I’ve made a few tweaks to the design of the Software Reference site. I think it looks a bit more friendly and approachable now.
I added a Twitter feed a few days ago, and have now followed this up with some other touches.
The Icons Themselves
I have added some great icons from blogperfume.com. Most of them are from their Free Glossy Blogging Icons Set for Bloggers, with the Facebook and Twitter ones coming from their Social Media Icons Pack, both under a Creative Commons licence.
As I have mentioned before, this site is built on the Drupal content management system. Drupal is very powerful, but I have resisted hacking about too much with the modules and templates so that I don't have to reapply my patches every time new versions of these are released.
I tried various approaches to adding the icons, including the RootCandy theme (which I like, but which is designed as an admin theme) and Nice Menus. After several iterations I decided on the Menu Icons module with the standard menu system.
3D Book Covers
I have added some large book covers to the front page – after all, the books are the main purpose of Software Reference as a company and of this website, so they deserved to be more prominent.
If you move your mouse over one of these book covers, you'll notice that the image switches to show a three-dimensional book cover. I created these using a combination of GIMP (for the proportional skew) and Paint.Net (for the rest of the editing). For the record, I find Paint.Net's interface much easier to get along with.
You might also have noticed the rounded edges in the black "welcome" box on the home page. This used to be a standard rectangle, but I think it looks much more pleasant without the sharp corners.
The effect is created using the technique given by Greg Johnson on the Spiffy Corners website. Part of my motivation for rounding the corners was the article Realizations of Rounded Rectangles, which suggests that rounded rectangles are easier for our visual cognition systems to process than unrounded ones. It's a minor change, but I think it really does look better.
If you have any comments about the new design, or can recommend an inexpensive piece of software for generating good 3d book covers more simply, then please let me know either by email or by posting a comment below.