New theme feedback

The site has a new look thanks to Viv Smythe (tigtog), who customised the Suburbia theme for us.

The aim of the redesign is to make it less easy for posts to get somewhat lost on heavy posting days or weeks, by not turning fairly recent posts into a “scroll down… and down… oh, and down” search, instead making the most recent 6 posts, in particular, available at a glance.

Viv has already asked for feedback in the open thread, but I’m making a new post so that it attracts more attention. If you have feedback, please comment here.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged on by .

About Mary

Mary is a women in tech activist, a programmer, a writer, and a sometime computational linguist. She writes at Her previous projects include co-founding the Ada Initiative and major contributions to the Geek Feminism blog. She's @me_gardiner on Twitter.

84 thoughts on “New theme feedback

  1. Mary Post author

    Collecting some of my own feedback:

    I think the favicon would look nicer as white-on-purple rather than purple-on-white: it looks odd against a light coloured tab in Firefox.

    Sometimes the excerpt text on the front page is actually obscured by the author attribution (Firefox 5.0 for Ubuntu)

    The sharing buttons are in an odd little cluster top left are an odd little cluster instead of a nice row (while I’m here, they’re also very small).

    The entire block associated with a post/except highlights when you mouseover it, but only the title is clickable. This is a usability error on the web, I think: people expect that when something changes under their mouse, that entire area is a clickable link.

    There’s a large whitespace gap between the second and third row of new post listings on the front page. Also people are reporting that they didn’t realise those were also links to posts, rather than navigation elements. If they could be styled to look more like post-links rather than general-links (eg, links to post titles are visually distinguished from other links) that may held.

    1. Mary Post author

      I wonder if “small pics but no excerpts” for the third and fourth rows would work? (I know I’m the person who originally suggested the “title only” thing!)

      1. Melissa

        I suspect it wouldn’t help much. I know I’d probably think it’s a gallery if I had nothing else to go by. Having some text appear is also useful in that it can let people judge what they’re about to click through to before they do, especially for obviously triggery stuff.

  2. Punchdrunk

    Casual reader – just thought I’d pop in and say how great it looks.

  3. Pomke

    I think it looks wonderful :) About the only thing I’d say is I hope we can find some different images for linkspam over time as it’s a frequent topic.

  4. anon 841X

    Moderator note: we don’t allow “anon” and “anonymous” as commenter names on this site as it makes it too easy to confuse commenters with each other. Your name for this comment therefore has random characters added.

    personally, it looks a little cluttered – especially with the 2-column above-the-fold section. I would prefer just one article there, even though it is less space-efficient. Each article is big enough it feels like it should have focus, but since there are two they fight for prominence on the page.

    Love the 4-column area below that.

    but the 5-column below that goes back to feeling cluttered (big area of small text that’s all the same weight/size/color – different from the font established as the ‘title font’ above it), especially because it has the same structure as the footer, without much whitespace to distinguish it from the page content.

    I’m sorry I don’t have a good suggestion for designing a space-efficient summary of the older posts. I would try making the font consistent with the other articles, adding some space from the footer and maybe a line or two of snippet-text and that would probably fix the problem I’m having with it.

    Thanks for doing the redesign!

  5. Waquo

    There appears to be a problem with quotes in comments, see here:

    The gray background behind the blockquote obscures the name/date/avatar on the left.

    Also, both pairs of previous/next-post links need some room. The upper one needs some whitespace above, the other below it.

    I replicated both issues in various browsers.

    Other than that, I do kind of like the new theme.

  6. Mary Post author

    I can’t find the comment permalinks in the comments to, eg, this post. Nor is there an “Edit” link for comments (for logged in users with the right roles).

  7. Lisa Hirsch

    I find the layout a little difficult to follow – just what IS the chronological sequence? I had to look twice to find the more-or-less most recent blog posting.

  8. Laughingrat

    Hi! I think it looks absolutely gorgeous, but for me, the grid style of post organizing does not work so well. Obviously, YMMV.

    1. quartzpebble

      I am also not a fan of the format. I like to be able to get a sense of whether I am interested from the first few paragraphs more than from the image and title, and I can’t tell what’s new. I mostly dislike having to click through and load a page to read individual entries–I usually only do that if it looks like the comments will be interesting.

      It looks nice and is appealingly laid out, but is not the way I read blogs at all.

  9. alicia

    I posted in the other thread too. The new theme /is/ pretty but it’s a bit disorienting for me. Maybe I’m weird but the way I usually browse is by reading through the whole main page and if I see something interesting or something I want to read the comments for I open it in a new window(I don’t use tabs) and then come back to it when I’m done reading everything else on the main page. I probably have some sort of obsession or phobia about my browing history. The RSS page for me just showed the headers and a blank area for the body in IE and Firefox. I haven’t found any RSS readers I’ve liked yet. I tried Google’s but they required cookies, which I keep disabled, and I don’t really trust them. So yeah, if you had some sort of alternate theme (hopefully without cookies) or a button to “expand all” (hopefully without page refresh) I would be so grateful! Thank you for all the great work with geekfeminism!


  10. Jane

    First, let me say that this looks quite cool, and lots of credit to Viv for the good work.

    I agree with an earlier poster who said that it is kind of hard to follow the chronological ordering of posts from the current setup.

    Additionally, I think it would be great to be able to see the number of comments on each post. Sometimes I like to follow the conversation in the comments, and having the number of comments on the first page makes it easy for me to tell if there are new posts since I last checked.

    1. ambyr

      Seconding the request to make the number of comments on each post visible; that’s important information for me, since I usually read just as much if not more for comments than for the posts themselves. Without it, I find the site unusable.

      In general, I dislike the layout, but I’m willing to give it a few weeks and see how much of that is just distaste for change.

  11. Lindsey Kuper

    Seconding Waquo that the “Next post”/”Previous post” links immediately above and below the post look out of place for me (in Firefox 5, and also in Firefox nightly).

    What is the new logo supposed to be? Its resemblance to olives on a toothpick is making me want a martini, but I’m not sure if that is what it’s intended to convey.

  12. TextOriented Lurker

    Honest feedback: Terrible, terrible, terrible. This format is basically unusable for those of us who prefer to read through the first paragraph or three of an article before deciding whether to click through. It has made the front page essentially content-free and annoying.

    The pictures that accompany the article now dominate the space allotted to each article, rather than being an interesting adornment. The shiny colors that the grid block turns when I mouse over it is also annoying and a bit disorienting.

    And try zooming text-only up two or three times to see how the text starts to disappear because it falls outside the part of the page allotted for it. Some of us are old geeks whose eyesight isn’t what it used to be, yknow! ;) At the font size I typically use, I get 2-3 words per line in those grid blocks. Even zooming it way way down doesn’t seem to get me more than four.

    If the goal was to keep the “six most recent” articles easily available, surely that could have been done on a sidebar?

    Once you *do* click through to an actual page, things get a little better but it’s still much worse than the old layout, because you’re using a *whole wide column* for the commenter’s name and avatar. This means the comment text is restricted to about a third of the screen, which is only 5-7 words per line at the font size I use, which means an awful lot of scrolling. And for most of the page, there’s nothing *on* the screen in the other two-thirds of it: the sidebar content is not that long. So again, really much less usable than the old format.

    I really hope you will consider either reverting to the old format entirely, or providing an alternate front page for those of us who really, really, really liked the plain old “just the text ma’am” feel and usability that it used to have.

    This is such a great site, and it seems to me it’s been even stronger over the past few months than it used to be. But the usability of the new format is so poor for me that it’s going to drop off my “check out the blogs while my tests are running” list, because I can no longer get any useful information by just reading down the front page. I’ve lost other feminist blogs when they reformatted in a similar manner – I’d hate to lose geekfeminism.

    1. kaberett

      Strongly agree. It looks pretty but it’s simply not usable for me.

      In addition to the points above, it doesn’t play nicely with a netbook screen + Tree-Style Tabs in Firefox (v3.6).

    2. Mackenzie

      And try zooming text-only up two or three times to see how the text starts to disappear because it falls outside the part of the page allotted for it.

      Just wondering: why use text-only zoom at all? I thought the “everything zooms so it still looks nice and even the pictures get big so you can see them too!” thing in modern browsers was supposed to be an improvement over the old way.

      1. MadGastronomer

        Because it doesn’t work especially well for all browsers, all people, or all purposes. Zooming everything until the text is large enough for my unaided eyes makes the page too big for my screen. And I don’t have that small of a screen.

      2. TextOriented Lurker

        Mackenzie asked “Why use text-only zoom at all?” I was surprised how many reasons I had, once I started articulating them:

        – The text is the content. I’m not interested in the pictures. If the pictures zoom, they take up valuable screen real estate which could otherwise be filled by text.

        – Zooming text-only up and down leaves the basic layout of the screen static, while only the text content becomes larger or smaller. This is a much smoother visual effect than zooming everything up and down. As you say, this resizes everything, which means *everything moves*. All the layout elements, all the navigation bars, the location of everything on my screen jumps around, which is extremely disruptive and distracting.

        – Most websites seem to have at least one graphical element that reaches across the entire page. Typically the banner, sometimes the footer. So if the banner image gets twice as wide, that means the whole page gets twice as wide, which means (supposing that I was reading with my browser maximized) that only half of it fits on my physical screen at a time. And this is a particular problem because all the navigation elements tend to be around the edges of the page, while the content is in the middle. Which means I typically can’t see the content and the navigation elements at the same time.

        – Most graphical elements on a web page don’t have enough information in them to need magnification. They’re design elements like logos and banners, which — if the design people know their stuff — are capable of doing their aesthetic job even when they are relatively small. The main exception to this is cartoons, which most sites I frequent present with a “click to embiggen” option so I can zoom up just the one picture. If worst comes to worst, I do disable the text-only zoom so I can make a picture bigger, but I then immediately turn it back on. And I probably do that, at most, once every couple of months.

    3. John

      I also found the old format easier to use (although the new one is more appealing to the eye). I’d find it easier with the reply counts shown in the main entry for each article (I’m not a fan of newsfeeds, I prefer to drop in to blogs to look for new stuff).

  13. Angelika

    oy. may i say that i feel a bit “lost” with this new design – the previous “blog-view” imho was a lot quicker to navigate (concerning every-thing incl. new comments etc.)

    (sry i rarely comment but have been enjoying your site for more than 1 yr now)

  14. tekanji

    I love the new logo, but the Suburbia theme is completely unusable for me. I tend to read the site once a week or so, so not having clear chronological navigation nor an easy way to view previous pages of blog posts means that I can’t access any information other than the top post without a serious amount of effort and time.


      …In fact, I find the front page layout much easier to process when I disable style sheets– because at least then, it’s only one-dimensional, so I don’t have to do the “this is the exact chronological reverse of how comic book panels are laid out” thing.


    Nth-ing the comments about the chronological ordering not being clear – I was only able to figure it out myself by squinting at the tiny almost-unreadable date stamps on the posts.

    Also, this comment form totally screws with my “name, tab, email, tab, URL, tab, comment text” mental template. This is not helped by the fact that the fields don’t have <label> tags, and the in-field label disappears once you’ve tabbed into it.

  16. tigtog

    Just to let you know that I am lurking and reading and processing your feedback, and have committed a few small tweaks on some of the smaller issues.

    I’m not going to be making any more major changes without consulting the rest of the GF bloggers though.

  17. G

    Major issue: Front page requires very large screen size or horizontal scrolling, annoying for the many who do not have giant screens especially when so much space is taken up by images like the spam cans which are vastly less important than the text.

    Mid-size issue: Comment form crammed in to left side with no margin. Fields in odd order. Field labels replaced with default text — awkward to use and non-standard.

    Small issue: What’s that weird link hanging out above the Twitter icon?

    Small issue: AUG, 1 is an odd date format.

    Big compliment: Mobile site looks great!!

  18. K00kyKelly

    It was rather disorienting when I first saw it – am on the right webpage?! My feedback: I like the magazine style! Sounds like a page that can be linked to somewhere for the full posts would be much desired by the other commentors. The logo… eh… not my thing.

    1. K00kyKelly

      I took a look at geek feminism on the wayback machine for comparison and have a few additional comments:
      – I want the prominent byline back!!! (Women, feminism, and geek culture) It’s kinda oddly placed off to the side and doesn’t seem to be part of the Post page Template at all.
      – I’d like to see some of the sidebar features from before (search, resources, tags, archive, authors) in the Post Template. Should be easy to do with WordPress widgets if you register different widget area on as part of the Post Template.
      – recent comments on the homepage is weird
      – More prominent navigation links: either do horizontal links similar to before or get something going in the left sidebar (where the recent comments are now) that jumps out at you. The grey navigation bar blends into my browser and I missed it entirely at first.
      – Implement an archive page that looks like the old homepage for all the commentors that want full post style similar to before. The current archive page requires a lot of clicking to get to a specific article and you have to be familar with the title of the post.
      – If you cut off the theme after the four article link and relied on an archive pages that looks like the old homepage I think that would improve the usability a lot. The magazine style really excells at look – here’s whats happening now, but for people looking for a chonological list of previous posts it’s a bit difficult.

    2. TextOriented Lurker

      “My feedback: I like the magazine style! ”

      Could you explain why? I’m sincerely curious: I don’t get the appeal, at all.

      1. K00kyKelly

        I like that I can see everything in a snapshot. If the first post isn’t interesting it doesn’t take away from the blog as a whole. I would like it even more if the left sidebar was empty.

        An example of a magazine style front page I really like: It does a good job on focusing you on what they most want you to see, has fun pictures, and avoids the cluttered feel.

        1. MadGastronomer

          I note that the link you provide is the front page for the site, not for the blog. The blog home page ( is much more readable, with broader columns and larger text excerpts.

          (Mind you, I still don’t care for it; I don’t like the magazine style.)

  19. Melissa

    I kind of find it a bit much. The 5-column rows are a bit too much and confused me at first, i thought they were google ads or something. Maybe another row of the 4-column in the same format as the existing 4-column the and replace the two left-most with a block of non-bold text saying “contribute to linkspams by doing blah!” information?

    1. Melissa

      The recent comments stuff has nothing separating the numbers from the post title, which was confusing until I remembered that that’s the comment count.

      1. Melissa

        The “readers are expected by” block above the comment entry box is really tiny text, and when it’s a reply-to, it gets squished up to the width of the posted comments.

  20. antimony

    I’d still really like number of comments attached to the article, rather than a handful in a last-commented order on the side.

    Honestly, I’m a lot less likely to read much in general — clicking through for every article is a pain, especially on mobile platforms. I gave up on Kotaku — the big grid layout no full articles thing drove me away. But I also still read newspapers on paper, so what do I know.

    (At least it’s better than WordPress, who rolled out an iPad-specific, forced skin, that crashes Safari about half the time when I try to “swipe” into the blog.

  21. MadGastronomer

    Hate it. Hate it a lot. Confusing, difficult to page back through the entries chronologically (in case, say, I’m offline for a bit, and want to see older entries I missed). The left column for recent comments is difficult to read in my font sizes. And it’s ugly. It looks like a freaking Gawker site.

    New themes and layouts are great, but can it please actually look like a blog and be useable like one?

  22. Rowan

    Really mixed feelings about it overall — it plays really nicely with tab and keyboard navigation, for which I am sooo thankful, because a lot of things don’t, or I’ll go to tab through elements and get thrown around the page like nothing else. (I use purely the keyboard for navigation, and avoid using the mouse if at all possible, so at least 95% of the time my mouse is fully turned off, because using a laptop trackpad is nearly impossible for me.)

    On the other hand, it’s a little bright, and it really doesn’t play nice with having a large text size. When I am using the computer early in the day or late at night, I have my font set to at least 22pt, and one of the things that I always loved before was that the site used to accommodate that without making it ugly/impossible to read, with only a few words or something per line. Large text is a significant accessibility concern, and the front page looks really bad when I increase the text size specifically, even more than the posts.

  23. Susan

    I agree with many of the posters above – I find the new layout cluttered and less useable. I’m sorry to say that I would never link someone to the front page, because it no longer has any content visible to demonstrate the level of discussion that is often taking place, or even whether the post is at all interesting to me.

    Right at this moment, I also find the image for this post especially disconcerting as it looks to be displaying too largely. I’m seeing a blurry version of the logo directly under the crisp one in the header. Perhaps there needs to be something to make sure smaller images aren’t upscaled?

  24. Michaela

    My biggest suggestion (and desperate request) is to fix the CSS so that unvisited and visited links are different colors. Especially in a non-linear format, trying to remember what I have and have not read is a ridiculous amount of work. With proper link colors, I can just glance at the page and *know*.

  25. Lindsey Kuper

    Another comment: The navigation at the top doesn’t really look like part of the site. It reminds me of the bar that gets slapped across the top of a free Blogspot blog.

  26. AMM

    I also don’t like the change. I’m hard-pressed to think of _anything_ that changed for the better. Like others, I hate:

    1. layout — I have a linear mind, it’s easier for me to find the content if it’s laid out linearly.
    Also, if it’s linear, we know where to find the link to the older stuff; I haven’t found it yet.

    2. layout — distractions (i.e., non-primary content) are too large and prominent relative to the blog posts.

    3. Pictures too big. Again, I want to see the content. Unless the picture _is_ the content (e.g., misogynistic poster), it just takes up space w/o really telling me anything.

    4. Mouse-activated stuff — I don’t know about anybody else, but I find this _really_ distracting.

    5. Having the captions in the “reply” fields disappear when you put data in them is unfortunate.

    I realize that the web designers put a lot of work into this, and I feel like such a killjoy when I say this, but I think that in web design, like in programming, simpler and more straightforward is really better. The point of a web site is the content, not the presentation. If people _notice_ your web design, you’re doing it wrong. (A paraphrase of what a theatrical lighting & set design teacher used to teach us.)

    Finally, one change that _would_ be nice: a preview button for replies? (BTW, do HTML tags still work?)

  27. Lea

    The front page would be great design for a poster, or similar print media, but is really hard to navigate as a website. The page hierarchy suggests something other than linear content, and, oddly, places emphasis on the [number of articles on the main page]+1th article, since the second page has the same layout as the first. The layout also forces your often not image-centric posts to be defined by their images. Add to that the difficulty of seeing quickly how many comments a post has (since you have to cross-reference with the “Recent Comments” bar, and that’s not going to help with older posts) and the lack of “visited link” coloring, and it makes it hard to have a structured approach to reading content. Two common use cases are going back and following up on old posts, and reading just the new content, and neither are very well supported by this layout.

    The individual post pages are fine, if a bit cluttered at the top — is it really necessary to have the logo twice? There are several small tweaks I personally would make: more whitespace above the “previous post” link at the top, trying to keep the tinyurl link from wrapping (and probably tucking it under the networking icons instead of above), vertically aligning the grey horizontal rules at the tops of the three columns, and integrating the free-Blogspot-blog-top-bar-thing content into the header box. But these are designerd nitpicks, not UI issues.

    Another extremely nitpicky detail: the logo does not scale to .ico size without taking a serious legibility hit. Some hand-antialiasing may be called for.

    A probably-code-flaw: when I hover over the square logo or right below the social networking links, I get a patch of blue highlighting.

    To not be too much of a jerk, some things that *are* working: the color scheme, and the general use of varying thicknesses of grey lines as visual dividers, are both very appropriate, as they are clean, contemporary, and fun.

  28. Katherine

    Thanks for altering the comment input area as per my comment in the open thread, it is much easier for me to use now.

  29. Elena

    I’m with the people who say the front page is too cluttered. That said, the new icon and header bar is fine, and there are no problems once I actually do click through to an article.

    Strongly agree with Mary, the favicon needs to be white on purple, it looks dingy and sad against a pale grey address bar.

  30. alinonymous

    I definately agree with what others have been saying about having the images so centric. They’re usually unimportant, and a lot of times I read this site from work. I keep all images disabled so it doesn’t look like I’m just wasting time on the internet, and because I usually read it through an RDP connection and they make the connection much slower. Most of the images aren’t really that important compared to the text.
    Also, having to click each article individually to view its content is part of why I don’t visit feministing as much anymore. It became inconvenient to read through :(
    I usually kept a link to this website on my social media pages and AIM buddy info, and would give a link to anyone I could, but I don’t think I will do that again until the site is easy to read again. I think if I were to link it to someone in the present state they would just look at the front page, not know what to do with it, and never come back. So please make things how they were before.. The color theme is fine, but the layout, lack of relevant content on the front page, and difficulty of browsing is just too sad. Thanks again.

  31. Terri

    A friend commented that when she opened up the site she thought the domain had expired and we’d been replaced by some sort of domain parking thing. And now that I’ve seen that, I can’t un-see it.

    I’m wondering, though, if this is part of the pushback. We’ve got a fairly technically savvy audience, and for a great many years, technical competence is associated with minimalist, clean websites. Think google vs myspace or somesuch. Many highly technical folk used to tend towards “I don’t do web design” style websites, too. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve seen similar disgusted reactions with redesigns in other technical websites. I suspect we’re sending an incredibly bad impression to people who are used to this aesthetic, and those people are a significant chunk of our regular reading audience.

    I don’t think this means that we should automatically toss the design: a lot of this minimalist stuff is (over)due to evolve and we’ve obviously got a history of pushing the boundaries in other ways. But I wanted to put out there that it might be more than fear of change that’s getting us some knee-jerk “ew” reactions, and that maybe the way to deal with this while still trying something new is to be extra careful about the signal-to-noise ratio on the front page.

    Having now used the site for more than a few minutes, I’m liking the individual post pages quite a lot: There’s a bit more colour, and while I feel like the tinyurl/share buttons are given a bit too much prominence, I expect I’ll get used to that.

    But I’m finding that the more I use it, the more I’m agreeing with the complaints about the front page feeling cluttered and not giving enough to get a reasonable overview of the site. Especially when the latest two articles *aren’t* big deep posts. Right now, we’re giving the impression that we’re some kind of feminist linkfarm by giving the linkspam so much prominence, which is actually worse for me than when I had to just scroll past a few linkspams to find interesting posts. The big pictures don’t really tell you much about the posts (and they mostly don’t appear in the posts themselves right now, which makes it a bit weird for me, but I guess that’ll change as we tend towards using photos more), the summaries are a bit too small to get a sense of whether the article’s reading, and the boxes of titles would be a whole lot more useful if we had comment counts in them, but they’d be even more useful if we had actual summaries.

    I’m wondering if maybe it’d be more useful if we replaced the bottom rows of titles with sideways boxes that could include summaries? But I’m also wondering if we’re at risk of too much design by committee… I think Viv’s doing a great job of whack-a-mole with the little usability issues, but it’s a much harder job than that!

    1. K00kyKelly

      I agree that familariaty with minamilist design might be a big part of the pushback. Also, the idea that geeks care about design borders on an insult in come circles.

      Viv is doing a good job! I see a lot of little changes and improvements! The post pages have forward and back links now – love this!

      One of the other bits of your comment made me thing about the color thing. It’d be fun to put up muted purple background image. I like the top of the keenpixel website as pictured on this page (the actual website doesn’t look that way anmore) as well as the purple diamonds and ripples backgrounds here. A background that included the new logo reapeated in all different directions would be a fun addition as well. The missing image version of the logo would be a good start or maybe a shades of purple version of that. There is probably a graphic designer in this community that’d be willing to pull something together for the site.

    2. MadGastronomer

      I don’t think this means that we should automatically toss the design

      No, we shouldn’t toss it because it doesn’t meet the technical aesthetic. We should toss it because people find it difficult to use, especially people with small screens (like netbooks), and, OMG, people with vision problems, who need larger-than-average text. I don’t know how well it works for accessibility software, but if the design has no consideration for very basic stuff like screen and text size, I doubt it has consideration for that, either.

      1. Elena

        CTRL+Scroll Wheel changes text size just like it always does in my browser; I don’t see how font size is going to be problem here, although I can see how small screens like netbooks and most especially PDAs might have a problem with the busy layout.

        Has anyone tested this on a small screen like a BlackBerry or iPhone? I tried the front page in and it looked abysmal

        1. MadGastronomer

          It’s been said several times already: On several of the text boxes, especially those for older entries across the bottom of the screen, the title text is almost completely obscured by the dateline/byline. And the recent comments column is difficult to read as well. It’s not “going to be a problem,” it is a problem.

        2. Elena

          My apologies, MadGastronomer; when I tried resizing the font by setting the default minimum size in Firefox options rather than with CRTL+Scroll Wheel, I got exactly the effect you describe. What a mess – it rendered the page almost completely unusable, and this is on a 21″ widescreen monitor.

          This appears to be a function of dividing the main content pane into fixed-size elements rather than allowing boxes to grow with content, always a bad idea.

          I hereby throw in my lot with people who say this new design is unusable from an accessibility point of view. You can argue all you like about style, but effectively making the page unusable for people with visual impairments is not acceptable.

        3. MadGastronomer

          Thanks for actually going and checking it out, Elena. So many people don’t, they just refuse to listen.

        4. tigtog

          I’m listening, truly. I’m just trying to spend a reasonable period absorbing ALL the feedback. I am definitely starting to get alarmed about some accessibility aspects that I missed, though.

        5. MadGastronomer

          Thanks for listening, Tigtog. I hope a useable and attractive design can be found.

    3. takingitoutside

      I may be tech-savvy to some degree, but I’m also something of a Luddite (if the two characteristics can exist in one person). I don’t use a smart phone, hate it when people text me, et cetera. While I share a lot of the other concerns mentioned, I was concerned because of my less-techy qualities, not despite them. There’s a difference between minimalism and simplicity. GF used to have minimalism, which was a bit boring, but it also had simplicity. In that respect, the redesign threw the baby out with the bathwater.

      I’m all for adding more colour to the site, but the new front page seems busy rather than colourful. Along the same lines, you have to open new tabs to get any real sense of an article, whereas with the old style I often skimmed more than half of an article before deciding whether to scroll down to the next title. It was easy to use. With the new design, I’m not going to bother opening new tabs for articles like “When You Are Faced with the Disgusting and Contemptible“. Why should I? I have no idea what it’s about, and it doesn’t sound pleasant. Similarly, you have to open a new page for the linkspam, when it all used to be on one page. When it was all on one page, you could just open new tabs/windows for the articles you wanted without losing your place on GF, but now you have to open a new page for the linkspam – before you know what links there are and can decide whether or not you want to open them – and because of the undifferentiated grid format you may lose track of where you were on the home page anyway.

      In order words, it’s no longer simple. At the same time, it still strikes me as rather minimalist. I like the new colours, but seriously? This is not a lot of colour. And the front has some very large pictures, yes, but then there is a simple chart of boxes below it filled with text. There isn’t any variation in shapes, sizes or placement – it’s still a very minimalist design. Now, I don’t care whether it ends up being a minimalist design or a maximalist design so long as it’s easy to use, but, realistically speaking, if it isn’t easy to use I’ll stop dropping by as often.

      As a more concrete example, I never use “Recent Comments” lists, so that’s just adding to the general aura of busy-ness on the front page without adding a sense of content.

      The article pages are better. I had to click on one of the tiny url things twice to figure out that it was just a link back to the same page, and I’m not entirely sure why it’s there, but regardless it shouldn’t be in such a prominent place – I saw it before I saw the banner at the top. I also found the available column space small – the actual article is only taking up about a third of my screen, and I have a slightly wide screen. May I suggest moving the Recent Articles and Recent Comments sections to the left-most column and just having a two-column format? If there are any comments you’ll have plenty of space for a longer menu column, and some of those options won’t be used very often. I quite like the placement, sizing and design of the purple logo on the right. The slight imbalance looks very artistic. I would try to shrink the banner though. It alone is taking up just under half of my screen. The borders around all the text could shrink, and it would help if the links to the previous and next articles could go in the left menu column. Anyway, three cheers for trying something new, and giving us all something to talk about.

  32. Mary

    Something that may be helpful, from people who dislike the theme, is examples of themes you do like.

    While this may simply be “the old theme”, here’s two things that some of the old themes detractors (myself included) didn’t like about it:
    1. the extreme prominence of the first few posts, as in, you have to hit Page Down four or five times to get past them (to the extent where I’m not sure Terri’s point makes sense to me: did we look less fluffy when you had to hit Page Down three times to get past linkspams and quick hits and open threads?)
    2. the extreme invisibility of any post not in the most recent 6 or 10 or however many were on the front page
    3. the very visually unexciting colour palette

    Whether or not you agree with my particular issues listed there, there are likely ways to make this meet in the middle more, but examples of things you do like would be helpful.

    1. Dorothea

      So, the sense I get is that the new-theme-home-page detractors (among whom I must say I count myself) are unlikely to enjoy any theme that addresses your first point. (As a regular reader, I’ve already read everything but the first few posts whenever I turn up, so…) One way to do it would be more aggressive use of Read More links, but those would irk me in the same way the current home page does — I’d rather scroll than click, if that makes sense.

      I wonder whether it might make sense to use the current home page as, well, the current home page — a rather magazine-y look, attractive to folks who don’t know the site already — and recreate a more old-time-bloggish secondary page for folks like me? I don’t know how easy this would be, since I’m not sure how the home page is being generated at the moment, so ignore me if it’ll be a complete PITA.

      As for point 3, I quite like the new palette — I’m the one with the purple Electra Townie bicycle! :)

    2. TextOriented Lurker

      “1. the extreme prominence of the first few posts, as in, you have to hit Page Down four or five times to get past them (to the extent where I’m not sure Terri’s point makes sense to me: did we look less fluffy when you had to hit Page Down three times to get past linkspams and quick hits and open threads?)”

      Yes, because even linkspams/quick hits/open thread entries constitute actual content. Pictures are not content.

      (And btw, I find the linkspams one of the valuable features of this site. So definitely not fluffy!)

      Examples of layouts I like: Feministe, Shakesville,,

      I don’t mind scrolling/paging to get to older posts. Some of the sites I like tend to have quite long first pages, that allow quite large numbers of entries on the first page before the “click for older posts”. To me, this is a good way to keep older posts visible (especially if you’ve coded your page so it is readable while it is still loading, which used to be the norm but has become much less common over the past couple of years). But I can see that people who don’t like to scroll/page would not find that helpful.

      It does sound as if Dorothea’s suggestion of having two entry points is a good one.

    3. John

      On the other hand, sometimes it can be hard to find the latest open thread; how about a link to the current open thread, from a fixed position on the front page?

  33. Mary

    The <q> HTMl tag appears not to work, it may have been styled out by the stylesheet. This is annoying for linkspam, where I use it extensively.

    1. tigtog

      @ Mary, I’ve added some minor styling for q tags. It had been wiped by the Suburbia designer’s reset.css, and unfortunately I think seems to still render oddly in some browsers.

  34. TextOriented Lurker

    One last nit – with the new theme, the little avatar pictures are blinking every time they scroll into view. At first I thought it was my slow dialup connection at home, but it’s doing it at work too. It looks like the image is refreshing or something. It’s very distracting; it pulls my eyes away from the text because something’s blinking at me.

    And a positive: I did not at first see the grid at the bottom of the page with titles from still-older entries, because it’s way way way at the bottom because of all the stuff in one of the sidebars. But when I did see it, I thought that was a nice way of keeping older posts visible. (Of course, I’d take the pictures off or shrink them way down, but I thought the concept was good.)

  35. tigtog

    Hello all, after some rather huge distractions yesterday I have found some time to commit some of the smaller changes requested.

    * the top nav menu no longer goes all across the page
    * the hover effect on whole posts on the front page is turned off
    * there is a clearer division between the footer widgets and the posts
    * the lowest rows of post have the heading changed to look more like the other posts
    * the prev/next nav for the front/index pages has been made more prominent

    I’ll continue absorbing and thinking about other items that need to be changed.

  36. Shani

    Count me in as someone who really doesn’t like the new theme. When I first clicked on the link I was like ‘wtf, they let their domain name expire and some squatter got it and used their name?!’. It took a bit of effort to read the content and figure out that it was the same site, but I can’t find anyway of easily getting to what’s new or interesting to me.

    I’m surprised that images in articles have been given so much prominence, given they generally aren’t key to the content. For example, right now when I look at the homepage I see a wall of SPAM tins and some people wearing animal masks. Uh… woo? Then an introductury sentence of 10-18 words which doesn’t even get to the post content so doesn’t really interest me at all.

    It’s also much more difficult to figure out what I’ve already read and what I haven’t, because the post titles are placed all over the page in both height and width, so I have to keep track of more information instead of just reading away then stopping when I reach something I remember.

    Personally I don’t have any problem with scrolling, that’s what the space bar is for. I would much much much much rather scroll past a post that I’m not interested in than gaze at a wall of post-its trying to remember where they lead and whether I’ve read it before, or whether it’s something I’m interested in, based on so little information.

    I do like the layout of this new post page, if the homepage was just like that with them all listed I would be perfectly content.

  37. tigtog

    The Theme Switcher plugin that wasn’t playing nice with the latest version of WordPress a few weeks ago has been updated to play nicely, and I’ve installed it so that there’s a widget in the sidebar of the front page where anyone who wants to switch back to the old theme can do so.

  38. tigtog

    I’ve just installed some comment form quicktags and a live preview option (visible just beneath the SEND button).

    I hope this helps those who have been having some comment formatting issues.

    1. Kate A.e

      Thanks so much for the effort you’ve put in and for adding that option – I appreciate the work on upgrading the appearance of the site but I’m another for whom the new them is simply unusable on a netbook even full-screen with Firefox’s menubar hidden. I quickly hacked up a bookmarklet for anyone who wants to switch arbitrary pages (I appreciate how the switch is sticky on subsequent links):;str=str.replace(/^?/,%20'');str=str.replace(/&?themedemo=my_vigilance/g,'');var%20sep=(str?'&':'');'?'+str+sep+'themedemo=my_vigilance';

    2. AMM

      Live preview has the problem that, on my box, at least, it makes entering comments very, very, very slow. Characters get echoed somewhere between 1 and 3 characters per second, both in the text entry window and in the live preview (though they’re not always in synch.) Backspaces (for correcting errors) are processed at the same rate. Reminds me of the days when I used a KSR-33 teletype on a PDP-11. Only slower.

      (Actually, even if it were faster, I’d still have a problem with it. Like stuff that gets activated when the mouse moves over it, it never ceases to startle me.)

      Is a “preview” button harder to implement?

      Also, I notice that blank lines get dropped. Is that a feature or a bug?

  39. AMM

    By the way, I really appreciate how responsive you all have been to criticism/suggestions. It is a real relief from the usual geek response of “it works for me; if it doesn’t work for you, it’s your fault/problem” or “I like it, only losers would want it to be different.”

  40. Jane

    I just tried “Switch Theme” and it made me really happy — I hope it sticks around!

    As I came online today, I realized that there are currently no images of faces of people who appear to identify as women on the front page (identification assumption based on the content of each post in conjunction with the image assigned), while there are two photos of people that read as male. I wonder if I might feel more like this is the Geek Feminism that I know and love if women were more visible on the front page (as I expect they will be in the future). Not sure how much of an impact this has on my perception of the new design (still holding out for comment counts!), but it crosses my mind that this may be part of why I have felt a bit put off by the redesign.

    Also would like to be able to put blank lines in my comment by simply leaving a new line as I type (for example, between this sentence and the last paragraph).

  41. Shauna

    I agree with those who preferred the old theme, although I don’t mind the new one.

    If I could change anything, I would make the pictures less prominent and devote that space to including more of a summary/beginning of a post on the main page.

    If I could change two things, I would also add comment counts to posts on the main page.

  42. codeman38

    Just realized something else regarding the comment form. There’s absolutely nothing to indicate that the “*” by “name” and “e-mail” stands for “required”.

  43. tigtog

    I’m slowly working through items on people’s want-lists (I have had the flu from hell dogging me the last few weeks).

    The single-post pages and commenting fields are now wider. I’m about to make the text in the commenting field larger.

    I’ve added excerpts to the archive listings of posts.

    I am still cogitating on other things, and we shall be having a GF-bloggers discussion on other feedback that would require larger changes.

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