Posted: 26 June 2010 21:15

You may have noticed a few design alterations creeping in across the website of late as part of my online strategy. The most visible change is perhaps the replacement of the 'Pillbox' logo graphic at the top of each page.

Here is the 'Pillbox' logo for one last time:

Site redesign

Why the change, particularly as I still love the way I gave the text a concrete texture and embrasures?

The main reason is branding; the old logo gave the impression that the site title was 'Pillbox' - in 2006 when I first devised the logo, this was the case. However, once I realised that my research was becoming more significant than I had ever imagined, I introduced The Defence of East Sussex Project as a more appropriate title and slapped an extra 'semi-logo' at the right hand end of the graphic to reflect this. This bolted-on extra always looked awkward, particularly as I kept extending the timespan of the project, from 1940 to 1941 and then 1942; it's currently sort of 1944-45.

I did try using the concrete texture and loopholes on the Defence of East Sussex Project text, but it really didn't work, and frankly the graphic was becoming far too complex. I opted instead for a much simpler arrangement of the project title along with an iconic Type 24 pillbox. This latter was important; I've already been using this Type 24 graphic as an avatar image on my various web forum profiles and to be honest, it's simple, which is what you want from a brand image. It also works when reproduced at smaller sizes; long strings of text don't work in this respect.

Site redesign

The logo at right is an experimental design; it has a pillbox rising out of a map of East Sussex, with the map draped over it.

I dropped this because it's trying to be too clever. Although it works at the size seen here, shrink it down to a size for use at the page top and the concept is lost; the pillbox simply looks camouflaged.

Back to the drawing board.

I also wanted to reduce the height of the logo image as I felt it was taking up too much space and my simple text and pillbox design that I settled for allows me to merge the image into the navigation tabs. Websites that have huge masthead images tend to be presentation-based and don't handle large amounts of data very well; a simple logo means attention is drawn away from the top and down into the page content; the user instantly 'gets' the title of the site, and hopefully the pillbox reinforces the idea that the 'defence' being studied is military.

I've previously expressed concern about "over-pillboxing" the entire project; when I started out in 2006, "pillbox-spotting" was at the heart of what I was doing; experience has since determined that concrete is not necessarily the be-all and end-all of the subject as I now realise how much earthworks have been overloooked as part of the defences.

However, a pillbox logo is more instantly recognisable to the layman than a slit trench, which I think would be very hard to make work as a brand. "slit-trench.org.uk" would also not have quite the same ring to it as "pillbox.org.uk", so pillbox branding is here to stay, even though hardened defences are only a part of the story.

2010 Concrete Evidence screengrab

The screenshots here show the difference; at right is the site as it was back in January 2010; below as it is today.

The previous logo was too detached from the page content, and the style was becoming tired and cliche'd. However, I'm not sure I completely like the new design, but I wanted simplicity, and this delivers the goods. (Although I reserve the right to keep tinkering with it!)

Site redesign

I've also fixed a few minor presentation glitches across the site; the blue 'sea' was supposed to extend beyond the limits of the large page background image, but stopped abruptly and those of you with the larger monitor displays saw the rest of the page with a white background. I have now hopefully fixed this issue, caused by conflicting style rules (note to self: declare the background image followed by background colour in the CSS).

A new swishy photo gallery method has been added where appropriate; I'm currently developing the means to deliver data to it straight from the database on the Concrete Evidence pages.

A new section has appeared on the homepage to promote certain topics or content; this allows quick access to popular material that can't ordinarily be squashed into the main page.

One further development in the pipeline is a 'mobile' version of some sections of the site that will make it easier to get certain data when you're out in the military landscape and can access the internet via a mobile phone or other handheld device.

For the latest updates, you can follow me on Twitter, or else keep watching this space!

- Pete

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Embrasure

A loophole or slit that permits observation and/or weapons to be fired through a wall or similar solid construction.


Loophole

Embrasure


Pillbox

Generic term for a hardened field defensive structure usually constructed from concrete and/or masonry. Pillboxes were built in numerous types and variants depending on location and role.


Slit trench

Small, narrow trench designed to provide protection against shrapnel and other battlefield hazards. Technically distinct from a weapon pit (which was intended soley as a defensive position) slit trenches were also used as defence works.


Type 24 pillbox

A six-sided (but not a regular hexagon) pillbox. The Type 24 is the most frequently seen pillbox in East Sussex, mostly along stop lines. It can be found in thin wall (30cm) or thick wall (1m) variants.



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Hibbs, Peter Site redesign (2017) Available at: http://pillbox.org.uk/blog/216661/ Accessed: 25 September 2017

The information on this website is intended solely to describe the ongoing research activity of The Defence of East Sussex Project; it is not comprehensive or properly presented. It is therefore NOT suitable as a basis for producing derivative works or surveys!