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openmind
10-09-2006, 11:25 AM
Right as some of you may know I've been running a contest on Sitepoint (http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=419490) to get a new layout sorted for all the company sites.

The response has been outstanding, so much so that I'm having a very hard job choosing a winner! Although the designs that have been submitted have all used the hosting content as a base, this skin will be used on all the company sites.

I've narrowed it down to the following but which one do you prefer?

In no order of preference...

Option One
http://img95.imageshack.us/img95/4596/layout3zy8.png

Option Two
http://img181.imageshack.us/img181/4628/openmind2mk4.jpg

Option Three
http://img362.imageshack.us/img362/2048/omsv2rg7.jpg

Option Four
http://createthevision.co.uk/kim/OMH2.jpg

Option Five
http://www.hostmypiconline.com/images/choonti.jpg

The contest ends on Thursday so I have to make a final decision by then. I do have a preference but I'm not saying which one! ;)

Belinda
10-09-2006, 11:32 AM
Hi Phil,

I voted for 4 as the layout and design was simple, it didn't make me think about it too much it allows the user to get on and find what they have come for without the design getting in the way IMHO.

1 & 5 have elements that are dated IMO, 2 don't like the top image & 3 don't like the amount of colour and the colour is odd.

HTH, all the best picking a winner.

Cheers,
Belinda
www.pinkenvy.co.uk

openmind
10-09-2006, 11:35 AM
Thanks Belinda, yes that does help...

I'm dying to say which one I prefer but I don't want to influence peoples voting! :D

integreatmedia
10-09-2006, 11:58 AM
Hmm - some crackign designs here.

Overall my favourite is option 4 due to the following;

- soft gradients on header and left and right edges
- clear breakdown of hierachy on left-hand navigation
- domain search box in top-right is clear

I do however also like the tabs that are used in option 1, however the overall design is better in option 4.

Also option 2's "want some free money" banner in the middle of the page is far better than the one in option 4.

Some considerations would also need to be made on quality of coding of the pages, which we obviously can't test from just the images that were posted. But I would hope all designs are built with XHTML/CSS structure in mind. ;)

openmind
10-09-2006, 12:02 PM
Good feedback there thanks...

Some considerations would also need to be made on quality of coding of the pages, which we obviously can't test from just the images that were posted. But I would hope all designs are built with XHTML/CSS structure in mind.

That will be my job to sort as I have the design talent of a stick hence outsourcing the design elements ;)

integreatmedia
10-09-2006, 12:06 PM
As you have done this as a competition do you have to solely choose one design as the winner then? even if you do choose some elements from another design that may be better in your final production, such as mentioned in my original comments?

Sunee
10-09-2006, 12:07 PM
I have been following the designs with great interest.

May I ask, when you receive a layered PSD file, how much knowledge & effort is required to turn this into a working HTML/CSS page?

openmind
10-09-2006, 12:14 PM
Originally posted by dsandy
As you have done this as a competition do you have to solely choose one design as the winner then? even if you do choose some elements from another design that may be better in your final production, such as mentioned in my original comments?

Technically yes or I can choose not to pick a winner. I can contact the designer after the competition close though to make any final tweaks..

May I ask, when you receive a layered PSD file, how much knowledge & effort is required to turn this into a working HTML/CSS page?

No you may not ask...

j/k :D

That really depends on your point of view. If you are an experienced developer then it shouldn't take a huge amount of time. It's really a case of slicing the PSD in Image Ready to get the elements you need and then optimising them.

I tend to use includes on all my sites for the common elements such as the navigation, header and footer. After that it's a case of dropping the content in and tweaking it to suit the design

integreatmedia
10-09-2006, 12:16 PM
Originally posted by Sunee
May I ask, when you receive a layered PSD file, how much knowledge & effort is required to turn this into a working HTML/CSS page?

Not trying to speak on behalf of OpenMind, but just from my own experience, you can do this one of two ways, in my opinion a good way and a bad way! ;

Bad Way: Use a tool like Macromedia Fireworks to 'slice' the image up into segments, where HTML code can be entered in areas of the page, but the majority is made from image slices. As well as being raw image heavy, generally this approach also requires a table structure for the page - which is a bad thing

Good way: Break down the image into sections that you can re-create using CSS (and XHTML.) Using the images that have been created in the design incorporated into the CSS i.e. such as background images etc. This approach results in a much more valid (to standards) site and non-tableless layout (hooray! ;) )

openmind
10-09-2006, 12:17 PM
I should point out that I only use the slicing facility to grab the elements of the design that cannot be re-created by hand coding via css ;)

integreatmedia
10-09-2006, 12:20 PM
Originally posted by openmind
I should point out that I only use the slicing facility to grab the elements of the design that cannot be re-created by hand coding via css ;)

Cool :D

Also includes as you mention are a must, especially if you ever plan to add more pages to your site.

What technology are you going to be using? PHP? ASP? ASP.NET?

openmind
10-09-2006, 12:39 PM
No I use ColdFusion for all my sites. I did have a bash at some PHP programming a few years ago but came back to CF as I just felt more comfortable using it...

IMHO there is very little you cannot do with ColdFusion that you can with any other server side language. The only slight caveat is that there is less open source code available for CF but I'm doing my bit (https://sourceforge.net/projects/openmindcms) to change that ;)

integreatmedia
10-09-2006, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by openmind
The only slight caveat is that there is less open source code available for CF but I'm doing my bit (https://sourceforge.net/projects/openmindcms) to change that ;)

Mmm - an open source CMS in ColdFusion on SourceForge eh? good on ya'. I'm going to be covering some ColdFusion in my next Open Uni course so may take a look at your CMS then :)

Always like seeing ideas and work going back into the community to help others.

Recently I've been doing a lot of work in my full-time job with Plone (www.plone.org) and Zope (www.zope.org) which are two great open source platforms (well Plone is a CMS built on the Zope application platform.)

Adam
10-09-2006, 01:23 PM
I would say 1 is my first choice followed closely by number 4.

However with what others have said myabe 4 would be the one. I just felt comfortable with 1, maybe it was dated and that is why I liked it.

Phil
10-09-2006, 01:36 PM
I'd say def 1 or 4, I like them both a lot. Don't like 3 or 5 very much as they look 'amaturish' as they are right now. 2 is good but I don't like the diagonal writing over your buttons and graphics. If they weren't there I'd like that one too.

Martin
10-09-2006, 02:10 PM
Number 4 for me too. :)

Aled
10-09-2006, 03:06 PM
Yep Number 4 :) its more fluid etc etc etc!

openmind
10-09-2006, 03:21 PM
Looks like number 4 is well in the lead then ;)

Adam
10-09-2006, 03:29 PM
I think the diagonal writing someone mentioned was more of a watermark than the design.

Number 4 is doing well.

Is that the one you liked Phil?

Play!!
11-09-2006, 08:40 AM
I go for number 3. There are a couple of reasons. One being that the space where you enter the url to check availability is central and you can't miss it. I had to look for the others to some extent. That would be the first thing you see when that page comes up. Another being the lack of scrolling which seems to be needed, or not. I think it looks unclutered and clean compared to the rest. I also think that it is more of a unique design compared to the others and also others around the net. I havn't noticed many sites where everything is so central. The only draw back I see with it, compared to the rest, are that the others have links to deals/offers/information that people will click on which could then take them to other places on the site. With number 3 they would have to click a link on the left. Actually I'm not sure if it is a down side or not. That's my thoughts on it. Good luck picking a winner, they are all decent. 3 has it for me though.

Play!!
11-09-2006, 08:49 AM
I quite like your current site. I think I like it more than the entries here. Are you keeping it or swapping everything over to the winners site?

--Damn, hit quote instead of edit.

:)

openmind
11-09-2006, 09:25 AM
Nope it will be swapped over to the new layout. I also liked the design but there were elements that I really disliked and it had also raised other concerns from clients so I decided a change was due...

gregfindley.com
11-09-2006, 03:28 PM
Hi Phil,

Apologies for the delay/lateness in my entry, just added it to SitePoint, hopefully not too late for consideration,

Thanks,
Greg

peekaboo
11-09-2006, 03:56 PM
I think number 2 is the one to go with, with a few final touches that could be a nice site. Looks slick.

Regards
Brett White

openmind
13-09-2006, 11:34 PM
Just a quick update, I decided in the end to go with option one, there was just something that felt right about the design...

Originally posted by Sunee
I have been following the designs with great interest.

May I ask, when you receive a layered PSD file, how much knowledge & effort is required to turn this into a working HTML/CSS page?

This one was a bit more of a pain than I first thought especially getting the lists working in IE, took about four hours, but it's coming along a treat:

http://www.openmindhosting.com/layout/REMOVEME

Delete the REMOVEME on the end to see the work in progress as I don't want this spidered just yet...

Play!!
14-09-2006, 06:51 AM
I like it Phil. It's smart. It's done in the colour I like best too. :)

One suggestion though. Most of us here know your a decent bloke and you know what your doing but do you think people who don't know you would be put off slightly by a company (which has a huge imapct on the future of their business/website) which has only been around for a couple of years. They might assume the experience isn't there. Is it essential to make this information public?

Martin
14-09-2006, 09:08 AM
Nice 1 Phil... It's coming along well...

Originally posted by Play!!
I like it Phil. It's smart. It's done in the colour I like best too. :)

One suggestion though. Most of us here know your a decent bloke and you know what your doing but do you think people who don't know you would be put off slightly by a company (which has a huge imapct on the future of their business/website) which has only been around for a couple of years. They might assume the experience isn't there. Is it essential to make this information public?

Knowing he's been operating for a couple of years has to be better than wondering if he's just started?

After all the first year is the hardest for a new business and the time when most go under.

Play!!
14-09-2006, 09:25 AM
Yeah, good point. That's the flip side of the coin I suppose. I'm not trying to be an idiot here either. I know Phil is a capable chap.

I was just thinking that after almost 3 years I'm still learning a lot and what I do is far less complicated than what Phil does (I assume). I'm also not sure what demographic Phil is aiming his services at either so I wasn't sure how the larger companies would take it.

I agree though, You raise a good point I didn't consider.

Martin
14-09-2006, 09:32 AM
Yeah thats true Play...

I mean I'm in IT, and it's one of those fields that if you stop learning / reading on a daily basis, then your behind the times and already at a disadvantage.

1 day you could be sitting there trying to solve a problem for hours, and the next day you could stumble upon a solution which fits perfectly and takes minutes.

Play!!
14-09-2006, 09:41 AM
Yep, the IT game is a tough one. Technology is moving more rapidly as time goes on so you have to keep up with that as well as the general business aspects such as sales and marketing etc. *tips hat*. Speaking of general business I should go and do something productive.

You lot won't have to call me Play for much longer either, I'll stick my name in the sig when I hit my 1000th.

Good day Sirs/Madams.

Martin
14-09-2006, 09:54 AM
Originally posted by Play!!
You lot won't have to call me Play for much longer either, I'll stick my name in the sig when I hit my 1000th.

Good day Sirs/Madams.

Not long to go now then! :)

openmind
14-09-2006, 10:09 AM
Originally posted by Play!!
I like it Phil. It's smart. It's done in the colour I like best too. :)

One suggestion though. Most of us here know your a decent bloke and you know what your doing but do you think people who don't know you would be put off slightly by a company (which has a huge imapct on the future of their business/website) which has only been around for a couple of years. They might assume the experience isn't there. Is it essential to make this information public?

That's actually a very good point and one I'd not really though about a great deal in the past. I must admit I've always run the business with a very open approach and clearly shown how long I've been running and personally I think this works in my favour.

After all it wouldn't take two minutes to do a WHOIS on a domain and see when it was registered ;)

I still have days when I learn something new or come across a better way of doing something but I've absolutely no doubt that businesses owners who have been running for 20 years still do as well!

At the end of the day I think people will judge a business more on it's appearance, testimonials and approach more than how long they have actually been trading...

Play!!
14-09-2006, 11:41 AM
Fair comments there Phil. Hope the site comes along well too, best of luck with it.

integreatmedia
15-09-2006, 09:28 PM
Originally posted by openmind
At the end of the day I think people will judge a business more on it's appearance, testimonials and approach more than how long they have actually been trading...

More importantly the quality, consistancy and professionalism of the work too in my opinion. :)

openmind
15-09-2006, 09:52 PM
Originally posted by dsandy
More importantly the quality, consistancy and professionalism of the work too in my opinion. :)

Absolutely...

Adam
15-09-2006, 10:40 PM
So what happened? Did we pick a design?