Stopdesign and Mezzoblue Critique

I hope the following designers don’t mind my friendly critique (they shouldn’t, design is meant to be critiqued).

Douglas Bowman of Stopdesign (http://www.stopdesign.com/) recently “ditched” his styles and “start[ed] over with a blank slate.” I immediately noticed the identity. Very well done. The new mark is reminiscent of the previous, however, this one is fresher and more bold. The type treatment on the logo is quite interesting as well. Playful but doesn’t set itself apart from the mark. Balancing the logo and name can be very challenging but Douglas shows no hesitation. Next I was drawn too is the white space. I loooove whitespace. When it’s used properly your eye floats through the design, appreciating subtleties rather than getting lost in eye candy. I miss the color palate Douglas used on the old site. Providing a distinguishing design element like color to set apart different sections can be very pleasing. Overall, well done. I’m anxious to see Stopdesign’s evolution.

On to Dave Shea’s Mezzoblue (http://www.mezzoblue.com/) version 4. Lots of things going on in this redesign. I could tell from reading his post and exploring the navigation that a lot has gone into the programing side of things. However, on the front end I think too much is going on. The color scheme works well but the style is confusing. I can’t tell if he’s shooting for the “pixel” style or something I haven’t seen before. The navigation is different and nice. Everything contained in three tabs expanding into additional tabs that give corresponding information. Efficient way of stacking content into a small space. I also enjoy the reply highlighting (http://mezzoblue.com/archives/2004/05/25/reply_highli/). The overall structure of the site is well thought out and well executed, however, more time needs to be spent on the purpose and meaning of the design elements.

Hillman Curtis (http://www.hillmancurtis.com/) quoted Hemingway in an interview saying:

Write the story, take out all the good lines and see if the story still works. What he’s saying is write your story. Take out all the fancy stuff. The stuff you think is so great. All the descriptions, all the adjectives, all the beautiful stuff; yank it all out of there. See if you have a story. The beauty of it for me, being a designer, is actually watching my design come to life as I pull stuff out, not add stuff in.

I reflect on this quote frequently throughout my design process to help gauge when I’ve done too much or to little. I hope this critique helps in some way. I miss formal critiques and I plan on doing more.