I'm trying to update the look of my freelance site, and all thoughts are appreciated. There's not much content on the DEV site (I'd like the design finished before I add the content), so no need to comment on that part.
Here's a few things you could improve on your new design: Don't use tables for layout!
A horizontal scrollbar appears at 1024x768 resolution.
Your button images are of bad quality. As if you saved it in the wrong file format.
I agree about the buttons and can empathise with you about not being a graphics person.
fwiw, I would not use buttons there at all. I would leave them simply as link for more information - with whatever text you choose.
As for teh rest of the visual design, I can't decide if I like it or I don't. I like black, I like orange but I think the combination needs less orange. Maybe thin out the border to 1px and perhaps a faded shade of the same orange. Were I to suggest you mix in some white, you are nearly at a colour-scheme I used about 4 months ago.
"The day you stop learning is the day you become obsolete"! - my late Dad.
Alright I'll give you some basic thoughts, and then a few suggestions.
Overall the site has an immediate impact on my eyes. It took me a second to adjust to the dark screen with white text. I have to admit that I've quit making black backgrounds unless my clients really really want it, just because white text on black is a lot more intensive on the eyes. I'm not saying no black, but how can it be softened (like bazz suggests)? How else can the orange be improved or changed? Some colors work really well on others, but if you get the hue off enough they clash, and here it is like you have two very strong colors competing for attention (white,orange).
Spice up the menu, give it a hover state, and give the active page something different in the menu, just so we can track which page we are on.
Work with the typography. This is hard, I know, very hard. However check on the styles on other site and see how they pull in different fonts and styles, it can be a huge impact. Arial all the way through looks a little too weak.
Use your buttons sparingly, they have a strong visual gravity. Use it only when you REALLY want me to see it and click it. Otherwise, either have a text link or something that isn't so strong.
Yes, tables should be removed. I've been noticing that some of my clients have some understanding of web design and you want to show off not just your page, but your code.
I would rearrange your grid, its very 2x2x2 right now. And the right is slightly larger than the left, giving an unbalanced feel. I noticed my head actually tilted to the left when I looked at the page. I'm glad to see you are using space in the design, but right now its hurting more than helping. Give a space to an element based on its need. So Testimonials, Latest Projects, and Contact Us could be smaller, while Latest Blog could be bigger. Perhaps arrange the 3 smaller on one line and give the blog some room to breathe.
I would remove the valid tag, it will most likely look strange to visitors who know nothing about valid code, and I think it looks a little tacky (I never see them on the professional sites that I frequent about web development).
jeremy - gnomeontherun Educated questions often get educated answers, and simple questions often get simple answers.
i don't see much difference between the old and new... but generally it's good. good style. just needs a bit of appropriate padding / bordering / finishing in the middle around the special features like the video clip