Jeffrey Zeldman’s redesign

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
December 22nd, 2003 • 7:20 am

I must admit that I am puzzled by Jeffrey Zeldman’s redesign of his Daily Report page.

The most strikingly unpleasant aspect of it is the huge blob of empty orange space at the top. I simply do not understand how a professional designer can come up with such a design. It’s an enormous waste of space. Even assuming that most people have large monitors, you cannot make assumptions about the default size of their web browser windows. On my spacious 23″ display, my window height in Safari is usually around 800 pixels, including the address bar, bookmarks bar and tabs bar. That leaves about 700 pixels for the page content itself. The empty orange space on Jeffrey’s page uses up about 200 pixels, i.e. almost 30%. That’s just too much.

Since the only reason for this space appears to be the picture on the right-hand side, and since this picture does not have any obvious relation to the contents of the page (am I missing something?), it makes the whole thing a bit hard to swallow. The actually useful content in the header part fits in a 320×120 pixel rectangle. That leaves lots of space for unnecessary content.

The fonts used for rendering the logo and surrounding text are not particularly nice-looking either. The smaller, sans-serif fonts are not smoothly anti-aliased, and there are even problems with the metrics of the fonts, with the two e characters in the Presents word in Jeffrey Zeldman Presents actually looking different from each other:


In French, we have a saying about shoe-repair people wearing the worst possible shoes themselves… I wouldn’t go that far, but there are certainly certain aspects of this redesign that I find disappointing for a professional designer.

4 Responses to “Jeffrey Zeldman’s redesign”

  1. Paul Ingraham says:

    Yep, Zeldman’s gettin’ cocky or something. That design is pure wank, I’d say. The image is the most disturbingly pointless element.

  2. Bob Wendalino says:

    I agree. Hate to say it but Zeldman is boring the hell out of me, love the guy to death and think he has done some great work, but this redesign is not good. The 70’s called and they want their orange back!

  3. Martin says:

    For those who haven’t yet seen it, a critique of Zeldman’s latest recently posted over at Whitespace:

    There are some worthy comments on the critique, including at least one from the man himself. However, Zeldman’s last comment there – something of an outburst not proportionate to what had gone before it, in my opinion, which the the author of the critique tried awkwardly to explain – seems to suggest that he’s feeling the weight of expectation somewhat.

    It’s almost as disappointing as the fact that I am here speculating about Zeldman’s mindstate, instead of appreciating all the man has done before, and trying to do something of equal worth myself.

    I like others prefer the previous design. Someone has observed that the current design has an unfinished feel; I agree, and feel that with some tweaking (many interesting suggestions were made in response to the above critique), the current design could come on leaps and bounds.

    Zeldman’s a busy man; we should give him a break.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Martin: Thanks for the link. Interesting discussion :). I certainly am not attempting to heap criticism on Zeldman’s head. OTOH, he’s busy, but not so busy that he doesn’t have time to try and redesign his site. As for his comments, yes, they do seem to be a bit out of proportion. The weight of expectation and notoriety, no doubt.

    All this is not going to prevent me from visiting his site. There’s still lots of valuable information over there, which is ultimately what it’s all about. Subconsciously, however, I will enjoy my visits a little less, because of the new design. No big deal.

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