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

Certis wrote:
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 agree that using something like the star pattern in the horizontal nav bar or a simple gradient would be an easy way to spice up the dull side gutters, and to give you an idea of what it would look like, I made a couple mockups.

Using the star pattern, the fixed width pages would look something like this.

Using a gradient (transitioning from the current light gray to a medium gray) would look like this.

Very nice, Certis!

I like it. It was a pleasant surprise when I logged in last night and found the new layout!

Using the star pattern, the fixed width pages would look something like this.

Star pattern doesn't look too bad! What do you guys think?

Certis wrote:
Using the star pattern, the fixed width pages would look something like this.

Star pattern doesn't look too bad! What do you guys think?

That or the gradient either one would be an improvement, IMO. Just a little something to spice it up.

Lex Cayman wrote:

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."

Ok, I did this, but I am still not getting the showcase of feature/classic articles. (Rather, the box has "Coffee Grinds" with a picture of some armored dude and a light saber.)

Also, every page has two grey bars on the side that have never been there before. I am assuming this is the fixed width that is supposed to be on the front page, but does it on every page.

EDIT: When I click on Coffee Grinds, it goes to Certis's last article. Makes a little more sense, I guess.

As long as the criticism is flowing, may I ask: Are there any plans to update the forum structure? The thing that always has bothered me about the GWJ forum is that it lacks some of the basic functions of more mainstream software like vBulletin.

For example, I can't see what threads I've posted in without going to my account page and clicking the "Track" tab. It also lacks several basic options available to users of other forums, such as pagination, colors scheme, etc...

This has always been one of my least-favorite forums to use from a purely technological standpoint, which is a shame because it has the best content of any I browse.

I'm kind of partial to the gradient myself, but I just really like the way they make static colors pop, in general.

Certis wrote:

Star pattern doesn't look too bad! What do you guys think?

I like it!

I'm afraid of change, but this is WAAAAY better than ESPN's Page2 redesign. So ... thanks.

Minarchist wrote:

I'm kind of partial to the gradient myself, but I just really like the way they make static colors pop, in general.

Agreed. My vote is with gradient, as well.

Regarding the fixed width, it's great for text readability in posts, particularly when someone slams us with a wall of text. I approve of this very much, even if it makes the forum titles look a little scrunched in the "recent posts" listing.

I really like the subtle formatting of the forum comments, as well. I hope this was a new thing, and not my just noticing it now, because then I would feel silly.

The 'latest feature' box seems a little strange to me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it seems out of place. Kind of distracting. I'm going to go stare at it for a few minutes more and decide if it makes sense to me, after all.

(Edit)It does! Clearing your cache is apparently awesome. Before, I had E-hunnie's issue where it was a dude in a red box with the words "coffee grinds" above his head, and that was it. A little baffling.

Kudos all around! At first, I was of the "I don't like change = pitchforks!" mentality, but after sleeping on it, the new layout is growing on me. Well done folks!

While I generally agree with Malor (Lord, I thought the day would never come), I understand the desire for a fixed-width layout that presents content in the way you desire. However, I do have one quibble: as others have said, I find the switch from the fixed-width portions of the site to the variable-width portions to be quite jarring. In general, when I'm reading a web page I expect the elements I'm looking at to be in the same place from page to page; my eyes and brain expect that the menu will remain here and the text will begin there. Because you've elected to have the fixed-width column for the site be centered, when the layout switches to a variable-width, all of the content shifts dramatically to the left to fill what was once whitespace. Where I was expecting to find the start of a line of text, because that's where the text was previously, I now find myself looking at the middle of a line and have to take a moment to find the beginning.

If you'd like to continue to have a portion of the site with a variable width, you might consider having a fixed left margin for both the variable-width and fixed-width portions of the site so that at least the menus would remain in the same place; content could spill off to the right without disrupting the established layout of the site. Or, make the entire site fixed-width.

Certis wrote:
Using the star pattern, the fixed width pages would look something like this.

Star pattern doesn't look too bad! What do you guys think?

Looks good to me. I might prefer the gradiant, but it serves the same purpose.

The only other thing I would consider is a bar across the length, even if it is jut a thin portion of the black box, or adding the background you choose into the main part of the page.

I think it ties it all together better. Even the white example of http://www.newscientist.com/ ties it together in a simple way at both the top and bottom.

Here's an example of a site that uses all three ideas. Gradients, star pattern, and tying both sides into the middle.

I think it is interesting, though, that lots of sites I visit also handle much as you guys have done, and it never bothered me. That a pretty clear indication that we will probably just get used to whatever you decide to roll with.

It's just fun throwing out ideas, as it takes me back to my old high school newspaper days.

Rubb Ed wrote:

In Chrome, there are no article links, and the image of the (in this case) Darth Vader from your last article is shoved into the red Article box, and nothing else appears.

I was having this problem in Firefox, but I hit Refresh and it changed to the new layout. It's interesting, I'm not sure how I feel about the recent articles taking up so much real estate up top, and it is kind of hard to read text scrunched up into a column. I'll probably get used to it though.

You can count me as one who would prefer the who site go to the same fixed-width layout. It is definitely jarring to go back and forth.

I'm curious if that means you will reduce the number of posts per page, as I'm sure that means those with weak little scrolling fingers might put off by the extra distance.

The gradient is my preference and I would prefer a uniform fixed width. And a pony.

I like the gradient look as well.

I occasionally think before posting, and this week it's about the new header.

Is it necessary to feature the most recent post so dominantly considering it's right underneath the header? It might be worth featuring from the second most recent post instead (which can be done using views).

Not that I want to take the focus away from Elysium's superb recent article.

If you're going to do this ludicrously stupid thing of locking the width to 1024 pixels, then at least be consistent about it. Having it pop back and forth as I move around the site, with the font sizes all changing all the goddamn time, is maddening.

If it's consistent, I can at least zoom all the pages to the same reasonable level.

Gosh Malor, let me get right on that for you.

PS: The "ludicrously stupid" fixed width is used by nearly every major site I frequent. I don't mind if you don't like it, but don't act like we're way off the reservation here.

Malor wrote:

If you're going to do this ludicrously stupid thing of locking the width to 1024 pixels, then at least be consistent about it. Having it pop back and forth as I move around the site, with the font sizes all changing all the goddamn time, is maddening.

If it's consistent, I can at least zoom all the pages to the same reasonable level.

Certis wrote:

Gosh Malor, let me get right on that for you.

PS: The "ludicrously stupid" fixed width is used by nearly every major site I frequent. I don't mind if you don't like it, but don't act like we're way off the reservation here.

Now I have my mom in my head asking me if everyone jumps off a bridge would I do it too.

Mommy and daddy are fighting again!

Edwin wrote:
Certis wrote:

Gosh Malor, let me get right on that for you.

PS: The "ludicrously stupid" fixed width is used by nearly every major site I frequent. I don't mind if you don't like it, but don't act like we're way off the reservation here.

Now I have my mom in my head asking me if everyone jumps off a bridge would I do it too.

I can't help but notice every link in Edwin's signature goes to a website using a fixed width design.

That's because it's a free Wordpress site that I can not change around with CSS, unlike GWJ. Once I am gainfully employed I plan to change that very quickly. I've already planned it all out as you can see in the tech forum when I asked for recommendations for web hosts.

tl;dr

I've always been a hypocrite.

that's a nice edit, E.

I'd love to see a search within thread function/feature. Some of those catch-alls are just way too long to browse ...

Teeldarb wrote:

I'd love to see a search within thread function/feature. Some of those catch-alls are just way too long to browse ...

How much would it stress the server to have another option 'all' that doesn't split a thread into pages, or more replies per page? With that you could just use a browser text search, although I can imagine some problems on the 100+ pages threads.

I occasionally am limited to hitting the site in Safari. The new top page/article layout doesn't seem to work in Safari.

Looks fine in FF and Chrome though!

HedgeWizard wrote:

I occasionally am limited to hitting the site in Safari. The new top page/article layout doesn't seem to work in Safari.

Looks fine in FF and Chrome though!

Looks fine for me in Safari for Mac and Windows. Have you flushed your cache?

I wrote a Grease Monkey script. Now everybody is happy.

// ==UserScript==
// @name Clean GWJ
// @namespace Lucan
// @description Script to remove gwj-featured articles widget
// @include http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/
// ==/UserScript==
document.getElementById('gwj-features').style.display = 'none';

How do you install that in Chrome?