I'm not sure how I get on the lists but I receive daily emails with news from the realm of social networking / social media, with reports on the latest happenings with Facebook, Twitter, etc. Today there was an article titled "Rules for Social Media Designers to Live By", and one rule in particular made me curious:
"Create a party, not a museum. Great social products are clean, simple, and fast. The successful ones have little design flare, so that the people, photos, videos, text, and comments are front and center. The more design you add from colors to treatments, non-web-fonts, and graphics, the less your social application will feel like a party and the more it will feel like a museum. Or a magazine. Neither are a great goal. You want your social product to feel like it is a living and breathing party, not expensive furniture you're not supposed to sit on."
First off, I have always considered Newgrounds to be a 24/7 party and I believe it is MORE of a party than other social sites, which are more like pockets of people along the walls vs the free-for-all "everybody knows your name" spirit of NG... or at least I try to know every ones' names... and I'm probably seeing it all through rose-colored glasses.
Regardless, the way this article says you have to get there is by having a site that is clean and simple, with little design flare. This plays up to an insecurity of ours, where we wonder if the aesthetic design of NG has a tendency to overpower the content and make NG less welcoming for contributors and visitors.
Our upcoming redesign is the most visually impressive NG layout yet and I like to think it will prove people like this wrong... but I am curious... WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK? Does our graphically robust layout make the site less welcoming? I'm especially curious to hear the thoughts from anyone passing through who doesn't consider themselves a die-hard NG fan.