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Testing/Review, please?

 
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:04 pm    Post subject: Testing/Review, please? Reply with quote

I'm in the process of developing a new theme for Archon, which is a specialized content management system for special collections departments in libraries.

If you have a few minutes, could you take a look at this draft and tell me what you think? This is a draft, so none of the links actually work.

http://meliogeny.net/archon/

In particular:

- Does it work in your browser?

- If not, what went wrong?

- Also if not working, which browser, which version, and which operating system were you using? (Screenshots awesome but not required.)

- How does it look?

- Is the frame too dark?

- Can you tell that the edges are supposed to be sort of art nouveau classical pillars?

- Did you notice (or does it bother you) that the fluting on those columns is interrupted by the borders above and below the main area?

- Is the laurel background under the main text distracting?

- Any other thoughts?

Thanks to anyone who takes the time to look at this. You get a cookie. ^_^
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

- Does it work in your browser?
Yes, it did.

- How does it look?
Nice and clean. Simple and elegant--nice to see in this day and age.

- Is the frame too dark?
Maybe a little. But I think if you went a few shade lighter it wouldn't look right, either. You could experiment with that, though. Changing the color would also work--but if you're working on a color scheme don't worry about it. It looks nice, and in the end it'll probably fall under a matter of taste. What's dark for me might not be for someone else.

- Can you tell that the edges are supposed to be sort of art nouveau classical pillars?
I could not. You mean the immediate edged on the white frame? Definitely not. Maybe make them a hair or two wider to get the impression of columns.

- Did you notice (or does it bother you) that the fluting on those columns is interrupted by the borders above and below the main area?
The fluting on the columns bothered me in general, because it's hard to tell that they are columns. I thought that they were placement tabs at first--like in an old photo album. I think because their coloring is so much darker than the border it's hard to connect the two.

- Is the laurel background under the main text distracting?
I did not think so. It adds a bit of interest without being flamboyant.

- Any other thoughts?
The texture of the header and footer is weird. I've never been fond of that texture, it reminds me of noise on a tv screen. Personal preference, once again.

I don't know much about design, so I can't really offer tips, but I think it looks nice.
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

- Does it work in your browser?
Web page displays in all browsers but IE 8 successfully (see below).

- If not, what went wrong?
In Chrome, Maxthon, and Firefox the menu entries are aligned across from the search bar. In IE 8, these entries are listed vertically. Additionally, the background image seems to have failed to load in IE 8. Screenshot below.

- Also if not working, which browser, which version, and which operating system were you using? (Screenshots awesome but not required.)
OS Specific:
Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP3
AMD Phenom 9500 QuadCore, 3.5GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 9400 GT (1GB)

Browser Specific:
Google Chrome 18.0.1025.162 (Success)
Mozilla Firefox 9.0.1 (Success)
Maxthon Browser v3.3.4.4000 (Success)
Internet Explorer 8.0.6001.18702 (Did not properly load)

Screenshot comparison. I used Firefox to compare with IE, but Chrome and Maxthon looked identical to Firefox.
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bza6Fc2qZwGbdFo2RC1aRUxPRmM

- How does it look?
Overall I like it. I think that the contrast between the white background and the blue side panels may be a bit too stark - try softening the white or illuminating the blue, if possible. The page is uniform in color and style, it has a bit of artistic interest in the transition dividers as well as the borders of the background. The watermark on the white background is subtle, I approve heartily. Beyond the slight color contrast issue, I think this looks really nice. I'm a fan of minimalist presentation as well, but this doesn't sacrifice style when it achieves that minimalist 'look'.

- Is the frame too dark?
As above, I think it could be lightened a touch. I think much of the issue is the pattern/texture you're using. Since it has black in that texture, it darkens the frame. Also, since it has to contrast with the colors in the frame itself, lightening the frame will be difficult without ditching the texture. Most universities that I've seen tend to use a single, solid color. This may be why?

- Can you tell that the edges are supposed to be sort of art nouveau classical pillars?
Yes, and I rather liked that touch.

- Did you notice (or does it bother you) that the fluting on those columns is interrupted by the borders above and below the main area?
No. In fact, I rather liked that. It breaks up the column length, and thus makes it a little bit less imposing.

- Is the laurel background under the main text distracting?
Again, one of the touches I liked. I barely noticed it in the beginning, and once I did I rather liked it. It's subtle, but it's present. It adds to the overall presentation without detracting from individual aspects.

- Any other thoughts?
I think it's possible that the frame being so dark makes it harder to see the pillars as part of the frame. At first, I thought it was the shape of the background instead of a piece of the frame. This definitely did not give it a "pillar" appearance, and instead went more toward a well decorated paper look. I think that this will be alleviated when you lighten the frame, though. Right now it's a bit difficult to see anything between the darkness of the frame and the bright white of the background.

For example, on the ES forums it would look rather bad if it were just black on green. It would look... strange. Technological, maybe, or just unnatural. Instead, there's a color between the two - a dark bronze/gold that transitions from the bright green and white to the near-black frame. I'm not suggesting a transition color for Archon, necessarily, but I think that when you lighten the frame the columns will naturally stand out on their own.

Otherwise, as a former library worker, I really like this site. I really like the obvious search bar.

I jest, but you may find the humor in this: The only thing I would add is the inability to click anything BEFORE the search bar, but I think that stretches the limits of "training our patrons"..

Also, Tinman, if you'd like me to check this out from Ubuntu I'd be happy to. I have a number of browsers installed on that OS as well, including a few non-standard ones. And then there's my iPhone. Would you like me to test for iOS functionality using Safari?
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome. Thanks!

Tenshi, no need for the Linux test, I've got that myself. As for iOS, let me get back to you on that. So far this is designed strictly for a desktop/laptop; but I plan to add mobile support via some media queries in the CSS.

And yeah, IE 8 is the weakest link. The design makes heavy use of CSS3's ability to assign multiple background images to a single page element, which IE 8 just doesn't support. Also, IE 8 doesn't support the "inline-block" display method properly, which is why the menu is screwed up. Meh. I can make it work in IE 8, but I'll do that after I'm satisfied with the design.

The frame is definitely too dark. The background can stay dark, I think, since it's supposed to go basically unnoticed. Hmm.

Okay, here's a:

Revised Version

Changes:

- Background texture for the header and footer replaced with real marble instead of fake marble (the first revision was just a solid color with the "noise" filter applied).

- Background for the back of the page blurred to make the checker pattern less obvious while still retaining some texture to it.

- Instead of black and blue, the pillars are now entirely in shades of gray.

- Added a gradient from dark-to-light across the horizontal of the pillar body, to give it some volume.

- The ferrules in the pillars now have a gradient running the opposite way -- light-to-dark -- and there are 3 of them instead of 2.

- Pillars are 4px wider than before.

I think it's a lot better. I'm still not entirely pleased with the pillars, but they're at least easily recognizable as pillars.
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Asa



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm your local layman test, so here goes!

The revised version loaded noticeably slower than the first one, seems more graphic-heavy. If you're going to make the pillars stand out so much, I'd suggest not cutting them off with the black line. In the first version it was fine because the contrast was so low, but with the gray it looks strange. Here's a thought - if you really want to separate the header and footer from the body, you might consider putting the capital and base images in for each of the three sections.

I like the marble better than the grit. The laurel is a bit distracting at first (I noticed the laurel before the text), but I can clearly read the text on top of it, so I don't know how much you want to play with it.


- Does it work in your browser?
Yes

- How does it look?
See above.

- Is the frame too dark?
No, I don't think so.

- Can you tell that the edges are supposed to be sort of art nouveau classical pillars?
No, I didn't see that, but it's much more obvious now.

- Did you notice (or does it bother you) that the fluting on those columns is interrupted by the borders above and below the main area?
See above.

- Is the laurel background under the main text distracting?
See above.

- Any other thoughts?
See above.
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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Revised version is a definite improvement. The marble backround helps complete the Greek/Roman theme. All of the design elements are easily recognized - they definitely look like pillars in the revised version - and work well together.

I think the laurel leaves watermark is perfect as is. Having that element of the logo repeat itself in the design is a nice touch, I think.

Using firefox the page loads quickly and without problem.

I'm not bothered at all by the black divider lines.
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aaaaand ....

Here's Revision 3

- Background color is now dark green instead of dark blue, and brighter for it; the blue was almost black anyway.

- The width of the lines intersecting the pillars has decreased from 4px to 1px.

I think the pillars are basically fine now. Not entirely sure of the background color change, but I think it picks up on the green from the laurels without being overtly distracting.
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Asa



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like that a lot better. I like the green, and the background laurel is much more subtle. ^_^
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interestingly enough, I didn't change the background laurel at all, Asa. ^_^

But I'm not satisfied yet. That background color is still too dark. Soooo .... here's:

Revision 4 Green

and

Revision 4 Blue


- The pillars are no longer intersected by lines

- Got rid of the white/black gradients over the header/footer.

- Backgrounds replaced with fuzzy color instead of checkerboard pattern, in blue and green variants.
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the green version. It seems very cohesive, and the colors just work well together. More directly, it makes the laurels visually cohesive with the background, while the logo (in blue) stands alone. This helps it stand out, as well. Also, consider this your impromptu test on an iPhone 4.

The green one receives hearty approval.
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YatesOfYore
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tealy green FTW
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Revision 4 green. Much better. It looks so pretty. ^___^

Edit: It occurs to me that you might want to see what that background color looks like in grey. I've mentioned that I don't really know much about design, but we did go over it a little bit in one of my classes, and we were strongly urged to make sure that anything in the blue/green spectrum looked ok in grey-scale, as well, because lots of people with Colorblindness can't see blue/green.

Just a thought.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The green's nice, though the black speckling is a little sharp.

^^; Perhaps a blur, or something a little closer to the green?
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing. The people on the forum broke solidly for green, while absolutely everybody I asked at my workplace said "omg, blue!"

Since this is for the Archon project, I think I'll just make them aware that there are both blue and green variants when I hand it to them, and let THEM pick which one.

After a long day's work, I even have a live copy with actual information and stuff:

http://www.libsys.und.edu/dev/archon/

Thanks for the testing and feedback, people! You all get a PLATE of cookies! ^_^
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