AROnline : Growing pains, design issues

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

AROnline's new look. This isn't it. But we're not far off...
AROnline’s new look. This isn’t it. But we’re not far off…

You’ve probably noticed that the site layout and design has changed again. It’s one of those situations that I do hope won’t dampen your enjoyment of the site too much. I’m working like billy-oh to get the layout and functionality right, and hope that once this is settled, we can give the site that familiar and reassuring look again. I guess it’s obvious by now that I am no graphic designer, so it’s probably going to be a slower process than it might be for the slicker, more commercial organisations.

I will apply the fonts, links and colours from the old site, and then work on actually installing the old side menu as it was in its entirety, but what I am hoping you guys can come up with is a convincing looking banner to replace the default emerald one we have installed currently. I’m sure I can find something cool from the broom cupboard by way of a prize…

Thanks for sticking with AROnline.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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43 Comments

  1. Hi Keith,

    I appreciate your efforts, but the results are very plain. A more Catching (i.e. Leyland Blue) colour would give the site more weight.

    Also let’s not forget this is a BL based site… On the left I see “other cars”, but the most important BL cars are not visable… That is simply not good.

    Good luck

    Karel

    • @Karel

      It’s a work in progress, and in need of a banner and styling-up (I am working on this). I am currently importing the AR Cars, and it’s a massive job. I will add them (what I have done so far) to the menu this evening. Thanks for sticking with us!

      What I don’t want, is any further down time – hence doing it ‘live’

      /K

  2. Rob I disagree. It looks identikit at the moment, but the layout works.

    Dare I suggest a new .com too?

  3. Karel, surely this is “more” than just a BL based site? All the best input so far has come from outside the blinkered “BL or death” crowd. In my exeperience, the other BL marque sites/clubs, are very clicky and guarded of their knowledge. Or am I paranoid!

  4. I think the management here are doing a GOOD JOB with LITTLE or NO THANKS under the circumstances.

    Keith it looks SHIT at the MINUTE but I do appreciate the EMERALD GREEN look as a tribute to me….

    As for people berating the other British built cars being included, they are as much a part of the story as anything else. Now when is the Toyota Auris going to get a page

  5. I wouldn’t worry too much about the style, the substance is still great, probably the best car resource on the net, and your hard work is much appreciated.

  6. I’m just glad you’re back online. You can see the wireframe is pretty close to the old site, I’m sure it’ll be as good or better once the skins are sorted and the tortuous process of content uploading is through. I’ve used many a CMS and would offer my help, but not sure there’s anything I can do for you at this stage.

    P.S. If it stays green it surely should be Applejack!

  7. Well done Kieth for keeping the site up and running while trying to sort out skins etc. whats on the inside is more important (in my opnion) than whats on the cover.

  8. This layout works for me. A nice profile pic of an SD1 at the top might work well.

    Thanks as ever – still the best site on the web.

  9. The layout seems okay and it is Netbook/iPad friendly so no quibbles there. The Blog structure works provided that the pages are tagged correctly.

    However, I’d consider an entrance page- nothing too technical, just a homepage that shows the latest updates and an index to the different subjects- much like the last one but without the iFrame issues. The links should link directly to the blog and subjects updated/covered.

    Apart from that, a good look at the aethetics on the banner and you should be good to go.

  10. Website is fantastic as ever.

    If it stays green – BRG, with a cream interior layout column and possibly lashings of wood along the title 🙂

  11. What’s the technical spec on the Banner Keith? I’ll give it a bash…

    What’s the rules on using defunct manufactures branding, logo’s & badges? Cuz I’m assuming they’re all still owned one way or another….

    No plan to use the old blue green AROnline logo then?

  12. I appreciate your efforts and am in total agreement with Andyfleeds. It’s what’s on the inside that counts! Thanks for sticking with it.

  13. Keith:

    Do you ever sleep?!I understand your concerns about the logo (We have had the same discussions over at The Virtual Driver), but I think that, like us, you’ll see that it’s not something to rush into. (We’re on version seven heading to version eight as we speak…) The main point is to give the reader the best information possible, and that you have done brilliantly since I first discovered your site almost 10 years ago. Take a deep breath, my friend, and let it evolve.

  14. I agree with the general sentiment from long time readers that it’s the content that matters first. However….. for first time viewers it is not informative enough. AROnline, the best of british what?

    ps don’t take anything personally Keith, you do a fantastic job. The majority of readers such as myself want only to offer constructive criticism and support

  15. If it takes time to get there. it takes time, alas there isn’t a magic wand to wave to make it all appear straight away and all singing and dancing, it takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

  16. @ Will – Don’t forget the lashings of chrome, with a kick-plate or two thrown in for good measure!

    @ Keith – To be honest, the type of person who frequents this type of site isn’t looking for bling max-power adverts and in your face graphics, but well thought out, informative content. Where else can you find genuine and honest write ups (warts and all) and subjective debate? I certainly haven’t ever found it on anything BMW, Ford or Vauxhall orientated that I have ever been a member of.

    As long as the content is right, people will be more than patient enough while the ‘look’ becomes AR Online again.

    Regards

    Craig

  17. Hi Keith, approaching this from a slightly different angle, I’m a screen reader user (software which provides a spoken and refreshable braille representation of what’s on screen at present using my PC) and in terms of accessibility, the site was at the most useable I’ve ever seen it towards the end of last week and over the week end. Something has changed since today, but I’m struggeling to understand what. This is the most informative resource regarding british built cars on the net in my opinion, so thanks to you and others who have put so much time and effort in to making it happen. As a side issue, I think info on other british brands other than those from the BMC and BL stable is equally valid, the articles on the caveleer and siera were extremely informative. Could I therefore request that the ford fiesta is represented at some time in the future please? they were built at Dagenham weren’t they? so surely deserve a place. Keep up the good work and thanks again.

  18. All your efforts are hugely appreciated, Keith. If I was able to help in any way I would stick my hand up immediately; but I know absolutely nothing about websites. So sorry!

  19. Looking good so far Keith. Evolution not revolution is always a good idea, and the work to date is a good transition.

    Hats off! 🙂

  20. Keith, the incredible range and depth of information on AROnline is far more important than the style. Just let the style evolve. As for the ‘Other Cars’ content it provides real perspective to the BMC/AR story. Please keep it up – where else on the web (or elsewhere for that matter) will you find such a well-written and informative piece on the defining but almost-forgotten Simca 1100 for instance? Many thanks!

  21. PS top banner.
    Thinking out aloud here and i do not have much time to knock something up here is a suggestion.
    The union jack would suffice plus maybe badges of marks dotted around. But would that infringe copy write? If so some iconic cars splashed around would do.
    Flag in colour with details in B&W or sepia?

  22. Keith, a fantastic effort – well done and thank you! Great to see all the old AR vehicles back on the sidebar and to have the feel of the wonderful old site back. You deserve (and no doubt need) a long rest!

  23. Well, I can access the website again after the last week or so being presented with a Cloudflare page telling me my IP address had been banned. So as far as I’m concerned its much better.

  24. Wow!!! I thank You very much for all the changing (also this night!!). I congratulate You for having open ears for changes wished. (Today it is not usual, that anybody has a hearing for change-wishing. Please going further so!! That pleasure!

  25. Keith, as an all-too-occasional visitor to the site these days, it’s great to see that it is still thriving despite the recent difficulties. I know it’s been a long-held ambition to move to a fully CMS-based platform and to promote more user interaction, and that now seems to be coming along nicely. Just wanted to say keep up the good work – it would be very sad to see this essential resource bite the dust.

  26. @Keith

    I’m impressed that you’ve been able to retain so much of the original look within the new environment (and, of course, pleased that you considered that desirable). However, the new features make the site so much more relevant to how things are done these days, and will surely see the site’s audience continue to grow.

  27. @ Declan

    We had very good feedback from users too regarding the look and particular feel of the old website. Not the implementation, but the functionality of ‘classic aronline’ is still up to date.

  28. Hi Keith
    Personally I wouldn’t get too hung up about fonts and banners – surely it’s the content that matters and your site provides hours of endless fun and information.
    I just think you should be congratulated and appreciated for providing us enthusiasts this site.

    Kindest regards

    Martyn

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