The new design ... is up!

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    Posted: 04 September 2012 09:26 AM

    Greetings, all. If you’re reading this—and assuming everything’s gone well for you—you’re seeing it with not only the new design for TMO, but on the new backend system, as well. We’ve posted the details about the changes on the site (including an article about the return of the The Mac Observer Spin). Feel free to leave your comments on that article and/or leave them here, as well. We are so excited to share this with you, and can’t wait to hear what you think about it.

    [ Edited: 04 September 2012 09:30 AM by Dave Hamilton ]

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    Posted: 04 September 2012 11:09 AM #1

    Edit: deleted - duplicate post

    [ Edited: 04 September 2012 11:22 AM by PikesPique ]      
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    Posted: 04 September 2012 11:21 AM #2

    Several observations:

    The “What are you looking for” search box with the drop down menu is fine when viewing full screen on an iPad, but is chopped off if I double-tap to expand an article.

    The “What are you looking for” search box with the drop down menu changes to “Search the forums” when in the forums, and no longer shows the drop down menu. This is inconsistent and probably confusing to most users. Either use a search field and a separate drop down menu in all cases or keep the combined behavior in all cases.

    In the forums, the width of the column for user info (username, member since, # of posts, etc.) is a bit wider than necessary. On an iPad, it takes up too much real estate, making it hard to view the post and user info at the same time without making the text too small. In general, there seems to be a bit too much horizontal space (margin, padding, whatever) between elements. While it makes for a “clean” look on a regular desktop or laptop monitor, it makes it harder to read on a mobile device.

    Sometimes the TMO logo is visible in the header bar and sometimes it seems to disappear. I don’t know what causes this.

    As others have pointed out, having the Forum navigation both top and bottom would improve usability.

    In posting this reply, I notice the original message content is no displayed. It would be useful to have it displayed as a reference, even if the reply doesn’t directly quote the original message.

    These are just some of my initial observations. Not complaints but, hopefully, constructive criticisms. I do web development, myself, for an internal web site and I know how hard it is to balance design and usability and to please everyone. Users typically don’t handle change very well, so while you may get several comments or complaints, part of them may be due to resistance to change, but others may be legitimate observations on the user experience (UX). Thanks for striving to make TMO a great site.

    Edit: Preview Post doesn’t really show an accurate preview of what the post will look like in the forum. For instance, when I used two returns between my paragraphs (to show a blank line between paragraphs), the preview of the post did not show the blank lines between paragraphs. But, when it was actually posted, the blanks lines showed up correctly.

    [ Edited: 04 September 2012 11:25 AM by PikesPique ]      
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    Posted: 04 September 2012 12:16 PM #3

    Thanks for the hard work, Dave and others.  I know its not trivial to get a job ready for public consumption, even for something as mundane as mowing the lawn.  For those on iOS devices, this new format is going to a plus in the long run, or even the short run.

    It looks like forum format still has issues,.

    1. Italics.  Someone said that it might be due to italics formating in iLoveMyIPad’s signature

    Phoebear611 - 04 September 2012 09:24 AM

      All italics for me on page one and not on page two…. 

     

    2. Link to Last Post in a thread.    This is fairly vital, even for smaller threads.  When we load up the AFB page AFB,  many AFBers head to the most recent links in AAPL Intraday thread.  We need the convenience of reading without scrolling to the bottom.

    2b.  Alternatively, a link to first unread post in a thread.   

    3. Avatars got chopped.  As I recall, the avatars were wider.

    4. As for me, I strongly prefer the old format for large screen access.  I actually had to turn down the brightness on my Mac.  After 12 years of using forums such as MacObserver and MacAddict, I got used to certain styles of shading.

    Certainly the new page is a lot cleaner, but call me old-school.


    September !  Football !  AFB !

      now to try to find my old password.  Cross posted from AFB thread with minor edits

         
  • Posted: 04 September 2012 12:43 PM #4

    I was trying to send you a message that the new format is rather slow loading each page. I clicked on “Contact” at the bottom but it took me back to the home page. Also, when I just clicked to add to this thread, it first took me to a blank screen; I had to reclick the URL to be able to write this post. I like the new look, though. Keep up the good work.

         
  • Posted: 04 September 2012 04:38 PM #5

    I’m liking the new format and how clean it is.  smile  Most sites I visit open a new tab or window when you click on a posted link.  The Observer sends you directly to the link which feels gratifying but when I’m done with the linked information I close out the window by habit.  Maybe I’m out of the norm on this but thought it would be worth mentioning.

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  • Posted: 05 September 2012 03:43 PM #6

    Well, I’m not going to sugar coat it.

    Not a fan.

    Most RSS links seem to be broken.

    Page seems to shift constantly for close to a minute while loading. I am not going to wait minute to begin reading your article.

    Took me three attempts using Safari on iPad to log in to post this comment.

    I’ll give it a week or so to see if it improves and if not will just dump the site. Plenty of Mac web sites out there to meet my news needs.

         
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    Posted: 06 September 2012 03:00 AM #7

    Treehouse - 04 September 2012 12:16 PM

    1. Italics.  Someone said that it might be due to italics formating in iLoveMyIPad’s signature

    Phoebear611 - 04 September 2012 09:24 AM

      All italics for me on page one and not on page two…. 

    I think we squished this one. wink

         
  • Posted: 06 September 2012 10:19 AM #8

    Do you track post counts?  Seems like traffic on AFB is way down after this change.  My observations:

    1. Had to dump my avatar since the old one was squished

    2. Don’t like the auto logout. Safari on iPad repeatedly crashed trying to log back in.

    3. Really miss seeing last poster name on thread summary

    4. I guess I don’t really see what has been gained with this change.  I see downsides, but not the upside, especially with some posters disappearing due to the change.

         
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    Posted: 07 September 2012 10:58 AM #9

    Like the design. It’s nice and clean. Once I got used to it it works well.

    Did notice a couple of things:
    Blocked posters aren’t any more. I have a couple of what I think of as trolls blocked. I checked my blocked list and they are still there. However I’m seeing their posts both in Comments and in the Forums.
    I’ve had no trouble logging in but even though I have Auto Log-In on Future Visits checked it still asks me nearly every time.

    Seen these behaviors on the latest Safari on Mountain Lion and on Firefox 15 on Windows 7.

    EDIT:
    I just realized that there doesn’t appear to be any way to edit your article comments. (Yes I understand there is a certain degree of irony in editing this post to tell you that.)

    [ Edited: 07 September 2012 02:25 PM by geoduck ]

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    Posted: 09 September 2012 02:53 PM #10

    I don’t like the new format at all.  The lists of threads for each forum might as well be rendered entirely in HTML.  It’s difficult to pick out single threads because everything is so close together, and it’s kind of an eyesore.  (It only happens on Camino, and when I’m (supposedly) not logged in (see below).)  Everything is the same color, which makes things look clean, but also dull.  The 1 Infinite Loop forum link is always smashed to the right side of the page for me as well, when I use Camino.  It’s OK in Safari.  It’s caused by this:

    Create Topic{/if}—> Search Forums

    Post preview also is not working in Camino.  This is what I get:

    max) { base.body.value = base.body.value.substring(0, max); } else { base.charsleft.value = max - cur } } function setannouncement() { if (document.submit_post.announcement.checked == false) return false; document.submit_post.announcement.checked = true; document.submit_post.status.checked = false; document.submit_post.sticky.checked = false; document.submit_post.ann_type[0].disabled = false; document.submit_post.ann_type[1].disabled = false; } function clearannouncement() { document.submit_post.announcement.checked = false; document.submit_post.ann_type[0].disabled = true; document.submit_post.ann_type[1].disabled = true; } var rownum = 4; function addPollField() { if (rownum == 12) { return false; } rownum++ var marker = document.getElementById(“rowpos”); var newrow = ‘
    ’ + rownum + ‘.
    ‘; newrow = newrow + ‘’; if (typeof(marker.outerHTML) == ‘undefined’) { var range = document.createRange(); range.setStartBefore(marker); marker[removed].replaceChild(range.createContextualFragment(newrow), marker); } else { marker.outerHTML = newrow; } } //—>

    Not that anyone cares about Camino anymore, since it’s probably on its last breath at this point.

    Also, I hate persistent bars that can’t be hidden.  For those of us who use Page Up/Down to scroll, they cover up around four lines of text every time we scroll, which we then have to use an arrow key to reveal.  If I need to search, which doesn’t happen nearly as often as I scroll down or up a page to read content, I’m okay with hitting Home or clicking a reveal tab first.  Although having to click away the bar every time I visit the site would be a bit of a nuisance.

    And I agree with others, there needs to be navigation for the entire site at the top as well.  Having to scroll to the bottom to access the Forums is very annoying.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the last design, in particular the way archived articles were handled* (or maybe that was two designs ago, I can’t remember anymore), but I learned to accept it.  I suppose I can do the same with this one, but so far, it seems even worse.

    *Just in case any admins were wondering what I’m talking about, archive links for any given month didn’t appear until the next month had begun.  Thus, when it’s, say, late September, one can no longer easily access articles from early September, because the early September articles would no longer be on the front page, there was never a second/third/etc. page of articles, and there would not yet be a link to the September archive.  Plus, trying to find a single article within an entire month’s worth of articles was difficult; the acrhive should have been better organized.  I haven’t tried accessing the archive in a very long time, so maybe you had fixed those issues a long time ago.  Not that it matters now, since that was the old design.

    Lstream - 06 September 2012 10:19 AM

    2. Don’t like the auto logout. Safari on iPad repeatedly crashed trying to log back in.

    It always says I’m not logged in.  Then, when I click the Login button in the persistent search bar, it says I’m already logged in.  (On my Mac;  I don’t own an iPad.)

    Lstream - 06 September 2012 10:19 AM

    3. Really miss seeing last poster name on thread summary

    4. I guess I don’t really see what has been gained with this change.  I see downsides, but not the upside, especially with some posters disappearing due to the change.

    Agree on both counts.  And the way the quote boxes look when it has the quoted author’s name and post date in them, is bad.  Why are they in a larger font than the actual quoted text?  What’s more important here?  Personally, I’d italicize or underline them, possibly slightly smaller and with a blank line below them, and make the quoted text regular size.  You already have the grey box to differentiate quoted text, you don’t need a smaller font as well.

    [ Edited: 09 September 2012 06:25 PM by mrhooks ]      
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    Posted: 09 September 2012 04:55 PM #11

    Forums are so quiet lately.

    Dave, I hope you and Adam are collecting and seriously considering user feedback and observing the dropoff in forum usage.

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    Thanks, Steve.

         
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    Posted: 10 September 2012 04:45 PM #12

    +

    As with others, I’m still getting used to the new format. Also as with others, Dave, many kudos for working so hard to keep TMO first-rate. This has always been one of my favorite sites and continues to be. Also, as per my question in an earlier thread on the new design, thanks for providing technical details about your CMS. I’d never heard of Expression Engine, as I only use free open-source CMSs (primarily Drupal), but that could always come in handy down the road.

    As to the changes: I still miss a nav bar at the top of the site. Yes, the design looks cleaner without it, but navigation was easier on the previous site. Plus, as a web designer, I just can’t imagine not giving site navigation very high priority, and visual prominence. This might be especially troublesome for new visitors to TMO, who didn’t read the article regarding site design. Worst case scenario, it could cost you new members as people surf away for their inability to navigate the site. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a Home page on any site with primary navigation below the fold, let alone at the bottom of the page. It’s very counter-intuitive, especially given that a top navigation bar of some sort it found on nearly every website on the web. FYI.

    Bottom line: The bottom-of-page navigation only works for those people who know its there. Likewise with your improved search box: TMO staff and members who read the article know about the menu placement and search box features, but newcomers to TMO won’t have a clue.

    Regarding the design, I like the shade of blue, BTW, even if its frighteningly close to the blue I use on my site. smile At least neither site’s colors will be readily confused with Facebook’s blue. Branding and all.

    The Home page…. Not sure if I like the right sidebar. It’s so wide it seems to intrude on article summaries visually. Any thoughts on giving the sidebar a light background color? I use a light gray on my site’s right sidebar and like how it visually separates it from main page content. Of course, some might find it detracts from the overall “clean” look.

    The article layout is my favorite part of the redesign: The narrower right sidebar doesn’t seem to intrude as much, although I’d still use a light background color for better visual separation.

    Regarding articles: Article comments have no formatting buttons, as do forum entries. Was this an anti-SPAM feature? I know that one of my article replies was flagged as potential SPAM and sent to moderation because—I’m guessing—of my using a lot of BBS code, including a hyperlink in it.

    As for the forums, I’ll echo what I said before and what others have said: It would be nice to see who responded last to a thread (and when), in addition to who started the thread (and when). I enjoy the forums, and can tell you that’s a feature sorely missed. I’d often entered threads based on who responded last, and when, and now that ability is gone. I know it will reduce my forum participation, because it removes an incentive to post.

    Also, on the Forum home page, all forums have a box on the right that states:

    This is a small excerpt of the recent activity post and it allows us to show more content.

    Is the above supposed to be replaced with actual text from a recent forum thread? I don’t see the value of putting the above next to every forum, as it doesn’t seem to convey much of anything.

    These are just my initial thoughts. In terms of seriousness, I’d say navigation is a serious issue, especially for newcomers to TMO. A top nav bar serves to not only get from one place to the next, but also to list the top features of your website. Bottom line: No newcomer will ever discover you have forums, for example, unless they somehow know to scroll to the bottom of the Home page. I think that this is a serious design issue that should be carefully thought out, for the sake of TMO continuing to grow.

    Best wishes with the new site. smile

    [ Edited: 10 September 2012 04:48 PM by mrmwebmax ]

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    Posted: 11 September 2012 04:00 PM #13

    I should not have to bookmark http://macobs***/tmo/store/login to force the forums to remember I’m logged in.

    Is anyone listening?  This is both a critical and stupid bug.  It’s like forum management is trying to discourage access from mobile for crying out loud.

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    The Summer of AAPL is here.  Enjoy it (responsibly) while it lasts.
    AFB Night Owl Team™
    Thanks, Steve.

         
  • Posted: 13 September 2012 12:17 PM #14

    I like the design, but I’m not remaining logged in despite clicking “Auto-login on future visits.” Anytime i leave the site I get automatically logged off. Perhaps this can account for some of the lessened forum traffic. Any fixes? I’m using Safari 5.1.7 on Lion.

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    Less is More (more or less).

         
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    Posted: 28 November 2012 12:24 PM #15

    FlipFriddle - 13 September 2012 12:17 PM

    I like the design, but I’m not remaining logged in despite clicking “Auto-login on future visits.” Anytime i leave the site I get automatically logged off. Perhaps this can account for some of the lessened forum traffic. Any fixes? I’m using Safari 5.1.7 on Lion.

    It is getting very annoying, I need to login everyday. And yes, I have noticed a drop in the number of comments by registered users. Can the cookie’s expiration date be changed to say sometime in 2025 or at least a month into the future. if cookies are indeed the culprit, I have not been deleting mine, maybe it is the data base on your end or something.

    Short of that what app does I use to edit cookies on my computer, maybe I will give that a try?

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