Transitioning to a New Look Tonight at Midnight

Cherished readers,

We’ve scheduled for the RBC to temporarily close its doors at midnight; it should re-open with an hour or so, or perhaps as late as 3AM Friday morning (Pacific). We hope that the upgrade will resolve a few of the RBC’s chronic bugs, provide new functionality that will better allow both authors and commenters to interact and create individual identities, and in general retain our readability and ease of use. We’ve the team at YeahCan! to thanks for a new, vibrant website. One warning: We might see a few lost comments at the very end of that period (10pm to midnight Pacific), so if that possibility causes you great anxiety, you might want to back-up any contributions from tonight.

I’d like to thank everyone in advance for their patience dealing with the unanticipated bugs which are likely to pop up within the next few days, and retroactively for the feedback that’s helped us come up with the new design.

Author: Steve Davenport

UCLA alum Class of 2009. Tech admin for RBC.

37 thoughts on “Transitioning to a New Look Tonight at Midnight”

  1. The new look is nicely organized. I like it so far.

    Bug report: I’m noticing problems with trackbacks. The text part and the link part are superimposed on each other, and/or the link part is not a clickable link. I’ve browsed using Firefox and Chrome with the same results.

    1. Freeman — I have replicated this problem with Explorer and Chrome and have let Steve know. Thanks. Keith

  2. I expect you want people to be honest about this, so:

    Butt ugly, glad I’m not the one who paid for it.

    Readability has declined, you’re hiding too much “below the fold”.

    Pastel blue on white? Who thunk that up?

    User entered text is gray on white, not a good choice. Feels like I’m reading the site through a fog.

    But, hey, I don’t come here for the artistic value, I suppose I’ll adapt.

    1. Pretty much agreed. The prior design was perhaps “archaic” by today’s web standards, but it was crisp, clean, and readable, with high information density. This one, not so much. Prettier from a distance though.

      Cranky

    2. Yes, I’m not very fond of the color scheme, either. A light cyan on white background in particular is lacking in contrast. Also, using buttons for simple links (in particular, the reply link) is a bit too ornate for my tastes.

      I eventually decided to use Stylish to tweak the color scheme and the layout to be more to my tastes, as seen here.

      Other than that, I don’t really have any problems with the new layout. I expect that the performance issues will go away after the code has been iterated on a bit.

  3. Don’t trust Brett on this. The new design is well organized, has nice typography, and is clean. The previous site looked like a blog from the late 1990s. This one feels like it’s entered the 21st century.

    The only thing that feels a bit off graphically is the massive size of the book covers to the left. Shrink these down, and you’ve got a great site!

    1. One thing: in the comments section, the paragraph breaks and kerning of the date against the comments is messed up. I’d have your web designer drop the first comment line down below the name and date.

  4. Responsiveness has notably slowed… I’m seeing a delay of 3-5 seconds after clicking on a “Continue Reading” link, and a similar delay if clicking the home page link rather than using the back button. May just be caching issues that’ll straighten themselves out, maybe not. +1 on Cranky’s observation that the old design was readable & the site was very responsive; the new design…might take some getting used to.

    1. After I clicked on the “submit comment” button, I didn’t get a confirmation, I got a “Oops! The page you’re looking for isn’t there, click here to go back to the home page.”

      1. That was a reply to my first comment, and so should have been indented; this is a reply to a reply, so should be indented more. I’m seeing everything at the same level (no indentation) in Chrome.

  5. It’s slow, and the colors are harder to read. The book covers take up too much prime real estate (one long column would be better than two columns).

    The old layout was simple and clear. On the web, simplicity is good.

  6. My first impression: too many distracting graphics – reply buttons, share buttons, profiles, etc. Maybe I always liked the simpler, quiet look. This design feels like any other “grabby” website. That said, it’s not terrible.

  7. Mobile Issue: using both safari and dolphin on IOS 6.0 when I click on a link to a post, I have to scroll down many times to actually see the post. First I have to get past the general recent comments section, then I have to get past the images of all the books. And finally the post I was hoping to read is presented. It’s literally 5 swipes to scroll down before I see the top of the post that I specifically clicked on. Very bad from a usability perspective. Same issue on the main site page. on the mobile site it might be best to reposition the latest comments section and the book links section to the bottom with an anchor and just have a link to each at the top. Not complaining, just documenting things you may not yet be aware of. If you prefer email reports of issues, can you let us know?

  8. Thanks everyone — no need to email. posting the glitches here is fine and indeed helpful Keith

  9. More on IOS site: when I come to main page, if I see an interesting comment at the top, and I click “read more” it simply looks like the page has refreshed and nothing’s changed. What I didn’t realize is that the “read more” link opens up the original post containing the comment. I have to scroll the 5 times again to see it. The best fix is to eliminate those 5 scrolls as I mentioned above, but failing that, “read more” should automatically move my view to the actual comment I clicked on, I.e. each comment should be an anchor and each “read more” link should go to the anchor.

  10. I don’t remember whether there was discussion in the previous threads of the abbreviation of posts on the main page; it’s not a feature I’ve ever liked, and I don’t like it here.

  11. Don’t like it. In particular, the combination of saturated “continue reading” and headline blocks makes is hard for me to figure out where the separation between articles happens. People don’t come here for the design, but the new design makes it harder to read and comment.

  12. First time checking it out on my Mac. Now I see that all the sections I had to scroll through on IOS were the sidebar sections. Might be best just to eliminate these from the mobile site and add a “view full site” link that would have them properly side-barred, and user would be able to scroll left to right as well as up and down. That’s kind of what slate.com does for their mobile site.

  13. I’m not crazy about the new look, but I don’t hate it either. It’s better than the new Wonkblog! The only thing I’d really complain about is there’s too much white space for my taste.

  14. For what it’s worth, the Login/Register thingy at the top right does not appear to be working.

    I don’t know if that’s a bug or if it wasn’t even intended to be a new feature and the link is there only by accident.

  15. Sorry to be a party-pooper but I liked the old design much more. This one is very crowded on my ancient monitor: the top line of the title, “The Reality-Based” is hidden under the black bar, and the site is now too wide to fit on my screen (I can either see the post in full but not the stuff in the left margin, or the stuff in the left margin and about 80% of the post). I also am sorry to see old typeface, which I found very easy to read, gone, but at least you keep the font size relatively large — my ancient eyes appreciate that.

    But as someone else upthread said, I suppose I’ll adjust.

  16. Adding my +1 to those who don’t like the black bar that’s always at the top. I probably will never need to click any of the links it contains. Move them to the side bar so I can see another inch of actual content. Also I hate having to open articles in a new tab unless they are extremely long. For, say, 3-4 paragraphs or less, just show the whole thing on the front page.

    1. Top black bar and everything on the left (snippets of comments and the book covers) should be dropped from everything but the home page; they just take up space and make the useful parts crowded and harder to read. Actually, get rid of the comment snippets completely; you can’t tell what topic they’re talking about. (And… using firefox, when I increase the font size, the comments/posts sidebar gets completely messed up.)

      Please add a link explaining your formatting rules (how to link to URLs, how to bold, list of smilies, etc.).

      I’m a borderline Aspi so don’t like change in general, but the new design really doesn’t seem like an improvement. If there’s better behind the scenes functionality, congrats and thank you, but the old design was easier to read.

  17. I love it. Only thing I’d change is white background to something a little easier on the eyes.

  18. LIKE:
    – Overall, looks good. Still has a lite, simple feel. Glad you didn’t over do it. The light blue works OK, IMO.
    – Larger fonts. Don’t have to do the Ctrl-+ trick anymore in FF!
    – Recent Comments! (but the hashtag seems to point to the end of the comment and thus scrolls off the screen)

    DISLIKE:
    – Some of us don’t have the fancy fonts (PT Sans, PT Serif, Patua One). So the post appears as san serif which is fine, but the comments appear as cursive which makes it look like they were written by 2nd graders. I think serif would be a more appropriate last resort font.

    – Not enough indent on threaded replies. Need at least twice as much. Also maybe a bit more vertical gap between replies.

    – Abbreviated posts. It was fine the way it was on the old site.

    – Black header at top. Utter waste of space unless I can close it — which I would immediately do and never look back.

    – Not sure the sidebar is useful on the post page.

  19. Also, on the Recent Comments: The name and post title would be a better lead in than their actual words given the small space.

  20. I’m old. I don’t like change. That’s because after all these years I’ve notice that most changes lead to stuff getting worse.
    Just sayin’. I’m sure it will work just fine in the long run. But the site was just fine already. I don’t like change. Did I tell you I’m old?
    Can I still get a little winkey smiley face? πŸ˜‰
    OK then.

  21. Agree with others re black bar at top. In IE8, I can’t read the title.

    Agree that recent comments boxes should show topic on which they were made.

    There seems no way to go from one post/topic to the next, as there was in the old format – there was a link for the previous and next topic, so once one got to the end of the comments (or as far as one wanted to go) one could just go to the top of the page and click. Now it appears that I have to back out to the main page, or click the general header to go to the main page, then scroll down. MUCH longer.

    The pages take a very long time to read.

    I get the main posts and comments in a smallist serif font – much like Times New Roman – but as i type this comment, I see it in a sans serif – Arial or equivalent (should I say Helvetica or sort-of-equivalent?).

    I don’t see the book covers on the left, just a sign saying ‘our books’

    It may be brighter and more modern, but it looks a LOT less serious (and the old style was not solemn.)

    Good luck!.

    1. ‘pages take a long time to ‘ appear! (If I’m a slow reader, that’s my problem)

      Still no way to edit one’s posts after sending, clearly. Facebook can do this, but I suppose its resources may be a bit larger…

  22. Thanks for all your feedback. I’m working on addressing all your concerns so the RBC can be the best it can be.

  23. i like the new design but agree on the too much left below the fold and also there seems to be too much space between paragraphs- as if someone hit return too many times.

  24. I treasure my rare moments of agreement with Brett. Graphically, less is more. But I’m deferring to the experts; if the price of being more better modren is offending my visual aesthetic, I’ll deal with it.

  25. In my browser, I get the follwoing errors:

    The “Oops, that page cannot be found” after posting a comment mentioned above.

    The title (The Reality-Based Community) has everything but “Community” hidden under the black bar as mentioned above.

    Most comments are formatted like this:
    So-And-So
    says
    Such-and-so-on.

    However, the :says” is overlapping the “Such”, as if the top of the “u” and “c” in Such were aligned with an invisible line, and the bottom of the “a” and “s” in says were aligned with the same line.

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