Design and Functionality

If you’ve ever seen any of the websites I’ve designed for personal use, first of all: I’m sorry. You’ll have noticed that I tend to do design in one of two ways: Gaudy or Non-existent. I like simple, elegant, and efficient, though it seems I’m incapable of designing what I envision. As a developer it really hurts to know that how I want a site to look will never translate properly to completion. It’s why I’m very envious of designers. Great ones always blow my mind with how well they can take an idea and make it something great.

When I started on Ondina, I knew the control panel couldn’t be some out-of-the-box solution like cPanel or ISP Config. While they served a purpose in the past, they’re either too expensive to be practical or seem to be stuck in a time warp to 1999. If I was going to do this right, I would need something new, fresh, and simple. This is why I’ve left the control panel as the last thing on my to do list.


Failed design attempt #9,001

Now that we’re coming to the home stretch and our Private Preview release is just around the corner, I’ve realized it’s time to take care of arguably the most important part of the whole project: the dreaded control panel design. I’ve tried several times during the project to design the control panel area. The best I could do is pictured above. I really don’t like this design, it’s too – guh. Impossible to describe and I’m not even sure where I would begin. It has the elements I want: simple overview screen, simple navigation options, fixed width design, etc. I just seem to fail in it’s overall execution. It just didn’t wasn’t sexy.

Luckily, I was able to get some much needed help! Stefano Palazzo, another moderator on Ask Ubuntu, was showcasing a personal project he’s currently working on: Python Fu. When I saw his design for the site, I knew he had what I lacked: The ability to translate a site design into something that is simple, elegant, and sexy while still being completely functional and cross-browser safe. He agreed to assist and was able to whip a mock-up together for me. Needless to say, I loved it. We’ve been tweaking the overall theme elements, but ever since then it’s been full steam ahead as I continue to design out and implement each page’s functionality.

Domain Management landing page

While the majority of the content is subject to change, this one is sure. The simplicity and elegance of this design will ripple throughout the Ondina Network.

The Virtual Host manager where you can configure each virtual host definition
The Virtual Host manager where you can configure each virtual host definition

There are a lot of the subtleties lost in screenshots (CSS transitions, Javascript interactions, etc.) that really enhance the impact of this theme.

As we get closer to Private Preview launch, a more in-depth tour of the control panel and its features will be released.