A Fresh Coat of Paint

You probably notice a few updates to the site today. We wanted to do more to promote the awesome writing our staff produce here, which kicked off a bunch of layout tweaks. Here are the patch notes, for lack of a better term:

- The top area of the site now showcases the latest "feature" articles and rotates some classics into the mix in case folks missed them.

- The main page and article areas are now running at a fixed 1024 pixel width to save us the nightmare of trying to make things look nice at the old variable width style. This is going to give us more flexibility as we tweak the site.

- The forums have been left as a variable width, because it just works better that way. We've also changed it so the first post of a thread doesn't show up at the top of each page, but it's still easy to refer to it if needed.

- Secret back end updates have also been made and some small changes to the front page article layouts. I'd like to wish fond farewell to the article category icon; enjoy your imitation Rolex watch and fruit basket as you step into retirement.

That's all for now! If you find any bugs, let us know in the comments.

Comments

Lucan wrote:

3. The article showcases description
text is
awfully
hard to
read
vertically.

This made me wanna post this:
IMAGE(https://wave.google.com/pendingWaveUploads/33276588656/Goodjers2.2.png)

but then I read this:

Certis wrote:

Design ideas are appreciated, but I'll warn you now that they'll be taken more seriously in a week or two once people have settled in and got used to the existing changes. I personally HATE website changes until I get used to them. It's a normal reaction.

But I'm still concerned how much the new layout reminds of an online-magazine look.

I'll try to see it everyday, get used to it, but like Smythe says, I always go directly to the forums.

---EDIT TO ADD---

I also see the OP on the second page.

Certis wrote:

Design ideas are appreciated, but I'll warn you now that they'll be taken more seriously in a week or two once people have settled in and got used to the existing changes. I personally HATE website changes until I get used to them. It's a normal reaction.

Thanks! I hope they help.

I don't agree with taking two-weeks to get used though. Right now I notice that the information I'm interested in is no longer up front and showing. When I want to see if there has been a new blog post, one not included in the featured articles, I have to scroll down and right.

I'll probably get used to having to scrolls down in two weeks, but that doesn't mean the problem is actually gone. I've just gotten used to it.

I'll probably get used to having to scrolls down in two weeks, but that doesn't mean the problem is actually gone. I've just gotten used to it.

The converse is also potentially true, being that there was no problem only that it is different. The two weeks things gives us an opportunity to get feedback that is not colored directly by the reaction to difference and it gives you guys the opportunity to find out what really is and is not working.

Dysplastic wrote:

I really appreciate that you guys are trying to change the site, but I agree with a lot all of what Lucan is saying.

Ditto. Every point I was going to post about was covered by Lucan. Also, why is an 10-month old article being featured at the top? Seems like you'd only want the most recent ones there.

I will reiterate that removing the OP from multiple page threads is very cool. Just fix the design issues with the featured articles section and the empty banner at the top and GWJ will be looking top-notch.

EDIT: I just realized that OPs are showing on multi-page threads for Front Page Articles. I assume that is intentional?

Elysium wrote:
I'll probably get used to having to scrolls down in two weeks, but that doesn't mean the problem is actually gone. I've just gotten used to it.

The converse is also potentially true, being that there was no problem only that it is different. The two weeks things gives us an opportunity to get feedback that is not colored directly by the reaction to difference and it gives you guys the opportunity to find out what really is and is not working.

Well, I think we could have a pretty philosophical discussion about that.

But I really shouldn't push the issue any further. Two weeks time it will be then.

While I really don't like all the real-estate wasted on the front page (viewing on 1920x1200 makes nearly half the display wasted by whitespace), the forums still scale properly and that's where I spend most of my time. I understand that 1024 is the standard though so I'm not gonna fight on this one

EDIT: I just realized that OPs are showing on multi-page threads for Front Page Articles. I assume that is intentional?

Yep.

Is the tracker considered part of the front page? It's resolution is locked and doesn't scale like the rest of the forums.

Could we get a link to the Front Page Articles section of the forums at the bottom of article comments? It'll save people a couple of clicks.

Rat Boy wrote:

Could we get a link to the Front Page Articles section of the forums at the bottom of article comments? It'll save people a couple of clicks.

Isn't there already a Home link at the bottom?

kaostheory wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

Could we get a link to the Front Page Articles section of the forums at the bottom of article comments? It'll save people a couple of clicks.

Isn't there already a Home link at the bottom?

That takes you to the front page. I'm talking about one that takes you back to the articles section of the forums so you can quickly move between articles that have been commented on, even older ones that don't show up on the front page anymore.

I really wish you guys would take my advice and move the user block to the sidebar and shift everything up a little. Even if you are going to have ads on the top of the site, that's a lot of empty space to fill. Also, I presume you're using Views to generate the 'latest articles'. Isn't it wonderful?

Spiffy!

This looks really awesome!

Needs more cowbell.

MeatMan wrote:

Also, why is an 10-month old article being featured at the top? Seems like you'd only want the most recent ones there.

No no no. THat's the "Rabbit" block, and it will always feature the last decent thing written by me at all times. That it's currently a 10-month-old feature is a sad sign, to be sure. Also, occasionally it will show pictured of me beautiful bald head, or a haiku about my children. Or coffee.

LightBender wrote:

Needs more cowbell.

Served.

http://www.funnyhub.com/videos/pages...

Coding for a fixed width is a bad bug; you're trying to take too much control over 'look and feel'. Let browsers present the data, and keep a simple enough format that it works at all resolutions.

When browsers can present the data themselves, perhaps using hints from you, your site works with everything, everywhere. People at very high or very low resolutions can use it, people with poor vision and large font sizes can use it, and people with true impairments can usually read it through special applications.

The more anal about formatting you become, the fewer people can enjoy the content in the way they want, and the more fragile and expensive to maintain your web site becomes.

It'd be nice if the tracker was scaling to widescreen, looks really awkward stuck at 1024.

Sinatar wrote:

It'd be nice if the tracker was scaling to widescreen, looks really awkward stuck at 1024.

It seems to be doing so for me.

EDIT: with firefox 3.5 anyway, not so with opera

Doesn't the fact that reading a single article reverts the site to variable width negate your attempts to beautify articles? They'll present better at the teaser level, but at the node level they will continue to look exactly the same way they did previously.

Sinatar wrote:

It'd be nice if the tracker was scaling to widescreen, looks really awkward stuck at 1024.

QFT.

Do not want.

I like the new front page, though!

souldaddy wrote:

This is the best I've seen the website. None of the other design updates have jumped out to me like this one has. Bravo.

While the bulk of my thoughts on the update are in agreement with souldaddy, Sinatar really nails it with the following:

Sinatar wrote:

It'd be nice if the tracker was scaling to widescreen, looks really awkward stuck at 1024.

There are two gigantic grey bars on the sides where the fixed width looks like butt due to the stretched nature of a widescreen monitor.

I think if they used a gradient that also carried over inot the middle section, it would look less awkward. I took a look at espn.com and foxsports.com, since I knew both also format their pages the same way, but don't look as awkward. I think that may be a guide for how to make it look a little more natural.

But then again, in two weeks, it may look natural enough.

Sinatar wrote:

It'd be nice if the tracker was scaling to widescreen, looks really awkward stuck at 1024.

Yeah, that should be easy enough to do.

Jayhawker wrote:

I think if they used a gradient that also carried over inot the middle section, it would look less awkward. I took a look at espn.com and foxsports.com, since I knew both also format their pages the same way, but don't look as awkward. I think that may be a guide for how to make it look a little more natural.

But then again, in two weeks, it may look natural enough.

I was thinking the same, but didn't want to try and force something in. Some kind of texture or graphic would probably help, though.

I like the new design. My netbook will be happy but my widescreen desktop is currently squinting.

As far as the background, since most everything is white that would probably go well for a quick fix, and it's great at directing the eye to content though maybe not looking as snazzy. New Scientist comes to mind.

Hard to know without seeing it of course. The background for the links at the top (the little grey stars behind forum, etc.) might be cool as well.

Certis wrote:

I personally HATE ... changes until I get used to them. It's a normal reaction.

Certis: reactionary conservative.

As a web designer, I can't fault you guys for switching to a fixed width layout. Variable widths are a pain in the ass to design, program and maintain. I imagine that's why so few sites bother.

Modern browsers have excellent zooming functions which make reading on larger monitors a breeze. Besides, it's annoying to read a line of text that stretches all the way across 1024+ pixels.

Me, pre-clearing the cache on Chrome: "WTF are you guys talking about!?!?!?!"

Me, post-clearing the cache on Chrome: "Ooooooo. Shiny! I really like it."

Oh no....change....its different that before......that means it changed.....what am I gonna do?!? thisisnothappeningthisisnothappeningthisisnothappening

Nah, I'm cool with it.