In the very old days (when I moved this stuff in a hurry from a free server), the front page was the literally back of an envelope. All the subsidiary pages had hoopy things like paper-clips on them as well, and the clickable navigation map was just that - a map of one of the places referred to elsewhere on Ravenfamily.
It quickly got unmanageable, but when I took it down people mailed me to ask where the envelope had gone. So I kept the envelope - you can still see it here.
That redesigned site opened with "Welcome to Ffetcher's new fixed-width layout: in a world ranging from 1600-pixel browsers to WAP, one has to go with the flow. This will eventually be a collection of articles that I've written over the years, but they have to be collected and restyled, so bear with me." The pages looked something like this.
Since then, the articles have been collated, new pieces have been written and the site's grown. The structure no longer matches the content, so it's time to redesign again. This page will document the thinking.
The trick with a redesign is not to change stuff just for the sake of it, but to improve the usability. So, just as I would professionally, I started by doing a user survey. This was easy. I mailed both my loyal fans and away we went.
The mastheads were fun, but I no longer need them to persuade a browser to keep the column width. Over time I've started putting wacky alt tags in, but I can use vertical stripes in the left margin and move the navigation to hte right. Sorry to left-handers out there, but the logical scheme of things seems to be to look atthe title, read the text and then decide where to go next. English (the working language here last time I looked) scans left-to-right. The navigation used to be rendered, but with CSS this is a waste of time. Design a style for it and keep it as text. Apart from anything else, you can spell-check text.
Sidebars have sprouted. Go for 760 wide (800 browser width less the side scroll-bar) and use the 160 width for sidebars without interfering with the text. Design the stylesheet so that the table layout can eventually go, when all browsers support CSS properly. But retain the tables for now, because currently abusing tables is the only way to make it work consistently.
Divide the material more logically (into four groups) and add body text to each index. Provide for future use of imagery (I have a specific project in mind). A couple of rituals have crept in. My lead designer did a neat design for one, so allow for new ones to have designs which reflect the nature of the design (but keep them all in one group).
And Bob's your uncle (well, maybe Bob's your uncle. I don't have an uncle.)