Following three months of development the new Imphenzia music site has been launched to start off the new year. This time it was a total re-make from the ground up of the music site and I had to learn how to develop using JQuery in order to get the visual effects, real-time updating of pages without page reloads (using “AJAX”), and at the same time keeping the development effort to realistic proportions.
I also had time to reflect on the historic designs and trends that my site has endured over the past 13 years. In recent time, for the launch of the 2008 site, it was all about content, content, content, account features, google ads, and more content. Following the trend at the time the font was small to fit in as much text and information as possible and the layout was split into three columns complicating it even further. The 2011 site is the complete opposite with much less information presented in a tidy manner with larger text and without columns. I also think that the time of content packed sites was a natural way to progress as it was expected to make use of fancy layouts and high screen resolutions, where as we’re now back to putting the visitor at the center of attention making sure that the message you want to get across is clearly visible and simple to understand.
For some time I have been contemplating over how I should release my music. In the very beginning it was only possible to purchase physical albums, then the addition of mp3 albums, then single mp3 tracks, then a “donation” to download all tracks for a period of six months. I found the various options, and how they were presented on my site, to be very confusing. What would my visitors think if I thought it was confusing? The idea of a donation, for example, would only make sense if all tracks were downloadable to begin with since a donation is giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Bottom line; it was very confusing.
I hope that the new site has taken a big step in the right direction to combat the issues outlined above. The album section has been totally redesigned with a clean look and a visitor can add digital albums and CD albums into a shopping cart. The donation feature has been replaced with a new feature for full access that still focuses on allowing the visitor to contribute with an amount of his or her choice and is return rewarded with longer term of access depending on the size of the contribution.
Today I put yet another couple of hours into the new web sites and I am getting some inspiration from the look of this blog. The new sites will be quite modular and should feature some functionality that is shared between the music and the games section and I am quite excited about the whole project.
I am also happy to say that I'm going for the commonly suggested method layout by best practice which is a max fixed width of 960 pixels that allows resizing down to a minimum of 760 pixels. This should look best in higher resolutions but also allow those with lower resolution to enjoy the site (I feel it is important not to neglect any of fellow fans!)
There is nothing new to show and it will probably be quite a while until then, but I will continue to work on this when time allows.
I'm in the process of planning the new Music and Games sites and I am currently batteling whether to use "fixed width" rather than "liquid layout" on the site. Today I use liquid as you can see the content adjusting automatically to the width of the browser window, but you can achieve better design (in my opinion) and also better readability with fixed width of the page. Statistics from a 2006 (yes I know, old info) show that about 60% are using a resolution of 1024x768 and up and only about 17% use the resolution 800x600. I would like to use a width of 960 pixels of the new web sites. I may do some testing with what I feel may be the optimal solution, that is a maximum width of 960 pixels but a fluid layout to accomodate for users still using lower resolutions. More on this topic later.