design refresh

As 2010 kicks off, it is time for me to unveil a new website design on which I have been working for a few months. It was a long process, involving several radically different ideas and long hours getting it all to work (especially on Internet Explorer), but here we are, finally.

I recommend trying things out, to find the hidden easter eggs and so on, to get used to the new functionality.
[Tested in Firefox 2-3, Safari 4, Google Chrome 4, Opera 9-10, Internet Explorer 7-8]

But to truly understand the design, I think a more extensive portrayal of the design process is in order.


In August 2009, I was working on a design for an online store of digital photos, based on the idea of a memory box. For one iteration of the design in question, I had the idea of scanning a paper file and using it to convey the idea of a file containing the photos. This idea was set aside for the project in question, because it did not perfectly fit the idea, but the design felt very well done (and I put some effort into it).
I therefore decided to slightly alter the design, and use it for my own website.

This “Arpia File” design boiled down to showing pages on documents linked to a file on a desk. See the design in action on the Arpia File design demo.
While working on this design, I realised that it did not fit the idea of science-fiction, so I attempted to make a specific page for the ARPIA2 plug-in, more “technical” through the use of a “blue prototype paper” pattern (click on “Game” on the Arpia File design demo).
I was somewhat pleased with it, and had the idea then of making a different page for the “Novels” section, closer to the idea of novels, creating an “old paper” effect (click on “Novels” on the Arpia File design demo).

Still, the Arpia File design didn’t feel right, not for my website.
I then had another idea, inspired by my last touches to the Arpia File design: to create a book-like experience, through the use of a “multiple column” layout.
This was the “Arpia Book” design, on which I poured yet more time and resources, making it look like an old book, with classical typography.
Getting this effect to work on CSS3-capable browsers, such as Firefox, Safari and Chrome, was easy. Getting it to work on Opera and, worst of all, Internet Explorer, was a true challenge. See the design in action on this webpage.
Once I had worked on it for some time, my enthusiasm was yet again damped by the realisation that it did not fit the website. I adored the layout, but most people visiting itself do so for the ARPIA2 plug-in and the iTunesque Mac themes. Why present them with an old book?

The latest version of this website is an attempt to reconcile the feel of a book with the science-fiction (and therefore more modern) setting of the Arpia universe.
It tries to look like a tablet, and with the constant rumours about an Apple tablet about to change the computing landscape, I hope the “Arpia Tablet” design brings an appropriate look to for 2010.

Of course, I’m sure it will undergo refinements as the year progresses.
And if you want to have a hand in that, just let me know what doesn’t work, what should be changed, what you like, what you don’t. After all, without feedback, a design is not worth anything!

PS: about being able to click beyond the last page, that is unfortunately a limitation of the design. Why not take a look at what it leads to?

10 thoughts on “ design refresh”

  1. Gweetings, Earthlings!

    I have to say this: “[v] Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” so that the next person who comments will be able to read what is unreadable!
    Apart from that, Brilliant! With a capital E!

  2. As this is the first comment on here, I realise that I haven’t taken into account the fact that the default values, shown to guide the reader, should be removed when the “Submit” button is hit.

  3. OK, Drell actually says more than “…..”
    I like the new format, though I still have reservations concerning legibility of white on black.
    The “book” design was beautiful, but I agree, not so appropriate for the content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *