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Old 08-08-2009, 05:16 PM   #1
Silence
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Default Recent updates

We've pushed out a slew of changes to the website over the past couple weeks. Most of those changes only affect the backend, but here are a few things you might notice...

Here's the biggie: an updated front page with a clearer layout and better formatting. We now list recently updated articles in addition to new ones, along with some more information about each one. News snippets look like real block quotes, and you can now subscribe to news updates and their comments using an RSS reader...we're still making a few tweaks, but for the most part it's done.

Names of staff and contributors now link to forum profiles, not to email addresses, because they're more public and cut down on spam. Similarly, most articles now have links to specific subforums; for example, our currently-featured homemade water gun now links to http://forums.sscentral.org/f27/.
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Last edited by Silence : 08-08-2009 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Recent updates

So far so smooth in terms of the update!

That said, I'm a little torn about SSC's new main page. While cleaner in some ways than the previous version, not quite sure why, but it seems to be missing SSC's general flavor. As well, the layout makes the page rather long in terms of scrolling and the sheer amount of text on it. Then again, I lean towards leaner designs, but I digress.

I'm not sure exactly what, but somehow something just seems to be missing now from the landing page in terms of how it looks/feels. That's how I feel, anyhow; not sure whether others agree or not with this.

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Old 08-09-2009, 09:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: Recent updates

The home page always did seem to be missing something. I never put much thought into them as I assumed most people would land on an interior page from a search engine, though, this has introduced a number of problems.

The new home page looks good to me. The different heading sizes do seem a bit out of place but that's okay.

While I was thinking about it I finally got around to changing the visited link color to purple from red (the old color is still in the CSS file but now commented). The color's ugly. Maybe someone with access (Silence or Drenchenator?) could change it to something better.
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Recent updates

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben
The different heading sizes do seem a bit out of place but that's okay.
By different, do you mean different relative to the headers in other pages on the website? Or perhaps you mean the varying amount of text between the headers on the front page alone? Anyway, this point reminded me that the headers for the recent article sections should be centered, not left-justified. Left-justification made sense earlier because those entries didn't have enough text to span the entire column.

Quote:
Originally Posted by isoaker_com
While cleaner in some ways than the previous version, not quite sure why, but it seems to be missing SSC's general flavor.
A little confused here, but it sound like you are too, so there's not much to do beyond playing around with it some more. Any suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by isoaker_com
As well, the layout makes the page rather long in terms of scrolling and the sheer amount of text on it.
Agreed, but I will put in a quick defense. It seems to me that there are two schools of landing page design: one tries to put everything on one screen, while the other throws a lot of information at you that you may or may not look at. To be honest, I lengthened it because the content wouldn't quite fit on one page but wasn't long enough to be scrollable, either. Conversely, we could display fewer recent articles and fewer news posts, making it all fit on one page instead. Thoughts?

What bothers me the most is the unusually wide centerfold margin. My attempts to fix it didn't work, so I may rearrange everything again at some point.

The feature image also looks a little small for unless your window's width is closer to the bottom limit of 830 pixels. The only real solution I can think of is a fixed-width feature <div>...but that means a fixed-width recent articles section...which means that the column lengths change a lot, relative to each other, as you scale up the viewing window. A more short-term solution *would* be to have the image and the text be side-by-side, but I've tried and found no perfect way of doing so.

The fact that news post titles are links bothers me a little, too. This makes them look more like normal text than like important headings. Changing them from <h4> links to plain <h3> headings might do the trick. And there are many other ways to make each news entry look more cohesive, anyway...currently, each one looks like three insular lines.

And finally, the text following links in the recent article sections looks a little cluttered. I tried using two or thee lines per entry, but then there was too much whitespace when viewed with wider browser windows.

Most of the aesthetic problems come from trying to put multiple columns in a dynamic-width page. I'm seriously considering fixed-width just for the landing page. Any thoughts? And did any of my observations explain people's discomfort with the page? Anyway, I sincerely appreciate all the comments. I don't like spending so much time fretting about one page, but it has to be done, so all the support is great.
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:33 PM   #5
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Default Re: Recent updates

Looking again at the main page of SSC, apart from the rather large title bars, what it really appears to be missing are more graphics/images. There's just too high of a text-to-image ratio on that page, making it just feel heavy, IMO.

As for the spacing issue, methinks you have some lingering CSS code somewhere that is putting in excess padding or margin somewhere.

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Old 08-10-2009, 09:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Recent updates

Yeah, there *is* a lot of text on the front page. For the next update I'll probably start from scratch and dump the recent article sections...I mean, who even reads them, anyway? I'll probably go with a single news column and one column picturing several featured water guns. I think Spudfiles' front page captures that style fairly well.

I didn't realize the large title bars were throwing people off. Thanks for bringing that to my attention; it should be a really easy fix. I had to do some hackery to get things to display properly with large font there, anyway.

In retrospect, I realize I did the spacing erroneously. The layout currently has columns or sections specifying margins, when I should have had the entire box specify padding. I'd read that the former method is supposed to make margins collapse into each other, but that didn't work out...and I think I tried the latter, but something else went south. But yes, the CSS is being problematic as ever.

And as usual, thanks for the comments.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Recent updates

I was referring to the larger font on the title bars. It does seem a bit out of place but I think its fine. Consistency would be best so maybe a change to the normal size is appropriate. Though, I might want to go the other direction with respect to consistency... I'll think about it.

iSoaker is correct; there is a lot of text on the homepage. Your latest suggestion sounds good as a solution, Silence.
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