A much needed Meta-Post regarding Madmind

If you spent some time with this blog in the last few weeks you surely spotted all the small and big changes that occurred on this site. From new taglines to constant design changes it had everything. And although this blog is about movies of any kind I simply need to write my experiences down to get back to business and to help you prevent the same design mistakes I did.

The worst thing that can happen to a blogger or anyone else is the “shift of essentials” as I called it in one of my old 3D tutorials, before I went to movie blogging. It means that someone looses the overall goal and focuses on details that might be important for him but not for anyone else or the overall result.

Design ≠ Content

Basically, this “shift of essentials” happened to me in the last few weeks regarding this movie blog. Instead of writing good articles and posts (which is the content) I focused on the design aspect of this site (which is the presentation of content). Instead of thinking about the visions of this site, I changed colors, moved things around and anything else that was not textual.

Basically I was in a vicious circle of design, as I constantly changed everything, starting over again and again because I never was happy with the results. The reason for this is the fact that I consider myself a “wannabe designer”, the worst kind of combination one can come up with. It’s those people who have enough “knowledge” and gut-feeling to see that something is not right, not fitting, but lack any kind of background knowledge to solve the problems once and for all.

Change you can

Although this problem was obvious to me, I kept thinking that with the next design iteration I would be able to finish this process.

Yeah, sure!

It took me basically three iterations to acknowledge I had to stop doing this and focus on the thing that is important: writing.

What did I do to break this circle? I changed my design strategy: instead of being Mr. Genius Of Design, I admitted my defeat and simply searched for a theme on the various design sites on the internet. The one I found formed the basis of the current theme. The great thing about was the incredible speed with which I added modifications and “improvements” to the theme.

Some Closing Tips

So, basically I have learned this big lesson during the last weeks of chaos: don’t think you’re a designer unless you are a designer. Don’t waste your time designing everything on your own. Download a theme and perhaps modify it. The results are way better than anything you could come up with.

To close this post I present you a small list of things I have noted during the various design stages:

  • For the love of god use images. This goes for minimalistic themes especially
  • Details are as important as the overall impression
  • Vast empty spaces need some spots of “chaos” to counter the emptiness
  • But don’t pack too much into your site. The more chaos the worse.
  • Big is not always good
  • Use contrasts. If you have much white, add black to it so it doesn’t become boring
  • Find a visual hierarchy from bigger to smaller and stick with it
  • Forms with a standard design are functional but horrible to look at. A custom search bar is a chance to shine
  • Fewer colors are better than a rainbow of them. But no colors whatsoever are as bad because it lacks interesting spots for your eyes
  • Small differences from the norm (=standard) can result in impressive visuals

Boy, it’s a good feeling to have written down all the things that nagged me. Now, I can finally move on and write about movies again.

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