Re: GNOME colors

All right everybody, at the risk of continuing a flamewar, I
respectfully submit my rebuttals below...

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joakim Ziegler" <joakim helixcode com>
To: <gnome-web-list gnome org>
Sent: Saturday, December 16, 2000 11:35 PM
Subject: Re: GNOME colors

> On Sat, Dec 16, 2000 at 09:05:25PM -0500, digitect wrote:
> >> I think there's little disagreement that the current site is a vast
> >> improvement over the old one.
> > I'm not sure I would agree. One of the things I first noticed about
> > was the softer tone of the web site. I tire of getting hit with
> > and contrast at every page I go to, and the old GNOME site was a
> > change. (No offense intended Joakim, just my preference.)
> See my mail to Ryan Muldoon for a comprehensive explanation of the
> for the current design.

(which were): "Well, those might be your opinions, but the last redesign
was met with
roaring approval through all stages of the design, by the entire GNOME
marketing group, and considered an improvement in all ways."

Several points:

1. The marketing group's opinion is not gospel. I am interested in
alternative perspectives, those which do not necessarily play well to
the masses and therefore the business/marketing side of things. I'm sure
there are many individuals in the GNOME movement that would agree,
that's why half of us are here in this alternative OS anyway.

2. <grin> I would hardly classify even the most enthusiastic artistic
critisizm as "roaring". Really, why are we even talking about re-design
if there seems to be general approval for the site as it stands?

3. Aesthetic critique is nothing to get defensive about. Neither Ryan or
myself are discussing your artistic sensibilities or talents. I can't
speak for him, but I'm just expressing some of the appeal that the old
scheme appealed to me.

> >> Additionally, some of the colors in the GNOME color scheme
(especially as
> >> used on the old site) are plain bad, visually. Low-saturation
greyish browns
> >> are extremely dreary colors (while reducing the contrast of the
entire site,
> >> and thus the readability). There are also different goals for the
> >> design of a desktop people are supposed to use for 10 hours a day,
every day,
> >> and a website that serves as an information and promotion channel
for that
> >> same desktop. Specifically, you have a much shorter time to make
> >> impression, so being less subdued (in color use, design, etc.) is
> >> to capture the user and build brand recognition.
> > This is *definitely* a matter of aesthetic opinion. What you say is
> > I think is easy on the eyes. Fact is, when you stare at a monitor 10
hours a
> > day, a slightly lower intensity and contrast is more desirable. (Not
> > much of course, just a little.)
> As mentioned elewhere, you're not going to be staring at the GNOME
> for 10 hours every day. Also, please read the literature on the impact
> contrast on legibility and comprehension (Nielsen has a few good
passages on
> this).

As you probably know, ultra-high contrast (red on blue for example) is
also extremely illegible. So then we must be talking about a balance
point somewhere in between, a matter of suitability and appropriateness.
To simply say "black on white is correct and nothing else is" fails to
appreciate some of the finer subtleties of design, as I'm sure you would
agree. What we're all trying to do here is to agree on what is legible
and what isn't, not conduct some sort of physiological lightwave rod and
cone interface analysis in 4 out of 5 dentists. Indeed, my own comp uses
a white background with charcoal text, which I think is perfectly
readable. But I'm open for other people's alternative suggestions, too.

> > Also, I don't care about making a visual splash and capturing the
> > visitor to the site through theatrics. GNOME is better. That's why
you would
> > want to use it. Let's make the site *clear*, useful and navigable
and let
> > the user judge for himself whether or not GNOME is better. Sooner or
> > flash runs out of steam, and they'll go on to something else.
There's a
> > saying in architecture: "If you can't make it good, make it big. If
> > can't make it big, paint it red." Let's just make it good.
> If you have a good way of showing people the total spectrum of quality
> GNOME represents in the 5-10 seconds a typical user will dedicate to
> front page of an average site before he either gets interested or
moves on,
> please let me know.
> Please do not erect strawman arguments like this. I'm clearly not
> that we make it good-looking instead of good, I'm saying we do both.

And I'm not saying that good-looking isn't important either. But it's
easy to get enticed by a lot of fancy colors and miss the point. GNOME
is about quality and that quality comes through the character and the
philosophy that created it. I don't think we should compromise our
principles just because it plays well to the 5 second visitor.

> > Ok, now my turn. Try these on:
> >
> Personally, I find these colors to be awfully bland and boring. Others
> disagree.

Heh. It's not trying to be exciting, just informative. Roadway signs
aren't the most exciting thing I've ever seen either, but they get me to
where I'm going. (We all seem to be disagreeing lately, aren't we? But
you're entitled.)

> >
(This one
> > is *not* intended to be a real proposal, just a way of testing icons
> > a gray on charcoal scheme.)
> > The first test comp is obviously neutral. But as you can see from
> > developer alternative, with neutrality comes flexibility. If we make
> > main GNOME site's colors too strong, the myriad related application
> > project sites will have much more of a struggle to maintain/create
their own
> > identity while still incorporating some flavor of the central GNOME
> > Take the current site's "pastels". Anybody else using them? Of
course not,
> > because it's too strong to be identifiable as anything other than
the main
> > site.
> I don't think it's our goal to make a reusable design framework of
some kind,
> which can be used by any random project site that happens to be
related to
> GNOME. It might be a good idea to have such a framework, to make it
> for GNOME projects to create attractive and presentable web pages
without too
> much work, but that's a separate effort from the main GNOME pages.
> There are many good reasons for *not* encouraging a
spread/bastardization of
> the design, such as the confusion that would arise, with people
> confusing random project sites and the main sites, possibly with
> whose quality or reliability we can't vounch for, etc. This is known
as brand
> dilution, and is considered a Bad Thing.
> So let's create this design with the GNOME sites in mind, not with
> project sites, for whose sake we need to be bland and nonintrusive.
Gods know
> it's a big enough job as it is.

Wait a second. Have we started selling GNOME lately and nobody told me?
Has the GPL been revoked?! I thought that the whole idea behind the
GNOME desktop was Free extensibility among as many applications as
desire. Since when does the brand of GNOME matter? Let's leave branding
up to HelixCode and Eazel, GNOME is more about a philosophy of software

All I'm saying is that the GNOME web site should have an identifiable
*character* and resulting style which is suggested through many subtle
(and perhaps some more obvious) artistic vehicles. My point is that
these vehicles need to align with the character of the desktop, not be
attention-begging flares for a desktop desparate for market share.
Truely, if GNOME is the best (and Free) than it can't help but succeed.
Again, let's not overstate the point.

> > I guess I'm trying to say that these pages, like the desktop, is a
canvas on
> > which many projects and applications are painted. It isn't supposed
to stand
> > out, just be a good supporting structure. Let's keep it clear and
> > neutral. It can still be kickin if the composition is proportional
and we
> > express style through the subtler things.
> As I've said countless times, feel free to create a wonderful site
> using these colors. I'm still not willing to let the use or non-use of
> become a deciding factor in whether or not a design is "good enough
for the
> GNOME sites".

Well, at some point we have to evaluate our interpretations of color. I
am fundamentally opposed to a red background, for example. Brown (as you
call it), on the other hand, conveys to me the soft-spoken, earthiness
of a product that doesn't mind standing on it's own substance and
merits. To quote Martha Stewart, "This is a good thing!" It is
introverted, which means the visitor has to *ask* questions about GNOME,
a sure way to get them *more* involved (as Socrates would tell you).
Maybe not quite as many, but definitely a better caliber of folks would
stick around. Of course this is all subjective. But that's why we're all
talking about this, right?

Ok, that's all I have to say. GNOME is a pretty cool thing to me, and
has some refreshing qualities that aren't so popular these days. I'm
just fighting for a chance to maintain that character in the web site
because I care about it.

(Oh, and BTW. When you said, "I think this doom metal is making me
slightly aggressive. Perhaps I shouldn't listen to this stuff while
writing on mailing lists," I think I agree.  ;)

No hard feelings,

Steve  [ digitect mindspring com ]

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