Redesign 2006

I redesign Albino Blacksheep every year, and by November 2006 it looked like this year would be an exception. I usually redesign in the summer when I have some free time, but this past summer I was out of town working on a very big project which is still going on.

I created a design for a client/project, and the few people that I was allowed to show the design to stated that my client design looked better than my Albino Blacksheep design.

I realised I could at least give ABS a slight facelift as the 2005 redesign was appropriately looking a year and a half out of date.

The Web 2.0 bubble of '05 and '06 brought a lot of nice designs (mostly non-functional), and even though I was up to speed for clients, I was out of date with Albino Blacksheep.

Problems to address in the redesign.

With every redesign, I try to address some issues that arise from previous redesigns in the endless attempt at perfection.

1. ABS looks dark, faded and dull

This redesign should still have a black background, but add more contrast, colours and saturation. Round corners on all sides could help liven things up too.

2. Icons too pixelated

One reason for this was that the icons would need to have a transparent background that worked with any theme's background colour. Each theme can now have its own icon set (2005), so this is not an issue anymore. Also, I decided some icons could have the larger 256-colour palette, instead of 16-colour. New is on the left.

[new IE icon] vs. [old IE icon]

[new Firefox icon] vs. [old Firefox icon]

See the difference, or am I just meticulous?

3. Headers overlooked

They needed to be bigger and brighter, and this redesign has done so. It is larger than the other text rather than being the same size, and just bold.

4. Calendar dates overlooked

I didn't want to do it, but some 4am experiment caused me to make little day calendars in the updates. I believe I am properly using microformats now for the dates. Correct me if I am wrong. I was using the class date, when I should have been using vevent.

I went ahead and removed the day caldenar from the design. It was a little too cartoony.

5. Low quality mascot

Sheepy now possesses a higher quality image in the footer. A lot of people were using the image on their site for linking, while better versions existed in the Promote section.

5. ABS has an RSS feed?

Yes! For years and years now. I had to explain to people what it was. That's how long ago I started using it. Perhaps many people saw the out of date XML icon and didn't associate it with RSS. Now the XML button is replaced by the new standard icon in the footer.

6. Don't break alternative stylesheets... again

I pretty much had the HTML as clean as possible by the 2005 redesign, so my task was to change the CSS only, and leave the HTML as it is.

This is the first redesign where alternate styles from the old redesign still work.

I guess this year was more of a facelift or theme change than a redesign.

I have not yet created alternative styles related to this year's redesign, but I will soon. I hope you create some too.

8. Clean up server-side scripting

Not really part of a redesign, as it only goes on in the backend, but I figured I would do some cleanup at the same time.

Changes / Features / Sections

ABS Share
A multi-social bookmarker and referrer list that you add to your site. This should drive some great traffic to your site if used correctly. Some sites don't allow JavaScript, so I have also included HTML-only code you can edit by hand. Keep in mind there is a regular link version and a pop-up link version, and the popup version comes in either black or white to match your site.
Embed codes
Some small flash games for now that you can embed directly onto your site.
Share on flash files
This is in place of the AIM link. Not everyone uses AIM. Some would rather share the files through YIM or social bookmarking. I'll update the Share options as needed.
New flash organization
Created avatars/icons for each of the categories. Some people stated they didn't even know there were different categories to browse through. Also, some of the different flash series are listed on the flash page.
Sitemap is more detailed to include image subsections.
Flash tutorials
The flash tutorials get their own section. Great for both beginner and advanced.
Audio files growing
This section was neglected for a while, but now includes MP3s and Lyrics to original songs featured in ABS videos and flash files.
Video files page
This section was neglected, but is slightly fixed up. More plans for it in the future. I decided to stream video from the Google server this year. There are many advantages to this. Instead of requiring people to download different Windows-based or Macintosh-based plugins, all videos can now play in Flash. Google also has fast servers that can handle the bandwidth nicely. Google already powers Albino Blacksheep's search engine, so I figure they may handle video streams nicely too. Speaking of search engines.
ABS Search in browser
Firefox 2+ and IE7+ users can add Albino Blacksheep's search engine directly to their browser.
New favicons
A bunch of different favicons, including 3 much nicer sheep icons.
Template Files
Added earlier in 2006. Probably not necessay as this site should be about teaching how to make something rather than selling it to you.
Cleaned up Syndicate page.
Language Translations
Added earlier in 2006 (if not 2005), and now linked on the Help page.
About section
Added earlier in 2006, and it seemed some people really needed to know what the site is. It used to be "Just click around" / "Oh now I get it". This about section even contains a flowchart. A lot of visitors are not subscribed, so they do not understand the content creation process or the community behind the lovely work you get to see.
Promote page
Added earlier in 2006. Contains sheepy graphics and buddy icons. More to come. Feel free to submit.
Image reflections
Something I am experimenting with.
ABS Myspace
Friend forced me to get it yesterday. Even signed up for me. Feel free to add me as a friend. I'll add more to my Myspace page soon.

November 28, 2006