design mockups

Skip to first unread message

Richard Feldman

Nov 6, 2017, 4:12:28 PM11/6/17
to elm-dev

I recently got inspired by a talk I saw at YGLF, from Vitaly Friedman of Smashing Magazine. He talked about a visual redesign of Smashing that they've been working on for over a year.

Some of the things he talked about which stood out to me were:

  1. On the Web, visual designs are overwhelmingly comprised of rectangles and circles.
  2. Websites can be more fun and aesthetically pleasing if they venture outside the realm of rectangles and circles, although this makes them harder to implement.
  3. We can incorporate visual elements from a site's subject matter into the design of the site itself.
Based on this, I made mockups of a redesign of to incorporate tangram shapes into the look and feel.

I also took the opportunity to work in some ideas I've seen discussed, e.g. having "downloads" and "last modified" listed on the packages (with the understanding that those require both design and infrastructure work to support).

I'm not in charge of or anything, but if there's interest in pursuing this as a design direction, I'd happily take responsibility for making an implementation happen! In the meantime, I would love feedback on the designs. What do people think of them?

Package Search

From a design perspective, I think the user's goal on these pages is to decide which package (if any) they want to learn more about. I think "how often it's been downloaded" and "how recently has it been updated" are the key things to know when deciding to investigate further, but the design should still work visually even if those elements are not present.

View a Package

View an individual Module

Initial Page Load

The idea here is to show the popular packages on initial page load of, rather than having them in the sidebar. This is because:

  1. It makes them easier to discover (I've seen people miss that core is in the middle of the right sidebar)
  2. It shows them the same way as how they're shown when you search for them
  3. It frees up screen space by not having the sidebar.

I'm not sure if these should display the "downloads" and "last modified" icons. That info probably isn't useful to the end user when it comes to these packages.

Feedback welcome!


Evan Czaplicki

Nov 6, 2017, 4:41:24 PM11/6/17
to elm-dev
Summary: I think the idea of incorporating the tangram into the visual design is interesting, but overall, I find it difficult to read.

I chose the Elm colors before I knew as much about contrast, so I think this design suffers from those historical choices. E.g. the dark/light blue blocks with white text. The light blue can work as an accent sometimes, but I haven't had much luck otherwise.

I also am a bit into minimal designs (e.g. Elm :P) so my goal with the current design was to have as little "chartjunk" as possible. That is why nothing has a real border, but hopefully the borders are relatively obvious nonetheless. It is just the text you need to see.

I'd approach this by (1) figuring out what info must be displayed on each page and (2) figuring out the values you want to embody with the visual design. Doing (1) will make it clearer which infrastructure tasks should be prioritized and unlock (2) to actually be instantiated into reality. We may also find projects that can be cut up like the search idea.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "elm-dev" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to
To view this discussion on the web visit
For more options, visit

Berry Groenendijk

Nov 9, 2017, 6:37:00 PM11/9/17
to elm-dev
I agree with the summary of Evan. Putting text into the tangram boxes makes the text more difficult to read. 

I do like:
- in package search: the number of downloads, and last update date. This gives me a sense of popularity and lively-ness of the library.
- in view package: I very much like the "elm install" copy button. I miss this option a lot in the current website. Copying and pasting library names from the current website is a pain.
- in view package: suggestion... make the author name (the base name of the package), in this case "rtfeldman" clickable. If I like a library I like to see other libraries of the same author to see if there any other libraries that are interesting to use.
- in view package: the dependency list is a perfect example where the use of tangrams is an overkill. The list becomes almost unreadable.

So my advice would be. Keep it simple. And use visual elements where they are useful to make things more clear for the use. Don't over do it.

Op maandag 6 november 2017 22:41:24 UTC+1 schreef Evan Czaplicki:
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to

Jan Hrček

Nov 9, 2017, 6:37:18 PM11/9/17
to elm-dev
What I like about the design:
- The fact that package  / name / version "breadcrumbs" have different colors. I often mistakenly click different breadcrumbs, so this would help to disambiguate the links.
- +1 to adding #of downloads to the package. Although having the ability to sort by that "column" would be useful as well, because the list of packages for some generic package searches often turns out quite long

What bothers me: the shapes of tangrams - since they're tilted to the right, the page looks too asymetric / dynamic, which bothers me a bit. If you absolutely have to include them, please prefer something more symmetric, this (google image search "arrow breadcrumb"):

W. Brian Gourlie

Nov 9, 2017, 6:37:29 PM11/9/17
to elm-dev
From a usability viewpoint, I often copy-paste the package name directly from, so using visual elements to separate the github account from the repo name is a functional regression (for me, at least).

Visually, the variable-width tangrams are a bit distracting, and text doesn't look nicely aligned when butting up against skewed edges.

Aside from those two things, I really like the overall color scheme and additional statistics, and I'm particularly fond of the mocked-up layout for package search.


Richard Feldman

Nov 9, 2017, 6:37:50 PM11/9/17
to elm-dev

I took a quick pass at revising 2 of the 3 mockups based on the feedback here. I've posted them below for future reference, but really I think the next step here is to do what Evan suggested - a deeper dive into the design needs, writing out what info needs to be on each page, etc.

Thanks, everyone!

Alan H

Nov 13, 2017, 9:42:45 PM11/13/17
to elm-dev
Hi, Richard! Greg sent me a link here and I wanted to say that I was really excited to see your mockups. They really made the site feel like it was specifically Elm’s. The suggestion and use of shapes from the logo really gave the designs a lot of identity. I would love to see some of those ideas make it to the site.

Specific feedback — since you asked! — follows:
  • I don’t have a source for this, but I think in general monospaced text is harder to read. Obviously code examples and code spans are always going to be monospaced, but I suspect bringing monospaced text to things like the search box and author/package names and package versions reduces legibility without much benefit.
  • Using the parallelogram shape as a stand-in for slashes may not be so obvious. It doesn’t seem consistent, either; in the updated mockup, the same design element separates author-package and package-version. AFAIK only the first is otherwise represented with a slash. I agree with W. Brian that it would be best to restore the literal slash.
  • I was glad to see Evan mentioned contrast. This is an important point. I have been raising accessibility awareness among some of my co-workers and I can tell you at a glance that the lighter blue Elm logo color is does not produce an accessible contrast level on white (or light gray for that matter). The darker blue is fine! Here's a site I like to use to check contrast levels: (Good news, though: Black on that blue is a strong, accessible-at-any-level contrast!)
  • More on contrast: The following is a super general complaint I have with … pretty much every site on the Internet, so it’s only specific to these mockups in that it does apply to them. Basically: Rethink anytime something is gray instead of a dark enough color that it feels like black. Example: The version number requirements for dependencies. It’s a light enough gray that it doesn't pass a11y checks. Why is is light gray? Usually this signifies something of lesser importance. I try to suggest alternative techniques to emphasis the things that are most important (rather than reducing contrast of the less-important things). And it's true that the package description and example usage are going to be more important, on the whole, than dependencies' versions. It does matter though, and the page order already establishes some of the relative importance. (Not using monospace will reduce appeared size/importance a bit). The installation command should have higher contrast — as is, it looks a lot like a disabled input. And I would say that that widget is actually one of the most important parts of the package page.
  • I liked the introduction of the parallelogram motif for package list headings. I think an alignment change would have made them feel more like headings. See modified mockup below:

  • I do like the silver background for the right sidebar. This feels like a good way to indicate separation and a secondary nature. I also think the triangle indicator for the currently active package in the sidebar is a much more obvious and noticeable treatment.
  • Back to contrast — the light blue color still works for accents! So things like the HR / vertical separator are totally fine in this delightful color. Things like that triangle indicator could be the light blue color, too.
  • I think Evan alluded to this, but it might be best to remove the border around code examples as I’m not sure it is saying anything important that couldn't otherwise be observed. (That’s more or less another way to say it's not 'chartjunk,' as Evan is using Tufte’s word for it)
  • Downloads is a good metric and good to highlight. Downloads in the last week or month is an even better metric!
  • Information hierarchy: IMHO the proper hierarchy would be to restore the top bar to be 'global' in function/purpose: Use the Elm logo and include the site name/purpose “Elm Packages.” Put the search box up there. Then everything specific to the current page or current package should be within the main content area (with the exception of the current package indicator in the sidebar, of course). This would match the mental model visitors have from nearly every other site out there, and visually reflect the conceptual nesting of packages belonging to the greater site. The latest mockups kind of have a global package search 'under' the specific package's header, which doesn't map to that hierarchy
Exciting work, Richard.

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages