Tuesday, January 10, 2006

JIB Awards 2005: Best Designed Blog

Previous posts on the JIB Awards: The Nominees..., Best Post - The List, Best Post - The Good, Best Post - The Better, Best Post - The Best.

Continuing on the analysis of the JIB nominees, here's my quick take on the nominees for "Best Designed Blog".

Group A:
  • Beyond Teshuva
  • Cross-Currents
  • Elder of Ziyon
  • Hassidic Gentile
  • Jewlicious
  • Jewschool
  • Kesher Talk
  • Life Of Rubin
  • Group B:
  • Mom with a View
  • Ocean Guy: Somewhere on A1A
  • Orthodox Anarchist
  • Realitygaps
  • Solomonia
  • The Four Questions
  • The Jewish Connection
  • The View from Here
  • The Wandering Jew
  • This is probably the easiest category to write about, as it requires just quickly glancing at each one and then making a completely subjective decision.

    First, there's Group A:
    Beyond Tshuva started off with a nice header, clear formatting, and has quickly organized their 3-column format with links to the recent comments and posts, along with the most commented posts. The small type in those columns is a little rough, but it wisely focuses the attention on the posts rather than the sidebars. Like the next blog, CrossCurrents, wisely links to each contributor's posts under their names.

    CrossCurrents has a good, clear, wide main column, and though the font is good and clear, it's a bit small. I like it, but don't love it. Their sidebar is a bit unwieldy, however. Decent header. As mentioned, wisely places posts under their author's name.

    ElderofZiyon's header is okay, though I don't like the fade all the way to white. I also am not a fan of pure white backgrounds, though it actually looks decent on his blog. Fonts and font colors are good, links are well organized. The message board is a nice addition, though appearance-wise it's kind of ugly.

    HasidicGentile is really fancy, but a bit too much. There's so much texture and background it's hard to really read the posts. Cool ideas, though toning it down a bit would help a lot.

    Jewlicious is... interesting. It does a great job of focusing you on the posts themselves, but has all the requisite links (and of course the [new] famous Jewlicious girl). It also has the 'recent comments' and 'most commented' links, which makes it easy to find their big discussions.

    JewSchool is also different. It's got an extremely organized main section, with link buttons at the top, and an okay header and funky sidebar. A lot of ads, but they're unobtrusive; I don't like their posts seperator, but it's a cool idea at least. Clear type, too.

    Kesher Talk is a great blog, and it's got a really funky header... but the header is too big. It takes up almost half my browser (and I've got 17"!). There's a lot going on on the sides, but it's unobtrusive - and the links on the left are really well organized and in categories. The ads are wisely placed off to the right, out of the way. Good typeface.

    LifeofRubin has a cool header, though I'm a big fan of colors and not black. The little things all over the sidebar look nice, such as how he lists his "Notable Posts", for example. Clearly well-designed. Plus, he wants to make me a header. :)

    Okay, so for my first vote on this Group, I took Jewlicious. The next ones will likely be LifeofRubin, BeyondTshuva, and then one of these three again. I guess I have to realize that a blog with too much color would be distracting.
    Now, on to Group B:
    Mom With a View has a few cool things: Her sunglasses and logo; the (important for a periodic blogger) calendar that shows when there are posts; and the tiny Aish roller on top. It's very clean and refined, though I don't get the huge space on the right.

    OceanGuy's pictures don't come out on my browser (Mozilla), so I checked it out on IE - still nothing. Luckily, I'd seen it in school, and it's really cool. He has cool ways of titling sections on the sidebar, and a decent enough main section which is not distracted by the sidebar.

    Orthodox Anarchist has the best - albeit freaky - header and logo, and a good sidebar. It's too bad his type is so small and he has a black background, because otherwise he'd run away with votes.

    Reality Gaps is the blogger I feel terrible for, and want to vote for out of sympathy. Just last night, the server they were on or webhost or whatever disappeared, and now he/she/they are gone. Nothing to do but express sympathy, really.

    Solomonia is really clean, with a pretty inspiring header and really great sidebars, despite the white background. I'm a big fan of the design - and I am especially impressed by how the comments popup looks - really cool, I must say.

    Four Questions is cool, but it's just too dark for me. I like the header, and the layout overall (though the type in the sidebars is too big), but the dark outweights the rest too much. Funky background, though I'm not a fan of the non-moving backgrounds.

    The Jewish Connection has a very nice header, including tagline, but really not much else to write about.

    The View From Here has a great header and design, and while the typeface below of light blue strains the eyes a bit, it's really great overall.

    The Wandering Jew's design is so great, from header to sidebar to typeface, it's a shame the huge empty space on both sides is being unused. Shifting the main column to the middle of the screen and putting this sidebar to the left, and either widening the main column or adding a third one would do so much.

    Okay, so I was in a rush the first time and gave The Jewish Connection my vote. Next time, Solomania gets it.
    Hope you've enjoyed! I know I did.

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