Web Site Undesign

Web Site Undesign

Live Updates In Progress!

The old site was based on a modification of the default Movable Type template, which I moved to WordPress 1.1 over a year ago. At the time I wasn’t thinking about advertising at all, so the dimensions of the old site didn’t take banners into account.

While it would be cool to redesign the site more carefully, it’s also true that time is money. A quick facelift to make the old site “ad unit friendly” gets me going now.

There are standard ad banner sizes, which are apparently based around proportions that work well on an 800×600 browser. My original layout was not dimensioned with this in mind at all, so I’ve had to widen the overall layout to accept three standard banner sizes:

  • the 728 x 90 Leaderboard
  • the 468 x 60 Full Banner
  • the 234 x 60 Half Banner

These correspond to the Google AdSense formats I want to use, so hopefully they will integrate nicely into the layout.

I tried a few of the ads just see what they look like, but the only place I liked them was at the bottom of the page, which of course is a terrible place for an ad :-) Tomorrow I’ll try the in-line ads using one of the WordPress AdSense plugins in selected posts. You can sign up for AdSense to play along at home by using the referral button to the right. Full disclosure: if you sign up through that link, I get a spiff! :-)

I never liked the cluttered appearance of the old site, so it’s nice to try something all white. The typography is still broken in places, the HTML and CSS is a mess, and some of the thumbnails have broken, but overall this is a significant step forward. Now that I’m looking at the templates again, it’ll be easier to add more features to the site.

FOLLOWUP POST: 2 Days and 28 Pixels Later


  1. Andrew Hamann 14 years ago

    Its looking pretty nice mate. Simple is always very good. And it is a redesign (or as you call it, an “undesign”), it is a realign… ;-)

    Yea, so I read ALA. Sue me. :-p


  2. Beth 14 years ago

    I like the new look!  One of my favorite things about your site was the rotating banner image, I hope when you’re all through you’ll hang onto that.

  3. Benedict 14 years ago

    Yep, definately an improvement. My site seems to get more sparse whenever I work on it, not through conscious effort, but simply because experiencing it day-to-day reveals just what’s necessary and what’s superfluous. Actually, I find it’s an exhilirating experience: burning away the old dead wood. Hope you get a similar sense of elation from your ‘undesign’ (personally I think ‘undesigning’ is the very essence of design, but I’m not exactly noted for my addiction to bright colours and shiny widgets).

  4. Cliff 14 years ago

    I like the cleaner look. However, I liked the manner in which the large banner image with yourt photographs would fill edge to edge.  Im not sure I like the rounded corners in this design. Your extreme cropping gave your photos a lot of visual power.  – just my .02

  5. Dave 14 years ago

    Andrew: Thanks! I read ALA occassionally…I should probably start reading it more often if I am going to do more web work. Don’t want to, but what I do end up doing I should do well.

    Beth: Glad you like it! I’m still not sure how big I should make the banner images, so I’ll probably be playing around with sizes and the secondary level of navigation. I’ll definitely be bringing back the rotating banners. I should probably get out there and take more pictures.

    Benedict: That’s a great observation… I have been thinking about a redesign for months, as my understanding of my site and the readership has improved. I dig the “undesigning” being the very essence of design too… when I think of “design”, I tend to think of the associated busywork and cruft. It was nice to not actually think about Design with a Big D and just make something that worked along simple principles.

    Cliff: That’s an interesting perspective, that extreme cropping == visual power. I’ll give that a try and see how it looks. I’d like to do something other than rounded rectangle…it’s so WordPress 1.5 :-) Rounded Rectangles are a crutch of screen designers, much like the gradient fill was back in the 90s :-)

  6. Dave 14 years ago

    Now I just have to get rid of this annoying FLASHING of the background.

  7. Jeff 14 years ago

    Looks good, Dave.  This is a timely post for me, and the link to the WP AdSense plugin stuff was needed.  Thanks.

  8. Matt Jones 14 years ago

    Awesome site Dave! I’m working on a redesign for my own site so this makes me want to get it done quicker. I too like the simple and clean look of it and I hope you can add the rotating banner at the top.

  9. Ahmad Zaki 14 years ago

    Looks nice and very simple design. I love it!

  10. Dave 14 years ago

    Thanks Matt, Ahmad!

    This is proving to be a more interesting design problem than I thought it would be. I need to make a SECOND adjustment to the design so embedded ads actually look decent.

  11. Jeff 14 years ago

    “You can place up to three ad units per page (in addition to one link unit and one referral button per product).”


  12. Dave 14 years ago

    I don’t think I’m exceeding the limit. Am I?

    I’m planning on leaving the home page alone…I don’t like seeing ads on it. However, as soon as you go to an archive page, you’ll get a banner across the top.

    Currently, the way I have it set up is to show one banner at the top on archive and single-post pages. I also embed up to 2 additional ad units on single-post pages only, on selected articles with a good focus.