Announcing a New Design for 2010, With a Bonus Trip Down Memory Lane!

By Selene M. Bowlby in Web Design on March 31st, 2010

iDesign Studios | Custom WordPress Theme Design and Development

I’m happy to officially announce the re-design of iDesign Studios!

The new site has actually been in the works for a few months now, and is finally ready to make it’s debut. In truth, I unofficially launched the site on March 29th, but it’s taken a few extra days to get the time to put together the announcement post.

So, What’s New?

I had three main goals in mind with the updated site.

  • updated content
  • better readability
  • a clean and minimalist design

As “They” Say, Content Is King

First and foremost, my primary goal for the new site was to update the content. Most of the text on the old site was very outdated – more than a couple years old – and no longer reflected my current service offerings and method of working on projects.

For example, when I first wrote the Typical Milestones and Turnaround Times page in the FAQ section, the majority of the web sites that I built were static HTML sites. Now that my primary focus is on designing and developing custom WordPress themes, the process is considerably different. The new FAQ / Process / Milestones section of the site now provide much more accurate infomation, as does the Services section.

I’ve also updated the Portfolio, to include a better overview of each project, as well as giving options to narrow down the work displayed by category – for example WordPress vs Static or Full Design/Development vs Design Only vs Development Only.

Two for One

Redesign - BeforeI have always been a fan of using a dark background for portfolio sites – I find it helps showcase the individual portfolio pieces quite nicely. However, with this comes the issue that light text on a dark background is difficult for some people to read.

The previous site featured an almost black, patterned background with light grey text, along with brightly colored headlines and links. While most people seemed to like the design, I would occasionally get comments that it was just NOT easy to read.

As a designer, it’s an issue I’m well aware of, but decided to take a calculated risk, since this is my own site. I don’t always have the freedom to design a light on dark site for clients, so I’ll usually take liberties with my own site that I typically can’t for a client.

As you can see, the primary design for this site is also a light on dark design, however this time, with a dark grey vs black, as well as a subtle noise vs larger pattern in the background, I do believe this new version is more readable and easier on the eyes than the previous one.

With that being said, I know there are still a lot of people who just want to see traditional dark text on a light background. I certainly want to accommodate as many readers and potential clients as possible, so I’ve used a theme switcher plugin to give users the option to toggle between two versions of the site.

Feel free to give it a try, and let me know which version you like best! The main theme switcher link is on the upper left corner of the page, or you can just click the links below:

  • View the Dark Version of the site
  • View the Light Version of the site

Personally, I much prefer the dark version of the site, but that’s just my own preference. With two options, visitors to the site can use whichever version they like best.

Note: In anticipation of an upcoming redesign, I’ve disabled the theme switcher option, and am strictly using the Dark version of the theme at the moment.

Redesign 2010 - Dark Redesign 2010 - Light

Clean and Simple

I have also always been a big believer in the “less is more” theory of design – so I wanted to go for a very minimal look on this version of the site.

Some might say it’s too minimalistic – and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I sometimes feel that way about it myself. But the funny thing is that the more I attempt to add into the site, the more I end up taking it right back out. There’s something not allowing me to add too much – even in the form of color.

I had a GREAT set of eyes take a sneak peek of the site last week. You know who you are if you’re reading, and I have to say again, Thank You!

They gave me very honest feedback about the site – both positive and negative critiques. I’ve since made a few additional tweaks based on the recommendations. But one thing I haven’t been able to do is add more color (the most frequently received suggestion). A suggestion that I actually agree with, but… I can’t explain it – there is some force at work not letting me follow through, LOL.

Of course that deserves a bit of an explanation! My thinking on the site is that I want a very clean, simple and minimal design. Something that will showcase my work the best way possible. Pages like the portfolio and blog section are full of images (either screenshots in the portfolio, or photos here in the blog) – those in and of themselves serve as the pop of color, in particular in the portfolio. I find that if I add more color, on the portfolio in particular, it pulls away from the work which is what should shine through the most. It’s the content pages on the main portion of the web site that are most evident in the lack of color – something that I may or may not eventually change.

Maybe it’s because of the overly bright colors on the last site making me want to completely steer clear on this site. Who knows, maybe I’m just one of those quirky artists, LOL.

Still a Work in Progress

Now, that’s not to say that this is the end! I’m constantly making slight tweaks and updates to the site. Most are minor and things you mightn’t even notice. Other things are more obvious – for example, I’ll be gradually updating the photos on all of the blog posts to match the new wider content area.

I’ve already updated the two most popular posts on the blog with new photos to fit the new design, and will be updating the rest as time permits.

And who knows, I might still add that pop of color to the headings or links… only time will tell!

What I’ve Learned In The Process

So, have I learned anything in this process? YES! I’ve learned – well, not learned, but reinforced the fact – that a web designer is their own worst client. At least, I can positively attest to the fact that I am indeed my own worst nightmare client! You know… the guy who “doesn’t know what I want, but I’ll know when I see it” client? Yeah, that’s me! LOL

I’ve also learned that you need to come to a point when enough is enough, and it’s time to let go. I tinkered with the design for quite some time, finding it difficult to decide when it was actually finished. I have a magnet up on my whiteboard that reads:

Perfection is the enemy of “good enough”

At some point, you have to come to the realization that it is, indeed, “good enough” :)

A Trip Down Memory Lane

So, at the risk of completely embarrassing myself, I thought it’d be fun to share all the old version of my web site. I had been under the impression that this was version 10 of my site, but I just realized today that I’m actually on version 15! Another surprise is that I was also sure that I got my start designing web sites in 1994, but the earliest site I could find was from 1996. I think that is the first one, but I’m not 100% positive (way too long ago, LOL).

At any rate, I dug through a ton of old CD archives, and with the help of the Wayback Machine, I was able to track down most of my previous web sites. This is a combination of both business and personal sites – some of which I had at the same time (I only recently merged my personal and business web sites within the last few years).

Oh, and please don’t judge me for the early designs… especially the ones in the 90′s. Clearly I have improved my skills considerably! And if I’ve come this far, I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

So, without further ado, I give you most of my old web sites… just promise not to laugh!


Geocities Site - 1996

v1 circa 1996 (or 1994?)

There is no explanation for this. Please don’t judge me, LOL. All I can say is that this was probably my first ever web site done in 1996 and hosted in the GeoCities Paris neighborhood.

As for the design style… again, it was the mid 90′s. #thatisall


Missing in Action - 1996-1998

v2-4 circa 1996-1998

These 3 versions are MIA. They are most likely on old floppy discs somewhere (in a landfill?) that I wouldn’t be able to open even if I did find them. RIP


Innovative Designs - 1998

v5 circa 1998

There are no words for this, except that it was still the 90′s.  How it won an award that I proudly displayed, I don’t know, but this was, after all 1998.


Selene Design - 1999

v6 circa 1999

This one left me speechless, too. I actually think it’s worse than the last one! Really, I wish I remember my thinking for the big blank space on the left side. If I remember correctly, there were sounds on rollover too. Fancy!


Selene Design - 2000

v7 circa 2000

Welcome to a new century! This one I actually liked (neat rollover on the illustration). As you can tell, I like the color grey!


iDesign Studios - 2001 (cool)

v8a circa 2001

This was the first version of the business site – one that I liked quite a bit! I was indecisive so had both a “cool” and “hot” version.


iDesign Studios - 2001 (hot)

v8b circa 2001

Secondary option to
the site above.


Selene Design - 2002

v9 circa 2002

Flash version of my personal portfolio site, another one that I loved at the time.


Selene Design - 2002

v10 circa 2002

This one started as my personal portfolio site, and was later redesigned for the business site. Back to shades of grey on this one – I’m noticing a trend!


iDesign Studios - 2002

v11 circa 2002

This was a much more in-depth business site. I felt the need to give it a more clean/white corporate look than what I typically did with my personal sites.


iDesign Studios - 2007

v12 circa 2007

An attempt at improving upon the previous corporate-y looking site. I liked it at the time… not so much now, LOL.


WAH(web)Mommy - 2007

v13 circa 2007

This was my short-lived anonymous alter-ego, WAH(web)Mommy. My first WordPress theme where I was able to plan taking the freelance plunge.


iDesign Studios - 2008

v14 circa 2008

The last version of the site, which I first used on my personal site before using on the business site, as well.


iDesign Studios - 2010 (dark)

v15 circa 2010

And here we are at the latest version of the site! Two versions again, but this time not because I was indecisive, but because I wanted to give a second option for people who have difficulty reading light text on a dark background.

The dark version, for the record, is my favorite of the two.


iDesign Studios - 2010 (light)

v15 circa 2010

Alternate version of the current site, for the purpose of better readability for some users.


So, What Do You Think?

Now that I’ve given you a good laugh with my early site designs, I’d love to hear what you think of the new design? And more importantly… do you prefer the Dark theme or the Light one?

I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for taking a look, and I hope you enjoy the new site!


About the Author

About the AuthorSelene M. Bowlby is a web designer and front-end web developer with over 15 years of professional experience in the design industry. As the owner of iDesign Studios she specializes in creating custom WordPress driven web sites for other small businesses. Follow Selene on . more »

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  • http://www.thepeachdesign.com Peach

    Really love your new design. Very clean and modern.

    I prefer black though, not much of a fan of brightness.

    Keep up the great work.

  • http://www.ireckon.com Warwick

    Very Nice. I love how simple it is, but has the level of detail to it that just makes it!!!

    Also love the history of the site, I don’t know if I could post the first sites I did!

  • http://iheartgreatdesign.com Donna Vitan

    Awesome update Selene! I really enjoy the dark theme the most! Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.essentialkeystrokes.com Char

    I LOVE the trip down memory lane! I am just a little scared to do the same.

  • http://blog.trimo-inc.com Moses Adrien

    Great redesign again :) . As Char mentioned I also like the trip down memory lane as well.

  • http://www.followingyourjoy.com Michelle @ Following Your Joy

    Hi Selene and congrats on the truly fantastic new site! I love it…and I love seeing how far you’ve come! :)

  • Meroko

    I love it! It looks fabulous! I’m a fan of the dark as well. Thank you for sharing your memory lane. I’m afraid to look at my old sites, but at the same time, I’m sure it would show how far things (and I) have come.

    Doing a happy dance for you and your new site!! =)

  • http://www.babysleepsite.com Nicole Johnson

    Selene, this looks great, your vision makes perfect sense and I believe you delivered! I prefer the dark background and do find it’s much easier to read with this design. I had to laugh at your first design, but you have come a long way and your designs have been great! Good luck with your new design and I especially like the theme switcher. Pretty cool.

  • http://gabediaz.com Gabe Diaz

    Hey Selene, just wanted to stop by and say congrats! V15 looks great!

  • http://www.idesignstudios.com/selene-m-bowlby/ Selene M. Bowlby

    Thanks for all the great comments, everyone!

    @Char and @Meroko – If I can do it, you can do it! I’d love to see your older designs. And I bet you get as big of a kick out of it as I did. :)

  • http://blog.yair-mor.com/ Yair Mor

    Wow! I love your new design. I love the grainy feeling you’ve put into it, and I think everything is lined up perfectly.

    And the dark version is better than the white one :)

  • http://jldesign.com.mx MIguel Lara

    Hi Selene, your new re-design it’s great, I love it. To me, I prefer the dark version, It’s more accesible for the eye.
    But can you send me a screenshot of the older design whit a full size, I like it, it’s for my collection of website’s, plz
    THX ….

  • http://chriskalis.tumblr.com/ Christian Chen

    The redesign of the site looks great. The dark is way much more pleasing to the eyes and more comfortable, to me at least. Walking down memory lane, how nice seeing how web designing has grown. Hey there’s this facebook “i like” button which they just launch (I’m sure you already know) on a lot of websites, I was looking for it here to add to my facebook account but couldn’t find it here. Well,that’s just my suggestion. Anyway, thanks for sharing! :)

  • http://eddiesdesigns.com Eddie Gear

    Hi Selene,

    From the evolution that I see your site has made… its awesome. I can truly see how far you can come. I love the current theme very very much and I’m glad that you made this design.

    I’m a graphic design student and I’m inspired by your creativity.

    Thanks,
    Eddie

  • http://peterjmurray.co.uk/wordpress Alex des Forges

    (That link is to my client’s site, which is my first real custom wordpress blog. I am now looking to use wordpress to manage less ‘bloggy’ sites!)

    Hi, I am currently a freelance web / graphic designer… I just stumbled across your site via some inter-lateral connection in the web-blog universe, whilst looking for technical help with WordPress as a CMS.

    Your site is beautiful and inspirational. Your writing style humanises the sometimes cold and mis-aligned world of web design. I found I wanted to read almost all your posts in one sitting, which means this design / content / legibility must be amazing. Personally I love the grey on dark background – it hurts my eyes far less than the dark text on white background… the proof is in the pudding, I rarely read so much in one sitting.

    You seem like a really cool person too!

    Thanks so much for all your posts, very helpful technically and emotionally – The one about switching off from distractions – procrastination is one thing I’d been thinking I was the only one to suffer from so badly, but glad to see even really productive people like you feel similar about the limitless-lateral-universe of hyperlink connected information as I do!
    If you want to see an example of the ultimate bad day of procrastination for a freelancer that I have been known to match, check this … its funny in my oppinion because I relate to it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P785j15Tzk

    Ciao ciao.

  • http://aionlineinc.com Andre

    You are an amazing designer – love your work

  • http://www.technicalmatters.biz Dawn

    I love that you showed your earlier work and how it has progressed. I really like this new look – the darker version. Keep up the great work.

  • http://dailyaffiliatemarketer.com james weaver

    Great Design. I love the new look. The design has come a long way since 1996 (1994?) LOL…

    Thanks,
    James

  • http://www.chrisrondi.com/ Rashauna Christopher

    I am so glad I found this site. You give me hope that I can become a successful web designer here on St. Croix, V.I. I like the dark version of your site better.

  • http://www.soulmenj.com soulmenj

    great design indeed! :)

  • DonnaK

    V1 was good for a laugh — thanks for being brave enough to share!

    Really love your V8s. Very modern, clean, and a calm entry into the site.

    Also loved V10. Stands out from the crowd.

    Current site also very nice.

  • john

    i love your way of working its really attractive.