Arts & Croft’s

It’s the sixth annual May 1st Reboot today, in which designers all over the Web launch visual makeovers of their Web sites. You can go and see the sites that have launched under the rubric of the original campaign at May1Reboot.com, and you can see the campaign’s less Flash-intensive, more standards-friendly offshoot at CSSReboot.com. Together, both efforts can boast of literally hundreds of participants; a heck of a lot of designers have been busy nights and weekends over the past several weeks.

But the only one you really need to go see is the brand new JeffCroft.com, which is a major home run of a redesign if I ever saw one. It’s perhaps the deftest and most cohesive user experience yet fashioned from all of the various de rigeur weblog features, circa 2006: there’s a blogroll, a list of shout-outs, an integrated Flickr feed, comments on everything, a “tumblelog” that orders everything Croft touches, apparently, into a single, chronological view — not to mention a good ol’ fashioned weblog of stuff he writes, too.

It’s a kit of parts that could have easily produced chaos, but Croft unifies everything with a particular élan that has the feeling of a breakthrough. The interface is thoroughly unified and orderly, yet pleasing inventive at all levels — there’s a bold and striking effect to the whole presentation that can be taken in instantly, but it’s a nuanced performance, too (I’m not sure if anything Croft has done before has balanced gestalt and minutiae so successfully; if it has, I want to see it soon). This is the kind of design that thrills me; completely self-motivated and yet unfailingly conscientious in its attention to detail. And it makes me think that things around here are starting to look a little long in the tooth.

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  1. Since I don’t understand words like “de rigeur” and “жlan,” I’m just going to take it on faith that you’re praising me, here. :)

    Seriously, man — thanks so much. I’m glad you liked it. I’m stunned at the response. I only wish I could figure out what it is I apparently did right so I could do it again the next time.

    You already know that your work (especially here, but also on The Onion and NYT) was a major influence (probably the single biggest influence, in fact) on the design I came up with, so I thank you for that, as well. You’ve inspired me many times.

    And, for the record, I don’t think Subtration is looking long in the tooth at all. I still find it to be one of the most refreshing designs on the web. I think your clean style is timeless enough that being dated is something you don’t really have to worry about much.

    Thanks again, Khoi. Coming from you, it really means a lot.

  2. Well, there’s a lot to like about Croft’s site, but what gives with the width of his article detail pages? For instance, look at http://www2.jeffcroft.com/2006/apr/30/boot-it/.

    At over 700 pixels wide, with about 100 characters per line, I think most people will fall asleep before finishing a sentence, let alone a paragraph. To me, Croft’s mammoth column is a blatant misuse of the extra width afforded by today’s monitors. If anything is more important than the readability of a blog’s articles—the meat and potatoes of any site—I don’t know what is.

    I wonder, Khoi, are you really down with Jeff’s anaconda-size columns or were you just won over by the homeboy pose on his bio page?
    Both y’all, stand up and tell me what the heck you’re thinking.

    But don’t get me wrong! Jeff’s site is *smooth*.

  3. I think most people will fall asleep before finishing a sentence

    I guess I don’t fall under the category of “most people” because I find the readability of the new design just dandy. In fact, for some reason, I like it better than Jeff’s previous design.

  4. Chris-

    The width of the main text column is variable. In my template setup, I can either use the two-column span (706px wide), or only the left-most column (480px wide). I can select this per-entry. The two entries I’ve posted since I relaunched are both quite long, and both feature large images. For them, I chose the 706px column width. You’re right, the line lengths are long. Too long? Maybe. Depends on your perspective, I guess. Either way, you’ll see both column widths on various posts as time goes on. Maybe, if I get time, I’ll go back and apply the narrower width to the older blog entries that warrant it, as well.

    I think it’s also worth noting that my main text is a decent bit larger than most people’s, which in my mind makes the longer lines more bearable.

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone. :)

  5. Chris-

    Just for you, I went back and set old posts to use the narrower column. In the future, you’ll basically see that posts that have large illustrations/images will use the wide, and posts that don’t will use the narrow.

  6. In the future, you’ll basically see that posts that have large illustrations/images will use the wide [column]

    Jeff, You’re fast. Avoiding the grey walls is good, if you ask me.
    The dedication of folks like you (and Khoi) to art of blogging (and design) is impressive. Do you guys sleep?