Last week, we rolled out the new site design. Lots of very helpful and productive comments.

Here is the general overview of what most readers were saying:

The positives: Cleaner; Site loads much faster (about 4X); is more stable; creates more meta-data about posts; generates more page views per visitor.

The negatives: Clicking to open pages annoys some; colors are distracting; sidebar is “filler.”

Overall seemed positive, with the two biggest complaints being clicking to open pages and the candy colors.

If the layout  were to open every post, there is a load penalty for graphics, flash, charts, video, etc. This applies to all pages, even the ones that you may not be interested in.

That tradeoff is something I don’t want to make, and too be blunt, I don’t find clicking on a page to be all that troublesome. The tradeoff of speed for convenience is huge, and it simply mean you have to click.

Perhaps a good balance could be achieved opening the first 2 or 3 posts.

As to the candy colors, I totally agree — they did not translate that well from the original design to a web version. It is something I plan on changing shortly.

I have been thinking about variations on the illustration theme; one possibility is after the jump.

 

Please share your thoughts.

 

 

click for ginormous graphic

Category: 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.

54 Responses to “Site Redesign: Update”

  1. khslater says:

    I agree original was a little to vivid, but I find the proposed change above very bland. Have you considered just unsaturating the colors a bit so they don’t dominate? Overall the redesign is a big improvement – good job.

  2. M says:

    I’m still getting used the to new navigation. I’ve taken to opening pages in new browser tabs so I can get back to the front page listing more easily. That feels fiddly to me. Maybe adding a home link to the bottom of the page between the previous post and the next post would help? It’s not that I can’t get to where I want to go by scrolling back up or hitting the back button. It just doesn’t flow quite as well as I think it could.

  3. Thomaspin says:

    No grumbles here, but kudos for involving your readers in the process.

  4. nframe says:

    It would be nice if at least the “10 whateverdayitis reads” were always expanded even if they weren’t the latest post since they have no images/videos and won’t significantly effect the load time.

  5. Clay says:

    I like this alternate design better than the current desingn. Although the colors of the current design are nice, they are a bit distracting to the eye. This alternate design seems to make for easier focus on the center portion of the page containing the reading and video content, which after all is the primary reason I come to your site. Nice job Barry.

  6. Bill in SF says:

    I like the new site design. It looks like you have already addressed the only faults I originally noticed; lack of time stamps and tabs for previous and next posts.

    As far as the desktop color scheme, it’s fine. It’s not even visible on iPad or desktop with small/moderate window size. I only see it when I expanded the window to full screen on desktop computer. Anyone complaining about the color scheme is showing an unclear on the concept about financial blogs.

    Finally, the sidebar is not filler; it’s doing just what it was intended to do.

    The Cmd +/- zoom work great as long as you have set your browser prefs appropriately.

    Thanks.

  7. dbrodess says:

    How about a button at the top that allows one to “open all”? I often use instapaper (on a tip a while back from TBP) to read TBP while on airplanes. Having to click each article and hit “read later” takes a lot longer. With an “open all” button you get the best of both worlds, fast loading for the group that prefers that optimization and “full page” for folks like me that tare willing to put up with some additional loadiing time.

    ~~~

    BR: I’ll ask the programmers if that plug in — open all — exists. Seems like a good compromise (if its available)

  8. par1 says:

    The background design is interesting to look at – once. After that, it’s merely a distraction. JMHO.

  9. bfarzin says:

    +1 for the “open all” option. Either a separate link that opens, a button or opening the three most recent posts. Agreed with dbrodess about using instapaper plus when one wants to scan the first couple paragraphs of what is going on it is much faster after the entire page is loaded.

    Also a +1 for including readers on the site. Very cool to get the users involved in your process and to at least consider the feedback seriously.

  10. jpmist says:

    Well, since you asked. . .

    The posts that are simply a list of links, such as the recent “10 Weekend Reads” are a pain in the ass to click on just to get see the links. The entry isn’t so long that it’s worth that and I lack the patience to click on it. The other long form entries, I don’t mind, as long as I have a decent summary of what I’m going to open, but it’s far better to just leave the list of links as it used to be. You’re saving some vertical space at the expense of functionality.

    The skittle colors bug me as well, kinda undermines the gravitas your site should have. The icons are fine, but the colors are too clean and need to be greyed up a bit. Hate the colors, really.

    The background graphic makes no sense to me at all. On my 11″ Air, I don’t see hardly any of it except the top which looks like some odd sort of electrical conduit stuff. Strange. I do like the white background for the text, the font is great and the Newsfeed on the right column is nice. It took me a while to figure out how to get the box to show the full width of text. Apparently it’s set up for folks to routinely keep their windows at maximum width, since I don’t it’s not that great for me.

    I hesitate to mention the next, but here goes. I’m no rock star as far as looks, but I wouldn’t present a pic that highlighted my least good feature, namely that your eyes don’t quite open as much as most folks. By taking a picture of you looking up, it just makes you look like you’re squinting. The clutter with the rain jacket or whatever it is you have on with the white thing on your shoulder is bad, matching the same yellow as your icon as they say on “Project Runway” too matchy-matchy.

    I can appreciate that you want something informal and not a studio headshot, but maybe get Tom Keen to take a phone-pic on set next time you’re on Bloomberg. Anything would be better than what you have.

    Great site, thanks for what you offer for free. I’ll take whatever you give us as like it anyway.

  11. modernone says:

    OK, so I’m lazy. As a compromise on the clicking, it would be nice if at least the top read lists were open on the main page. I know, then I click a bunch but I like the lists when I have moment. (the lists would not have to be formatted twice if you did this.)

    I do like the redesign otherwise.

  12. RW says:

    Clicking through once to a topic is no big deal particularly if the titles are chosen well; it’s nice to see more than one post at open.

    The sidebar ‘candy’ color could have been resolved by screening it back but the alternative is fine too.

    Making category selection a bit more prominent would facilitate filtering for those less inclined to browse.

  13. Paddy55 says:

    Sorry, but I find the graphic frame irritating & distracting. (Yes, I should have paid attention to the site redesign posts earlier & spoken up then…)

    The new colors definitely help tone it down, so that might be enough. Just screening it back as RW suggests would make a huge difference.

    I’ll certainly stick with you regardless as I like your stuff so much. But as a relative newbie to your blog (~6 months?) I wonder if I would have even stayed with it if the first time I’d come to it I’d been confronted with this graphic. Truth is I closed it without reading a number of times when it first went live because I didn’t recognize it as yours and it struck me as juvenile (I stack up tabs from Twitter links and then work my way through them, so I don’t always associate why I opened something with it when I get to it). I may be unique in this reaction, but if you can you should monitor whether you’re losing more people at the first page.

  14. znmeb says:

    Just out of curiosity, how does the site play on a smartphone? I no longer own one, but my friends in the web site business tell me that “Mobile First” is what they build / recommend.

    ~~~

    BR: The sides disappear, and its only main column content

  15. The Window Washer says:

    the whole area above the “tweet this” line should be clickable. The problem I’ve had opening them is my mouse seems to hit the line with you name sometimes then it’s a pain to reclick. Same with topic button just make the white areas around them clickable.

  16. bobmitchell says:

    You asked-

    http://peepton.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Movementarian-Homer.gif

    The site is very busy looking. If it’s not old looking already, it will be in a few days.

  17. The Window Washer says:

    dbrodess
    “How about a button at the top that allows one to “open all”? ”
    It’s kind of a weekend reading habit for me to scroll trough the posts I skip during the week. So it would be a nice feature when load times aren’t an issue.

  18. DeDude says:

    Using those category selections far down on the right side, I get list of what was posted since March 16-18. None of the newest posts in those categories show up unless I am logged in to the site. That is less of a problem now that new posts in all categories are shown on the front page; still a bit strange. I do miss a list of recent comments.

    ~~~

    BR: None of the newest posts show up? I thought that glitch was fixed. Let me check on that.

  19. subscriptionblocker says:

    Really never use web pages much, prefer to stay inside RSS feeds…but get easily confused when I click the link and “Oh my god what was that!” comes up. This site isn’t one of those, tho it still forces you to work harder for content (scrolling and clutter filtering). Can live with any site as long as it’s fast and the text is still readable. This site is fast, and you haven’t switched to white on purple……….

    My favorite example for a well written site is here:

    http://radsoft.net/rants/

    They are curmudgeons in some ways – but their site is wicked quick and easy on the eyes.

  20. maynardGkeynes says:

    Perhaps related to the filler complaints, but beyond that, it looks slightly compressed horizontally to me, like the horizontal aspect ratio is compressed by 15% or so, even within the center part.

  21. Lebowski says:

    I read your blog often, and think you do a great job. You are a fantastic communicator.

    However, I find the artwork on the sides to be way too busy. There’s just too much going on –it fights the text and the rest of your layout. If I may say so, I think there is a good chance that you have overstepped your bounds and are not deferring to the professional designers on this (i.e. you really like the style of art and are forcing onto the blog without really understanding the concepts of clean/quality layouts, and your graphic artist is not telling you to back-off) – - I say this with all due respect. FWIW I’ve worked in television for a long time, I do know a bit about what I’m writing here.

    As for having to open each post, that is my second chief complaint, it just less useful to me, and it makes me feel a bit disoriented. Then again I’m generally on a laptop when I visit, and I assume you are making these sorts of changes for the mobile demo.

    Anyway Barry, keep up the good work, this is a great site.

  22. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    I think the old site had a more mature look, but the content is where it’s at, anyway.

    The old design was timeless, but I believe this one will become dated rather quickly (the old site was equivalent to the banner of a newspaper, this one reminds me of an infographic).

    That said, I’ve always admired your thumbs-up/lower case ‘b’ logo/computer monitor. World class, and kudos to its designer. The new site still contains the logo, but it has been subordinated to the overall design, and has been combined with a fonts that don’t really fit, stylistically with the graphic element.

    I’m sure you’ve paid a good amount for this redesign, and committed considerable time in moving it forward (these things take a surprising amount of time and emotional investment for the client as well as the designer).

    Go with it until it bores you, and then rework the next site around the logo. Never change the logo — it’s timeless, elegant, and clever, Not an easy combination to coordinate.

  23. JoseOle says:

    No disrespect intended, but your photo looks like something out of a Lands End catalog.

    ~~~

    BR: I’ll take that as a compliment! I take terrible photos, this was from an article for an Australian magazine.

  24. S Brennan says:

    I like it.

  25. Flack says:

    Love your site and content.
    But the ‘new’ graphics are retro, which came and went, came and went and
    now they’re here again. If you’re graphic message is that things are cutely complicated,
    you’ve succeeded. Maybe they’re just too playful for me. Or maybe there’s just too much of them.

  26. eliz says:

    I second Thomaspin’s comment, “kudos for involving your readers in the process.”

    The typeface is tolerable, but not the greatest.

    Regarding best fonts for online, “A 2002 study by the Software Usability and Research Laboratory concluded that:

    The most legible fonts were Arial, Courier, and Verdana.
    At 10-point size, participants preferred Verdana. Times New Roman was the least preferred.
    At 12-point size, Arial was preferred and Times New Roman was the least preferred.
    The preferred font overall was Verdana, and Times New Roman was the least preferred.”

    A sans serif font, similar to the one used for the “About Barry Ritholtz” section would be better. I find serif fonts on a computer to be more irritating to my vision. I attribute that to the interplay of the serifs, back lighting and pixels.

  27. MikeG says:

    It would be nice if at least the “10 whateverdayitis reads” were always expanded even if they weren’t the latest post since they have no images/videos and won’t significantly effect the load time.

    This. Or at least have the first few bullet points each on their own line. The continuous stream of text with no line breaks is unpleasant to read. Same principle for the regular articles with the lack of formatting.
    The summaries could be a little longer, often they are so brief as to make it difficult to get a sense of the article.

  28. xatta says:

    Maybe the “moneyworks” background image could simply be made slightly opaque (just like a bank!) so that it doesn’t dominate the text.

    Personally, it seems like the site now loads more slowly than before. Usually I get the header portion of the page – the part above the most recent post – and then after a pause the rest of the page comes. I never thought of the old version as being too slow.

  29. CPT Ethanolic says:

    My only complaint remains the “10 reads” sections. They used to list the 10 reads without having to click the link. I don’t mind having to open the full articles, but I wish the 10 reads sections could be listed so I can glance through the list without having to click a link.

  30. ADMD says:

    I don’t think I ever have posted at this site, but I am a longtime daily reader.

    I HATE the redesign. The blue color is distracting. I hate the visual noise of those figures around the text making the site busy (for no purpose) and less attractive. The smaller font makes the text harder to read. After 3-4 views, I find it ugly, and it will be dated in a calendar quarter.

    Did I mention I hate the redesign? The redesign has actually caused me to consciously hesitate about whether to read the site now. And I have been a reader for years.

    Reconsider, Barry. And get a refund from your web design consultant.

    The other thing–my post focused on the negatives of the redesign. But the blog itself is fabulous, and I consider it a must-read. I live in DC, and was delighted to see your columns in Post. Keep up the good work; your contribution to the national conversation is really an important one.

  31. ami_in_deutschland says:

    I agree completely about the reading lists. If these generally already compact posts could keep their list format (with clickable links!!), it would be great.

    I don’t have a problem with the bright colors, and frankly, I think the negative responses are simply due to the color scheme being so different to the previous one. Color changes always seem to elicit a very emotional response, but these subjective reactions seldom have much to do with whether the design is good or not. Your readers will get over it after a few weeks. I wouldn’t waste much time on it if I were you.

    My initial criticism about the site redesign was the typography, but you’ve quickly gotten that under control. The legibility of the pages is 100% better now. Great work!! :o)

  32. farmera1 says:

    I find the blue pastel colors and busy design too much. Visual clutter. I think that is one reason Google has been successful, they have zero clutter. Minimalists. I also prefer the reading lists keep their list formats and clickable links.

    For the colors and clutter, it would be interesting to know the age of those that find the colors and clutter distracting, could be most like me are old…

  33. eideard says:

    Prefer the alternative version. Love the redesign.

    Love the content – as ever.

  34. nj-professor says:

    Love your site……HATE new look….too distracting…..links open a bit faster but not enough to matter especially since I read most in RSS feed….except for criticism of your photo I agree mostly with JPMIST above who is more articulate than me…..

    Bottom line…..KEEP UP THE GREAT BLOG……go more craigslist look not Chutes and Ladders since most of us are here for your wisdom, taste and experience……

    And as always……THANKS FOR REALLY LISTENING to what your audience has to say…….

  35. Old Rob says:

    The site does have it’s good features. Lots more material in a compact form.
    I still need my sunglasses to look at the background colors.

    Generally good.

  36. btbrown says:

    Why not have the posts open “inline” instead of on a new page. Pretty easy to do using ajax+jQuery. I too find myself not willing to “drill” as much.

    Your font choice is difficult to read. Specifically – I’m viewing on pc/chrome and all of the lower case “i”s appear to be bold.

    ~~~

    BR: What will “ajax+jQuery” do to load times?

    • btbrown says:

      No impact on load. Usually the way this works is that a “read more” link appears on the page but is not a “real” html anchor. You use jQuery to make the click on the “read more” perform a javascript function. That function in turn uses ajax to fetch the body of the post and replace the “read more” with the body.

      It ends up being much lighter weight than a full page load to the article and then a full page load back to the main page.

  37. Site design is nice, it was better than before. BR, the main thing is to KEEP WRITING and adding new content. You and Josh Brown @ReformedBroker are two sites I visit every day. You write extremely well. The three main things to focus on are content, content, content. Good job.

  38. stonedwino says:

    I don’t mind clicking on stories to expand and can see why, due to the load factor that is the way to go. The candy colors create a nice layout, but become distracting after the first few visits to the re-designed site. That being said, like many others, I come for the content and intellectual stimulus that the Big Picture provides. It is almost always the first place I go when I fire up my laptop, morning, noon or night!

  39. myold41 says:

    New Site: old enough, had kids, bought Sonic game, its the chemical factory! Kudos to BR for changing things up, stimulation is good for old brains, which is mostly what we are here. Get with the beat Baggie.

  40. romerjt says:

    Personally, I liked the sidebar . . . not so much for the pale blue, but I really don’t like the cartoonish “machine” and you’re big on non-rational stuff and thinking so the the machine concept seems incongruous with your approach . . just a thought

  41. postpartisandepression says:

    Didn’t like colors at first- a bit fru – fru but they don’t bother me now – the above is not an improvement though.

    I don’t like the fact that I have to click to get to everything now but understand if that speeds loading significantly- agree with everyone about keeping the reading list expanded though

    and as everyone says i come for the content – you and krugman get visited every day

  42. Bob A says:

    posts opening “inline” would be much better
    for an example see how google news does it.. smooth and fast

    i like the graphic but it is a bit ‘bright’
    if i had to choose i’d probably pick the grey background version
    but i’d like to see something in between the two.. grey background with more colors in the details

  43. pcassell says:

    If I had to nitpick, I’d say the only complaint is the non-scrolling background being too busy / candy colors. The revision above looks better.

    But the only thing I really care about is access to great information so I care more about content than the visuals ;). Thanks for the blog!

  44. mst says:

    Hello,

    the flash element from puma.vishu.net is extracting a heavy toll on my dual core processor system. Is there a way to lighten the flash foot print on your site?

    thanks

  45. Init4good says:

    Speed is fantastic, content is top-notch, what’s not to like?

  46. MikeG says:

    The banner is unnecessarily large. There is about 1cm of dead space above and below the logo which serves little purpose.
    There could be less space inbetween the articles.

  47. nofoulsontheplayground says:

    Barry,

    One thing I’d like to see would be a light bulb bubble above one of the guys on the pipes to signify ideas going into the system. That’s just my taste.

    As for the background, you lose some of the loudness with the gray on gray, and it helps frame the page a bit better. I know how it is to work with real creative folks on things like this. It’s tough sometimes to tame the creativity, but you’ve got to go with what works best with your clients and readers. Frankly, after the initial surprise at the radical change, my eyes went right back to mining the content as always as I adapted to the redesign.

    You’ve probably put in way more time on this than you ever thought you would. I definitely appreciate the outcome. Kudos!

  48. Whiskey Lunch says:

    Really like the proposed color changes for the illustration! …the ‘Big Picture’ logo is getting lost a little, though.

  49. Bjørn says:

    Clicking not that big an issue. The graphics must go. They are juvenile and do not add anything to the experience. Other words relating to the graphics: messy, distracting, ugly, useless, …… wait I have to get my thesaurus….. The color is a moot point, no color exists that could make this mess less irritating.
    Otherwise I love This Site.

  50. jezza says:

    Clicking through on every post just seems like an unnecessary step. An “open all” option would be great. Showing full versions of the “reads” posts would also be a big improvement. The site does seem faster, but load times haven’t bothered me. Content continues to be excellent.

  51. CincyDave says:

    I never understood why some of the listings in the AM/PM reads are underscored (and still are in the redesign), and others are not.

    ____

    BR: Usually its when I am emphasizing who the author is, but sometimes its just because it looks pretty

  52. hdoggy says:

    I’m about as late as it comes, but I also hated having to open every post. However, the natural workaround are the next post/previous post arrows at the bottom of each post. I don’t know if those were there before, but for blog navigation for a serial reader like me, those are now my preferred form of navigation for any blog, not just yours. I can easily bookmark the last post and then pick up where I left off the next time I look at the blog and not worry about missing anything. This also eliminates having to open every post. By far, revolutionary for me.

    This is also the reason why I’m so late to this post. I’m catching up.

  53. [...] of tweaks left, but I am 90% of the way there.  The feedback from readers — see this and this — was very [...]