Tuesday, September 6

Derek Powazek Just Blew My Mind

I was happily reading Powazek's new article about his redesign, nodding and blinking as he described how, despite his respect for 37 signals' clean, "black and white Helvetica" look, he wanted his personal site to have a "dirty" design. And I was intruiged as he began to dismantle the myth that the bottom of the page, as "below-the-fold" space, was the least-important, least-seen part of the site. After all, Powazek argues, if a visitor has scrolled and has gotten that far, they have earned a "special treat."

In 1996, Jacob Nielsen said "users don't scroll." Returning to the subject in 1997, he said they've since learned. As web designers, we should always be prepared to recognize when we can take advantage of users' growing familiarity with the conventions of the medium, and not get stuck designing for out-dated expectations.

So I scrolled down.

And what I found there was amazing. Powazek just killed the sidebar, and it looks stunning.

I think this design has three things going for it:
  • The main content can stand pretty much alone, or be framed by something appropriate. At any rate, it receives the pure initial focus of the visitor's attention. You have the horizontal room to use a bigger font, or just do something plesant in the margins.
  • Things are crammed in sidebars. Putting them down below gives them room to breathe, too. If you have a bit of navigation or mini-content that needs to be wide, it can be wide.
  • The navigation is suddenly right where I want it. I've read the post, and now all I need to explore Powazek's blog further is there, begging to be poked at.