The new SR! web design
How it came to be, why we think it’s better
In our archive here at the office lies a disc that has the very first
layouts for what became Sound RIDER! in the summer of 1999. Times
Today we have HTML 5, Java, VB, ASP.NET, PHP, Flash and a host of other
languages and possibilities. Throughout 2012, we worked to do a migration
to a new server which will be completed later in 2013. A re-design of
the look and feel of the site had been developed for that migration and
it was similar to what was being used up until November.
Within the circle of Sound RIDER! friends lies a tight group
of not just friends, but people I trust to tell me the truth about what
is going on with the magazine from their perspective. They know I listen
and I’m willing to accept their criticisms - good or bad.
In December I went to dinner with two such associates in the inner
collective and it was during this meeting that one of them read me my
rights about how out of date the site looked. I knew there was a
re-design on the drawing board, but I was compelled to listen to
everything he said, which was all vastly different from the planned
In the morning I asked him to send me a list of websites he thought
fit the look and feel for where Sound RIDER! needed to go. This person I
trust because a) he is younger, b) he is tech savvy and c) he holds
nothing back. You ask the people at the other table at dinner that night
and they would agree on c!
It was less than an hour later that I got an email from him that
included hyperlinks to more than 30 sites. About half he liked and half
he thought were a joke. Little did he know that that same morning I was
lying in bed imagining this redesign and thinking about where we needed
to go in look and feel. I was going to hit this from his side and mine.
Some people think the sole purpose of Sound RIDER!, the online
magazine, is to lure you into the store. While we appreciate the support
readers provide by purchasing goods and events though our store, the
online magazine is first and foremost an outlet for news about riding in
the Pacific Northwest, and it must appear that way.
Taking my motivator's input and pairing it with my own introspection,
I spent the next four days essentially tearing up the site and
rebuilding it from the ground up. The new look had to be easy to
navigate, had to look more like a news site and had to be clean.
In all this redevelopment came a bonus to the sponsors. Larger ads.
We’ve needed to move to some of the industry standard sizes for a while
now. By decapitating the left hand navigation bar, we were able to open
up more space on the right.
We’ve been asking all along - do we need a version for a tablet or
That may come later, but part of this redesign was to allow a person
with a smaller screen to stretch the content out larger, making it pretty
simple to read on a mobile device without the need for a separate mobile
site or app. Throughout the tear-up I was checking the look and feel on
a desktop, tablet and smart phone.
As I looked at other sites, one thing many had in common was the Site
Map near the bottom of each page. I liked that a lot and as it
eliminates the need to use drop down navigation bars since everything
could be made visible in this format, making the site even easier to move
about in. It's also nice to have it there to remind readers the density
of information here and what is available to them.
In putting together the latest issue, I've been enjoying working with
the new frontend look of the home page which allows for moving articles
around and making it all look cohesive. Prior to this issue, we had a
single column to work within, rather than two. To me this is much nicer
and it always looks fresh.
And so here we have it, Sound RIDER! version 2013. I like it – how
about you? It won’t look this way for the next 14 years, but it’s a
refreshing change for now.
Happy New Year