In mid-July, I sat down and took a good look at my online presence. How I portrayed myself as a person, a professional, and what role my website played in all of this. When I first launched my blog over 5 years ago, I was only doing freelance work part time, so my portfolio was essentially an after-thought. For the past 4 years, I’ve been out on my own, yet I never really beefed up the professional end of my website. The main goal of this redesign was to better balance work and play, and to step up the professional end so people know I mean business.

Blog

Matt Brett Redesign '09

I didn’t really do much with my personal blog. I pretty much had things the way I wanted them with my previous design. So I basically just made some minor refinements and tidied up some things I had tacked on since my last redesign.

It’s now quicker and easier to find older content that may be of interest, via the tabbed box that sits in the top of the sidebar. It gives you quick access to related posts, the most recent posts, the most recent reviews, and the most popular posts.

Reviews have received the most love. Specifically, the review archive. The “wall of games” is sorted by date descending. But you can now filter them by platform.

On the topic of game reviews, I commissioned a fellow by the name of Jeff Jenkins to whip up some comic style character illustrations to coincide with my review scores. The idea was inspired by GiantBomb, but I wanted to do full body illustrations as opposed to waist up. Jeff exceeded my expectations and produced some brilliant work that can be seen at the bottom of every game review. You will be seeing more of Jeff’s work on this here website in the coming weeks.

Matt Brett Redesign '09

Portfolio

I’m extremely happy to finally have a condensed portfolio that is flexible and allows me to share a bit more in the way of details for each project. At this time, I only have the services I provided, but I plan on writing a little descriptive paragraph for each down the road.

Marketplace

Having recently jumped on the digital goods train, I’m quite fond of having cash rolling in constantly from sales. I wanted to build a platform of my own that allowed me to sell digital goods of various shapes and sizes. ThemeForest has worked out really well for selling WordPress themes, and I intend to keep future theme releases on that platform. But I have plans to release add-on (expansion) packs for my existing themes, and ThemeForest doesn’t support that sort of thing. Through my own site, customers will be able to pick up things like additional colour schemes, added functionality, etc. at a reasonable cost.

Additionally, I have partnered with some other designers and developers who will be selling all sorts of good stuff through my Marketplace in the coming months.

I have also opened the floodgates for theme customization. Anyone who has purchased one of my themes has the option of having it customized to their liking for a small fee.

Workshop

I have one more new addition that is still in the works which will be surfacing shortly. I’m calling it my Workshop, and it’s a place to get your hands on tools and tutorials on the topics of general web design and WordPress development. Much of this content will be free, but I am planning on doing some extensive screencasts which will mostly be premium (fancy word for paid) content.

The Kinks

Call me irresponsible, but I haven’t even looked at this new site in any version of Internet Explorer just yet. Quite frankly, I just don’t have it in me at the moment. After spending 5 solid weeks working on this site, the last thing I feel like doing is troubleshooting IE bugs. In time, I’ll make sure things are in order for IE8 and IE7, but IE6 can go to hell!

Moving Forward

This redesign is still very much a work in progress. These past few weeks have been spent setting the stage for great things to come in the weeks and months to follow. I’m super excited to see how things pan out, and I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone for their continued support over the years. It’s truly amazing to have some many people that I don’t even know buying my products, hiring me to redesign their website, or shouting words of encouragement via Twitter. Thank you!

32 Comments

Quite the change, from the old design, certainly going to take some getting used to, but still looking good regardless. Will have to do some further exploring.

I don’t like it as much as the last one. One thing that make my meaning is the Font the Titles and the Menü. I mean, you said you changed the design to make a more business surface. But I can’t match this with my optinion of a business looking website.

Hey Matt, love the way you worked with the information in your web site, pretty cool. Nice work on design. I just got lost in some places because I was used to navigate in your former layout. But that is ok! Again, nice work.

Brown and Pink…. if a customer had approached me wanting those colors as integral parts of a design I’d probably have nightmares for days, yet you managed to find a great color scheme and put it together in a way that not many could.

It’s certainly different, and takes a while to get used to it, but you did a great job.

Yep, a big change. I’m going through the exact same thing right now. My current design isn’t flexible enough for my needs and I need to market myself differently than I had originally designed back 2.5 years ago.

I can imagine your excitement; after working over 8 months or longer on my upcoming redesign, it might see the light this week!

Congrats on the refresh…I’m interested to see where the Marketplace goes 🙂

Very nice Matt. I really like how you aren’t afraid to try something different, and really go for it. I am really interested how the marketplace works out for you.

Nice work man, but I always expect that from you. You have yet to disappoint.

Matt,

I love it. From what I know of you, this fits your personality and professional goals extremely well. I’m impressed with how well you know the tools you use to continue to make sites like this one, and yet still have a flare for design. I wish I knew WordPress to the extent you do. Very nice upgrade, hope your happy.

Wow, looks quite a bit different than I expected… but still top notch work. I really like how you setup your portfolio and the marketplace is a nice addition! I love the illustrations for the reviews too! The only thing I’m not crazy about is the font you used for the titles and navigation (just personal opinion). It does work with the design though.

Overall, another high quality site from you… both design & development wise. Congrats!

I dunno, man. The background screams 1997. I liked the previous design WAY better. Overall I’m more excited to see that you are branching out more and more — the marketplace, theme expansion packs, etc., it always thrills me to see another entrepreneur expand and succeed.

Nice stuff sir! Having the portfolio and WP themes more front and center works well, and by what little I know that step was one you needed to take. I like that it’s still a continuation to some degree from your last design as well.

A minor typo on the portfolio sidebar… "Why work with me – In case you need convinced" <— should be convincing (so I think at least).

Great work as always Matt. It’s going to take a bit of getting used to and I’m not sure I’ll ever like it as much as the previous but you’re aiming at a different market now so you got to do, what you got to do!

One bit of feedback: On blog posts can you please copy the tabs (Article Comments Share) from the top and put them at the bottom too? It’s rather annoying that you have to scroll all the way back up to see the comments after reading the article.

Cheers 🙂

I like the new look and I think it is more professional without being boring or stuffy. One thing that irks me is that the font you are using for the titles and such is hot. But it’s pre-distressed, and it’s a pet peave of mine to see distressing repeated in repeated letters. Like the double M in comment. If they are just images, its pretty easy to distress the type yourself with a grunge brush, but you know that.

I think pushing the TF stuff via the referal is a smart move, increase your share etc. I am certainly interesting to see how you will be offering non TF content though here though.

I like the the dynamic sliding portfolio thing, but I think it may be helpful to have a section that justs lists your clients. I know its one of the first things people look for when evaluating a freelancer.

There is also somehing about the pill shaped buttons that doesn’t seem to fit right. I also can’t get used to that new picture you have been using… you look younger, less experienced or something.

Those are me thoughts!

Love the split homepage – much clearer that you’re not primarily a gamer. And the distressed headlines are hot.

I got lost for a sec because I was so used to seeing the comments below the article 🙂

Nice work, it’s different from the previous version but still instantly recognisable as "matt brett".

Nice use of js throughout the site and I love that you didn’t fix your png images for IE6, to hell with that browser already.

Well done!

The split homepage is better then the old one i guess..I really like the article, commen, share switch style..And thnx for the theme customization page.I send a request few min ago..

Damn, Matt! This new design is incredible – refined and well-crafted. Not sure what to focus on as there is so much great stuff here. The buttons, the more subtle textures, the fading twitter feed, the typeface and those illustrations are killer! Somehow you managed to make everything more subtle while adding personality at the same time?

I love it! Nice work, dude.

I dig the design.

But, the comments confuse me. I don’t understand why there are no links at the bottom of the article to leave a comment. Scrolling back to the top leaves my mousewheel warm and my index finger sore. lol!

Hey Matt,

Congrats on the redesign. I’ve been a fan of your work for a couple years now, so with that in mind, I wanted to leave you some (hopefully) constructive feedback.

Thought it would be a way to give something back instead of just stopping by to say "awesome work man!". : )

Home Page

> Can see what you are trying to accomplish with the JS boxes for Blog and Web Design, but I don’t think the navigation is intuitive. It wasn’t immediately apparent that the thumbnails are links for more previews. Instead, the thumbnails could be mistaken for further images associated with the lead story.

>Re: the buttons under "From the Archive". Once again, wasn’t apparent they were there for navigation between the various sections. Think tabs would work much better here. In my work, I’ve tried to use controls other than tabs in the past, but if you test it out on the general public, tabs always come across as the most familiar and obvious method.

Blog:

> You’ve broken the page up with the right nav clearly defined. But for me (and would think most people?), the right nav is immediately associated with ads and "non important" content. Problem is, you have some great content tucked away here. Your Archives, Categories, etc. For me, the important stuff should be within the center content as most people will ignore the right nav.

> Re: Game Reviews – I think the new illustrations are brilliant! And that’s why it’s such a shame that they only appear at the bottom of your review. When I saw the preview of your redesign, I thought they might be a more integral part of the new site. In my mind, think you’ve really got something unique in those illustrations and you should try to promote and integrate them further into the design (e.g. use one on the Home Page).

> Once again, think the JS you are using to switch between the "Article" and the "Comments" is great. But a shame it’s hidden by using those buttons. Should be tabs.

Portfolio

> For me, this is really where the right nav appears to be ads. Obviously you are selling your own service, but it’s just not obvious at first glance. When you combine the text (e.g. "WordPress & XHTML/CSS Consultation") with the layout (right nav), my brain automatically assumes, "ads!". Sorry to go on about this point, but just trying to convey my initial thoughts.

Anyway, that’s enough of that! : ) And to end on a positive note, I’m really excited to see that you are going to posting stuff under your "Workshop". Always wanted to see you do tutorials and I would definitely pay for the privilege. Just like your themes, I think they would be a huge seller!

Hope you find the feedback above useful. And as always, "awesome work man!" : )

Dennis

Nice redesign Matt,

I really like the new frontpage design and the new blog layout.

I agree with Jason Walker on the title and navigation font though.

Anyway, congratulations. Great job!

Hi Matt,

Your redesign looks wonderful and you did a great job.

Here are my topmost thoughts:

The frontpage does not look as "catchy" as in your previous design right off the bat, but on the other hand it feels now more functional and sensible.

The blog post page is now more straightforward and I love the post nav, where I can select comments, article or to share the content. Shadow divider rocks and fits well with the texture.

You are master of grunge alongside with Bryan Veloso and Elliot Jay Stocks. Thus, I kinda hoped more for the grunge font in the main nav and section titles. Birth Of A Hero is good font, but maybe I anticipated for something heavier and different. You Are Loved is another great font from Dafont, although it’s bit sloppy horizontally.

What I like the most? The buttons. They just look amazing. It’s the smallest things, that matter.

Another thing I’m stoked about is the Marketplace. The idea is more than welcome and execution is wonderful already and I’m sure we’ll see some excellent improvements down the road. Expansion packs for your WordPress themes are great idea, the first thing came to my mind when I saw Imperial was that there must be a grunge skin for this theme. You handle that style like no-one else and it doesn’t look as an overkill. I feel like I now have no reason not to buy Imperial ask some simple customising from you for it for a small fee and finally have a well-laid out, functional and personal website, which has been my goal for the last few years.

And I’m looking for your lessons and tutorials on web design and WordPress development too. The fact that you’re willing to share some of that information for free, is generous and nobel.

Are you going to put your previous design for sale in your Marketplace / Themeforest? I wouldn’t mind if it were custom made for your needs, it would work for me just fine.

That’s about it.

Helsinki rogers out.

looking good. Looking forward to the workshop.

I think maybe the HP is a bit busy.

suggestions:

remove search+icons to bottom.

remove rss + email icons or make brown.

move twitter to a sidebar or bottom.

reduce archives list from 5 > 3

drop quickbits

left align ‘heyo’ header text.

Matt, I really like the way you designed the blog, I mean inside the blog post how you arranged everything like seperate section for comments, article and sharing stuff. And what I like about this design is it is faster as compared to the previous one.

But what I don’t like is the overall blog design, I don’t mean to say that all your effort f designing was worthless, I actually wanna say that the previous one was hell lot sexier and hot as compared to this. But on the other hand as you said this is still in process so I believe more updates will be coming soon as well, which makes me feel you will surely get rid of things criticized by all fellow readers above.

And don’t forget to add the XBOX Live gamertag in this one too 😉

See ya and best regards,

Umar Irshad

I really like the way this new design keeps your grunge look, while looking cleaner and more professional. Well done!

I’m in love with all the details. Took me a day and a dozen visits to absorb everything 🙂 Looks phenomenal, Matt.

One recommendation, as you went more in the business-y direction, would be to create a link in the main top nav for the About page. You’ve got a ton of great personal info on that page, and I think that’s a huge selling point.

Keep at it, grunge master.

Dude, don’t you just hate it when you finish a design to express yourself and a bunch of people wade in with ‘constructive criticism’ ?

Great work Matt, leading-edge stuff as ever!

I don’t often post here, but am a visitor form time to time. I remember back in the day, the white and pink design you had. And how awesome that was!
I would like to see the next re-design you do to be back to white, a complete 180^. Like I wanna see what the minimalist + MB style looks like. I think that would be sweet.

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