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Thread: Revamping Play Online - Want Some Opinions

  1. Revamping Play Online - Want Some Opinions

    So I'm in the process of trying to do a semi-major revamping of Play's website. Current site is here:

    playmagazine.com

    As you can see, well... almost anything is better than what we have now. I've done some visual and coding fixes since I was put in charge of the site, but the way it's currently built, it really just need to be completely torn down and rebuilt.

    The idea I've been currently working on was a layout style that instead of relying on a bunch of silly graphics for borders or menubars or whatnot, would instead rely almost exclusively on the color and visual flair of content-related artwork. So far, I put together two very rough test layouts - homepage and main content pages.

    Content pages are being a bit of a sticking point for me, because they layout has to accommodate three types of content: (1) content where no images are available or where the images are too low of resolution, (2) content with a smaller image (currently 600x250), and (3) a new style of content page where the content is combined with a more "personalized" layout style to help give the page a bit more of a Play-style magazine layout.

    Here are a few examples of the "Blackbox" test layouts I've put together so far. Again, these are rough working stuff, done to get an idea of how some things would look in practice versus just as a Photoshop mock-up.

    Homepage
    Content page - news story with header pic
    Content page - first look with customized layout

    The idea with the content pages was to have some color coding for the four main sections: red for games, blue for anime, green for media, and purple for japan. Not long into working on the content page idea, a few problems became clear - it would be dredfully easy to come up with nightmare color pairings, and the more customized layouts desperately needed some sort of balance in the overall layout scheme.

    I've been working this week on a more refined idea based around this style, but between trying to figure out all of the layout AND all of the re-working of the coding for the site, my brain is a bit frazzled. Thus, I'm a bit worried that what I'm putting together is complete garbage, which I won't realize until far too late. *laughs*

    So, I'd like some opinions on the revisions I've been doing. For the more customized layouts, I'm trying it sans-black box, and I think it looks good that way. I'm stuck as to exactly what to do when there isn't a custom background for the content, however. Do I go with no box, or use a box to help balance things a bit? Do I try going with a section-colored background for non-custom content, or just keep all pages a singular color?

    I'm also wondering if I can keep the basic idea I've put together for the homepage, or do I scrap what I've done and just completely remake it? One of my concerns is if I keep what I've got, do I make the background black and have things all blend together (which I think both looks good and bad at the same time), or do I try to figure out a background color to put behind the boxes?

    Also, the very background graphics are just me trying out that kind of thing. The sides felt a bit too plain just as a solid color or even with a bit of texture, but I don't know if I like that overall idea or not. I need to find somebody who can make me some nice side graphics, and then see what I really think.

    Anyhow, so.. opinions would be most appreciated.


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    WARNING: This post may contain violent and disturbing images.

  2. Nobody? No opinions at all?
    WARNING: This post may contain violent and disturbing images.

  3. Quote Originally Posted by shidoshi View Post
    So, I'd like some opinions on the revisions I've been doing. For the more customized layouts, I'm trying it sans-black box, and I think it looks good that way. I'm stuck as to exactly what to do when there isn't a custom background for the content, however. Do I go with no box, or use a box to help balance things a bit? Do I try going with a section-colored background for non-custom content, or just keep all pages a singular color?
    I like the black boxes. If they have a custom background use the black box. It would stink that the article used white font and the guys background was like the Mistwalker logo as an example.

    Quote Originally Posted by shidoshi View Post
    I'm also wondering if I can keep the basic idea I've put together for the homepage, or do I scrap what I've done and just completely remake it? One of my concerns is if I keep what I've got, do I make the background black and have things all blend together (which I think both looks good and bad at the same time), or do I try to figure out a background color to put behind the boxes?
    I'd redo the homepage. If you are doing the content might as well redo the main page. I'd try and color code each section. Keep the black, but maybe outline the box the color. I dunno.

    Quote Originally Posted by shidoshi View Post
    Also, the very background graphics are just me trying out that kind of thing. The sides felt a bit too plain just as a solid color or even with a bit of texture, but I don't know if I like that overall idea or not. I need to find somebody who can make me some nice side graphics, and then see what I really think.
    I'd keep it as minimal as possible. But if you decide to use one uniform color and not the black boxes ... a background graphic for the side is not a bad idea. Its one or the other though. Not both. IMO.
    MechDeus - Nick is the Bruce Wayne to Yoshi's Jean-Paul Valley.
    Quote Originally Posted by MechDeus View Post
    You just don't comprehend how well he's (FE26/Buttcheeks) comprehending. He's understanding you saying things you never said, that's how good he is.

  4. My thoughts:

    Black Backgrounds all around are best, then there's no problem with it clashing with art that is posted, I like the boxes currently, but I'd say go as far as making the default color for every background black/grey, and only let it be different when there is art that changes it. I would not have the backgrounds change depending on the category, because as you mentioned there could end up being massive art color clashes.

    I would stick to the different logo colors for each category and main headline for articles, that makes it very easy to quickly differentiate if it's something you might be interested in or not.

    I would also change the top menu bar so that each category shows up as it's respective color when you hover your mouse over it.
    You sir, are a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.

  5. #5
    I like the boxes as well.
    I uh... I dunno about this. It's so weird that play, a magazine that is fun to read BECAUSE of its visual design and layout, has such a shitty website. The content pages aren't as bad but come off looking like poorly-converted scans of the magazine.

    I feel like your revisions look more like a website, but it's still not what I'd expect from Play. I don't know...I've done a few transcriptions about designing a website from interviews with consultants and it's pretty complicated. I'd just....play with empty space. The magazine always seems big and open stylistically. What you have now just sort of looks like every other website, but it IS an improvement.
    Pete DeBoer's Tie
    There are no rules, only consequences.

  6. Quote Originally Posted by Advocate View Post
    I like the black boxes. If they have a custom background use the black box. It would stink that the article used white font and the guys background was like the Mistwalker logo as an example.
    Just to be clear, every custom layout is going to have four options: background color 01, background color 02, font color 01, and font color 02. So there will be an absolute way to deal with possible background/font conflicts.

    I was originally set on using black boxes even for custom layouts, but my hesitation was that was that the "individuality" of those pages was sort of lost by having everything have black content boxes no matter what. At the same time, that does help keep things a bit more uniform.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cowutopia View Post
    I uh... I dunno about this. It's so weird that play, a magazine that is fun to read BECAUSE of its visual design and layout, has such a shitty website. The content pages aren't as bad but come off looking like poorly-converted scans of the magazine.

    I feel like your revisions look more like a website, but it's still not what I'd expect from Play. I don't know...I've done a few transcriptions about designing a website from interviews with consultants and it's pretty complicated. I'd just....play with empty space. The magazine always seems big and open stylistically. What you have now just sort of looks like every other website, but it IS an improvement.
    I know exactly what you're saying, and it's something I've really been struggling with. One thing I'm trying to be very careful of is over-imaging pages, though, so that we get to a point where users are noticing too much of a lag when bringing things up. I know, realistically, most of our users probably aren't on dial-up, but I still worry about making things like the header graphics in a couple of those examples too big. I just don't want to fall into the trap of assuming everybody has good connections, nor do I want to assume (or dictate) the exact resolution that people need to be seeing the new site at. (I've had to be very careful, because now that I'm running a 24" 1920 x 1200 screen, I've found myself easily forgetting that my set-up isn't the norm.)

    I think there can also be an argument to be said for having a website, well, be a website. I've seen some cool things done on the web with sites that look more like a magazine, but then the result can be a site that looks pretty but works like shit. I'm worried about pushing the style just too far, and losing some friendliness in dealing with the substance.

    Another problem is I'm trying to work out a layout that can gracefully degrade for IE6. To be completely honest, that browser scared the crap out of me, because I'm not at all versed on what it sucks ass at and what it can handle. With my personal site, I just tell IE6 users to piss off. *heh* Can't do that here, so that's something sitting in the back of my head that keeps me from getting as crazy as I'd like to.

    Edit: Oh, and I can't emphasize enough - I have to have a layout that can accommodate content that ranges from having amazing pieces of art to content that has absolutely zero assets to go with it. That's yet another sticking point I'm having in going crazy with the layout - that flexibility.


    Quote Originally Posted by bbobb View Post
    I would also change the top menu bar so that each category shows up as it's respective color when you hover your mouse over it.
    Not sure this is exactly what you're talking about, but for example, where these have "play.games," the ".xxx" part is going to be the color of its section. As well, the navigation's hover color is that same section color.
    WARNING: This post may contain violent and disturbing images.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by shidoshi View Post
    Not sure this is exactly what you're talking about, but for example, where these have "play.games," the ".xxx" part is going to be the color of its section. As well, the navigation's hover color is that same section color.
    I meant the navigation hover color. I would have each section be its respective color when you hover over it just to further the color coded browsing.
    You sir, are a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by shidoshi View Post

    I think there can also be an argument to be said for having a website, well, be a website. I've seen some cool things done on the web with sites that look more like a magazine, but then the result can be a site that looks pretty but works like shit. I'm worried about pushing the style just too far, and losing some friendliness in dealing with the substance.
    Yeah I'm totally with you here, but this is the part where the whole design aspect of a website gets very complicated. Clicking patterns of people are weird, they don't read websites like they read paper things. lol so I guess my opinion is "Good luck, you took on a hard job, god bless."
    Pete DeBoer's Tie
    There are no rules, only consequences.

  9. Quote Originally Posted by Cowutopia View Post
    Yeah I'm totally with you here, but this is the part where the whole design aspect of a website gets very complicated. Clicking patterns of people are weird, they don't read websites like they read paper things. lol so I guess my opinion is "Good luck, you took on a hard job, god bless."
    Now I'm freaking out even more because of your comments, certain that I'm completely on the wrong path, and here you go leaving me out to dry. Gee, thanks. *laughs*
    WARNING: This post may contain violent and disturbing images.

  10. I just remember what my web design teacher told me ...

    Quote Originally Posted by shidoshi View Post
    I just don't want to fall into the trap of assuming everybody has good connections, nor do I want to assume (or dictate) the exact resolution that people need to be seeing the new site at. (I've had to be very careful, because now that I'm running a 24" 1920 x 1200 screen, I've found myself easily forgetting that my set-up isn't the norm.)
    I'd take a step back. Let it fester for a day and then go back. I don't know if you're sitting in front of the monitor 8 hours a day looking at this and working on it. If you are, take a break. I'm sure you are on the right path. You are just over analyzing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by shidoshi View Post
    a layout that can gracefully degrade for IE6. To be completely honest, that browser scared the crap out of me, because I'm not at all versed on what it sucks ass at and what it can handle. With my personal site, I just tell IE6 users to piss off. *heh* Can't do that here, so that's something sitting in the back of my head that keeps me from getting as crazy as I'd like to.
    I'd put a link to d/l Firefox.

    But serious, you should see if you can d/l the old IE6 and check it out yourself. If I remember my problems with IE6 were not so much graphical, but rather security issues. I mean up unto June of 2007, I was using IE6 AND Firefox.
    MechDeus - Nick is the Bruce Wayne to Yoshi's Jean-Paul Valley.
    Quote Originally Posted by MechDeus View Post
    You just don't comprehend how well he's (FE26/Buttcheeks) comprehending. He's understanding you saying things you never said, that's how good he is.

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