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 Most of the text on the old site was very outdated – more than a couple years old – and no longer reflected my current service offerings and method of working on projects.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
I 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.
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.
- How To Use WordPress as a Truly Customizable CMS
- 6 Phases of the Web Site Design and Development Process
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!
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
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
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.
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!
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!
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.
v8b circa 2001
Secondary option to
the site above.
v9 circa 2002
Flash version of my personal portfolio site, another one that I loved at the time.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!