Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 redesign progress report

The redesign of is going very well. Last week I presented several design directions for the Front Door (our internal jargon for the homepage) to the managers, and while they like all the designs and there didn't seem to be a single preference, everyone leaned in one direction, so I'm going with that one. It happens to be the one that I prefer as well, both from an aesthetic standpoint and a functional user-centered design standpoint.

My progress over the past six weeks has been exhibited on the wall outside the boss's office (pictured below, new designs above boring old site), so everyone's been invited to see what I've been up to. Apparently the big CNET boss Shelby was down here for a meeting with Scott, the head of Download, last week and they spent 15 minutes looking at the wall. I haven't asked Scott yet to see what Shelby thought, but I'm curious. Several of the directions we went in would emphasize a somewhat more separate brand for than the other CNET umbrella sites (,,, CNET Reviews), which would be a departure. And I'm not sure it would be a welcome one. But we'll see.

Since my direct boss is out of town for two weeks, I'll be spending most of my time redoing all the other major page types (Category Doors, Product Page, Most Popular Page, etc.) in the new design, after which we'll have a more holistic idea of how this new design will work. It'll be interesting to see them all on the wall and to see what people think.

This project has been particularly fun, since site redesign, user interface design, and content design are all strengths of mine and things I enjoy doing immensely. But the day-to-day design requests are not necessarily all that glamorous. For example, whenever there's a holiday coming up we do a themed mini-feature. Since that holiday known for the appearance of a little hopping furball is coming up (don't even let me get started about wtf do rabbits and eggs have to with the supposed resurrection of some guy who got nailed to a big wooden X), I was asked Monday to whip up header graphics for the holiday downloads page.

These are pretty cheesy, but they're quick turnaround projects and come up fairly often. I do a few of these sorts of things, another one being the Power Downloader guy, a superhero mascot who suggests specialized software downloads to readers each week. Since the theme changes weekly, I need to come up with a new little illustration of PD cracking a safe, ripping CDs, or whatever, each week.

Just so you know, these two examples are decidedly not indicative of the direction we're going in for the redesign of the site.

And then, of course, there were the more interesting and fun designs of these three features: The Net Phones / VoIP feature, the iTunes Advanced feature (which I haven't posted since it actually went live), and the 2004 Staff Picks feature. I prefer doing these, for reasons which should be obvious, than stuff like this.


Blogger ynnej said...

You wanna do something REALLY fun?


Open up iTunes. Put on a song that's like, 20 minutes long but has no sound whatsoever (if you don't have a file like this, just try downloading a really popular song on LimeWire). Then watch the visualizer.

It's like watching the appendices for iTunes.

Oh yeah, it might help if your brain isn't really working up to normal capacity.

3/28/2005 04:26:00 AM


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