Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

I'm redesigning. Here's why.

Posted on 20 April 2009 41 comments

Article illustration for I'm redesigning. Here's why.

I first announced the imminent redesign of this site some time ago. In truth, it turned out to be slightly less than imminent; the site remains virtually the same as when I made the announcement. However, that’s all about to change.

In a couple of weeks from now, I’ll be closing my doors to the world and taking some time away from client work to simply get it done. The aim is to have a brand new site live by around the middle of May.

When I first said I’d be redesigning, a lot of people seemed to be quite upset at such a prospect. This site has proved to be strangely popular over time and still continues to receive a lot of link love on the inspiration galleries. But this is the thing: the redesign isn’t really about the visuals; it’s about the content. Well, ok, that’s only partly true – because the site will look completely different – but the overriding reason for the redesign is my desire to drastically change the way the site works, reads, and conveys information. Because of this, I’ve dropped all ‘visual’ design work and have instead been focusing exclusively on the actual content itself. Only when this is sorted will I start to look at aesthetics. And why not, eh? After all, that’s what we’re always trying to convince our clients to do, isn’t it?

My focus has shifted dramatically since I launched this version of elliotjaystocks.com two years ago. At the time (April 2007) I was a designer working in-house at a record label. I did bits of freelance work on the side but that was about it. Now, I’m still primarily a designer, but I work for myself, plus I spend a large portion of my time speaking and teaching at events around the world, and I write more than just a blog these days: my first book has just been published, and I’m writing for various different publications, both online and off. As such, the current website is no longer able to fulfill all of the functions I need, and the emphasis needs to change.

Also, there are other things; things I’ve been meaning to change for a long time. The site needs to be easier to update, rely much less (in fact not at all) on image replacement for frequently-updated text, allow me to prominently promote things from time to time (like the book, my music, a speaking gig, etc.), and above all, it needs to be tied in much tighter to the CMS. My knowledge of WordPress has improved greatly since building this site, so the whole thing will be WP-powered (instead of just the blog section, as is the case with the current version). Essentially the time for redesign has become essential; it’s happening because I’m frustrated. This is a good thing, I guess, since it means I’m redesiging out of necessity and not just for the sake of it.

If you have any suggestions or feature requests for the new site, now’s the time to let me know. Comments are open! (And I should also say that this will be my last blog post until the redesign is live.)

Watch this space!

41 comments

  1. Wez Maynard

    Wez Maynard

    20 April 2009 @ 06:04PM #

    Top reasons for a re-design – in this instance your information really is dictating and like you said circumstances have changed a bunch.

    Good luck and look forward to the (im sure) top new design and build!

    :)

  2. Kevin Bruce

    Kevin Bruce

    20 April 2009 @ 06:05PM #

    Looking forward to it! Good luck :)

  3. prisca

    prisca

    20 April 2009 @ 06:06PM #

    Elliot — just a quick note to wish you lots of fun with your re-design :) I’ll be curious to see what the next version of this site will look like ;)

    Do keep this design somehow though – screenshots or similar – for posterity. Always find it such a shame when nicely designed sites go through an update in design + structure and are never to be seen again in their former glory – could name you a whole list of the ones I miss….

    happy designing ;)

  4. Marcus Neto

    Marcus Neto

    20 April 2009 @ 06:06PM #

    I have really enjoyed your book so I can’t wait to see what you cook up for your site. Perhaps when all is done you can write a blog post about the different iterations the design went through? That would give us another glimpse into the design process.

  5. Jason Grant

    Jason Grant

    20 April 2009 @ 06:07PM #

    Well, first of all this site looks to me more or less like any other blog, so from that I usually get an impression of ‘a guy with too much time on his hands’.

    Secondly, you need to put the stuff you have done (including the book) up front so everyone can see it from the first second they come onto you home page.

    I would make the blog a ‘secondary’ feature of the site, but obviously keep it there, nicely and easy accessible.

    Make sure your services are also up front and easily understandable from the outset.

  6. Paul Randall

    Paul Randall

    20 April 2009 @ 06:07PM #

    Wow, it is a really big job designing the site (no pressure!) just because the amount of people who love the current one.

    I look forward to seeing the new design (or maybe a sneak peek), but I am sure it will inspire quite a few designers, as this one has.

    I imagine there will be more focus on typography, with a hint of grunge, but I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  7. Jan

    Jan

    20 April 2009 @ 06:07PM #

    Ohhh, middle of May! That’s less than a month! I can’t wait for the new version of your site to be up! I’m sure it’s gonna be beautiful!

  8. Phillip Lovelace

    Phillip Lovelace

    20 April 2009 @ 06:12PM #

    I am sure the redesign will be fantastic! I can’t wait to see your latest work. Good Luck!

  9. Terjin

    Terjin

    20 April 2009 @ 06:12PM #

    to really tie in the site closer to the CMS, you might want to experiment with Expression Engine. it would be worth it! might even end up using it for your clients needs.

  10. Greg Wilker

    Greg Wilker

    20 April 2009 @ 06:13PM #

    I want to say good luck and I’m sure you will wow us. Focus on making your site yours and don’t worry about the critics. Believe in your creation and everyone else will follow suit, with out reservations.

  11. Paul Davis

    Paul Davis

    20 April 2009 @ 06:17PM #

    As much as I like the current design, I have always felt it was a little complicated in design, so a fresh look at it and what it does will do the world of good. =]

    In idea for the site (or more a piece of content) would be an upgraded Starkers theme. There are a few tags that don’t work with 2.7, threaded comments etc all could be fixed and implemented.

    Just my two pence.

  12. Sarah Parmenter

    Sarah Parmenter

    20 April 2009 @ 06:19PM #

    Good luck chum! Look forward to seeing it when it’s live, bring on the late nights and coffee!! :)

  13. ardhian.satrya

    ardhian.satrya

    20 April 2009 @ 06:22PM #

    I love your current website and I would like to see how it’s going to be after redesigning. Come what may, I’ll look into it on May :) Surprise us Elliot! ;)

  14. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson

    20 April 2009 @ 06:24PM #

    My wishes to an efficient and positive final stretch to your design.

  15. foxinni

    foxinni

    20 April 2009 @ 06:28PM #

    Less is more… :)

  16. Pete

    Pete

    20 April 2009 @ 06:33PM #

    Can’t wait to see it Elliot, I’m sure it will be amazing as always.

    I understand your reasoning, I also know how frustrating working on your own site can be so fair play for taking the time to nail it.]

    Good luck mate

  17. Samantha Warren

    Samantha Warren

    20 April 2009 @ 06:46PM #

    Hey Yeah!! Looking forward to seeing it :-)

  18. Shaun Butler

    Shaun Butler

    20 April 2009 @ 07:03PM #

    I loved this one!
    If you don’t want it any more can I have it then?

    Can’t wait to see the new site fresh out the wrapper.
    Judging by your other works, i’m sure it’ll be smokin!

    - Shaun

  19. Davin Greenwell

    Davin Greenwell

    20 April 2009 @ 09:44PM #

    I recently redesigned in one evening. I agree- content is king.

  20. Christopher

    Christopher

    20 April 2009 @ 10:41PM #

    more colors would be great

  21. Sam Hardacre

    Sam Hardacre

    20 April 2009 @ 11:39PM #

    I love the current design but I’m looking forward to seeing the new one.

    Will you be keeping this design live ala JSM or doing a straight swap?

  22. Khoi

    Khoi

    21 April 2009 @ 12:13AM #

    Can you work it so the new design can give me more hours in the day? Thanks, Elliot.

  23. Aaron Irizarry

    Aaron Irizarry

    21 April 2009 @ 02:49AM #

    Looking forward to the new site!

  24. Chris Wallace

    Chris Wallace

    21 April 2009 @ 02:56AM #

    Really looking forward to it. I always love a good redesign.

  25. Terris Kremer

    Terris Kremer

    21 April 2009 @ 03:31AM #

    Phwaho! I can’t wait!

    I too loved this design, but it’s always great to see the different faces of those you look up to.

    I wonder though… do you think you could add enough negative text indent to pop some goodies into my site? That would be greatly appreciated.

    Have fun!

  26. Craig

    Craig

    21 April 2009 @ 10:09AM #

    Will it be sexy?? :)

  27. Mike Robinson

    Mike Robinson

    21 April 2009 @ 02:11PM #

    Looking forward to the new design! I just redesigned my own site, cut out a lot of stuff I don’t need in the process. In fact, my reasons for the redesign were quite the same as yours (focussing more on the content), albeit my previous design wasn’t popular. It’s a good reason for redesigning, and I’m sure you’ll do a fine job of it.

    Like Sam, I am wondering if you will keep this current design live at a sub-domain, for posterity?

  28. Cyprian

    Cyprian

    21 April 2009 @ 11:05PM #

    Cool. Elliot are you aware that idea of changing your design can be risky? Because if you will not create something so nice as this you can lose lots of traffic.

    On the other hand if you can create something better and then get even more readers :-)

    Wish you great inspiration

  29. Shane

    Shane

    22 April 2009 @ 12:12AM #

    I look forward to seeing the new site.

    As for suggestions – if you’re going to have a speaking details slidey bit, how about having it not shown by default, rather than appearing and then hiding. I find that quite annoying :)

  30. Brian

    Brian

    22 April 2009 @ 12:44AM #

    One of the reasons I really love your book is it’s focus on process, including research, hand drawn site-maps, etc.

    I think it would be cool if you document your update process, including notes about reasons, sketches, etc. and then release those notes as a series of posts or a pdf or something.

    This would keep in line with the ideas of your book.

  31. Vanilla Man

    Vanilla Man

    22 April 2009 @ 05:54PM #

    Last post until the middle of May? OMG. That’s not very fervent, but we’ll wait as long as you need patiently. What do you think about release of current design as a free WP theme after that?

    And can’t wait for working “The Vault” section!

  32. Damian

    Damian

    23 April 2009 @ 02:16PM #

    Consider me a signed-up fan of your work and I got your book a few weeks ago – but I want more!

    With your site re-design, will you provide more tutorials as I enjoy the .Net and Computer Arts stuff from the past – and I could always use the help and tips you throw our way.

    Cheers!

  33. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    23 April 2009 @ 02:39PM #

    Thanks for all the feedback and encouragement, guys! I’ll try and answer some of your questions now…

    @ Prisca & Sam Hardacre & Mike Robinson: Yes, I’ll be archiving this version of the site on a subdomain.

    @ Marcus Neto & Brian: I’ll try and write up the process as much as I can once the new site is live.

    @ Jason Grant: Absolutely – you’ve pretty much nailed what I have planned in terms of where the primary focus of the site should be.

    @ Paul Davis: Starkers will be updated for WP2.7 in the near future. In fact, I have some pretty big plans for the Starkers project, and that will form a significant part of the new site.

    @ Khoi: Yes, that’s a planned feature! ;)

    @ Shane: The speaking details will have their own (very large) section of the site, so rest assured that there won’t be any annoying Javascript slidey bits.

    @ Vanilla Man: No, I’m afraid I won’t be releasing this version as a WP theme, free or otherwise. Sorry!

    @ Damian: Yes, I’m going to archive every single article I’ve written, and they’ll have their own section.

  34. Jamie Rumbelow

    Jamie Rumbelow

    25 April 2009 @ 02:12AM #

    Great news to hear about your redesign – can’t wait to see what you come up with! I’d love to see something completely different from the current design; purely for interest and to see a difference in style!

    Some interesting ideas might be to do a minimalistic design, something that focuses on content primarily and aesthetics second. It’d also be interesting to see something using illustration – like the posters you designed for Blue Flavour but designed for a web based interface.

    One question springs to mind – are you going to be making a mobile version of your next iteration?

  35. pab

    pab

    25 April 2009 @ 03:04AM #

    just finished reading your book, looking forward to the new design

  36. Daus

    Daus

    26 April 2009 @ 03:32AM #

    I want to see it white :) Good luck on the redesign.

  37. JP

    JP

    27 April 2009 @ 01:50AM #

    Good luck Elliot! You should release this design though; it’s awesome. I don’t care whether it’s free or not, you should release it.

  38. Jason Walker

    Jason Walker

    27 April 2009 @ 08:58PM #

    Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us Elliot! Best of luck with the redesign!

  39. Dave Ellis

    Dave Ellis

    27 April 2009 @ 09:01PM #

    Looking forward to the redesign, good luck with it!

  40. Francis Booth

    Francis Booth

    28 April 2009 @ 04:34AM #

    Best of luck with the design. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

  41. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    28 April 2009 @ 09:29PM #

    Thanks again for all of your comments, guys. Let’s hope the new design will live up to your expectations!

    Comments are now closed. We’re going offline in 3… 2… 1…

    beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

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