For the last two months or so I've been working on redesigning the Stop Junk Mail website. Here's how it looks viewed in Firefox on Ubuntu:
So, what's changed?
- The design is much more minimalist. A single column layout using only three colours: white for the background, black text, and red for any links. The unofficial logo is now a postman on a bicycle, with an enormous back of junk post on his carrier.
- The design has changed from being 'pixel precise' to being 'fluid' - change the size of your browser window and you'll see what that means. The layout should look fine on large screens and smart phones alike (it can be scaled down to a width of 800px), although I'm aware of some issues with Android phones. These are on the to-do list.
- There are less items in the navigation bar at the top. This is an attempt to make the site less cluttered. Apart from the home page the only really popular sections are the Guide and the Sticker shop. Putting lots of items in the main navigation bar doesn't really add anything. Plus, having just the name of the site and a couple of links before the content makes the site more friendly for text and speech browsers. For example, here's how the home page looks in the Elinks text-based web browser:
- A contextual navigation bar has been added to the bottom of the screen; the links in this bar are (hopefully) relevant to the page you're on. The same navigation bar also includes a Google search box. This navigation area largely exists as compensation for leaving out as many items as possible from the main navigation bar at the top.
- You can now also find relevant information via 'labels'. They work exactly like the labels on this blog; if you're reading something about a specific topic - Royal Mail, say - and you want to find more articles labelled 'Royal Mail' you can now request a page with relevant links.
- Support for Internet Explorer 6 has been dropped. The issue here is that IE6 is nearly ten years old and has always had very poor support for web coding standards. I reckon it's just not feasible to keep creating separate bits of code for IE6 - even Microsoft recognises the browser needs to be killed off. Currently, about 4% of visitors to the site use IE6. If you're amongst them I recommend installing Firefox, Chrome, Opera, K-Meleon, or just any browser that's not Internet Explorer.
- Most texts have been rewritten. This is partly to bring information up to date again, partly to correct spelling and grammar errors. I'm sure there are still heaps of errors - English is my second language and I'm slightly dyslexic. I have to console myself with the thought that there are less errors now. As an aside, help with editing texts is always welcome; drop me an e-mail if you're a language purist with time on your hands :).
- The new contact form is much more user-friendly. There's more space to say what you got to say, and you no longer have to enter an e-mail address if you prefer not to. The spam protection has also changed. Instead of entering what letters you see on a distorted image you are now presented with a simple maths test:
- There are two new applications: the Wishing Tree and Dr Junk Buster. Both are still in beta-mode; I'll write some more about them later. In the meantime, feedback is welcome.
- Also new is the Manifesto. It's rather detailed but sets out clearly what Stop Junk Mail is hoping to achieve.
- The site has remained a Facebook / Twitter / Whatnot free zone.
- Information, in particular in the Guide, needs to be presented in alternative ways. The Wishing Tree and Dr Junk Buster are a start but more needs to be done. Few people are willing to read long pages with information; it's just not what people do on the internet. Which is not to say that texts will be shortened. The aim of Stop Junk Mail has always been to give complete information.
- Some pages are out of date, and new content needs to be added. The Facts page, for instance, is in desperate need of an update.
- The navigation needs improving. It's easy to look track of where on the website you are.
It's still pretty much an ongoing project; various changes will be made over the next couple months.