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 Post subject: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:06 pm 
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Okay, so whenever I think about revitalizing this site, I always start with the same thing: it needs a new design. Rather unfortunately, a bunch of the old design is embedded in the code of my scripts, which goes to show how much of a novice I was when I built this site. Anytime I work with the scripts these days, I end up getting bogged down in working with the old design as well. I want to rewrite a bunch of the scripts and I want to add a bunch of new features, but I don't want to make the problem worse by further entangling the scripts and the design. Which brings me back to the first statement: it needs a new design.

Sometimes I sit down with Photoshop, move some stuff around, but I rarely even get that far. I know what I like, and I'm pretty good at cranking that out, but that definitely does not make me a good designer. If I'm going to go through the bother of separating the code and the design once and for all, I'd like the design to be good enough to warrant the few weeks of work that would be required to do so.

Job Description:

I would like it to be a simple, flexible design, white background, new logo, featuring the colours already there (unless you feel a TOTAL redesign is in order), hopefully with some new graphical “life” added.

- logo top left, constant but "out of the way" of the content
- probably eliminate the black line "frames" that currently appear on this site
- a content rich front page that contains a clean snapshot of a bunch of features on the site (like this or this)
- header along the top, sometimes with a context menu for the subsection that you are in at the time (like this)
- site features menu on the left side, always visible (like this or this)
- optional (sometimes is there, sometimes is not) banner space at the top (possibly in the header as the Meffers.com banner above) and/or bottom
- optional advertising or "special features" (events, sales) space under the left side menu on longer pages of content (like this) and/or an optional balancing column on the right side on shorter pages... or both
- site takes advantage of the entire width of the browser
- expandibility/flexibility for adding new menu items, features on pages, etc

Compensation:

It probably won't surprise you to find out that the job pays absolutely nothing. However, I encourage the designer to include a "Site designed by ..." link credit in the footer of the website design. This will appear on the bottom of every page on this site and will earn you the love and respect you have always secretly desired. You can't buy that. I should mention the resulting design will belong to the TwistyPuzzles.com website and would be freely modifiable and reusable in future TwistyPuzzle.com designs and projects as I see fit.

I'm pretty handy with Photoshop, so really all I need is the creative, nicely organized in layers in Photoshop. I can take it from there. If the designer wants to stay on as a unpaid consultant and unpaid contract worker, all the better.

If this interests you, send me a PM to let me know you're working on it. When you have a design to submit, send it to the e-mail address in the Contact link in the site menu.

If there are multiple submissions I'll either unilaterally pick one taking into account my future plans for the site, or put them up for a vote if I can't decide.

If you intend to respond, please do so soon. The fires are burning.

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2008 11:17 pm 
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I agree in that the site needs a small update visually. however I know nothing of web design =(

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:47 am 
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I hope you find some good help! I'm not right for the job but I hope to help in other ways.

To that end, I can't help but mention that I think the design is fine. I thought the design before the php update was fine. Perhaps I just enjoy the content (well, when the noise has been filtered out) of this forum and community so much the rest doesn't matter to me much. What I would love more than anything cosmetic would be a few changes to help on this content side that is, to me, the core value of TwistyPuzzles.com. For me this means primarily allowing a few more moderators and then the changes needed to allow content moderators.

Of course I don't know anything about your code and my desires are, of course, colored by my excitement (as first in line) to get cracking on the database. For all I know "Step 2:" might be just these things. But I figured it won't hurt to mention these as I think they are highly desired by many of our little community.

It's great to see that you have some time to look into the site,

Dave :)

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:32 am 
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Like Wayne's, your patience with me is truly humbling, David. I can hardly believe you are still willing to work with me on this stuff. I really appreciate it. The loyalty of some of you guys to this site just blows me away. Thanks for being my teacher.

I do feel the need to seperate the code from the design. If there is not a suitable response to the above "job posting", I will stick with the current design to avoid getting bogged down and move on with my strong point which is improving the existing code and adding new features. I'll separate the design and the code (a job which has already begun in anticipation of a new design, incidentally), strengthen the code and see where we're at by then.

And a new site menu would be a great idea. The one above is pretty broken. There's probably an update for it which may solve the problem. I'll put that near the top of the priority list too.

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:39 am 
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Just give us updates(good or bad) on how everything is going so that we are in the loop.

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:17 pm 
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Hi :-)

IMHO we are in no need of a visual redesign of this website. We could however need a few db-optimisations i guess. Just look at what happened when they closed the site down. I think this site's design is both attractive and functional. In fact maybe the most attracative site i use activalely on a daily basis :P I'm afraid that new site overhaul midt not bring any good. Just bog down the site with "over-design". That said a modularisation of the code would only be for the best. One should clearly separate the business logic and the gui in the design. Many things need, and probably already are, in php include files. A typical code for displaying a forum page might be no more than a srtuctured list of calls to include pages.

Say something typically like this:

$include ($headerfile);
$include ($menu);
$include ($listtopics);
$ include ($listthread);
...
...
etc ...

This is how it ideally could be. Then again i do not know how much modularisation phpBB allows, but i guess to quite some great extent anyway :)

- Per

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:27 pm 
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No need for cosmetics, that's my opinion.
Just eliminate the Meffert logo with the turning cube.
Thank you for all your efforts and time.

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:02 pm 
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I say we put it to a vote because no one voice is more important then any other. If and when you do a poll. I'd like to have pictures of what the new design(s) mite look like and layout mite be because I(we) like to know what we are voting for.

Is it just me or am I to demanding or bossy? If I am I don't mean to be. I'm sorry for that.

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:52 pm 
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Indeed the "Twistypuzzles.com" logo looks a little bit old fashioned, a new design would be nice.
Also the (JavaScript?) menu is not optimal for using it on a smart phone. (Yes - I browsed this site during my holiday from time to time... :wink: )

The mefferts.com logo could be replace by a simple link on the main page, if they don't pay for it anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:25 pm 
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Tried to get a free upgrade to the menu... no dice, 28GBP for a new license. I'm going to hold off on paying this for another month or so until a final decision is made about the design. Upgrading the old menu before upgrading the design (which could make the menu obselete) seems silly.

Maybe the upgraded version would work on phones and such... I dunno. Also, there may be fully functional free versions of similar menus (shouldn't it be "menues"?) made by other developers out there too.

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:45 pm 
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Could we not just re-skin the menus and edit the content to suit without an upgrade?

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:55 pm 
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Sandy wrote:
Tried to get a free upgrade to the menu... no dice, 28GBP for a new license. I'm going to hold off on paying this for another month or so until a final decision is made about the design. Upgrading the old menu before upgrading the design (which could make the menu obselete) seems silly.

Maybe the upgraded version would work on phones and such... I dunno. Also, there may be fully functional free versions of similar menus (shouldn't it be "menues"?) made by other developers out there too.

Sandy

If you are looking for web designers, I can do flash. I'm still getting the hang of it, but I could do it.

Also, I would love to see a mobile version of this site! I visit this site all the time on my cell phone and its hard to navigate when its all crunched on my 320x320 screen :roll:
------------------

It needs more... curvature to it. More shine, more 'addictingly' fun to look at graphics, like all the Apple Products.

A simple rounding of the buttons and a bit of shading.

Example:

New
Image
Old

this may lack shading, but I hope you get the idea :D


Last edited by SilverPotato on Thu Sep 18, 2008 6:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:57 pm 
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SilverPotato wrote:
It needs more... curvature to it. More shine, more 'addictingly' fun to look at graphics, like all the Apple Products.

A simple rounding of the buttons and a bit of shading.

Example:

New
Image
Old

this may lack shading, but I hope you get the idea :D


I think that would look very nice it would give the site a more contemporary and welcoming feel


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:31 pm 
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Does anyone have any suggestions for a new/revised logo?
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 8:09 am 
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If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

A very wise old saying (except when it comes to puzzle optimization), but I think it applies well to this web site.

Too much fancy borders and html code, scripting, etc will tax not only the server but the user's computer as well. I am a member of deviantart and they recently overhauled it to version 6 and now it is almost unusable. What was once a simple interface is now bogged down to the point that the new features that replaced the old make it very fickle and convoluted to use.

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:30 am 
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The "ain't broke don't fix it" statement sounds like a blanket resistence to change. That aside, if I accept your perspective that a redesign of the site is a "fix" and not merely a change, then I'll counter by pointing out that the current design IS sorta broke! The odds seem to be about 50/50 that the menu at the top of this screen is working or not. That's not a good enough reason to redesign a website, but there are other serious flaws that you don't see but which are there.

Anyway, I've made my case pretty clear above. To be able to do my best for this site, a design and code overhaul is my first priority. I respect your opinions and experience, stardust, and agree that 'fickle and convoluted' are qualities that we don't want to introduce here (which makes the questionable assuption that they are not already present). A good designer knows how to take into account the psycographics of the average user and to optimize the design accordingly. I'd prefer to give such a designer a chance to improve our experience on this site rather than to shy away from change. I'll be careful and respectful of issues such as these as I move forward, that's a promise.

Thanks for the Flash offer, SilverPotato, but I'm going to avoid Flash at this point. I'm a Flash amateur myself, dating all the way back to the 90's. I've come to believe that Flash for Flash sake is not a good idea. Maybe a bit here or there, but not the whole site. It's in the list of future considerations, but will come after the design is completed and incorporated.

Speaking of which, significant progress on a new design proposal was made over the weekend, and reportedly, further work/play will be done on it tonight.

On another note, it would seem that SSIs are not functioning at the moment (see the home page). Seems to be happening across all my domains not just this one, so it doesn't seem to be anything that I've done wrong... this time! Heh! I presume they are working on it, but will send a message to them just in case.

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:51 am 
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Hey everyone,

The redesign is progressing slowly. It's probably not a good idea to push someone who is working for free. Meanwhile, I have been spending an average of an hour (probably more) per day working on the site. I'm doing a bunch of background work that I don't want to talk about publicly yet, but I'll be presenting the results within a month or two. I am very excited about the direction things are going.

I realize it may not seem like "I'm back" from the perspective of the forum, but I definitely am. I have 15-20 new features planned for the site, and am planning to tackle implementing one at a time over the next 6-12 months. I have been hesitant in getting back into active forum participation because of how much time that would require. The more time I spend reading forum threads, the less time I have for actual site improvements. I know there needs to be a balance between the two, and I do realize I'm currently quite far on one extreme. I intend to continue exploring this.

On a related note, I've let two of my four accounts on "the game" expire, and haven't played either of my other accounts in almost two weeks. I thought I would miss it, but I don't. TwistyPuzzles.com is once again taking over as my primary hobby.

(Thanks for the gentle nudge, Pantazis.)

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:42 am 
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Sandy wrote:
(Thanks for the gentle nudge, Pantazis.)


You're very welcome. ;)

Twisty puzzles are surely addictive, and anyone who finds this site, is easily hooked!
Collecting, solving, designing, they are all part of a magical world.
It is like a perfect world which exists inside an imperfect one.

Slow and steady is good and stable. But I know we will all be patient
and it would be extremely interesting to see the redesign of the site.
Thanks for the dedication you have showed throughout the years.
This site has blossomed and gathered brilliant individuals all together.
Just look at all those amazing puzzles created in 2008!

:)


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:46 am 
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<suggestion>
ca. one post per week would be enough to convince everyone that you are still alive...
</suggestion>
I am eager to see the new features...


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:13 pm 
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Thanks for the work Sandy! By the way, you don't have to completely stop playing "the game". Just make a strict limit to the amount of time you play and stick to it. If you find you can't stick to it, then you may have to stop completely.
I noticed in the past I was wasting a lot of time with online poker (fortunately as a marginally winning player). I took a long break from it, now I find I can play here and there and have it not interfere with other parts of my life.

-d


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:12 pm 
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Any and all work is appreciated, Sandy!

(PS. I just lost the game)

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:43 pm 
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The design hit a major milestone yesterday. First draft of the design and new logo are complete. Further editions are required and the "identity" (the link between the design and the logo) has yet to be completed. No, I'm not willing to share pictures!

I put a bunch of work into the puzzle database code tonight, and it is my intention to get that going asap. I had a look through some of the amazing new puzzles you guys have built and was absolutely floored. We've gotta get them into the database. Start preparing your pictures for contribution!

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 10:35 am 
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Location: Toronto, Canada
Not finding much time to program these days. I spend more time commuting than I do awake at home. Solution: my wife will drive the car and I'll buy myself a laptop to program during the commutes.

Anyone have any experience installing and using a WAMP setup? I've always just used the online site as my test bed (which of course was bloody stupid and resulted in ticking off my host a number of times), but if I'm going to be programming offline, I'll need a stand alone solution.

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:28 pm 
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I have used this one several times for window machines at work: http://sourceforge.net/projects/webdeveloper

It has everything installed in a pack for you, php5, apache, wiki, mysql5, openssl, phpmyadmin etc.

Saves a lot of time as everything is installed and mostly configured for you.

Worth a shot first.

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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:13 pm 
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Sandy wrote:
To be able to do my best for this site, a design and code overhaul is my first priority.


Oh the horror! I was such a terrible programmer when I first built this site!

I've got a few pieces of the puzzle database contribution system working again: add new puzzle and the "modify this item" link at the bottom of the puzzle pages. The other end (where a moderator approves your contributions) isn't fixed yet, but that will be next, and I already have the tricky security stuff worked out. Image uploads and other new features will probably have to wait until I rewrite things. As I got deeper and deeper into the old code, it absolutely HURT me to continue spending time working on it rather than just trashing everything and starting over with a blank page.

The statement quoted above stands. I have to rewrite the site, but I will get a few more things back up and running "the old way" first so that we can start experiencing progress on multiple fronts.

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: Step 1: Redesign
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:48 pm 
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Top stuff Sandy! I just modified the details for one and that is waiting approval.

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