Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Monthly archives for "April 2013"

Sure Is Quiet

Ray Drainville

Is this blog dead? No, it’s not, but other things have taken priority. For one thing, we bought a house & moved in December—with all the disruption that entails. There has been lots of painting, lots of builders, lots of time spent, and a few injuries to boot.

In the meantime, I’ve been in the lengthy process of redesigning the ardes website (the blog will come shortly after). It’s well past time for this redesign. I’ve made a list of criticisms of the old site.

  • The logo is far too busy. I like the idea behind using a bonsai tree as the company’s emblem—it looks natural but it’s very much the product of human intervention, which reinforces the meaning of the company’s name.
  • The site looks seriously dated. What a surprise! It’s really common that a designer’s site will be the most out-of-date site out of his/her entire portfolio. I’m no exception here.
  • It’s a fixed-width design. I’ve been a strong advocate of responsive design for some time now, and I’ve certainly pursued this goal for several clients. Why not for my own site?
  • It’s far too text-heavy. By definition, this reduces the graphic impact, but I think it’s because at the time of its design, I was influenced by what I saw: I read a lot of blogs. It all makes sense, but the text is overkill for the audience.
  • I’ve come away thinking that the case studies organisation was no longer working. For one thing, the three sections weren’t well-balanced, because we don’t do that much work for the enterprise sector. In addition, some of the sites were created a long time ago—and they look it. Finally, some of the site no longer exist! In these days of perpetual recession, even websites will disappear.

This gave me a series of goals:

  • Create a simplified logo, and perhaps get away from the idea of nature. The problem of using natural imagery with the company’’s name is that there are plenty of people out there who use the actual argument from design to “prove” the existence of God. Since I’m in no way religious, I want to move away from any accidental associations. This also frees me up to think of very new logos. I’ve got one I’m pretty pleased with now (you’ll see it soon.)
  • Modernise the site’s look (a no-brainer of a point here).
  • Pursue a responsive design, so it’ll look good on everything from gigantic screens to an iPhone.
  • Significantly reduce the amount of text & let the images tell stories on their own.
  • Remove the case studies’ subdivisions & prune.

So I think I’m close to putting out the new version of the website—there’s just the final bit of testing in various versions of Internet Explorer to do.

How long has this been going on? I’m embarrassed to say. I started thinking about a redesign about two years ago! But I started in earnest in October. I wish it had been shorter, but frankly I was uninspired for a long time. Add to this the fact that some things I really wanted to maintain for a responsive site—multi-column support, for example—had to be removed because of seriously weird layout problems.

What were those problems? Using elastic imagery & multi-column support on a responsive design would make lines of text jump around seemingly at random. Furthermore, the images would sometimes not honour the multicolumn support. It’s made me conclude that full responsive design is still a way off, which I’d define as a fully elastic site with very few layout breakpoints. Instead, you have to create some breakpoints based upon likely viewport sizes & design to them.

Now that it’s finally coming together, though, I’m genuinely excited.