This Week In Techdirt History: We Finally Start Testing Responsive Design!

from the it's-about-time dept

Try out Techdirt’s new responsive design on our beta site »

It hasn’t escaped our notice that the design of Techdirt is a little… behind the times. There was a spate of high-profile redesigns a few years ago, with many blogs transitioning to a more “magazine”-esque style, and although they looked great, it wasn’t always the most useful choice for readers — and that’s part of why we didn’t end up going along with the trend. We’ve heard from various readers over the years that they appreciate our adherence to a traditional blog format with a chronological list of posts, and the fact that we don’t force the use of photos and imagery when they don’t actually add anything to the content. We’re also a very small and very busy team, so when we tinker with the site, we try to focus on adding streamlined features that are immediately useful, like the ability to expand posts on the front page instead of clicking through, or to hide all ads on Techdirt. We’ve also tweaked the appearance of the site in small ways from time to time, and in general we prefer this incremental approach over making a splash with a big redesign.

That being said, there’s something very important that we’ve been neglecting for far too long: how Techdirt works on mobile devices. Our “lite” format is much too basic — a holdover from an earlier era of the mobile web — while our default site is extremely inconvenient on a small screen. And so today we’re happy to announce that we’re almost ready to launch a new responsive framework for Techdirt, enabling the default version of the site to perform well on devices of all shapes and sizes, and we’d like your help with the beta test. We built this framework ourselves using fairly basic responsive CSS, since so many pre-packaged solutions are overly complex and/or unnecessarily reliant on JavaScript.

Click this link to switch to Techdirt’s beta site and try out our new responsive design! Your preference will be saved in a cookie, and you can go back to the regular version of the site at any time via your user preferences or the prominent “Exit Beta” link in the header of every page.

You’ll notice a few small tweaks to the layout of our posts, but the main change is that every page should now respond nicely to any viewport size and organize itself to be easily readable and navigable. Please give it a try on your phones and tablets (or by resizing your browser window) and let us know how your experience goes. If you encounter any bugs, or have any general suggestions or comments, get in touch using our contact form or by reaching out to us on Twitter (or here in the comments!)

If all goes well, we hope to roll this change out to the site very soon, and we’ve got a few more adjustments (plus a general tidying-up of the visual design) in the pipeline.

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Comments on “This Week In Techdirt History: We Finally Start Testing Responsive Design!”

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Daydream says:

We built this framework ourselves using fairly basic responsive CSS, since so many pre-packaged solutions are overly complex and/or unnecessarily reliant on JavaScript.

Neat. I have JavaScript turned off on my mobile, after a bazillion crashed pages and ad redirects and so on, so I’m glad this site doesn’t rely on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“JavaScript turned off … so I’m glad this site doesn’t rely on it.”

But it does, if you ever find yourself curious enough to actually want to read the “troll” comments that regularly set off everyone in a frenzy replying to. But at least all text is contained in the page code, unlike many javascript sites which embargo script-free browsers.

Devonavar says:


I like it. Fast and functional.

I feel like “expand all collapse all” isn’t as relevant for mobile, so I would hide this element.

Also, a lot of the touch spots are quite small… The menu and expand post buttons could be larger. Putting the menu on the same vertical plane as the search bar would work better visually and save space. I also miss the pull down to access menu feature that some sites have… But maybe that requires JavaScript?

Visually, a bit more left margin for the text would be nice… It hugs the left side of the screen very closely and make the text look off centre.

Other than that, it still feels like TechDirt, which I like. I wish other blogs had stayed closer to the blog format like you have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Beta layout: Desktop Chrome(has flash), iMac osx 10.6.8

Very similar platform here. I don’t really see any difference at all apart from this “add a reply” box. I was kinda hoping the layout would be different. Not a huge fan of the expandable in-line articles and how they lose my place when hitting the back button after reviewing the comments. Also, tons and tons of wasted white space on the left and right. “Responsive” generally means the content reformats to fit your screen and, well, this doesn’t.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Still fixed width by default

I was going to comment to ask whether you could make the site full-width in the responsive version, then I decided to log in to comment… and et voila the site was full width, then I remembered when you made that an option.

So I’ll still ask if you’d consider making the site full-width on large screens by default, but there’s a workaround so there is that.

Your biggest fan or so I bet at nearly 500 pounds! says:

Re: Still fixed width by default -- Zombie alert!

“MrTroy” has 435 comments, average of 59 per year, BUT a 16 month gap, AND and even more definitional 33 month gap with name change after a few in 2011. This “account” skipped 2012 and 2013 entirely!

Just ODD, like so many. I see only one conclusion.

Your biggest fan (or so I bet, at nearly 500 pound says:

Great! Cosmetic changes are ALWAYS death knell!

Seen it dozens of times (mostly in print). Readership falls off, so "management / editor / publisher" try a new format, which the regulars despise simply for being new, and which in any case does not address the orders-of-magnitude more important problem of interesting CONTENT.

I’ve always found Techdirt to be GLARING and TOO SLICK. — By the way, pro-tip: host out "" or whatever it is, turn off javascript, and I think you’ll be able to see all of front page without clicking in…

Have advised you several times to just glance at Drudge and then write whatever damn foolishness occurs. You call this a "blog", then write to an agenda. — But you never take my advice! You haven’t been since I advised 9 or so years ago now to actually Moderate your nasty little fanboys, NOT "hide" those who dissent. — Again, central problem is lack of interest here (by vigorous disscussion), NOT lack of unavoidable banners and flashing adverts.

You will simply make true my prediction that 2017 was Techdirt’s last full year. It’s so visibly attenuated this year that I declare victory on the point.

So you conflict me: more fun if you quicken the collapse with new format, or take my advice of more interesting content in same old dull layout? Hmm. Either way, I win!

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