metafilter: reloaded

I've been an avid user of MetaFilter, the 800-pound gorilla of collaborative weblogs, for years. So when the site's creator, Matt Haughey, announced the redesign contest in late November of 2004, I knew I had to enter.

It was a chance to give something back to the community that had provided me with so much information and entertainment over the years; it was an opportunity to try out my design chops on a really high-profile project. (And, let's face it, the lure of winning a free custom-painted iPod caught my attention, too.)

Here's my redesign of the site.

the details

  1. Redesigned logo -- kept classic colors, but went with a bolder, retro-futuristic font for fun and friendly look
  2. Brief intro to the "About" page immediately orients new readers, lets them know where they are and what this is, lures people into reading more about the site
  3. Vertical list of subsections gives plenty of room for future expansion; rounded boxes with no outline are intended to be less eye-catching, so the user's focus will be on the main content first
  4. More convenient access into the archives, with all links in one place
  5. No real need to have the search functionality buried on a subpage; having it here makes it easier for users to find what they want
  6. Graphical links provide good redundancy for the text links to the right, and draw the users eye better, to make the page look more dynamic
  7. Main body of text has been given a perkier, more legible font, and a lighter background, one that goes well with the classic #006699, but provides higher contrast and better readability
  8. All "toolbox" links for interacting with the site are conveniently grouped. I've also added some of the site's planned functionality, to show how it would look with this layout

the mockup

Click on the image for full-size mockup

the results

The contest results were announced on February 5, 2005.

My design wasn't the winner -- but Matt did mention my design was one of his favorites, which was extremely gratifying. He wrote:

"This is probably the strongest of the entries that used a three column design. Everything seems to have its perfect spot and I like the use of color that still mixes well onto a white page. I'm guessing the icons let you jump between sections, and I love the idea of surfacing the search engine onto the front page."

Shortly after announcing the contest results, Matt reworked the existing front page to include a search box. It was really cool to see at least one element of my redesign have an immediate effect on the site.

On the other hand -- it looks like I'm going to have to buy my own iPod.


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