Hey guys, i'm sure that you've heard this a million times by now, but i'm stuck on creative ideas for a layout. I am a really good programmer / coder / dba / etc, but i almost COMPLETELY lack creativity for layouts! And we all know that no one will ever hire you if you lack DESIGN skills -- no matter how good of a developer you may be.

Anyway, i was wondering if i could get some criticism for the FLASH version to a website that i'm getting ready to remodle (due to a company name change), and also on the new HTML version that i am in the process of brainstorming layout ideas for right now. I will provide a link for the FLASH version, and links to images of the HTML designs so far, and i would appreciate any helpful criticism.

The look i'm trying to go for is "dark" "modern" "cutting edge" "technology" "professional" "industrial" etc. I am aware that it is very difficult to have a "dark" theme that people will also regard as a "professional" image, but this is something that i am pretty firm on.

Here is the Flash version:
http://Ionisis.com/flash

Here are the html images.
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-1-1.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-1-2.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-1-3.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-1-4.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-2-1.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-2-2.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-2-3.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-3-1.jpg

The target market is small businesses, and personal / side businesses. I've had one client that i got from other work that i was doing elsewhere, and i decided that i want to continue working for myself, which is why i started this, but i'm starting to realize that --despite how well i may be able to program and code things, i may not have what it takes to "design" things...

I have been looking at what others are doing for a long time now, and bookmarking all the websites that i feel i can use for inpiration and guidance. I've tried so many ideas with Gimp (linux's photoshop), but nothing comes to any satisfactory results. Here are some more of my blunderings:

http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-4-1.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-5-1.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-6-1.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-6-2.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-7-1.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-7-2.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-7-3.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-7-4.jpg
http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-7-5.jpg

I have been seriously considering paying a freelance designer for front end *design* work, as i could handle the xhtml css php mysql js, etc, but the problem is finding one that is decent at design, and who doesn't charge an arm and a leg...

I'm still not going to give up on trying to improve my own design skills, though. I KNOW that eventually i will realize where i'm going wrong, and be able to think past it. For example, i am trying to create a "dark" and "futuristic" feel while maintaining the "professional" aspect. Well, it is not that it cannot be done, it is only that i cannot *envision* how it *should* be done, and so i end up creating disasterpieces.

For my personal websites, it would be almost adequate enough to literally "rip off" an existing design, and then modify the hell out of it until it becomes essentially "my own", and suits my needs and tastes; but for the Ionisis site, this could not be done, because i really cannot find a really *dead on* example of what i am envisioning.

Hell, even my own personal sites (see signature) lack design talent. I *hate* this damned "designer's block"! :(

Anyway, thanx for the tips.

By joe, i think i've got it! I came up with this by FREAK accident. I was trying to do something almost completely different, but it kept going in a direction that i didn't want or like... until i tried experimenting with *textures*! :D

I'm still *sure* that there is more that i can do for it before i start coding it, but i thought that i'd just throw the "work in progress" out there for some critique along the way. Thanx all.

http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-8-1.jpg

http://Ionisis.com/images/Layout-8-1.jpg

This is looking good, but I would recommend it for a gaming site rather then business site. Try to simplify it, graphics should enhance the information content you trying to pass on your visitor.

Wow!

But the name of the company is ambiguous, with one character indeterminate to the eye.

"with one character indeterminate to the eye."

I'm not sure what you mean?

Also, I meant to say that i updated the link to reflect the version of the image. I also updated the image itself (http://ionisis.com/images/Ionisis-1.0.jpg). That version is Ionisis-1.0, and i am now working on version 2.0 which is completely different, and more contemporary. I can't wait to get enough of it done to ask for criticism.

I also made a version of 1.0 (0.6) that can be used as a wallpaper: http://www.gnome-look.org/content/show.php/Ionisis-0.6?content=88807

Thanx guys; i'll be back later with a screenshit of 2.0 :D

I would go with first one as logo and company name nicely stand out not like in second. If you want to use the 3rd you need to put more opacity on the city view. Well that is my opinion.

i like the first logo as well. its formal yet catchy in a way.

i like the first logo as well. its formal yet catchy in a way.

That's funny, i deleted the images in those linx a long time ago; so i'd be interested in hearing an explanation on this one.

Btw, i've already come up with a better design that i will definitely be using. It will be a few weeks before the new site is finished with the new design as well.

made me remember Doom III and Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers.

Fonts are too big, that could make me move away from display, the background movie is pixelated. Use much Action as you can, like dynamic loading.

The site have a resemblance with glass and/or spatial images - holograms, perfect match for a gaming community... I think the sounds and music doesn't fit together well, unless a metal GUI (like some grunge, metallic or B&W textures, screws, rivets, dirt, engineering drawings, industrial photos, etc).