Community Spark blog redesign

by Martin Reed on 2 July 2007 in Snippets

On many occasions I have written about the importance of listening and responding to feedback. Since launching this blog back in March, I have been lucky enough to receive a lot of feedback on the blog’s design and structure.

Feedback from visitors is extraordinarily valuable – if you are not pleasing your visitors, they will go elsewhere. I have taken all the comments I received about Community Spark’s design on-board and am happy to finally launch a brand new design.

Features of the new blog design

  • The theme is much brighter than before, making it easier to read the text
  • The contrast between text and background is far stronger
  • I have added a ‘Top Contributors’ section (see footer of page)
  • I have added a ‘Recent Comments’ section (see footer of page)
  • I have improved the way search results are displayed – only excerpts are returned, rather than full articles
  • There are links to the next and previous article at the top of each page when reading a specific article

More feedback, please!

Now this transition is complete, I would love to hear your comments regarding the new design. Whether you love it or hate it, please share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment. Similarly, if you come across any bugs then please do let me know.

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me July 2, 2007 at 10:31 pm

Didn’t this site have a dark design before? I remember loving it. This, eh, not so much. Give me grey on dark any day over this :)

I am not sure I agree with “…, making it easier to read the text”

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 2, 2007 at 10:37 pm

Thanks for your comment, me. Yes – the site design was a dark theme before the redesign.

I received a lot of negative comments regarding the darker theme – namely that the text was hard to read.

I look forward to reading feedback from others in order to determine whether this new look is preferred.

Blogging July 3, 2007 at 1:14 am

I love the new theme, its way easier to read and it looks more attractive. Dark themes usually don’t do as well as light themes and this one is perfect. The additions of the top commentators and recent comments is also a great addition to the blog. I have both of them installed on my blog too and I have found that commentators appreciate it, it is a good way to reward them. Again, great job with the update and good luck!

Dave July 3, 2007 at 2:11 am

I’m normally not a huge fan of the darker blogs, but I really liked yours. I do like the new look though, even though I think I may prefer the old one. I’m not sure why, but I just get more of a templatized feeling with this one (not saying mine is any better considering I’m using a popular template…but not for long :) )

Either way, I really do like this new one as well, great job!

Vijay Teach Me July 3, 2007 at 3:18 am

Hi Matin,
Now this is a cool design with a nice layout, I like the bottom headers in the web 2.0 style with the shadow.


Smiley July 3, 2007 at 4:50 am

Excellent design, Martin. I’ve always been a fan of bright, lively designs. I’ve always thought of dark designs as depressing.

It has jogged a question into my mind, though. What is your opinion on this:

What is more important in a community? A site design that you absolutely love and users aren’t too fussed, or a site design that users absolutely love but you dislike?

Obviously, our goal is to please our users.. but I also think a community owner should beable to enjoy their own site.


Blogging July 3, 2007 at 5:14 am

After spending a little more time on the blog I think you should change the background (diagonal stripes). I don’t know if its just me (or if its because I’m tired) but the stripes take away focus from the main text, especially after you scroll up/down the page then stop to read. I think you should make them either lighter or maybe just put a solid color or another design there.

Comfy - Educational toys July 3, 2007 at 11:46 am

i like the new design, it centers the eye to the middle. i like the features it makes it very easy to move around in the site. but it is not as important the texts. keep up the good work

Tim July 3, 2007 at 1:49 pm

You can never please everyone Martin,
I didn’t particularly like your other skin, but I found it more stylish than the current one. But putting the emphasis on the center is kinda neat though.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 3, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Thanks for your comments, everyone. The main reason for the change was due to the number of comments I received from people telling me that the dark theme made the text harder to read.

A blog relies on its content – if it is difficult to read, something is very wrong! I was a fan of the previous theme, but if this one means the text is easier to read then it will be here to stay.

In any case, please keep your comments and feedback coming!

Smiley – Your community relies on its members. If they are happy with your site’s design, you should be too. That is not to say you cannot redesign or tweak your site; get your visitors involved in the process by posting previews and inviting feedback.

me July 4, 2007 at 9:38 am

I agree with “Dave”, though I love dark themes in general (my KDE desktop has a light gray on dark gray theme on everything and I use a custom dark stylesheet in opera for many sites) – your dark theme was actually one of the cooler I had seen lately (was is a template, if so where could I find it?). The current gives me a much more blog/run-of-the-mill template feeling. It’s not bad.. it’s just.. generic.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 4, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Thanks for your comment, me. The previous theme was completely custom, as is this one. I did like the uniqueness of the dark theme, too but was concerned about the number of comments I was getting from users claiming they found it difficult to read and uninviting.

I guess you can’t win them all, eh?

Biddy July 4, 2007 at 9:45 pm

I liked the old design, but I like this better, especially considering your content. This is probably easier to read, and it certainly feels more professional: I’d expect a dark background on, say, a gaming or music site, but for here, the white feels more appropriate.

Josh Buckley July 5, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Nice design, but i really really liked the old one. Not sure which i like more. This one is still really good, though.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 5, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Biddy – Thanks for your comment. I think the new design does come across as a little more professional. I may well use the darker theme for a different project in the future as I think it really was unique.

Josh – A lot of people feel the same as you; I am surprised there seems to be little between the two designs – I was expecting people to much prefer the new brighter design as it is easier to read the main content of the blog (ie the text!).

Jon - July 12, 2007 at 8:51 am

Holy wow! I missed that? man it looks good! ;)
I like the color scheme, although I liked your old theme, this one fits better with your blog imo. Grey is a “sad color” this new one fits more with “community” :)

I have a lot of catching up to do I think, been pretty busy since the last 2 weeks (new blog, and project and all), ok off to read your other posts! :D

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 12, 2007 at 6:00 pm

Hey Jon – Thanks for dropping by; it’s really encouraging for me to know that you are still reading my blog when you get the chance!

I am glad you like the new design – thank you for your kind comments.