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User survey

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 22, 2003

The post is a post is a post format has been live on the front page of kottke.org for over a month now. At the time, many people emailed, left comments, or wrote posts on their sites observing how well or poorly it worked for them. For those who are frequent readers, how is the new format working for you? Was it a worthwhile improvement or is it getting in your way? If you found it confusing at first, has it become less so? Or is it about the same?

Reader comments

TimDec 22, 2003 at 10:11PM

Although I found it confusing and cluttered at first, I’m not really liking it. Incidentally, where I used to only come for the remainder links, I not find myself reading all of your entries.

JWDec 22, 2003 at 10:12PM

You can hardly read the title in ‘Master and Commander’ and ‘Y Something Something Ama Tambien’ because you’re putting White text on a very light background

TimDec 22, 2003 at 10:13PM

I’m now really liking. My mistake :)

SteveDec 22, 2003 at 10:15PM

I too found it confusing at first and a little jarring. But now I’m totally in synch with the design. I vote for keeping it.

Nate BalditchDec 22, 2003 at 10:22PM

I did find it confusing at first. Now I don’t mind it so much. Though I feel like there could be more screen real estate dedicated to content and less to the sidebar stuff now that your sidebar is static.

GregoryDec 22, 2003 at 10:22PM

I vote in favor of the new format. It’s the best way to keep up with everything, bar none.

AdamDec 22, 2003 at 10:27PM

Organizing purely on chronology doesn’t seem to add much since posts are rarely directly related to other posts, especially of different content types. Also, the comments from other sites are interesting to see but seem out of context. On the other hand, it’s nice to see it all in one place once you get used to it (and would be even more so with a unified RSS feed) and you can still access each type independently. Maybe just move out the comments. In any case, it’s nice to see someone trying new things so keep it up.

MikeDec 22, 2003 at 10:29PM

It’s learnable. Which is both what I admire and what I question about it.

I admire it because learnable systems are usually avoided on the superinterweb, with folks gravitating towards the user-tested intuitive. Personally, I don’t think users are given enough credit for learning stuff. It’s a complex little system you’ve got going here and I’m enjoying it. I’m interested to see what gets said in this thread.

I question it because I know (guess, really) that the majority of your readers are returning visitors who will take the time to learn it. So I don’t really question its use HERE, as much as whether systems of this complexity are scalable to other sites, especially sites with a more revolving door user base. My guess, and desire, is that a higher percentage of web users are ready for a new level of complexity tempered by a strong foundation of good usability.

It’s a good experiment you’ve got going. I applaud you for doing it, you trixie little hobbit.

Todd ColemanDec 22, 2003 at 10:38PM

At first I didn’t like it but it has really grown on me. It’s a nice change from before and trying something different is always good in my book.

GeofDec 22, 2003 at 10:44PM

I’m still not the largest fan of it, but since I consume Kottke.org via RSS nowadays [thank you, FeedDemon!], I don’t really notice it.

GeofDec 22, 2003 at 10:47PM

I should note that the change in my consumption habits roughly coincided with the change, but it is not a cause-effect relationship by any stretch. I will probably admit that my use of RSS rarely, if ever, has me loading the front page anymore, but again, it would be testy to draw a cause-effect relationship.

All the ideas that I’ve thought about suggesting to make it less confusing would require changing the look and feel of your design, which I like, so I have not put fingers to keyboard to make a fool of myself with such suggestions.

Accidental GeekDec 22, 2003 at 10:55PM

I hated the fact that I had to learn how to navigate and enjoy your site all over again.

I loved the fact that someone was actually addressing content types in a different, innovative way.

That said, I still find the format uncomfortable to read, and prefered the old layout.

MikeDec 22, 2003 at 11:03PM

Like some of the other readers, I am a kottke.rss guy and don’t notice the changes at all. I guess I’m missing content though huh?

Steven GarrityDec 22, 2003 at 11:08PM

The tweaked formatting for book/movie reviews is a definite plus. Very nice.

I’m unsure about the inline “Remaindered Links” - at first it was confusing - now less so. I think they should be separate though - they move at a different pace then the main posts.

MikeDec 22, 2003 at 11:15PM

Keep the new layout because after months of desperately trying to come up with something original for mine I gave in and basically cloned your old layout.

On a more serious note, I think it’s great that you’re refining your design. It took me a few days to get used to it but the mix of one line remaindered links and your longer posts seems natural. Perhaps placing a title above each group of links would help people navigate the sections better?

jakeDec 22, 2003 at 11:27PM

hmm- i thought i was in the minority, but apparently i share in the common opinion: it was confusing at first, but i’ve come to like it. from an IA/UI standpoint, I think it has increased the speed at which I comprehend the page- that is, I don’t have to look in two places for new stuff. better or worse? definitely better from a heuristic point of view- possibly a little worse from design. i wonder if you find yourself pressured to post longer pieces just to create a certain look and feel on the page.

MylesDec 22, 2003 at 11:37PM

I read your site in an aggregator, so it doesn’t really affect me. Though when I do visit the site, I do like the design. Especially because it lead me to your movie reviews, which I had never seen before.

mikeDec 22, 2003 at 11:50PM

No sir, I don’t like it.

BobbyDec 22, 2003 at 11:52PM

Confusing at first, now it’s not. The addition of the graphics for your reviews is definitely a plus, however, since I am inherently lazy, I miss having the remaindered links altogether. I like to come back to them to check for new comments, and it seems that they get lost much easier now that they are mixed in with the full-length posts.

drewwDec 23, 2003 at 12:02AM

i like the layout on the web, but a unified posts/reviews/comments feed as well as a remaindered links feed would rock.

hallaDec 23, 2003 at 12:02AM

I rather liked it from the beginning, each ‘type’ of entry has its own format, and putting them all together makes it like a running commentary…

joeDec 23, 2003 at 12:05AM

I visit frequently, and I still find it confusing and awkward. I prefer the old layout.

RolandDec 23, 2003 at 12:31AM

I like it and think that it’s better than the old layout. Since there aren’t heaping mounds of new content every single day, it makes more sense to put everything in one column.

samueladDec 23, 2003 at 12:38AM

Reminds me of when Dylan went electric.

RyDec 23, 2003 at 12:47AM

I liked the improvments but I’m not sure if there hasn’t been a decline in quality—though the metadata post was classic.

Andy BaioDec 23, 2003 at 12:53AM

Keeping the Remaindered Links inline is good, but I still find the format of the movie reviews distracting… I’d remove them (or format them like normal posts), and subtly format the Remaindered Links differently instead, preferably with a date. I think Veen has the right idea.

mrjerzDec 23, 2003 at 1:01AM

This design has added a little bit of clutter to the once extremely simple design that was not only easy to read, but was stylish as well. I like the old only because the style was totally unique.

Phil DokasDec 23, 2003 at 1:01AM

Definitely a big fan of the consolidation, enough so that I would like to see a more technical explanation for how the hell you did it :)

timDec 23, 2003 at 1:02AM

I don’t get it. Like, at all.

deniseDec 23, 2003 at 1:09AM

i appreciate that you’re trying something new, but sometimes i’m in the mood to read your main posts and sometimes i just like to cruise the remaindered links. i prefer those to be separate on the side.

dtettoDec 23, 2003 at 1:17AM

Bits and pieces of this have been said, but in the interest of getting my vote counted: I was confused as hell at first — and really hated the loss of the remaindered links bar — but have now become remarkably used to it. I love the inline movie reviews especially (white-on-white text notwithstanding — perhaps I’m just so satiated in pop culture though that I can fill in the blanks from context?). I know that the purpose of all of this was to integrate content, but I actually think the effect of the movie banner-images across the front page breaks it up in a way that is extremely aesthetically pleasing. I find myself scrolling more in general, but could go either way on that.

Jon GalesDec 23, 2003 at 1:21AM

I love it, but I still tend to read via RSS. Especially for the remainders.

GeneDec 23, 2003 at 1:23AM

I like it, and maybe for no other reason than it’s different.

The book and movie reviews work well, and I’ve gotten used to reading the remaindered links inline. (Though the parenthetical comment numbers seem like a holdover from the right-hand sidebar where space was tight.)

For the people who like the old layout, maybe someone (oh, Lazyweb…) could write a script that takes your RSS feeds and generates a page in the classic Kottke style.

Kip IngramDec 23, 2003 at 1:30AM

I think it’s a great change. I have a weblog that focuses on science and technology. I learned a lot from the design of this site when I set mine up and I decided to try out the “post is a post is a post” concept on my site as well; it’s working great for me as a reader and as a webmaster.

I have some ideas for extending the concept. My work tends to revolve around a number of projects that last anywhere from a few days to several months, and I’m thinking about ways to be able to have the weblog “auto-organize” posts that convey project status and so on. If I try anything out that seems to work I’ll come back here and let everyone know.

By the way, I like the parenthetical comment counts; it seems in keeping with the brevity of the inline remaindered links. I haven’t implemented that on my site, though.

Thanks for keeping the site so interesting!

margaretDec 23, 2003 at 1:31AM

I like the new design, for what it’s worth. and it’s not worth much. anyway, i enjoy having everything in one spot- particularly the movies reviews. and for the people who are clinging to the old remaindered links sidebar, you do know you can still see them all in one place here, right?

KeithDec 23, 2003 at 2:02AM

I like it just fine. To me it was a small enough change that took very little getting used to. Now that you’ve had it for awhile I think it’s a bit better as now I know where everything is going to be.

What I really like is that you are surveying your users.

Big props for that.

TellerDec 23, 2003 at 2:58AM

Because its a survey - read via RSS-reader so don’t notice those extras on the frontpage and cannot say i miss them. But it’s a logical circle - haven’t read them so don’t know their value so cannot miss them BUT perhaps if I had I would so…

Cheers

Miss ADec 23, 2003 at 3:05AM

I agree with Keith — I like it and it didn’t take that much getting used to. I especially like the look of the movie and book reviews — the ratings and ‘buy @ amazon’ links and so on. Also, the comment excerpts seem like a neat, simple way of showing your readers where/what you post.

As for the inline remaindered links, I could take it or leave it since I view them via RSS. They do seem a little distracting… maybe a date would help, like others have suggested. Also, a consolidated feed (minus the remaindered links) would be cool, but probably hard to do since you haven’t already done it.

Paul BurdickDec 23, 2003 at 3:42AM

I found the change very offsetting at first, but I have grown used to the new look and am able to find the content I want without feeling overly disoriented. You have found a way to put all of the content in one column, yet still differentiate the types via a certain style for each. Very helpful.

However, I still prefer it the old way. They are different types of content, and they are too intermingled for my own comfortable reading. Entry, sidebar, sidebar, entry, entry, sidebar, movie review. Unlike a book, which can have references and notes in one place —the bottom, it is difficult to visually and mentally scan different content intermingled in one web page column effectively. Not sure if some sort of light shading would help to make each type of content have even more specific visual cues.

Then again, perhaps my mind is to data chunk oriented and I still need to let it all melt together a little more.

marrijeDec 23, 2003 at 3:47AM

I like it. I never used to read the remaindered links, because, you know, they were all the way over there, but now I do. I had no trouble at all understanding the different kinds of posts, and I like reading about the many different things going on in your life without having to check different pages/formats/places on the page. It does make me wonder why comments are mostly on for the links and off for the other posts…

BramDec 23, 2003 at 4:10AM

I like it, I like it!

As a daily returning visitor to your homepage (nope, no RSS), I quickly got used to the new design. What I like particularly in comparison to the old design, is the fact that I have to look in one spot only to continue where I left off (the day) before.

What’s also good, is that the different kinds of entries are pretty easy to distinguish from each other: if you’ve been on your blog before, you know what to expect.

Two small “rooms for improvement” as far as I’m concerned. First of all, the different kinds of entries would be even easier to get used to (e.g. for first-time visitors) if you’d use some kind of unified icon range (although that’s tricky ground to step onto as well, I guess).

Secondly, I feel that the heading for movie reviews is out of place. The size and design suggest a major post coming up, whereas most reviews are rather short. The first time I read a review, I clicked everywhere to read your extended review, but all I got was the link to Metacritic. Took a while to accept that that was just it.

OK, so much for the I-must-have-something-to-nag-about commentary. As said, thumbs up for the new design!!!

kandinskiDec 23, 2003 at 4:20AM

More a vote than a comment, I guess:

Score one for “didn’t like it at first”
Score one for “got to quite like it”
Score one for “movie titles still to bannerish”

Overall good marks though

Peter CooperDec 23, 2003 at 4:26AM

I never used to look at the remainder links before. Not out of not wanting to, but because they were off at the side and I kinda breezed over them. Now that they’re somewhat divided into days, it’s far better.

I thought the new design was better from the first time I saw it. A weblog like this is the ideal place to mix all forms of content into one stream.. on other sites, maybe not.

MartinDec 23, 2003 at 5:09AM

It’s nice - but I prefered it the old way.

How are you getting around copyright issues surround the images you’re using for movie-related posts?

MorrieDec 23, 2003 at 5:21AM

It works for me. Took a bit of getting used to because you seem to have started with truckloads of links after your posts. But I check it out on the subject heading. If it looks interesting I’ll read, if I don’t think I’m going to be interested I won’t read. I’d be wary of too many links after one post though, that may seem a little cluttered. Merry Christmas to you, and yours.

PeterDec 23, 2003 at 5:30AM

I like the redesign. One thing that could be improved is the RSS feed: why not just put all posts in there?

zlogDec 23, 2003 at 6:25AM

I much prefer the inline book/movie reviews but I’m not sure about the inline “Remaindered Links”.

I find them confusing and distracting. I think they should be relegated to the side bar again as they are posted much more frequently than the other posts.

macubuDec 23, 2003 at 6:37AM

Yes, yes, please: separate the Remaindered links from the posts. I read both, but prefer to do so at different times.
Oh, and how comes the titles of movies and books don’t show up in IE for mac on the old 9 system?

Dan BenjaminDec 23, 2003 at 6:40AM

I’m here to read your thoughts and commentary. I appreciate your take on things, and that’s why I read kottke.org. I like the simple, clean site design which ads to the presentation of your content. Although it could be argued that you’re working to evolve the weblog medium, the changes don’t “do anything” for me. At least not the way coffee at 6 am does.

I could live without it.

MeriDec 23, 2003 at 6:47AM

Although I agree with some of the comments that it’s all a little disjointed now, I definitely appreciate the remaindered links being inline now. Their position seems to have made me read more of them as well. I could live without the movie reviews, but then they were definitely not part of why I started reading your blog in the first place.

JonDec 23, 2003 at 7:25AM

I used to visit multiple times a day to read folks’ comments on the remaindered links. It seems the number of comments has gone down and so has my visit frequency. That said, I am enjoying your writings very much (the reviews I did not know existed in the old site) and still enjoy the quality and variety of links that you maintain. I prefer the current format.

ChadDec 23, 2003 at 7:57AM

I personally really like it, but I don’t think of the links vs posts vs reviews as different anymore. I now read everything when I come across it and its near the top and once it moves down I don’t pay much heed. I didn’t used to keep up with some of the old sections, but now I do because they are in with everything else. To me, that’s a big improvement.

GordonDec 23, 2003 at 8:07AM

Bizarrely, not long after you changed the design I started a ‘remaindered’ (miniblog) links section, separate from my main content.

I’m used to the new design now, but not sure if I prefer it or not. Maybe it’s a case of being happily familiar now. I does highlight the links more for me, but I find myself scanning for past them looking for the ‘content’…

OneDec 23, 2003 at 8:29AM

I like it very much, and while some may be marvelling at the ingenuity of this design, isn’t this kind of old school? :^)

I like the previous comment about icons, or some other indicator to facilitate scanning of the page. While it wouldn’t necessarily help RSS feeds, it will for those of us who still surf the web the old fashioned way.

I like it. There’s my vote.

DietschDec 23, 2003 at 8:46AM

It works just fine for me. I’ll cast a somewhat dissenting vote and say that the remaindered links seem fine as they are. It’s pretty clear to me when I’m coming on a small section of remaindered links, and so I don’t feel that I need an extra cue such as a date or a title.

Russ HarlanDec 23, 2003 at 9:14AM

Like others, I found it cluttered a first: clean kottke.org go boom. But I’ve grown found of it and am happy to see you shaking things up. I would like you to open more of your posts for comment, though.

KJCDec 23, 2003 at 9:29AM

I didn’t like it at first, but now I think it’s OK. However, I get my kottke fix via the RSS feeds, so I don’t see the home page very often…

TarikBDec 23, 2003 at 9:40AM

Like someone said harring at first as it requires re-learning/adjusting. Now however i think it’s great. Keep it up.

TarikB

DahlDec 23, 2003 at 9:42AM

I really like it, and have been moving towards doing the same typeof thing myself recently.

MathewDec 23, 2003 at 9:48AM

I think the posts make sense being all together, while I do not altogether care particularly for the movie posts - this is mostly because I use Mac IE and Safari, neither of which correctly (or at all) portray the titles of the movies you’re reviewing, so I am met with a confusing crop from some unknown movie, and I am often left to guess which movie it is you’re talking about.

JorgeDec 23, 2003 at 9:53AM

Me likey!

BenDec 23, 2003 at 10:06AM

People still visit web site home pages? I personally don’t use/like it, I read the RSS feeds, but its all based on the same reasoning: it is easier for me to digest like-minded content that is grouped together. I should not have to “work” to understand what type of content I’m about to read next (I’m reading quick links… up next is ???), I just want to be given (you categorizing/separating things) or choose (subscribe to a particular RSS feed) the context of what I’m getting into before I read it.

Scotty The BodyDec 23, 2003 at 10:10AM

It didn’t confuse me for a second. I actually prefer it to the old “remaindered” links thing. It’s a simple and elegant solution to your particular problem and is already being widely emulated. It focuses content and interesting information where it belongs.

LacyDec 23, 2003 at 10:35AM

I love it because now I can read all your content without having to look in different places. I can quickly and easily ascertain if you have new content. Loving it!

Chris ShiehDec 23, 2003 at 11:16AM

I don’t find it confusing but it seems “noisier” and less focused now. I think it’s great that you’re pushing the design, but I prefer the old layout.

NotAnyRonDec 23, 2003 at 11:19AM

I’m a reader via RSS and would like to get all of your content in a single RSS feed. If that’s not easily done, it’s OK to have separate feeds for each category, but that’s harder for me to manage when you decide to add a new category. Currently, I’ve only found RSS for your main posts and remaindered links; not book reviews, movie reviews & remote postings. It’s somewhat painful, but what I find myself doing is going back to your homepage when I get an update via RSS to see if I’ve missed anything. About half the time I have.

Ben BrophyDec 23, 2003 at 11:51AM

Ditto on what NotAnyRon said. I follow the website by RSS, and only get updates about one blog’s posts. I’d love to see the movie reviews and links in the RSS as well. On a related note, would you consider putting your full posts, not just the excerpts, in the feed?

BobDec 23, 2003 at 11:56AM

I like it, but my one complaint is when the remainedered links scroll off the top half, it’s not as intuitive to check up on the comments posted on each link item.

dale.Dec 23, 2003 at 12:02PM

This is the only way I read your remaindered links. I don’t even look at them when they’re in the right column, be it on your or someone else’s site.

NazDec 23, 2003 at 12:21PM

I still prefer the remaindered links on the right, separated. As someone who comes to your site a few times for them, I liked that they were separated. Granted they’re set apart in the main text but somehow this jars the main content reading experience. I suppose when the goal is to make all content equal in value then yes I can see why. I personally don’t look at it that way and prefer the quick look to the left or right for new content on either side.

Granted the site could be done different and I don’t mean yours in particular. The simpler way would be to divide each portion and give it it’s own square or area in a grid design. Movies/books, comments, remaindered links and posts. At one glance, you could see what was new and what wasn’t. Somehow I’m glossing over what’s new and occasionally miss a new post because of a new movie review or as the remaindered links grow as the day goes on. Somehow, I like your main writing to be separate. Again, this is only my personal taste. But I still find myself not getting used to it. It’s interesting nonetheless.

Josh RothmanDec 23, 2003 at 12:28PM

I like it, but I gotta say that it hasn’t made much of a difference for me one way or the other. I don’t think that the change was such a big deal—it’s not like the content changed, onl its very nominal organization.

Per your “Metadata Overfizzle” post a few days ago, I tend to think that this bruhaha about the post format is a tad overblown. It’s easy-to-read and in a column: what more could you want? (In my case, I want Paul Ford’s sitekit , which seems to me the type of information system where you have a right to be confused).

Ari PaparoDec 23, 2003 at 12:43PM

I find myself not visiting your site as often because I can’t easily scan the remaindered links. It takes too much effort to figure out what you’re posting about now since the design is inconsistent.

sarahDec 23, 2003 at 1:01PM

Overall the new format is fine. Two quibbles: I miss the “Lost something? Find it here” search link; the “sampled” movie images accompanying reviews are like inside jokes - you had to be there. That would be solved by putting the movie’s title below the picture, as in your Punch Drunk Love example.

Jason WallDec 23, 2003 at 1:15PM

I like the design. You should expect a bit of confusion when you change something people have grown used to, but the format is intuitive and your explanation post revealing.

One thing I really liked about the idea was it helped engender interest in other kinds of posts. I was thinking about that particular effect as I considered redesigning walljm.com. I have three seperate kinds of content, posts, photos, and poetry, and I like to be able to style them different, but a lot of time, people don’t notice additions to the other categories unless i post them in both the blog and the other section.

Combining the post format makes it easier for people to know when something new has been added to any part of the site, without having redundant data. So poems i post in my poetry section will automatically appear in the blog, and comments made from the blog post will show up in the poetry section and so on.

I like the format.

Tom DolanDec 23, 2003 at 2:51PM

I had no ‘understanding’ problem with the layout before or after, and while I like the graphic dynamics of the new design I find the content of the movie and book reviews disjunctive and disappointing. Your posts on issues or observations are well-written, clever, and are the carrier of the unique Kottke flavor, while your movie reviews are more typically, “Loved it, was great. 85/100.” The reviews feel (and I’m pretty confident are) most importantly a device to add some more significant revenue generation to the site, which is probably so popular it’s getting expensive to host. They look (and read) pretty much like the banner ads that they are, and as such I think they’ve reduced the overall quality of the content by an unfortunately significant degree. I don’t read them at all, and have learned to visually ignore them as Jakob says users learn to ignore ads. I appreciate the need to earn the referral dollars but I think there’s probably a better way.

BenDec 23, 2003 at 3:04PM

I like the old version…Breaking up the lots-a-links made it easier to pop by and see if content had been added or just links.

ChoireDec 23, 2003 at 3:56PM

I actually lerv the way things look now. It’s fun. (I do miss the big comments parties on the remainders though. There’ll be less of that as comments scroll faster.)

My beef is that my RSS reader thinks this particular post — and presumably other heavy-commenting posts — is new whenever a comment is added to it. Is that a freaky function of your home-wrangled RSS feed? Or is NetNewsWire refusing to make sweet love to your site?

(Re: Tom Dolan’s comment above. How are the movie reviews revenue-producing? Wha? There’s not even a google ad in the individual post view. Weird.)

jkottkeDec 23, 2003 at 4:46PM

I find the content of the movie and book reviews disjunctive and disappointing

So do I. I used to review movies and books fairly often on kottke.org but stopped a couple of years ago because I didn’t like doing it, wasn’t any good at it, and wasn’t really saying anything different than any other reviewer. I added them back into the mix because I wanted to keep track of what I was watching & reading, to give my readers a sense of the same, and to challenge myself to do something different with them.

But I haven’t figured out exactly what I want to do with the reviews because those three reasons still apply…and so they suck. Which, if you’re a reader, is not such a good deal. Weblogs are an odd (but good) mix of self-indulgence on the part of the writer and a source of information/entertainment for the reader. Until I can figure out how I want to be creative with the reviews (I enjoy doing the movie banners and like what they add to the site) or end up ditching them again, I’m afraid the self-indulgent part will outweigh the interest of the reader in this respect.

Oh, and referral links to Amazon and revenue generation have nothing to do with it. Well, little to do with it. My hosting fees are nominal, will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, and is money well-spent in support of my favorite pastime. Amazon links have always been part of the experimentation around here. I enjoy tinkering with the economics of personal Web publishing as much as the writing & design, and using Amazon’s Web Services to automatically display data for books and then tracking the revenue generated from those links versus other types of links is part of the experiment.

jkottkeDec 23, 2003 at 4:53PM

How are the movie reviews revenue-producing? Wha?

If you click on the banner of a movie review, it’ll take you to a site about the movie (in some way). If the movie is out on DVD at the time (ex: Y Tu Mama Tambien), I will usually link to that. If it’s in the theatre, I’ll usually link to Metacritic or, in the rare instances it doesn’t Flashtacularly suck, the official site.

MattDec 23, 2003 at 5:05PM

I actually like your site a lot better this way. Before, I used to come, scan, and then leave. But now, it seems like I have a plethora of options, and I often stay, investigating your reviews, posts and links. To me, it’s just a lot more simple, having all types of content meshed together. It would be a lot more of pain to me to have to go to several different parts of the page or even different parts of the site to find all I can find now on one page.

Jonas!Dec 23, 2003 at 5:18PM

i thought the graphic headers for reviews are unnecessary, especially for a site that champions undesign. though i don’t mind them being separated from other posts. i think i still prefer the links on the right-hand side bar.

MattDec 23, 2003 at 5:29PM

I dig it. It’s nice to see everything in one place.

Dan HollandDec 23, 2003 at 7:01PM

I didn’t like it at all at first because I loved the remaindered links so much and they weren’t in the same place. But now I like it because I can leave the ones I’ve already seen behind and it’s sorta nice to see where they fell in the sequence in time…

MichelleDec 23, 2003 at 8:41PM

The new layout doesn’t seem so jarring now. But I still miss having the remaindered links sequestered off to the side, where I can more easily hoover them all up when I’m in those moods where I don’t give a damn for any writing and just want to clickity clickity click. (Those moods mostly coincide with Bad Client Days. Maybe if I had fewer of those I’d be be more onboard with the heterogeneous kottke?)

Tom DolanDec 23, 2003 at 10:56PM

I enjoy tinkering with the economics of personal Web publishing as much as the writing & design

As you should … it’s interesting. I’d encourage you figure out a way to incorporate reviews with more of the Kottke flavor. Maybe something like “watching/reading” becomes a remaindered type link and reviews are reserved for extra special all-time favorites or bookshelf must haves — thereby infusing them with more Kottkesque personality. I think the permutations in the layout are well done and thoroughly understandable. Perhaps you need more, not less? Perhaps you should experiment with an upfront, “Help power Kottke.org by clicking through here” explanation and see what it does to your referral dollars. I also applaud the attempt at some topical graphics, but wish they were connected to the best posts, not the forgetable mini-reviews.

Swami PremDec 23, 2003 at 11:00PM

I believe you have made web designers think a bit harder about their site designs, especially those in the weblogging community. I personally like the look and feel, and would like to see the recent changes remain.

StephenDec 24, 2003 at 2:04AM

Like several others, I felt the new design was cluttered and confusing at first, but I still admired your efforts to try something new. After reading for a month, I now fully understand the layout, but still feel that the design appears cluttered. The remaindered links are (often) unrelated to the actual content and tends to hinder my experience on kottke.org.

However, the reviews and other paragraph-type posts are excellent in the main content area. Sometimes I like to click on interesting links, other times I like to read the posts/reviews. Keeping them together makes each activity a bit more tedious than need be.

MarneyDec 24, 2003 at 2:09AM

Being a newer reader (i.e., I haven’t seen nor used the old format for the page), I shouldn’t be answering this survey, but I really wanted to say something (and hey, since finding this site, I’ve been coming back daily…that counts as “frequent,” no?):

I really like the way you’ve got the page set up. Having everything in one place is good—more chances to browse and stumble upon a nice surprise. In fact, one of the reasons I visit this site daily is because basically everything on the site is set out right in front of me. In the old format, I’d probably miss most things because I wouldn’t bother to check.

And in regards to getting confused about how to get around the site, I didn’t find it difficult at all to navigate the first time I came here. This new way seems much more organized than the old (based on what I’ve read from some of the other posts).

So…er…keep it!

RubenDec 24, 2003 at 5:18AM

Another minority vote here: I don’t like it. You’ve mentioned the cluttering of content and other stuff in weblogs yourself recently, or “Metadazzle overfizzle” as you called it.

“The actual writing may be in there somewhere as well”, you said jokingly.

This mixture of content and former remaindered links is another example of that in my opinion. It not only confuses me, but it also interferes with your simple, clear presentation, which is one of the things I admire kottke.org for.

nickDec 24, 2003 at 5:23AM

i love the added complexity. never read people’s side link bars, so much prefer them intermixed with the written posts. the review headers add life, give it a photolog feel.
feels more like a zine, less like a standard blog. much goodness.
am thoroughly surprised by all these people claiming confusion at first.

ArveDec 24, 2003 at 6:30AM

I’m not going to comment too much on the intermingling of posts and links, since I never visit your front page anyway.

I am however going to comment on your RSS feed: I find it extremely annoying that an entry in your feed changes every time someone comments (Your feed contains the number of comments at the end of the summary, and this makes newsreaders redisplay the entry).

A much better solution would be offering your readers a separate comment feed, so those interested in comments can read them, and those not can go on with something else.

NikDec 24, 2003 at 6:09PM

It’s a sexy idea! Although it was a bit frustrating you didn’t show us how to do it (hey… I suck at this stuff), I’m now glad you chose to go that route.

I’ve tried implementing the idea on my weblog (with just one more addition to the main page) and love the added ‘dimension’ of sorts to it. I’m planning on integrating other blogs later.

About the page being cluttered…. it’s really difficult to trash the idea because of this. Why? Because I think it depends on how you design/present the site. Even if there’s loads of incongruent content, there is (always) a way to make it seem less jarring or intimidating to the site’s viewer.

Just my 2c… :)

MikeDec 24, 2003 at 7:36PM

As much as I like this blog, honestly I will have to remove it from my reading list if this format continues. Since yesterday, I have received 20-30 notifications from the Bloglines Notifier that there is new content on this site, when in reality, it’s just new comments.

I know this behavior is not what you expected, but it’s getting annoying enough to where my only choice is to delete your feed.

AlexDec 24, 2003 at 8:24PM

I like it a lot! I think it is much better.

I just scroll down and read and click anything that is next. For example, I will read a post and then scroll down for some links, then read a movie review. Its like eating a little bit of everything at a dinner.

trDec 24, 2003 at 9:15PM

Its awful. (but don’t expect the fanboys to tell you)

Kip IngramDec 25, 2003 at 2:43AM

You know, it occurred to me that one benefit of this change is that more content becomes a blog entry and thus makes it into the newsfeeds. Were the remaindered links included in the newsfeeds before? If not, then they are now and that seems like a positive change. What this website is supposed to be about is Jason’s “stream of thought”, and more of his thoughts are now included in the main “stream.”

Kip IngramDec 25, 2003 at 2:47AM

I didn’t have any trouble reading the “Master and Commander” text in the image. However, I do agree with the notion that those big pictures lead one to expect a big post. That may just be something that takes some getting used to, though.

AngusfDec 25, 2003 at 5:37AM

I like it.

Is it possible to view just the movie reviews or just the remaindered links? If not then category views could be a useful addition especially if you continue this format, if it is possible then it is not clear enough for me yet.

WayneDec 25, 2003 at 2:40PM

I don’t like it. To me it’s like going to a restaurant where the menu treats each food item the same and lists each item in order that the chef decided to put the item on the menu. If the food is good I wouldn’t mind the menu so much. Happily, you’re a pretty good chef.

CheapBastardDec 26, 2003 at 3:07PM

Don’t like it.

The inline remaindered links that is. I like them on the side, because that’s what they are “remainders.” They disrupt the flow, which has already been mentioned. Especially, if you (kottke) haven’t posted in a while, I pay greater attention to the remainders.

Peace..

NikDec 26, 2003 at 3:27PM

Maybe, and this is only a passing thought, the remaindered links could truly be separate from the main body? Evidently this (r.links) is the only portion of the site that is always open to comments and hence has the most interaction with visitors. And I do agree with the restaurant menu analogy: very succintly put ‘Wayne’!

Why couldn’t it be made separate and occupy it’s ‘rightful position’ at the side? I like it there ;) (as I’m sure many others do). They seem to be the only extension of the blog that mar a ‘flow’. I’m cool with the book/movie reviews. There’s nothing irksome about them… I think!

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.