New site design

Locally Grown 2.0

If you’re reading this, you probably notice something different. Long ago — well, January — I came to Locally Grown with the hope of assisting in a redesign. Now, at long last, we’ve got something live. Most of the changes are just skin-deep, but pages on the site should load noticeably faster and our search, which has been has been writhing in pain for months, can now actually find stuff. Oh, and the site has also been tweaks to work better on mobile browsers and has a special mode for print (this works automatically when you print in any modern web browser — no need to look for a “Print this page” link).

So what do you guys think? What could we do to improve on this new layout? Give us your feedback. And be sure to speak up if something doesn’t look right in your browser.

Update: I’ve finally figured out how to use Griff’s straw poll dealio. So if you’re not inclined to comment, feel free to express your opinion quietly here:


21 thoughts on “New site design”

  1. Looks beautiful, Sean, but I do have one comment re: “ease of finding a particular comment in a thread of over 100”.

    I think the numbering should be retained , so that if you want to go back to comment 71, you can easily do so, and refer to that specifically. The numbering is particularly helpful in a thread like the comp plan one, which had a lot of very specific/detailed/technical references..

    Can we have the numbers back?

  2. Kiffi, good point. I’ve added the numbers back. They appear in the lower, right-hand corner of the comment.

  3. Sean, on the “Leave A Comment” part below each post, the instructional text at the “say it” button are indistinct. Maybe a different shade of gray, or a contrasting border, to distinguish them from the background.

    But yeah, it looks great! Thanks for all your work.

  4. You must be using Firefox or Netscape.

    Those of us that are still (gasp?) tied to Internet Explorer in the workplace, or for other reasons do not have any scrollbars.

    I have tried multiple machines, and multiple flavors of IE.

    Netscape 8 and Firefox appear fine.


  5. I hate the black background… many letters seem to fade indistinctly into the BG. It, is so hard to read (IMHO…) that my observations and critiques are limited (which many of you will likely applaud)

    QUESTION: If BLACK were a preferred BG for written communication pieces, why have newspapers and magazines been printed on basic white forEVER? Off-white – differing hues of light gray or pastels with bold dark type okay… but black on dark blue or vice-versa? Nope!

    IMHO too many web designers seem to be trying to “reinvent the wheel” in design. Most sites have too much clutter and too many places to CLICK to get the same result. Not too distinct. Almost like having the page numbers in various spots on the same page just to be convenient… or what?

    Kiffi’s comment re this site’s numbering is right-on. But for me, FIX doesn’t compare in usefulness with the original style… lost, low down at the bottom right, dim and almost out of the text area.

    Seems to me… if you all felt the layout of the original was not working, the way to fix it would have been to go through it facet by facet… evaluate each and then say… Okay… what would be better. Coincidentally, that’s what should have been the process of the Comp Plan re-write.

    Kiffi just walked into the room and asked if I had read the newest of the Heroine thread… saying there were some really interesting comments… My response was I didn’t see it!

    Now, I’m going back to pour over the site… if I reassess my initial feelings then I won’t send this. So if you’re NOT reading this everything is okay? Oh, and by the way before Anne Brettes comments on my “uninformed” perspective on the written word,,, backgrounds, founts etc… assume if you will my response so that I won’t have to write it here. Is that humorous?


    PS: I lied. I just SENT it… Why? I had dinner one evening – a guest – the dining room was dim lit – candles, drawn drapes… the table was really well set ( I think) with a black table cloth and the dinner plates were glass. Clear Glass! Hard to find your humus.

  6. I would respectfully suggest adjusting your monitor if you have trouble reading this page. While I am still a proponent of white back / black text, and use that scheme on my site, dark grey + light colored text is pretty good… in all seriousness, if this is difficult to read, your monitor needs to be adjusted, and everything will look better, including color photographs.

  7. John — can you be more specific as to your Internet Explorer problems? It was tested fully in IE7.

    bq. “QUESTION: If BLACK were a preferred BG for written communication pieces, why have newspapers and magazines been printed on basic white forEVER?”

    There is a rationale for this. In print, the default color of the paper (at least for newspapers) is white. That’s the way the paper is, lacking any dyes. On a computer monitor, though, the default color is black. A white pixel is a fully-illuminated pixel, and therefore the most glaring on the eye.

    That said, we’ll chew over your color complaints. You may not be the only one who dislikes the black.

  8. Sean,

    E-mail me off line at mrjst (at) charter (dot) net.

    I need an address to send screenshots too, or we can do a net meeting.

    I tried all resoutions from 800×600 to 1680×1050, on both my laptop screen, my attached 22 inch wide, as well as my standard desktop. All of these are IE6.

    I will upgrade my laptop to IE 7 now, to see if that clears it.

    I have no scrollbars anywhere, and cannot see anything except the first screen. I cannot move down more than the first screen.

    I will pull out my work laptop, and try that as well.


  9. Sean,

    It appears to be a IE6 bug. Upgrading to IE7 makes the scrollbars appear.

    Problem is, a TON of folks are still on IE6, especially corporate users.

    I would be happy to meet with you, to allow you to view it on a laptop with IE6.


  10. Hilarious, Victor, that now you feel the need to attack me before I even have a chance to read the original post. You are a hoot!
    I guess I should go back and see what else you have argued with me about without my knowing…
    In this case, you are wrong again. Wrong in that I AGREE WITH YOU, at least in part. I like the look of the site–and appreciate all the hard work that went into it. Nice job, Sean and Griff. That said, the light or colored type on a dark background is difficult to read, largely because our eyes are old and less able to deal with the contrast. You can Google all the reasons for this optical illusion, lest we both turn into local versions of Cliff Claven again.
    Just get new reading glasses, or go to the toolbar and up the type size and you’ll be able to keep writing all your comments just fine. And please keep writing; I love a little humor in my day.
    As for the tradition of dark ink on white backgrounds, that came from the early practice of inscribing figures into clay or chiseling them into stone, and from using tools to paint or draw figures on stone, papyrus and other blank surfaces. You can make black and dark paints more easily than white, so they became more common.
    Printing copied that look, with ink rolled on the raised surface of type. To keep costs down, printing was and is done on newsprint, and dark backgrounds around white type simply bleed into unreadable blurs. Even heavy black type or images can show through to other pages or bleed on opposite pages. And keeping ink from rubbing off on hands and clothes is an issue, even with black type on white paper. It was all about practicality, cost control and reader/advertiser satisfaction.
    As for the transfer to the Internet, I feel the yawning chasm of Clavenism ahead, so I’ll send you back to Google, if you still care.

  11. Anne,

    Its obviously a CSS, because the font size is “locked”. Even if you try to increase the font in the browser, the CSS will not allow you to.

    Sean, I love the site, and you have fixed the scrollbar issue. Good Job.

    Griff & Sean,
    My only question is this. Have you considered ADA Compliancy with LocallygrownNorthfield?

    According to the United States Justice Department, the ADA also applies to the cyberspace “world.” In an opinion letter dated September 9, 1996, The U.S. Department of Justice stated that:

    “Covered entities under the ADA are required to provide effective communication, regardless of whether they generally communicate through print media, audio media, or computerized media such as the Internet. Covered entities that use the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods, or services must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means as well.”

    Check these out.

    Making the site ADA compliant would be a landmark start in the Northfield Blogosphere, and would be a model of what sites should be.

    Just a thought. I am not sure that locked font sizes, and black with yellow text fits that model.

    It is something to consider anyway. We have to take ADA compliancy into account on all of our corporate websites.


  12. John, I use Camino, and under ‘view’ I can hit ‘bigger text’ and blow up the view of any site, from text to comics. Technically, it’s a zoom tool, I guess, since it doesn’t change the font size but the view of the site. I’m not a geek, I just know it works great, especially when the eyes are tired from long hours online.
    Haven’t used Explorer in ages, so you may not be so lucky.

  13. John,
    First off, on text size: This is an Internet Explorer quirk, which may or may not still be present in version 7. Pretty much every other browser on earth (Safari, Camino, Firefox, Konqueror, Netscape, Shiira and bunches more) is not affected by this and, unfortunately, I don’t know that there’s a way to work with IE without using the old-school <font> tag.

    On ADA compliance: Whether or not the web is subject to the ADA is still very much up in the air. It is my personal belief that websites should be required to follow either the W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines or the Fed’s Section 508 standards. Almost all sites I design do follow both, and Locally Grown’s basic template does. The non-standards-following stuff is in the posts.

    Which leads me to the biggest beef between the standards and the real world: there is no good way to do Flash media without violating the standards (or the W3C’s XHTML standards — you can generally meet one but not the other). And, in fact, the Flash is what causes nearly all of Locally Grown’s standards woes. Getting rid of Flash is of course not an option: alienating 99% of the users to serve 1% more equally certainly doesn’t seem logical. Then there is a standards-compliant way to embed Flash, but it would require manual HTML tweaking by Griff, Tracy, and Ross. And such an inconvenience would strangle free speech as we know it! 😛

    Lastly, even though we do break some of the rules, our site is generally navigable without CSS and readable by a screen reader. So we might not be setting a prime example, but we try to come close.

    Don’t interpret my excessively long reply as an attempt to prove you wrong. I just can’t pass up a chance to pontificate on web standards.

    Now transitioning back to English: Regarding everyone who’s complained about white-on-black: we hear you. We will convert to a light-on-dark scheme early this week. Stay tuned.

  14. Sean,

    You and I are on the same sheet of music…

    As a corporate developer, I am forced to develop to a IE 6-7 standard. To be frank, that standard is horrible. Microsoft only seems to accept what standards are easy for them, and not the standards as a whole.

    I used to be in standards and compliance monitoring for corporate websites… until the company I worked for decided that standards were something that they no longer needed to comply with. 😎

    5 years later, you should see the nightmare they have on thier hands.

    Good job on this Sean. It does look nice. I look forward to your updates.


  15. Sean,

    Is there a way to make the blue comment titles link to the top of the comments (#1) and the individual comments (the name link) link to the specific comment posting?

    On long treads, that would be helpful to link directly to the comment to “read more” on that individuals specific comment.

    Just a suggestion.


  16. I love the colors. I have always been a lover of navy/midnight blue. I can distinguish each different comment from the rest. My only biff, if you’d even call it that, is that the widgets and links on the right side, blend in with the rest of the text. Mainly on the home page, not so much on the posts themselves.

  17. Congrats on another great redesign, Sean! One thing to add — I have a hard time seeing/finding the links embedded in people’s comments (like your “up in the air” link to wikipedia in comment #15). I can pick it up in the original post (ie. “came to Locally Grown”) with the slightly highlighted background, but can’t seem to get it in the comments.

  18. See the post on the color updates. That should address most of the concerns you guys had.

    I’m going to close comments on this thread: bring any design-related opinions over there.

Comments are closed.