If Design is Doing Its Job…

You are now looking at an all-new JoeDarnell.com design. This is loosely based on the last treatment of the colors, layout, and site map. What the site needed I couldn’t accomplish with the design as it was before.

The Internet is ever developing into something new. The end goals of our sites are honed or remade. As a designer that’s responsible for the site’s functionality and presentation, it can be daunting to achieve my goals. What does it look like to me, a one-man operation, to take responsibility for all aspects of the project?


What’s Great About It

Big changes include a new logo, color scheme, and navigation. I was very disappointed with the logo I had before because it wasn’t versatile. It didn’t scale very well, so it wasn’t usable as a favicon, or even as an icon in the header. The colors are now more vibrant, and I managed to include red, which is my favorite color. As for the site navigation, I was never happy with the past implementation. Some pages were available at the top, others in the sidebar, and still others in the footer. Now, all of the primary links are at the top, and just a few lesser links are in the footer.

It will be much easier to present to you my work with the redesign as well. The Design page has samples of resent graphic design projects. The Focus Collection, the most popular content on the site, is now available in the main menu. Oh, and the main menu is available in desktop browsers and mobile ones, since the mobile layout (thanks to responsive design) is about 10 times better than it was before. The menu “just works” as they say. As it should be.

Where’s Room For Improvement

I’m not too keen on the body and header link styles. With the help of a few of my friends, I plan to update them quietly in the days to come. While I’m on the subject of text, I’m also not entirely satisfied with the fonts. What I have now is just sufficient. I don’t plan to make a huge departure from the current look and feel.

Getting a little nitpicky, I want the tagline of the site to move to the right of the title. I want the footer to have a darker background and lighter text. The biggest concern of all, and not one that I have much control over with Squarespace, is the search page results. I greatly dislike the layout of the results’ text.


A designer’s work is never done, but something useful and functional makes a solid version 1.0 (or in this case, more like a 8.0). The site has been around for seven years now and gone through many changes. The important part of my job is to keep honing what I have to offer you.

And along the way, it’s often necessary to launch the project before I — the designer — am completely at ease with the results. If a designer waits till he’s completely happy with this work, then his product is very late to market. I don’t want to let design stand in the way of the site’s intent. This is a content site, so I have to put the design into perspective and make it a slightly lesser priority.

And this is why many blog sites fail. The creator doesn’t juggle his priorities effectively, and then he gets tired of trying so hard to find satisfaction in his work and he quits.

But good designs can’t stand in the way of the primary goal, even for a designer. Good design plays servant to the master, which in this case is a content delivery system and this writer.

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.