Tooting my own horn, Taps style

Response to the new design here has been mostly positive, but I expected that.
People who don’t like it are probably just not saying anything. One commenter
said, "your old blog was prettier…." Jerry has
told me in person that the design doesn’t match the content. And Mrs. Happy
objects: "It looks all suave and stylish and doesn’t express who you are
at
all."

One frustrating
thing about Web design is that when you do something that’s technically cool,
non-Web people are unimpressed. At my old site, I had a CSS-only three-column
layout.
Not
one table. Not one. That’s amazing, but one has to understand the issues involved
to be impressed; as far as my wife is concerned, three columns are as simple
as two clicks of a button in a Word document.
On
this
site,
the
stretchable
banner
is
a
feat
of
CSS I am proud to claim. It took me several days—longer than it should have,
I know—to
figure out how to do it, but I’m astounded at my own innovation. Oh, and do
you see that little line between the sidebar and the main content? That wasn’t
easy either. Sadly, most people don’t know that it’s difficult, assume it’s easy, and focus instead
on the way it looks.

Both Jakob Nielsen and Dean
Peters
have said repeatedly that good and usable should
trump technological coolness every time. I thought I had learned
that lesson, but maybe I’m too enamored of my modest technical accomplishments.
I’m certainly not giving up on this current design, but any constructive comments
concerning the usability or look-and-feel are welcome.

16 thoughts on “Tooting my own horn, Taps style

  1. I think it’s cool. The only thing I would suggest is some color on the left bar. Perhaps a light blue. Lighter than the sky.

  2. I like the blue top, the burgandy Happy Husband intro oval on the right, and the two column style. But for some reason I don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling (like marriage should have) with the couple–they look a little too sterile, too unapproachable…sorry. :) Whenever I bring up your site, I scroll down past them as quickly as I can. I like the other commenter’s suggestion about a slight color on the sidebar. I do enjoy your postings.

  3. Thanks. That’s not the first time someone has suggested a light background for the sidebar. I guess I should pay attention now. I’ll experiment with that a little, and fiddle with some other ideas I have.

  4. Having recently made my own forays into CSS and HTML programming and web design, I can say very surely that I totally appreciate the technical aspect of your old site and this site! In fact, I’m getting so frstrated with my own endevours that I’m contemplating getting a WYSIWYG/Drag-and-Drop design program. First, though, I have to up my Photoshop skills so things like the banner can look fully integrated, as is your banner. But like Deb, I just don’t get the warm feeling from the banner here like the one on the original site. The old banner said “Curt and His Happy Wife” much more clearly than this one. Sorry to not be more encouraging, but your initial design instincts were dead on to the writing.

    Question: is the background here #fff white or some sort of off-white? It doesn’t look as stark as when I experimented with white on my site.

  5. Curt, I don’t mind the total whiteness in the body of the page or the sidebar. It’s just the couple at the top. I mean, they’re BLACK. (not African-American, either. not that) How happy is that? They DO look harsh. I think you’re right about people not saying negative things. We’ve sort of been trained in the Thumper’s Mom style: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anythig at all. Your old banner said “Happy” much better. They were winsome and inviting. I don’t know how to fix it though.

  6. I had to laugh at this. My initial response was that I didn’t like it very much. Of course, I wasn’t going to chime in because who really cares what I think and I am not a rude person. However, when my husband saw it, his reaction was different. He went to art school in SF and was in the web designing, multi-media business in California for a while, so I guess he appreciated the blog’s technical merits and design quality. I wonder if it appeals more to men and less to women. Anyway, this is supposed to be a compliment. I forget my husband’s words exactly, but he did notice your efforts and liked it. He designed my blog and all 4 of his. Some of his more simple work, since it is just hobby now.

    Toot away!

  7. As several people have said before me, I like this site overall (I’m not terribly picky on the subject of website coloring, fonts, locations of sidebars, etc.) but the image of the couple at the top left spooks me. They just look sinister somehow. I think it’s the art style — the same couple, but drawn in a softer, friendlier way, would probably be fine.

  8. It’s OK. In general, I don’t like change. The people look suave and stylish, but happy enough at the same time. I don’t think they look evil. If they weren’t black (and the woman had longer hair and the man didn’t have a cleft in his chin), they would look like my husband and me: suave, stylish and sinister people that we are. :) I do like your paper bag illustrations better, though.

    I miss the third column on the right–things I used to peruse are harder to find now.

  9. LOL! That’s original! The comic, that is. I think Mrs. Happy is onto something. Two brains are better than one ; )
    Crack me up about the evil looking couple up top. They look, um, debonair but not sinister. JMHO.

  10. Ha ha, I love the paper bag comic; it reminds me of my wife and I. I must say (being a techy geek) I think the banner is awesome!

  11. I think that no matter what, some people are going to hate your banner. Be it a paper bag sketches, scary black people (lol!), or a picture of you as a superhero with a demon cat. :) Excelsior.

  12. Yup, as an infrequent but regular reader of the blog, female, I too didn’t find the new design as inviting as the other. And no, I know NOTHING about web design and barely anything about computers… The people look too stylized to immediately appeal to me (having always been grouped with the oddballs). Or maybe just too retro? Like trying to appeal to “the good old days when marriage was like it should be” which in my opinion is not true – your blog Curt tries to get at the heart of marriage as it’s meant to be – finding models in the past and in the present, but not some simplistic nostalgia for a better time.

    Okay, on a more clear positive note, my own happy husband and I have been married now for almost 11 months and it is very good!!! (I’m not going to get into better adjectives now.) Curt’s blog, your blog, was one of the readings I did intensely before marriage (oh so many readings and counselings and prayer, ayy yay yay).

  13. On my computer, the people are a deep, dark green. On my work computer, they do in fact appear to be solid black. It may take some time, but I think I will definitely make some changes here to lessen the incongruity between the content and the packaging.

  14. I liked your paperbag personal drawings a lot too. I also agree a soft blue background tint would be nice. I don’t know what Rey’s talking about with that whole “demon cat” bit, but it definitely would be wrong for this site. :)

    Have you tried inverting the colors on this couple? It still looks pretty cool and a bit happier.

  15. I liked your previous font. (Okay, I’m anal) And the three-column layout, which is weird coming from someone whose blog uses a two-column layout. But I’m using one of MT’s default templates, and am not enough of a geek to be able to tinker with columns in CSS. All I can do is change fonts, font sizes, and colours, and shift stuff around…

    Also, do you know how many times I’ve typed atimelikethis.net in my address bar this week, only to be reminded that you’d moved?! Old habits are hard to break indeed!