Brains and Sex Appeal
Friday, June 6, 1997 by Dave Winer.
I admit it -- I'm a programmer, a writer, and a minimalist when it comes to designing templates for pages on my sites. Our web management software is used by technical people, but we want to work with visual designers so that our automated sites have great looks too.
In other words, brains are great, but sex appeal is important too.
The home page at www.scripting.com changes several times each day, with new original stories, and links to stories that interest people who manage scripted websites.
We take the broad view of the interests of scripting people. Issues of humanity and free speech are just as important as issues of push technology. We're interested in the struggles of Scott McNealy, Larry Ellison and Bill Gates, *and* Ayn Rand and John Steinbeck and the Supreme Court.
Great websites are the result of collaboration between geeks, designers and writers. If everything's humming, there are a few geeks, a few designers, and lots of writers. Content separated from form. Dynamic elements on static pages. Low cost serving and lots of choices of transport methods.
Scripting is facilitation. If the software is good, the geeks, designers and writers work together without getting in the way. So I believe it's important to integrate the work of visual designers in geekish websites. If we don't do that well, we lose.
Now we want to welcome our artistic brothers and sisters to become part of our world, and to do so, we're offering a chance to redesign our bread and butter, the home page of our site -- our crown jewel!
Take a look at http://www.scripting.com/. Get the HTML source of the page, play with it, see if you can make it more visually appealing, then post the resulting page on your web server, and send me an email pointing to your page. I'll link it in for all the Scripting News readers to look at.
When a winning design is clear, I'll change the template on the page to use the new view. The page will have link to the winning site at the bottom of the page, so we'll share the flow and goodwill the new design creates.
It's recursive. We use the home page to redesign the home page. Very cool!
The home page is a dynamic page. It changes several times a day, most days. Readers want to quickly see if anything new and interesting has been posted to the page. The key word here is "quickly".
I think we can use some more graphics, but they need to be small. It must be possible to read the items on the page *before* all the graphics load.
It may make sense to have a graphic-rich version of the home page and a plain text version. This would be easy to implement because the page is built with scripts, it's no extra work for the sysop (me!) to build two versions of the page.
Tour the rest of the pages on the server, use the Directory. Many of the sites use templates that are inspired by this template. You may get some ideas of the design constraints.
We already have some ideas for you to look at. Check out:
This week's offer is for designers, next week's invitation is for C and Java programmers. For background, check out ODB Engine 1.0, 9/5/96.
We're getting ready to announce the cross-platform object database toolkit. Lots of applications and some interesting synergies. For a preview, see:
Have a grrreat weekend!