Free Desktops and some tweaks

posted by Veerle Pieters
06 November 2008

The general goal of our new site was, of course, to reach out to potential clients and show who we are and what we do. But, to do that, and have it reflect who we really are, we needed to explore some new territory and be a little experimental along the way. Some of you may think that it is easy to be original but that's not the case, I'm afraid.

Geert and I opted to not go for the 'safe road' because that's just not us. It was never our intention to create something that would be well liked by everyone; if we did that Geert and I think that it would lack personality. This design conveys our joy and passion about what we do, and the fact that it got people talking about design in general makes us happy.

Analyzing the feedback

After shifting through the feedback via Twitter and on this blog, we learned that the feedback was largely positive and a few commented on the 'busyness' and the backgrounds on the right. Critiquing a design isn't easy as we discussed in the past because it takes time and thinking. When you analyze feedback it's important that you try to see through the personal attacks and only focus on what is of value and that's exactly what we did when we took another good look at the design. Nothing is ever perfect so we took a few things back to the drawing board.

The changes we made

The homepage

Let's highlight the changes we made to the design. We started by having another look at the homepage to see if we could do something there to make it a little less overwhelming without compromising too much on its originality. In the original version you have the green shapes on both left and right and after some tinkering we ended up with re-coloring the green shape on the left side of the page and creating some breathing room between the main content and right shapes. This tweak brings the focus back to the 3 examples of work and makes it less overwhelming at the same time.

Homepage Duoh! before and after changes
Portfolio page

Next on the examination list is the portfolio page. In the original version, the background of the main section was the same background color as on the left and right with only subtle shadows and gradients to indicate the beginning of a new project. We both found that this was too close and could complicate the visual differentiation of the projects so we reworked the main section to a different background as you'll notice in version 1.1.

Portfolio page Duoh! before and after

We also tweaked the look of the text in this section, in terms of colors and spacing, and created some more room between the projects; we also made the color bar twice as thick as before. With this iteration it is now more clear where the main content is and you notice more easily when a new project starts. The final tweak to this page was at the bottom where we reworked the navigation a bit and reduced the transparency of some of the bubbles. In the initial version there was the 'GO' bubble button to go to the next page. This looked kinda fun, but a little voice inside me told me I went just one step too far with this, breaking the consistency. There wasn't a previous link either and I was aware of this problem.

Navigation portfolio Duoh! before and after
The illustrations on the right

With all the different resolutions out there it is hard to make things ideal for everybody and as you might recall this is a bit of experimenting as well to accommodate the bigger screens. The biggest change that we did is shifting the art with text in it a bit further to the right so that users with a 1024x768px don't see the start of it. We decided that users that can't see the art should be rewarded as well so we've created desktops of the illustrations.

Desktops for the iPhone
Desktops for your electronic computer ;) (2560 x 1600 pixels)

Since this is a huge job to do all resolutions, I decided to go for the highest resolution, so you can scale it down to match your screen resolution.

User tracking

As soon as the site was online we took an account at Crazy Egg to track how visitors use the site. As far as we can see, people are clicking where they are supposed to click and they are scrolling down to the bottom of the page as well. The only concern we saw on the homepage is the RSS feed subscription. Not many people clicked on it yet. The location clearly didn't work as well as expected. I placed it there purely for aesthetic reasons, but wondered if it would work. We've now moved the icon to a more visible and logical location and will probably label it in some way.

The image below shows the home page in 'Confetti' view. Each dot represents a click of a visitor and each color represents a referral. Click the image or the links below to see this in detail.


It's clear that people find their way and click through to either the different categories in the portfolio, to other sections of the site or scroll down and click the next button.

Lost that “business” look.

A reader named Lauras had the following concern about the direction that we chose, in terms of looking business-like.

Lauras said:

The new “Duoh” is beautiful, but when I compare it to what it was before, it seems now it lost that “business” look. Do you think that choosing this design will be a risk to your sales? To be more detailed, before it was more edgy, sharp and sheik, now its has a fun, cheerful and sort of “bloggy” look.

If you read the full blog post we wrote about designing the site, you'll see that we intentionally didn't choose the typical business look. Businesses are made up of real people, and we wanted to talk to them on this site in a way that really shows who we are as a business and as people. We didn't want to be fake, and dress up in business suits, and talk with the usual business jargon. We never like to read sites like that, though each company is different. Our old site also didn't accurately say or show who we are now and what we do. People want to know when they look at our site or any other business site if we are credible. Can we be trusted, and can we deliver what they want? Can we make their site stand out in a sea of other business competitors? Do we have a process that makes sense, and would they like to work with us? Can we do an enormous variety of work, each one suitable for each business, and is that available in the portfolio? We think our site answers these questions and then, in the about page, says who we really are.

Just because most other people have a certain look for a business site doesn't mean that we should stay in those boundaries, especially because our creativity is our 'product'. We wanted to answer all those questions with our design and our words, but break through all the falseness and be ourselves. We think, so far, we've been proven right, at least for us. (We can't speak for other design companies). Since the redesign, our mailbox has been full of requests for work, and we're already made preparations to start new jobs.


  1. 1 Laurens Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 07.45 pm

    I noticed the strikes on the left side right away. That is quite a drastic change if you ask me and I’m kinda missing them. I really liked the kedengbamboem-in-your-face-effect. The effect is still there of course. The other changes are great!

  2. 2 Martijn Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 07.48 pm

    Hey Veerle ...

    I was definitively one of the folks that criticized the “busyness” of the website, no doubt. And I am very sure it wasn’t personal (rofl).

    You did a great, great job here ... Respect. Making good changes to a design isn’t easy, certainly not when you have so many opinions.
    But I love all of them. The site is really, really top now.

  3. 3 Mark Wallis Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 08.02 pm

    Excellent post Veerle, all your design decisions were really on the ball with the re-align.

    I really love the way at 1024x768 the side illustrations are hidden, its like an Easter egg for those of us with bigger resolutions.

    Again job well done.

  4. 4 David Horn Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 08.21 pm

    Great post - I love the way you are able to openly accept critique, and build it into a swift tweaking. It’s a beautiful site and I hope it brings you continued success.

  5. 5 lewro Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 08.41 pm

    Excellent work! I love the way it leads the eye now after all these changes and still keeps those very attractive images in play to spice up your experience from visiting the site.  Also moving - powered by EE from top to bottom has created nice breathing space in the main nav area. Thanks for the detailed article about the way you work. Its big inspiration for us.

  6. 6 Mark Thu Nov 6, 2008 at 08.57 pm

    I must say that it is an improvement for me, as it’s easier to read the pages layout. But I stand by you when you say that you chose not to follow standard business guidelines but took your own ideas to the design, which makes it really something of yourself. In the end I believe clients will value that more than another design.

    Great work!

  7. 7 Rudi Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 09.58 am

    Honestly this look so fresh to me, the idea, color selection, and the layout. Its inspire me a lot, wish someday i can make something like this.

  8. 8 Tiziano Luccarelli Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 12.09 am

    Your art is fantastic. Your love for all the details… Great great job!

  9. 9 Stu Collett Mon Dec 1, 2008 at 02.37 pm

    Hey Veerle,

    As always your work in an inspiration!

    Thanks for sharing,

    Stu Collett.

  10. 10 ana Tue Dec 2, 2008 at 11.15 pm


  11. 11 Jones Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 05.10 pm


    Everything looks soo good.
    The website, artwork, everything.

    Realy an example for me.