Reboot Review

posted on May 10th, 2006 by Anthony

Css Reeboot Spring 2006 logo

It’s been over a week since the Reboot errrr… Rebooted, so I thought it was high time I waded in with some of my thoughts, and picked out some of the best examples.

But first, a quick look at some of this season’s trends:

Spring 06 Trends

Matt Brett has a lot to answer for – nearly all of these trends can be traced back to his excellent Reboot of last November ;o) Therefore for each trend I am awarding a MattInfluence rating… (sorry Matt!)

The 1024 trend

As loads of people have already mentioned there has been avalanche of sites released that cater for a fixed width of 1024 minimum.

I’m still undecided about it.

I understand why people do it – those 224 extra little pixels give you so much more whitespace to exploit. And these days with LCDs getting more and more popular the 800×600 resolution is fading faster than most people anticipated.

But I’m still not sure…

30% MattInfluence™

The Black Trend

Black, is this seasons new black. Or something.

Personally I’ve never been a big fan of white text on a black background it’s just not me.

However when it’s done well, it can be really, really good.

However the majority of this season blacks are just a bit crap really.

60% MattInfluence™

The Halfy-Half-Horizontal-Contrasty® Trend

The Halfy-Half-Horizontal-Contrasty® design is another design trick that Matt employed to segregate content on his design last time around.

He used a lighter shade of grey in the lower section of his front page to differentiate his main posts from the other ‘signpost’ parts of his site, it worked extremely well.

Trawling through the Reboot this season it seemed like very other site had employed the same design, or at least the spirit of it.

80% MattInfluence™

The Lack of Originality Trend

This is possibly a bit harsh, but I still feel it. Maybe it’s simply because the are just so many entries that they have all just sort of blurred into one.

I don’t know for sure, but the one thing that has really struck me for this spring event is that there is almost a complete lack of sites that are really different. There are hardly any sites that really stand out on their own.

A lot of sites were very obviously little more than slightly tweaked stock templates.

0% MattInfluence™

Reboots I Like

Believe it or not there were actually some sites I liked! Here they are – in no particular order:

Rob Goodlatte

Rob Goodlatte site screenshot

With a name like Goodlatte you’d expect a nice coffee tinged design (yes, I know, grooaaaaan).

I really love the feel of this though. It’s subtle, well thought out, polished and well executed. There are nice touches all over the site and it’s obvious that a lot of time has gone into the whole design process.

My only slight gripe is that it’s one of the 1024 sites that doesn’t quite make full use of the real estate… but the out-and-out niceness of the design more than overrides that niggle.

Matt Brett

Matt Brett site screenshot

Have I mentioned Matt yet?

His Reboot builds brilliantly on last years success. I think he’s been quite bold to ditch his almost signature darkness, and embrace the pink!

The original overall feeling of the site has been well maintained despite the dramatic change in colour scheme and he’s continued to fully use those extra 224 pixels of width to the maximum.

The move to black text on a white background is certainly a welcome switch for my eyes!

Good stuff!


Wurkit site screenshot

I really like this sort of design at the moment. It’s a look that really pays homage to traditional print roots, but with a real sense of the internet.

The colour scheme is as simple as possible, with graphics kept to a minimum, and it’s all the better for it. Add to that some fantastic typography and you have a sooper looking site.

However this site also infuriates me. It could so easily be a fully liquid layout.

It does utilise some funky JavaScript to handle different screen res’ (which is another trend I forgot to mention, but I’ll blame that on Colly…), but it all feels a bit unnecessary in the circumstances. It’s JavaScript for the sake of it.

Anyway it still looks awesome and I’m just a grumpy git.


Snook site screenshot

Snook also takes the JavaScript approach to the resizing problem. With this site though it does feel more ‘right’ in it’s use.

Overall the design of the site isn’t exactly revolutionary – however, it is expertly executed and has lots of nice touches.

My favourite is the little light bulb switch that turns the post background white, and the text black – lovely for my little eyes!

Although it is a dark site, the bright green lifts it nicely and overall I find it strangely pleasing.

Chris Williams Design

Chris Williams Design screenshot

Look at this! A fully liquid site that works beautifully and also looks great!

Chris’s site is pretty much the only liquid site I saw. There were a couple of others, but his was definitely the best.

The overall look is quite understated and the liquidty is so nicely integrated that you do have to actually check to make sure – it looks just as good as 90% of the 1024 fixed width designs.

And he’s a Brit, nuff said!