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New homepage design

Recommend Site Improvements

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Edited: Oct 22, 2008, 11:09pm Top

Continued, sort of, from http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=47219

A local designer did up a redo of the home page. The main thing was to redesign the "bottom" part. She also did a redo of the top part. Hit "hide notes" to get rid of the yellow notes. Also hit UPDATE: These are no longer the most current ones. Message 298—yes, two-hundred and ninety-eight—has the most recent versions by Alana.

Please note that Alana is playing with designs--coming up with ideas that could inform the final design. She's not deciding on functionality, so stop worrying that she's killed your favorite feature because it's not mentioned in her designs. Besides, killing beloved features is my job!

Oct 10, 2008, 3:47pm Top

Fixed width makes baby pandas cry.

Oct 10, 2008, 3:48pm Top

>2 DaynaRT:

I agree. Kittens die too.

Oct 10, 2008, 3:55pm Top

I actually got a little bit of a headache looking at the first one. Maybe the contrast of so much really dark border with the white?

Oct 10, 2008, 3:59pm Top

What's with the funeral band, and the lime green, and the over-sized row of media outlets (presumably linking to positive LT blurb) along the bottom? Yes, the home page is in desperate need of revamping. No, this is not the solution, to my eyes at least.


Oct 10, 2008, 4:00pm Top

I like your redesign better, Tim. This feels very cluttered and...corporate. It's not friendly and welcoming.

Edited: Oct 10, 2008, 4:12pm Top

Edited for niceness:

No logo? I thought the logo was one of the things you didn't want to change, and I don't see even the name of the site -- is it going to be there, in that black box that's now hidden by "Protonotes"?

I don' t like the black outline.

Ads??? Are those there now, for non-logged-in-users, and I just don't see them because I almost never log out?

Oh, I see, those are supposed to be links to positive coverage. That wasn't at all obvious to me, without some context. I bet I can't be the only person to think that, though.

The green sign-in box is now out-of-place in terms of color, too.

I liked the intermediate version better (other than the black outline); at least it still has the logo!

Oct 10, 2008, 4:05pm Top

Please, no!

LibraryThing should feel like home, and not like a fancy designer hotel where people mostly stay to be able to say they stayed there. (and only one night at that.)

Oct 10, 2008, 4:09pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Oct 10, 2008, 4:11pm Top

I've never been one who thought that LT needed a redesign, but judging from the many sites I frequent, the rest of the world does not agree with my design tastes.

That being said, I think that option #1 will be much more successful at attracting the type of people who say that they chose Shelfari because it looks nicer. (Though yes, I could do without the lime green.)

Edited: Oct 10, 2008, 4:11pm Top

>7 lorax:

I think you're not seeing something. The logo is there.

>9 countrylife:

That was thumper.

Oct 10, 2008, 4:12pm Top

#11: In option #1, I don't see the LT logo. It seems to be covered by the "ProtoNotes" bar. Whatever that is.

Edited: Oct 10, 2008, 4:13pm Top

The logo is hidden behind that protonotes bar. I didn't see it at first, either.

Edit: You can get move the bar by clicking the arrow on the right.

Oct 10, 2008, 4:13pm Top

It seem stark to me, but reasonably organized and clutter-free. hard to reconcile the two, I realize, but someone must be able to.

The 'what's on your bookshelf' tagline is too close to the capitol one 'what's in your wallet' thing for comfort. Maybe it's what you're going for, but I find it a bit "me too", if you know what I mean.

The first one has a more blogger type feel to it and the second is starker still. Feels unprofessional somehow...like someone's first go round which it clearly is and will improve.

Hmm...I rambled too much to make sense, didn't I?

Oct 10, 2008, 4:13pm Top

OK, I see how to make the bar go away. Can't say I like the thing.

Oct 10, 2008, 4:17pm Top

I must have missed the "what's on your bookshelf". That goes more with book swapping site whatsonmybookshelf.com, to me at least.

Edited: Oct 10, 2008, 4:23pm Top

I'm with everyone on this one. The Designer page doesn't work. (The "intermediate" response doesn't help it.)

If the home page had looked like the first option when I found LT a year and a half ago, I don't think I would have looked around long enough to decide to stay. It looks too commercial.

Edited to add:
I really don't like having those logos at the bottom of the page: they make it look even more commercial. If for some strange reason beyond my comprehension, logos must be used for an LT-in-the-news thing, they should be much smaller, and have a header saying why they're there.

Oct 10, 2008, 4:28pm Top

Yeah, much too corporate-looking for me, especially with those logos toward the bottom. And the dark blue surrounding everything seems like a huge waste of space.

Oct 10, 2008, 4:28pm Top


Oh, I see. It was behind the black bar. Much better.

Oct 10, 2008, 4:36pm Top

For the record, "What's on your bookshelf?" has been out motto for a year or so. It's on the current home page.

Oct 10, 2008, 4:38pm Top

>20 timspalding:
Ah, I never see it then.

Oct 10, 2008, 5:05pm Top

Ick. No. NO. I agree with everyone else. The protonotes thing is just horrible, the whole look is waaaaay to corporate and anti-personal, it definitely is NOT LibraryThing.

Oct 10, 2008, 5:05pm Top

ummm...I REALLY like the first one...but not the intermediate one.

I wonder if a less zoomed version of the books in the banner might make it a little more obvious from first glance what it is?

No problem with the green sign in box...but I thought the yellow/gold search box seemed out of place, kind of like it was just thrown on as an afterthought rather then part of the whole design.

Oct 10, 2008, 5:12pm Top

edited for niceness: yuck.

and the stuff at the bottom looks like ads to me, to.

Edited: Oct 10, 2008, 5:16pm Top

>24 gwernin:
Exactly. I can deal with small, unobtrusive (text-based) ads, so long as they're placed unobtrusively. the stuff at the bottom looks like precisely the kind of logo-y ads I do not want to see on LT. They're too much like banner ads.

Oct 10, 2008, 5:18pm Top

Yeah, not too happy with either of them; #1 looks very commercial, like this is a site that is there to sell you something. Something book-related, yes, but selling.

Oct 10, 2008, 5:27pm Top

Oct 10, 2008, 5:52pm Top

>24 gwernin: and 25
The logos on the bottom aren't meant to be ads - rather, they're publications that have written about LT, given us awards, etc.

Oct 10, 2008, 6:03pm Top

>28 ablachly: I think we (at least I) understand they're not ads. But they *look* like ads. Maybe if they were in smaller fonts, and had a bit of a quote with them, the reaction would be different.

Edited: Oct 10, 2008, 6:04pm Top

What I like:
1. It's eye catching.
2. It focuses on just what LibraryThing is without too many added sentences too close by the main sentence.
3. The mouse-overs on the books invite more close exploration right away.

What I don't like:
1. It doesn't look like LibraryThing.
2. The organizations listed on the bottom of the page at first glance look like paid advertisements.
3. Black is such a stark, oppressive color.

Oct 10, 2008, 6:07pm Top

28> I think that if you have to explain they aren't ads, you may want to rethink that part of the design -- as gwernin said, they look like ads (enough so that I thought that's what they were, too, until someone else mentioned them), and you probably don't want that instant gut-level "eew, banner ads!" reaction. Making them smaller, and setting them off in a box about "coverage and awards", or some such, would really help avoid that reaction.

Oct 10, 2008, 6:09pm Top

This home page is, I think, just for non-members to see. Is that right? We will still see out own home page. Is the members' home page going to be re-designed to follow this one?

Having said that, let me say this*:-

The image of the tops of books is not the feel that this bibliophile gets from a shelf of books. It is the spines that you normally see and of that view it is the colours, the embossing, the lettering that is important.

I like the clean white behind the text but I'm not sure about the diagonal mattress ticking behind the cover images.

To be really picky, the fact that this designer feels that "ISBN" requires "#s" after it (in the search box) might say something...

I know you said not to stress about the mouse-over details, so I won't, but the full title must be shown there. The title of the book with the mostly black cover, second from the right in the mock-up, cannot be read and the mouse-over title is no help. This is currently a problem on parts of the current members' home page too.

Also, you're off the aircraft now, Tim, so I'm hoping (like many others, I'm sure) that this new focus on design is not taking time and effort from Collections.

*with apologies to Bob Hawke (ex-Australian Prime Minister and All Round Good Bloke)

Oct 10, 2008, 6:21pm Top

I think it looks very masculine. How about something with a more gender neutral feel.

Oct 10, 2008, 6:28pm Top

It looks like a blog. Like a default blog theme labeled 'books'. Ick. I like the stuff in the other thread much better - I'll comment over there.

Oct 10, 2008, 6:37pm Top

Its just awful, and thats the nice version.

It looks like a crazed squirrel ripped things up, and then someone slapped them on the screen as they zoomed by at 100 miles an hour. Its a splatter page.

Had no idea the things at the top were books, they just looked like pale blurs.

There are too many colors, the cross hatching only adds to the mess, and the logos at the bottom look like ads. The big green box is a monstrosity.

It hits you in the face, and the only thing you can think of is to get away as fast as you possibly can.

It does seem very hard, cold, and more masculine than a place for all.

As someone up thread said, this does look like one of those horrible boutique hotels that cost too much, are completely uncomfortable and unusable, and have terrible service.

Please god don't change OUR home pages, and especially to look like this.

Oct 10, 2008, 6:52pm Top


Oct 10, 2008, 7:05pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Oct 10, 2008, 7:25pm Top

I like the *idea* of the book picture at the top in the first one, though I also did not realize what it was at first; maybe if it was slightly wider or more angled on the spines rather than the tops? It's better when you get the Protonotes banner out of the way, for sure. It's a neat photo!

Generally, I mostly like the site the way it is; pink doesn't do anything for me, but the color schemes in those examples are pretty strange, and not in a good way. (Navy AND mustard AND lime green AND red AND brown is an awful lot, but the intermediate version, even with fewer colors, is also kind of unappealing.) I also agree that the links at the bottom look like ads. Even when you know what they are, they're kind of startling. Both versions are pretty "meh" to me, but I also care less about looks than functionality.

Edited to eliminate dangling thoughts...

Oct 10, 2008, 7:49pm Top

Am I the only one who likes the tagline "What's on your bookshelf?" And if I am, why are people only complaining about it now? It's been around forever.

To me, it suggests that LT is the online equivalent of perusing someone's bookshelves when you're in their house, which I always love doing.

There's not much else to like about the new proposed design, but I do like the tagline.

Oct 10, 2008, 8:49pm Top

Oh dear, really not a fan of this design.

There are too many colliding colours involved and I don't like how way too much space is taken up by the header, navigation and tagline. As a result, it seems to take forever for your eyes to finally reach the actual content on the page.

Headers and navigation should never ever distract the user from the content/function of the page, and should be functional, obvious, but not overpowering.

Oct 10, 2008, 10:04pm Top

It's clean and direct. That's the good part. The color scheme is not well integrated, though: dark blue and dark red, but then a big lime green box?! Also, the logo at top left gets a bit lost since the eye is drawn very much to the right on the top bar - but since, as Chris said on the other thread, it's a typographic atrocity, perhaps that's not a bad thing ;) Oh, and I agree with all the complaints about the big logos across the bottom looking too much like ads.

Oct 10, 2008, 10:10pm Top

Well, despite saying in the other thread that I thought a redesign was a good idea, I might take it back now. These designs look too corporate and lacking in personality. If I happened upon the site in passing while surfing, I wouldn't stop. It reminds me of one of those shell advertising sites you sometimes get when you misspell a URL, i.e. not a real site. Sorry.

Also, far too much wasted screen space, advertising labels (so it looks anyway), "block" shaping, no nice lines for your eyes to follow, etc. But maybe if you just take out the dark navy and change it to something muted and light it would look better.

Oct 10, 2008, 10:25pm Top

not a fan of either design...

don't like the dark coloring

don't like the overly large logos at the bottom..

Something good to say about the prototype? it is different

but I'm "fine" with the homepage the way that it is... subtle, not "in your face"

I wouldn't "like" LT with bold colors... but that's just my taste & my opinion... FWIW

Oct 10, 2008, 10:35pm Top

I agree with alot of what has already been said. I like the idea of the books along the top, but until someone said that's what they were I didn't really notice them. The new links along the bottom, ditto, thought they were ads. The biggest issue I have though, is the ugly lime green log in box. It looks like the entire page was designed, somone then realized oh no, I forgot the most important part and just slapped the sign in box wherever and colored it lime green just so you know they didn't actually forget it after all. It's totally out of color/alignment with the entire rest of the page.

Oct 10, 2008, 11:14pm Top

I'll go towards some positive things -

This is a step towards a more dynamic front page. This is a good thing. As nice as the static photo of the book pile has been, it's been there 4Ev-AH-andaday. There's nothing to suggest at all on the front page that LT has evolved in any way, shape or form - so, yay to moving forward!

Emphasis on community adds is there, but not fleshed out or LT-centric enough. I like that the number of tags listed are there, but I think some emphasis on Local and Common Knowledge is in order if you want to emphasize what users have contributed. Definitely a step in the right direction.

I do like that the logos of people that have written up LT are shown - and while it was confusing for some folks (as evidenced in this thread), that's easily fixed through resizing. I think it does look more professional and grown-up-ish. It's really okay, we can still wear footie pajamas if we want.

Oct 10, 2008, 11:54pm Top

Echoing SqueakyChu (message 30): It doesn't look like LibraryThing.

I do, however, like photo along the top.

Oct 11, 2008, 5:11am Top

It is dark and cold. Not inviting.

Edited: Oct 11, 2008, 1:04pm Top

A curious mix of trying to blend cozy tradition (old books) with a edgy cold business look that jumbles claims, features and stats (I propose three claims: Better cataloging, better discovery, better talk.).

LT efforts should be directed more on improving usability than on "lipstick". I venture casual users prefer other sites, apart from social network lock-in, due to their easier processes and nifty features (eg GR's new reading progress meter):

If you are on a book page at GR, one click (or simply rating the book) will add it to your collection.

On LT, you click on "add to your library" which takes you to the (optional) source selection menu which takes you to the add books page where you have to click first on search, then on the book title to add it. Complexity which troubles casual users.

Oct 11, 2008, 8:31am Top

About the tagline thing; I'm saying I don't like it now because I've been invited to in a sense. It's always screamed "me too" at me, but since LT never asked for opinions I didn't voice mine. And it doesn't make a material difference to my use of the site.

I'm a big fan of LT and am not unhappy about how it's developed (the big tab fiasco just seemed like so much pissing in the wind to me). As long as the owners still want to build the best book resource on the web, I don't think anything awful will happen. The fact that they ask us for input is astonishing and they don't really have to; so when they do I'm sure they're prepared for the onslaught (we're so shy). One thing that should be kept in mind is that the users of LT are not like the average user of other, similar sites. We'll need a pretty unique look and feel and it would be useful if a designer is also a book person. You know, someone who gets us.

That being said, LT also needs to attract a larger base of users and keep cash flow positive. This is what funds the non-lipstick functionality and usability. New subscribers are the only way since that's the only time they hit up a user for cash and then only if the user wants to have more than 200 books. First impressions count for a lot and as internet users become more sophisticated they become harder to please and LT must keep up. I'm confident they will do it without sacrifcing their loyal addicts...I mean customers.

Oct 11, 2008, 8:41am Top

My first reaction: Yuck!

My second reaction: No way!

Oct 11, 2008, 9:07am Top

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Oct 11, 2008, 11:27am Top

Part of me goes 'Eek! No!' but ...

I like the layout better than the current log-in page (the three-column layout of the blurb, the books shown by cover, the fact that links to members, books, tags etc. are clear and the awards/write-up logo links at the bottom). I hate with a passion the colour scheme, the banner and the fact that this seems, to me, quite 'busy' to the eye. It's got a 'swish' edge that I think the current log-in page lacks but this is nowhere near there yet. Given the choice, I'd still plump for maintaining the status quo if this was the alternative....

Oct 11, 2008, 12:53pm Top

>51 countrylife:
Or find another "designer" -- one who will design something for LT (which is what you're paying for) rather than try to make LT fit their usual "look" (which most certainly is not what you're paying for).

Oct 11, 2008, 12:55pm Top

>52 klarusu:
I agree, it's way too busy. The old not-yet-logged-in page reads as less busy and more calming -- both of which, I would think, are good things.

Edited: Oct 11, 2008, 1:10pm Top

>51 countrylife:

Let me say that I think members should—well—be a nicer. The designer in question thought seriously about the "problem" and went in a new direction. The proffered design is not going to suddenly appear on the home page. But she does not deserve to be crucified for trying.

Design is a very visceral thing. On some level, a design hits us and that's that. If you can get past that, however, you will see that designs are composed of ideas—ways of approaching the problem.

In my opinion, the negative response hits some important points; the design is somewhat colder, more corporate and busier than I would want. But I think it gives us some very useful ideas:

1. The book bar adds color and immediate recognition. Make the covers the same size and kill the striped background, and I think it could work.
2. Where the words go solves the long-line problem of the original. We can cut more.
3. And although the colors don't work, I think putting the sign-in box where it is is innovative, breaking the static "registers" LT always has.
4. I too resisted the bottom bar, but I'd be in favor of seeing if could work if there were some labeling, or quotes next to the logos or something. If we can get some of the mileage out of the logos—LT has been praised in everything from the NYT to NPR—that would be good. The trick is to do it without being corporate and alienating. The logo approach—cf. Shelfari and Zunafish.com—turns me off. But I don't want to dismiss the underlying idea entirely.
5. I hate fixed layouts, but even if the top part remains edge-to-edge, I think a good case could be made for constraining the middle part of the home page. The home page is a somewhat more "brochure"-ish page. It needs to look a certain way, and not be blown apart by different screen sizes, as the current one is. Don't worry, it's about the only page I'd want to limit in this way.

So, can we concentrate on useful ideas—here and elsewhere—and not be so dismissive and personal about it?

Oct 11, 2008, 1:06pm Top

Sorry Tim, But I can't get past the basic look. It turns me off so fast that I CAN'T look at the rest of it. Where's the back button fast! If I had seen it when I first came to LT, I wouldn't have signed up. Quite honestly it would be enough for me to stop using LT if I had to look at it everytime I came to the site. And that's saying a lot, because I love being here.

If the designer has good ideas, let us see them in a design that doesn't have the totally opposite look to what all of us here found acceptable enough that we investigated the site.

Oct 11, 2008, 1:23pm Top

I don't pay much attention to LT's "front" page so I signed out and took a look.

I agree that it's rather bland and is probably due for a shake-up. I suppose it's a bit like a magazine cover that you can pass by without an urge to open up the magazine and explore versus the one with a striking image or headline that makes you stop and take another look.

However, the appearance does need to give a sense of the appearance and functions of the rest of the site. In this case we are being judged by our cover.

Oct 11, 2008, 1:39pm Top

The "intermediate" look doesn't work at all, but to me the first link isn't half bad. Not sure about the colours, but I like the elements and their arrangements--the top, the snazzy placement of the login box... The fixed width--well on this one page it may work. Explain somehow that the bottom aren't ads, and... not bad. Oh, yeah, the stripes behind the books are unnecessary (maybe a block shadow would be better, if offset is wanted?)

I think for colours you have to consider how they'll look on other pages, where people spend more time staring at the screen--talk, home, profile, work... Would it works perhaps to go there for paler shades of the login page colours, like a fade-out? Anyway, just speculating.

Oct 11, 2008, 1:41pm Top

Ok, having some covers for color is a good idea. The current positioning - horizontal, center of page, etc. - makes it look like you're trying to sell the books, and contributes to making the page look more corporate and impersonal. How about putting them on in a vertical column on the side, or in a mosaic, or in different sizes, or something.

In this design, the information is presented only in rows/boxes, stacked one after another. How about a more mixed and/or asymmetrical design, with some vertical elements and some horizontal ones? (The current/old design has a horizontal top bar, then three vertically arranged parts of the page.) I'm suggesting thinking about how someone's eye is drawn around the page, what is being emphasized thereby, etc.

I'm fine with fixed-width and more empty space for the welcome page only (when not signed up). I do think it shouldn't be emphasized by making it so dark, and currently the empty space seems wasted since I have to scroll down to see all the information. Fitting everything within a standard screen-size would be nice.

A string of logos at the bottom typically signals, for me, sponsorship/funding. *Small* logos next to blurbs would be fine, but I'm not sure I'd put them in a horizontal bottom bar, but maybe a box or column somewhere on the page. Or, perhaps, you could have a "see what others are saying about us" box, within which you have only the logos - small ones - so that it would be obvious that if you clicked on the logos you'd be taken to see what they wrote about LT.

I'm not sure I follow: what's innovative about the positioning of the sign-in box? It doesn't seem much different to me than what we have, except that it overlaps visually into the boxes/divs above and below.

The text on the page is not differentiated enough. Font sizes and lists are all the same (except the headings), and for whatever reasons my eyes resist actually reading the text. It doesn't help that - given the way my browser toolbars and sidebars are set up - I have to scroll down to see any of the text in the lists under the cover images. The "what's on your bookshelf" bar and the section for "What is Librarything" take up too much room, since they don't convey much information. I'd recommend having a larger and maybe different font for the most central types of information (not just for headings), to draw users' attention to the most important info first.

It would be great if the homepage could include some of dynamic information similar to that on the signed-in homepage. So, for instance, if you want to include cover images, perhaps a dynamic set based on what's being added currently, what's hot this month, etc.

Oct 11, 2008, 1:49pm Top

Oh, yeah, a dynamic element would be great--(recently added) books on catwalk. We were shown that once, on the homepage...

Oct 11, 2008, 1:53pm Top

Question: are we just talking here about a redesign of the LT welcome page for new users, or are we also talking about design ideas that carry over into the rest of the site?

Oct 11, 2008, 2:06pm Top

Well, if we're redesigning the header and changing site colors, then we're talking about the interior pages too.

Oct 11, 2008, 2:38pm Top

On the monitor I use most the interior pages look pretty good. A clean looking banner and nav bar that work with the existing pages should be the aim. Of course my desktop uses 'wallpaper' that almost exactly matches the blue text in talk!

Edited: Oct 11, 2008, 2:45pm Top

More book covers on the home page would definitely make it more interesting, I like that.

Advertising press mentions is good, but I think much smaller logos next to pull quotes would be a better way to go.

Fixed width is evil.

Isn't a site's logo/wordmark traditionally bigger than the tagline? Or the tagline is incorporated into the logo?

That's a lot of links in the footer...a little much, don't you think?

Oct 11, 2008, 2:48pm Top

Design is visceral and that means emotional. I think its a good idea to do something with the current front page for people not logged in, I just don't think this attempt is it. You want something people want to stay on, not something that scares them away.

The current front page gives you get the sense that LT is behind a fence and you have to join to get in. Yet there is nothing to grab you to explore the links and join. The current home page for those logged in is great, why not take that style and adapt it to the needs of a front page ? Put your text, but also some of the user home page stuff so people will want to explore.

The new Design:

The pictures of the books at the top are a different style than the pictures of the covers shown just below. The top looks like real books, and the covers are just .jpgs, To me they clash. If you are going to use pictures that look like real books at the top continue that with the book covers listed underneath.

One of the big problems in the design is that there are a lot of visual breaks, it doesn't look like one whole thing. Every time the color/font changes its like another break. The different parts don't seem to go together, like an orchestra, with each instrument playing their own song. I realize that you are trying to get something that grabs attention, but this does so in a negative way.

The slant of the books at the top suggest motion, like they are about to slide into the next section, then the next section seems static, except for the cross-hatching back ground. Perhaps if the books at the top weren't slanted, or the cross hatching was replaced with lines going in the same direction as the book slant (or the opposite - see which one looks the best).

Also the books themselves should be updated, they are old. Maybe somehow using the books that are the most popular (how you do it) on LT, so they would change all the time. You also can't read the titles of the books unless you mouse over them, which brings up a horrible mustard color.

There is a big gap on the right of the books, so there should be more books or something else, or the books spread out.

The big green box, also turns mustard when you mouse over it. It appears to go in the gap next to the books but was moved up, just to look trendy.

The text under the line of books is uninspiring, and you have to scroll down to see/read it. If you are trying to entice people into LT, you probably should remove the insulting - Go Away.

The box at the bottom has no explanation so it looks like ads/sponsors and so seems to be dead space.

There are too many colors and they don't blend well so its like a smack in the face.

Since you are also talking about changing the top area and the colors and fonts of the inside of the site, shouldn't you do that first ? Then you could make a front page that matches the rest of the site ?

Edited: Oct 11, 2008, 4:08pm Top

As I tried to say in my message above, there should be some highlighting of the more unique features of LT.

I've noticed some emphasis towards Early Reviewers program in the later design, but how about the emphasis for Local and Common Knowledge? Oh - and our Legacy Libraries. Those are pretty sweet.

The design push is a good thing, I just think we need to emphasize the things on the front page that LT does that others can't even get close to touching.

Oct 11, 2008, 6:43pm Top

It's hard knowing what to do, but I don't think it helps to include CK or LL on the front page. They might be things only we do, but they're also hard to explain without a basis in the basics.

Oct 11, 2008, 7:10pm Top

A few things:

-I understand the things at the bottom are not ads. Many, many sites present their blurbs/press this way. It's a bit condescending to think anyone not familiar with LT won't realize this.

-The overwhelming response is that the design is not liked (the way it is now is preferred). However, choosing to stay stale on the internet is akin to saying you don't want to grow. I understand many members here are territorial and don't want to see the site overtaken by "otherness". However, current LT design is a time warp. The impression the site gives now is that you don't care and can't be bothered.

-The proposed design looks really good. It's modern, without being hipster garbage. Except the lime green is terrible, completely pulls your focus away from the whole of the page.

Lastly I want to say that some of you should be ashamed of yourselves for attacking the designer like you have (or "designer", as some of you prefer). I'd bet anything anyone wants to wager that the site would see a significant rise in memberships (even paid memberships) with that design.

Oct 11, 2008, 7:31pm Top

#68. I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but I still think a change in the way the press blurbs are presented is needed. When I saw them, I immediately thought they were ads. There was absolutely no indication otherwise. I definitely prefer Tim's idea of reducing the logo size and putting a pulled quote next to the logo. Or even someone else's suggestion of a heading above the logos with "See what others are saying about us" or some such.

I would also like to second others' suggestions that the diagonal blue bit should be changed, perhaps to a simpler solid blue background, and the book covers should run all the way across.

I really like the three text sections under the book covers. They are simple, clear and useful. It might be a good idea to link more of the text. For example, perhaps linking "on a shelf or in a list" to screenshots of each to give people an idea of what you're talking about.

I also think that LT Local could be a drawcard if you played it right. I was thinking perhaps if you listed ## of book events/venues entered under the "how unbelieveably awesome are our users" (paraphrased slightly) section it might get people interested without having to explain the whole thing.

Oct 11, 2008, 7:48pm Top

On the logo/adds thing I too think it's silly to think they're anything but endorsements. But I don't count. Anyone doing design or development on the web, and who brings in non-professionals to look at it, is surprised in this way. If it confuses people, that's important to know, whether or not the people are idiots and—at least on LT—you have to assume they're not.

I agree about the time-warp thing, and the impression. I think the design has some interesting ideas. I wouldn't want to pit it against it directly, but I think it could become the design we need.

Oct 11, 2008, 8:37pm Top

LT is different. It is the difference that makes it stand out. Having a page that looks like every other page isn't LT- like. IMO The difference should be celebrated, LT's light should shine out. Change is fine, but change should be in keeping with what LT is. Different.

Oct 11, 2008, 8:43pm Top

I agree with mcait.
But there might be a way to do a restyling and keep the difference?

Oct 11, 2008, 9:01pm Top

I agree FAM, surely there is.

Oct 11, 2008, 9:14pm Top

I will never claim to have any eye for design but for what its worth I liked the designer's first link. My first reaction was "Hey...now that will attract attention." I was right but it seems pretty heavy on the negative.
I have to admit that my opinion is coming right after an informal conversation with one of our local public librarians who told me that the head librarian was encouraging all the staff to build shelves on Shelfari. After I picked myself up off the floor I mostly politely asked (trying very hard not to snort) if they had looked at Librarything. She said the head was not impressed with LT and liked Shelfari because of the many reviews. That was just about all I could get from her but I also realized I was not talking to the right person. This lady is VERY computer illiterate and wasn't too happy about having to do anything with Shelfari either :-) It occurred to me that if I were looking for reviews at the Librarything home page as it is now that I wouldn't know there were lots of reviews. I think if she had seen that home page in the first link she might have given LT another, longer look.
As a long-time, every day, more hours in the day than I'd care to admit to user of LT, the only changes that really concern me are the functions and features. I am so into my books that I never really think about colors etc until someone points it out or notices a little loudly :-)
I came here for the books, mine at first, now everyone else's too and the myriad ways LT has given us to deal with them. You can make it look anyway that you can get most current members on board with (having fun yet?), but for "Joe potential new user" I think you might need just what that designer has shown us whether we like it or not.
PS: Those logos at the bottom did not confuse me...I assumed they were endorsements.

Oct 11, 2008, 9:30pm Top

OK, went back and took another look. My initial negative reaction was mostly due to the green sign-in box. This was because it feels really 'in your face' and I couldn't SEE the rest of the page, primarily because that color doesn't seem to go with any of the others. The other thing that turned me off was the row of logos at the bottom. Even if their reason for being there were explained the large size makes them overwhelm the text above them. With adjustments maybe this basic design could work.

Oct 11, 2008, 9:55pm Top

*siiiiigh* Okay, I'm going to shove my stubbornness aside and take another look.

Tim, whatever style ends up on the homepage, will this also be the style for logged-in users, and for other pages? That is VERY important to know here. I mean, I'm hardly ever logged out, so I'd never SEE the logged-out homepage, so what it looks like wouldn't matter to me. But if it's the same thing all over, regardless, that's a whole different story.

And, if that's the case, and if you DO go with the pop-up scroll-over cover thingies, can we PLEASE have an option to turn that off? Seriously. I'm not going to get all huffy like I usually do, but seriously, I hate that stuff, and I know I'm not the only one.

There is unneeded white space between the books and the text down below, to where the text is basically useless because you have to scroll down to read it, and anyone passing by the site might not take time to do that.

I actually don't mind the green sign-in box, but I can see some people do. And I guess I could get on board with the ad-like endorsements if there was some text or something added to show that they *aren't* ads.

..... And that's for the first one. The second one, I'll have to get back to you. lol

Oct 11, 2008, 10:04pm Top

Tim, whatever style ends up on the homepage, will this also be the style for logged-in users, and for other pages? That is VERY important to know here. I mean, I'm hardly ever logged out, so I'd never SEE the logged-out homepage, so what it looks like wouldn't matter to me. But if it's the same thing all over, regardless, that's a whole different story.

Most of the home page is obviously not going to be on any of the interior pages. (It would be weird if every page had the NYT logo!) But any changes to the "nav"—the logo and tabs—would be true throughout the site. (Some sites have slightly different home page and non-home-page nav; I don't want to do that.)

More generally, I resist your distinction because, basically, "I don't care so long as I don't see it" is not healthy for the site. If it's good, it's good. If you object to seeing it all the time, well, it's probably crap.

Oct 11, 2008, 10:35pm Top

So are the color scheme and top header/navigation bar in this design the ones under discussion now? Or are the ones from the other thread still in play too? I do like the simplicity of some of the other ones.

I don't necessarily mind the idea of having some kind of background image of books in the top header, but like others it wasn't immediately obvious to me that that's what those were, so maybe a different shot would work better. I do like the neutral but warm brown and maroon colors in the image and the top navigation buttons. I do NOT like the blue/black background (and I'm not sure we'd want that much empty space on most pages anyway), and if we were to have a background color, I think something lighter and more within the brown/maroon/warm-beige color scheme would be better and less obtrusive. The top header takes up too much real estate at the moment, though, and I'm also wondering if I might get tired of the image if I saw it at the top of every page. Might not a cool background image somewhere on the sign-in page only be better, and a simpler header?

Other than those issues (header, colors of header/nav bar, background color), it's hard to tell from these design images what other ideas would carry over to the other pages, and so it seems like any other feedback you'll get on these images will only pertain to the sign-in page.

Do you have specific questions about the ideas or parts of this design for which you want our feedback?

Oct 11, 2008, 11:01pm Top

Tim says:

"I don't care so long as I don't see it" is not healthy for the site. If it's good, it's good. If you object to seeing it all the time, well, it's probably crap.

I think this is something of a special case, though. Logged-in-users never see the main front page, meaning most members see it very rarely. So it's aiming at a different audience. I'm trying to see it with fresh eyes, but it's difficult -- I know and love LT as it is now.

Some suggestions, though --

Don't always have the same set of book covers -- I've always thought that the examples should change periodically on the home page. (The "popularity" idea someone suggested upthread is a poor one, IMO -- all Harry Potter, all the time isn't really the image we want to convey -- but some variation would be nice.)

You urge visitors to "check it out", but you don't actually give them a way to do so -- can you make some links in there? An example profile, shelf view, list view, etc? A link to the tag cloud, to the Suggester, to some reviews? Let visitors dive in.

Hopefully clicking on the covers will take users to the work page.

I like the bookspines image, but I think the logo should be bigger and the tagline smaller.

Oct 11, 2008, 11:56pm Top

Looking again at the proposed design, I have a few comments and a question.

The frame is awfully dark - it's an extremely strong element, and kind of takes over the page. I really, really, really hope that the tab mouse-over change to poke-your-eye-out red is not the one you choose.

It's got an awful lot of different colors going on: navy, dark brown, burgundy, bright red, pale green, mustard, grey; seems like I remember a design rule of thumb about three colors? (My dad was an industrial designer.)

It looks odd to me that the row of book covers isn't the full width of the stripy box (I don't like the diagonal stripes, much, either). I realize she just used the same batch of titles that was already listed on the home page, but having a full-width box only two-thirds full is strange.

I really like rsterling’s idea above (#59) of having the row of covers be dynamic, as long as it isn't stuck on Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code! And also lorax's suggestion of some links for new folks to investigate.

Combining the Talk/Groups/Local tabs into Community is a nice idea, and gets rid of some of those tabs that you guys find so pesky! :-)

I also agree with many other posters that the logos at the bottom look like ads or subsidizers, not links to compliments. I would expect to be taken to their websites' home pages. Verbiage saying something like "See what these publications have to say about LT" is a must, I think.

I am puzzled; why does the log-in box change color when you mouse over it? Is there any function associated with that?

All that said, the design does have a sleek, modern look. Whether it's right for LT, I don't know.

Oct 12, 2008, 12:12am Top

All that said, the design does have a sleek, modern look. Whether it's right for LT, I don't know. (#80)

Perhaps a little too sleek. On my work computer yesterday (using Explorer), the outer frame looked black, and this contributed to the overall plasticy commercial look. At home (on FireFox), it's dark blue, which mitigates this somewhat (though not entirely), but I still worry that people using Explorer will think that LT is just like all the other book sites.

Edited: Oct 12, 2008, 12:23am Top

On dynamic covers, when I suggested this, I was thinking not of Harry Potter, etc. but of the algorithms that produce the results on the personalized homepage. Options could be something like the weighted "popular this month" list, books recently reviewed or the "hot" reviews, the ER books available, the up-to-the-minute "Recently Added" list, etc. It would be good to have something on the sign-in page that conveys recent activity and that changes from time to time, to give visitors a sense of the dynamism and activity on LT.

(PS, I've noticed that several of us have very different ideas of what is sleek and modern. I would like more sleek and modern, but that's not how I'd characterize this mock-up. Perhaps with a few tweaks it could become both more sleek - in a good way - and also more warm and welcoming, and I don't think those two things are incompatible. But I don't think it's quite there yet.)
(PPS I never noticed that the sign-in box changed color until now. The amber color matches much better than the green, FWIW.)

Edited: Oct 12, 2008, 12:30am Top

The page looks OK; different, but OK, I guess. It doesn't elicit any design thrill (pro or con) for me, so that tells me it isn't enough of whatever it is intended to be, yet.

However, what is the point of the teensy unreadable cover images ("books like these")? That seems a waste of space to me. What if I'm not interested, or even put off, by those particular titles out of all the ones here? Unless there was some sort of dynamic content that showed the most recent adds, it seems to be not very compelling. (I loved the brief period when one could see newly added books swimming by like spawning salmon at a fish lift- it was mesmerizing.)

Also, the text box design underneath the whole thing is bland and too lengthy without a clear design "hook", at least at this stage in its development. Perhaps it is just a placeholder for a planned, more evolved set of font, line spacing, and eventually word choices?

Regarding the logos, I certainly assumed they were stand-ins for planned ad placements. I read here that they are intended to be links to supportive pull-quotes from positive reviews; which makes sense, now. But my initial idea wasn't that, which means that at least some other people will not only potentially jib at the "commercial" aspect, but more importantly, miss the benefit of the plugs. The little vertical row of them on the current home page permits no such misapprehension.

The pic of books on top is nice (though a little similar to Masterpiece Theater's zoom-in sequence, with whatever context that might carry for some potential site-users - I could almost hear the harpsichord.) Perhaps the pic could be rotated somewhat upward so less of the text block heads was seen and a bit more spine, for a richer image?

However, I think a bit more thought about what the advantage of LT is for potential users would be the first step to take before heading to the design studio.

I am quite keen on LT, and endlessly recommending it to people who are readers. I must be doing something wrong, because I find it just doesn't connect somehow. (And even though I don't use the so-called social features, I faithfully flog them to all since I know I am not typical of most users.) But even with that potentially huge, desirable, utility I find it's slow going getting people to even check out the site. Somehow, a book cataloging site seems to miss the mark. Maybe it just seems dull, or like too much work, or just not jazzy enough. Even for people I know who are keen, constant readers, I have trouble getting traction for the idea.

I work as a consultant advising companies on marketing and branding strategies so this is my field, but I'll be switched if I have made much progress solving this puzzle. I adore LT as a special, out of the ordinary, place that appeals to me, but that doesn't translate too well for other potential users.

What's fun about LT? I'm not convinced there is a vast, untapped pool of potential users who will get a kick out ennumerating their books. The most vigorous, positive, response I get in proselytizing for LT is that "you can find books you didn't even know existed by checking out other people who have libraries similar to yours." That seems to excite some people. But I've had some feedback that the potential doesn't work out as well as it was promised. This is, I think, partly because of the complexity of the site design making it too hard to figure out how to get to that particular piece of cheese, and partly because the whole recommendation tool is still seriously erratic. (We, who are already LT devotees may find it endearing to report some of the off-the-wall reco pairings, but new users may just think it's useless and bizarre.)

How many people, IRL, actually get a kick out of enumerating all their books? There is obviously a constituency of people who do, given the number of new users who arrive with their own homecooked dBs, but aside from these folks and others with mild, sub-clinical, OCD, who else wants to do this?

Computers and the internet and LT have made all this easier, but have they tapped into a vein of people who never thought of doing this before but when they first visit the site will "get it" on the spot (regardless of the page design)? I dunno. And really wish I did, because I find LT is so neat and I want it to prosper and grow.

If LT were my client, I would suggest some focused market research to deepen the understanding into what draws people to any book ennumerating site; why LT is different and better - though some of this issue is already visible in the responses here on LT where other sites are discussed; and also quantify the true size of the potential market for the service given that I don't think people are already out there clamoring for this particular utility. The later is not necessarily an impediment, since eBay and Facebook, for instance, were not the fulfillments of consciously wished-for uses. But once the sites were created, they docked perfectly with an un-met, even unrecognized, need. The question is, what's the unmet need for LT and for whom? And then ask, what barriers to the rapid recognition of this satisfaction need are presently inherent in the design and functionality of the service and its visual look.

Once those things are known, all the page design and site development choices will progress more fluidly


ETA to remove random characters from cat-on-a-keyboard.

Oct 12, 2008, 4:17am Top

Well, I think it's sort of pretty, but it doesn't feel like LT. As someone has pointed out, it honestly looks like (Shelfari) a social networking site with a focus on books, rather than a book cataloguing site. I think it'll be useful in attracting casual users, though.

I think a more subdued color scheme would fit in better. Right now, along with the earth tones, there's navy/light blue and yellow and the awful lime green, not to mention the book covers and the logos. It's just too eye-popping.

I think the 'What's good', 'Check it out' and 'What's happening now' sounds like a bad ad. The information below it is interesting, but I really dislike the taglines. It would definitely turn me off if I were a new user. That said, I know it's on every commercial site on the internet, so I suppose most people like it. I think the presentation of the 'ads' should be changed too.

Most importantly, I don't think having a dark border/background on the member pages is a good idea. It'd be distracting, take up space, and look incongruous. To me, at least.

Oct 12, 2008, 4:54am Top

I tried to remember what I thought about LibraryThing when I first saw it. Very difficult remember but I believe my first impression was that LT looked a bit amateurish or old fashioned and non-commersial. You probably want to get rid of that look, but I hope that you try to keep the softness.

When I look again the proposed new front page, I still think that it looks hard. I think that the hardness comes from the dark blue background and the boxiness (white boxes on dark background). Picture of the book is good idea and so are the book covers.

What happens if you change the background colour to yellow (the same yellow as in the search button)? It looks like this:
Yellow LibraryThing

Oct 12, 2008, 8:14am Top

Softness is a good word. What I want in a library or reading room is coziness. I also want tidiness and warmth and space to stretch out. LT as is has this for me.

I never like a stark white background, and that bothers me ALL the time. I find it very hard on my eyes..and usually have other tabs open so I can get away for a while. But the feeling of friendliness and warmth manages to persist for me despite the background. ( of course, most of the members here help that feeling to persist)

That style of webpage always makes me feel constricted. Squished. Confined.
I think the colors are harsh. Jarring.

Oct 12, 2008, 8:43am Top

#85. I'm not normally a fan of yellow, but you've managed to pull off a really nice muted, warm feel. The whole colour scheme hangs together really well. I think I prefer your version to the one proposed!

Oct 12, 2008, 9:02am Top

With all due respect, please not yellow.

Oct 12, 2008, 9:06am Top

Just about any yellow (at least on the monitors I have available) should only be used as an accent if I'm going to stay on the page more than a very few seconds.

Oct 12, 2008, 10:01am Top

I've mostly stayed out of this because it's just been too much for me to read everything, but here are my thoughts, many of which may have already been expressed by others.

The books at the top of the page are attractive, but they don't really give me the feel of LibraryThing. They seem old and musty and not fresh and modern like the rest of the design.

The colors used for the books and top nav don't go at all with the (to me, horrible) color of the sign-in box (which seems too large to me also) and seem too dark overall for the rest of the page.

I don't like the black background (if you have to have a fixed width, it would be good to pick something that goes better with the rest of the page and the feeling you're trying to create. It seems way too dark and grim.

Content-wise, I think if you're going to say "take the tour or start building your library, you need to not just provide a link to the tour but show people what to do to start building their libraries. Just saying "with books like these" doesn't tell them how to go about it.

All in all, I think this is a tough job for a designer because the design needs to be "sleek and modern" to attract new members, yet "warm and friendly" to give a sense of the gestalt of the site and the community. Good luck!

Edited: Dec 4, 2008, 4:45pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Oct 12, 2008, 1:25pm Top

A few additional thoughts -- apologies for the length.

On the general tenor of discussion and responses here, I'd like to just add three points: (1) Most folks like what they get accustomed to & get fussy about change -- an inherent tendency toward curmudgeonliness. (2) Probably doesn't need to be said, but the overwhelming response of folks in this group represents the hard core of voluble LT groups users -- it doesn't necessarily represent LT hardcore users, LT casual users, or prospective users. (3) Folks who catalog *books* and participate in these extremely text-oriented forums are, well, text-centric, and so moves to more graphic-oriented interfaces may not be appealing.

I want to highlight that third point again: LT's detailed and comprehensive catalog-ery appeals to a text-loving audience. So IMO the site should be designed to be user-friendly, but still retain an intelligent and serious focus. In particular, having the default view of a book be the cover, and having text information only POP UP -- that's going to appeal to a different class of folks. Maybe it's the right way to go strategically, but I do think that the instinctive rejection of so many here is explained in part by the emphasis on graphics instead of on text. We want the glasses version not the contacts version.

Strategically, if one goes with this a big change, old users' responses can be ameliorated by maintaining an option for "classic interface". That would probably be a good idea.

A few comments on major design elements:

(1) I agree with others who have noted that the splash image in the back is not instantly identifiable as books, too musty and old, and not diverse enough. Of course, it's nice as a background image because it's a limited palette of neutral colors and doesn't draw the eye, but I'd rather see a background image that somehow looked more like most readers' bookshelves. A 3/4 view from the front, maybe, with a variety of colors but with colors much paler.

(2) The darkness and contrasts of the palettes don't bother me; I find them visually appealing. However, they are quite a contrast from the current LT color palette. (Again, partly responsible for users' reactions. ) However, the "sign in" box is drawn from or inspired by the current palette, and it clashes. The proposed palette also feels corporate rather than scholarly, with the burgundy, navy blue, white, and horizontal grey striping behind the book covers.

(3) I really, really hate to see screen real estate eaten up by empty logo space. So, personally I would want to incorporate "What's on your bookshelf?" into the main logo, or elsewhere ... I like the motto itself -- it harks back to the inquisitive guest that we have all hosted or been.

(4) Likewise, while I appreciate Tim's desire to have links to feedback about LT that relies on the recognition of those marks, it feels a bit too much emphasis on the feedback -- a whole one-inch row of its own? When logically it fits under "buzz page"? Accord with all who think the logos are too large, but I think that the whole bar is too large for the weight of it. Surely the logos can be compressed & tossed in the appropriate column with buzz and "help" and "LT tour" and "LT blog" etc. For a chunk of space like that, I'd rather see a slow crawl of stuff users are adding or doing right then and there (a la the exhibit at the Seattle Public Library).

(5) I like the three column approach under the book display. There's redundancy in these particular three columns, and presumably you'd want to carefully work thru them, but I think that could work well. "What's happening now" is the best column (although I'm not sure that's the right head for it -- all the column heads need work).

(6) Still puzzling over the text versus images thing. I wonder, Tim, if you can generate data on the popularity of book cover views versus text views? Data that would be helpful in making these choices, anyway? ... I wonder about a display that looked like a series of old-style library card catalog cards, but with images of the covers? One could still have mouseover effects that embiggen and expand upon that portion of the data: mouseover shows a large version of the cover, mousing over text shows more text details. ... In terms of moving thru the cards, I'm halfway thinking of iTunes' view of shuffling covers, but to be honest, I find that a bit clunky because the amount of content displayed is so limited. So search me.

I wonder if it wouldn't be nice to have an example on the main front page of what a users' home page or library looks like.

I've got comments on specific design elements -- e.g., the search box text should be paler, verb not necessary, exclamation point undesirable -- but presume we're going for higher-level feedback right now.

Oct 12, 2008, 4:10pm Top

Just got in from a weekend away so I just want to add my thoughts (pretty similar to a lot of peoples)

1) colour. The use of colour seems strange. There are general rules of thumb for choosing a colour palette although you can go outside those with care. In this case I don't think the colour choices work (either individually in the case of lime-green/mustard) or as a whole.

2) the logos at the bottom. Too large, no context.

3) the background blue is too strong

4) the search box and button is drowned a little by the masthead image. Maybe with larger padding/margins, or in a box floating on the image it could look OK.

5) font on the red/maroon menu bar is too indistinct for my eyes.

6) masthead image gives the wrong impression

7) don't know why the diagonal lines in the cover list are there but don't hate them

I know the text on the page hasn't changed but agree that it should. I would drop the "Check out the LibraryThing blog to see how rapidly—and openly—it’s developing" - most people don't give a crap about that. A simple "Find out what book events are happening near you with LT Local" would be better. It emphasises a USP (unique selling point) and is something which is going to appeal to people and may even draw eyes back even if they don't became a member immediately. I also think that some mention of the 'data rich' nature of the cataloguing could be made but don't know a good form of words. It is a reason why someone would choose LT over a rival.

Also I would agree with rsterling in #59. If you want to be really daring then try an asymmetrical design. The three columns of text are fairly traditional. Maybe more could be done with partially overlapping boxes?

However inevitably design elements (other than the header) on the home page are going to have to bleed over into the main area of the site in order to maintain coherence. That may be colour palette, may be button design and functionality, but could be more. For example people might wonder why the diagonal lines on the covers on the front page and not on other list of covers (home page, CK, even cover view).

Oct 12, 2008, 4:57pm Top

Some thought from me:

1. The line "What's on your bookshelf" should be placed somewhere near the logo. Here it just cuts the navigation from the rest of the page and seems to be little out of place.

2. As for colors I would definitely change the dark blue background for something warmer. The rest is more or less ok.

3. Top picture - ok, books, but this one suggests it's all about some dusty boring old books :)

4. "New here? Sign up" - doesn't sound very inviting and suggests that unless you create an account you can't use the site at all.

5. "What's happening now" - under such a heading I would expect some local events listed, not site statistics... But ok, I know this is just a first stage, more concentrated on the look not the content.

Oct 13, 2008, 12:36am Top

#42 It reminds me of one of those shell advertising sites you sometimes get when you misspell a URL, i.e. not a real site. Sorry.


Oct 13, 2008, 12:10pm Top

>92 lquilter:
(3) I really, really hate to see screen real estate eaten up by empty logo space.

I agree, but on the front page the the logo and header can be more prominent. Other pages could have smaller header, maybe a bit like EServer Books collection has.

Oct 13, 2008, 1:44pm Top

I quite liked the Alana mockup - the colours were attractive to me; I liked how the sign-in bit was really obvious (because that can sometimes get lost, although maybe lime green isn't quite right); I liked the mouse-over pop-ups (although not the colour); I particularly liked the 'What's happening now?' (almost 250,000 books reviewed - that's great).

However, it's just boring, and the same as so many other sites. There are two things that I'd want to see: (many) more (and different style) images of books and some sort of innovative web design. Without these two, I can't really see the point of a re-design unless some market research shows that it's necessary.

(A necessary caveat here: I find that my view of the world is at quite a different slant to most other people, so use a heaped tablespoon of salt, rather than just a pinch, when taking my views into account.)

In order to get a wider audience for this debate, why not mention it on the next 'State of the Thing' email?

Oct 14, 2008, 10:34am Top

Ok you curmudgeons, I have produced a second mockup after my first was blasted to smithereens. The colors are simply desaturated except the maroon/wine, it is no longer fixed-width, and some corners are rounded to soften the overall effect. The buzz/press publications' logos are smaller, as well.

Does it improve upon the first, in your opinions?


I've been a LT user since 2006, have a massive backlog of uncatalogued books, and was reading the NY Review of Books when Tim met me. So, the implication that I am not "also a book person" (49) was kind of ha-ha (and provoked boisterous laughter from my mom, so thanks for that). I'm not sure how to prove that I'm not a "crazed squirrel" (35), though... suppose you'll have to take my word for it.

Oct 14, 2008, 10:51am Top

Tag cloud on the login page! Nice.

Love the pistachio.

Things are looking up!

Oct 14, 2008, 10:53am Top

Overall I like it better though I'm not overly fond of green and maroon together. Still, it's getting there.

At least you got one laugh out of our previous responses!


Oct 14, 2008, 11:01am Top

100> I've somehow missed the forums on my jaunts around the site, so I was really surprised and happy to see that they are so active. I just wish that my introduction to the Talk tab had been less "trial by fire"! *grin*

Oct 14, 2008, 11:07am Top

Glad to be of service. Book person or no, that first design really didn't click did it? This one is much better...I think the greens are a good choice although the masthead area seems a bit blank. Possibly the search box is just misaligned at the moment. And the blue around the Logo probably isn't permanent either. Fonts are a bit teeny, but that's correctable.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:14am Top

Hey Alana, 'trial by fire', tee hee! Do you think that Tim employing you is a wider reaching strategy to direct all our wrath away from him when he changes things ... we know where you live now (so to speak). I'd definitely keep an eye on him, very shady character ;)

This time round, I love the content. 'Hot Books', 'Recently Reviewed' and 'Tag Cloud' are great. It makes the site seem much more alive for new users (and let's face it, it's new users who'll see this as most of us never log out).

I really, really don't like the colours though. I'm not keen on patterned backgrounds and the stripes just don't do it for me. Maybe the green would be OK plain, not sure. Assuming this has implications for site-wide colour schemes and fonts, I have to vehemently squeal that I don't like the cranberry nor do I like the taupe-y top banner. I'm also not loving the font. (Browns, I like browns, LT is brown ... in a good way!)

That said, I'm not being negative (no, honestly, I'm not!). I just don't think it's there yet. Much better than first go though (not meant to sound patronising ... acknowledgment of collaborative nature of design process ;) )

Oct 14, 2008, 11:20am Top

I also think this one is much closer than the first. Good work.

Although, viewing the page in Firefox, the boxes are alternating like so:
What's Good | Blank
Blank | Check it out
Hot Books | Blank
Blank | Recently Reviewed

Viewing in IE, those "blank" areas are missing, which I think is much better.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:23am Top

Ooh, I like it. I'm sure that everyone will have a different opinion on the colors, but I'm loving them.

I did actually like the book picture that was at the top of the page in your original design. Perhaps others didn't care for it (I've not taken the time to read through all these other responses).

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 11:25am Top

102> I'm using ems now instead of pixels for font size, which is tricky territory, but more accessible. LT's tagline ("What's on your bookshelf?") should fit into the header somehow, but I haven't quite reasoned it all out yet. The search box could also be embiggened, but the risk of cartoonishness holds me at bay for the time being.

(BTW, my bookshelf for design: Prioritizing Web Usability, Grid Systems, Thinking With Type, Bulletproof Web Design, CSS: The Definitive Guide, 3rd Edition, Web Standards Creativity, and a bunch of graph-paper notebooks and variously-colored pens. Anyone else have web design or UI touchstones they're fond of?)

I may take the search box from Tim's other thread (the color schemes) and try to transplant it. Time will tell!

Thanks for the feedback, all. Having so much transparency is scary yet motivating.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:27am Top

104> So, the boxes are one-per-line instead of coupled up? Hm, that is not good. I'll look into it and see what's going wonky.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:29am Top

I really like this one, and like the color, bright, yet soothing (no slap in the face), and even the faint stripes (sophisticated). Agree the top is too empty now, but would prefer something other than the books from the first design.

I didn't mean you were actually a crazed squirrel, just the first design was (to me) so broken up visually that it looked like a patchwork that didn't work together. That was the best way to explain the emotional impact.

I apologize for suggesting it, and thank you for being so gracious.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:30am Top

Welcome to Talk, Alana! I'd've been a little inclined to turn tail and run... As for the crazed squirrel problem, I suggest that instead of disproving it, you learn to live with it, and get yourself a moose sidekick.

I like this version a lot better than the first. It feels more like LT, and less like some random act of marketing. If I were new here, I'd be inclined to check out the place represented by that page, especially with the tag cloud on the front page. I'm glad to see no band-aid color in sight.

The logo should be a bit bigger (just not big enough to lose its feet as it currently does). Three thumbs up to putting a nice big search box absolutely everywhere...

Oct 14, 2008, 11:30am Top

#104/#107 I'm on FF3 and they look fine to me - coupled up ok.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:32am Top

Got to disagree with #108 "faint stripes (sophisticated)", they kind of make me think 'ice cream parlour' or 'folksy' - don't know why!

Oct 14, 2008, 11:35am Top

Oooh, I really like this one!

Oct 14, 2008, 11:38am Top

110>That's weird...so am I. With XP.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:39am Top

Discovered that if I zoom out, they'll line up.

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 11:40am Top

>104 PhoenixTerran:,
I'm glad you mentioned that! I thought it was totally strange that there was so much blank space. That makes MUCH more sense (FF3).

I don't really care for the striped-ness of the background, but I agree with all the other comments, that it is MUCH closer.

ETA: >114 PhoenixTerran:, Oooh, me too. Interesting.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:40am Top

Touche! If I zoom in, they aren't coupled...

Oct 14, 2008, 11:40am Top

I like 98 quite a lot. The pistachio and stripes are perfect, I think. The maroon and brown at the top feel slightly out of place color-wise. I like the way the covers are outlined and the combo of hot books and new reviews. Sign-in box feels much more organic this way too.

Anyhoo, I hope we can go with something very much like this. Attractive, simple, sophisticated, mellow and bookish. Yeah.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:44am Top

The book covers are misaligned for me in FF3/Vista.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:45am Top

Actually, while I'm still not crazy about the stripes, I like them a lot better when I look at it with the boxes lined up correctly!

Oct 14, 2008, 11:47am Top

Nooo! No stripes, please. Twee and girly not bookish! (Been writing thesis at the computer all day, now have tendency to attach myself to small issues and embiggen ;) )

Oct 14, 2008, 11:48am Top

I quite liked both designs...perhaps I'm easy to please. My only suggestion (other than filling up the rather blank header) would be to move the search box. Either under the LT logo or over on the right hand side would be better. It looks a little out of place at the moment, and it actually distracts from the logo.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:51am Top

I like this much much much much much better... pistachio isn't my favourite colour, but I can live with it... would prefer another non-light green color. I also like the vertical stripes without too much contrast in the colors... if the stripes are too disliked, try them with closer colours to make them less noticeable.

The boxes are alternating sides for me (FF/xp) but I have a smaller screen size... but I actually like the blank space... feels "roomier" & less crowded/crammed with info... as if it asks to be browsed.

fonts come up small, but shouldn't be too much bigger IMHO.... keeping to the "less busy" look.

search box is covering the LT logo.

like the hot books/most newly popular.

tag clould/verbiage is nice.

the press logos are better, but, because my screen size is smaller, they run to two lines with PCmag on the second tier.

very positive prototype.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:54am Top

It seems to be having alignment issues depending on browser, operating system, and screen size/resolution.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:55am Top

Those of you who are seeing the search box covering the logo -- what browser and screen size? Looking at the code (and, well, logic) it's meant to be on the right.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:58am Top

1024 x 768

in the IE tab, the alignment is better for the page, but the search box is still on the left, just a bit over the top of the LT logo

Oct 14, 2008, 11:59am Top

I thought it looked a little odd above the logo. Everything alse showed up fine so I didn't even think of alignment issues. I'm using IE7, XP sp2, and 1280x768 resolution.

Oct 14, 2008, 12:01pm Top

Something strange has happened to this page for me. It is almost twice as wide. Extends past the LT colored header at the top. Haven't change my settings, I am on a Mac, OSX, Safari.


I think that if there was a way to show covers of books as they are being added and reviewed, like the home page (weighted so not all HP), but shown moving, it would make someone want to get inside and see what is going on. I know that it can be done, but I mean without killing the server. Maybe running a day behind ? Save everything from the 14th, and run it on the 15th ?

Oct 14, 2008, 12:01pm Top

I'm not to fond of the green, but it's a dramatic improvement over the first edition. And it's good that the press logos are smaller, though I'd still like to see some explanation -- unless, of course, it's that really tiny text I've circled:

Other than that, I'd rather the search box next to the logo, rather than above it.

Oct 14, 2008, 12:05pm Top

I'm on IE6 and seeing a lot of dead space. Hot Books and Recently Reviewed are on separate lines.

What is Library Thing? and the login box are also on separate lines (but that pair readjusts to one line when I hover over Zeitgiest, Community or Blog).

The Search box is directly above the logo, instead of the "standard" location on the right.

IE6/XP, 17" flat screen, resolution 1024x768

Oct 14, 2008, 12:06pm Top


Now this I like -- you've basically dealt with all my objections. I could quibble with the colorscheme, but this is light-years beyond the first one. Cool!

Oct 14, 2008, 12:08pm Top

>127 FicusFan: , #1
If you mean this thread, it's because of the image posted in Message 118.

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 12:10pm Top

alanapost, could you give us a static image of what it is supposed to look like so that we're all talking about the same things?

Alignment issues due to browser, etc. can always be worked out later. (I'm assuming.)

Oct 14, 2008, 12:09pm Top

This looks fine to me in FF/xp, and I love the way you've organized the content. It makes so much sense to explain what the groups of books are! I'm not wild about the color combination, but that could just be my eyes (or my browser): the browns at the top go together and the pale green/blue gray seem OK together, but the combination of these two groups seems a little off in my opinion.

And, Alana, I think you're great for accepting all this input without going crazy!

Oct 14, 2008, 12:15pm Top

On my screen that really small text isn't covered up by the box. It says Featured in many high-toned publications, such as...

Oh, and the search box is on the right side, completely opposite from the logo.

Oct 14, 2008, 12:27pm Top

I like the design in 98, still not thrilled about the colors, but they're better. :)

I doubt you'll get any 5 people to agree on a specific color scheme though. Any chance of skinning it?

Oct 14, 2008, 12:27pm Top

>118 DaynaRT: books misaligned ... alignment issues

Don't worry about issues like that. It's a mockup designed to suggest ideas, not a finished product tested on all browsers.

>"Blasted to smithereens"

Yes, and congratulations to you for superglueing yourself together. Another good response was from another potential employee whom I asked to read the thread so he'd get a sense of what LT culture was like. He said the thread was "terrifying."


I have much the same reaction to the Yellow Wallpaper as Ms. Perkin Gilman's character ;)

More later. Juggling infant. Stopped at 118.

Oct 14, 2008, 12:37pm Top

Here is a screenshot of the page as it is intended to appear:


Sorry for the alignment issues. When I tested it on browsershots.org earlier, the only browser with alignment problems was IE 6, which is the "problem child" of the web design world and typically gets its kinks worked out with browser-specific kludges in the penultimate stage.

Oct 14, 2008, 12:40pm Top

128> The tiny text preceding the press logo box says "Featured in many high-toned publications, such as...", but it appears that those darn press logos have claimed precedence over it in your system's setup. Sorry!

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 12:43pm Top

Yes, this design is much better than the first suggestion. The background looks creamy pale yellow colour in my screen. It is nice and would be nicer without the stripes. And the green is nice, too.

Font is painfully small - I can barely read some of the texts. Maybe I should buy new spectacles... Is it possible to have scalable text?

I cannot see the bottom part of the page (my screen is 1280 x 1024).

Hot books and recently reviewed books are nice. Tag cloud is also a good idea to have on the front page.

Edit: my comment was written before Alana made changes mentioned in message 137

Oct 14, 2008, 12:43pm Top

135> Yes, it would be very easy to skin. Everything other than the logo, icons, and background tile is in CSS. Thus, 'twould be a snap to come up with a bunch of different schemes and let each member select the one he or she most prefers (or, for the adventurous, input values to create one's own theme).

Oct 14, 2008, 12:57pm Top

Two or three 'skins' would get you closer to a "make everyone happy" state. At second and third looks I like the arrangement but the stripes do seem a bit prominent.

Oct 14, 2008, 12:58pm Top

>137 alanapost:

Thanks for the screenshot. Often, it's hard to know what is intentional/a new idea and what is just the funky browser display. :-)

Definitely less harsh than the original. I wasn't too thrilled with the wallpaper stripes at first, but they don't seem as obvious now that I've seen the intended appearance.

The colours might need a bit of tweaking to co-ordinate better, but the overall look is so much better (to this ancient 30-something).

Oct 14, 2008, 1:07pm Top

This latest one looks ok to me but there is one problem.
The light gray text in the search and sign in boxes is very hard to read, I had to study them to figure out what they said. Maybe I just need reading glasses at last.

Oct 14, 2008, 1:07pm Top

>137 alanapost:
That pretty much handles the major issues for me. I still don't like the color scheme too much, but I can live with it. And I'd assume that just-the-colors is easier to skin than layout, should you chose to do a few. (Should skins be offered, I would advise you to include an "LT Classic" skin for those who are firmly attached to the old skool color scheme.)

Oct 14, 2008, 1:09pm Top

Just dropping in to say I agree with the recent batch of comments, that this second attempt is MUCH CLOSER than the first one. The first one wasn't bad, but it didn't feel like LT *at all.* This style of this second one is a lot more pleasing, and it feels a lot more like LT. I like the little touches of explanatory text (like for the Tag Cloud box and the buzz links along the bottom), as well as the layout of "Hot Books" and "Recently Reviewed." Overall, the layout / style / colors seem to "suit" LibraryThing much better than the first attempt. Thanks for trying it again, Alana, and for taking the criticisms in stride! :-)

Oct 14, 2008, 1:12pm Top

Definitely better - moving in the right direction. Has got back some of the LT personality. I'm on the fence about the colors and the stripes - I don't hate them, but might like to see some more options for comparison. I like the move toward softer lines (and the header/tabs could go a little softer/rounder too). I think a combination of old-fashioned/retro and modern design could well be the right way to go (I like some of this kind of stuff, for example), but the trick will be finding a look that doesn't become dated/out of style too quickly. There's a certain retro, folksy style that I noticed spreading around more with the post-O-Brother bluegrass craze and with the recent cupcake shop fad, and while I actually like that style, I wonder how much it will be a passing fad.

On specifics: what would it look like to alternate the images and text boxes? Something like this:
What's good || Hot Books
Recently Reviewed || Check it out
(or in some other order that makes sense).

I use a widescreen laptop with lots of toolbars and a sidebar, and so in my screen, it is cut off before the cover images. It would be good if you could make it a bit more compact vertically, and/or think about what will be cut off for people using various window sizes and resolutions, and make sure crucial information is visible without scrolling down. So I would probably still reduce some of the vertical space that "What is LibraryThing" and "Go ahead" are taking up. I'd also like to see other ways of arranging the elements, for comparison (e.g. tag cloud higher or on the side).

I also think it's important not to give people the sense that this is a locked gate. That's one of the things I hate about the other book-cataloging sites for which I sometimes get invitations: they want me to sign up before I can check it out. So providing some links to members' catalogs, book data, other things to explore right off the bat would be good.

Oct 14, 2008, 1:16pm Top

I also like this version better. In the original mockups, I think the strong outer colors and graphic elements were competing too heavily for my attention. I noticed that my eyes kept getting dragged away from the text in the middle, so I never did read what was in the middle. With LT being the text-rich kind of site that it is, the text needs to be the superstar. Somehow. Without looking like a dictionary.

You're a brave soul, Alana. Talk is 'terrifyingly' outspoken, but I think it's because they (we) are all so passionate about LT. Take the interest as a compliment that people do care.

And I like Zeldman's book, Designing with Web Standards.

Oct 14, 2008, 1:17pm Top

Yes, much less bloggy. Like many, the green is nice but the stripes are weird to my eyes, and I don't like the brown (too gray). Skinnable would be wonderful. The layout is nice (not sure what I think about white blocks against a non-white background, narrower than the rest of the page), and having current data on the un-signed-in homepage is wonderful and would be great for pulling more people in. This page I'd stop and read and click some links if I were encountering LT for the first time.

Welcome to Talk, Alana! Isn't it fun having...how many people on LT?...giving design opinions? Even more fun than function opinions!

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 1:25pm Top

Much better. I like the stripes, they have a nice elegant quality. The colors across the top clash a bit with the rest to my eye, and I agree that the logo area needs a bit of work.

I really appreciate the change to the bottom of the page - it looks a lot less like advertising.

Thanks for putting up with us, Alana - we're all very opinionated, but we love LT.

edited to fix typos

Oct 14, 2008, 1:38pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Oct 14, 2008, 1:38pm Top

136: Pft. Terrifying. How many site designers/coders dream of feedback? :)

Oct 14, 2008, 1:39pm Top

I may be alone in this, but I really dig the stripes. I also really like the color scheme.

I don't really have anything constructive to add other than that I really like it. :x

Oct 14, 2008, 1:41pm Top

Ooh, I like this so much better! Especially the green and grey in the main portion; they compliment each other really nicely, and I would not expect to say this, but I actually like the stripes a *lot*. I do miss from the first assay the idea of having some sort of booky photo in the header (the old books really grew on me, once I realized what they were, though I can see the point of the posters who felt like it didn't necessarily reflect what a LT user's bookshelf is likely to look like) and would love to see something like that... specifically, I liked that it was generic books, without visible titles or covers, and that the old-looking books gave it a very deep-in-the-stacks kind of feel which seems to fit, somehow, to me. Anyway, I think it looks neat, and I like the way it fits together now!

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 1:48pm Top

Mmm, I like it. I'm just not crazy about the stripes, and I think the line 'Featured in...' looks a little out-of-place stark black in tiny font against the background.

140> Thus, 'twould be a snap to come up with a bunch of different schemes and let each member select the one he or she most prefers (or, for the adventurous, input values to create one's own theme). Lovely. ^^

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 2:34pm Top

I like the stripes just fine, but they did remind me of an ice cream shop decor, also. In general I think the new color scheme, layout, and other elements are friendly, welcoming, and visually attractive.

Personally I'd still like to see it read a bit more "intellectual" -- maybe a different background pattern than the stripes, maybe a slightly more somber color palette, maybe text with the images of books ... zingy small details, like for the bullets, could be swell. I have a hankering to see spectacles ...

as for skins: three cheers.

Oct 14, 2008, 2:34pm Top

I really like the tag cloud and current content choices on the sign-in page, and the look is generally nice and clean, but I hope to bring up an important factor if this approach is going to be used for the rest of the site. Because a small max width is set for the middle content, on my laptop screen literally half of the screen is wasted space. This means that the stripes, which I do not like at all, take up HALF of my screen. Sure, I can resize my window, which isn't such a big deal on the welcome page but means a lot more as I get further into other pages of the site. Right now, the line lengths in talk for me are helpful rather than harmful, and I appreciate having so much data visible for multiple columns in my catalog. I understand the desire to make the welcome page pixel perfect for appearance, but the meat of the site needs to be designed more for use. I like that I can quickly scan a lot of information in talk and on my home page, but vastly increasing the margins would make this site much less useful. I'd prefer to see blank space in a content block after a list of covers (like the recently added section on my home page now) rather than sacrifice utility of the content of the site to make it pretty.

Oct 14, 2008, 2:39pm Top

>137 alanapost:: I like it. Much better - much more LibraryThing - even the stripes are starting to grow on me. The top space needs a little more thought, but otherwise - yes. Although skins woud be, er, "awesome". ;-)

Oct 14, 2008, 2:49pm Top

156> My understanding is that the homepage can get away with such things as max-width (and, I posit, even fixed-width!) whereas the "meat" of the site would be much more fluid.

As you say, the majority of LT is information-based, and it's mainly comprised of modules/sections with very regularly-sized content. This makes it ideal for that fluid, percentage-based layout, which is what I personally would go for w/r/t any non-"splash" page.

I'll continue to mess with the widths and margins to see if I can find something that treats a large range of screen resolutions more thoughtfully. Thanks for your insight!

Oct 14, 2008, 3:15pm Top

Definitely an improvement on the first attempt which was simply dire, even we're not supposed to say so. Colour scheme well on the way to being there but ditch the fake Regency stripes. Someone commented above on the slight oddness of white boxes against the coloured background - I think you can just get away with it, but only just. I'm glad to see the box around the LT logo has disappeared since this version was first put up. My personal taste doesn't run to twiddles, so I'd ditch those in the green box with text beginning 'go ahead and take the tour' but it's no big deal. Obviously work required on fonts but that's a given.

Reducing those logos at the bottom and separating them off is a great improvement.

No comment on content because I use LT in my own idiosyncratic (and limited) way and will adapt to whatever I find. In any case this page is only met before logging in and those elements which will affect the rest of the site, like the header and colour scheme, are OK.

n.b. I am another user who now never uses the profile page since the home page became customisable. But when, oh when, will we lose the 'new' against the 'customise this page'?


Oct 14, 2008, 3:55pm Top

Here it is with a different color scheme. I am trying to stick to warm colors, since cooler colors seem to come across as "corporate" and "tech-y".


And, here it is with book stack bullets. I don't know if it's apparent what they are?


Oct 14, 2008, 4:00pm Top

I don't like the autumn colors as much. Fits for this time of year, but I think I'd be tired of it once the season passes.

The bullets do look like books, but they kind of remind me of Shelfari in some way. I'm not sure why.

Oct 14, 2008, 4:03pm Top


I like the different color scheme. I do not like the "book stack bullets". They look 'cutesy' and remind me of the blinky flashy animated emoticons that some boards have, which I absolutely abhor.

Oct 14, 2008, 4:08pm Top

>160 alanapost:, I really like the autumn colors, but I think they might be less seasonal and more year-round if just the orange was changed. They are quite cozy-feeling. As for the book bullets, I could tell what they were when I zoomed in, but I agree with rainbowdarling that they look a little Shelfari.

Oct 14, 2008, 4:14pm Top

I'd like the bookstacky bullets layout with the tan of the warm colors layout.

Oct 14, 2008, 4:27pm Top

I liked the original with the books across the top - yes, I know I am in a minority here. And I like your first redo...I don't really care which bullets you use. Not fond of the all brown/orange version.

I think both are VAST improvements over the existing home page and color scheme.

When it is time, I will have input on the text...I think it currently talks more to the current users rather then the newbies that we want to attract.

Thanks for putting up with us!

Oct 14, 2008, 4:32pm Top

The brown version doesn't seem autumnal to me, just sort of dull. I'm really not a fan of anything approaching beige. I thought the light green was nice and muted but not so bland.

And the book-stack bullets are sort of cute. Not too cute for me, but just barely.

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 4:40pm Top

Maybe, for bullets, some fun old typographical symbol. Like, you know, a double dagger or something like that. Simple and not too far from a basic bullet, codeable in HTML, and flows with the following text rather than stands out, and a nice in-joke if it were something suitably typographic.

Oct 14, 2008, 4:40pm Top

I like this color scheme, but I like autumn colors a lot. The book stack bullets don't do much for me.

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 7:59pm Top

much much much better! I like the first ( second? post 98)new one better than the others.. out I like all of them better than the "first" new one.

Well done

Most of all, I love the way you didn't take all the griping personally! You do rock alana!

Oct 14, 2008, 4:53pm Top

I must say, the double dagger bullets are pretty great: http://www.alanapost.net/librarything/img/librarything-mockup-doubledagger-bulle...

Oct 14, 2008, 4:55pm Top

much better than the first one!
The only thing is that the color of the top does not come back anywhere (or do I need glasses too?)

I like warmer colors, but this one is a bit too dark.
Don't know about the book stack bullets...

Oct 14, 2008, 4:56pm Top

>170 alanapost:,
Yes, they are. I like the colors on that one, too.

Oct 14, 2008, 4:58pm Top

Thanks mckait (: I know the griping is coming from a good place (the desire to preserve a unique and stand-out site) so it's just a matter of wading through and gleaning constructive advice, which I think is probably happening as my second mockup is hitting the mark more than my first one did.

Tim definitely has a method to his madness in posting in-development mockups for public discussion!

Oct 14, 2008, 5:00pm Top

To my eyes, everything below the header looks like it should be shifted over to the left about an inch.

I kinda like the daggers. The colors are starting to mesh better, too.

Oct 14, 2008, 5:04pm Top

I love the double daggers, but then I have a weird freak for typographical ornament that matches my dislike of cute cartoony icons used in ways that aren't really icons. (Which is to say, didn't much like the book piles).

As for Tim's madness, I've always found it kind of amazing to watch -- as I said before, I'd be inclined to go hide under the desk, but it sure beats all those times when you launch a site and never hear a peep until a year later when someone says, "Oh yeah, foobar never works..."

Oct 14, 2008, 5:06pm Top

I have the opposite reaction to the daggers: I think they blend into the text too much; making them hard to immediately recognize as "bullet points".

(By contrast, I loved the bookpiles.)

Oct 14, 2008, 5:08pm Top

Now I miss the stripes! I guess you have to go with popular opinion, though. :)

Oct 14, 2008, 5:20pm Top

177> I am fond of the stripes, as well. I was considering changing the currently-online mockup to have a really atrocious background pattern, or something uber-trendy like some sort of grungy damask, but decided I'd already put you folks through enough.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to make it look like the inside-front-cover of an old book without accidentally making it look like the wallpaper in my great-grandmother's bathroom.

Oct 14, 2008, 5:33pm Top

I like the green better than the other one, and I think I actually prefer stripes to no stripes. The top header is a little plain right now. Any way to get books in there somehow, and generally jazz it up (while keeping it understated)?
Didn't like book piles, ambivalent about daggers - I think something simple here is best. Perhaps you could go with squiggly-type things like you have in the box above.

Oct 14, 2008, 5:46pm Top

GAH. Post got eaten.

Basically, I really like the new mockup in msg 98. It's definitely much better. And I love the idea of tag cloud on the front page, I think that could potentially draw in new users. I like the colors, too... I don't usually like any kind of green, but that really seems to work.

The autumn-colored one in msg 160 is too.... well, autumn-y. Just doesn't really look nice. The book-stack "bullets" look okay to me, but I think many people wouldn't realize what they are.

170, yes, I love the double-dagger bullets. They work very well.

And I have to put in my 2cents in favor of the stripes. :)

And alanapost, welcome to the madness of Talk!! lol

Oct 14, 2008, 6:09pm Top

I wasn't overly fond of the stripes but without them looks a bit plain. Some kind of texture, maybe?

Oct 14, 2008, 6:11pm Top

I preferred the stripes, and don't like the brown shades much - it comes across as boring and vaguely corporate.

The idea of a lightly marbled background like the endpapers of an old book is a cool one.

Oct 14, 2008, 6:25pm Top

Aw, I miss the stripes! I think the associations to ice cream parlours or old-time tea shops are to be welcomed!

Oct 14, 2008, 7:28pm Top

ooh, ooh -- on bullets:

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_(typography) -- check this out; an antique typographic / publisher mark used as a bullet

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E2%80%A0 -- wikipedia displays some antique daggers that are a bit more ornate

* typographic marks unknown has history & beautiful antique versions of 5 marks

... i liked striped background better than solid/plain. maybe you should bring out a damask, alana!

Oct 14, 2008, 7:43pm Top

I am among those who liked the stripes, and the green. And lquilter - damask! I actually would be interested to see something like that. Or how about paisley...or fleur-de-lis...or toile!

Oct 14, 2008, 7:59pm Top

I like the stripes I like the greens, I love the tags, I like all the different bullets.
Welcome to talk alanapost... thanks for taking on a daunting task (even if you didn't realize what you were getting into :-)

Edited: Oct 14, 2008, 8:52pm Top

Alana, I really do like your green mock-up, especially the stripes! I think they bring a little fun into our formerly serious-looking website. The only other thing I'd like to see would be those colorful books higher on the page - so that, at first glance, you'd see them without having to scroll down. Perhaps with less empty space at the top, you'd get to see at least half of those books. That's what always grabs my attention on book sites.

ETA: Would someone please pass me some pistachio ice cream? :)

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 1:03am Top

The stripes must have grown on me, I find I prefer them to a plain background. Or a lightly-textured background would be best. Otherwise, the autumn colors are too dull for me, but I love the double-dagger bullets and I think I'll like the stacked-books if you colored them to fit the color scheme. =)

Mmm, ice-cream.

EDIT: Just saw lquilter's typographical ornaments, and they're so pretty! The one by staffordcastle in 191, too. They'd fit in with the ones used on the 'tour' bar.

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 12:09am Top

Alana P,

Could I please make a plea for lightening up the page as much as possible to make it more quickly downloaded for those of us who are stuck with dial-up? I looked at a recent version (a sort of olive-y greenish brown iteration) and it really took quite awhile to fully load. The top parts down as far as the book covers seemed OK, but after that it just dragged along. I know when I encounter a new site that is slow to download, I look for a little toggle box that allows me to skip to a version that isn't as heavy. But if I don't see something like that, more often than not I'm outta there without even waiting for the page to load. Life is way to short to watch each line fill, on at a time. I think broadband and other highspeed connections are so common in some areas that those users forget that it isn't that way everywhere.

Design, otherwise is coming together in its odd, cooperative, LT-ish way. You're right, Tim's unusual tolerance for user feedback is a different way to go about site devlopment, but it's one of the things that keeps us glued to the site. Can't argue with that since it seems to work!

ETA: A few addt'l things - first, there is no punctuation at the end of the bottom two items in the Check It Out box. In all other cases there is, so it should be consistent. Minor, but best to start to fill in these obvious items so the final clean-up isn't so onerous.

Secondly, has something changed at the site-level because all the pages seem extra-wide to me today in a way that didn't seem to be so recently. This is very annoying as I have to scroll horizontally, even here on the thread page just to read. I can't see the LT logo at top and the sign in box on right, for instance.

And finally, despite having loaded a earlier version of the same page (pre-double daggers version), and having gone right back after posting and loading a second, nearly identical page, it took, times 2 mins. 11 secs to completely load the page. That's way too long to wait if I was a mildly curious new visitor since I would wonder if every page took that long, which would be unacceptable. (And would be unacceptable to me even as a paid-up old user, too.)


Oct 15, 2008, 12:47am Top

cobb - on the horizontal width, I think the reason it's happening on this current page is because of the width of the image in post 118. What other pages are you seeing extra-wide?

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 12:49am Top

Hi, Alana, welcome to Talk! Sorry your introduction to it was so, um, traumatic :-/

I like both the new versions better than Mark I, but have some comments on both. I am glad they are both lighter in value than Mark I - that was just way too dark, kind of harsh.

I think the Logo needs to be bigger; it should be about the same size as on the current website. The size seems to me to be part of the "branding" - having it this small looks kind of, hmm, more feeble, I guess would be the way to say it.

I like the idea of having the tag cloud here - cool. I also like that you adopted the idea of having the reviews and hot titles.

The top banner on the green version is coming across on my monitors (both the iMac and the Dell PC) as a rather blah color, that doesn't really go with the rest of the page.

At the moment, I am liking the green version better than the brown (except for the top stripe). While I am not terribly fond of the stripes, in the version where they were gone, I could see that having some texture there was a good thing.

The bookpile bullets don't really work - looks more like an icon of bolts of cloth, or ribbon candy :-J and they are in colors that don't jive real well with the rest of the page (especially the pink). I like lquilter's idea of using typographical ornaments for the bullets; perhaps a smaller version of the ornament you used in the "Go ahead and take the tour" bar?
Or something like this:

My two cents!

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 12:50am Top

189> I am mystified as to why it took so long. The page is only 12KB, and the total of all the images is about 140kb... this is without optimizing anything, however. Maybe my website is just very slow.

191>Did the images I post show up on this page for you? They just look like links to me, but maybe I don't have some setting enabled.

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 1:26am Top

Hi Alana. ^^ I assume you're referring to 190? Links here.

Oct 15, 2008, 1:30am Top

>170 alanapost:

We have the Voyager library system in our library and there (in the cataloguing) the double daggers are used as MARC subfield delimiters. So double dagger bullets suit me OK.

p.s. I like the green and cream colour scheme more.

Oct 15, 2008, 3:58am Top

More agreement here. The green is better than the brown, which is rather blah, and the header background on all of these has been blah (the one with the green is better, but still blah). A bit of texture would be lovely - marbled would be gorgeous! I like the double daggers, or maybe hedera (the last lot on lquilter's last link). The book piles were OK except for color - but I'm not sure I would have known what they were if I hadn't been told. And yes, the logo needs to be larger and/or further right so that the page doesn't look unbalanced under it.

189> bcobb, minor point - the text here is more-or-less what's on the current non-logged-in page and will change, I think. So detailed proofreading isn't really necessary (though yeah, it grates!). (It's just a mockup, just a mockup...I say to myself...)

Oct 15, 2008, 5:36am Top

#160, I just got into work and checked the latest ones - I love the browns, love them, love them! Hate the greens even more and the stripes now I've looked at the browns! If the brown page went up as-is today, I would prefer it to the current one - and that's the first of any of the mock-ups that I could say that about (including Tim's on the other thread). Maybe the pistachio stripes is more of a US thing? ;) (Don't all descend on me from Europe now .....)

That said, I think that I'd like to see how this design would affect the colour theme of LT as a whole. I swear, if I had to have pistachio and stripes anywhere near my profile or homepage, I think my head would explode with loathing! But I rarely, if ever, see the sign-on page and then only to sign-in (doh!) so fundamentally what happened there wouldn't upset me to the point of exasperation.

Love the idea of skins if that was workable because then no-one would have to deal with something they really hated (coming from a place where I'm really hating pistachio and envisaging losing the argument and not being able to sit with LT on my screen all day because I can't stand the pistachio .....)

Oct 15, 2008, 6:21am Top

I have to say that I was not a fan at all of the brown version. It didn't seem very inviting, and lacked the softness of the green. I always liked the stripes, and I like them even more now that I've seen the version without (and I am not from the US, nor have I ever been there, sorry klarusu). The background definitely needs some texture (whether it ends up being stripes or something else, I don't mind) because the plain background was a bit bland.

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 6:45am Top

#197 >sorry klarusuETA I've been flicking between the two and trying to think about the first impression I would get from both if I wasn't a member and I would still feel more positive about the browns. The browns are swish enough to look very professional but plain/serious/warm enough to convey the meaty functional book-loving nature of the site. The greens are pretty enough I guess, but to me imply more Shelfari-esque frippery than serious LT bookishness ....

Oct 15, 2008, 6:50am Top

Having had to sign in this morning, after looking at these options a lot, I must say though that the current page now looks much worse (relatively) than it did before, so Alana must be on the right track!

Oct 15, 2008, 7:26am Top

I like the green layout with the soft stripes in the background and the books as images for the bullets. The site looks more professional in this one, while it still has that warm, cozy feel that Librarything has right now. And: it looks very good from a usability point of view too!
The brown variation of this layout is a bit to harsh on the eyes, but maybe a softer brown could help that. So far, the green is my favourite and I wouldn't mind this design as the definitive one.

Oct 15, 2008, 7:33am Top

I don't like the pistachio stripes either. I'm a Briton by the way. I don't get any of the US echoes of ice-cream or tea shops but do get echoes of a regency style wallpaper crossed with institutional green. Generally I liked the autumn colours but some of them could do with lightening a shade or two. One of the issues I have with pistachio stripes is that both the bright colour and the stripes draw the eye away from the content.

#196 - #198

But dreamlikecheese isn't British or even a European (well the profile indicates Australian).

Seriously I do expect that stripes and colours to be heavily influenced by cultural aspects - both old and new world, mature and younger crowds, gender, and lots of other signifiers. Coming up with a good compromise is difficult.

However this is the log in page only at the moment. As I have said previously some of the design elements will bleed through to the main site. If that includes colours then it should be fairly easy to be able to switch between a couple of pre-designed colour palettes (settable on the preferences) if Tim decides to do so.

Oct 15, 2008, 8:07am Top

Well, I'm American and prefer the brown to the green and really am still not crazy about the stripes. They work okay with the design of the page, but the stripes themselves look like part of a Blogger template, which I actually don't think looks that professional. Luckily the rest of Alana's design rescues it somewhat, but I would love to avoid that look, particularly since I'm not crazy about Blogger templates even on Blogger.

Oct 15, 2008, 8:35am Top

Like the stripes. Like the green. Browns are ok, but seem too seasonal. Not crazy about either bullet choice, but won't die over it, after all, the homepage isn't for me it's for new users.

Oct 15, 2008, 9:12am Top

I like the green more right now, but I do think warmer colours are more bookish in general. Maybe the brown one could be revised a bit.

But what I really want to know is, where will the information about other language versions of the site be?

Now that Tim himself has said basically, "I don't care so long as I don't see it" is not healthy for the site, presumably he'll stop telling us not to complain about the hideous homepage because we don't have to look at it. So I assume there's no plan to add back the horrible yellow on top of the nice new homepage. But that information is still important and should go somewhere.

Oct 15, 2008, 9:31am Top

>160 alanapost:
Getting better. I think the "autumnal" scheme looks just a little more unified, but they're both pretty good. The stripes work better in the green; I think I see them in the brown, but maybe I just expect them there.

Oct 15, 2008, 9:33am Top

>170 alanapost:
They're less cutesy than the books, but I don't like 'em any better.

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 11:56am Top

Current mockup of green/cream page: http://www.alanapost.net/librarything/img/librarything-mockup-2-4.png

Current mockup of autumnal page: http://www.alanapost.net/librarything/img/librarything-mockup-autumn-2-1.png

Any thoughts on switching the layout of the modules to vertical pairs (bullet lists on the left, books on the right) instead of horizontal ones?

EDIT: Also, is it nice to have a pullquote above the press logos, as in the green/cream mockup? Or is it better without this addition?

Oct 15, 2008, 12:00pm Top

I like the pullquote. I don't have much of an opinion about the vertical pairs versus horizontal, other than the fact that the second row doesn't quite line up on either mockup. I assume that's a very easy fix, though.

Oct 15, 2008, 12:21pm Top


Brown, horizontal pairs, pullquote.

This is details, though; the overall "new" layout is really nice.

Oct 15, 2008, 12:24pm Top

Green, horizontal pairs, pullquote.

Ditto the rest of lorax.

Oct 15, 2008, 12:31pm Top

I'm getting the feeling that the design will probably be skinnable for members, so I'm not worrying too much about green vs brown until Tim weighs in. I'll try to come up with some more skins/color schemes today, if I have time, just to complicate matters as much as possible.

I've never found color scheming terribly difficult, but this design is really a challenge for me. (Probably due to the lack of a centralized image or photo to pull colors from, or coordinate them to? Or just the diverse page elements? Or the lack of colors in the logo? Hard to say.) Just musing.

Oct 15, 2008, 12:43pm Top

I like the green better still (with the stripes!). The vertical pairs look nice, but the horizontal ones are good, too. I definitely like the pullquote.

Oct 15, 2008, 12:55pm Top

Both color schemes are generally fine, though I have a slight preference for the green. In the brown scheme, it might look better with some kind of subtle pattern; the header is also too dark in the brown one - I can barely read the "library" in librarything.

Pullquote: yes
Horizontal pairs - I'd prefer if they alternated rather than being images together/text together. Text - images
Images - text

One thing that hasn't been mentioned - I don't think - is the the shape of the header buttons/tabs, which seems a bit off to me. That extra little bit under "home" seems out of place, and throws it off. Could these be less angular too, perhaps? There's also the separate issue of whether it makes sense for them to jut down into the rest of the page, since there's then some unused blank space to the right of them, rather than having them incorporated into the header space (i.e. above the line). I'm not sure what would be best on that point.

Oct 15, 2008, 12:56pm Top

PS, I think the skins idea is a great one, but someone will need to make some decisions about the "main" look and color scheme, the one that people will see when they discover the site, and the one that will thus be most associated with LT.

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 1:18pm Top

213> I am sort of approaching the design from two sides at once. Side one: the redesign generally has new users in mind, so the home page's look/feel is dictated by their needs. Side two: the header portion (navigation in particular) would most strongly affect current members, so its look/feel should be dictated by your needs.

I'm working out top content concepts in the thread devoted to it, but the thinger I am working on now looks kinda like this:

Oct 15, 2008, 1:17pm Top

>207 alanapost:: I like both color combinations, but in the latest brown set "Library" disappears in the dark brown top space.

I kind of like the pullquote.

Not sure about vertical pairs of modules. Seems like it would waste more space, but on the other hand...

Keep up the good work! ;-)

Oct 15, 2008, 1:22pm Top

>215 alanapost:: That looks good!

Oct 15, 2008, 1:40pm Top

Still prefer the green with stripes, though the highest point of the shading clashes a bit to my eye. Maybe shade to a darker green rather than to brown?

Pullquote is great. Either type of pairs works for me.

As for color alternatives, what about something in a burgundy range, like those old dark red leather books?

Oct 15, 2008, 1:53pm Top

That brown is better - and I find I really don't like the stripes. Maybe marbling if it was very light (very little contrast). The header background on the brown is too dark, though.

The advantage of vertical pairs is covers visible on even small (short) screens. I think they look good that way. The alternating is an interesting idea.

The pullquote makes it clearer that this is about LT rather than ads - not to mention it's a good lure for new users. I prefer the jokey caption ("high-toned publications") - the other is boring.

And yeah, the nav bar with the navigation completely enclosed is better to my eye than the choppy one.

Oct 15, 2008, 2:18pm Top

I like the vertical pairs because it visually breaks up the text lines. They are easier to read.

Have you tried diagonal? I'm trying to imagine how that would work, but I haven't had enough coffee yet. (I think rsterling asked the same thing).

I like the pull quote.

I agree with the others who have said that the logo is getting lost on the dark header color. Also, for me, the brown and magentas are too close and it's hard to look at.

Edited: Oct 15, 2008, 2:59pm Top

Lightened the brown header a bit: http://www.alanapost.net/librarything/roundtimes-autumn.html

I'm now working on the navigation in the other thread. The 'dropdowns' vs 'subnavigation row' debate rages on!

Oct 15, 2008, 3:13pm Top

Browns, horizontal, pullquotes

To expand, I like the darker green but the lime-y green just doesn't work for me.
Horizontal looks better to me -- more balanced
Pull-quotes -- great for people like me who might be too lazy to click on the logos or might not want to navigate away from the site

Oct 15, 2008, 3:16pm Top

I like the fade going on in the green header.

Oct 15, 2008, 3:17pm Top

Alana, can I just say how impressed with you I am? Not only did you come into a 'terrifying' thread where we'd all been ripping you to pieces, but you've been so nice and seem like just one of the LT staff gang with how open to all of our contradictory feedback you are.

Plus, I'm really liking where your designs are going overall.

Oct 15, 2008, 3:42pm Top

I must say, I really like having the two book-cover boxes in a column, instead of in a row; it's a much better balance between images and text at any given point as one scrolls down the page.

Oct 15, 2008, 4:03pm Top

I like the fading in the green header.
Maybe you could do something similair in the brown?
The latest brown is better as the previous one.

I prefer the rows of text / images

And thanks for communicating with us in this way, i can understand it was terrifying at first, but we are here to help making the best of it ;-)

Oct 15, 2008, 4:08pm Top

224> Aw, shucks!

Oct 15, 2008, 5:12pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Oct 15, 2008, 5:36pm Top

some nice marbling images on istockphoto.. I guess if it were desaturated enough, the pattern could be used for an aspect of the design without being overwhelming. I'll think on this

Oct 15, 2008, 6:10pm Top

Yeah, it would have to be very very light. But they're both gorgeous.

Are you using browns related to LT's current header color? They all seem to be that same sort of reddy-grey brown/beige, though the current one is less grey. I don't much like the color, but it occurs to me that I don't much like the current one either when I bother to stop and look at it. When I'm on LT and using it, as long as the colors don't stand up and scream at me they won't be all that major.

Oct 15, 2008, 6:24pm Top

Uh... big swatches of marbling would be horrendous. Why not Op-Art then? :)

I like the stripes because they give vibrancy to the page in the most economical (and elegant) way, while being, with the shades Alana showed us, almost imperceptible.

But I'm most curious to see how will these choices affect pages other than the homepage. To old users that is more important, I think.

Oct 15, 2008, 6:33pm Top

I was looking through the site and looking at pictures that have a marbled effect, some of which are actual marble. Some look interesting in terms of a pattern, that maybe you could change the color and or lighten. Maybe for the header that seems a bit empty and a bit blah now.


There are a lot of pictures, though many are not right (buildings, statues ...)

Over all I really like the most recent green design with the stripes. Just something for the top.

Oct 15, 2008, 6:40pm Top


Oct 15, 2008, 7:49pm Top

>219 jjmcgaffey:, 228

Marbling, fabulous! If the color scheme were the autumny tones that many have suggested are reminiscent of big, leatherbound books, then a very subtle marbling effect in the background would be like the endpapers!

Oct 15, 2008, 8:31pm Top

I'm with mckait. Ick. :(

Oct 15, 2008, 9:32pm Top


Depends on how subtle it is.

Oct 15, 2008, 11:10pm Top

I think any texturing will have to be extremely subtle. You can see how strong the reaction against the stripes has been, and that's pretty minimal.

Oct 15, 2008, 11:24pm Top

Based on the anti-stripes and anti-marbling crowd, I predict there will be no texture whatsoever.

Oct 15, 2008, 11:28pm Top

The texturing would be waaaay tricky. Especially with the issue of varying screen-widths, applying any sort of complicated (yet, subtle. But interesting, and also muted. etc) pattern to a background can rapidly turn into a big old mess.

I am hoping to get some feedback from some LT staffers before I get too much more hog-wild with mockups. You never know, I could end up not being the right fit for the job, and have nothing to show for all the texture-shading and bullet-point-obsessing--other than a newfound addiction to Talk, of course! (:

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 12:34am Top

I guess every site needs its Grinch.


My name is:


Now that may be because I haven't slept in the past 30+ hours; or it may not. Nevertheless, you have been warned.


a library can be a work of art; (the Vatican library)

or it may simply be gorgeous; (from Candida Hoffer's stunning photobook)

shelves often have an aura; (this is a bookstore inside a former Dominican Church in Maastricht, Netherlands)

and spines can be beautiful. (these shelve-by-colour schemes may be blasphemous to some, but the fact remains they point to the inherent physical beauty of books)

So why do we need marbling?

If it's a question of procuring stock photos for the background - well - this is better discussed elsewhere, but I can try to provide something for the site.

And we don't have to rely on obvious photos of book edges either; how about an ancient Chinese Buddhist scroll, for example, or even a single dramatic photograph subtly blended into the background?

The current cozy and cute designs for the front page: they are a wonderful effort, far better in conception and layout than the current page but the colour schemes and buttons are, in my opinion, much too cozy and cute; they remind me of Megabucks coffee logos more than bookshops (of course, the two have converged in chain stores, but I'd rather they stayed distinct.)

I don't mean to rain on Alana's parade: she is doing a great job; the overall design is headed in the right direction; the LT principle of openness should once again be praised - because my opinion is worth exactly nothing and without openness the Grinches of the world would have been stifled and secretly bundled away a long time ago; but I think we really need to pull back from the temptation to make a site like too "homey", and subliminally, like the places we are already surrounded by or familiar with online and in the real world.

A person who uses the site very frequently, like me, and is constantly updating, downloading, adding, deleting, combining etc. cannot bear to look at pistachio greens and earth colours too long. We need to either a) have more choices and keep putting Alana back on the treadmill without ever satisfying a large majority; 2) scale back to something even more subtle; or 3) offer a choice of three to five "themes". The advantage of the last route: fewer complaints, fewer design constraints and headaches for Alana or others, and less psychological interference during daily usage. This way, Alana can also spend her time more productively on important things like layout and navigation.

Themes are a fairly common option on some socially-oriented websites (like on Zenfolio, a site I used for photo-sharing, and Smugmug, a similar type of site.) I don't know what the technical challenges are, but given the simplicity of choices and their ease of use on such sites, I don't see why LT couldn't offer the same.

(I don't know why the bottom part got cut off during my first posting.)

Oct 16, 2008, 12:25am Top

I'm terribly in favor of themes, because LibraryThing seemingly will only have two options without them: a bland inability to be eye-catching to new members, or grumpy, established members.

Also, I tend to err on the side of minimal and homey when I'm focusing on a community site (first mockup to the contrary--I had bronchitis, damn it!) rather than modern/slick/graphics-heavy, like I'd make for a technology site or an online magazine. So it's good to have those Grinch voices piping up and keeping me honestly pursuing a balance between various styles.

Oct 16, 2008, 12:30am Top

Themes/Skins would be great. Texture to stripes; green; vertical; pullquote.

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 12:43am Top

The greens and, to a lesser extent, the browns in the mockup aren't worse than the current header colour (in my opinion at least, they are considerably better than it). I think we need to keep in mind that this is a discussion about the homepage--LT's homepage, the page newbies will see first. This page has to catch and keep their attention.

So, concerning the heavy use of the site by logged-in members, the question is probably whether they can "survive" something like the proposed green and brown up on top, where it would appear on every page.

Considering that I never even noticed how, er, homely (not "homey") the current shade is, before this thread, I'm pretty sure that I, for one, will simply get used to anything with the colour values we were shown so far (light, muted, pastel-y... yes, closer to bland than disco).

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 1:31am Top

Alana, thanks for the quick response and gracious acceptance of my criticism. Two things:

1) I am not clamouring for a graphics heavy site at all, but the opposite.

You said you err on the side of minimal and homey. I think there is a small but important difference between the two, however. LT is 'minimal' now - not as in the School of Minimalism, but as in 'almost no design' (sorry to LT - but then Alana wouldn't be here if that weren't the case) and the designs you have put out are charming, inviting etc. hence "cozy/homey/etc." Now, despite the lack of design in LT, and despite the fact we're pleased about a change, I think we should err on the side of 'less design' because the data/text-heavy nature of LT makes the dearth of distracting colours, etc. a neutral to positive experience. If, on the other hand, we were constantly scrolling past a hypnotic Victorian marble effect or some such, we may slowly go crazier than we are now, risking a negative effect when no risk existed before.

Once again, there is nothing specifically wrong with the charming designs you have proposed - I'm just not certain that the 'eye candy' can be tolerated for long when constantly browsing, comparing and correcting text across pages, panels, tabs etc. (for example, I may have a Works page open in one browser tab and a Tags page in another browser tab and a Talk page in a third tab - and the cumulative effect of strong colours, while enlivening for some, can also put off others.) So I think we need more subtlety - and I know it is a fine line between charming and subtle. See the very muted colours and plain design of Copper Canyon Press, or Modern Library or the muted colours with sharper, more elegant edges of Farrar Strauss Giroux or The Library of America.

By the way, please try using a Guest account on Zenfolio or similar to see how they implement themes. That way we could present a stronger case when pitching it to LT staff!

2) I understand all good design is going to follow some common principles. But good design doesn't have to be synonymous with a certain 'look'; and I feel that the charming aspects of your proposal follow the 'look' of sites like Goodreads or Delicious Monster. I don't mean layouts but an overall approach to buttons, fonts, colours and so on. It may simply be that the latter sites are more polished and LT is coming closer to have a polished feel; but Criterion's website, for example, has adequate colour and a good layout on the one hand, and is very neutral and quick on the other because most of it has been left white. There is also easy and clear access to a tremendous lot of data. A similar site with only minor accents would be Deutsche Grammophon (after the pointless yellow intro).

I know, all the sites belong to corporations and could be dismissed as having a sleek, 'corporate' look in common, but they also share cataloging and data access as a purpose and could give us ideas.

Let me know when you've heard enough. :)

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 1:29am Top

>homely (not "homey")

Both homey and homely share the meaning, at least in British parlance and according to my dictionary, of "pleasant, comfortable, cozy" or "unpretentious".

However, homely can also have the negative connotation of "unattractive" when applied to a person.

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 1:44am Top

Addendum to #240 and 244: I was judging the colour scheme according to post #98 and #221 and some in between, but I don't mind the colour scheme in the other thread which is more pastel, and looks like this:

Gradients are a nice touch but my complaint about the buttons is the same as above, although it wouldn't bother me if there was no further design change.

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 3:19am Top

On color schemes, I'm using Jstor now and I adore the design and colors used. Here's the screenshot (it's big). I love the top bar, and I think the colors are sophisticated and very pretty. See the dropdowns on the main page.

EDIT: On the other hand, Project Muse has changed its design to something Blogger-ish. I'm getting twitchy just looking at it. Unfortunately, I need to use the site. Also, the searchbox is very, very useless.

Oct 16, 2008, 3:44am Top

I'm with lorax in #209, brown, pullquote, horizontal pairs. Still off the green and stripes, would have to see the marbling to see whether it works.

Again with #209, details. The designs look great and the idea of skinnable themes is brilliant.

Oct 16, 2008, 9:34am Top

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Oct 16, 2008, 10:50am Top

However, homely can also have the negative connotation of "unattractive" when applied to a person.

Yes, I ran out of people to apply it to, and am now turning to colours. :)

My point being... something else.

Oct 16, 2008, 11:26am Top

I like the JSTOR color scheme and design - Delicious Monster is just awful!

Copper Canyon, Modern Library, Goodreads and the Criterion Collection are very neutral; pleasing, sophisticated, not at all obnoxious, but quite dull. I feel my energy levels sinking when I look at them. The Criterion and Modern Library sites are a little better - not so grey, I guess (and I like grey!) - I think it's because it has the enlivening effect of the book colors.

Must say, I think it was a mistake on the Copper Canyon site to make all the text grey - quite hard to read, even when there isn't a question of visual impairment.

Oct 16, 2008, 11:58am Top

>244 Existanai:
Existanai has good points. Minimalism is good. But the front page should be a flytrap. Very stylish, I hope, but a flytrap nevertheless. It is meant to lure unsuspecting people to step in the parlour. When they are caught and beyond redemption (like many of us) they probably won't care what the other pages look like ;-)

I don't know what the age distribution is among LT members. I would imagine that most members are adults and maybe more often middle aged and elderly than members of some other social web community. What is the audience that LT staff needs to approach with this new design? I like minimalistic web design, but maybe it is not enticing enough.

Like LolaWalser I, too, will probably simply get used to any colour scheme. But I hope that on the deeper end of the LibraryThing there are no distracting background patterns or strong colours.

Oct 16, 2008, 12:26pm Top

All vastly improved since I last checked in on the 11th. In all the newer samples, the worst problem is the logo, whose clunkiness is much more obvious when set into a good design - especially since it clashes typographically with web-safe text faces. As I understand it from one of the other threads, the logo isn't changing, so the design just has to keep it from being too burdensome.

In the brown design, the dark red color and the orange color are clashing somewhat. One or the other should be shifted around some; then I think more people will like this one than at present.

In the green one, the stripes are OK in the PNG shots, but in the HTML version at 98, if you have a wide enough window it starts to give a very distracting op-art effect.

The use of double daggers as bullets reminds me too much of the character encoding problems that used to happen when moving files between font encodings (usu. MacRoman vs. Win-ANSI) in the pre-Unicode days. I like lquilter's suggestion of a typographic fist better, if it can be kept reasonably subtle.

Oct 16, 2008, 1:18pm Top

I also like the brown, the stripes, and the pullquote. However:

I do not like the orange box on the brown scheme.

I would like the stripes better in a parchment-beige-tan range. Or very low-contrast endpaper marbling in the same tones, as suggested. I don't really understand the objection, considering how little of the background is visible behind the white boxes. It's not as if we're trying to read text against a textured background, which would indeed be awful.

MORE pull quotes! Could we actually put some of those new reviews ON the home page (maybe that could be part of the mouseover bubble).

Oct 16, 2008, 1:20pm Top

The daggers occasionally make me feel as though I'm reading some old liturgical text, and must pause for a breath between reading the items on the lists (:

Oct 16, 2008, 5:16pm Top

Does the ampersand in the background here look like Godzilla, or is it an addition that could be positive?

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 5:24pm Top

256: You should so convince Tim to add the scrolly "books added this second" back to the home page. :)

P.S. I like the ampersand, although it looks more like random swirls or a clef symbol when covered by the blocks.

Oct 16, 2008, 5:36pm Top

>256 alanapost:: I don't know about Godzilla, but it does look like something unidentified sneaking around it the background with possible ill intent. Thanks for saying it was an ampersand, otherwise I'd still be trying to figure it out.

Oct 16, 2008, 5:37pm Top

Might be more identifiable in non-screenshot form (depending on one's screen width, anyway)


Oct 16, 2008, 5:40pm Top

>259 alanapost:: hmm. more identifiable, yes; more desireable, possibly not.

>257 infiniteletters:: scrolly books sounds cool!

Oct 16, 2008, 5:49pm Top

How about making it clearer that you can browse other libraries, or see suggestions for books, without joining? I know libraries use LT for reader's advisory.

Oct 16, 2008, 5:52pm Top

261> That might fall under editing copy, which I prefer not modifying in design mockups as it adds in this whole new element of complexity

Oct 16, 2008, 5:55pm Top

The ampersand looks very blurry on my screen. I'm not sure if I like it much or not. It could probably grow on me, but it'd have to be non-blurry. Would this also be on the green version, if that one sticks around?

Oct 16, 2008, 6:01pm Top

If the green had stripes or something, it would probably not have another design element (in my opinion). The ampersand is pretty blurry. I'm trying to find a prettier one, with crisper edges.

Oct 16, 2008, 6:49pm Top

>259 alanapost:: alanapost
I don't see an ampersand, but I see some texture on the right (under the search box), that is not anoying, but "breaks" the background a bit.
Also notice you shaded the top, GOOD!

Oct 16, 2008, 7:10pm Top

Working on the texture a bit to make it blend better

Oct 16, 2008, 7:15pm Top

The color blending is very nice, though I still hate the browns.

I do think a subtle pattern behind the boxes would be good. The stripes on the green version really de-corporated the design.

Oct 16, 2008, 7:54pm Top

As someone who reacted negatively to the stripes, I should say I like the current iteration much better. The texture is subtle and classy but not distracting. I also noticed you increased the max-width. The take the tour box comes off a little too orange for me (a bit of a clash with the cranberry) and the relative lack of contrast makes the text a bit difficult to read. It might be that just decreasing the intensity of it a bit would fix both issues at once. Thanks!

Oct 16, 2008, 8:05pm Top

I wondered if it was possible to create a new updated look for the welcome page that would still give a nod to the old design.

I wondered if it were possible to create a page that would be inviting, homey, and booky - without looking twee or dated.

I think Alana has done both!

>268 caffron: I agree the tour box is too orange, but I'm not sure I have a suggestion for a solution. Anyone want to jump in and help? Something that fits the merlot-like palette without getting to girly? Something in the reddy-pinks? Something in the tans? Throw Alana some HTML colors!

Oct 16, 2008, 8:27pm Top

I like how this is coming along - and the subtle texture is very nice. I like it better than block color.

Something I've noticed on the designs that's been driving me a little nutty -

Featured in many high-toned publications, such as...

I don't know exactly what we want to say, but publication implies something you can pick up and read (at least to me). Not so much with NPR or LifeHacker, you know?


Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 8:29pm Top

double-post --- eep!

Oct 16, 2008, 8:29pm Top

249/251> Thanks! It is lovely, isn't it?

I'm not sure if I like the texture, but I think I like the ampersand from the screenshot. I think the orange is really ugly, too.

On a side note, could you please enlarge the screenshots? They currently take up less than half my screen...

Oct 16, 2008, 8:43pm Top

blurry ampersandish one

texture (acanthus)

stepping away from orange

Oct 16, 2008, 8:47pm Top

I like the stepping away from orange ones.

Oct 16, 2008, 8:57pm Top

Step away from orange, no ampersand, and please, paler overall hues if possible, with brighter accents and more shades to induce a little vivacity (how would it look, for example, if we switched the colour of the tabs bar with the accents for each box? Plus, are they any other colour combinations that have been considered - or could we get a jpeg or psd file to play with?)

Oct 16, 2008, 9:11pm Top

I don't have a PSD file, but the CSS file is in the header of this page: http://www.alanapost.net/librarything/roundtimes-autumn.html

If anyone wants to experiment with colors, just do a 'save complete' on the page, mess around with the hex color values, and open the page in your browser to view the result. Not as fun as a PSD, though.

Here's a large jpg: http://www.alanapost.net/librarything/img/librarything-mockup-autumn-2-6large.jp...

Oct 16, 2008, 9:25pm Top

(1) I do not like the ampersand. I *do* like the texture. (Is that a brocade, after all, alanapost?) (Also, I can definitely see the drop-off line on the texture pattern -- using Safari 3.* and Firefox 3.* on OS 10.5, on a macbook, full brightness.)

(2) I don't like the sunburst bullets -- sorry.

(3) Orange and burgundy are a bit autumnal as a combination, but the fourth option on #273 -- the olive-y one -- seems a bit drab. Of these four colors, personally, I would probably go with #3. But are you feeling constrained by the current LT color scheme in the logo? What would you do if you ditched that color scheme entirely?

Oct 16, 2008, 10:18pm Top

277> The color schemes are staying around the same tonal area because, at least from my experimenting thus far, there isn't a big range of colors that convey the 'right things'. I'd like to do something with blue, but it's hard to work in without sacrificing warmth, friendliness, and the paper/leather appeal of books. So I'm hard-pressed to come up with schemes that are neutral enough to be crowd-pleasers but iconic enough to carry a brand (ugh, market-speak!).

Everything I can think of right now centers around neutral tones with richer accents (browns, reds, gold, etc). I can probably come up with mockups that use colors other than those, but I don't think they'll be good for anything but skins.

Also: sorry about the drop-off line! I am annoyed with it, myself. I'm using Acorn instead of Photoshop, so getting all those gradient color values situated is a novel experience to say the least. If something gets close to being finalized, I'll definitely clean it up properly (:

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 11:05pm Top

I still prefer the green with stripes, but if we are going with the browns: I agree the orange should go.

I also saw on one of the mockups, maybe on the other thread (top area ?) That when you moused over the options in the Burgundy bar, that there was the same orangey color that made an appearance under the Burgandy bar, you would see the line, to show that it was being highlighted I guess. If we could kill it in both places if it will also show up here.

I like the bronze-ish one (one before the last one). The last one the color is too drab. The last 2 have white text in the box, and it seems to light and messy because the links are also light. Is it possible to use black ? The sunbursts are so small I can't tell what they are, just small yellow blobs.

Edited: Oct 16, 2008, 11:06pm Top

i like rich reds etc., too, and appreciate the difficulties. brown & blue together, maybe. i do love green.

anyway, i think this is coming along swell, and i'm now quite excited about a graphics overhaul. not as excited as i am about Collections, of course, which I look for hopefully first thing every morning.

one thing that has been bugging me. the highlighting underscore on the active not-tab, being the same color, style, width as the top-border on "What is LT?" box, is a bit visually misleading -- i always expect some sort of relationship or connection, an expectation that is heightened by the length of the lines on the first not-tab. Makes me think the lower box is continuing the upper, somehow? Maybe, a diff color (shadow red of the not-tab menu?) would help.

sorry for onehanded typing style ...

Oct 17, 2008, 12:02am Top

I like the third one too. I don't mind the texture, but I like the ampersand. =) There are going to be skins though, yeah?

Oct 17, 2008, 12:12am Top

The brown version looks better now with the less orange bar, but I still like the cream/green version more.

I would like to see brown, gold, cream version.

Oct 17, 2008, 12:17am Top

I can't get a good sense of texture from the images; I'd need to see it in html.

I think the background color for the bottom and for the header are too close to the same, especially in the textured ones (2-4). One should be markedly lighter than the other, or else a different tone. I didn't mind the orange, but the color in #3 looks fine (should have lighter squigglies, though).

Oct 17, 2008, 12:18am Top

282 - I'd also like to see that, and I like the greens.

Edited: Oct 17, 2008, 12:25am Top

I really like the acanthus. The ampersand is OK, but the acanthus is perfect - something to make it not a bland background, without actually interfering visually with the rest of the site.

Like most, I think the first 'stepping away from the orange' is the best - actually I think it's the best so far. Somehow that rich bronzy color makes the header and background less blah - picks up something.

The sunbursts are fine (though I still think a hedera - ooh, especially with an acanthus background! Lots of leaves! - would be nicer). FicusFan - they look big enough to me on the full-sized screen (well, they don't show as things, really, but they make good bullets. Nice bright color, too).

I see what you mean about the active shadow, lquilter - it's not actually the same color (well, same color different shade, I think) as the top of the 'What is LibraryThing' box, but it's much closer than the hover shadow. Yeah, a darker version of the hover shadow (which would probably bring it pretty close to the color of the nav bar) would probably look good.

Oct 17, 2008, 6:21am Top

Step away from orange, no ampersand for me :)

Oct 17, 2008, 6:27am Top

I like the 'stepping away from orange' pair, like the swirls, don't like the ampersand (just doesn't look like an ampersand, looks more like random lines with the stuff that's superimposed).

Just nitpicking though, all look great.

Oct 17, 2008, 8:16am Top

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Oct 17, 2008, 8:45am Top

I really like the subtle texture fade out.

Oct 17, 2008, 9:30am Top

Colorwise, I like the first stepping away from orange the best (definitely step away from orange!). The ampersand doesn't say anything to me, so I don't see the value of it if it has to be explained.

Oct 17, 2008, 10:01am Top

I have to say, the more I look at the brown/beige/blah versions, the more blah I feel they are—they seem sort of institutional or something, like we need to use a noncolor as opposed to a color. I didn't think the brown went well with the orange, but now that the orange is gone it feels even blander. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of neutral tones in general, and the brown isn't actively offensive to me or anything, just not very attractive either.

I loved the green stripes though!

Oct 17, 2008, 10:04am Top

exchanging secret handshake with nperrin

Oct 17, 2008, 10:36am Top

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Oct 17, 2008, 11:22am Top

don't like the ampersand (I find it distracting, the way it looms up into the header). any of the rest is fine w/ me.

Oct 17, 2008, 11:27am Top

I also like the first stepping away from orange better; the last version is very bland.

Where are the acanthus? Did I miss something?

I have no strong feeling for or against the ampersand, except to wonder "What does it mean?"

I'm with lquilter, hedera would be way cool as bullets - very elegant and bookish.

Oct 17, 2008, 11:41am Top

#293, countrylife, The problem for me with the ampersand is that it makes me want to figure out what it is and why it's significant.

Oct 17, 2008, 12:47pm Top

Still prefer the green, but the third is the best of the lot. Don't like the ampersand - it doesn't mean anything in an LT context, but it looks as if it should.

Oct 17, 2008, 1:55pm Top

I'm keeping the versions online at the same places, so anyone who wants a closer look at the latest iteration can just visit these pages whenever.

Browns: http://www.alanapost.net/librarything/roundtimes-autumn.html

Green: http://www.alanapost.net/librarything/roundtimes.html

Both have little tweaks that would need to happen before being finalized, but there they are.

Oct 17, 2008, 2:12pm Top

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Oct 17, 2008, 2:17pm Top

Be careful about ampersands...

I love the current autumn site so much, I've filched the stylesheet to read in times of low spirits.

Edited: Oct 17, 2008, 3:52pm Top

Hmmm... in the green version, did the top colour change? It looks somehow more brownish than before... when it was more bluish-green? I think. Oh you know, I finally realised WHICH green the green makes me hanker after--the silvery green of the olive trees!!! Time to head out of the Arctic back to my Mediterranean homeland!!!

In the brown version, I agree with giving us a bit more of the texture--maybe midway or so.

Oct 17, 2008, 4:01pm Top

Oh, these are looking nice. I think the "autumn" color scheme might look a little too feminine, what with the pinks and the scrollwork, but the overall layout and design is very appealing.

By the by, the search box and language selection appear justified to the left for me (using Firefox). They should be on the right, right?

Oct 17, 2008, 4:31pm Top

The texture on the brown one makes it look nicer to me, but I still prefer the green one with the stripes. I like the way the texture fades off. I don't think I'd like it if it took up the whole page.

Oct 17, 2008, 5:13pm Top

300> The highest of compliments!

301> both schemes have had their top bar color change after the gradients were applied... I might go just a smidgen more saturated on both to keep the contrast alive.

302> Agreed re: a touch feminine. I keep playing around with that dun salmon color to see if it can be pushed further away from pink. We'll see (:

Oct 18, 2008, 1:35am Top

I am now on a different computer with CRT monitor instead of LCD. I had forgotten how different the colours are in different types of monitors! The green design which I liked when I looked it with my LCD monitor looks now too bright, almost garish. Too many greens. The stripes on the background were very subtle on my LCD screen, but now they look almost neon green. The brown version looks quite dark.

I wonder how many different types of monitors people have when they are looking at these designs...

Edited: Oct 18, 2008, 2:22am Top

I guess the rounded buttons are staying. They look a little cartoonish (and 'look, press the button!') to me, but I see I'm very much in the minority here. ^^ I like the green scheme, but...

278> I'd like to do something with blue, but it's hard to work in without sacrificing warmth, friendliness, and the paper/leather appeal of books. Please do, only if you have extra time, of course. I'll probably like it. I dislike greens in general. Otherwise, I do think any changes would be a vast improvement over the existing (nonexistent) design.

ps. Alana, did you mention it was called 'iconography' somewhere?

pps. Am I on the wrong thread?

Oct 18, 2008, 4:53pm Top

I think it was in the "new top area" thread.. iconography is (aside from its religious connotation) basically picking the right icons to connote meaning in graphic designs or user interfaces; images that represent ideas and can be broadly recognized. For instance, in a lot of programs the Save function is represented by a floppy disk, which has not been in common use for many years now. But people recognize it, so it stays, even if they have never used a floppy disk.

Oct 18, 2008, 8:59pm Top

I must admit, I don't really care for the fonts used in the samples in 298. They would probably work really well in print, but don't work so well on a computer screen - I find them distracting and difficult to read. And I do like the top bar looks in the "new top area" thread better than those shown here. However, I really like the general page design and colors shown in 298.

Edited: Oct 20, 2008, 9:53pm Top


I'm still mulling. I don't feel like we're there. I think there has been a lot of good ideas and a lot of good exploring--some of which just showed how unsuitable something was, which is itself good.

I feel happy with the "box" structure of the home page, although I want to play with combining the two cover areas into one and etc. But I'm not sure about what happens on interior pages and I'm not sure about the color schemes. I sympathize with Alana about the color schemes. Something about LT makes color schemes hard, when they are usually easy. I think it's that brown is basically hard to work with.

Background colors

My biggest worry with the homepage design is that we need to make sure that we design something that works *outside* of the home page. To me this means that the bottom of the page--at least the interior pages--should be white.

I see the logic as follows:

1. Most LT pages are very feature rich.
2. Feature rich pages should be given the full-screen (from left to right), not constrained in a narrow groove.
3. Sustained text only works when the print is dark and the background is light--black and white preferably.
4. Mixing a colored background and white text areas would require a massive site redesign, and would also, I think, tend to produce "info bubbles" (little areas conceded to information out of the larger "design").* Info-bubbles would also sacrifice precious space, cutting information density.
4. Therefore, most LT pages will need a white background below the top part.

I see a couple ways of doing this:

1. The home page has a slight colored background.
2. The home page has a gradient--color in some areas, but suggesting where LT is going in the interior pages--white.
3. The home page "flips," with a white background and colored areas.

I did a gradient solution on the new LibraryThing for Libraries pages--blue turning to white, eg., (note that these pages aren't supposed to be seen on their own, but only within a lightbox within the online catalog of a library).

Skins and themes

I know I'm poking a sleeping dragon, but we are not going to adopt various "skins" on LibraryThing. Skins, like the various "give us the option" features, do a lot of bad things:

1. They prevent us from arriving at the best solutions. Once people can turn things off if they want to, they stop being invested in the issue. If LibraryThing had a feature that caused headaches, everyone would unite to defeat it. But once we make it an "option", the power users would stop arguing and turn "headaches" off--leaving only new and less-skilful users with headaches. Bad outcome.

2. Skins add "weight." LibraryThing is a complex, feature-rich site. Maintenance always vies with other tasks, like fixing long-time but not pressing bugs or making new features. This "weight" holds us down.

Even the most trivial of skins--picking two or three colors that change and nothing else--would add work. A new page would come out. Half of users would say it didn't look right. But why? Was it the skin? Which skin? Was an interaction between their skin and some odd browser? Etc. Etc. Skins are a "headache" feature--for the LT develovers!

3. Branding goes to hell. I hate to use such an old-economy term, but branding is important. There's a reason Coke doesn't sell both red designs and blue designs. I don't want users having different experiences, screen shots here and there looking different, etc.

the worst problem is the logo, whose clunkiness is much more obvious when set into a good design

Unfair! The logos Alana have been using have all by wrong--the right font, but not sized right and not tweaked. The LibraryThing logo tweaks the typeface vertically (115% vertical or near) and tracks and kerns the letters much better--the capital-T hanging over the Y not dangling over by itself, and every individual letter has also been kerned to its neighbor. It's more of a unity. When you don't track or kern you get these separate letters.

Also, the logo is the logotype. The white/black issue and the shadow are all inciental to that--and should change based on what the design is doing. I did that in my top-level mockups.

*It might be worth it work on a left-white, right-colored approach. Many pages (works, authors, tags) have a colored right sides insofar as the have green boxes.

Edited: Oct 21, 2008, 4:39am Top

2. Feature rich pages should be given the full-screen (from left to right), not constrained in a narrow groove.
5. Therefore, most LT pages will need a white background below the top part.

I agree completely. I think I've mentioned it somewhere before; I don't think a coloured background with text elements is going to work on actual site pages. I do think option 3 (the home page "flips") is a bad idea; blocks of colour aren't going to look good, and we should keep the text black on white.

That said, I don't have any ideas for the home page, though if we're looking to keep the home pages and other pages as similar as possible, a minimalistic design would be best. That would be a quite different from the current mock-ups though. (I'm thinking of a mostly white page with coloured accents, eg. outlines of boxes, etc.) It could be really pretty, and keep with the black-and-white nature of the site.

On the site pages, I think design could go into the colour scheme (all the pesky dreadful coloured boxes) and seperating elements or something. The current boxes and column layouts are very, very stark. It looks like an Excel spreadsheet. I think something to soften the hard edges would be really good.

...we are not going to adopt various "skins" on LibraryThing. Skins, like the various "give us the option" features, do a lot of bad things:

3. Branding goes to hell. I hate to use such an old-economy term, but branding is important. There's a reason Coke doesn't sell both red designs and blue designs. I don't want users having different experiences, screen shots here and there looking different, etc.

Okay. I get that. NOW I'll have to seriously protest against the buttons. Though, Alana, the mock-ups you have here of the homepage seem to be implying a dropdown design a la post 189 in the other thread. Dare I hope?

Okay now I'm really, really hungry. I don't know if my blathering on design made any sense, but I'm going to eat now. (FOOOOOD.)

Oct 21, 2008, 4:50am Top

>Sustained text only works when the print is dark and the background is light--black and white preferably.I know I'm poking a sleeping dragon, but we are not going to adopt various "skins" on LibraryThing

Oct 21, 2008, 8:35am Top

I know I'm joining the conversation late here but there were a lot of elements I liked from the original design posted. I thought the top banner with the books was warm and homey and it's a shame to see that gone. I also think that the overall design is less cluttered than the more recent ones posted on this thread. I'm assuming that the library journal/pc magazine, etc links are to praises of the website (justly) but maybe you might just feature those as testimonials on a vertical paragraph on the right or something. I liked what you attempted to do by making the login page "pop" off the screen too; the colors are better than a monochromatic design but the navy blue is really dark (I think some people mistook it for black). Maybe try some softer shades of complementary colors and focus on less clutter.

Oct 21, 2008, 8:42am Top

Way too commercial, generic, and cluttered. Way too dark. The impact of the black and other dark/bright colors actually makes the eye pass over the name of the site. Difficult to read if you have bad eyesight --first I'd have to blow up the text. And I thought the media names at the bottom were ads or links to paid sponsors or something like that. What's so bad about the present page? Its color scheme and typeface are pleasant and not in your face. This seems to me to be more of a complication than a simplification. The Library Thing that's so important in my life and that I tell everyone about felt like a community, not a marketing effort. Trying to be nice, Tim, but am truly distressed.

Oct 21, 2008, 9:35am Top

4. Therefore, most LT pages will need a white background below the top part.

I see a couple ways of doing this:

1. The home page has a slight colored background.
2. The home page has a gradient--color in some areas, but suggesting where LT is going in the interior pages--white.
3. The home page "flips," with a white background and colored areas.

I don't really see how this follows. Can't the homepage just be different from most LT pages? It doesn't seem like a problem if the homepage is colourful and the interior pages are white.

I think the top-bar images in the other thread are a big improvement.

Once people can turn things off if they want to, they stop being invested in the issue. If LibraryThing had a feature that caused headaches, everyone would unite to defeat it. But once we make it an "option", the power users would stop arguing and turn "headaches" off--leaving only new and less-skilful users with headaches. Bad outcome.

If you're concerned about a lack of arguing on the site, I'll be happy to assist ;)

So, can we lose the yellow language box immediately?

Oct 21, 2008, 9:43am Top

Oh, yes, I was expecting/hoping the other pages would remain white.

Oct 21, 2008, 10:02am Top

>314 _Zoe_:
I don't really see how this follows. Can't the homepage just be different from most LT pages? It doesn't seem like a problem if the homepage is colourful and the interior pages are white.

I can't see any reason, either, why the home page coudn't be more colourful and other pages white.

Oct 21, 2008, 12:55pm Top

I'm probably in the minority, but I like it the way it is just fine. I would certainly hate to loose all of my favorite tabs as well. I find it fairly easy to navigate now, and it's easy on the eyes. I agree with the person who mentioned they'd rather be able to do collections than have the site redone cosmetically.

Oct 21, 2008, 1:05pm Top


I agree with the person who mentioned they'd rather be able to do collections than have the site redone cosmetically.

I think we all do, but they're not in conflict -- alanapost is a designer, not a coder. Having her work on this isn't taking away development time, either from collections or from anything else.

Oct 21, 2008, 1:06pm Top

I like LibraryThing's "clean style" - not lots of use of color; buttons in obvious places at the top (they ALL need to be replicated at the bottom, however)

Please do not get too "fancy" with colors, and keep the required height of the homepage small... browsers now adding tabs, etc, means that more real estate is taken up by the browser, with less for the page.

Oct 21, 2008, 1:18pm Top

I agree with JPB - the clean, uncluttered look of Google is one I have always liked.

Oct 21, 2008, 1:19pm Top

313 - I think the design you're responding to is the old one, which is not on the table any more. Scroll down a bit to see the newer ones under discussion now (see from around post 250 onward, and also the links in post 298).

316 etc. - I agree that a white background for most pages works best, and that that is not incompatible with some background color and fixed-width on the sign-in page only. So the trick there will be to find a color scheme for the top header and any accent boxes (e.g. members with your books on the profile; buy, borrow, swap, or other boxes on the work pages, etc.) that works both when the bottom part of the page is white, but that might also work with a light background color on the sign-in page.

Oct 21, 2008, 1:51pm Top

>309 timspalding:
Skins for websites generally don't change what options are available, just what colors are used. Why is color choice such a no-no?

Oct 21, 2008, 2:07pm Top

So much better! I love the concept of Librarything, but the main reason I don't use it is because of the look. It is rather clunky and outdated in look compared to the very sleek, streamlined look of sites like, for example, Ravelry, Facebook, or LastFM.

Oct 21, 2008, 2:08pm Top

I like the one with traditional tabs like the tabs on real manila folders. I don't like the "Library" in black and the "Thing" in white: I think they should be the same color and run together.

Oct 21, 2008, 2:15pm Top

This is just a low techno generic user's opinion here, the first option at the top of this topic made me think, "Hmm, they're going to make it look like Shelfari, I just hope it won't get as hard to sort and catalog books as Shelfari is." Lower down the page, I like the simpler brown versions. The greens hurt my eyes. Other than that, I know nothing, so I'll let those who do continue. :)

I have nothing against Shelfari, I just think it is busy and not comfortable like LibraryThing, as far as the book info is concerned. I have never felt jumbled here.

Oct 21, 2008, 2:19pm Top

I've just scrolled back and now I realize how late I am joining this conversation and that I don't understand what many of you said. So, from a computer simpleton, I'll just add that even with the screen maximized I can't read it all without scrolling right and left, which I find very annoying.

Oct 21, 2008, 3:38pm Top

I hate to say it, but... why?

I've worked in web development for over 10 years now. (I'm not a designer though.) I think Library Thing has a look to it that is not at all unpleasant. The new design proposals are pretty bad.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:27pm Top

326 brings to mind a good point about screen size. I don't know if LT is currently doing it, but websites can track the resolution for users just they can browsers. So what are the LT demographics? What percentage of users have older low-resolution monitors? Do frequent users differ from the general user base in this respect? Since we are trying to appeal to a wider audience, what kind of setup does this audience have?

As for colors and design, a poll of users for market research would do a world of good. Sign everybody out, and then for a couple of weeks, insert a short poll (programmed to display just once per user) between sign-on and the main site. Ask about what colors you associate with LT, things you like about the current design, things you don't like. A general comment section isn't critical but might help, but more importantly, ask specific questions with radio buttons to find out if colors, the number of tabs, and other aspects of usability in general are really such a problem to a representative set of users, not just those people who visit Talk or the Powers that Be. Base decision making on data. How many have considered leaving the site or find themselves using other sites more because of usability/design? Just for comparison, ask the same question about wishlists. While you're at it, gather some basic demographic data from those who will provide it. Gender, age, educational background, country/region...all of these things impact design. What is appealing to a 19-year-old college student or a 40-year old man might not be so appealing to a 35-year-old professional woman. Booksellers and librarians know that frequent readers tend toward being female, educated, and older. I think that rich berry and burgandy-brown appeal to that group without horrifying male users, and they do suggest cozy reading chairs and bookcases; Alana has picked up on this and incorporated it into her latest round of designs. Perhaps online skews a little younger and more "twee" as sonyagreen has put it. How much? Why guess? Get the information!

As for navigation design, it probably doesn't make sense to finalize a tab structure and then have to start all over again when collections is implemented. Unless, of course, collections is on hiatus again for reasons other than the fact that noone wants to live in Maine; in that case we should shift from "the audacity of hope" to "the change we need," if in fact we need one at all.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:29pm Top

I like what we have now and do not see the need for change. I like other's will deal with whatever happens and continue to come back. I just do not understand the need.
I do not like the busyness of the new pages. The top looks very cluttered. The scrolling right and left also is annoying. I like to be able to just scroll up or down to see the page.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:33pm Top

I made the mistake of putting my last message on the homepage design topic. I meant to put it on the "some-new top area" topic. Sorry for that. I like the new homepage look.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:38pm Top

Like others have said, it looks kind of like Shelfari, which makes me nervous, since I find Shelfari's layout less appealing and harder to use than LibraryThing. Also, I don't think LibraryThing wants to look like an imitation of Shelfari.

Also, it's slightly too wide for my browser, which is a minor but real annoyance.

Oct 21, 2008, 5:17pm Top

I went looking for color schemes, and there are some nice ready-made ones out there. Some that I think would work for LT (bearing in mind that I'm one of those preferring a warm, parchment-and-leather book palette):

The fourth color in the first one seems to echo the color from the current top nav. I like the sixth one (burgundy and greens) myself. And here, one for the people who like blues:

Surely one of these could be suitable? If not, everybody can go play/find color schemes over at ColourLovers.

Oct 21, 2008, 5:31pm Top

>332 timepiece:

I think most if not all of these are rather pretty. The second one is my favorite, but honestly, I think any of them would be an improvement over the current color scheme. I am among those that really don't see anything much wrong with the layout/design of the site; I just abhor the color scheme. That fleshy beige is SO depressing to me.

Oct 21, 2008, 5:39pm Top

I'd still like to be able to use the librarything on my 800x480 eee display.

A lot of site redesigns seem to forget small screens exist too.
(jut pretend you want to use your iphone on the site.)

Oct 21, 2008, 5:45pm Top

I'm with the people who anticipated that all none-home-pages would have a white background, and that only the top area and some color accents would trickle down to the rest of the site.

Skin-wise, I'd seen the ZenGarden thinger and that's what I think of as skinning, so I thought it was already kind of "on the table", but possibly misunderstood what it was doing.

Oct 21, 2008, 5:52pm Top

334> I tested out my current design on a lot of screen resolutions and didn't see anything get too out of shape on 800x600 (except some browsers bumped boxes down, which would get worked out in the "browser kinks" phase of design).

328>Most LT users are using 1024x768 with IE/Windows (albeit with a strong Firefox showing). I can't remember more details, but the first was the one I considered most relevant when coming up with a layout.

Oct 21, 2008, 5:53pm Top

>335 alanapost: Re: ZenGarden
It's possible you misunderstood, but a change of heart is also possible. That's the best and the worst of Beta!

>332 timepiece: I really like palette #1. :)

Oct 21, 2008, 6:06pm Top

Late to the conversation, but here are my thoughts:

I really, really miss having the stack of books like we see on the current log-in page.

The green style reminds me very strongly of a default layout for Livejournal. The brown layout has a similar feel but it's not as strong. I think it's because it's so spartan. It feels more like a sponsored blog/lj than it does a site for books which is to say it gives me the impression this is someone trying to sell something to a consumer rather than an invitation to join a community.

I really am sorry my response wasn't positive. I often feel bad for the brave designers who change things and are immediately jumped upon because the change is a change (good or bad doesn't matter). It's not as much of a problem on LT as other places, but it still happens.

Oct 21, 2008, 6:54pm Top

>332 timepiece:
I'd say that most of those are at least are at least tolerable (though I find #8 only barely so). I'll see what I can come up with for other suggestions.

Oct 21, 2008, 7:08pm Top

I like 2, 3 and 7. I like 4, too, but not for LT. And I think all of them are skewed a little dark - 2 least, but still at least one color that would be much too dark for a header (fine for accents). But the same colors with less saturation would look great.

Oct 21, 2008, 7:23pm Top

Tim, how the hell does one go about using that site? I can't make sense of it at all!

Oct 21, 2008, 8:32pm Top

AnnaClaire, are you talking to me? My username does start with t-i-m, but I'm not Tim (or a Tim).

Pay no attention to most of the search form - I just pop in promising keywords (book, leather, parchment, library, etc.).

Edited: Oct 21, 2008, 8:48pm Top

Zoe: I don't really see how this follows. Can't the homepage just be different from most LT pages? It doesn't seem like a problem if the homepage is colourful and the interior pages are white.

I agree they can differ, but can they be very different? I'm not sure. I'm worried that, if the home page has a strong background color, it will feel disjunctive if it's the only page.

Again, it's not "colorful" that's the problem. It's the background. Another option would be to have a colorful home page that didn't maintain the same division between nav and part beneath. I think that, if the home page has the same basic *structure* the disjunction between colorful background on the home and white background elsewhere will feel relatively more severe.

I agree with the person who mentioned they'd rather be able to do collections than have the site redone cosmetically.

Believe me, they're not the same people. Alana is not writing PHP code. Having Alana design--or Abby find Early Reviewer books, etc.--does not slow down collections.

Collections has been slowed down by a few things. First, my time is stretched very thin—including some business issues that I can't get into here. Second, we needed to finish the LibraryThing for Libraries Reviews module, and that meant some of my time. And third, Chris took time from collections to make the Add books page better (and faster). I thought it would be a one or two-day thing, but it ended taking more than a week.

When I get back to Portland, collections are again on the plate. There's a lot left to do, but it'll get done.

Oct 21, 2008, 8:54pm Top

Tim, any thoughts on any of the color palettes?

Oct 21, 2008, 9:29pm Top

YUK..........Keep the current one.

Oct 21, 2008, 9:42pm Top

>342 timepiece:
Sorry. Jumped to a conclusion a little quicker than I should. Long day.

Oct 21, 2008, 9:46pm Top

Before this is skewered or simply ignored, I have to point out it's a very rough representation of what I have in mind, and I'm not even very happy with it myself.

However, it should serve as a basic reference for what I have been talking about, i.e. 1) using book-related pictures in the background instead of florid decorations, 2) a very simple colour palette (mostly Alana's, a little darker, background white again) and 3) more elegant fonts.

The background pictures themselves should be less obtrusive and colourful, and I wasn't able to a good job creating versions that would blend more easily, but I am sure Alana could produce something more refined.

So, that said, here is a screenshot.

Edited: Oct 21, 2008, 9:50pm Top

Links to the original pictures used for the background:

Melk Monastery Library

Bastam Cuneiform Foundation Inscription

Oct 21, 2008, 10:07pm Top

>347 Existanai:
That looks nice.

Oct 22, 2008, 12:26am Top

I really, really like that! Not so much the background image, but the white background is gorgeous. It looks more like the rest of the site too. Alana, any chance of trying out a white background on the home page? =)

Oct 22, 2008, 12:39am Top

>347 Existanai: You're probably down the road too far with this approach, but here's my nickel's worth and I'm relying on Librarything's New England origins to cut me some slack for being blunt.

1. Too many lines and boxes plus the two different background photos make a very cluttered, choppy page. The red outlines of the book images add more clutter without enhancing the images. No, the background images should NOT be more obtrusive and colorful. They are BACKGROUND and in this design are not helping matters as they stand.
2. I don't understand the communication hierarchy of the elements (and I'm assuming you gave one to the designer in the design brief). Too many elements have the same weight, so the eye doesn't track systematically through the page - it bounces erratically. For example, the "What Is Librarything" section is too recessive, when it should be the entry point.
3. I don't find the font "elegant" so much as boring. It's tough to see it properly at this size but it looks very much like Times New Roman.

Frankly, the original design in message 1 which was so despised was far superior.

Oct 22, 2008, 12:59am Top

>351 stringcat3:: post 347 isn't one of the designer's mock-ups, but rather a member's modification of some of the designer's ideas. Look at 298 for links to the most recent mock-ups by the designer.

Edited: Oct 22, 2008, 1:29am Top

#349, 350: Thanks for the positive comments!

#351: As rsterling noted, and as I mentioned at the start of my post (which I suspect you didn't read carefully enough) this is a modification to visually explain some of my suggestions to Alana, the designer. Now you don't like it, which is fine, but I feel obliged to point out your first two objections are redundant because (and this is why I said you haven't read my post carefully) 1. I mentioned that the backgrounds had to be less intrusive and colourful, and you chimed in with the same statement, in capitals, as if I had said the opposite. In fact, I want the pictures to be blended in much the same way the acanthus pattern has been blended in, but I don't currently have the time or resources to do it properly; 2. the design elements and overall palette are the same as Alana's (the designer's) with hues slightly changed, and a white background. I agree white boxes don't stand out well against white, but as mentioned, they're not quite meant to, with a faded picture as background to the boxes.

So - not to worry - there are still opportunities to go back to the drawing board.

Edited: Oct 22, 2008, 1:35am Top

One of my own objections to the red and white palette above is that it is too close to Abebooks, and those who learn about the business connection might imagine that LT was contractually obliged to maintain a corporate theme, which is untrue and which LT might not find palatable (or palettable).

Oct 22, 2008, 3:17am Top

I'll keep this short.

I like the first one:

But I like the color schemes timepiece has posted! Those are great!

Many people don't like change...but if librarything never changes it won't keep up with changing technologies and our changing needs too. Being able to change shows versatility and an effort to improve...and we can always improve, even LibraryThing.

Keep up the great work and thanks for keeping us informed!

Oct 22, 2008, 3:42am Top

#355 I think you might have linked to the wrong page.

Edited: Oct 22, 2008, 4:08am Top

Another go-round:

Right-click for a larger view.

Oct 22, 2008, 6:59am Top

I had really hoped the main site would have a white back ground, stay mostly the same and just have top/bottom or box elements that reflected the final new color scheme chosen. I like Alana's most recent samples, for a front page, but would not want to see it (background) through out the site.

In terms of them being the same, I think the colors at the top, and the similar nav bars would tie the site together without having to make every page look like the new front page.

I don't think the front page in something most users would see a lot of. I am always signed in so I never see that page. I would think the job of that page is geared more to grabbing new users and getting them to sign up. Once they do, they may never see the front page again. I would hate for a page that is almost never used to dictate how the rest of the site looks (like the tail wagging the dog), though I do understand the need to make the front page more modern and update it, and the need to tie them together.

I also have to say I hate the top of Existanai's design. The books are too light so you are constantly looking trying to figure out what they are and get more definition. It looks more like an error in rendering than an actual design choice. If the design was darker or stronger though, it would be too busy and overwhelm the rest of the page.

I think adding something to the top could be work, I just think it shouldn't be dominant, either because its too dark or busy, or too light and faded.

Oct 22, 2008, 8:34am Top

I logged out to look at our existing home page and agree that it needs updating. After going back and forth among the posted alternatives I come down on the side of the green design. Why?

- it has a fresh look, especially with the stripes
- it looks like a fun place to be
- it looks open and welcoming, not heavy and stogy
- it has good white space
- I like the features - hot books and reviews, but I hope these would be changed on a weekly bases to keep the page fluid

- What the press are saying should be burgundy to match the other headers

Oct 22, 2008, 10:09am Top

I like it, actually. Makes it look more like a professional site. I especially like the image of books in the bar. I don't care for the navy border though.

Oct 22, 2008, 11:13am Top

A few people have expressed concerns about older browsers and small screen resolutions, and I just wanted to add (perhaps as a note to myself?) that it's possible to provide solutions to these issues all within the same page via CSS.

A List Apart just covered it, for the nerdy: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/progressiveenhancementwithcss

Oct 22, 2008, 12:07pm Top

I've always liked burgundy but don't like it for websites--heavy and sometimes hard to read. I really like the green colour scheme--soothing and easy to read for these older eyes.

Edited: Oct 22, 2008, 12:33pm Top

Tim, now that this thread has been mentioned in the State of the Thing, could you edit the first post to direct people's attention to the current designs, rather than the original one? Several recent posts seem to be responding to the original one, and not reading the rest of the posts (not surprising since there are >300 ErlendSkjelten:) to find the current ones (which are linked in 298 as best as I can tell).

Oct 22, 2008, 12:56pm Top

I like >347 Existanai:, especially the books at the top!

Don't like 357 as well, the red is too bright.

good ideas, tho!

Oct 22, 2008, 2:38pm Top

I really liked the first idea, easy to see, read better.

Oct 22, 2008, 5:00pm Top

363> Hear, hear. It's hard to get a good idea of the feedback when it's directed solely at the first mockup, missing all the work that went into the secondary iteration(s)..

Oct 22, 2008, 5:56pm Top

Here is a top image I wanted to get working but couldn't quite integrate

Oct 22, 2008, 6:58pm Top

>367 alanapost:

Plenty of variations out there, maybe a different one would work better?

I kind of like this variation:

Oct 22, 2008, 7:14pm Top


Oh, that poor book! Eeek!

368> I like that a lot better, but how are "glasses on a book" a variation on "bent pages"?

Oct 22, 2008, 7:41pm Top

>369 lorax:

I thought of it as a variation of "we heart books".

Oct 22, 2008, 8:17pm Top

In general this looks too blog-like to me. I (heart) the way LT looks right now. Just my 2 cents...

Oct 22, 2008, 8:35pm Top


Guess I'm too literal-minded -- that never would have occurred to me for either, and I had to look for a minute to figure it out even after you explained it.

Oct 22, 2008, 9:37pm Top

#357 - I like this! The only suggestion I have would be changing the white areas to a light tan/ivory that blended better with the background. The white is to jarring to the eyes. I love the book related theme.

Just my 2 cents, but when I think "library", I don't think in terms of public libraries, but more of a walnut paneled room complete with window seats and plenty of pillows, worn leather couches and chairs to curl up on and fireplaces and comfy afghans to keep the toes warm and of course walls lined with shelves filled with books. Comfy, cosy, warm and inviting one to spend endless hours enjoying our favorite activity. *smile*

Oct 22, 2008, 11:07pm Top

373: That's exactly what I picture when I think "library". (our town library was recently completely remodeled and is now very impersonal, white, business-like.... NOT like a "library" at all in my mind).

Oct 22, 2008, 11:14pm Top

Tim, now that this thread has been mentioned in the State of the Thing, could you edit the first post to direct people's attention to the current designs...

Done. Thanks.


I hate clip art. I really do. The former front-page illustration was used because it's a real user's books--and includes some weird titles, like the one about the stip club. Before that, it was my books. I know that it probably seemed like clip art, but I think some authenticy showed through. Clip art--particularly the improbably cute chick reading a book in some equally improbable posture--drives me to murder.

Connotations of library

Ah, the biggest problem with LibraryThing. To me "library" is a collection of books. I have a library. My family had one. But to a lot of people--including readers--"library" only means an institutional library. Damn them.

Oct 23, 2008, 12:52am Top

particularly the improbably cute chick reading a book in some equally improbable posture

I'll have you know this is what I do all day long. I'm sure I'm hardly the only LTer who would say the same. ;)

Edited: Oct 23, 2008, 1:05am Top

But are you improbably cute? There's something about being really cute that, apparently, translates into ease of reading in windowsills, in trees and upside down on tiny love seats with your fashionable shoes in the air. Oh, and on swingsets and with improbably cute boyfriends back-to-back.

Oct 23, 2008, 1:03am Top

>375 timspalding:
To me "library" is a collection of books.

To me library is many things: my collection of books (which is scattered around in two apartments), public libraries, university libraries and my work place - they are all different. LibraryThing is a collection of collections of people's books.

Panelled rooms with leather bound books are certainly not what comes to my mind when I think about LibraryThing. LibraryThing is miscellaneous. I think the bookpile is a kind of trademark of LibraryThing. I don't know if it is possible to incorporate it in some form into the new design. I hope so.

Oct 23, 2008, 1:20am Top

377: I could point out more then a few LTers who are improbably cute, but maybe that's just me (I tend to think book-nerds as a whole are cute). But your post totally made me laugh.

Oct 23, 2008, 3:00am Top

>378 Anneli: I agree with Anneli. LibraryThing is not a library it is so much more - it is the books surrounding me in my home, it is the comments exchanged among members, it is a living, breathing entity which goes around the world, it is the discussion we are having about the home page. To try and make the Homepage look like a library is a disservice to both. I spent over 30 years working in all types of libraries and think highly of them but they aren't LibraryThing.

Oct 23, 2008, 5:18am Top

#367 - No-oo-oo! That book would just make me cry a lot and curse the page bending fool that did it! I couldn't look at that everytime I logged onto LT ;)

#375 >The former front-page illustration was used because it's a real user's books--and includes some weird titles, like the one about the stip club

Oct 23, 2008, 8:24am Top

Geez...relax...it's just pages in a phantom book and they are not bent, just curved. Oy vey.

Oct 23, 2008, 11:19am Top

There's something about being really cute that, apparently, translates into ease of reading in windowsills, in trees and upside down on tiny love seats with your fashionable shoes in the air.

Oh, so that's why I get shoulder and neck pain. Thanks for the tip!

Oct 23, 2008, 11:22am Top

Is that why my hubby laughs at me and asks "how can you possibly read like that?"

Reading positions:
turned on my side with the seat down in the car
upside down on the outdoor glider swing
my legs hanging off the armrest of the sofa...
etc, etc, etc

I thought I was just weird! Glad I'm not the only one...

Oct 25, 2008, 2:56pm Top

thanks 382! it's a beautiful edition (Little, Brown 1990) of Vineland and i would never harm it.

Oct 30, 2008, 10:52am Top

It seems like I might be in the minority here, but my reaction to the proposed redesigns is: Ugh. I don't like it. Stick with the way LT looks. It's lovely the way it is.

If something should be fixed, it should be the slow load times I've been seeing lately.

Oct 30, 2008, 10:01pm Top

386: Oh I'm totally with you, I'd much rather see LT stay the way it is, design-wise. But I pick my battles here, and anti-redesign is obvious not one I'd win, so.... lol

Oct 31, 2008, 2:24pm Top

I'm curious, if we have to have this change, why aren't there some cooler options to look at? The browns, greens, maroons, are very depressing.

Edited: Oct 31, 2008, 4:19pm Top

There is a whole other thread going on somewhere that has some other color ideas in it too. Some cool, some loud.

See the link to that thread via the link in the first message of this thread.

Oct 31, 2008, 4:47pm Top

388: Then be more specific about what colors you do want?

Oct 31, 2008, 4:51pm Top


There is no color scheme that will please everyone. Some people love the browns -- others say they're depressing. Some people love the green -- others say it's cloying and toothpasty. Some want "bright, cheerful" colors -- others think those schemes are painful to look at or cutesy. The best they can do is pick something inoffensive, so that people who don't like it aren't actively repelled.

Nov 1, 2008, 1:32am Top

I'm surprised that noone combined #367 with a new slogan: LibraryThing.com: Even our books are bent.

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