My design page is live (finally)! But before you check it out, let me give you some background. As assigned, Megan gave me my first round of criticism. I’ve already made some changes based on her suggestions.
It was pretty tough for me to find inspiration for this site. I knew I didn’t want to go for the obvious blue and grey color scheme, but other than that I didn’t really have any ideas. I googled as many American Civil War websites as I could find and I looked at Historic Alexandria‘s website (specifically This Week in Historic Alexandria). Looking at these websites wasn’t much help (the Alexandria website was a little helpful). Apparently most Civil War websites are very basic and were possibly put up in the late 90s? Maybe? Organizational sites like the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, The Museum of the Confederacy, VHS’s An American Turning Point, or Civil War Trust are beyond my skill level and in some ways a little more modern than I wanted to go for. Then I looked at books I had that cover the Civil War and/or the second half of the nineteenth century. Nothing. Nothing really jumped out at me. So I decided to go ahead and start playing around with my website; after a few hours it finally hit me. I was relying quite a bit on Charles Magnus’ lithograph of Alexandria. In fact for the final project I hope to use the lithograph to it’s full potential. Why couldn’t it be my inspiration?!
Bird's Eye View of Alexandria, Va by Charles Magnus. The original image from the Library of Congress is rather large, but it has it to be. In small sizes much is lost. There is so much detail packed into this lithograph it's rather astonishing. Important landmarks are numbered and a key is provided. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Not only did I rely upon this image for my color scheme, but I also decided that it could be very interesting for my webpage to invoke an old lithograph. I created the two-tone body color to emulate the two-tone mat of old images like this. It’s my effort to evoke age (hopefully or at least it looks good). For my main color I was originally considering using a deep or dark red , but because of the image decide on that teal from the harbor. Red does seem to be a color often used for Alexandria (And Georgetown, and Washington. Some sort of weird District thing, maybe it’s all the bricks). The yellow-tan and brown matched the teal well and I got them using the eye-dropper tool. Using the WhatTheFont feature on MyFonts, I discovered that the font used in the title of this image was Night Train (or at least it’s a really great approximation). I didn’t like the open version (letters in negative space), so I opted for the regular version of Night Train. I almost didn’t use Night Train, but most of the fonts similar to it are too ornamental or too “Wild West”-esque. Night Train was appropriate to the era (and a match to the lithograph) without making someone think of Buffalo Bill and saloon girls. Finally, because of the black line that serves as the border around the image in this lithograph, I added the double black line around my content div.
Overall, this is approaching what I see in my head. For me it I really want it to be even more refined. I really want my background to have texture and look like paper. So ideally I’ll jettison (or hide) the web-safe colors and replace them. The web-safe colors just look to cartoonish to me. Although I did just discover a great list of web colors, so I might tweak the current color scheme using that list instead of the eye-dropper tool in Photoshop. Ideally, the paper image I’d use for the background we keep the two-toned effect. My image of Sneden was not restored, because I think I can get a better one so I didn’t want to waste time cleaning it. Also in the final product I want to use the image replacement method for the banner (I did add a Skip Nav feature, it’s hidden). Finally, I’m also considering extending the sidebar all the way to the footer.
One big question: is the color scheme too jarring? I do want some disconnect between content and color scheme (soothing colors for a site about a city during wartime). The disconnect I think is really embodied in that pull quote I placed at the begging.
I checked the site in Firefox, Chrome, and IE. Not surprisingly the site has some minor bugs in IE (some of the figure caption letters don’t show up). If someone could check the site out on Safari and let me know how it looks, that would be a great help thank you!
What do you think? Questions? Concerns? Comments?
Addendum – Some of the other blogs I commented on: