Site Update Register readers have their say

Your comments on the new-look site - and how we're addressing your concerns

First of all, many thanks indeed to all of you who have emailed us with your thoughts on The Register's new look and feel.

It's become something of a cliche to say the readers' response was overwhelming, but this time at least it's true - we've had hundreds of emails, far too many, alas - to respond to each of you personally, but please be assured that each email has been read and all your points considered.

So what can we conclude so far? Primarily that you can't please all of the people all of the time. Reaction to the new look has been very positive indeed - most readers' reservations in the main concern elements within the design rather than the look of the site per se.

The main issue is our choice of fonts - or, more specifically, the way our fonts render (and, in some cases, don't render) in various platforms. So while Windows/IE 5 users get to see the site in the way we intended, Netscape users on any platform don't. In the design process, we decided to standardise on sans serif fonts for improved legibility, but Netscape has a knack of ignoring them and - worse - rendering them at very small point sizes.

Part of the problem here is, to be fair, many users' choice of screen size - we received a lot of 'I view the site at 1600x1200 on a 17in monitor', which, IOHO, is pushing it a bit - but there is an issue with fonts, and we're currently exploring how best to resolve it. The site uses cascading style sheets, and we'll be upgrading these - and improving support for Linux machines and Macs - shortly. We also hope to support Opera. If you're using either of these systems, please bear with us, and in the meantime, you might like to try increasing the text zoom size (in Mac IE 5) or forcing Netscape to use your choice of font rather than the page's.

We also received a number of messages from readers using very old versions of Netscape and IE. To these readers we'd say, upgrade if you can. One of the aims of Register 2 is to provide multiple entry points to the stories we publish. That will include in the not-too-distant future support for Palm machines, but we'll also be looking at a 'lite' version of the main site for unusual browser/OS combos.

Another, less common concern raised was the inclusion of an extra column on the left hand of the screen for graphics. Our design goal here was to provide space for more images and page elements, with the aim of making the site look busier. And, yes, it does provide The Register with more space for advertising. But, hey, that's how we can afford to ensure readers' access to the site remains free to all.

Some readers expressed the concern that the site's home page shows rather fewer stories than before. True, but that's the idea. Essentially, we want to use the front page to present the key stories of the moment - the Web equivalent of the headlines heading radio and TV bulletins. Readers who want to drill down further into a specific topic can view the respective index pages for each subject using the navigation panel on the right-hand side of the site, and The Week's Headlines page to get a full readout of everything we've published over a seven-day period.

Finally, we've identified a number of glitches and tweaks we need to make to the site, issues that we felt while important didn't sufficiently hamper readers' experience of the site to delay the launch. And isn't that the software industry to a tee. We'll be implementing these fixes over the coming days. And stay tuned for further feedback and progress reports as Register 2 evolves. ®

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