Blog Changes Update

So, for the moment I’m going with the Aperitive theme, because I like it aesthetically and because it also does a pretty good job of working with different types of displays. For example, if you have a wide/large monitor or browser window, you see the side-by-side display here, but if you’re on a phone or tablet (or you shrink the browser window), the header image goes up top and scrolls away. I see some of you don’t like the side-by-side look, but I do, and since it swaps out the header image with each refresh, I think it makes it visually interesting and appealing (note: if you really hate it, append “/amp” to the end of the URL for individual blog entries, you’ll get a simpler version designed for low-bandwidth mobile devices). Also, you know, I do a lot of photography, so I like being able to show some of it off here.

There are a few issues I need to clear up via CSS or other means, which may take a bit, so be patient. Also on my end I need to make sure all the functionality I want/need is here, so if it turns out it’s not, I may swap back anyway. But for the moment, this is the look.

Note that the RSS/email/WordPress feed versions should be unchanged, so if that’s the way you primarily view the site, as in fact the majority of you do these days, then you may be wondering what all the fuss is about anyway.

50 Comments on “Blog Changes Update”

  1. Oh! And! as an FYI, the sidebar is still there and now slides out, use the “…” link to get to it. I’m aware that for some folks the “About” menu has too-large font which does not scroll, and I’m looking into that, but inasmuch as the links there are also in the sidebar, I’m not fretting overly about it.

  2. While I’m not *against* a two-column view, I’d like to see more focus on the text – say 1/3 picture, 2/3 text?

  3. Chrome-on-Windows-10 reader here. Update threw me for a bit of a loop at first, but I like the left photography panel much more than the rotating top images, and the rest is basically the same, so definite thumbs-up from me. It has something of a New York Times Magazine feel.

  4. Also, the spacing between links in the About menu is almost unusable; with the way the ragged-right justification wraps on that very narrow column, about the only way to distinguish between links is the rollover highlighting.

  5. When I click on About there are too many items to fit on the screen, and no way to scroll down to see the ones on the bottom. In my current view, the list ends at “Site Disclaimer,” and the only way I know there are things past that is that I changed the page zoom to 80% and could then see the full list. So that seems problematic for a menu. While talking about that menu I’ll also note that because some of the titles are long and the popdown menu is narrow, it all looks rather undifferentiated wall of text and its hard to tell where new items start and stop.

  6. Or, you know, ignore everything I just said because I did not read your comment fully first, where you identify all those problems…

  7. Again, most of this is stuff I’ll need to dig into the CSS for the template to fix. Which means finding the CSS for the site from the template maker and then going in and tweaking it via WordPress. It might take some time.

  8. The About menu and the … button not being aligned vertically at all is going to bug me to no end, but hopefully that is easily fixed!

    Otherwise, it’s a big change, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it! It’s a nice photo :)

  9. On my browser (FF 77) under Linux with Javascript disabled, I see nothing usable.
    If I enable Javascript for your site wordpress.com, and wp.com, I see 50% of the left side containing nothing of use to me and the right side contains your text.

    Sorry, but you’ve basically erected barriers that will probably result in my no longer reading your site. I don’t like/trust Javascript, and some of the sites you’ve got trying to run Javascript in my browser I regard as hostile: Facebook, in particular, and, less so, Twitter, Pinterest.

    Too bad. I’ve enjoyed reading your site for at least fifteen years.

  10. This isn’t terribly important, but I don’t see a “Comments” link on the posts? I know that I can get there by clicking into the individual posts and scrolling down, but new readers may not realize that comments are a thing.

  11. Tablet user here, new format looks sleek and modern, I like it!

    The comment about testing in prod made me laugh, indeed this is a whole different world. Where are your segregated dev, test, and user acceptance environments ????? 😂

    Just one problem to report: the block where to type the mail address is not wide enough, so the mention that the mail will not be published is not readable.

  12. & i love the pictures displayed, and the fact that the format does them justice!

  13. I displayed the sidebar and all I see is the Time magazine thing there. If I try to use the right slider to move that down it moves the main blog section, not the sidebar.

  14. The “About” menu has now shrunk, so that should help.

    LAJ: Try your scroll wheel. On mobile devices it’s also scrollable with a finger.

  15. Probably since English is a left-to-right language, having the image half of the screen on the *left* is super awkward-feeling to me. I’d much prefer this layout if everything stayed the same but the text half was on the left and the image half was on the right.

  16. I don’t see a way to walk through the next/previous posts any more. If its there, then I missed it, which is its own feedback.

    I’ll add my voice to the “not a fan of the two columns” list. I’m here to read the text, and it occupies only half the screen. Would be okay if clicking on the ‘…’ made it wider, but the content seems to be fixed width and the right bar just becomes wider than it was before.

    And now that I am writing a comment, the form fields below have odd, overlapping text. Particularly the email field.

  17. The “About” doesn’t look all that great on a desktop browser either (Chrome, Windows). There’s not enough additional spacing between entries so it all blends together. Maybe add lines between items? If you need to make major changes to get it to show OK on mobile, It’s OK if that changes the desktop appearance too.
    Otherwise, looks very pretty. I like simple too, but simple and mobile compatibility probably don’t go well together.
    Yours is one of the few sites left where I don’t have to play overlay whack-a-mole. Thanks for that.

  18. Thanks John – I’m on a laptop so no mouse. However if I use the up/down arrows in the lower right hand corner of the keyboard those work fine.

  19. Having to scroll twice as much to get the same amount of text kinda sucks…

  20. Firefix 78 (“78.0.2esr”, to be all technical about it) on Mac here. The “About” menu has a small font and it looks like the lines are at least double-spaced (if not triple-spaced), so lots of whitespace. Both it and the sidebar expand to cover the entire window; I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. The ‘X’ used to close the sidebar scrolls with the sidebar, so you must scroll back up to the top in order to close the sidebar. That seems like a bug to me.

    An actual problem I see is that many of the different text areas (e.g., labels and instructions in the “Comment” area, most of the stuff in the sidebar) is shown in an extremely light gray font color. For those of us whose eyes are getting older, this can be a really significant problem, as it makes the text much harder to read and thus the pleasure of reading is dramatically reduced.

  21. The /amp version of the site does not seem to have the option to show comments at all, is this intentional?

  22. The website is almost inaccessible if you have JavaScript turned of, which I do most of the time for security reasons. Another reason I turn it off is that pages that have JavaScript tend to be behave in really counterintuitive ways and often jump around and startle me. (Accessibility issue there.) It would be nice to have a no-JavaScript option that just shows the content in a plain old boring format, for us dinosaurs.

    FWIW, I notice that more and more web pages have their content in the form of videos, which are very, very hard for my brain to process, to the point that I usually skip them. At some point, I may just give up on the WWW.

  23. I love it. Any chance you considered having the photo on the right, and the text on the left? Most websites (newspapers, etc) do a less good job adapting to wide displays, and so their text is closer to the left on a large monitor. That causes a necessary transition when I come to Whatever. Anyway, I really like the new look!

  24. Folks, just as a technical note: If it’s something I can do in CSS (like, say, change the darkness of a font), then maaaaybe I can do it. If you’re asking for something that requires digging into the html or other scripting (like, say, moving where the pictures show up), then you are destined to be disappointed.

  25. Not crazy about it yet…but it looks okay on my desktop and I’ll submit final feedback tonight from my tablet :)

  26. I agree with Travis. Also, since I don’t use Twitter much, I really miss automatically seeing your Twitter feed in the side-bar.

  27. The main thing is the lack of a link to comments on a post – it looks as though there aren’t any, which is disconcerting given how lively this site is :)

  28. Don’t like. Seems a waste to have 50% of the screen on a photo. Does it have to be so wide? Sorry but not sure what was wrong about “dated”. Disappointed. Just another manifestation of 2020.

  29. For some reason in Chrome on my Dell laptop, I can’t get the sidebar to scroll at all, which means I’ll miss your tweets there. But that’s life. Also the various boxes in this comment area aren’t loading right; lines are on top of other lines and some of the text is hidden behind the preview button. Change is hard but it’s your site! Enjoy!

  30. I’m likely in the minority here, but I seriously hate the enormous photo taking up half the screen. Scalzi, your photos are lovely, but I don’t want them taking up half of my screen’s real estate. Seriously, hate it, hate it, hate it.

  31. I like how the new theme looks on mobile! Not a big fan of it on the desktop though, which is where I usually read Whatever. Maybe my browser window is just at an unfortunate cusp of a size? A little too big for your site to switch to single-column-mode, but narrow enough that sticking the content into just one half of it means that the text is stuck in an awkwardly narrow gutter.

    Not sure if it would be possible with what changes you can do to the CSS, but 3 size classes—single column for narrow/mobile widths, a 1:2 photo:text split for medium widths, and a 1:1 split only on wider width windows—might make things more readable overall?

    Then again, it is your blog, and I’ll probably get used to the new theme with time.

  32. I’m with those who would prefer a little less real estate (on a desktop/laptop) dedicated to the photo and a little more to the text…and I also miss the comment-count/direct link to the comment thread…but I also know that I’m intrinsically a “change is bad” type and I expect I’ll come around, given time.

  33. I think the layout is quite appropriate, given your love for photography. They way you fed photos into the header of the old layout could cause quite a bit of scrolling, and this new layout features the pictures alongside posts better. Great for your use case, as the kids say these days.*

    The comment window layout looks a bit odd, but that’s a) probably outside CSS control and b) more likely due to my own privacy filters.

    *no kids say that.

  34. Usually read in Safari on macOS, and the new format is a huge step back for me. Expanding it to 150% and killing the sticky floating bar solves most of the issues, but from my end you’ve taken a clean format that focuses on the content and turned it into a cluttered, over-busy site that focuses on the chrome. There’s a reason those floating panels are called “d*ckbars”.
    The RSS view is largely unchanged and I could switch to reading it there, but I would then miss the comments. Hopefully the problem you’re trying to solve is worth it.

  35. It breaks my laptop, I know that. Is there anyway to centre the column in the middle and lose the other panel which is just a big bunch of deadspace?

  36. Dear John,

    I’m afraid you’re going to have to add me to the list of people who don’t like the new design.

    My first complaint is ergonomic — on a wide-screen monitor, the kind you’re envisioning the page being designed for, the main text gets placed all the way at the right side. That is not a comfortable nor desirable way to angle one’s head when reading. Clicking the “…” centers the text to a comfortable degree, but that setting doesn’t stick. Each time you refresh the page, it goes to the default layout.

    From a usability viewpoint, the lack of a “number of comments” next to the titles on both the main page and the individual article pages is a big loss. Having to click through to an article and scroll down to find out if there are any new comments (or any at all!) Is a major time waster.

    Just one voice, but you’ve made it more work for me and a lot less comfortable reading your website.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  37. Hmmm … Love the photos, but I was missing the sidebar. Yes, I saw your comment about using the “…” menu, and I know how common the “…” menu has become, but it is not discoverable. Just my 2 cents.

  38. Hmm. No comment count at the top of the article anymore? Or just on iPad?

    Comment box is slightly mangled, but usable. Sidebar maybe needs the opacity turned up a hair? Having the X to close it scroll up is annoying.

  39. Man, the world has gone to hell. Cant count on anything these days. Think i need to check scalzis blog. At least thats one consistent thing in the universe.

    Crap.

  40. I’m able to locate the OP and comments now but will refresh to see if JAWS gives me a similar experience.

  41. Like the font and general visuals but (on iPad) the right side column is simultaneously too big and yet too small for the contents. All the Twitter stuff, for example, is massively clipped.