After Hours

Redesigning the Builder front door

Builder.com's Web site has evolved with some new features that we'd like to promote, so the front door needed an updated design. Give us your feedback on the new look.

Not that there's anything wrong with the current Builder.com front door, but as with any evolving Web site, we've accumulated a few new features this year that aren't part of the current front door design. For example, there's our new Builder Downloads section that we'd like to bring to the fore, and we want to make better use of the Discussion Center than we have.

The current design just doesn't lend itself to that kind of thing, so we decided we'd try to redesign the page. Of course, like so many tech companies in the past couple of years, CNET has had its share of layoffs, including a lot of our designers. I spent weeks trying to find any designer in the company with time to take a crack at the Builder front door redesign. To no avail—there were simply no internal resources available. So, I decided I'd try to find an outside design firm that could do the work.

The mock-up

Now the first step in working with an outside firm is that you have to give them a mock-up—some kind of jumping-off point to help them understand what you're trying to do with the new design.

Unfortunately, like I said, there were no internal design resources, so I had to craft the mock-up myself. It's pretty ugly, but here it is. Luckily it was enough for our freelance designer to take a crack at a real design.

The proposed design

And so here's the moment you've all been waiting for—the designer turned in a page that we tweaked slightly and posted here for you to see. The main thing we tweaked from the submitted design was to replace some of the HTML table structure with a bit more CSS.

Also, the tabs in the upper right-hand corner are text-based now instead of the GIF-based tabs that were in the originally submitted design. This makes the page a bit more Google-friendly and a little nicer from an accessibility standpoint. Other than those tweaks, this is largely the design that was submitted.

Again it's just a design—the links don't work from the page, but we'd love it if you would take a look and then come back here to this page to give us some feedback in the discussion link below.

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