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Layout Competition Moved Forward April 25, 2010

Posted by ismywebsite in general.
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Dates for the upcoming design competition have been moved forward to May 20th. We will begin the judging May 20th. Design will be implemented June 1st, just in time for summer. Aim to have your design in by May 18th, to avoid any last minute surprises.

Okay, here’s the deal. Who thinks they’d like to win 10,000 credits, and mention on the front page of the site, and a huge message on the blog? For the record, that’s 3 years of domain registration, or 3 domains registered for a year, and plenty of credits left over for the hosting. All of the sudden, you’re a VIP member of our community, and everyone’s knocking on your door asking you to design for them too… And that’s how you make it big. That’s your story.

Too far-fetched? We don’t think so. We are absolutely confident the best person for the job is right here in our community. Because this is a webmaster community and I’ve seen what you guys can do. I’ve got over 7 designs already, and they’re absolutely fabulous. My favourite so far is by Jcubed, and here it is:

JCubed Design 4.6

Why it’s great: A beautiful header, quick login, fast registration, and all the links are neatly tucked away at the bottom. Nothing is complicated here. Everything is nice and simple. The font, the lettering, and everything else appears professional and ready to work.

How you can do better: It needs the one quick sentence description of Facebook, so people can tell at a glance what it is without spending their day reading. The design calls for a paragraph that most people simply wouldn’t read. We need a place we can SHOW people what’s so special about our hosting, explain in detail the various benefits, with pictures, video, audio, whatever. And, is it just me, or does the body seem not contained? Like there’s no definition of what exactly is the page, and what is not. (Except for at the header.)

So what exactly are the restrictions on your design?
Number 1: Our official colours are blue (‘#185D94′) and orange (‘#E4A20D’). The blue represents the professional side of our service, and the orange represents the excitement of helping people achieve their full potential, and the fun we have together as a community. Do these colours sometimes clash when side by side? You bet. Same way this host represents a clash of professionalism and freedom. That’s part of the tricky challenge you’ll face as a designer. You can offset this by your use of black, white, or gray, and you’ll need to strike a balance between too much colour and too little. It’s your design, your call.

Number 2: The final design is expected to be simple – Facebook simple. So much so that the text could be in Chinese and people will still understand what to do here. If my roommates (big hulky football players who don’t know a thing about building a website) can’t figure it out, it’s too complicated. It should lead them logically to the registration, after communicating elegantly through visual and audio what it is they’re signing up for. A good idea might be to have tabs, about Uptime, Speed, Pricing, Community, etc… and the client can flip through that information. If you have a better idea, I’d love to see it.

Number 3: Flexibility. I need to be able to move things around in the end without much trouble. I know HTML and CSS extensively, but I don’t want to be studying the code for more than a minute to make changes. Such as, adding new information, adding menu items, changing the registration form, changing text on tabs. So don’t, for example, use a button which has text as part of the graphic. Text should be over a button graphic as the background. Think about things I might want to do, to change, and take that into account when designing so there is flexibility to adjust those items.

Number 4: Our current system is designed to generate the layout automatically. Your design should be compatible, so we can slip the header, and the footer, around whatever you’ve got and our existing pages will still display properly. Conversion should be minimal, at best. So that means, just make sure your current code has CSS that can accommodate all the present HTML properly. The main content should be surrounded by a <div> so that our AJAX system, if rebuilt, can modify it. And yes it’s perfectly fine if you want to have a separate layout for the front from the remainder of the site.

Number 5: I’m looking for something versatile. If I turn off CSS, and all images, and any JavaScript, the result should be readable, and it should look okay, and it should be usable. I’m not expecting magic here. Just think of Google – this is the view they see. And I know it’s rare, but some people do still use text-only browsers, and many people surf around without JavaScript. No Flash whatsoever please, as it is rarer than you think to have that, and you’re nice animation is more obnoxious than you think to a regular user of a website. And all browsers IE 6.0+, FireFox 3.0+, Chrome 4.0+, Safari 4.0, Opera 10.0 should see roughly the same.

Number 6: Everything should be 100% XHTML 1.0 Transitional, and verified by W3C. This is because we don’t want to put the browser in quirks mode. All images should have relevant alternate text, and be named something which describes what is visible on them, with keywords in the name. Search engine optimization is important. The page should of course be able to load quickly, and display nicely while loading. It should be able to look close to the end result at each part of the process (ie nothing flying around). And keep things looking neat and glossy, as the Web 3 ‘in’ style seems to be these days.

Number 7: If you have time, helping design some extra pages will boost your design’s rank. For example, the under construction page, the suspended account page, error pages, and more. Get creative with these. And of course, since you designed the site already, matching banners is probably easiest for you. Now I want to stress these are both optional but do go a long way to improve the feasibility of using your design. Since in the end, someone is going to need to build all these anyways. Thanks a lot for your help.

I think I can do this. Now what?
Now get started! Play around a bit. And when you have something to show, check it against the above. When it passes most of them, and you’re feeling pretty confident about it,

Add My Skype: ‘azoundria’ (I do NOT use MSN anymore, since it is unusable.)

Then, send me a copy or picture so I can take a look. We’ll probably talk back and forth a fair bit. You’ll find me very picky, and telling you to move this and that, and very small details, but you’ll understand how important it is to me we get this right, and I really do appreciate all the hard work you’ve put in to get what you’ve got so far.

Now, that will continue for a while, so be prepared for it. That’s why I said, aim for May 18th, or even earlier. You want to leave lots of time to tweak this or that and make sure you’re completely ready for the launch date.

How is the final implementation being done?
Come May 20th, I’ll be grabbing all the designs together. First I’ll show them off to the other two administrators, Kris, and Brendan. We’ll pick out the ones which have the most potential, our top 3, or if we get tons of submissions maybe even a top 7. Then we’ll put it up so clients can vote on it, since it’s ultimately their decision.

On June 1st, (no exact time) the final design will be brought live. Your name will be mentioned on the front. If you are a design company or offering a design service, we’ll link to your website. Over the next few days, we’ll post on the blog, and you’ll get your credits.

What happens to my design if I don’t win?
Our plan is to purchase the remaining designs for 1,000 credits each and use them as alternative options. Clients can choose a different design to customize the site to their taste. Now, this is only a proposal. You are free to withdraw your design if you do not win, and also, we may stick with only the winning design, or it could take months before this option comes out. So no guarantees, but it’s no issue to you, since I know you’re going to win. 🙂

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Comments»

1. Charles Broughton - April 27, 2010

Excellent. I do plan on submitting my design idea (graphicless mind you), this week. So you can see how I planned to take it “layout wise” as it were.

2. Marc - May 5, 2010

Is this new layout going to implement the new icon based interface seen on the forums?

3. poiuyt580 - May 9, 2010

I’ll try this.

4. Dillon Parker - May 14, 2010

Ill give it a shot myself….


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