The Ranting Wren The Wren Forum Banner
The Glorious Wren The Movie Wren The Photo Wren Old Man Wren

Permalink Comments Off on Design Mea CulpaComments Off on Design Mea Culpa By

This post started as a small note at the end of the previous post, the one regarding MacBooks. But it grew quickly, like a weed on the side of the highway, demonstrating with utter clarity my absurd attention to useless detail. (Though, really, I think it’s not at all useless, otherwise I would not have written so much about it or care about design as deeply as I do.)

I had formatted my parts of the MacBook IM post in blue, and boy, did it look nice! It was obvious who was talking, and pretty, too! However, I keep forgetting that the design of the Forum is such that anything in that light blue is a link. I have posted stuff before where I have made plain text that same blue because it looked all pretty, but that was wrong, since that color is reserved for links.

This takes me back to another IM I had with Chuck as I was designing the new Wren Forum. Chuck did not like underlined links from a design standpoint. I thought it was a good concept, since anything underlined on the Web is, as everyone now knows, a link to something else. You can do anything you want with the text, color- and font-wise, but no matter what it looks like, if it’s underlined, it’s a link. Simple. Ugly at times, perhaps, but simple and, once grasped, intuitive.

So why didn’t I design The Wren Forum with underlines? Because style won out. Every link in the sidebar (Latest Musings, Categories, Wren Peeps, etc.) would have been underlined. In one of the first designs, I did this, and it was a mess! So I decided to do away with the established norm. A bad idea for ease of use, definitely. To compensate, though, I decided that all the text links in the Forum would be the same light blue color. Any text that color would be a link. Anyone visiting the Forum would soon be able to figure this out at least subconsciously. To keep the light blue links tied with the expectations of most Web users, the links change color on mouse rollover, and the underline reappears to assure the user that they have, in fact, rolled over a link.

Excellent. So it is. And I like it. Except that I have fudged on my own design standard in one place: The top link bar (About The Wren Forum, FAQs, etc.). Since I’m on a roll, I might as well explain that to you as well.

See, the links in that bar can not be my blue link color because they will not stand out enough from the bar’s background color and would therefore be hard to read. The solution, of course, was to make the background bar the same darker blue as the other blocks of blue in the Forum. But, once again, I chose looks over propriety. Having yet another bar of that very same color made the site that much more dull to look at. Having one bar of lighter blue ads a nice dimension to the look of the site. I have justified this change from my own convention this way: The top link bar is, upon glancing at it, different from the rest of the Forum. The text items in the bar are topics and suggest linkage. Therefore, the lack of the light blue is not detrimental, and the links still become underlined on rollover to confirm that they are, indeed, links.

I offer this all up as a sort of apology to those who believe, as I do, that user interfaces (which is what the entire Wren Forum is) should be clean, consistent within themselves, obvious, and, in the end, nice to look at. While I am okay with having dropped the underlined links because most nicely-designed sites have since done so and have, therefore, created a new expectation of Web users, I am less happy with my white text links at the top and my lapses in text formatting on some of my past posts.

I hope you can all forgive me and find mercy in your hearts for my wayward choices.

No Comments

There are no comments yet. Perhaps YOU shall be the first?


Sorry, I ain't takin' no comments on this page. Deal, y'hear?