I have a habit of tweaking this website a lot. I just can't seem to settle on a given "look". Why on Earth did I pick that typeface? Why are those colors not matching? Is my site actually easy to read? These are the questions I'm asking myself all the time.
Today, I did more than just tweak. I've moved Unretrofied from Squarespace v5 to Squarespace v6. Doesn't really sound like a big deal now that I'm typing those words, but I assure you, the stuff happening behind the scenes is very different. This is a totally new platform. Versions 5 and 6 are entirely incompatible, so it's not as easy as clicking an 'upgrade' button. This site has been completely rebuilt from the ground up. My hope is that I can make the site a bit more minimalist but still a bit unique.
Here's what the site looked like before:
Obviously, the new site has done away with the two-column layout in favor of a nice, wide single-column format. I feel that this change alone makes my posts more pleasant to read. I've also opted for more line spacing and larger typography. The end result is that the site's text actually has a chance to breathe a bit. I was inspired to do this by Benjamin Brooks' current blog design, which is even more minimalist than mine.
Another obvious change is the lack of red post titles. I originally made it that way so that if someone were scrolling through the page, they could quickly and easily pick out each entry. The problem with that is that it leads to the site feeling more busy than it needs to be. I've found that I don't really need a bunch of glaring text to achieve this effect. Instead, I've simplified the color scheme, added more space between each post, and increased the size of the post titles themselves. Looks much nicer and still allows the reader to easily discern each post while scrolling.
Also new is the navigation menu bar at the top of the site. This replaces the 2nd column that existed in the previous design, and it's still easily accessible at all times (it stays on-screen while the site simply scrolls "behind" it). This is also where the site kept a little of that red color, in that whatever page you're currently viewing is shown in red on the menu bar. All links on the site also show in red on hover. I guess I just couldn't bring myself to part with it entirely.
Images within posts are now larger than before, something I've wanted to try for a long time but couldn't because of the constraints of the old design. I love looking at big, beautiful photos on the web. In fact, this change in design may be the encouragement I need to get out my old DSLR so I can capture great images to use on the site.
One thing I'm excited about is that v6 allows for mobile-formatted pages, and now I've got a very nice-looking mobile website. I haven't been able to test it from any other phones but my own, but on my iPhone 4S, everything looks very nice (Update: After writing this post, I had a chance to test the site from a few Android devices. Looks great there, too).
On this mobile site, the top navigation bar is hidden under a 'Menu' button. Tapping that button gives you a nice little "sliding down" animation, revealing a drawer containing the hidden navigation links. Tap 'Menu' again, and the drawer slides back closed. Pretty neat.
With this change, and with the two-year anniversary of Unretrofied coming up in October (wow, I can't believe it's been that long already), it seems like as good a time as any to start writing some more long-form opinion pieces and product reviews, much like the ones you'd find on Minimally Minimal. Up until now, most of my posts have been links to content elsewhere on the web, but that's not very fulfilling creatively. I would rather blog less often but produce higher-quality content than be a lazy 'curator'-type. Quality always beats quantity when it comes to blogging, and it's about time I started showing it.
Whatever happens next, I hope you guys enjoy the improved design and I encourage any constructive feedback you'd like to give. Hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you think!
Note: Due to the site change, it was necessary to change the URL to my RSS feed and subscribers will need to update their readers accordingly. Apologies for the inconvenience.