Songs of the Victorians Redesigned!

As promised in my previous post, I’m unveiling my new design for Songs of the Victorians!

First, a side by side comparison:
Old Version
New Version
When I first built my design for the site about two years ago, I was most influenced by the design for the Rossetti Archive.  I loved the Victorian look and the effect of having the text on a light background over an image, and you can see how my original version echoed that style.  While I still greatly admire that look, I wanted my site to still have a Victorian feel while also having a more contemporary feel; after all, my site wouldn’t exist without modern audio capabilities.  I also wanted a more simple design to emphasize the text on the page, so I made the text block centered and eliminated the background image.  I decided that although the painting on the original site nicely brought together ideas of women, music, and the parlor–all themes that reappear throughout my discussion of these songs–it didn’t emphasize the sheet music itself.  In fact, the woman playing piano doesn’t have sheet music in front of her.  For the redesign, I wanted to emphasize the materiality of Victorian sheet music and of the parlor, since that was the space in which these songs would be performed.
Once I’d eliminated the image, I had to find a way to create this Victorian parlor aesthetic.  I liked the color scheme and the William Morris-inspired background Dino Felluga used in NAVSA’a blog “Of Victorian Interest”, so I kept that in mind as I built my new version.  Once I made the parchment-style background behind the text in my site, I used the tool “Color Scheme Designer” to find recommended brown accent colors for the background.  I spent some time looking for an appropriate background design, before finally finding the perfect free background (shown below) I could legally use.
Designed by Inferlogic 
With the help of Inkscape, I was able to invert and change the colors to match the palette I had in mind.
The final touch was the page’s header.  I liked the design we used for Prism  last year, in which the logo appeared on the left-hand side with a concise summary of the tool on the right-hand side.  To replicate this design for my project, I eliminated the extra swirl on top of “Songs of the Victorians” logo and then centered my synopsis in the right hand pane.
As always, I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions you have on this new design. 
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