probably not affect their desire to come and read your posts.

  129. There is the answer that people can zoom for more readability (Firefox and IE7 have fancy zoom goodness now), but I think a permanent bump on font-size is a good idea. It will improve readability, but here is my real reason:

    Guy Kawasaki 10-20-30. Yep, the PowerPoint rule, but on websites. 10-20-30 makes PowerPoints easier to read and less noisy. Make it easy for your people to find and digest your content. Bigger fonts reduce what you can put on a page and suddenly you have a box to work inside. Suddenly you have to decide to tell your story in half the words. Or even better, no words but a single picture. You get a boundary to work within. Such boundaries inspire the most creativity in people. I tell you that you can only use 33 lines to tell your user what’s up, and you write a tighter story. I tell you that you have only 15 minutes to present a business and you have DEMO. I tell you you only have 140 characters to announce something and you have Twitter.

    Bottom line, bigger fonts make for clearer boundaries on how much to present, which really makes you focus on what to present.

    Long post, but I am absolutely passionate about the play between design and content.

  130. There is the answer that people can zoom for more readability (Firefox and IE7 have fancy zoom goodness now), but I think a permanent bump on font-size is a good idea. It will improve readability, but here is my real reason:

    Guy Kawasaki 10-20-30. Yep, the PowerPoint rule, but on websites. 10-20-30 makes PowerPoints easier to read and less noisy. Make it easy for your people to find and digest your content. Bigger fonts reduce what you can put on a page and suddenly you have a box to work inside. Suddenly you have to decide to tell your story in half the words. Or even better, no words but a single picture. You get a boundary to work within. Such boundaries inspire the most creativity in people. I tell you that you can only use 33 lines to tell your user what’s up, and you write a tighter story. I tell you that you have only 15 minutes to present a business and you have DEMO. I tell you you only have 140 characters to announce something and you have Twitter.

    Bottom line, bigger fonts make for clearer boundaries on how much to present, which really makes you focus on what to present.

    Long post, but I am absolutely passionate about the play between design and content.

  131. last monday was it yes said the large dog as ai said last time we were running JAPAN RULES my hungry towel says get beck NOOOOOOOO STOOOOPPPPPPPPP jump you can eat you hands hand hand hand

  132. last monday was it yes said the large dog as ai said last time we were running JAPAN RULES my hungry towel says get beck NOOOOOOOO STOOOOPPPPPPPPP jump you can eat you hands hand hand hand

  133. last monday was it yes said the large dog as ai said last time we were running JAPAN RULES my hungry towel says get beck NOOOOOOOO STOOOOPPPPPPPPP jump you can eat you hands hand hand hand

  134. This green feeling gives me peace and easy focus on your content. My impression is a positive one and this is actually a very good test for those who fear about losing visitors/readers and money.

  135. This green feeling gives me peace and easy focus on your content. My impression is a positive one and this is actually a very good test for those who fear about losing visitors/readers and money.

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  137. Apostolos also commented on this font being unreadable. What exactly is the problem with it as a default when compared to san-serif fonts? I don’t see Times New Roman as any harder or easier to read than Arial.

  138. Well it’s just that fonts with serifs (those little lines that appear on the ends of letters) make the text slightly blurry on a screen, so you have to concentrate harder to read them, whereas fonts without serifs (san-serif), such as Verdana and Arial don’t have that problem.

  139. Agreed that Google.com design doesn’t distract the user from it’s purpose, however from a design standpoint it’s visually not appealing (to me anyway).

    As far as ilist.com vs. craigslist.com, craigslist has 7 main columns and some of those columns are split up into additional columns, plus there is a white background between a majority of the links which in return causes a set of grey grid lines between each item which causes un-necessary noise on the page. Most people also don’t need to see a 100 different locations either, so why include them? Again it’s un-necessary clutter and noies.

    Where as on ilist.com you can quickly and easily search for something (which is what the world does these days) or you can easily browse listings similar to craigslist. Ilist ONLY has 4 columns which are far easier to read, have better line-height, uses slightly larger font(I think), and doesn’t show hordes of other locations that will never be looked at.

    I agree on only reading this site for content, I agree he should keep all his other noise machines off his blog and leave them where they are at.

  140. Genius! Looks much better now I’ve changed it to Gill Sans. This is accessible in Firefox via Tools>Options then the (third) Contents tab. Looks much better already,

    Robert

  141. Yes, but you–the website designer–can “choose” how your site looks. Most people do not CHOOSE their default font: in fact, I’ll assert that most folks don’t even know they can.

    Just set your default font to sans-serif; then folks’ computers will choose their default sans-serif font (and if they’ve customized it, it will keep with their preferences).

    Sans-serif has been proven (through usability testing) to be easier to read on screen than serif.

  142. There is the answer that people can zoom for more readability (Firefox and IE7 have fancy zoom goodness now), but I think a permanent bump on font-size is a good idea. It will improve readability, but here is my real reason:

    Guy Kawasaki 10-20-30. Yep, the PowerPoint rule, but on websites. 10-20-30 makes PowerPoints easier to read and less noisy. Make it easy for your people to find and digest your content. Bigger fonts reduce what you can put on a page and suddenly you have a box to work inside. Suddenly you have to decide to tell your story in half the words. Or even better, no words but a single picture. You get a boundary to work within. Such boundaries inspire the most creativity in people. I tell you that you can only use 33 lines to tell your user what’s up, and you write a tighter story. I tell you that you have only 15 minutes to present a business and you have DEMO. I tell you you only have 140 characters to announce something and you have Twitter.

    Bottom line, bigger fonts make for clearer boundaries on how much to present, which really makes you focus on what to present.

    Long post, but I am absolutely passionate about the play between design and content.