New Look, Etc.

A couple of notes on the new Whatever theme:

1. I like it, so it’s very likely to stay.

2. I’m not quite done tweaking it yet. There are a couple of things I personally prefer (like having the comment link at the bottom of an entry, not the top) that I need to incorporate, and I want to make additional adjustments to the look and feel of the theme.

However, many of these are likely to have to wait until after I get back from World Fantasy Convention, for two reasons. One, so I have time to look at the backend code; two, because the back-up monitor I’m currently using is crappy (the site looks white, not gray, on it) and by that time I’ll have my new monitor.

As for why I decided to change the theme: First, I’ve had the same theme before this for two years, which is the longest time for the site to have the same look, and I was getting bored with it. Second, the old theme, being old, couldn’t incorporate a lot of the new features built into WordPress, while this theme, released as it was just yesterday, can and does. It’s good to have a little more flexibility, both on the front and the back end.

In any event, expect a few more tweaks and changes over the next week or so. But by and large, this is what Whatever will look like for the time being.

51 Comments on “New Look, Etc.”

  1. I’ll just go on reading this on my phone’s screen, blissfully unaware of any changes.

  2. The stuff on the side bar is a little scrunched together. Especially the Whateverettes. It looks like a little paragraph written by someone with the shakes. Other than that, Looks Good!

  3. I quite like the new minimal style. It’s easy to read and to browse through. It’s only a bit too monchromatic for my taste, but as you’re the housemaster, it’s just right that it suits your tastes ;o))

  4. Maybe I need to dim my monitor a bit, but it looks very bright to me. I can see it causing some major headaches if you read for long. I’m not sure if it’s the background or the font that’s bothering me, but the combination seems to be jarring.

    The picture is cool though.

  5. I like the new theme.

    I do, however, miss seeing exactly what time you posted an entry. The time it is posted in relation to the number of comments gives a much better idea on the – ummmmm – vigor (yeah….that’s the word!) with which people are discussing your post.

    Another thing I noticed is that any comments on the old theme made by you were highlighted and stuck out like a sore thumb. That – alas – does not seem to be the case with this theme.

    That said – whatever makes you comfortable and fills you with joy will do for me since YOU ARE THE MAN!!!

  6. It’s not too bright on my main monitor, but when I move the screen to my laptop, it overexposes. I do like the cleaner look.

  7. One thing that’s rather annoying is that the titles are really hard to read right now for a few reasons: they’re tiny (the same size and weight as bold text in a post), dark grey instead of black (so they’re actually lighter than bold text in a post) and have a really excessive drop-shadow applied (which interacts with all of the other issues and the fact that they’re sans-serif to make them really quite hard to read).

    What I’d do would be to increase the font size and get rid of the text-shadow (which interacts really badly with the lighter color of the titles). You could probably do that fairly easily by pasting the following at the end of your theme’s main CSS file from within WordPress (although it might get overwritten/need to be reapplied if you ever upgrade the theme):
    h2.title { font-size: 30px; padding-top: 5px; padding-bottom: 5px; text-shadow: none; }

  8. I love the new layout except for the font of the comments. They aren’t as easy to read as they were before the switch; maybe it’s the change to sans-serif. But everything else looks great!

  9. I’m with you on the comment link. The fact that it skips over all the comments and goes right to the editing box also seems like a very Web 2.0 thing to do.

    Other than that, I like it.

  10. I agree with you about putting the comment link at the bottom. It just seems unnatural at the top, like we are supposed to read the comments before the main event.
    Along with that, I would suggest restoring the ability to preview a comment before posting it. This has kept me from posting stupid comments more than once.

  11. It’s not looking too bright on me, but I don’t know how much tweaking has gone on since the original post. I can say, the comment field I’m typing in (which is defacto white) does appear distinctly brighter than the page background, which I’d place somewhere around “cement” or “ivory” in color. Sorry, my mental map of colors to useful names is pretty poor.

    I quite like how it’s looking so far. I like the clean, minimal look in most websites. I am curious about one thing: this theme and the most recent before it were both pretty monochromatic. Is that a deliberate design choice? Or is it more just a matter of preference, as in, this happened to be your favorite theme when you saw it?

    It’s funny, as a computer geek, I know that light text on a dark background is easier to read and produces less eye strain. But as a literary geek, I tend to prefer traditional black text on a (mostly) white page. And I like the kind of columnar format reminiscent of newspapers…although, I greatly appreciate a “main” column that’s 2/3 to 3/4 of the page, with smaller side columns. I’ve seen blogs try to match the newspapers in strict 4 or 5 column formats, and it’s much to dense. Sorry, I’m rambling now. I’ll stop. Back to point: nice design, can’t wait to see the finished product.

    Oh, and I hope to see the Ghost of Scalzi ™ staring back from your own comments again, as in the last theme.

  12. *removes desktop shortcut for whatever*
    *opens a beer*
    *thinks it is only 0728*
    *wipes all forwarding links to this site*
    *writes twenty seven letters to the editor of various newspapers*
    *eats fried eggs and bacon*
    *remembers this not the end of the world*
    *has another beer at 0731*

  13. I’m also seeing the site as basically white, so it might not be your crappy substitute monitor. The sidebar is just barely gray and the comment boxes seem to alternate between even less gray than the sidebar and white. I can just see that the background isn’t completely white when I look at the entry fields here, but without them my mind sees it as white.

    This comment font is better, much more readable. But I agree with Sam that the post headers need to be larger and stand out more.

  14. I have no opinion on the theme one way or the other, except to say that the doggie picture is awesome. Please keep that, even if you tinker with everything else!

  15. re new look: I am using IE8 – background is light grey, (similar to vizflex e paper?) text is very readable, font is fine
    I like the new format – the articles are wider on the screen w/ less “stuff” on the left side – makes for less scrolling when reading

    I think some other posters’ comments about “overexposure” or the background being white may have to do w/ monitor settings and/or browser flavor/settings

  16. I do have one observation/criticism – it looks to me like there’s more vertical space being taken up at the top of the page by the fruit picture and the dog picture. It doesn’t make the site unusable, but visually, I think a smaller masthead is better. YMMV. And of course, it might be that the old layout had the same amount of masthead space taken up, an this just looks like it’s more because of the format. It’s hard to tell if I can’t put them side to side.

    Also WOAH, comments look bad on my browser (FF 3.6.12, OSX 10.6.4). Dunno if that’s a function of flashblock/adblock plugins mucking up your site.

  17. I realized yesterday that I haven’t rearranged my office since we moved to this building 7 years ago, whereas in the past I rearranged things about once a year. Now I am itching to do so, and this isn’t helping. If Scalzi can reorder the Whatever, it must be a sign!

  18. I like it. Looks gray and the layout is well-balanced on my relatively large and fairly new monitor. I will, however, second any calls for a slightly larger font.

  19. Hi John. I agree with your plans for moving the comments link to the bottom of the post. However, when you get time to tinker, can I suggest moving the links for going forward to the next post, or backwards to the previous post, to either the very top of the entry, or the very bottom of the comments, rather than at the end of the post, but before the comments. Personally, I like to either click on to the next / previous post when I’ve done reading the comments, or just click through several items, glancing at the headline. It’s easy enough to hit home / end to get to the next post link, but slightly tedious to have to scroll around to find the bottom of the main post in order to click on. I don’t know, however, if others use the site in the same way, so I may be in a minority here. Not a big deal if you don’t care for the idea.

  20. Thanks for the changes – I was actually thinking about writing to see if there was a way you could link to a “Big Idea” category. It might have been there already, but I couldn’t find it, if it was. I just refer to those every time I need something new to read and am uninspired. So, thanks for putting that there!

  21. The new format is fine except could you please put some kind of bullets on your lists of things (websites, tweets) in the boxes on the left side? Everything tends to run together visually and it is hard to tell one entry from another.

  22. If your taking suggestions on things to tinker with, I advise:

    1) Increasing line-spacing a wee bit for comment text
    2) Either using visible bullets or increasing line-spacing between unordered list items in the sidebar

    Those would address the only readability problems I’m having with the new layout. Overall I like the change!

  23. I like the return of the photo banners. I missed them when you removed them in favor of a giant “Whatever” label, at the last major redesign.

    Unless they’ve been back for a while and I just never noticed, of course.

  24. Oh, one thing I just noticed (while scrolling through the comments trying to see whether people consistently get the same icons): your comments (that is, your comments, those by “John Scalzi”) don’t seem to be highlighted as they were in the old version. One more thing to fiddle with, assuming you liked it the old way.

  25. Actually, I like the comment link at the top – I’ve come back to entries to see if there are more comments and having to scroll through the entire thing to see the comment count was… um… not optimal. Note that you can have the comment link in both places at once. Of course, if you DO move it, I’l probably still visit. Maybe. A few times. Per day.

  26. hi, your reply to our comment is not highlighted as in the previous theme, it’s more difficult to find your piece of wisdom now. I have to scan for your (red) face in the avatar pic to find you out.

  27. My comments.

    I agree the comments font is harder to read. A serifed font would be easier.
    Also, when I clicked on the Comments link, I was brought to the END of the comments instead of the beginning and had to scroll up to start reading through them.

    I’m glad you’re going to move the comments link to the bottom. Otherwise, on long posts we’d have to scroll back up to click on the link after reading.

    And yes, I liked your faded green visage watermarked on your comment posts.

    Have fun at WFC!

  28. I really like the changes, it’s very iPad friendly. I do agree with Rickg, the link to the comments can save a lot of scrolling, especially on a long article such as the big idea.
    I like the colours as well.

  29. Dunno if it’s just me or not, but when I hit the comments link in a post, it takes me straight to the bottom of the comments (to the comment box) so I have to scroll up the whole page to read the comments. I’m on recently updated Firefox, fyi.

  30. Agreed on the sidebar issue – all of the entries in each section look squashed together and are a bit hard to read. I’m not a fan of it skipping to the ‘leave a reply’ section, since I’d rather at least skim the existing comments to make sure I’m adding to the discussion and not duplicating. Not sure if the skipping down is a feature or a bug. It’s your sandbox, though – we’re just playing in it.

  31. Does anybody else miss comment numbers? I liked them because when someone addressed a previous comment, it was easier to go back and find it to get the context. (But I’m better with numbers than names, so I might be in the minority.)

  32. Dave H a couple of comments up from here: I hadn’t noticed that, because when I look at the comments page my eyes go all funny. But yeah, I think it will make it harder to follow the conversation.

  33. I second Dave H. on the comment numbers. Also the comments link skipping down directly to the reply box will only encourage people to comment without at least skimming the previous comments. Some will do that anyway, but I don’t think it should be encouraged.

    Also, does anyone use that calendar thingy near the top of the sidebar? It seems to me that it takes up a lot of screen space for something that has little utility. As a search tool, The Last 50 Posts seems to be adequate to find recent entries. As a calendar, I have plenty of others on my PC and smart-phone.

    And please bring back the Preview button!!