The Shock of The New: The Register redesign update 2

One week in, and our thoughts on your thoughts

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One week into our redesign and more than 800 comments so far. (Also a fair few emails, tweets and a bit of Facebook feedback). Let’s acknowledge straight away that our makeover has not received universal acclaim - although we have yet to receive a death threat.

It is a publishing axiom that all readers hate change - and in our case it is difficult to field comments, especially the angrier ones, on a one-to-one basis. But that doesn’t mean we are ignoring your feedback, especially when so many of you have useful, considered and intelligent comments to make.

From your feedback three main themes emerge:

  • The site is too white - making it hard on the eyes.
  • Pictures and headlines in stories and the “hero pic’ at the top of the front page are too big, making for unnecessary scrolling.
  • Just put it back to the way it was before.

We don’t think we are any brighter than, say, Amazon or the BBC, although we recognise that our restricted colour palette may be an aggravating factor in your perceptions of glare. While we consider this, as an interim measure we are thinking of changing the background colour outside the site.

On our front page top headlines: We are working up a few options and will A/B test over the next few weeks. Also, we will take headline font sizes down a notch or two. [For those of you who prefer to see the most recent headlines with smaller pics -in strict reverse chronology - we continue to offer this view: http://www.theregister.co.uk/Week/].

On top art in stories - we will enable editors to switch off if there is no relevant picture. Also we are working on ways of making the pics less deep to mitigate scrolling.

On putting it back the way it was before. We know that no-one likes change - and visually there has been a lot of change (although we have not altered the underlying information architecture or site navigation). Our new design is not set in stone - but it is the basis from which we iterate. You can expect improvements and tweaks in coming weeks, but we will not be making panicked or rush decisions. So please bear with us.

You can of course continue to give us feedback here.

Moving on to questions of what the redesign is not.

Why not responsive?

Clearly, responsive design is the way forward for websites - and for us. It is not technically difficult - but it is resource-intensive to get right. For instance, a lot of design input is required to make it work well in all screen sizes. Responsive also requires a lot more front-end coding. And we don’t have enough in-house resource to implement this at the moment.

OK, so why not auto-directing - to El Reg mobile version?

Some readers say that the new design looks better on their mobiles. But yes, that is sub-optimal. There is no technical impediment to auto-directing- and indeed we have trialled auto-direct to traffic coming via Twitter on mobile. However, we are being very cautious commercially (The Silicon Valley pundit Tom Foremski details the nightmare mobile scenario for publishers). This may sound lame to you but we have 50 mouths to feed.

Why not HTTPS?

Rather than explain right now why we have not done it so far - it is on our to do list. ®


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