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Slashdot CSS Redesign Contest Update 577

A few weeks back I announced that Slashdot was throwing open its design to the readers. An individual will win a Laptop, and hopefully we'll all win a Slashdot design that looks good. My Journal Entries have chronicled dozens of entries since the contest began, commenting on many of them. Today I share with you 3 of my favorites. These aren't necessarily "Finalists" but I think these are some of the strongest entries. First up is Michael Johnson's design, second is Jason Porritt's entry, and third is a design from Peter Lada. The contest will end around the middle of next week. Entries can be sent to redesign at CmdrTaco.net. Read my journal for extensive commentary on the many entries, to see what stuff has been working and what stuff hasn't.
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Slashdot CSS Redesign Contest Update

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  • Not too bad..... (Score:5, Informative)

    by curtisk ( 191737 ) * on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:30PM (#15310090) Homepage Journal
    They all have their strong points, but Michael Johnson's design [insitemotion.com] currently has some weirdness going on in Firefox with the page footer showing up halfway thorugh the page at the tail of the right side boxes. Little weird in IE6 as well. Other than that, they look good.
    • That wierdness is showing up in FF 1.08 as well. However, that being said, I really like his design. I wasn't able to load the 2nd one, and I don't much care for the third, it seems to dark.
    • ...but Michael Johnson's design currently has some weirdness going on in Firefox with the page footer showing up halfway thorugh the page at the tail of the right side boxes.

      Really? I'm running and it seems fine. I like his design best of the three. It's stylish while retaining the feel of the original.

    • Re:Not too bad..... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Deinhard ( 644412 )
      There's also some horizontal scrolling at 1024x768.
    • Same thing on opera 8.5x on linux
    • Re:Not too bad..... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      He's failed to account for the floating behavior of the longest block. He needs to predetermine which block will be the longest (usually, for /., the middle one), and set the other ones to float, rather than the middle one.
    • on the mac it's even worse: the left side is there, with nothing to the right, then down below that are tabs, with all the right side content on the left and some odd box outlines, then finally down below that are the articles, also left aligned. Jason's site seems to be slashdotted; the only one that works, and actually does look nice is Peter's...
    • by 0racle ( 667029 )
      It's crapping out on Konqueror (3.5.2) as well. Cool screenshot [imageshack.us]

      That said all 3 were very nice designs. I'd hate to be the person picking out a winner.
    • Yeah it does the same thing in Safari 2.0.3. No idea why though.

      Personally, I'm sort of up into the air as to which ones I like, if any of them. I'm not altogether enthused. It's like they're all striving to be "modern" for the sake of being modern, rather than having a form-follows-function approach, putting readability and clarity first, and having the format flow from there.

      They've just got too many 'boxes' going on; I find them visually distracting, and I think that after a few hours I'd be reaching for
  • by shawnmchorse ( 442605 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:32PM (#15310116) Homepage
    So far, it looks like the prize for having a good design is a severe slashdotting of your server...
  • Jason's design (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:32PM (#15310120) Homepage Journal
    Of the three, I'm really partial to Jason's design. It captures all the elements of Slashdot, looks clean, has everything well separated, AND it works without error across the browsers I've tried. I'm rooting for it to win.
    • FYI, since it's slashdotted, you can kind of see Jason's design on mirrordot [mirrordot.com]. I say "kind of" because a few elements use fallbacks. For example, the hiding menus on the left normally have a rotating triangle. Thanks to Jason's bang-up CSS though, you see the words "show" and "hide" when the images are missing.
      • You cant see the design on mirrordot at all because mirrordot hasnt rewritten the <link> elements or cached any of the actual CSS, just the HTML. If its cached in your browser perhaps you could snag us a copy and mirror it? or stick it on pastebin for someone else to do so?
    • Re:Jason's design (Score:5, Informative)

      by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:17PM (#15310637) Homepage
      On Opera 8.5, Jason's design appears to be recursively putting borders and padding around the stories, making them shrink and shrink and shrink continuously. It's somewhat amusing and annoying, so I like it.
    • Re:Jason's design (Score:5, Informative)

      by lynx17 ( 973156 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:57PM (#15311036)
      I know about the Opera infinite loop issue, and I think I have a solution -- I don't think its an Opera bug. I just need time to fix it and the IE bugs I know are present. Thanks for all the comments, and watch for a new version in the next few days that will "hopefully" (crosses fingers) have the IE and Opera bugs fixed.
    • Re:Jason's design (Score:4, Insightful)

      by coolgeek ( 140561 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:26PM (#15311286) Homepage
      Me too! I'd choose Jason's. The drop shadows around an article summary, combined with the inset before the green header is just absolutely beautiful. The collapsible menus on the left are great. There is just enough whitespace around the various elements create readability, and drive your eyes straight to the meat of the page. The design maintains the /. Zeitgeist in a way that the other two designs seem to completely miss. 548 thumbs up.

      [Ok, I'm really going a little over the top here, but I somehow feel like this is my 15 minutes as an art critic.]

      I really hate that "upper left corner" style of Michael's...where's the rest of the fucking box? Is there some kind of bit shortage where we need to conserve every last byte in transmission? Seriously though, the corner is little more than fluff and does little to enhance readability or make the articles "pop". 93 thumbs down.

      Peter's doesn't render properly in Safari. The right column rams up into the search box. Surely this is a minor glitch that can be solved, but even if it were, I have to say the green dominates too much. The sub-articles are not visually distinct from the main articles. Overall, I feel more like I'm on a golf course, not looking at a website. 27 thumbs down for letting green dominate the scene and another 9 thumbs down for the sub-article snafu, for a total of 36 thumbs down. Clearly not as bad as the previous entry, and clearly nothing to earn it a single thumb up.
    • Jason's my favorite of the three as well. Is this going to be a slashdot poll?
    • Re:Jason's design (Score:4, Insightful)

      by default luser ( 529332 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @06:33PM (#15313326) Journal
      Yes, I have to agree, I like Jason's simple upgrade of the existing design. The drop shadows make it look cleaner, and take away from that "antiseptic white" that has plagued Slashdot for so long.

      Looks very slick.

      My only complaint: as mentioned in other posts, the text does not resize in IE 6.0.28. This is a CRITICAL issue, so I wouldn't give it the thumbs-up until this is fixed. Hopefully, the bugs will be dealt with.
  • by CharAznable ( 702598 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:32PM (#15310121)
    Great job, Slashdot manages to slashdot three slashdots in one go!
  • by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:33PM (#15310126) Journal
    Since it's the only one that didn't meltdown in seconds after being posted. If you're going to make a slashdot site - might as well be slashdot proof.
  • If my design gets selected, does this mean I will get slashdotted too like these poor souls currently are? Seems like a strong deterrent to me.
  • by loomis ( 141922 )
    The Michael Johnson entry is fantastic. I really like it.

    It seems that the Jason Porritt's entry is down already?
  • I don't think you liked those designs at all and this is your underhanded way of wiping them off the net!
  • There is a winner (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This one [westcarolina.net] has already won in my heart.
  • by raddan ( 519638 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:36PM (#15310186)
    This is beyond just having a new stylesheet, but I think it would be pretty simple: can we get the year in the date for posts? Occasionally, I'll go through /.'s archives, or come up with something in Google, and oftentimes I have no idea how current that story is. I dunno-- maybe this is just a preference setting. Anyone know how to turn this on?
  • by rminsk ( 831757 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:38PM (#15310199)
    For those of us that don't have perfect vision. All three designs have very small fonts. When I actually make the fonts big enough to read the formatting does not hold up.
    • by wrong ( 27761 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:49PM (#15310339)
      Respect the viewer's choice of standard font size, kids. Leave body text at 100%. The only thing that should be smaller is the fine print.
      • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:07PM (#15310552)
        It goes beyond that - there's plenty of sites that have a lot of text (news sites, in particuluar), where I just like to sit back and read, which means I'm farther away from the monitor. There's no reason someone shouldn't be able to select reasonably larger text sizes without sections running into each other.

        Important for visually impaired (but not blind) people, too. This is one of the biggest faux-pas out there.

        Designers should also always use relative sizes ("larger", "smaller") instead of absolute sizes for fine print and large headlines.

        I expect problems with 90% of the websites out there (including ones I've made, I'm sure as heck not perfect), but when you have a contest and expect some professional results, I think we should remind some of these entrants that there's a functional design philosophy as well as a visual one.
    • by Eideewt ( 603267 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:55PM (#15310416)
      It's about time someone mentioned this. My default font is a 13pt serif font, and I've always appreciated the fact that Slashdot respects my preference, unlike most sites on the web. Anything else would be a step in the wrong direction, in my opinion. Change the graphics and layout all you like, but leave my fonts alone.
    • For those of us that don't have perfect vision.

      It's not about perfect vision. My eyes are just fine thank you, but I want to keep it that way and when I'm reading web pages at the font sizes they try to force onto me it wouldn't.

      Here's a list from all the links in tacos journal entries that respect your wishes - note that most others could be easily changed to use other sizes for stories and comments it's just that the designers have been too lazy or too control-freaky to do it that way in the first plac

  • Ya bunch of f'ing TRACERS!

    Seriously...I like them. A slightly cleaner interface with more sculpted graphics. It is more visually appealing and still not too busy. The menu buttons are too big on #3, though.
  • that is the only server responding... so far :-)

    http://www.proximalabs.com/slashdot/redesign3.html [proximalabs.com]
  • Poll ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by earthstar ( 748263 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:40PM (#15310229) Journal
    Slashdot conducts poll for all sort of funny topics....

    CmdrTaco , Use the Poll to get User Opinion - If you really want it,that is.

  • by 0xABADC0DA ( 867955 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:42PM (#15310243)
    I like Peter Lada's design best because it works with the mouse gesture plugin for firefox. Since the switch to CSS the gestures on /. are so slow they can't be used. This slowness is also on Mr. Johnson's design, but strangely the Lada design works perfectly with gestures.

    I'm using All-in-One Gestures 0.17.4 (and adblock and user-agent-switcher as only other extensions).
  • Apparently, Web 2.0's distinguishing feature is Really Small Fonts. Both the 1st and 3rd designs (the 2nd one was slashdotted even before Coral Cache got it) are much less legible than the current one.
  • by nnet ( 20306 )
    The first one looked clean, the second isn't responding, and the third looked too busy visually, with the text too small.
  • Nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    Nice to see they all followed taco's rules: change nothing meaningful.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
    • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:14PM (#15310606)
      I'm not going to bash any of the designs. I think they're all very clean and clear. But I can bet that Taco picked them because they were basically Slashdot with some slight drop-shadows and some fades here and there. So, overall, they're kind of bland. Like your Grandma tells you she wants suggestions for new candy in her dried, crusty candy bowl and instead of getting something you like she gets the same thing, only wrapped so it doesn't dry as quickly.

      Disclaimer: I design.

      As such, I know it's not that these guys have no creativity. I am putting the blame on the client. Taco asked for little more than a fresh coat of paint on the site, and that's what he got. It would be nice if he was less constrictive and opened himself up to other ideas besides something that automatically constricted the contestants to have results almost exactly like the site you're looking at right now.

      I also can't fault people for choosing the design simply because it's what a lot of other sites look like nowadays. But in a couple of years, when the whole "Web 2.0 Soft Gradients" thing loses its sheen, the site is going to look dated yet again.

      I do think the finalists all have a strong, clear foundation on spacing and placement so the designs aren't bad. They're just not enough of a change.

      (Take my criticism with a grain of salt as I haven't submitted anything).
      • You're talking about evolutionary vs. revolutionary change. I used to be on a formula racing team, and each year we were accustomed to making small, evolutionary changes to our winning design to improve it. The competition often complained that we were just copying our previous designs, not introducing enough new innovation (even though we always had new innovations). It came down to the fact that revolutionary changes (broader, more fundamental) are more "dangerous", often more likely to hurt you than h
      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:13PM (#15311198) Homepage
        Disclaimer: I design.

        So you said, and I saw two AC at 0 flaming your own designs [fantasticdamage.com]. I thought they were trolling, but well... if you would design something similar if you got "free reigns", then I'm sorry to say I agree with them. I don't like them at least, YMMV. However, I do agree that this contest is almost like Tom Sawyer making people paint the fence, because it's basicly the same fence afterwards.
  • When I pulled up the three sites in Opera (before they were Slashdotted, gotta love that Subscription option), two out of three failed.

    Michael Johnson -- footer in middle of page (also mentioned as a Firefox problem).

    Jason Porritt -- critical flaw: it went into an endless loop, with the box around the story repeating itself until the story disappeared entirely.

    Peter Lada -- no problems and looks good and clean to boot.

    Remember, we'll all be using Opera to surf to Slashdot on the Wii, and it's gotta work the
  • I like Peter Lada's design. Unfortunately, it makes some of the current topic icons look like crap. I don't know if that means the design is really good and the icons suck or the design has issues. Micheal Johnson's design doesn't seem to do that. Maybe it's the size of some elements compared to Lada's. Jason Porritt's server is slashdotted so I haven't seen it.
    • Ok, Porritt has screenshots posted now. I find his to be the weakest of the three. Maybe it's just the font choice that makes the stories/comments less readable. Especially compared to Lada's design.
  • I thought Taco was claiming to look outside the box for something clean and good looking, but still retain the slashdot 'feel'.

    Well, these three designs are pretty much clones of the current frontpage with just some prettiness and wizbangs added. I'm thoroughly unimpressed with these. Are these really $4,000 designs???
  • I think the post should have read:

    "First up is we'll take out Michael Johnson's server, second is Jason Porritt's server, and third is a design from Peter Lada, whose server will also be exploding shortly.

    The Winner? Whichever one can standup to the Slashdotting.
  • by irc.goatse.cx troll ( 593289 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:53PM (#15310392) Journal
    It's css, if the slashdot site is made properly you could just include alternative css files for all of these themes and let the users choose.
    If most of this is hardcoded(I havn't checked), then the upgrade for web standards was pointless and whoever did it missed the point.
  • I quite like the Peter Lada's design (plus it's the only one that isn't um... Slashdotted at the moment), but there's one thing that bugs me about it. On the left side, when I click on a section header, it smoothly expands or contracts that section, which I quite like. However, on the right side, when I click a section header, it tries to open a new page. Why do the two sides act differently? It just doesn't make sense. I can understand preventing the "advertisement" section from being minimized, but w
  • Uh guys? The two of these I saw as live examples did NOT work with IE7 Beta. I'm pretty sure we don't want to pick a winner that will immediately need to be replaced when MS releases their new browser.

  • I like to browse with larger fonts. So my test was simple: CRTL+
    in Firefox and then CRTL+ again (bump font sizes twice). Peter Lada's
    design is the only one that was OK after that. The rest were horribly
    broken - the rest of the ones on Taco's page that are accessible.
    The first two of the finalists are dead as of right now.
    Peter Lada's design feels very heavy with big thick green bars everywhere.
    Then again, I like basic html design - grey background and blue links.
    Imagine Slashdot where all three columns are
  • Peter Lada's design (Score:5, Informative)

    by rsadelle ( 719824 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:03PM (#15310499)
    The other two are slashdotted, so I'll just talk about this one.

    First impression: My God, this is cutesy. (And I mean that in a bad way.) Too many rounded corners, and the light green on the dark green looks off somehow.

    As others have noted, making the font big enough to read screws up the layout. Most notably the posted by name and date disappear completely.

    There are little right-facing triangles next to the "from the X department" lines and the headline only stories. The collapsible menus have downward-facing triangles on them. My first expectation is that clicking on the triangles will trigger the collapse/expand function and turn the triangles so they face down when collapsed and to the right when expanded. This is not at all what they do. If you have an image to signal an action, you shouldn't reuse the same image as a static pretty thing.

    Good things: The font is nice if too small on the default. I like the sensible blocks of color with lines for the menu.
  • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:07PM (#15310544)
    Disclaimer: I clearly have work-related baggage in regards to this topic.

    All three of these are valiant attempts at a Slashdot redesign. What hinders them is the Slashdot Coliseo wordmark and the goddamn stupid fucking green colour.

    Which I gotta put on you, Taco. When clients do that to me (I am a graphic designer by trade), I know what I am getting into, which is a client who has nonsensical, nostalgic attachment to elements that simply do not work. That stuff doesn't typically end up in my portfolio.

    Why don't you create a sub-category (for kicks at least) where the designers get free reign. You might be pleasantly surprised.

    • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:23PM (#15312005) Homepage Journal
      Taco is accepting designs that use other colours. I quite like this design in blue [viknet.pl] by Lukasz Lukasiewicz. Taco just favour thins that have more links with the original design, and thus better continuity for Slashdot in general.

  • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:19PM (#15310668) Homepage Journal
    OMG!!! That was, like, totally the best!!
  • Wow, big nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sohp ( 22984 ) <snewtonNO@SPAMio.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:25PM (#15310712) Homepage
    I thought from the original announcement that we were getting a redesign. If the "top 3" so far are the leading candidates for the final change, we get a few minor updates but overall a big yawn for a "new and improved" version with about as much change as the latest laundry soap.
  • by AmicoToni ( 123984 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:26PM (#15310733)
    Johnson's design is visually appealing, but has a major, and I say major flaw. Every designer knows that the eye tends to be captured by curved lines, and that is routinely exploited to draw the attention of the observer towards the product. Johnson's design has some fluid curved lines that draw the eye towards the top left corner, where there is absolutely nothing! The eye then wanders off the page, giving to the page an unpleasant "void" feeling. The attention level drops, and the viewer then instinctively moves on, looking for another, more interesting page.
  • by scovetta ( 632629 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:38PM (#15310856) Homepage
    Maybe there's something I don't understand, but why can't they ALL be winners? Why can't /. (and other websites, for that matter) have a "skinnable" interface that lets the user choose how they want the content displayed? Drop down? Another page to set a cookie to the css file? There are many ways to do it technically. I'd even think that an "upload-your-own-CSS" feature would be nice (since you can't set cookies cross-site).

  • by Kopretinka ( 97408 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:50PM (#15310969) Homepage
    I think the headlines should also be the links to the stories (same as "read more"), as they are so much bigger and easier to target for clicking.
  • Not impressed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigitalDragon ( 194314 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:10PM (#15311845)
    I am actually quite unimpressed with the designs. It has been awhile, but none of the participants had tried anything other than green on white.

    I like green, but the forest green that is used on slashdot is quite ugly and everybody knows that. Why is it that noone has the guts to try out something different.

    I think Taco has threw everybody off by declaring that he expects curves, green and white.. this is why all these websites look so alike. I was really expecting something along the likes of CSS Zen Garden experience, where people really thought out-side the box.

    Having visited each of the candidates, pretty much all of these make your stomach churn and are definatelly not that easy on the eyes, not to say pleasant.

    Out of these three candidates, I liked #2, but I wish there would be a little less white space between left part and the story.
  • by iamghetto ( 450099 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:50PM (#15313011) Homepage
    I'm confused as to whether I'm trading in my Playstation 2 for a Playstation 3, or just trading my PS2 in for a newer PS2.

    When I looked at these three designs, no offence at all to the people who are doing them, but they look like what a client would be presented if they have a agreed upon a basic layout, and wouldn't a few different "looks" to choose from.

    I actually think there is some pride and a lot usability in Slashdot's current look. It's not fancy, but it doesn't need to be (at all!).

    I think Slashdot is wasting peoples time if we're just putting a new coat of paint on the car. We don't care how ugly you are Slashdot, we love your personality!

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982