I think the new homepage makes it easier to access all of the content on the site, but it seems a little cluttered. Maybe placing a border around each section (Fangraphs, Notgraphs, etc.) will make it seem a little more organized.
I’m glad the site received a visual overhaul, and I for one like it. I like being able to see what’s happened since last I’ve been on, and I’ve already noticed that the universal search lets me find older articles on players than the ones just listed on the player page. Thanks for the updates.
Comment by tropicalmug — December 28, 2012 @ 1:50 am
I liked it better the old way, but to be honest even the old layout was pretty darned cluttered. I’m not sure what a good solution is, though; I’m not especially good at design choices in general, and I can’t seem to come up with any constructive criticism.
I am not a fan of the new homepage. I think the main issue is the wide variance of different font sizes. It makes it tough to read and looks overly cluttered. The three column idea could work well, but I would definitely keep the fonts (size and weight) much more consistent throughout the page. The newer articles will already be “highlighted” since they are at the top – you don’t need to double the font size to make something stand out…
I feel like there needs to be more emphasis on the Fangraphs section. I like reading Roto and Notgraphs, but that’s not why I come to the site. The old homepage was good in that respect; most of the screen had the main articles, with other sections accessible yet not overpowering.
I think the new layout is horrific. The previous one may have been a bit cluttered, but it was functional and easy enough to use. This…is an ugly mess of unorganized words. The “featured article” thing is completely unnecessary–the content should be (and usually is) quality enough to highlight itself. Centering, in my opinion, is a big part of the messiness as well.
Pardon me for going all facebook here, but I want the old Fangraphs back.
I think this is my biggest complaint — I thought the old layout did a better job of balancing the three *Graphs sites. But if you want to drive content to Roto and Not, the old layout wasn’t great for that.
I do wonder if the new prominent placement of Not should somehow emphasize the whimsical nature thereof so as not to confuse new visitors into thinking there is actual analysis of Mike Napoli’s hips. Perhaps put a phrase under each section so a new user is clued into what’s what.
One other thing that I think could be tremendously helpful is for the featured articles up top to have the first few lines featured after the headline. Right now the floating headlines just look a little awkward.
the idea of featuring certain articles to stop them getting lost in the shuffle is excellent and needed, and now that i can tell that’s what you’re trying to do i approve. i didn’t realize that until you said it, though.
this vast new savannah of links at the top of the page is really disorienting. for one thing you’ve added vertical space between the small article links at the same time as all these other changes which is just adding to the sense of weird new vastness. maybe shrink them back to single-space and see how things are then? that probably won’t fix things all by itself though.
as things stand the javy vasquez daily note is linked three different times, that seems pretty inefficient
i’d say more but my brain’s fried right now, try again tomorrow
“I’ve seen that generally the reaction to the changes have not been positive. ”
Reaction to changes is *never* positive!
Comment by LondonStatto — December 28, 2012 @ 2:52 am
I third this, without borderlines the whole website appears to be a big mess. I would also like to add that perhaps featuring the “featured articles” below the three sections would get across your desire to give some people easier access to articles. I like seeing all the stories first before I look at the featured articles. I can’t quite figure out what to suggest with the three sections of fangraphs while also keeping the quick ability to access all of them, excdpt what I suggested above with the placement of the featured articles below the list of articles.
yeah, those first two featured headlines – when the headlines are short, as they are right now, you’re wasting a COLOSSAL amount of critically valuable, above-the-fold page A1 real estate on awkward-looking blank space. i know it’s a tricky design problem, because some of the headlines are going to be a lot longer, but i don’t think you can just leave it like this
*Sigh* I’m sure that the intent was good with this revision, and that a lot of time and effort went into it. It’s not my goal to hurt anyone’s feelings when I say that it’s almost a complete disaster. Here are a few of the most salient points, make of them what you choose:
1) Huge amount of wasted empty space in the visual field
2) Placement of post titles and bylines in vertical alternation a major no-no (harder to pick up titles, both visually and cognitively, and I can’t even scan off the list of twelve current in a single page view without scrolling down)
3) The most prominent visual object on view is the little border box around the comment count of each article (really seizes the eye but of minimal relevance)
4) The least prominent visual object is the title line of the actual posts (*Ouch*)
5) The vast differentiation in font size between some headings and the article titles and text makes it much harder to read _either one_ (the eye’s focus has to constantly re-scale)
6) Fangraphs, Rotographs, and Notgraphs all given equal prominence in the first screen view (Really? Comment frequency suggests that Fangraph articles are commented upon far more often than the other two put together. I like Roto and Noto, read posts, and gain insights there, but I come for the Fangraph material, and suspect most do also.) Said somewhat differently, the list of current new posts for Fangraphs, the very first thing I always scan on the site, has less than 20% of the area of the first screen view, and can’t be read off in it’s entirety without scrolling down. That’s a headsmacker.
7) I have to scroll down two pages before I can read the leader of a single post, the information I most require to decide if I want to read it at all (a title alone seldom gives enough context on the first view). This inherently decreases the likelihood that I’ll bother just by forcing me to make an action before I engage any content.
I could triple that list, David, but that’s brutal enough. On the upside:
a) My aging eyes like the larger default font size of the content text
Something which first struck me twenty years ago looking at web sites and web pages, which only remains truer the more sites I see is what I call The Principle of Diminishing Revision. The very first revision of a site’s design typically improves presentation, not a lot but some, or is at least neutral. _ALL_ subsequent revisions invariably diminish both the appearance and usability of the site. This is remarkable in its consistency, but as I say my pervasive experience. Why might that be so? Well, what makes a site run, it’s core content, is usually prominent in the minds of the creators at launch, or identified very quickly to them by the interaction of users. This ‘main feature’ is therefore prominently featured and made as accessible as seems possible from launch or soon after. There are inevitably a few glitches; too cramped, clunky interaction; too many operations; balky plug-ins; etc. So in _the first revision_ the obviously bad things get fixed while the major good thing is let be or perhaps slightly optimized, but not messed with because it is obviously ‘the thing’ that drives traffic. Subsequent revisions can’t improve on optimality however, so regardless of intent they drive the look and feel of a sight away from what has most worked from the outset. This is particularly true in my view when the goal of site revision is to refresh the look more than to primp ‘the thing.’ For the vast majority of websites it would be better if they were NEVER revised again after the first clean up. Branding says ‘be new’ but functional design says ‘conserve success.’
To me, ‘the thing’ for Fangraphs is the content of the analytic posts, especially new content. And I must say, this present revision of the site design does everything possible to make that content _harder_ to pick up visually, unavailable on the first screen view, and harder to interact with. I doubt that any of my remarks here are particularly welcome, and I’m not wanting to hammer away at anyone. That said, take it to heart that from my perspective the new design is a) completely misconceived, and b) yet further proof of the Principle of Diminishing Revision. Doubtless it would be a total pain in the tokhus to go back to square one and start over, including doing nothing and simply leaving the site design alone, but you could do us all no greater favor by doing exactly that, I’m very sorry to say.
Comment by Balthazar — December 28, 2012 @ 4:17 am
While I understand the need for change and corresponding resistance to change, the new format seems somewhat contradictory. With the new large font it’s geared for old folks, but it looks all disorganized which would confuse the hell out of older readers. Any updated search features are always welcomed. It seems like there is a lot of dead space near the borders as well.
Comment by sgtjunior — December 28, 2012 @ 4:20 am
So LondonStatto, that mistates the situation. People orient to usability. Familiar situations become ‘more useable’ simply by the experience of interaction. In that sense, there’s common apprehension to changes because usability dependent upon old context is always lost. However, innovations which improve usability are instantly, massively popular.
What really matters is how good and functional _any_ design is, new or old. Good is liked; ungood is panned; bad is shunned. It’s pretty simple, really . . . .
Comment by Balthazar — December 28, 2012 @ 4:30 am
Let me preface with the fact Fangraphs is my favorite baseball site.
That being said, why bother making these changes unless you are completely overhauling the front page to make it much more user friendly?
The new rendition is no more easier to follow than the old one, except we have to get used to it all over again.
Points for trying, but it seems like a useless excersise.
The fact that I have to scroll down so far to read the newest post is a huge no-go. I see that you link the latest posts right at the top, but clicking that link is just another step I’d rather not take. I liked this site for its accessibility. Click the bookmark and bam! I can see the latest post, its author, how many comments it has already. Right away! I can immediately start reading.
Now I have to scroll through a terribly ugly and cluttered list of content I have no interest in.
I don’t care about Notgraphs. I don’t care about rotographs. If I did I would be typing in the URL to those sites and not Fangraphs. That those are prominently two of the first things I see is not only a waste of my time but reduces the value of this site for me.
Not to mention this hardball times link in the top right, the blue and gold sploodge of color that looks as if a 12 year old is linking something “super cool” on their myspace. C’mon guys.
It seems to me that your goal is to get clicks on content that wasn’t seeing any, and your idea of accomplishing that is to throw it in my face in big ugly bold letters.
Accessible and invasive aren’t very different things when it comes down to it. Please hire a real web designer to fix this crap. Whoever gave this design the thumbs up needs a paid leave to rethink their website formatting abilities.
I don’t like that different fonts are used for the articles on the home page (much larger and serif!) and after the jump. They just feel like they should be the same. It frankly feels too large on the homepage; compare it to article text size on other websites.
I just don’t get the desire to put NotGraphs on an equal visual footing with Fangraphs and Rotographs. Its content is 8000 x less readable than Fangraphs, and I feel like if I’m visiting Fangraphs.com then that content should have visual precedence on the page that I’m navigating to.
Comment by hernandez17 — December 28, 2012 @ 7:31 am
Enjoy the new layout. I like having as much content on the initial homepage as possible as it avoids having to click back and forth. The organization isn’t horrible, though I’m sure it could be improved to be a little less convoluted. It would be really cool if it was semi customizable, sort of like how Yahoo! has it’s homepage setup to allow for users to choose which content is relevant. Anyways, keep up the design flow. Definitely a step in the right direction!
Comment by rotowizard — December 28, 2012 @ 7:52 am
This new design is terrible – please change it back to how it was before.
I like it. It brings me back to my BBS days. Now I can simultaneously read Fangraphs and listen to Gin Blossoms without a hint of guilt.
Comment by McLean_Deluxe — December 28, 2012 @ 8:23 am
My overall thoughts are:
1. Why isn’t Fangraphs loading properly? I even cleared my cache to make sure there wasn’t an issue loading the CSS.
2. Oh crap, this is a change. Why did they hire the person who designed http://www.rotoworld.com/ and http://www.sbnation.com/ (both of which have horrible, cluttered layouts)?
The key to web design is simplicity and minimalism. This essentially means that the three equally sized column format is the worst you can choose. It ensure that zero content is front and center which causes most users to instantly become lost.
I think there are plenty of fantasy players who come to this site, I know I am one. Highlighting the fantasy articles is a nice change.
I also like that I can read the complete headline without having to click on the article.
I think it would look A LOT better if you got rid of the little comment bubble and box combination beside every article link. I feel like that makes it look like there is a serious formatting error when the page loads, which is very distracting. I would also suggest providing a couple lines of text beneath each of the two main articles. If you look at it without reading it it looks like a banner ad, which is exactly why I didn’t even look at them when I first saw the new layout.
Comment by Another Jake — December 28, 2012 @ 8:38 am
When I first visited the site once the changes went live it was on my iPhone. My initial reaction was that I thought something was wrong with my Chrome app.
Knowing the goal of the overhaul is to organize and highlight content, I feel it falls short. While the layout appears designed for a dynamic experience it falls short with the original simplistic style.
Speaking for myself, I am a fan of the simplistic style, as this is a quality content-based site and not an attention-seeking click whore like bleacherreport.
I find the new design way more cluttered, and difficult to find interesting stories.
My eyes are just glossing over things.
I also find the old style much classier looking (that’s less important, but this is the time to mention it).
I also don’t understand the importance placed on notgraphs. It’s fun, but I look at maybe 1 out of every 30 posts
Comment by lexomatic — December 28, 2012 @ 8:44 am
While I like the idea, I inherently fear change so Im not sold on it yet! But it does look easier to navigate and more organized!
I like it. Looks good on my iPad. The previous one looked decidedly homemade. So does this one, but that’s part of its charm. I recall having some difficulty finding what I was looking for on the previous version, whereas now the sections are all the same size and similarly prominent, which eliminates having to search all over frantically for what you want.
Baseball fans don’t like change, but they’ll get used to it.
Perfect for any widescreen tablet-wielding grandmas out there.
Comment by Mario Mendoza — December 28, 2012 @ 10:23 am
Well, it succeeds in driving traffic to the various *graphs sites. I just deleted the bookmark to the FG homepage and replaced it with direct links to the *graphs sites so I wouldn’t have to look at this any more.
Comment by Mario Mendoza — December 28, 2012 @ 10:29 am
It seems as though things are easier to find with the article search feature but I concur with some above in that it looks very disorganized. My biggest complaint is that if I go to fangraphs.com, it’s because I want to read fangraphs articles, not roto or not/graphs. It’s fine if they’re mentioned off to the side, but when you’re including content that I don’t want it’s frustrating. If I wanted that information it’d be very easy to search for, especially now, or I could, you know, just GO to rotographs or notgraphs.
Perhaps this is a problem with my browser settings, but this looks terrible in Chrome. I can only see one-and-a-half columns without scrolling to the right. I haven’t experienced this problem on other sites on Chrome, so I don’t think it is a browser setting problem. Loaded it up in IE, and it looks much better – and, I actually like the look, but on Chrome…yikes. Any other Chrome users having this problem?
Honestly, it’s definitely a shock and will take some getting used to, but I think that in a week or so I’ll think of the new changes as being just fine.
People don’t like change, that’s the root of all these complaints. They were comfortable, then a change came, and now the readers are uncomfortable because of the new layout.
My only request is to put borders around the FanGraphs, RotoGraphs, and NotGraphs columns to make it clearer that they are separate entities. Otherwise, like I said before, give me a few days or a week and I will have adjusted to the new layout.
The previous site was cluttered and navigation was not intuitive.
This new site is worse.
Allow me to re-post something I wrote in another comment section last night:
There is an absence of a “navigation philosophy.” That is, as a first-time visitor, I should have some idea how to find what they want. Is every category organized by drop-down menus? Is every category in a list on the left or right? Are categories listed across the top? But on this site design (and, to be fair, on the previous one as well) the answer is “scroll and find out!”
To elaborate, look at a site like the NYTimes or the AV Club: a ribbon down the margin or across the top provides easy access to different categories. Want world news? All those listings are on the left. Want TV reviews? There’s the button. With new FanGraphs, one has to acclimate oneself to the bewildering mess: want audio? Scroll down and look in the middle. Want FanGraphs Plus that you’re paying to access? Scroll waaay down and look on the right.
As I posted last night, the enormous ocean of links (60!) that is the homepage, some of those links repeated, does not make matters easier for the reader. It would be better to create a real navigation bar, just below the current (and excellently-executed!) bar for stats and projections, with drop-down menus like Roto, Not, Audio, FG Plus, etc. Then, below these two navigation bars, you can run a few of the “selected” headlines, with small bits of preview text (1-2 sentences), followed by the blog proper.
That’s one example of a possible design.
The mismatching of typefaces is a serious issue.
Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — December 28, 2012 @ 11:52 am
Please don’t be like other sites and services that think that they have to change up the site and call it progress. Coca-Cola changed up their formula that worked for ages, and failed miserably with New Coke. Change for the sake of change, or in the name of progress (without clamor from fans for “add this, change this”) backfires alot.
If PRO is the opposite of CON, then whats the opposite of PROGRESS? (had to roll out that old joke)
The updated search box is great, however I dislike the results of this redesign. A few problems specifically reduce readability.
– Too many font sizes. I count at least 7 on the main page.
– The by-line/date/comments are all good info, but having text between article links is disruptive.
– The layout combined with the above issues creates noticable (and uneven) blank space.
A frame around the article lists would help some. A 1 point thick line matching the color of the header (green for fan, brown for roto, etc.) would break up some of the blank space and increase readability.
The homemade ads need some work. (At least align the text to even out the blank space.)
If you want to feature articles, have more criteria than when the article was posted. The main page has six featured articles. You could have the some of the newest, some top commented, some editor chosen, some site specific (roto, tht, fg+, etc.), and any other option you want. If I want to see the newest articles, I’ll just look at the top of the article list.
I care a lot about NotGraphs, but I find the new layout peculiar anyhow.
Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — December 28, 2012 @ 11:57 am
Also, top of screen says “Log In” and at the bottom, where the comment box is it says “Logged in as Cidron” (in my case). conflict?
Also, I really did like the column on the right that had “Recent Stories” as well as “Recently Commented” stories.. I like to look to see if a point I made drew a comment (after reading the stories that caught my eye and I made comments on).
And, the various outside links (SB Nation / Hardball Times) if I recall, had a background color, to set them aside a little.. That was a nice feature. (if I am mistaken, maybe add it?)
If I may dissent from the prevailing opinion on but one point. I think the new site layout is much better ON MY PHONE. Now I’ve got an Android phone (Bionic) so I can’t speak for the Iusers out there, but the site used to be a slow loader for me and had issues with running off the side of the page. No longer. So THAT much is a great improvement.
I have to agree with most of the other commenters about the normal screen layout though. It just doesn’t work. Too much text, too many different fonts, too much wasted space in the wrong places. Understanding that you want your readers to get all the information they are looking for, there’s got to be a better organizational scheme than simply dumping it all out there on the front page.
I might suggest finding someone wise in the ways of HTML5 who can come up with a responsive design layout that can best tailor your display to the device it’s being used on…
There is zero space between main text column for the articles and the left side of the page on my iPad. It feels very cramped.The text in this comment box is at least one size smaller than the comment text and my old eyes are struggling to see it.
Comment by philosofool — December 28, 2012 @ 12:29 pm
And now frames exist. Definitely an improvement.
You still have some work to do, but it is nice to see some receptiveness and response to criticism.
Perhaps you could alter most of the content boxes to be mouse-over drop-down menus: especially things like Daily Notes, Fangraphs Audio, Top 15 Prospects. Possibly list 2-3 articles in the ‘guest’ content boxes (THT, SBN, probably Community Research and Fangraphs+, too) with a drop-down feature below that. You’ve already got the drop-down idea going on the top bar, where I can view the standings with a mouse-over. This would greatly decrease the amount of space taken up by all of these featured boxes. I certainly understand and appreciate the impulse to give them all access from the home page, but there are too many big boxes (in function, I know the box borders are gone). The other alternative would be to move the blog posts themselves to a different page, and make the home page all links.. but I expect you’d get a strong backlash to that.
Having ads mixed in with those boxes makes it even more disorienting.
As for the featured posts, my recommendation would be to put them in yet another content box across the top. They really only need to be maybe 1 or 2 sizes above the rest of the article links, or maybe just bolded.
So, bolded titles in a ‘Featured Content’ Box; with the three blog boxes below that; mini-boxes with drop-down extensions for Community, Fangraphs+, THT, and SBN; and then a very condensed grid of drop-down boxes for additional content. That’s my recommendation.
Comment by Newcomer — December 28, 2012 @ 12:40 pm
I think the only thing that bugs me is that the authors name is below the article now. It’s easier to scan through article titles when they are arranged in a vertical column, as opposed to now when they are sandwiched in between author name.
I hope the new font size for article text is 50% larger than it was before. I have to adjust my zoom to 150% to read the articles comfortably now. There is no other site I go to often that does not work OK on 100%.
These are not grumpy old men complaints. The complaints are objective and valid. Until FG gets the fonts under control and the focus back on content, the new home page is a downgrade from the old one.
Comment by Mario Mendoza — December 28, 2012 @ 1:01 pm
ok, well maybe there are SOME grumpy old men complaints
Comment by Mario Mendoza — December 28, 2012 @ 1:02 pm
HTML5 will allow your site to effectively lay itself out based on the size of the user’s screen. See the Boston Globe’s site, for example. Done properly there’s no need to maintain two separate interfaces.
yeah, no. it’s quite true that every change will be bitched about, but you can’t conclude that therefore all changes are perfectly executed on the first try. there are good things here (improved search, concept of the featured articles) but people aren’t kidding, this iteration of the front page layout looks like the browser broke. most people aren’t stamping their feet and demanding a return to the same old, they’re pointing out areas to improve. we can do this
Comment by Seamus O'Reilly — December 28, 2012 @ 1:31 pm
this site is north korea now
Comment by Tom Tebow — December 28, 2012 @ 1:43 pm
Just saw the new update with borders separating the sections. Still not sold, but much much better.
Comment by DominicanRepublican — December 28, 2012 @ 1:50 pm
This. I now would be very reluctant to recommend FanGraphs to any friend of mine with background in web design.
Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — December 28, 2012 @ 1:57 pm
While I love the idea of changing the layout of the site. The direction you went ends up looking half baked, even if it proves more functional. While one may argue that they prefer functionality over aesthetics, it is possible to do both. When this is acheived, I find my enjoyment of a site increases.
For example, I found SB Nation’s recent overhaul to be very well done and struck a good balance of looks and function and I find myself going to the blog I like to read there more often because of it.
Personally, I would love to see Fangraphs go the way of a “Metro” like design. I think that type of design not only plays off the Fangraphs logo already, but also visually matches a data driven philosophy e.g. straight lines, minimal, to the point, no filler etc.
This new look seems to be a step in that direction with the addition of borders around the text, but needs some cleaning up in regards to layout, font, coloring and shadowing. Just picking a cleaner font, working on alignment/spacing and providing consistency would be of great help.
As it stands the site is somewhat of an eyesore.
Comment by Serious Commenter — December 28, 2012 @ 1:58 pm
Can we get a decent mobile site? I do all my Fangraphs reading on my iPhone on muni into work, graphs and stats are always cut out!
Fangraphs has grown too big to be contained on one page. You need to prioritize and not put everything “above the fold” as it were. It would be like if ESPN tried to squeeze every NBA, NFL, MLB, Etc article and video on the front page.
Put simply, there is no obvious organizing structure. I feel like I just have to generally scan to find things rather than knowing where to look. Perhaps some of that is a function of the newness and will go away over time. And perhaps some of that is the point. But generally speaking, I feel like it’s a poor use of space reflecting an unwillingness to simply say, “this is what Fangraphs is about”.
I’d MUCH prefer a simple blog layout with all of the days posted on the home page, but with a very accessible archive. Give me a tab at the top for each fangraphs/rotographs/notgraphs and then give me full width articles for that section.
But as it stands, the majority of your homepage is being dedicated to stuff I don’t care about — and it’s making it harder for me to access the stuff I do care about.
Although I appreciate the larger font size, I can’t say that I’m a fan of Georgia as the full post font-face.
Comment by Highland Cow — December 28, 2012 @ 2:43 pm
WAY TO FIND A WAY TO FIT 69% LESS CONTENT ON THE FRONT PAGE
WELL DONE APPEALING TO IPAD USERS SINCE THEY ARE 4.20% OF THE AUDIENCE
Comment by sissy cuck — December 28, 2012 @ 2:43 pm
I think more “ink” will just make it worse. The problem is precisely that there’s too much “ink” on the page and that the organizing structure isn’t even a little intuitive. If it is well organized and presented, there shouldn’t be a need for borders. But when you conflate column structures, row structures, etc., the reader just doesn’t know where to start. It’s like a bad newspaper.
I suspect if you took a poll you’d find a strong majority do not like the current redesign, but also a strong majority who didn’t think the previous design was very good either.
Easier to criticize than create, granted, but there are hordes of people with talent in this field that could probably at least consult for free or for cheap. Probably worth the investment if a high percentage of visitors who already know your site think the layout sucks. The goal is to keep them and add new ones and there are lots of ways to better achieve that.
The thing that didn’t make sense about the homepage before still exists – there is too much “sticky” content before the posts actually begin. As a web designer/developer, I would be surprised if much of that content couldn’t be organized better in the navigation (which much of it is already).
I find it a bit weird that the most current post titles are listed twice (in the feature locations and the Fangraphs feed box) before I can find the article post with preview text. So either the feature locations need to be ignored or it renders the article posts after them useless.
I will say I like the page width increase across the site is a plus and the actual post pages are fine as well.
Not true. There is always a SUBSET of people who hate change and complain. In this case, however, it seems like a majority of people PLUS many of them have web design experience. I’m willing to bet that if we held a poll, we’d find at least a half dozen people who have taught a class on web design complaining about this layout. This is not change-aversion, this is bad design.
There exist checklists of usability guidelines and I can show you exactly where this site is failing. This is not some dark art, people do research on UI design. Clearly, those same researchers did not design this new layout. That is not to say you have to be a slave to the “rules” of web design. However, just like creative writing: you have to KNOW the rules before you BREAK the rules intelligently. Unless this is an experiment in avant-garde web design, it’s a bad idea.
Yes, actually. Those of us who use mouse-wheels can scroll basically instantaneously. By comparison, to click, I need to first find the link (out of a sea of over 60 links), move the cursor onto it, then click on it.
Fangraphs is, in large part, a newspaper. It has quite a bit of content and articles, content organization, sections, etc. Newspaper websites put hundreds of thousands of dollars or more into their website designs. The run focus groups and measure click-through. Their layout ideas aren’t patented: steal them.
The big things that could improve this layout, noted in the article:
1. Tabbed Content Areas (4) –
Problem: The HUGE knock on this layout is that it spits far too much information at a person. Fangraphs intended to draw attention to under-utilized parts of the site. Instead, they overwhelm the reader so much they might just give up entirely or just scroll out of that mess. Humans have a digit span (optimistically) of 7 items. Why do you think you can show them 60 things at the same time and have them make any sense of it?
Solution: Make Fangraphs, Fangraphs+, Rotographs, NotGraphs, and Community Research into tabs of the same box in a sidebar. If you want to be REALLY clever, have the box dynamically switch tabs every N seconds until someone clicks on a tab to select it. Let this box float alongside the article text. Win-win: other articles get more exposure, user is not bombarded with 60 items at once.
2. Grid-Based Layouts – The new layout SORT OF tries this. However, the number of columns switches repeatedly, resegmenting the page. Additionally, the items in the grids have little rhyme or reason. Want relevant articles? You’ll find them at the top! Wait, no, you’ll find them underneath The Hardball Times too! Don’t do that. Things in grids need to logically follow. Either the row or the column should group similar items. You can split columns (or less commonly, rows), but you shouldn’t just randomly switch up the number of columns just because you felt like it. That completely loses all flow. One grid: subdivide, don’t re-divide.
3. Scrolling or clicking – Choose one. Don’t make it a scrolling site where you have to scroll for two full screens to reach an article. That’s like having a four-wheel drive plane. If you want articles on the homepage, build around them (e.g. the old design). No major newspaper tries to do both, for good reason.
4. Find a model to built on – Find another website that is easy to navigate and parse, then imitate it. I’m not saying lift the design wholesale, but pay attention to what they do well and why. For example, http://www.aol.com is a great example of a site that puts low cognitive load on a user. It has the following elements on the first screen (by row):
– Navigation/login on top
– Dynamically scrolling slideshow of content groups, i.e. tabs (left col)
– Top stories (middle)
– Ads (right)
Scroll down by one page length and you have a completely new set of content, laid out reasonably and easily. I’m not saying to model this after AOL, they have a different audience and needs. But model it after some site that has a design you find easy to navigate. We, the readers, award minimal points for creativity.
Also, though others have mentioned it: Kill the dead space. Locations of dead space on the homepage:
1. The login – See all that space to the right and left of the login? It’s about as useful as a junkyard with a seaside view. You’re wasting prime real estate.
2. Highlighted articles – Huge amounts of dead space. Additionally, the HUGE TYPE also wastes space. You don’t have to shout. Type is so mismatched from the rest of the layout that it is actually harder to read. Compounded by the fact that the layout switches back and forth between large and small type arbitrarily.
3. Right sidebar, next to articles. Since nothing floats with the text, the whole right side of the layout eventually turns into dead space if you scroll down far enough. A floating sidebar might be a real improvement here, though I am aware how annoying they are to keep functional across browsers. At least get some ads in there or something, the waste of space is huge.
No disrespect, but I disagree with just about every criticism and suggestion you made. I personally can’t stand websites laid out according to a grid because they never work right with the zoom function on my browser.
I also strongly prefer to scroll rather than click. I find the trend toward breaking up long articles into multiple pages one of the most annoying trends on the interwebs. I always look for a “single page” option, and if it’s not available, I will often just skip the article.
Your suggestions — again, no disrespect — read like a list of everything I find wrong with recent redesigns of other sites (e.g., SB Nation, Engadget, etc.). I really hope the Fangraphs site designers do not follow them.
I love the bigger font and the centered articles. For me, this makes them much easier to read. I also like the featured articles that hang out on the main page for longer. I like the look of homepage too although I wonder, does Fangraphs really need separate boxes/blogs? Could there just be one list of articles that have, say, green, brown or purple bullet points next to them to represent the blog?
This is a change people will get used to, and won’t even notice it in the long run. HOWEVER…
When you’re on the Fangraphs/blog page (actual Fangraphs), and you click on the Fangraphs title, it doesn’t take you to /blog anymore. It takes you to the main page.
There is no single-click now to the to blog.
Please return it to that, or remove the stupid “Blogs” drop down and replace that with a number of links across the top or something that indicate clear and easy links to get to the blogs themselves.
You might think I’m pointlessly whining here, but it’s important to have the most simple path possible to your various main blog pages. People do want that. For example, I rarely go to any other blog than the fangraphs.com/blog page.
Anyway, just change that bit back. Ok? For me? I’m positive you guys don’t know you even changed it.
Comment by Lord Voldemort — December 28, 2012 @ 7:56 pm
I dislike the bigger font, it looks so weird and bulky…
Comment by Ruki Motomiya — December 28, 2012 @ 7:57 pm
Where the heck is “Recently Commented” and “Recent Stories”? Yes, you did a re-design, but, you gained what? Frustrated people, a half-baked site that isn’t easy to use, as its all spread out on one front page. You have alot of “story blocks (partial story)” links, and.. it looks like something that was put together using paper and a bulletin board.. looks like you just thumb-tacked blocks of stuff onto it, and said, “This is our new front page”. Use the tabs (that alot of sites use at the top) to separate out the information into categories, instead of huge blocks for stuff like you did.
In short.. go back to the old, and call this a “test” of the new site that didn’t work without additions/adjustments and the like. Yes, it has some good, but .. it looks awful cluttered, and “old fashioned” (no tabs, a big one to keep down clutter).
less jarring, agreed.. but, if you took this layout, and the previous to a bunch of non-sports (or at least non fangraphs) people, I would bet that most would select the previous layout as their preferred. It was simple, and had most all the info easily available. Not blocky, not “big”, not… frankly, ugly.
re: your last paragraph.. I wonder if this site got a facelift just to “keep up with” other sites that already have (you mentioned a few). If it is so FG people, pls, you dont have to keep up with the Jones’.
Pls, put up a poll, allowing one vote per person, with the following question.
Do you like the new homepage?
A. Overwhelmingly yes
C. It’s ok.
D. It needs some work, but, its a step in the right direction.
E. Ugh.. (basically, I hate it)
We are your guests, clients, people, fans, or whatever you wish to call us. The above entries that people have made speak of changes, alterations, etc.. I hope you are reading them. But, the poll might give you more numbers to work with as not all people here will make an entry, preferring to read only.
They could still feature them, but do so by bolding them or changing their link color (e.g. blue). That’s what most of the major news sites do. Alternatively, the home page could ditch the chronological order (blog style) and go with a featuring order (newspaper style).
BTW David, all the design tweaks done today (Friday) are positive, so that’s good. Thanks for listening.
Comment by Balthazar — December 28, 2012 @ 10:59 pm
Your username is stupendous.
Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — December 28, 2012 @ 11:12 pm
I think you are misunderstanding my suggestions. To clarify:
1. Tabs are an exceptionally useful tool. They’re probably a very useful solution to the mess that currently exists. You don’t seem to mention this, so maybe you don’t disagree with everything? For example, look on the New York Times homepage at the Recent Blog Posts News/Opinions tab set. Wouldn’t that be MUCH cleaner than listing Fangraphs, NotGraphs, Rotographs, etc side by side?
2. Grids can be ugly or they can be great. The standard website design (one header, three columns) is a grid. You can have fixed-width grids or automatically resizing grids. Unless you hate practically all of the internet, you don’t hate grids. I too greatly dislike the SBNation design right now, but that’s a function of how they use grids, rather than the fact that it employs a grid. (In fact, they also use grids poorly: there are actually multiple grids stacked on each other, misaligned.) Fangraphs currently doesn’t use an easily-parsed grid, as the 4-column portion of the layout is completely uneven with the rest of the site and breaks the flow. Again, look at the New York Times. It’s not an ideal page, but it uses a consistent column scheme that makes it pretty easy to parse. That’s one type of grid.
3. I also MUCH prefer scrolling to clicking. That was part of what I liked about the original layout. This layout is geared much more toward clicking: show you the links on the first view, encourage you to click them. … But then it throws in the articles about 3 page-downs later. Who wants to scroll down 3 pages to get to the articles? If they’re going to make the site click-centric (newspaper portal style) they can’t also have it be scroll-centric (blog style). I’d love if they went back to scroll-centric, but they’ve made a half-way jump to click-centric. They can go backward or forward, but right now they’re doing a split.
Finally, just as a pet peeve, I heartily agree that you should never, ever, ever have to click to get to the next part of an article. That is an abomination, used to get more ad views. There’s no user-centric design where that has a place.
This new layout is horrific. For the love of god please change it.
Comment by Steve Perry — December 29, 2012 @ 12:13 am
For what it’s worth, here’s how I would organize the site:
Header: Fangraphs Logo | Banner Ad | Login
Navigation Bar: (Current layout is fine)
Body: Main Fangraphs Articles| Short Sidebar Ad (< 100px high)
_____________________________| Featured Articles
_____________________________| Short Sidebar Ad (< 100px high)
_____________________________| Blog Article Tabs (NY Times Style)
_____________________________| Large Sidebar Ad
_____________________________| External Site Tabs (NY Times Style)
_____________________________| (More content, e.g. WAR)
_____________________________| (More ads, etc)
Footer: (Fine as-is, nobody reads it anyway)
Notes about this layout below:
Login – Put it on the upper-corner like most sites. Simple, intuitive, effective. Eliminates significant dead space currently in the header.
Featured articles – Make it a static list of articles, using article names only. If you really must, a small blurb about each. "No Mo Nomo – David Appelman breaks down Hideo Nomo's career" (if you want to put a byline into the blurb, for example). I would avoid bylines for the featured articles: we already have the names on the article and on the recent blog entries section. How many times do we need to repeat the byline?
Blog Article Tabs – Probably the most important part of this layout. Look long and hard at how NY Times uses tabs to organize their Recent Blog Posts and their Classifieds/Jobs, etc. This is a perfect place to put Fangraphs, Rotographs, Notgraphs, Fangraphs+, and Community Research. External outflows (THT, SB Nation) should be probably be separate, as those might grow or shift in the future. I would also have the tabs rotate focus automatically, until someone clicks on one to force focus. AOL does this with their news layout using a similar slideshow format and it is tremendously effective in spreading clicks across different groups of topics. I would also play with floating this part of the sidebar as you scroll, so it is always on-hand. If I could find a way to make it work on all major browsers, I'd do it.
As this is the most important part, let me summarize:
– Imitate the Tab Structure the NYT uses
– Place Fangraphs, Rotographs, Notgraphs, Fangraphs+, and Community Research in that tab structure (probably in that order)
– Automatically rotate the focus on those tabs every N seconds so that people see different articles, until they click on a tab (a TAB, not just open a link) so that people are presented with all the articles over time.
– Float this or repeat it as you scroll down the page. Do not let this disappear from the view on a desktop browser as you read articles.
External Link Tabs – External outflows (THT, SB Nation) should be probably be combined in their own tab box after the next ad, but a case could be made for them to be separate in the sidebar if they have advertising value.
When you're scrolling along the blog format, I'd say it's fine to make use of the sidebar to present the other stuff that's in there too, farther down (e.g. WAR, article series, etc). With that said, the article series (Top 15, Audio, etc) could also share a single tab. I seldom find myself wanting to look at all of them, but I may want to look at just one. The WAR stuff seems superfluous, but it's sort of nice? It's already way down on the page, so putting it at the bottom of all this stuff would place it no farther down.
Or, for the TL;DR crowd:
– Much of the old article/sidebar design was good
– Keep the same columnar format
– Use dynamic tabs that rotate the active tab to present your content. Maybe float the most important one (Blog Article Tab) or repeat it in the sidebar to keep it on-screen.
– Dump the dead space for the login that takes up prime real estate.
Alternatively, if you feel that featured articles should be near the top, you could put them directly below the navigation where the login is currently wasting a ton of space. Shockingly, if you’re right in your face, they don’t need to have ENORMOUS TYPE for you to read them. Maybe just use color and contrast judiciously. That would allow the Blog Articles section to be neatly at the top-right of the body, also, which has some advantages.
Header: Fangraphs Logo | Banner Ad | Login
Navigation Bar: (Current layout is fine)
2nd Header: Featured Articles
Body: Main Fangraphs Articles| Short Sidebar Ad (< 100px high)
_____________________________| Blog Article Tabs (NY Times Style)
_____________________________| Large Sidebar Ad
_____________________________| External Site Tabs (NY Times Style)
_____________________________| (More content, e.g. WAR)
_____________________________| (More ads, etc)
Footer: (Fine as-is, nobody reads it anyway)
Just a quick update: I’m fixing a few broken things right now, but I’m still reading this thread and have made a few changes based on this thread. Some things are easier and quicker to implement than others, but I definitely appreciate the feedback.
I will probably do some polls shortly after the new year to get a better feel for the direction to go in and then take things from there.
I thought the same thing, it’s crazy. I can’t find things very easy either. Bring back the old format please.
Comment by Average_Casey — December 31, 2012 @ 1:08 pm
Pls do bring back the “recently commented” as well as possibly add a pair of features.. 1. the ability to edit a post you made, and 2. the ability to go to “my posts” to see followup comments by others on stuff you commented on.
People who use a site regularly have never come out in favor of a UI change.
Well… I guess it is very rare, at least.
I’m sure the people who hate it will like it eventually. And they probably would like it if this was the way it had always been. What people value is a funny business if it can’t be objectively measured.
I want the people who dislike it to rate the new homepage in eyeball WAR. Objectively. Sure… you might need eyeball tracking experiments to do it, but those would be better than getting all David Eckstein-y about the old layout.