Whenever you move into a new home, the advice given is to live with it for a few months before making major changes. You need to get a sense of the flow before understanding how to improve it.

That’s the plan here. Its been a few weeks since I moved to this URL and WordPress, and I am still learning my way around. By January, I expect to understand better what will and won’t work.

Some of the more pressing changes I am planning:

Header size: Excise the excess. I need to tighten up the size of the header — yeah, there’s a lot of dead space I can squeeze out of that.  Make it a smaller, tighter, cleaner. I went with the large header cause everyone on Wall Street has dual 20″ monitors. But I know some of you are either on laptops or smaller screens. (You, over there, with the Mac Classic — time to upgrade!)

Tabs — I like the suggestion of transparent tabs except for the front one. No colors, flush right, not spread out.  Since the TBP header is on every page, I can also lose that small tab. Take it down to 5 from 6

Jobs: Is anyone interested in posting Jobs Wanted/Employee Wanted? (Its free) It was supposed to be a public service. I assumed given the state of Wall Street it would be much more active.

Flash Intro: I hear you — This seems to really be a killer for some people. I was thinking about moving it to the Cafe (which would then be renamed). Given the multitude of voices there, the concept is very suitable. And since the length of works there tends towards the much longer, those of you who hate it will scrollpass it very quickly.

TBP Main Header: Which leaves me with the main Header page for the Big Picture. Any Ideas, suggestions, art concepts? Maybe I’ll run a contest for the best new header design.

As always, share your cleverest thoughts and constructive insights . . .

Category: Web/Tech, Weblogs

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

29 Responses to “TBP 2.5”

  1. leftback says:

    More changes? I have hardly got used to this one… and now we are doing another redesign… [BR: Not a full blown redesign, just a cleaning up of some of the flaws that have been revealed. And I am coming around to the mass dislike fo the flash header]

    The header. Hmm… My philosopy is that less is more. It’s really very busy up there. Having a bunch of buttons is OK but you can slide most of em somewhere else.

    Oddly enough most of your readers seem to have jobs of some description, but you never know, the jobs feature might be useful to someone. [BR: If it gains no traction, it will go]

    What do we like about TBP? Your content is varied, interesting and fresh. So please make it easy to see what’s available. I like the way on naked capitalism and infectious greed there is a menu of the most recent 4 or 5 hot stories and the links are in a nice easy accessible place. Same with Mish he has them on the left there so you can see what’s up. [BR: Good idea]

    Most of us are info junkies and like to scan the latest stories. Also I like to dig back and find the after-market comments on your site – although I am usually busy having a life in the evening – so being able to find the previous day’s posts easily is good.

    BTW, my girlfriend thinks my Mac Classic is cool, especially the external floppy disk drive, that is so hot. She also likes my turntable with the Depeche Mode albums and the fuzzy dice in my Ford Escort. No wonder I am such a stud.

  2. Its_Science says:

    Not to sound like a broken record, but don’t forget to address the problems with the embedded videos in Firefox (it’s not a problem on other sites). I know I’m not alone on that. If it can’t be technically addressed, please just include links to the original content. Thanks.

    ~~~
    BR: I’ll have tech look into it — but I use Firefox, on a Mac and a Dell, and the embedded videos work fine for me . . .

    I have found that Firefox is glitchy with Videos — it may just be a Firefox issue

  3. jefft says:

    WordPress is a beast, in my experience, but the more I play with it the better it gets. I’m been using it for about a year, doing several posts a day.

    I don’t like flash myself, and agree with the previous comment about too much header.

    Frankly, I don’t visit your site, since I read your feed in GoogleReader, which is infinitely easier for a major internet consumer like me.

    I like what you write, and to me, that’s numero uno.

    Lastly, if it were me, I wouldn’t like people dropping into your site at the dashboard. Also, probably should get rid of WordPress ID stuff at bottom of page, and I trust you’ve locked up your valuables using IP address-controlled access.

  4. pmorrisonfl says:

    > main header page for the Big Picture…
    I like the new design, and I don’t even mind the size… but I detest the time it takes the Flash animation to play. My suggestion is to ‘freeze’ the thing, just have a static image of the final ‘frame’ in the timeline. You still get Florida, Uncle Sam, the Rolling Stones, snails, etc… but without the distraction.

    [BR: that seems to be the consensus]

  5. KC says:

    As for the Job Listings, I assume anyone that gets on this site is coming for the economic insight. You’ll never be able to out-do Monster. It’s much easier and quicker searching for employees/work with the big online employment sites–if not simply because these sites limit results to the area you’re looking for work. Imagine if you DID get a lot of activity in the Job Listings…it’d be tough for anyone to navigate through them all. So I say…no need…but your site is coming along great! I like it a lot. I really like the Cafe idea.

    You might even consider a tab just for comments? [BR: Note: There is an RSS feed for comments: feed://www.ritholtz.com/blog/comments/feed

    And what about Linkfest? I really don’t think it’d be hard to find someone to compile a list for you for free. That really was a big highlight of your old old big picture, even though I know you’ve gotten a lot busier. Or perhaps a wikipedia type linkfest where everyone adds their favorite news links. Then again, I don’t think I’d trust where those links go to :) Just some random thoughts.

  6. SharonTW says:

    The flash header works on my laptop but it dies on my iPhone. I thought that you were going to create a light PDA friendly version of the site. I might have missed the post linking to that version because I’m still grabbing the site via a link on another blog.

    [BR: Check out the RSS feed option, including mobile, here:
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/11/rss-feeds/ ]

    Barry, be kind to your designers, they did a lovely upgrade of the site and in my opinion, as another designer, a simple, clean image for the Big Picture’s home page is the best way to go. It’s the web, you can swap out images at your leisure. You new logo, the “b” plus, is what will anchor any single images that you throw up here from month to month.

    You’re building the financial version of the TPM empire for a layperson like me and I love you for it. I’m smarter for your blogging.

  7. David in D says:

    Barry, I know this was mentioned in a post last week, but several of us think threaded discussion would make a big difference. I look forward to the changes.

  8. DavidB says:

    I agree with KC, I think linkfest definitely needs to come back. Linkfest IS the big picture. It is the star quarterback, the #1 center. Without it the team is unfocused [BR: its a time consuming bear --maybe in the spring]

    I think the job area might be lacking in discretion? I don’t know if there is a way to address that.

    The one thing that was beginning to frustrate me that you seem to have addressed is two or three posts only on the front page before you had to click to ‘older entries’. [BR: that glitch was fixed - its now 10 posts on the front page] I know you want to get your clicks per viewer up (which is an industry idealized triviality that you have more than covered with your cafe posts and other tabs), but having more than a few posts on the front page improved scanability and convenience. Remember, many of your readers are here for a quick take on ‘the big picture’. Your skill was taking so many viewpoints from so many areas, boiling them down to the most important ones and laying them out for all to see, no holds barred. Some of the things you have done in the changeover seem to be taking the site away from what made it successful. Now that you have a following of TBP junkies it probably won’t hurt your readership but it may not continue to draw those types that originally built the site up to what it has become.

    Also, I just thought of this. I keep missing the great stuff in digital media because it is off the edge of the page on my 19″ screen. You either need to highlight it more like you do the videos, put it where the book tab is or bring it in to focus with your already stated plan for shrinking everything on top. I could be wrong, it would depend on if your viewers are clicking over there but I keep missing it myself

    Otherwise, things are great (:

  9. Liz Tool says:

    Congratulations!
    Campaigning, flu and jury duty have kept me from congratulating and commenting you on your new design. It took some getting used to but basically to catch everything it is easy to click on recent posts then comments on the first post and work my way back.

    Thanks for the new “e-mail this”!

    It would be nice if on the screen with the post AND the comments there was a place at the bottom to go back or forward a page instead of scrolling back up. That is probably just being nit-picky…

    Your header is not too big but it is a suffering the TWO FACES OF EVE syndrome. I think there is a conflict between “professional” (boring and bland) and “personality” (color). Your logo is over powered. I am surprised that it is so underwhelming. (Wondering why you didn’t rename the blog at this time since you are upset with persons “stealing” it).

    The front page is not consistent with the other pages and it doesn’t really make any sense. On every other page the picture is large and seamless but still overwhelms your logo. But the front page I guess is supposed to be several TVs that make up THE BIG PICTURE but they look like several pictures and one doesn’t know they are TVs except for the flash in the beginning. It might help if you actually turned them into TVs with borders and some buttons instead of just the boxes on the striped background which is used on the other tabs. Have you thought of having a big TV in the left hand corner with just a little bit of the flash and then your logo comes up on the TV? Then finding a big picture to fill the rest of the header or just leave it blank and that would make your header smaller. [BR: I expect the proportions will get fixed next major upgrade]

    The logo is not bad as far as design but it needs to be more sharp or dramatic. If you are set on keeping the little TVs think about using pictures that are more consistent maybe the same 3 or 4 colors instead of the conservative estimate of eleven or twelve that you currently have now.

    When I first saw the little TVs I thought that they were put there for a reason..that they were buttons that would take me somewhere else. They could be turned into your tabs if done the right way and that would make your header smaller. If you are going to go the boring and bland route maybe you could put the black and white cartoons in the little TVs. Then you could click on them to make them bigger and just change them once a week. The black and white would make your current logo color scheme look outrageously bold!

    I’m not overly fond of the tan and gray. All shades of brown and tan or all shades of black and gray would look better also why does the color fade to white as you go down the blog? A clean site doesn’t have to lack color or interest.

    AND WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO THE DOG? Surely your ego cannot be so big that you would not set aside a square inch with the dog!!! In fact the dog deserves it’s own page with several bigger pictures! [BR: Max is coming -- its yet another sidebar issue ]

    On a final note your blog could just be white with black type or pink polka dots. Your content and sense of humor is what makes the blog and it is excellent.

  10. Fred Krueger says:

    Barry:

    Love the blog, but like others, have been reading it exclusively through an RSS reader (newsgator in my case). When I finally went to your actual site for the first time in several years I was horrified. My humble suggestions:

    (1) get rid of the color scheme, the huge header and the huge icons. They don’t do your site justice. Go with a clean, monochrome look that allows the content to rise to the top

    (2) do not require the user to login to post comments. Logging in to a blog is counter-intuitive and error prone (where did i put that easy to remember #56agtlw6 password ?)

    (3) get rid of the top ad unit. If are interested in making money with your site (which i am not sure you are) — this is not the answer. Having started and sold two ad networks, and several ad-supported internet ventures, I have some ideas for you, if you want to email me.

  11. philipat says:

    Barry,
    I think I was ahead of the curve with my 2 cents-worth (Header too large and too much colour. Remove cour from the tabs and make the header single line rather than double. I also sent you a suggested layout for the header from a site I found in Singapore)

    I stick with the above and recommend a wide angle Manhattan skyline, like one of those from here:

    http://www.photosig.com/go/users/viewportfolio?id=28549

    One layer, no flash. Superimpose a grapph line to pick out the highs and lows in the skyline.
    Final result, a Big (Wide angle) Picture, no flash half the header size and much less busy with colourless tabs but still dramatic, relevant and colourful enough.

  12. flenerman says:

    Mr. R, I agree with the commentator from several days ago who said something like, “When you arrived at the old site you had the sense of being THERE.” I appreciated the ecletic nature of the page. Nevertheless, I understand your desire for page clicks and I’ll adjust. I also understand the log-in requirement for persons wishing to comment, but a 12 character password?! Upper and lower case with symbols?! Come on, you’re not guarding State Secrets. You’ve made it a gazillion to one against anyone hacking my password and ignored the thousand to one chance that he’ll break into my home and find it scrawled on my desk along with 10 years of other such reminders. If you allowed us to change our passwords, I’d change mine to TBP like half the rest of your regulars and I’ll bet you’d be little worse off.

  13. Liz goes w/: “On a final note your blog could just be white with black type or pink polka dots. Your content and sense of humor is what makes the blog and it is excellent.”

    BR,

    I hope you know that’s, exactly, the case. Past that, I hope it is the ‘p@$sW*rD’ thing that has been tamping down on the ‘comments’–as noted, above, the current regime seems a little too tight–that balancing act may need to be reweighted..

    Also, the ‘linkfest’ gave you the latitude to give a more ‘panoramic’ aspect to TBP. And, I hope you’re still considering BRIPTV/IP Radio/MP3s..

    ~~~
    BR: FNJ will return in the future. The Linkfest is a possibility in the late winter / early spring.

    The comment reg, however, is a keeper! I am spending so much less time dealing with Spam, trolls, flame wars, and garbage — its a pleasure.

  14. The linkfest is on hiatus until next year — it was hugely time-consuming, and between the book and the market mayhem, there simply was no time.

    If I add another intern or even a blog employee in January, then the linkfest might return.

    Meanwhile, every Sunday, we have Prieur du Pleiss
    Words from the (investment) Wise
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/11/words-from-the-investment-wise/

  15. JustOne says:

    A couple of comments that I have not seen in a quick look at a few of the comments … hopfully not redundant.

    1. I am missing the “train of thought” or mind flow of the old site. It is hard to percieve WHEN videos are posted, relative to other peoples ideas, relative to your ideas, relative to charts, etc. Now one must go to other tabs to see some of the things you post and the order of posting not clear. Perhaps a link on the main page when new material is posted on other pages would help glue it together? Also a key word based index and a date/time index might help find other related articles … perhaps these could be another tab?

    [BR: That will be updated shortly -- I am still learning Word Press, and have to rely on prgrammers for even the simplest fix]

    2. The light gray font used on long quotes is less readable than the indented black font on your old site … at least on my monitors, lighting conditions, etc. Perhaps italics or a different dark font style could set them off rather than a color change?

    [BR: Yeah, I noticed that too -- I can take that a few shades darker]

    3. I also liked the word clouds you posted before. Perhaps a tab to that function would be useful for those that liked it. Also a word cloud on comments might be interesting to see were the most people are commenting. I feel another tab being considered?

    [BR: I am slowly adding side bar content. The original plan was to keep it clean, and less busy -- but the word cloud will come back -- its a WP plug in]

    JustOne (or a few) thoughts.

  16. jmborchers says:

    I would like to see an index of the posts for at least the last month. It’s very difficult to run through old ones right now.

    [BR: Another plug in -- categories, archives, monthly calendar. Its coming also]

  17. jmborchers says:

    TY Barry.

  18. DavidB says:

    LOL @ Liz,

    The dog has got to be worth a few thousand clicks himself. Not only would he bring people in but the instant they saw him he’d win the loyalty of those folks just because they are dog people. Give him his own update feed and your advertising takes care of itself

    You may even want to hire a shill cat too for the opposite side of the pet universe……You better make it a kitten…….fluffy. Don’t grab a pic from the web or you’ll get busted for sure. Rent one from the pet store. Should only cost you a few bucks. Or you could buy one and then return it the next day complaining of ‘leaks’. That won’t cost you anything but the hassle of buy ‘n return. Get some realistic but staged digital cam home photos. Slap ‘em up on a page, you’re done. Hello Google top ten

  19. RickMayor says:

    To be honest I don’t have anything to add on style/format of your new site. I just wanted to reiterate the above comments on how incredibly useful/fun/interesting/entertaining your site and comments are. Totally awesome!

    I particularly like your new Cafe site, really great and insightful reads there. Keep up the great work!

    Your faithful reader,
    Rick

  20. a guy called john says:

    Don’t expect that the content on the other tabs will be found. That’s not how your site ever worked before.

    Assuming you want to put your posts on the homepage: slightly smaller font, slightly narrower content column, more teaser copy, headlines, etc (a la the quote) in the right column.

    Otherwise: Treat your homepage as a traditional homepage, highlighting more of the content, more marketwatch/street.com than blog. Looks like you are moving in that direction through the content expanded content.

    ~~~

    BR: The other content will receive more highlighting in the future — note the menus are now defaulted to open in the sidebar.

  21. Here are the RSS feeds —

    The Big Picture: No header, no tabs, every post
    feed://www.ritholtz.com/blog/feed

    Comments
    feed://www.ritholtz.com/blog/comments/feed

    BP Cafe
    feed://www.ritholtz.com/blog/category/bp-cafe/feed

    Books
    feed://www.ritholtz.com/blog/category/books/feed

    Video
    feed://www.ritholtz.com/blog/category/video/feed

    Digital Media
    feed://www.ritholtz.com/blog/category/digital-media/feed

    Note they behave differently depending upon your browser. Firefox take me to a my Yahoo module add; Safari goes straight to the feed.

  22. Scotty says:

    Keep making the gradual improvements — I really like what I have been seeing so far.

    The Cafe is brilliant — you should emphasize it more.

    Its everything that Seeking Alpha and TheStreet.com are not — its smart, focused, and limited — thats the key.

    They are obviously casting the widest net possible, going for max page views, with quality secondary. You are clearly focusing on less being more. I would put a 10 person max on it. (How did you ever get the NBER dating committee / Harvard professor ? Awesome post.)

  23. “The comment reg, however, is a keeper! I am spending so much less time dealing with Spam, trolls, flame wars, and garbage — its a pleasure.”

    yeah BR, I know, I was, earlier, going to add a line : ~” easy for me to say, I don’t have to deal with the admin…”

    Your doing a great job, past that, Scotty’s comment, above, is a good one, too..

  24. Coruscation says:

    I am not sure if you were intending on changing the content with the re-design, but I too miss Barry’s link fests. And I subscribed to Barrons because he could find three great stories there every month, and tell me which ones they were on the weekend when I had time to read them.

    Could you take the Amazon banner an make it tall, narrow and on the side to get some content into the top 2/3 of my screen ?

    New readers might benefit from a short explanation about how to create, maintain an account to comment. And let commenters choose their own password.

  25. Chuck Ponzi says:

    Please, threaded comments. Please.

  26. Gabriel says:

    Barry, here are some ideas on minor touch-ups.

    Sidebar:
    1. Feeds – should probably move to the bottom – limited use. Also, this one doesn’t need to be Open by default (that can save some space). And the user may actually see the Halogen Guides without scrolling down. ;-)
    2. Media Reviews – should probably move towards bottom – limited use (but I understand why it’s at the top).
    3. Some bullets open/close to display lists, but others take you away from the page; there should be some visual clue for the different behavior. Also, some of those bullets are hot and some are not (and among those that are hot, the action is inconsistent).

    Tabs:
    Order of tabs seems intuitively driven by your traffic statistics. I know I visit Cafe, Video, Media most often. But Book Club may probably be better towards the end.
    Order of those tabs should be consistent with the order you choose on the sidebar items, (as much as possible, because there are some additional items on the sidebar).

    Just my $.02

  27. As a graphic designer (going back to smelly Compugraphic machines and hot wax and manual paste-up), I think the new and the old lay-outs are fine. I like the new format. Dropping the side columns of stuff makes the main entries easier to read, in part because the type size is larger. I also like Times Roman as a body type over sans serif. It’s easier for the eye. Sans serif types are hard to read as body type. The eye needs those little serifs. This is why you don’t see any books or newspapers with body text in sans serif.

    Congratulations, Barry. The new design looks nice. And thanks for providing it. I know it took a lot of work.

    Cheers.

  28. sellthekids says:

    catching up on my weekend reading…

    Barry posted: “• Flash Intro: I hear you — This seems to really be a killer for some people.”

    really? is everyone reading this on an iPhone? otherwise, shouldn’t you all be using FireFox and have FlashBlock installed?

    http://flashblock.mozdev.org/

    i have only seen Barry’s flash once…the day he demo’d the site.

  29. ardano says:

    Dear Barry:

    Didn’t read through all the comments, but an easy link/tab from the old “The Big Picture” to the new “Ritholtz.com” TPB might also help. Many of us have both auto fill and an old bookmark on multiple computers and are being sent to the old format…have you considered a way to jump from old to new?

    thanks for TPB