I often complain about the design and look of websites. There’s a lot of sites out there that simply need some love and a few tweaks, and they’d instantly be much better off. There are also a lot of sites out there that have been around for so long that they’ve got digital junk laying around their site, like they could be on an episode of Hoarders. Instead of complaining endlessly about the matter I’ve decided to do something about it. So here’s my first try at redesigning an existing website to look and function better.
Let me be clear about my objective. I’m not trying to rethink or reinvigorate these websites, I’m simply giving them a facelift. Clearly these sites are popular for a reason, so I’ve made a list of simple suggestions on how they can improve their user experience. My version is meant as a critique of their current website, definitely not an attack on anyone in particular.
To start off my first redesign I chose a website which I use quite often… Netflix. I use Netflix quite often, and I love using it… on my television. The 10 foot experience is perfect for browsing movies on your couch. But when you use their website it looks like it hasn’t been updated in about 5 years. Is it functional? Yes. But could it look and function better? In my opinion, the answer is yes. I’m not here to make the whole damn site better, far from it, I simply have some ideas that I think would help. I should also make it clear that I have no relation to Netflix, this isn’t some kind of ad, I’m just doing this because I’m a weird-o. So what would I change? Read on to see my suggestions.
“The Champagne of Beers” is it’s tagline, and boy do I believe. Miller High Life, introduced to me by my buddy Michael, has in the last couple years become my usual standby. Last summer, in the midst of my freelancing (aka starving) the “champagne of beers” was my $1.46 refreshment that would get me through the sweltering days. Now this classic beer has been given a fresh face thanks to the team over at Landor. From a press release from Landor:
“Once the flagship brand for Miller Brewing Company, Miller High Life had over time been repositioned as a below-premium beer that belied both its product quality and rich 100+ year-old heritage. In order to improve consumer perception, we contemporized and better leveraged its revered and iconic brand elements—the Miller High Life Soft Cross and the Girl in the Moon. The new visual identity allows the brand to stretch beyond the below-premium category into a more premium territory that we think positions the brand to reclaim its iconic status.”
The dazzle is in the details on this redesign. The choice of fonts, the subtle patterns and textures, the blue, reen and reds that compliment the golds of the beer/cans… it’s all spot on. What’s kinda funny is that I already thought it was an amazing packaging design, but it’s rad that they’ve stepped up their game on such a low priced product.
Last Thursday I posted this video showing the redesign if the $100 bill here in the U.S. and the proceeded to talk about how horrible it was. To my surprise there were a lot of commenters who seemed to think that the idea of security and beauty were two concepts that couldn’t live together, which kind of baffled me.
In response I’m posting these currency redesigns by Michael Tyznik, who I think did an amazing job of bridging the gap between design and potential security. His design includes ideas like a holographic strip, which not only makes it easier to tell the bills apart easier but could also be filled with a bevy of security features, I would assume. Inside the strip there are also embossed dots for the sight-impaired, something that current currency definitely doesn’t take into consideration.
This in my mind couldn’t be any better looking. It’s simple and bold while still giving a nod to the history of money in America. If you’ve happened to notice that there’s a lack of $1 you’re right, Michael suggests doing away with the $1 all together and replacing them with coins instead as it only has an average lifespan of 21 months. Kinda interesting, huh?
Ugh. When the hell is U.S. Treasury going to start hiring actual designers to start dictating the look of our money? In the video above you get an interactive tour of the shit-tastic new $100 bill which features a quite fluid, rubbery bill and a background filled with all kinds of horrific lens flares.
I don’t give a damn about a security ribbon or a bell in an inkwell that makes the money harder to counterfeit, nor do I think any other normal person does. I think what we need it something that looks good, seeing as how for the time being it’s a global currency. I think the design should also help those with vision problems be able to tell which bill is which easier. I think it’s even less about aesthetics and more about usability.
It’s kind of like when you have a website designed by a developer. Sure you need the developer to build it, but 99% of the time they have no idea about aesthetics or how to make it more user-friendly. Massive fail U.S. government.
As you may have noticed, things are a bit different here on the blog, but actually they’re really not. Last night I started making some little tweaks to the site, changing some fonts and stuff. As per usual, this lead to me totally redoing entire chunks such as flipping the entire blog and having to completely recreate the header and big yellow dot. So while it’s kind of opposite from it’s normal state, everything is the same, like the widths of the columns and the main layout.
This is something I’ve been wanting to try forever now, and honestly I’m really liking how it looks. To me, it feels like the content is more front and center where it’s supposed to be. I know it looks weird for now, but all I’m asking is to give it a try. There’s no right or wrong way to design a blog. I just want it to be as clear and simple as possible.
While doing all of this I found a screen capture of the site from July of 2007. If you’re not a fan of the site right now, imagine browsing it over 2 years ago! What the shit was I thinking?! Those half tone dot dots in the background, the crusty looking ID picture, the typewriter font all over the place… the purple. It was a different time and I was a different man. Please enjoy laughing at what once was and feel free to leave snide remarks in the comments.
Also, if you have any constructive feedback for the site design I’d love to hear it. One thing I was thinking about doing was adding 10 more pixels to the center divider to give the sidebar and main column a bit more space. I can’t promise I’ll do through with suggestions but I’m always open to new ideas.
A couple months ago I got an email from Justin Gage, creator of the Los Angeles music blog Aquarium Drunkard asking me if I’d be interested in helping his site out with a redesign. I had been a fan of his blog for years now, so I was totally excited that he asked me to help him.
Checking out his old blog, which I failed to take a screen cap of to show the before and after, it was kind of a mess. First off it was extremely dark, using prmarily blacks, browns and golds. Second all of the content was contained in one tiny main column and it was all pushed to the left side, only 20px left of the edge of the browser. To say it felt cramped would be an understatement. My idea for the site was to lighten everything up, increasing font sizes, giving the site brighter colors and making it feel more welcome in every way possible.
My inspiration for the site was old bars, as Justin and I are both expert beer drinkers. The difficult part was not making it too campy or too tongue in cheek, with bottles of booze or drink rings. I went through several versions, you can see earlier versions under the cut, but it wasn’t until I created the background pattern that I found my direction. I decided to go with a blue and creme color palette with accents of black. I also wanted to make things a little gritty cuz that’s how a bar should feel and I like how it looks.
Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out. As with all my projects I really try to focus on simplicity, usability and legibility. Making it snazzy looking is just a perk of the job. Big thanks to my buddy Justin for reaching out to me on this project, I had a blast doing it.
Check under the cut for more early versions of the site.
Since I’m starting to do more freelance work I thought I’d start posting more of the projects I’ve been working on over the last few weeks. The first was a logo redesign for my friends fashion label, Skingraft, a brand that makes contemporary feeling clothes that are Victorian-era inspired, and they also create a lot of leather pieces as well.
The name alone connotates some not so cute imagery, so I went with a really simple but unique font that would contrast well with their harder edged look. They were also looking for some sort of crest or mark as well, so we took inspiration from all of the mounts on the walls of their studio and created a stylized ‘S’ inside of a mount. It’s a bit gothic, a bit old fashioned, and definitely bold.
The poster above was created for the Live Improv Movie Project, a project my friend Ari is a part of. Basically, the old poster was desperate for an update, so I decided to go with an old fashioned, sort of 70’s French cinema feel, or at least that was my inspiration. I figured simple and bold was the best way to go, I figured I’d stop and look to see what this poster was about.
I’ll try to post updates more frequently if you guys are interested.
Last night I decided to give the site some minor tweaks, just to freshen things up. I wanted to keep things similar to what I already had, but still make things feel new. I decided to take some inspiration from the two magazine covers above, both are from last month. After I finished some things last night I kept thinking, ‘Oh, it’s Watchmen flavored”, but that’s not where the inspiration came from.
The title is set in Helvetica Ultra Condensed Bold, which gives it sort of a Metropolis magazine or Metal Gear Solid feel. The background was inspired by my Postalco notebook and it’s perfect little grid paper. The second image is from the book Japan Style, which inspired the background of the header as well as trying to clean up the design overall as well.
The last piece was installing Firebug, which allowed me to find and tweaked the code. I’ve known about Firebug for about six months now, but hadn’t used it until now. It seriously was my saving grace last night.
I hope everyone enjoys the subtle shift. I’ll be adding and tweaking to the design over the next week. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!