Looking to improve site's design - first attempt

  Red Devil 15:38 14 Jan 2007

Hi all,

I recently canvassed opinions on a web design forum regarding a website of mine and what people though of it's design and was told that, despite the code being fairly well done - although I should have been looking to use CSS rather than HTML for styling - it was bland, boring and a little hard on the eye.

I've now done a test re-design, taking into account some of the suggestions I got. One of those was that, as my site was to do with my model railway, that I should look to do a theme for my website that incorporated railway liveries. I've also converted the styling over to CSS as part of the re-design.

The site is coloured to reflect British Rail's livery around the time frame that I model - mid- to late-1970s. BR's livery then was blue/grey with the grey being so light as to appear white. The text links are styled as old-style station destination boards (used to be black boards with the stations printed in white on them), the header has what is supposed to be an old-style wooden station roof fascia as a background and the header itself is meant to be like a station name board that you used to see at the entrance of a train station at the time (at least, the town where I live used to have this at it's station entrance!).

So what do you think? Is it an improvement? Are there any suggestions that people have that I could take on board before implementing the design across the whole site?

The old style site can be located at:-

click here

with the new layout/styling test page located at:-

click here

Any feedback would be mucho appreciated.


  LeadingMNMs 20:54 14 Jan 2007

Seems like a decent design, and I prefer leaving the main text on a white background like your new effort. For me the blue background seemed a little too strong, and it made reading the main text difficult, though that may well be my monitor, or the poor lightly in this room at the moment.

I have to say though that all the buttons, to me at least, look ugly. Some of them obviously have a place, but my personally view is people will Get Firefox if they want, and the button on your site is not going to get clicked. And I can't really think of anything more ugly that the google adds that don't match the colour scheme at all.

The banner at the bottom for "UK Model Railways Web Community" doesn't look brilliant either, and certainly black text on a deep blue background doesn't.

As above, the thumbnails could do with being a little bigger, perhaps upto 200x200px, although thats easy to say at 1280x1024px when there looks to be plenty of room. Arguable for anyone still having to put up with 800x600px, they would probably be the right size.

Certainly nothing really wrong with the page, my comments are more my personal preference.

1. Your first page is a different design to the others. Keep the theme of the first page as it is Railway like.

2. Do not go on about designing the website (not part of the subject). Just have a small comment request on the first page. Railway enthusiasts who are not website designers will not be impressed.

  STREETWORK 14:51 15 Jan 2007

1. Try and stick with a theme design.
2. The home page top graphic could be made narrower as it takes up real estate.
3. Keep to about 3 fonts, Sans serif, Ariel, etc.
4. Avoid dark backgounds
5. Keep at it...

  Kate B 22:30 19 Jan 2007

It's still very contrasty and hard on the eyes; and as others have remarked, be consistent all the way through the site. I'd also make the pictures bigger on the front page: small pictures look very bitty.

  Red Devil 11:42 21 Jan 2007

Hi all,

Thanks for the feedback but there ARE a few points I'd like to make:-

1) Site design

Yes, I know the page is a different design to the rest of the site. That's the point! ;)

I'm testing a new site design on the test page that I put the link up to at the start of this thread. I wanted to canvass opinions BEFORE applying it to the rest of the site. I have over 200 pages on this site AND have to convert the layout and styling from HTML to CSS so wanted to know before the laborious task of converting the whole site that it was going to be a worth wile exercise. I'd hate to have to go through it all and THEN find out that I'd wasted my time! ;)

2) Fonts

There's only 1 font family used on the test page - that's it. Honest! ;)

3) Banners/ads

The banners and ads on the page either result in 3/4 of the traffic to the site or generate enough income to pay for the domain name registration, web hosting AND extra bandwidth required for all 7 of my sites that I have so they're more than fulfilling their purpose! ;)

I've increased the size of the thumbnails by doubling them in size to 200x200 pixels and would agree that it looks far better. Thoughts?

I've also done some work to make the navbar stand out better and make it readable. Is that any improvement?

Thanks for the feedback so far.

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