Hey all. Mark here, designer of #1.
I'd like to echo what bnzrk said. These are all mockups. The selected designer would, of course, incorporate feedback from these comments and the CM team.
Generally, a client chooses a designer, not a design, and even though I was happy to produce a mockup, I was unaware that it would be posted publicly on the forums. I am also not clear on if the vote is the single deciding factor or one of many considerations for the CM team. In any case, I recognize that this is a slightly different process, and I did provide a link to be "passed around" the CM team, so no harm done. Just be kind to myself and to Seth Thomas (designer of #2), since we did not know that this would be put to a public vote when we threw our hats in the ring.
So... since it is being evaluated in that context, I thought I might as well shill a little for my design :-), and more importantly, share my thoughts on my design philosophy since the mockup was designed to be just a basic idea of the direction. The brief I got asked for a basic reskin of the current site (and to specifically not re-reinvent the wheel), so I think the wide support for #6 comes out of its "different-ness," which sets it apart from the other designs. Personally, I feel (bias alert!) that it's cluttered visually and it has a few competing/clashing elements (I am not a fan of the green balloon), but what it has going for it is how it uses "blocks" of content instead of the traditional Wordpress blog column layout. This is a design direction I support (I also like the reduction of menu items).
But it should be noted that the design for #6 doesn't give any idea what a blog page would look like and includes no blog-specific elements. It is very much a single landing page. Other than the menu at the top, what would blog pages, or the About pages, look like? What about the footer? How about header treatments, or link styles? And maybe this is a nitpick, but on those other pages, what would we see in the section on the header bar that's currently covered up by the top of the balloon? A blank space? A search bar?
I mention these questions because while we should remind ourselves that these are simply mockups, and no matter who re-designs the site, most of the final design elements (by volume) are not included in any these images, when you evaluate the designs, try to see if you can extrapolate what these missing elements *might* look like. Are there rules established in the mockup that would let you imagine them? Think of them as movie trailers. Do they give you a solid impression of what the movie will be like?
Speaking of: I was asked to create a "single page" variant of my design, but it was not posted. Here it is:
When I work with clients I always ask how they want new visitors to experience their homepage. What is the goal? Are they making a digital brochure that someone only needs to see once before "buying" the product, or do they want a site that expects "repeat customers" and has evolving content. This is important to determine how to layout the site. Most projects strike some balance between the two extremes, which is why many of us added a "what is CM?" block on our mockups, which is not part of the current layout. But just as we all got sick of those skip-able Flash "splash pages," it's also important to make a homepage that is friendly to repeat visitors.
If the homepage is designed to just "sell" the product, you'll want a nice sales pitch and a big "download" button to dominate the homepage (as it does with #6), but it's important to ask if the majority of visits to the homepage are to read the latest news on CM (is the new version out? etc.), and so putting even a single click between the user and the latest blog post is something that should be considered seriously.
I think that if we are going to be a bit more radical with the design, the best balance might be to include the most recent blog post in full on the front page, and then include a block list below it of recent entries, along with other "block widgets" (like the about block and a screenshot slideshow) appropriate to first-time visitors. The layout for #6 would have to be seriously re-thought to be able to strike this balance.
I'd like to also note that Wordpress is designed to be highly customizable, but there is only so much it can do without calling in the designer to make changes. Sections of the page (like "download current version" blocks, or latest screenshot blocks) must be able to be updated by site admins instead of going back to the designer every time there is a change to that part of the content (the "now with gingerbread" banner in #6 is an example of an area that seems "uneditable").
Of course, one issue with realizing a new design is that the Cyanogen site currently is quite fractured, so we're really talking about the homepage/blog/about pages and not much else. Many of the the other sections of the site are completely separate php installations (wiki, forum, downloads, github).
Ideally, these sections would all live together in a single Content Management System, and be seamlessly blended, or they would all be re-designed to a similar spec. But from my emails with SatanR1, that's more than what this project currently entails. It's important when evaluating these designs to consider how they will live with this fractured structure. What should a user expect when clicking a button like "downloads," "community" or "blog" from the homepage. Should the site more clearly separate itself form the forums, thereby clearly establishing a entry point for repeat visitors, or should it try to seamlessly blend them (which may be foolish to attempt)?
I'd be happy to answer any questions about my design or how I would handle a certain layout or feature concept. I encourage the other designers to answer these questions as well, so people can select a designer, and not a design.
Anyway, that's my spiel. You can view more of my work at: www.mark-lacroix.com
Edited by nobleRobot, 06 January 2011 - 11:44 AM.