Techdirt Look And Feel… Set Your Own Preferences

from the have-fun-with-it dept

It’s been a few weeks since we launched the big redesign of Techdirt… which elicited a ton of great feedback, both positive and negative. The majority of folks we heard from all really thought it was an improvement. Certainly some people were less thrilled with it, but we’ve been working on understanding what problems people had with the new site. Some of you may have noticed that we’ve been rolling out a variety of small changes since we first launched to respond to some of the suggestions or issues people found. We’ve adjusted a number of things subtly to make the page work better and look better. We also now have the page set to load a mobile version if you visit from most mobile devices. However, by far, the biggest complaint from people was the fact that we made the new design “fixed width,” despite studies that have shown reading a site with fixed width tends to be faster, as it’s more readable. It appears there are plenty of readers here who would disagree with that sentiment — and they let us know it (even to the point of a few people insisting they would never read us again, due solely to the fixed-width issue). The second major complaint was that the old design had “threaded” comments, that let you follow when someone replied to a different comment. Both of these features had been in the pipeline anyway, but we sped up the development time, and are now letting you set your preferences (also available in the upper right corner of the site), that lets you set defaults (by cookie) on fixed/variable width and threaded/flattened comments. We’ve tested everything on a variety of platforms, but we’re quite sure that the readers out there will come up with some problems. Please feel free to let us know, and we’ll do our best to fix whatever problems you come across. We’ll also keep rolling out additional new features over time, so we hope to get those anti-fixed width readers who abandoned us back over time. Thanks for any and all feedback.

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Comments on “Techdirt Look And Feel… Set Your Own Preferences”

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discojohnson says:

Re: Options = Success

definately! i enjoy reading techdirt when i get in to work, after lunch, and around supper time. i frequent it *often* and i’m glad to see that *gasp* consumers are what have driven design. kudos. i think the fixed width cry was partly due to the width being too small, but i think it was widened after a few days to be what feels 50% larger. that was enough for me to make the fixed width worth it.

Stu says:

Set Your Own Preferences

Thanks for caring. Glad to have the choice. (Variable for me.)

To get to the next subject after reading all the comments, I have to scroll to the top of the page. I’d like to see lots of links to the “top of page” along with the comments – maybe after each one or at least one at the bottom.

Thanks again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Icons still HUGE

you should say the site looks better to YOU.

it’s your opinion.

not everyone thinks like you, so you can’t say “the site looks much better for it”

I like the icons.

I swear. You’re too damn picky. I like Techdirt for the content. The way it LOOKS, doesnt’, and shouldn’t, matter that much.

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

Re: Re: Icons still HUGE

They are big and bright, more so that the headline itself and I find the distracting. If they were actual ‘icon’ size (32×32 or similar), or colors more muted than the headline, that would be perfect.

But, as a poster upthread said, it’s probably just me, and adblock works just fine. Looks great without the icons and you still get the category from the bar above the story.


Anonymous Coward says:

Hmm Odd

Well, I clicked the link in the story, and changed my preferences. only to find that I was still stuck on fixed width. UGGH. But I clicked the link on the top right corner of the page and changed my preferences and now everything works great.

And regarding the poster who said it would be great if links at the top were replicated at the bottom …. Great idea! I get to Techdirt through Google’s news pages, so my process, visually, is always to skip down past the headline and to read the story. And since there’s nothing at the bottom, I’d completely missed that the links mentioned were even an option! LMAO. So yeah, um, putting them down there at the bottom would not only be an added convenience, but it would also let people who are not familiar with your site know that such options even exist. 🙂

Jasper says:

Why Min Width?

Ah, now I understand the fixed/variable width option, after trying both out. However, it’s still not right 🙂

“Variable width” does not enforce a maximum column width, but it still enforces a minimum. That’s my chief complaint with this, and many many other web sites. There’s almost nothing worse when reading than a column that’s wider than your window, and requires side-scrolling to read each line.

Webmasters should honour users’ ability to reformat the way they want. Better, browsers should honour it. I don’t understand why Opera Mobile’s ability to force columns to fit into a narrow browser window isn’t standard on PC browsers….

Scottitude (user link) says:

Nicely Done

You’ll never make anyone happy but it’s nice to see you’re trying.

My personal “issue” with every website that uses it is black text on a white background…it’s so 19th century paper & ink yet legitimate sites continue to believe it somehow validates their presentation.

Just as studies have shown that fixed width pages are easier to read, studies have shown that black text on a white background causes greater eye-strain than light text on a dark background.

I guess all these studies are a waste of money, huh?

Black & white and eye-strain aside, overall I like the new look and the options you’ve added. Nicely done.

TJ says:

Link color DIY fix

Alright, I already used Proxomitron to solve annoying web site design problems. Now have a filter specific to TechDirt that puts link colors back under the control of the browser where they belong. With that change, I not only like the style of the redesign better, it is functional again too. And primary blue for links looks just fine, even if it isn’t that drab blue code “1a518f” that is used throughout the new design.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let me be the next one to say Thanks!

The page width setting — allowing it to be dynamic — is fantastic. I was just getting “used to” all of that nasty white space (and the fact that it made entries look *really long* causing me to skim far more than I would otherwise).

This is *much better*. I liked the new design, graphics and *most* of the layout, but I couldn’t stand the two large bars of wasted real-estate on the edges of my browser. It just felt *wrong* to leave so much space so white!

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