My primary criticism is that it has an over-engineered look. That is
to say, everything is in its own box, and boxes have more boxes
within them. Intellectually, this makes sense, but artistically it
looks anal-retentive. As a result, the design has a lot of whitespace
gutters that push the eye in confusing directions. More specifically,
I think the horizontal whitespace bands are more harmful to the
design than helpful. I'd push the "News Updates Projects Meetings"
block up to merge with the one above it. The same goes for the
sidebar parallel to it.
Consider removing "top-level" boxes and titles. The titlebar
"Navigation" is really superfluous; if you honestly have to say in
your design "This is where you look to navigate the page", the design
has failed to be usable. Neither Arstechnica or Slashdot title their
various means of navigation because it's immediately obvious where
that happens. So, instead, I suggest that the navigation menu just be
there, on a gray or gradient background.
I think this also applies to the three-column box in the "News
Updates Projects Meetings" section. Either remove the titles from the
three horizontal columns, or drop the title bar on that section. As
it is, it's a bit redundant to say what kind of information is being
For more on 'module madness' layouts, Design Meltdown (a brilliant
web site, BTW) has a great list of successful module designs: http://
I'm sorry if I maybe came off to critical. I think it's important to
throw out something, if only to get strong reactions from it. I
really do think you could be headed in the right general direction,
but have some scrubbing to do to make it a really clean and aesthetic
web site. I have exactly the opposite problem when designing; I tend
to settle on obsessively minimalist designs that are as unusable as
overly complex ones, but it's because they're so empty of visual
queues for the user to pick up on.
On Apr 27, 2007, at 9:18 PM, Michael Evan Karpeles wrote:
> Small update with the new CSSA Website template...
> I managed to design a beta template just so we have some idea how
> everything will be structured. Right now the site linked is just a
> graphic embedded in HTML. In terms of graphics, placement,
> structure, etc; everything is subject to change. I just wanted to
> throw something out there that we could all start on. If you have
> any feedback, suggestions, or absolutely HATE the layout, make sure
> to let me know!
> - Michael E. Karpeles
> Updates @: http://www.uvm.edu/~mkarpele/CSSABeta.htm