charmian: a snowy owl (Default)
[personal profile] charmian
While looking at some of the discussions that people have been having about starting to use Dreamwidth, I notice one of the continual themes is a dissatisfaction with the styles available at DW. It's only natural that DW has fewer styles, but I wonder just what it is that people find so unsatisfactory about the existing ones? What features do people seek in styles?

Personally, I never thought that the existing styles at LJ were that great anyhow, since I use Wordpress and have an even greater range available to me there. (Also, Tumblr's themes) My preference for reading blogs is to have a wide column, and none of this 'big picture at the top' nonsense (my screen is a widescreen, which I don't like... why don't they make non-widescreen laptops anymore? I'd rather have a screen that is tall rather than wide.)

Maybe later it might be a good idea for DW to have a styles contest, with prizes and voting? That might get people talking about what they want to see in styles.

Date: 2010-09-10 10:10 pm (UTC)
starlady: the DW logo in red against a blurred background (dreamwidth)
From: [personal profile] starlady
For me personally there's a real dearth of light-on-dark styles that look good and read well compared to LJ--I'd love to have something on DW that looks anything like my LJ style (I also like wide reading columns, which not many DW styles seem to have). I think too the paid-to-nonpaid style ratio is kind of low; one of the reasons I shelled out for a paid account at LJ was to have access to a much wider and better set of style options, since I have no CSS skills whatsoever.

But definitely, some sort of style contest would be great.
Edited (clarity) Date: 2010-09-10 10:11 pm (UTC)

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Date: 2010-09-10 11:27 pm (UTC)
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)
From: [personal profile] zvi
You can make your sidebar smaller for all of the styles except Zesty, or the styles which don't have any sidebar whatsoever. When the sidebar is smaller, your reading area is wider.

Date: 2010-09-12 02:00 am (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
The guts of that layout is actually very similar to Tabula Rasa based DW styles. My current DW layout is (now distantly) descended from that layout, or one very similar to it, on LJ. My LJ now looks very similar to my DW, but the backend code is almost identical to yours except CSS.

But you're right, I need light on dark, hence my own, and need to get mine finished and more done.

I personally prefer narrower main columns, improves my reading time substantially, but others are different. If I've time during the week, would you like me to hack that layout up for you? Can't use the banner at the top, but can use the colour scheme and appearances, it's about time I taught myself how to make a proper theme layer.

Date: 2010-09-16 08:20 am (UTC)
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
From: [personal profile] cesy
If you can prod me later today, I can make a colour scheme for a DW style of your choice that matches your LJ style, though you'll need to find a new header image that isn't copyrighted.

Date: 2010-09-10 10:12 pm (UTC)
noxie: friendly girl smiling (Default)
From: [personal profile] noxie
It's only natural that DW has fewer styles, but I wonder just what it is that people find so unsatisfactory about the existing ones?

Yeah... I've been wondering about that too. I think there are some nice styles available, and everything is easy enough to customize. Maybe they're just used to there being hundreds of styles available, or however many LJ has?

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Date: 2010-09-10 10:47 pm (UTC)
foxfirefey: A picture of GIR. (gir)
From: [personal profile] foxfirefey
What we're lacking is slick graphic heavy styles, overall. LiveJournal has had years and years of having full time paid web designers to do things like make a wide variety of themes for layouts like Expressive.

Additionally, DW has some restraints on official styles that can turn people off: needs to be fluid width and use em fonts.

Additionally, a much smaller userbase means that fewer designers design for Dreamwidth, and those that do get less...social recognition.

We do already have some incentives for making themes (2 months paid time worth of points per theme) which I think is appropriate for color theme making but nowhere near appropriate for the kind of effort it takes for anything graphic intensive, or doing a whole new kind of layout, which should at least be closer to 6 months worth.

I think maybe a good tactic is finding GPL or other open source themes like this one and porting them over. A lot of us styles folks (MAYBE I AM JUST TALKING ABOUT ME) are decent with CSS, and not with the art...

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Date: 2010-09-10 11:30 pm (UTC)
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)
From: [personal profile] zvi
Make a suggestion that the rewards get differentiated for making an entire new layout versus making a color theme.

Also, maybe you should get one month of paid time just for creating a header graphic?

Date: 2010-09-11 07:58 pm (UTC)
baggyeyes: Princess Leia (Default)
From: [personal profile] baggyeyes
I'm going to say I'm going to try porting, but not officially say I will. I saw another one I'd like ported, and it's also GPL. It's called Retromania. I forgot to copy the link before I closed the tab. Sorry.

Date: 2010-09-14 02:28 am (UTC)
mmmag: A cotton cloud with drop shaped beads dangling below. (Default)
From: [personal profile] mmmag
I'd be interested in porting styles over to DW as well. I'm good with CSS, but not very good at graphics, like you. I'll give Koi a try.

Date: 2010-09-10 11:06 pm (UTC)
lirren: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lirren
Would you mind a comment from a total stranger who just found you on the network? The main complaint I have is that Flexible Squares isn't over here. That's the one style on LJ that I'm really familiar with using and customizing. I'm not a genius at coding, but I like my journal to be unique. I like to change it from season to season, or even just from mood to mood sometimes, and having a style that I am really familiar with and is easy to customize any way I want it is the main thing I look for. None of the styles that were available were familiar enough to me for me to be able to customize them the way I wanted to, so that was pretty frustrating.

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Date: 2010-09-11 12:58 am (UTC)
zdashamber: painting - a frog wearing a bandanna (Default)
From: [personal profile] zdashamber
Here from [personal profile] zvi's link where she glossed your post as "What do you want from a style that Dreamwidth isn't giving you right now?"

And in answer to that: a style that has a reading list that has user-specific colors in bands all the way down the left side of their post, wide enough to matter (like a couple cm), without a huge amount of other padding on the left. (And not a lot of crud on the right either, since I also like wider text columns: your style here is very nice. And very simple at the top, since I also have a widescreen laptop and at work I check DW and don't want much in the way of graphics.)

I've talked about this a lot on DW style things. And yeah, I could put in 2-3 hours and figure out how to do it with any of the extant styles, I guess, which is usually the answer I get. (One person hacked something to make user-colors at least more visible than the 2-pixel user icon mat that seems to be what I have now, but the rest of the sytle wasn't my cup of tea and I was embarassed to be all picky.) But in the last 18 months, I haven't gotten around to it.

Date: 2010-09-11 03:39 am (UTC)
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)
From: [personal profile] zvi
Did you try applying the CSS you were given to the style you actually have? Because the styles are mostly built with the same classes and IDs, a lot of CSS can be flipped between styles with no or minimal tweaking.

Snakeling suggested the following code to someone who wanted something similar, and it should work with most of the styles, honest:

.entry {
border-left-width: 131px !important;
}

.userpic {
position: absolute;
left: -131px;
top: 75px;
}

.has-userpic .header {
margin: 0;
}


This code puts the userpic inside the colored band. If you don't want that, just do the border-left-width modification.

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Date: 2010-09-11 02:06 am (UTC)
par_avion: collage of intl air mail stickers (Default)
From: [personal profile] par_avion
I actually think what some people want is the exact same style they currently have (with any modifications) -- and they aren't necessarily the one who created it. I've changed my layout several times, always to pre-made styles, but some people have been using one specific layout pretty much since 2003 -- and that is what they want over here.

Date: 2010-09-11 04:12 am (UTC)
pandarus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pandarus
I know it seems shallow, but I'd got my LJ looking lovely, and it felt familiar and home-y, and when I set up an account here it was all a bit daunting, so I didn't really TRY, even. A little while ago, with the whole '3 months for Dreamwidth' thing, I thought I'd come over and try to make it look nicer, and I found a layout I quite liked. (The pink squiggly one). But it still felt like a bit cheap and unlovely compared to the pretty custom-made layout I had over on LJ.

BUT! Having lost all patience with LJ over this facebook nonsense I've finally made a proper effort to settle in at DW and I found a layout I ABSOLUTELY ADORE. &hearts &hearts &hearts &hearts. Totally my cup of tea, and it was actually only the second or third one I 'tried on', as 'twere. It's perfect.

So I do rather wonder whether some of the sense of "meh" is really laziness? And/or motivated by residual curmudgeonliness about having to move house in the first place? Because although I agree that there are some hideously garish layouts, there are some very nice ones, and there's mine, which I've fallen in love with. I think it's a pretty good selection.

Date: 2010-09-11 03:30 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
I'm wonderign if some of the complaints are simply lack of ability to navigate all the options easily?

I rarely use the Style Browser as I don't need to, but some of the complaints are a bit counterfactual. Yes, DW had no styles 18 months ago, but that was because they hadn't been made yet.

Anyway, I'll come back to reread comments here at another point, may be able to answer some complaints and similar within the docs and navigation.

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Date: 2010-09-12 03:19 am (UTC)
sub_divided: cos it gets me through, hope you never stop (Default)
From: [personal profile] sub_divided
Dreamwidth styles are blocky, don't use images or overlays, and only come in primary colors. I know that's not true in every case, but it's the overall impression I get looking at the styles list.

I think people forget that LJ didn't have many pre-made styles, either, before they started running the style contests. Maybe Dreamwidth could do one of those.

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Date: 2010-09-12 05:14 pm (UTC)
sky: (ph - sharon)
From: [personal profile] sky
Not gonna lie, one of the things I miss from having my journal primarily on LJ is that they have slick, pretty, graphically-modern styles that they obviously had money to spend on getting designers to make for them. It's not even really fair to compare the two sites in this way, but most of Dreamwidth's styles feel very... dated, I guess is the word? In comparison. Like, they mainly look like something that would've been at home on Livejournal circa 2004 or so and don't seem to reflect modern ideas of web design to my eyes. There's a few DW layouts I really love, though, like Blanket and Skittlish Dreams here.

Really though, the thing that annoys me most about styles on DW is that I can't figure out how to make every journal besides my own stop displaying in like 16 or 18 pt font or worse...

Date: 2010-09-12 08:22 pm (UTC)
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)
From: [personal profile] zvi
The Dreamwidth default is to use whatever size you have your browser set to.

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site skins

Date: 2010-09-16 10:35 am (UTC)
inner_v0ice: (Yuuen - shy)
From: [personal profile] inner_v0ice
This isn't actually about styles, it's about site skins, but I figured that since this is a discussion about the aesthetic choices DW offers...close enough?

Anyway, I find the choice of site skins a bit unsatisfactory, probably because I'm so completely used to the look of the comment pages on LJ (full-screen, black-on-white, sans-serif). Also, I don't really understand the particular design choices behind those differences from LJ's look.
-Why does Celerity eat < small > tags? It's a very pretty black-on-white sans-serif skin, but I cannot live without my < small > tags. (apparently, this tag is a "bad/old tag" that has been left behind as Web Design Marches On? Is that why Celerity doesn't recognize it?)
-Why does light style/Lynx have serifs? I so infrequently see serifs online that it kind of weirds me out. Also, since not-properly-loaded pages also show up as black-serifs-on-white on my browser, pages in Lynx look unsettlingly not-properly-loaded or sort of unfinished.
-I've settled on Tropospherical Red as the closest to the LJ comment page look, but I'm not a huge fan of the light-gray background. It's perfectly readable, but feels very slightly...murky? Dark?

Aaaand that's my two cents on the subject of DW's aesthetics. ^_^;;;

Re: site skins

Date: 2010-09-16 10:40 am (UTC)
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
From: [personal profile] cesy
There was a recent suggestion to add more choices of site skins, so I'd suggest you comment there, to let the developers know what users want.

Re: site skins

From: [personal profile] inner_v0ice - Date: 2010-09-16 10:20 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-09-16 02:19 pm (UTC)
glymr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glymr
Looking over the various layouts available to me on DW, I think the real problem that most people have is that they're, well, boring. I appreciate the standardization between layout styles, and the fluidity, and the fact that there are a wide range of color schemes (dark on light, light on dark, etc, etc). Most of the schemes are extremely clean...but they're also plain. Not everyone wants to mess with creating or finding a custom header; lots of people want styles that work 'out of the box'.

At LJ, there are tons of styles based on everything from cityscapes to food to bicycling to typewriters to holidays to cutesy little animals. One can almost certainly find *something* to express one's self in their style section, whether one wants to use a single style and never change it or whether one wants to change it every season, as some of my friends do.

The focus at DW seems to have been primarily on making styles which are clean and spare and which have clean, interchangeable code, and I appreciate that, I totally do. But very few of them are *pretty*, or at all expressive. They don't *say* anything.

I think having a big contest is an excellent idea. With the recent surge in new users, now's the time to encourage people to take an interest, and free points would be a huge incentive. Even if people did something as simple as taking an existing style and slapping a new header on it, it would broaden the available options. LJ has an ongoing contest to design their homepage header over at LJ Remixed each month, and they even incentivize participation - they award $5.00 worth tokens to every participant, $10.00 worth of tokens to finalists, and $25.00 worth of tokens to winners. I doubt DW can afford to offer such high amounts, but even offering a few DW points, say 5 or 10 points to participants would be a big incentive to some people, especially if it's a monthly contest.

By the way, LJ may have hired professional designers to do a lot of their layouts, but users can come up with amazing stuff, too. Check out this one and this one, both created by an LJ user and both offered free to all users, regardless of account type. Both are also incredibly expressive. If that person can do it, others can, too.

Date: 2010-09-19 10:27 pm (UTC)
montuos: cartoon portrait of myself (Default)
From: [personal profile] montuos
[I wandered over from the [site community profile] dw_news post.]

"Most of the schemes are extremely clean...but they're also plain. Not everyone wants to mess with creating or finding a custom header; lots of people want styles that work 'out of the box'."

Yes, this, exactly!

I want a clean, efficient, readable layout (and preferably nicely compact; no huge amounts of wasted space), but I want it to be pretty too. If it's close enough to start with, I can customize the colors fairly easily, but if I want nice graphics and trim, well, somebody else has to do that for me.

I also like to change my style/theme around with seasons and holidays and so on — but that's a bit difficult to do with a lack of geeky skills, and without appropriate categories grouping the relevant existing styles. I'm not a designer. I know nothing about CSS. If I want an autumn theme, I'm going out looking for something that already has autumn leaves and colors, not looking at my existing layout and thinking, "What images can I add? What colors go in an autumn palette?"

I also really really wish the layout credits appearing in somebody's page included the actual name of the theme or style for the benefit of those who would like to use it too! I was curious up there and went to see what style it was that [personal profile] pandarus had fallen in love with, and I really liked it myself — but "Layout: [personal profile] branchandroot Resources: OpenClipart" wasn't as helpful as it could have been in pinning down "Nouveau Oleanders" for me, both because it was in different colors, and because a lot of fine detail is lost in the style thumbnails, so I didn't immediately recognize it when I saw it. Ok, yes, there is a search box, but it's pretty subtle, and I didn't notice it until after I'd already found what I was looking for.

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