It was one of those “can’t see the wood for the trees” things. When I last redesigned the Flip Flop Flyin’ homepage in 2006, I was so intent on it being simple, that I kinda forgot that the main thing about my work is that it’s visual. I spent a lot of time making a menu that would make it easy for people to find things. And in doing so, created something that was the complete opposite. There was ten years worth of content, and to expect first-time visitors to know where the hell to start, and to expect people who’ve been before to remember the names of everything… well, it was stupid. Really stupid. There was a column of text explaining each new thing, but most of the visitors to FFF come via people clicking a link on the blog, anyway.
On Thursday, I resolved to change things. I redesigned it. The redesign is just for the homepage. All the other pages are the same, cos I didn’t really see much of a need to change them. And the new look is kind of inspired by the quick design I did for my Flip Flop Fly Ball site: a chronologically listed page of thumbnails with brief descriptions so you can get some idea of what it is you are clicking before you do so. I’ve left an alphabetical menu in one column, but everything else is ordered by the year of its creation. If things lasted longer and spanned several years, they are listed in the year they were begun. Things that are ongoing are above the chronological part of the page.
The first things you will come to, though, are links to my three books, the Minipops app, and the other three sites I do (this one, Flip Flop Fly Ball, and CraigRobinson.com, which I’ll be redesigning in the next few days, and will become my portfolio page; no offence to the other Craig Robinsons but it’s kind of a waste of money and a good URL to not make the most of it). I’ve been doing this stuff for ten years now, and I’ve never had advertising on the site, I’ve done that annoying passive aggressive self-depreciation thing (when really, I kinda know I do good stuff), and in general I’ve not promoted myself as well as I should’ve. So that’s why the first thing you see is promoting my wares. I doubt I’ll ever have adverts on any of the sites, it would feel wrong to do so, but if making the books and app a bit more prominent can contribute to the cost of running the site, then that would be great. (That was an attempt to subtly nudge you iPhone and iPod touch owners in the direction of the App Store to buy the Minipops app.)
And at the top of it all, I’ve changed the masthead. The rest of the page is so full of visuals, I wanted the top bit to be a bit calmer, a bit more subdued. So it’s a fairly plain landscape now with me, Billy, and Tessa (the dog I loved during my teenage years and early twenties) in front of some Bob Ross-inspired mountains. (Update, Sunday 22 Nov.: I couldn’t live with myself just having made-up mountains on there, and I really enjoy drawing mountains, so – to compliment the blog’s Rio de Janeiro landscape, I’ve re-drawn the masthead to include mountains that one would see facing west from an island in the middle of the Beagle Channel, near Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. The mountains on the left are Chilean, on the right, they are Argentinian. The channel isn’t as wide as I’ve done it, but y’know, artistic licence.)
One of the interesting by-products of doing all this, is that for the first time in ages I had a good look at everything on the site, and it’s kinda reminded me of the tone of the site. It’s been easy to get wrapped up in different things over the past couple of years. Blogging became dominant in 2008 when I was travelling around; baseball became dominant this year with the launch of the other site and the recent book deal. So it’s been nice to feel like I still wanna do FFF-style stuff. This year has been poor on that front, but hopefully, I’ll ramp up a bit more soon. I think it’s safe to say the days of spending long nights animating stuff won’t happen as often as they did a few years ago, but I’m different person now, and while dancing owls are a wonderful thing, I’d be forcing it if I tried to do it again.
Anyway, hope you like the new look. Any comments, you know how to get in touch.