K Frog Designs

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Fire In Ice Browser

Recently, i've been feeling a little stifled for ideas, i'm not sure whether this is due to the overwhelming amount of information I have to design for, or that I've simply had a slow start to this month. Anyhow, I've come up with a further Fire In Ice design. Now this design is for the browser, which is intended to make it easier for a user of Fire In Ice to find the product they're looking for.

I'm not as content about this design as the main page design, but I believe I'm travelling in the right direction. The principal ideas I have had for the browser are present in this, there's just a few problems with the visual categorisation of objects, which is mainly due to proportion, but I'll talk about that later. Here's a schema of the browser design *click for a full size view - though the full size file is 370kb, it may take a while to load*

  • The grouping of all the objects in the item browser is intended to represent that this browser should be considered as an application of sorts, somewhat seperate from the rest of the site.
  • I've taken a stand against dropdowns for browsing, so that probably explains why all choices are listed as either swatches (the collection selections on the left) or horizontal selectors (the view and element rows).
  • The collection selection (swatches on the left side) are supposed to be the most forward elements on the page. They change colour (become more vivid) on rollover and when browsing any style, the gallery display changes colour to correspond to the collection selected. The main problem i've had with this is they tend to compete too well with other elements and this may be a detriment to the items displayed. It could be possible to lighten these further, but this would require a strengthening of the inner shadow in the swatches, and maybe some sort of white graphic in the drop shadows *shrugs*. The colours could have been better selected too (some of the colours compete with the rollover colours in the header menu.
  • As you might/might not have noticed, the search box has a new button. This button was styled when I was coming up with styles for representing the information displayed with each thumbnail in the gallery. Now, this search box will need to be restyled again, as its too light, and there are some inconsistencies in the proportions of the search box to the "GO!" button. And the serif font can be changed too (erghh! one day I'll stop using serifs completely, but not right now).
  • There were so many styles I went through to represent the thumbnails, and this representation was the best of the lot. I'm not very happy with it at all, the only reason I used this was because of a decision I made to remove most of the text when displaying thumbnails (ie. the description text, title, etc.). This was probably not the best move. I'll have to go back to the drawing board for this one.
  • The browsing options (the stuff on red up at the top of the gallery) is probably the thing i'm most pleased with, though there are again problems with this. It needs improvements (especially in colour) because it stands out too much against the thumbnails, and i really dont want that to happen. Maybe I wont need to change this after I've re-sketched the thumbnail display.
  • The paging details (down the bottom) i'm almost content with, except for the previous and next links. I'm sure everybody else has this problem because there has always been a very bad representation of previous/next links on pages (just take a peak at phpbb's custom styles for at least any good idea for representing these and you'll see what I mean). They always look hideous and out of place, they dont display any relevant information about what to expect to the user, and are normally done like this '<<Previous | 01 | 02 | Next>>' ) *shivers*. I've noticed recently with the explosion of blogs that most pages have turned away from this representation, some not even bothering to page their objects, but this seems inescapable for any representation of thumbnails, and I believe this is slowly deprecating thumbnail displays. I'll whinge about this later and come up with some ingenious solution, trust me :P
  • The "Browse Our Collections" big half bold/half light title needs some work. Right now it seems like the only thing out of place *sigh*

I'm pulling a 'production-completed' to this design, its good enough to produce for now, but I need to explore more textual representations. Over the next 5 days i'll be designing the product display page, the blog/news display page, the collection display page and the links display page. After these have been done I'll come back to this and revise it with more text, better thumbnails, a list option, and better colours.


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