How to not make my website have a “1990’s” look

I recently launched a comics website, www.hittingtreeswithsticks.com, which I created from scratch. I created my own design because I wanted to keep it unique, and used no templates.

Unfortunately, people who’ve looked at it says it appears “outdated” and “from the 90s”, but haven’t really been able to pinpoint how so. I was wondering if people could help me “modernize” my site without presenting me with downloadable templates. I’d still like to keep this my design, but I guess I need some artistic/design pointers.


DESIGN EDIT:

Okay, I’ve spent some time redesigning the template given your feedback, and found some great ideas on http://designshack.net/articles/layouts/10-rock-solid-website-layout-examples/.

I have two main templates I’m going to go for: (keep in mind this is just for layout… so none of the fonts, colors, images, or dimensions are set yet)…

Either:

A) Two column template

  • Search is on top and will expand down a bit with search results

  • In effort to get people to my artwork sub site, I’ll include latest artwork on top right

enter image description here

Or

B) 3 Column template

  • Search is on the right and will expand downward as such with results

  • Gives more room for advertisements and other links

enter image description here

And this is the proposed, although minor, redesign for the View All and View Image templates:

View All: displays all images with archive-able dates

enter image description here

View Image: displays single full size comic

enter image description here

Any thoughts would be great!


Answer

Factors which may contribute to a “dated’ feeling:

  • Large text in Comic Sans (or similar)
  • Comic sans use at all
  • Canned drop shadows
  • large image borders
  • uneven spacing in navigation
  • pushing everything to the absolute edge of the window

Things which may assist in creating a more modern feeling:

  • smaller text for navigation
  • a larger header banner with smaller text links
  • subtle gradients for backgrounds
  • no image borders
  • more white space or “air” between the browser window and content
  • An in-page comic viewer such as Lightbox or Thickbox rather than one page per comic
  • rounded corners
  • smaller comic links — I’d go about 50% smaller than the boxes currently are. Ideally I’d use non-square links in favor of more horizontal banners. But that’s my preference. I dislike a page full of squares, there’s no visual interest in that.
  • feature the artwork in the comic links rather than placing text over the images. Use the thumbnail as a thumbnail… an image.. then use the caption below to place your text description. Images are much more intriguing than text.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Growler , Answer Author : Scott

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