Site redesign… not

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail from folks who think I should redesign Leoville. They say it’s old fashioned, stodgy, boring. It needs a little pizazz.
That’s no doubt true. I’m no graphics designer. I put Leoville up in 1994, messed with the design for a year or so, and haven’t touched it since except to add content areas. I don’t even use such new-fangled (and useful) tools as CSS and Javascript. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, I’m lazy. It ain’t broke and I don’t want to fix it. Many people have offered to re-design the place for me, but I think it’s important that people know that everything on Leoville is done by me, not some high-priced designer. And, for better or for worse, that’s pretty obvious when you look at it.

Second, I want to keep Leoville accessible to everyone, especially people with low-bandwidth connections, old browsers, and people with disabilities. Why add design flourishes that don’t add to the content but do make it harder to read the content?

Finally, in my book content is king. Flashy web sites are usually a substitute for actual content. I try to make the content on my site easy to find, easy to get to, and easy to read. If there’s something that doesn’t work for you, let me know. That I’ll redesign.

I know it would be fun to see a flashy new design with lots of pictures and animation. But isn’t there something to be said for a simple old site that never changes (except in content)? Think of this as a friendly old general store, where the pot bellied stove and the cracker barrel haven’t moved in decades, and the only thing that’s changing is the amount of gray hair on the proprietor’s head.

What do you think?

55 Replies to “Site redesign… not”

  1. Hi Leo,
    I first saw you on tech tv. I appreciated the way you answered even the dumb questions. All of which I didn’t know the answers. I am a beginner in the computer world. Thanks for looking out for us Mr. Laporte. Don’t change your site.

  2. Hey Leo, I’m telling you Don’t add animations or any stuff like that, because I have 56K and you know how long I have to wait to load your website…
    I think this site is really perfect!!! And it’s fast to load!!!!

  3. Well, I must be generating as much gray hair as the proprietor, because I never realized I was “supposed ” to be missing something. While you are up, would you please pass some crackers and cheese (none of that fancy goat cheese, either!),and add another log to the stove?

  4. Leo: Your site is great just the way it is. I especially appreciate that you have set it up to run well with a 56k connection. I used to have a cable broadband connection but since I’ve moved the only internet connection that is aavailable to me is the 56k dialup I currently use. Thank you for rrembering “the rest of us”.

  5. What I love about Leoville is it’s like a trip back home. Very comfortable, familiar, and filled with good friends. It’s a safe place that makes you feel good. Can flashy graphics ever compare to that?

  6. Leo,
    Your right.. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it..:)
    Keep it the way it is man… Who needs a flash in the pants.. Errr.. I mean Pan..;)

  7. Whether I’m checking the site at work on a T1 or at home with on a 56k (I live in a small town… 56k only…we don’t even have cable yet) your site is always a pleasure to surf….Don’t change a thing.

  8. Don’t change a thing. I like the clean, uncluttered look of your site. If you must make a change, try some other color combinations.

  9. Leo
    How many of us do you need to say it? We all love it – and the ones who are here most (well who post the most, anyway) don’t even think about you needing a redesign. Were you really getting *that* many emails about redesigning it? …hard to believe. Please put your mind to rest over this issue.
    Thank you very much for my favorite place to be!!!!!!!

  10. Well, since you asked…
    It ain’t broke so don’t fix it!
    Seriously, this works (that is, everyone can access it) and that’s what’s important. Let’s save the flash(y) stuff for tributes and general fun like Stella, Carol, TeSS, etc. create.
    My 2 cents…

  11. Thanks for all the great comments. I didn’t realize that the message board was messing with Opera. I’ll look into it. My fault for not testing it with Opera!

  12. I LIKE IT! (But Leo, my darlin’, if I were going to suggest you upgrade something, perhaps it would be your glasses! You would look extremely cute in some of those smaller framed ones that are more…um…updated!!!)
    Love the spy cam!

  13. Why mess with perfection !!!! Anyway there is nothing wrong with this site. When I was on dialup it loaded quickly, we all need to rememeber good old dial up days.

  14. Heh, this mostly came from me in the message board saying it needed a redesign. sigh. Leo I would do it for free but I guess you wanna keep it. 🙂

  15. Leo, I made the same decisions about my site, and even redesigned to focus MORE on content and less on design, as my site is very content-driven. I don’t mind the design… Whatever works, ya know? 🙂
    Brian 🙂

  16. i agree with everyone else, i think your site is great, Leo! certainly better than anything i’ve been able to put up. i just started checking out your site a few days ago and i’m still in awe of all the personal touches you have on it, i just think it’s so wonderful, you have the best sense of humor and it just makes it all good. 🙂

  17. I come to leoville for the content and to find info. from people with the same interests as I have. The bells and whistles are not necessary and not what I’m looking for here. I can go to a million other sites for that. I enjoy reading Leo’s Blog’s (wish they were more frequent) but I realize he’s a busy man. Keep the pot belly stove stoked Leo and I’ll come by for a game of checkers any day.
    Short time Fan , short time viewer ! 🙂 Troy

  18. >
    I completely agree. I’ve been redesigning my website. It used to have a lot of slow loading graphics and the like. I was even experimenting with flash. When I visited my own site I hated it. I’ve now went the “plain and simple look.” It’s user friendly and the response has been great. I’m offering about 1000 printed pages of discography, concert, etc. It doesn’t need a ton of graphics. It has content.
    CONTENT IS KING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Leave Leoville the way it is…..user friendly

  19. I love leoville the way it is now! Don’t change a thing! This site loads and looks great in all connections that what is great. I have and I had a flash intro. I got rid of that flash intro and took all the graphics and stuff off and now it looks plain and clean. Thats what websites now-a-days need, plain and clean. Not big and flashy. You have to think about the little guys, not the big boys. Leoville is great Leo! Don’t waste your valuable time making a new design, use that time and post more, hehe!
    Leo your the best,
    Tony Santos

  20. I wouldn’t change a thing.
    However, one thing I have a complaint about, and I don’t think you can do anything about this one, is the message board will always lock up on me.
    I’m using Opera 5.12 and when I click to read a post a Java script warning will pop up and Opera will lock up everytime.
    I think it’s more or less the program’s fault, but just find it kind of annoying.
    Other than that I love the site.

  21. Leo,
    Leoville is JUST FINE! I am way more than happy with the current design.
    It makes me recall a time when I went to a certain computer manufacturer’s web site, looking to buy a new computer. This was no “version 3 browser” site — it had all the biggest, fanciest “web stuff” that a bored web developer could dream up. With my old, slow computer, it was one of the most frustrating “web experiences” I have ever encountered on the ‘net.
    I wound up just managing to get to their “contact” page, where I asked them if they were in business to stroke some out-of-touch web developer’s ego, or to sell new computers to folks like me with old, slow ones. And then I recommended that they have that web developer check out why their “shopping cart” sofware wouldn’t work with the web browser software I happened to be using.
    Again, I think Leoville is just fine!
    (Well, that said, I must say that the “Board” just gives me fits with Opera 5.12, where just about everything I click gives me the pop-up message to the effect that “A script on this page wants to access your password in the form,” and asking me if I want to give it access to my password. Then I have to remember whether to say “No,” and then I can resume reading, or to say “Yes,” which generally crashes Opera…. Any help with that would be appreciated!!)
    No matter what, though, Leoville is just great, and we appreciate it very much!

  22. Hi Léo!
    There are too many flashy-type of websites out there. If I can’t read and understand what is on the site, I just pass it up. Everything on Leoville is very easy to read; some things are hard to understand (but that is another story).
    Keep the simple design, Léo. Actually, the design is not plain. It is elegant and straight to the point -> content! I do enjoy your little design updates from time to time, though. Thanks for a great website and an easy to read design.
    – Michael J. Titera
    Fremont, California

  23. I haven’t posted much, (maybe twice), but I need to state my opinion….
    I wouldn’t change it. First of all, our “computer guru” must design his own site, Leoville would not be Leoville if some design company came along and implemented what “they” thought what Leoville should look like. Also, with the simple design, it gives it a more personal feel. You actually feel like you have a more personal connection with Leo Laport than if you visited a cold, corporate looking site designed by a design studio.
    Of course, if you wanted to redesign it, go for it! Just don’t hire some outside firm to do it. We want that personal touch.

  24. AS usual I agree 100% with leo’s thoughts. Yes, the glitter of cool graphicly enhanced web pages are fun, but they take up a lot of room in “the pipe” and can be a distraction to the real reason people log on here, to exchange ideas, observations and dreams with like minded folks. It’s like a BBS or the early days of The Well around these parts, and I for one wouldnt trade it for all the graphics in.. er…graphicville! Yeah, thats it!
    Besides, the most interesting graphics seem to be coming from the good people on the messageboards, home grown strangness like that I’m all for! I’ll take that over slick animations anyday.
    “Oh Patrick Patrick.. your so hunky….” 8^)

  25. Leoville is fine, I love how fast loading it is. The only thing that bother me is when I click on an image it opens in a new window (that doesn’t bother me) but when I click on the main window to read content while the image loads on my slow dial up connection, the window with the picture kills itself. That’s kind of annoying because then I have to go out of the way to minimize it or send it to another desktop and read the main page without being able to use the scrollbar.

  26. Leo, I like it just the way it is! I like the way you’ve designed it, no waiting for graphics or animations to load on the home page…. most of all I think it should be “low maintenance” so that it is a carefee thing for you to enjoy. When in 3 years time you go into business for yourself, then you can get a hot shot web designer to spiff it up, but now it’s your homepage for you (and your fans, and your fans-to-be) and you don’t have to “sell anything” with flashy graphics, etc. If someone stopped by here on a whim to see what “Leo Laporte” is all about, there is a lot of content to spend some enjoyable time looking at pictures, or downloading sounds, or visiting the message board and Blog. That in itself is about 1000% more information than anyone is expecting to find! At least I was AMAZED you shared so much of your busy, busy life with your fans. Content is King, Long live the KING!
    (I, too, visit Leoville mostly from home with a dial-up connection. just for the record.)

  27. Personally I liked it when the blog was the blog and there was no town square for exactly the reasons that you mentioned above. For years I paid aol and others twenty something a month for a service whose main use was basically email. I don’t know how much longer these free services will last, but I plan to ride it out. My connection usually fries after a while and the loads are slow, but there’s only one or two web sites that I have to see. As much as I like your show I only read the blog when it was your only means to leave a message, now that your Town Square has a plethora of sub topics I never check them out because there’s just too many of them. If there was one or two good sites to hit I’d do it, but I’m not going to check all of those pages. I posted a couple of times under topics I created, but if everyone creates their own pretty soon there’ll be no end to them. I love your show and I think you’re right that content is what’s most important. I have no need for flash or all of the extras just to see a flashier view. All I’m interested is reading and perhaps posting a few lucid thoughts. I think there’s a lot new going on with all of the picture postings etc. on some of the topics. I even opened one and found it had pics that were hilarious when I was searching for the spelling of Scott’s last name. At any rate what you do with your site is your business and I don’t mind that there’s new portions which I never visit. Sooner or later I’ll have to join this century and find out what all the fuss is about. But for now I’ll just watch the show and once in a while leave a comment.

  28. You said it, Leo! I think Leoville is a reflection of you, and I wouldn’t want you to change at all. I think your site is far beyond anything “simple”. I don’t think you need “flashy” animations or any kind of bells and whistles. And, with my slooooooooow connection, I’m glad you put people like me into consideration. You’re such a geek’s geek!
    Oh, and by the way … I am waiting for your home spycam to change. Just WHAT is your left hand doing? ;o)
    Love ya, Leo!

  29. I wouldn’t change a thing.
    However, one thing I have a complaint about, and I don’t think you can do anything about this one, is the message board will always lock up on me.
    I’m using Opera 5.12 and when I click to read a post a Java script warning will pop up and Opera will lock up everytime.
    I think it’s more or less the program’s fault, but just find it kind of annoying.
    Other than that I love the site.

  30. I click on leoville everyday and when I do I know that it’s not going to throw an advertisement at me, or have shockwave menus that take forever to load or flash animations. (Flash and shockwave are the SCOURGE of the internet. They have only one use..sites that feature those technologies exclusively like animation entertainment places. And of course kooky songs about our utilikilt wearing friend Patrick! That’s what Flash is good at!)
    As an incredibly lazy webmaster I’m not a fan of frames. I always feel it’s too much work to code all the links to open in the right pane…and inevitably an off site page will load in one of your frames. I haven’t built any frame pages lately but have experimented with them in Dreamweaver 3 and they are a lot easier using those menus than remebering to hand code every hyperlink target.
    I can;’t complain about your frames though! Frames only really bother me when someone codes them wrong..or when I have to code them. Usually the latter. And heck, you were nice enough to remember the “no frames” option.
    As far as your Bulletin Board I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve installed some free CGI boards on my server and they were so SLOW it made the site ridiculously lame. Yours is pretty darn fast. Though I imagine your webserver bills have increased significantly due to the incredible amount of images, sounds and files that people have uploaded. I’d shudder to think of how much space you’re using! Heck, just all your old sound files must take up a huge amount of space.
    You’re right though. Content is king. Don’t bother going to my site. Who would want to read about me? My life is so boring I don’t want to even write the “about Me” section I have linked becuase I keep falling asleep. My tropical fish are a poor sustitute for your goats. Though far less messy 🙂

  31. Please do not change the format of Leoville. I think less is more and on the web these days it’s good to be able to come to a site and get information rather than a wild flashy circus. Content is King and always will be. Leoville has no fluff and I like it that way. The fact that you accommodate slow modems and people with disabilities is outstanding. I like a good, clean looking, no bull web-site and this one fits the bill to a tee. Don’t change a thing.

  32. Leo,
    Thanks for checking out the Opera / Board problem! We should have raised that issue earlier, but what the hey? 🙂
    The messagebox goes like this:
    Javascript security warning
    A script wants to read the password(s) in the form.
    Do you want to give the script access to your passwords?
    The only real big problem is that clicking either the “Yes” or the “No” button the box gives you CAN just crash the heck out of Opera — it just bombs out and disappears! I just tried it tonight, and the “No” button crashed me. Though, that was something less than a “one in ten attempt” frequency — most of the time, I was just fine clicking either “Yes” or “No.”
    The best thing, of course, would be to configure Opera so it wouldn’t pop up such a warning. But, heck if I can find anything in the “Preferences” to accomplish that! I’ve been all through everything, but I sure haven’t found anything that even remotely looks like it might help…
    I’ve been using Opera since back in those “old slow computer” days — back when I reformatted my hard drive to reinstall Windows 95, and then avoided anything smelling of Internet Explorer 4. I “built my own Internet suite” consisting of Opera, MicroPlanet Gravity for newsgroups, and RITlabs’ “The Bat” mail program, and I’ve been happily using them ever since! “The Bat” is =very= interesting — “plain text” and it JUST WON’T RUN ACTIVE CONTENT, PERIOD, as compared to what I consider the INSANELY dangerous Outlook or Outlook Express. “The Bat” won’t even “download graphics” from the ‘net if HTML messages link to them, and that suits me just fine. I sure don’t ever want to use the Microsoft programs that leave the doors wide open for whatever someone might send you — that’s crazy!
    Anyway, I digress! Off the soapbox now, and thanks in advance for taking a look at how Opera interacts with your Board!

  33. I like the site just fine the way it is…besides, I tend to not adapt well to change after I get used to something being a certain way. Take TechTV’s new format, for example…STILL haven’t gotten used to it! Prefered the old schedule! And that new format “CNN Headline News” adopted has completely driven me away from their channel, when I used to be a regular viewer!

  34. I have a high speed connection (Verizon DSL 1.5M) and enjoy a good show.
    But would you rather someone come up to and tell you how good the intros are or how good your site is?
    I rather enjoy the site actually….it’s rather nostalgic of PW times (Pre-web)
    Really simple and to the point….
    It makes me cringle to think what a shockwave page would do to someone with a 1670
    1200 baud commodore modem.
    That was a simpler era….I was only 12 then. But… Leoville brings back that substance before flash mentality that was present in the late 80’s.
    Don’t touch a thing.

  35. This is my first visit to your site, and the blog section is the first section I viewed. I probably shouldn’t be surprised, yet I am, that there are so many people out here in “cyberspace” that want to tell you what to put in your site.
    That having been said, I think you should change or not change your site as it suits you, not us. It is, after all, your site.

  36. I got a little carried away a while back when I said I ‘envisioned’ Leoville to be like Lily Tomlin’s site someday. That’s clearly WAY over the top. Making Stella Marie’s Flash an OPTIONAL part of Leoville was truly generous of you though. Most everything else can be accomplished with links to other sites or SMALL posts here and there. People should never be forced to endure muli-media if they don’t want it, especially those with dial-ups. Even on a cable modem it’s hard to get *certain* threads to load when they’re chock full of un-optimized jpegs and gifs. Most boards require images and such to be hosted on some other site instead of on their server. If Leoville starts to grow too big, that may be an option to consider.
    It is a bit daunting trying to navigate through all the different threads unless you keep up with them on a daily basis. The Discus search features help with that a lot, but I can imagine a new visitor would be overwhelmed and not know where to start.
    Otherwise, Leoville is just fine the way it is thanks. 🙂 CONTENT and COMMUNITY are why I come here.

  37. Hi Leo,
    I set my homepage to your website the day I got my first computer, and I’ve forever kept it that way because Leoville has always been my favorite place to be on the internet. It is PERFECT just the way it is for many reasons. Leoville has always been a very fun and comfortable place to be in. I agree with you that it is important that we know that everything on your site is done by you, not some high-priced designer. YOU are why we keep coming here. We need your personal touch. I hope you realize how much you really mean to us. Thank you for making Leoville such a wonderful place. I absolutely LOVE it!!!!

  38. Hey Leo,
    I agree TOTALLY! I’m sure that redesigning is the least of your worries. Especially when you have a heavy schedule to balance day to day (work, family, as well as time for yourself!). Keep up the GREAT WORK here as well as on TSS. You are very informative, and DEFINATELY know your stuff!
    P.S. A friend once told me that Grey Hair is a sign of someone that has a high level of knowledge and some type of expertise ….it substitutes for not having to attend college your whole life. Heck, most people can only tolerate doing 4 years!!

  39. Well said, I agree 100%. If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it. There is something nice about anything that holds up for a long period of time without changing. It becomes like an old friend, set in their ways.Where you know what to expect, and know exactly what your gonna get. I find great comfort in things like that. Somethin to be proud of Leo. Umm ,did I hear you correctly, there are no televisions in your home? Not that I don’t agree with that idea, fact is it’s a great idea. Just wondering. Long time fan of SS! Keep up the good work Leo.

  40. I understand the feeling. I have a website of my own, and I do all the coding and scripting myself. I don’t like those wizards, they aren’t my style and don’t give you the freedoms that good ol’ HTML does. It does have JavaScript, but that is part of the content, not to make it look nice. And it’s not about the way the site looks, it’s about how you (I shouldn’t use HTML here, I’m not rsure what would happen, but I would put italics if I was sure) feel about the website. I don’t have a nationally-broadcast show to advertise my site (and as far as I know, only I and some of my friends have been there), I advertise by posting messages on websites that get a lot of hits. Actually, I wouldn’t call this advertising, I would call this rambling. In summary, Leo (if you’re reaing this), I understand that you don’t want to give a big graphics overload to this site. I think it’s just fine the way it is.

  41. Agree, the site works very well as is. If people are looking for Flash or Java pages I’m sure there just _may_ be some out there…somewhere.
    It’s refreshing to see someone think ’bout those of us that use “alternate”
    browsers. THANKS!!
    p.s. The Opera bug shows up in the Linux version too.

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