...life can be translucent

Upcoming redesign

I owe you a blog post, so I asked Yi what to write about. And the oracle suggests 39.3 changing to Hexagram 8: difficulty and turnaround through seeking union. This, I realised, was all about The Redesign.

I’m getting my site redesigned. This – I know from the last time I undertook it, too many years ago – is generally long, hard work. Hexagram 39’s picture of struggle, and maybe some desire to shut oneself up in a small hut until it all goes away (like in the Chinese character for ‘Difficulties’), is pretty much on the money.

And so too is what’s different this time. Previously, I’ve done almost everything for this site myself, apart from getting some help with programming. But what you see is what I built – over six months – with a whole lot of brightly-coloured language and burning desire to take an axe to the graphics program. This time, I’m getting myself some help.

The hexagram-39-ish parallel to this is found in the story of Gun and Yu. Basically, I’m going southwest this time, and seeking allies, rather than setting out alone into those cold northeastern mountains of graphics programs and cross-browser compatibility. And my first ally of choice is Dawud Miracle, a very skilled, very warm, very honest web designer.

Stephen Karcher says Hexagram 8 is about, amongst other themes, “how you use ideas to categorise things” – and my site needs a new navigation system. A lot of people who visit it wouldn’t think so… but then, of course, how are you to know what’s there that you can’t find?

So after the redesign, you’ll be able to find all the information here, easily, and also all the different things for sale. And I’ll have room to add more products and services without hiding them away in ever-moreobscure corners of the site.

This blog will actually be properly integrated into the site, and so will the free members’ area (which is getting an upgrade).

“Going difficulty, coming turnaround.”

This line sits at the midpoint between two stories of Yu the Great. After the decades he spent battling the floods, he ordered the new world and laid the foundations for China’s first dynasty – that’s the story Hexagram 8 alludes to. So in this position, as befits the third line, I’m looking forward with a mix of anticipation and trepidation to implementing some new ideas. This is where I start from scratch and have a major rethink about how it all fits together.

A great deal will stay the same. None of the content will disappear, though it’ll all move around a bit, and there’ll be natural room for more. The site’s appearance won’t change a great deal, either: the colours will be much the same, if a little gentler, and the text’s moving into a narrower column to be easier to read. And it’ll be a lot easier to find stuff.

Yu’s flood control work took him decades; Dawud says we should be finished in 6 weeks’ time. So if you have any suggestions at all about what you’d like to see here, now is the perfect time to tell me. Everything’s still open: appearance, organisation, content, features… If there is anything you’d like changed, or anything you’d like to tell me not to change, post a comment. I can’t promise to follow every suggestion (you know what they say about pleasing all the people all the time), but I’ll most assuredly take notice. Clarity definitely has its roots in the southwest.

3 responses to Upcoming redesign

  1. I’ve always thought that the Clarity logo very well fits the atmosphere of the site and your business. However, the site layout, with the dark blue of the menu gradually going to yellow by the white, doesn’t quite seem to fit the logo. It seems a bit coarse, not well-defined. I’d like to see the delicateness, mystery, lovelyness and precision of the logo styling reflected in the layout of the general site design.
    The top navigation currently doesn’t quite work visually. The font doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the site, and the links don’t really look like navigation. I’d like the top navigation to look a little bit more like tabs.
    Generally, navigation currently seems a bit messy and unclear. It’s hard to find what you’re looking for, it’s not very intuitive. It very much needs regrouping. But you are already working on it.
    Mostly, I feel there’s a bit too much text currently to introduce the site sections. I’d find it easier to navigate the site when the section introductions start with something more brief, so that I can quickly scan where what I’m looking for is located, and click the appropriate link. You have to scroll too much as it is now.
    The front page that you currently have seems a bit uninviting. The top part, that people see first, seems a bit empty. That has in part to do with the navigational links to the four sections, that doesn’t quite work visually. As with the top navigation, the font doesn’t fit with the rest of the site. I personally find that the flowers don’t quite fit the theme of Online Clarity. I’d rather see some picture a bit more related to the Yi.
    I think it would be better to have the descriptive texts that show up when you hover your mouse over the four section links have their own constant spot. Visitors shouldn’t need to do something in order to read those texts.
    I find the picture of yourself on the site to be a very good one. It is inviting and nice. It’ll probably be hard to get a better one, though you might be thinking of replacing it, as you’re a bit older and wiser now than when it was taken.
    I like the colors of the site. There’s indeed no need to change them. Except for the top and front page section navigation, the fonts are okay. Generally the site currently does look nice.

  2. Thank you!

    Coloured background – yes, I agree, it’s a bit unsubtle. Lots of straight lines, right angles and sharp contrasts. I’ll ask Dawud to tone it down for me.

    The top navigation is getting revamped – I hope to get two ‘levels’ of navigation up there, and yes it will look more like navigation. I’d also like to make it text-based rather than graphic – partly for the search engines, partly for people browsing with images turned off, and partly for ease of editing.

    Too much text introducing site sections? I hadn’t thought of that at all. Thank you for the tip! (I’m starting rewriting these today – nice timing.)

    Home page – yes, it’s going to look like the rest of the site, without javascript stuff. The trick is to decide what text belongs at the very top, if I’m not going to compromise by having four possibilities…

  3. OK! I should be the last one writing about this subject since I closed my own Yi site down back in ‘03 with grandiose ideas of some future redesign and haven’t done much in that regard as yet. However, that being said, my first thought was about the colour of Clarity. I have always liked the yellow and blue so have never mentioned it prior to this. Imagine my surprise when I read the post previous to this. My personal misgiving about the yellow and blue theme is that it doesn’t strike me as very Chinese. Yellow of course is the Emperor’s colour, but not the shade of yellow of the Clarity site. Green and Red, of course, are the primary “Chinese colours” that one tends to associate with a work such as this. The shades that would be the best are not necessarily the best for a website. I had this difficulty with my own site and ended up using black backgrounds with red and green blocks in tables etc. with light coloured type. I also used many Chinese backgrounds and good contrasting type. The thing is, the present Clarity site seems to me to be too ‘pastel’ for lack of a better term in what I would perceive should be more dynamic in terms of colour. Naturally, one can’t please everyone’s personal taste and the authors taste is certainly tantamount, since she is the one that views it the most. Also, in terms of marketing, one might be more disposed to please the public than oneself. If, however, the bulk of the site is not a marketing strategy then ones personal touch may be more apt and only those pages that are meant for selling (i.e. books) may be dressed up for the buyers appeal.
    In my travels and personal works of Asian documents, I find that many an author of computer sites in China use Feng (Fueng) Shui Consultants, which as I am sure you know, utilises the trigrams and other aspects of the Yi in there determinations. I pray this information doesn’t sound too forward or assuming, but rather, as intended, just my personal input to your inquiry. Sincerely –Rand Noel….

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