Before I start, if I say anything below about the existing page that offends you in any way, please don't take it personally, I never intended for it :-)
Right, well first of all I would like to say that the 8.10 page is a great step up form the previous one, it is very simple and I like it a lot, however there are some things I think can be improved.
From when I started using Firefox, I always liked the default homepage for it (to see what I am talking about go to google.com/firefox). It was very simple, looked great and focused you on the things that the user wanted the most (search). It also had links along the top that pointed you to popular points of interest.
Now while I do like the current start page for Intrepid, I think we could learn some things from the Firefox homepage mentioned above:
* Having the links separated from the search form is best, as it clearly lines the page out for the user, from the first time they see it. The separation also means we don't have a restricted no. of links, as it spans the whole page.
* I feel also that the Firefox page feels more like a whole document, with content at the start and the finish, whereas the fact that the Ubuntu one has all the content concentrated into the center, just makes the page look slightly incomplete. Widgets at the bottom, which were discussed in the IRC log, will also add to a more complete look, these are included on the Firefox Page
* The Firefox page's top bar is light and the gradient on it is not too contrasting, so not distracting from what the user should be focused on, the search form form the rest of the page. The Ubuntu page's bar is too dark and the colors are too different.
* The text on the bar of the Firefox page is white, so nice and visible, but also has a shadow under it, so you can clearly see the word. On the Ubuntu page, the white becomes lost as it ventures towards the bottom of the bar and so is quite hard to read.
* The SVG capabilities you described in the previous message cannot be achieved with some of the
- graphics used on the current start page (ie. the photo)
Right! So I tried to correct all the things I mentioned above and so I created a start page (it is real, not a mockup) and it is situated below
(Full Size start-page.png