Don’t Panic – Testing New Layout

We are testing a new layout. Don’t panic. This is only a test.

Please post comments to let us know what you think.

An earlier version of this test failed a few hours ago and some comments were deleted when we went to the backup. Sorry about that.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

About wredlich

Warren Redlich is CEO of SpinJ Corporation, which became owner of IPR in November 2012. He was the 2010 Libertarian candidate for Governor of New York, and has run for office as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, and Liberal.

42 thoughts on “Don’t Panic – Testing New Layout

  1. wredlich Post author

    FYI, the new “theme” (as WordPress layouts are known) has some advantages:

    1. The old one was outdated and thus a security risk. The new one is up to date.

    2. The new one should load quicker (though recently the site has been pretty quick so that’s not a big deal).

    3. The new layout has a much wider main column which allows for larger images and videos. That narrow column really annoyed me sometimes.

    4. The new theme should handle images better (though the earlier failure involved not handling images well, so hopefully we’re past that).

  2. Peter Gemma

    Much too much teaser copy – it takes too long to scroll down page to find a variety of stories. A slight tweak of old version would have sufficed: maybe a font change.

  3. Austin Battenberg

    I’m sure your working on it, but it also has the title above the title image. Seems redundant. The comment section has a little too much space, meaning a lot more scrolling is necessary while reading the comments.

    I’m willing to volunteer to help tighten up the look. If you like the general layout of this theme, I can go into the css and make it look nicer.

  4. wredlich Post author

    @Chuck and @Dude – Could you be specific about why you don’t like it? What is missing from the older version that you want to use but can’t find? Is it just the look and feel, or is there something you want to do that is harder to do now?

  5. Austin Battenberg

    That’s one of the reasons why I stopped posting here on IPR. I’ve been too busy in school. I’m in Web Development, and I’m in the final quarter now. I have some experience with WordPress and have have been making custom themes too. When I graduate in December, I should have enough time to start writing again. But in the meantime, just know that my passion and my career choice is moving forward in this field.

  6. Austin Battenberg

    Lets see, another thing I noticed on the home page is that you use a dark gray line to separate the post from the social media links, but a lighter gray double line to seperate signify a new post. Because of how light it is, it is hard to tell that it is a new post. I would switch the light with the dark and vice versa (but keeping the single and double lines are fine).

    The Headers should be either a bolder or more well defined font. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should stand out more.

    Also, this is a responsive layout, which is great, because that is the way forward with websites, but it takes a little more time and finesse to get it right. Take the bottom corner of your browser and shrink it down and you can get an idea of what it will look like on a Tablet and on a cell phone. When it gets as small as a cell phone the title image is way too small. You should create a phone specific title image, and using jquery have it automatically switch at a certain width. The menu options look bad in the little default menu button they provide, you should change that as well. Having it be a button is fine, but it should look more natural then it is. A lot of times the default themes are not very good, and need a lot of care to look good.

    For the record I like the pictures that are showing up on the home page, and I especially like that you don’t have a billion ads in the middle of the content like on the old layout.

  7. Austin Battenberg

    At the top of each post where the header is, right beneath it should have the information like when it was posted and by what author. It looks like this was accidentally removed. Also, showing how many comments were made before the article content is unnecessary. Keep that after the content.

    Right now the entire post is showing up on the home page. You need to set a limit so that way only the first paragraph or first 250 words or so will show up on the home page, and then you have the “Read More” link at the end. Doing so may eliminate the images on the home page, but you can fix that by setting up a “featured image” so that way the featured image will show up on the home page, but any additional images will stay hidden unless someone clicks on the actual link to the post.

  8. Austin Battenberg

    And you know, with a website redesign there is a little re-branding. Earlier I mentioned you should make a different title image specifically for mobile applications. I say its about time we just create a new image in general. Not that the current one is bad, but if you are going to update, update everything. I’m familiar with photoshop and illustrator so I can help with that as well.

  9. Austin Battenberg

    And Warren, some people don’t like change. Every time there is a change in Facebook you have people who cry out. Ignore the haters and do what you think is right. I think its about time IPR had a much needed face lift, as the old layout while manageable, looked like it was built in 2008….which it was! There is nothing wrong with getting with the times, and looking more professional and allowing a site to be accessible to more devices. If someone doesn’t have constructive criticism to help make the site look better, just ignore them. I’m sure there will be far more people appreciative of the changes (once everything coalesces together and is finished) then there will be haters. People will adapt and once they familiarize themselves with the new layout, will completely forget about the old one. Kudos to you for doing what was necessary.

  10. Austin Battenberg

    Just because changes are unfamiliar doesn’t mean they are bad. For example, when Facebook was giving the option to switch to the Timeline, I resisted for months until it became mandatory. I hated it at first, but now that I look back, I am happy for the changes.

    Yes, sometimes the changes are bad. Youtube is notorious for this. And there are some functions of Facebook that don’t work as well. But in general, when a site updates, even if there are flaws, the good outweighs the bad. And if there are flaws, unlike Facebook where we have no input, I’m sure that Warren will will take suggestions into consideration. Just saying “it sucks” isn’t helpful.

    Did you ever try to come to IPR on a cell phone before? It sucked! More and more people are getting online via there phone, and in a couple years it will be more then half of all internet users. You can’t discount that, and the old theme didn’t accommodate this new dynamic.

  11. wredlich Post author

    “Too often web developers want to make things look pretty at the expense of being accessible.”

    Actually, this is not about looking pretty at all. It’s about making the site more secure (the previous theme was badly out of date and thus insecure – it was no longer being updated by its original developer) and easier to use.

  12. wredlich Post author

    @austin
    “At the top of each post where the header is, right beneath it should have the information like when it was posted and by what author. It looks like this was accidentally removed. Also, showing how many comments were made before the article content is unnecessary. Keep that after the content.”

    Yep. I intend to fix both of those. Unfortunately we do not have a friendly environment for making changes. The person in charge of the server doesn’t seem to think it should be easy for the admin to make changes. I think I have a way of working around that.

    “Right now the entire post is showing up on the home page. You need to set a limit so that way only the first paragraph or first 250 words or so will show up on the home page, and then you have the “Read More” link at the end.”

    Yep. That’s another thing I want to fix.

    Austin, please send me an e-mail – wredlich@gmail.com

    Maybe I can e-mail you some of the files and you can tinker with them and e-mail them back to me. –W

  13. wredlich Post author

    “I say its about time we just create a new image in general.”

    Hmm … I’m stewing on that one.

    Currently I’m spending a little money advertising the IPR facebook page on Facebook. I’m using an image combining prominent third-party faces like Ron Paul (I know, I know), Jill Stein, Jesse Ventura, and Ralph Nader. Thinking I could do more with that.

  14. Austin Battenberg

    Warren,

    I don’t understand…why would the person who maintains the server have anything to do with the person maintaining the website? Usually those are two separate entities. You should be able to access the php and css files as admin, so if you can’t there is something funky going on.

    The new title is a good start…but there is a few reasons why I’m not a huge fan of it.
    1. Copperplate isn’t the best font in the world. And using three different colors is also somewhat distracting.

    2. I like the photos…and Ron Paul doesn’t matter to me (he ran as a Libertarian, is a libertarian, and he isn’t in Congress anymore). However, candidates change and I believe showcasing the more well known ones may be unfair to future candidates or lesser known candidates. Now, last year before I got photoshop, I very quickly put together the Facebook header image. I want to redo it, but the idea I had is that instead of the candidates themselves, who will change in elections, I wanted to put the political party logos instead. I’m not necessarily saying that would work here, but I think that would be better then having the pictures of people. Though overall this is a matter of opinion.

    It also looks like that when you saved the jpg, you may have reduced the quality as the image has some weird issues that isn’t really a big deal, but is noticeable nonetheless.

  15. Chuck Moulton

    Warren Redlich wrote:

    @Chuck and @Dude ? Could you be specific about why you don?t like it? What is missing from the older version that you want to use but can?t find? Is it just the look and feel, or is there something you want to do that is harder to do now?

    Many things. It looks terrible in general.

    The main problems that make it completely unusable are:

    1) Followed and unfollowed links have almost completely the same color. I regularly look for the unfollowed color to see what I haven’t read yet. Without that possibility I’m not going to strain my eyes or randomly click on links; I’ll just stop reading IPR.

    2) There are no comment numbers. I regularly refer to comment numbers when replying to make it easier to find what I was replying to (as do many other commenters). Comment threads will be very difficult to follow without a way to refer back to earlier comments. Referring to dates and times instead could be a reasonable substitute, but it would be a lot clunkier and could be confusing given time zone differences.

    3) There is a story where the title appears at the bottom of the entry instead of the top. The “WY Constitution Party Candidate Receives GOP Endorsement” story title isn’t listed above the story itself, but is listed in the recent entries column and right above “September 30, 2013 3 Replies”.

    4) The lack of bullets, color, text size, column width (wrapping), spacing, etc. of the recent comments section makes it very hard to scan. That’s pretty much the most useful area of the site for staying up to date and ought to be easy to check at a glance to see what’s new. It’s also impossible to distinguish read comments from unread comments (as I mentioned earlier).

    5) The title image is really stupid. It casts third parties as cults of personality, which is exactly the trap we’re all trying to avoid. We want to build a movement that transcends any one person.

    6) Entry text on the main page is way too long. Again this makes it much harder to scan looking for interesting stories. The layout seems to be trying to force people to read every single entry.

    If you look at the old layout on the Internet Archive, you can see it’s really easy to scan for relevant comments and articles. The right things are emphasized with bold and larger text. Followed links are distinguishable from unfollowed links. It is an engaging site with a good color scheme.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20130902110747/https://independentpoliticalreport.com/

    The current incarnation is a piece of crap in comparison. Side by side it’s not even close.

    Anyway, whatever. If the site owner wants to destroy IPR we can always make a new third party news aggregator. Or I could just stop following all this gossip and focus more on other aspects of my life.

  16. Chuck Moulton

    7) Blockquoting in the new layout also looks pretty bad. There’s no reason for all the spacing between “Warren Redlich wrote:” and “@Chuck and @Dude” above.

  17. Austin Battenberg

    Chuck, everything you just mentioned I agree with and can easily be fixed with changes to the CSS. I’m sure the current setup is temporary, and it will continue to improve. Websites are tricky, and take time.

  18. Darryl W. Perry

    I generally use a netbook, which means that things don’t fit the same as on a full size PC. That said, some of the articles and comments seems to bleed into the sidebar.
    That said, I like being able to “log in using facebook” to connect the two sites.

  19. Matt Cholko

    I share most of the concerns that Chuck pointed out above. Also, while I see everyone talking about how this will be better for mobile phone access, the opposite is true for me. I’m running Chrome on Android 4.1, and it is barely usable. It is incredibly slow to load, freezes for tens of seconds at a time, and just generally doesn’t work well. If it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been testing it out to form an opinion of the changes, there is no way that my mobile browsing session would have lasted more than one really slow page load.

    On Austin’s point about rebranding, I’d be careful about changing everything, including the header, at one time. As I mentioned elsewhere, the header is essentially the IPR logo. With the new layout and header, there is nothing here that looks of feels the same. It seems like I landed at a completely different site. I think that some amount of continuity would be better. If you want to completely change the site, I’d suggest rolling out the changes over a period of 12 months or so.

  20. Warren Redlich

    @austin “You should be able to access the php and css files as admin, so if you can’t there is something funky going on”

    Yes. I should. I can see them in the editor but can’t save changes.

    It’s a family thing. 🙁

  21. Warren Redlich

    @chuck and Matt – great suggestions. I’ll see what I can do.

    The recent comments section is a huge deal and I have to make that better. And I have to get the numbers back in as well.

    Matt – your slow experience was probably a quirk. The site is much faster for me and I’ve heard the same from others.

  22. Peter Gemma

    @Chuck – 100% on target
    @Warren – if it’s not broke, why fix it? Were there complaints about the old page? Change for the sake of change is, obviously, causing more work to explain, defend, and correct.

  23. Peter Gemma

    understood
    the back-and-forth on whose photo should/should not be on the header, who might be running on a third party, who’s been left out (Constitution Party), whether there should be pix at all, etc etc – is a hassle for readers and, I assume, you. Forget the banner – fix what counts (my article still doesn’t have a title for example)

  24. wredlich Post author

    I tried to fix your article but was unable to do so. I’m calling that a glitch that doesn’t need fixing until we see it again.

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  26. paulie

    Looks good. I like that theme better than what IPR has been using lately, and nice job on the header graphics.

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