Addressing wordpress and the new format

So far, I've noticed you, the loyal (hopefully) readers, aren't all that amped up about the new format. Personally, I think that anything new always takes some time to get used and is problematic at the start. I can understand some of the frustrations with the format though and share them with you.

Here is a list of things I've requested to change thus far for our community:
1: I want threaded comments back, and I know this is coming, ChicagoNow just couldn't get it ready for the launch of the format, but it's on their "to expedite" list.

Our blog is probably the most comment heavy blog on the site, and thus the problem doesn't really affect anyone else the way it does us which I would speculate may be the reason that it wasn't viewed as critical for the launch.

I'm proud you've helped me create this community, and I feel it is a true community with some great back and forth rather than just one stop hitting the page and never coming back like on most blogs.

2: I want a wider main content page. Really, the whole site uses a 900 pixel wide setup, and I don't know anyone who's still browsing with a monitor that's less than 1200 pixels wide. I can't imagine there's anyone out there still using an 800x600, so at a minimum to use all 1000 pixels from 1024 set up should be done. Widening out the main content area would be nice and making reading comments easier.

3: I'd like to add some color back in by allowing us to customize the blank space on the side of the blog similar to twitter.

What I'd like you to do is post your initial thoughts and comments here, so I have more feedback as to how to improve things.

I would note that if you remain patient, the new format will eventually be much nicer than the old one. It allows you to sign in and post via facebook which should get more lurkers to post. It has much faster comment posting than the old system and likely won't be as subject to losing long comments. From a back end system it allows you to post much, much faster than before (it used to take about 3 minutes to save a post and republish the screen).

I'd imagine game thread posting will be vastly improved with faster comments as well.

I also have the ability to customize the right rail and put anything I want there which should be a lot of fun as I get time to play with it. I presently have a module that always puts in the Bulls Beat, but I think I could start doing polls and other fun stuff that I couldn't do before.

There's definitely some kinks to work out, and I expect there will be for awhile, however, I also expect this move will considerably improve the blog long term as long as ChicagoNow is committed to taking the necessary steps.


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  • I like the new format, my only thought is to make the articles wider across the screen. I'm not a huge fan of having to scroll down so much to read an article, peoples' comments, etc.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    I actually like the new layout. Didn't like that it took me a while to log in apparently I did not have an email on file. Some color would be nice but not a huge deal. Should be interesting to see where it goes from here.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    How do we get avatars again? Annoying.

  • I'm finding the layout and font choice harder to read for some reason.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Yes, this new font (sans serif) is MUCH HARDER TO READ than the previous font (serif). The previous font was darker/thicker, with much more contrast from the background making it far easier to read.

    I hope Doug has the ability to change his font!

  • Hi Doug,
    The new format makes me feel I've been "Locked Out" of my favorite blog. Ironic how this occurred on the same day as the NBA lockout. Love your blog, but please hurry and get the changes implemented quickly.

    1) Type or Font - I really dislike this new sans serif font. The letters appear larger, yet harder to read as the lines are thin and faint. Not enough contrast from the white background. I greatly prefer the previous serif font which was thicker/darker and so much easier to read. This serif font is still being used on the ads that are visible in the comment section while I'm writing this - there is a box labeled "AdChoices >". I greatly prefer this previous font - IT WAS VISUALLY MUCH EASIER TO READ!!!.

    2) Threaded Comments - the old system was very obvious due to the left indentation. Visually it was very easy to follow a dialogue.

    3) Width - the marrow width makes comments take up too much space vertically. It now requires far too much scrolling to follow comments as fewer comments can be viewed on a single screen. The ad section on the right takes up a full 40% of the screen width.

    It sounds like most of the so-called improvements in this WordPress format are "back end" technology. But us posters never use that, so we really don't care. I guess your job now is to change the graphical interface or visual presentation - that is what is important to we who use this blog. It is now very difficult to read.

    Good luck with this, Doug!

  • I agree with Edward below. The main thing is keeping comments attached to each other on threads. Even in the old setup, you couldn't tell who/which the person is responding. I don't mind the font/color though.

    It would be nice to have an edit button for your own comment to change any mistakes/errors.

    BTW, LOL on the game thread comment from you. It looks like we will not be seeing any game threads anytime soon.

    Also, giving more space for comments horizontally would be nice.

  • To be clear, I don't have the ability to change anything in regards to the format, nor can I move the blog. So I am ultimately stuck with whatever ChicagoNow decides to do.

    I do know that my blog is one of the marquee blogs on the site though, and as such, they always listen to my ideas [that doesn't mean implement, but they always listen], so I will forward on all of the good comments you have made on this blog.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Professional Rowing in the 1890's

    My son and daughter rowed in Chicago. Rowers are terrific athletes. But in learning the sport I discovered professional rowing was huge in the northeast during the 1890's until a betting scandal decimated the sport.
    Crowds in the tens of thousands were not uncommon during professional contests. And then the bubble burst on professional rowing.
    The interest in sports can be cyclical, or still worse, end. NBA owners take a risk that NFL owners aren't taking. Do we remember when Jordan left the Bulls and the excitement for the Bulls fizzled like a balloon losing air? Larry Bird and Magic Johnson saved the NBA with their matchups and then MJ preserved the interest.
    NFL teams can have abysmal teams and their fans fill up the stadium. Our Bears are a great example.
    I expect the NFL season and problems will be resolved in a more timely fashion than NBA problems.
    I belive average NBA basketball fans aren't as devoted on average as NFL fans. So the NBA owners have locked out the players at the risk of their sport.
    Here's an idea for filling up the United Center during the NBA layoff: bicycle races. My dad told me you could get into the Chicago Stadium for ten cents during the depression and watch bicycle races for long afternoons or evenings.

  • Though I wrote something yesterday along the lines of "The site looks different and I'm afraid of change!" it really isn't a problem. You probably didn't even take that comment into consideration but in case you thought otherwise I like the site's new design just fine.

  • My biggest problem is with the width variability. Now that I'm on a bigger monitor docked at work, things are much better. The sidebar to the right still takes up way too much space, and the margins are too big to either side, but at least it's usable. Still, when I have a higher resolution I tile my windows, I don't just maximize the browser, probably maximizing the width at 1250 pixels or so.

    The problem is, there appear to just be 3 steps in the variability, not truly dynamic. At 1024 pixels, in Chrome, the outside margins are huge and the content pane is tiny, in the middle of the 3 steps. In Firefox and IE it's in the largest step, but damn, it's still a really narrow space for the content. I want to be able to just disable the pane over on the right.

  • agree on points 1-3, and I emailed Chicago Now about it as well. My concerns are alleviated.

  • also agree that the new font is not as easy to read

  • Ughhh! This is so horrible! Where's the banner!? Please don't tell me the lockout has expanded throughout every NBA related thing on the net?! I feel so claustrophobic on here now! Doug, I agree with all of your points above. This place looks like a MySpace profile.

  • I'm in agreement with msalivar that the sidebar is WAY to large. Would be nice to see the Bulls Confidencial banner at the top find it way back home as welll. Keep up the good work and stay kool.

  • Hey doug,

    You are right about the change being difficult to get used to, but I am sure that we all will eventually. Hopefully as we get used to it and ChicagoNow tweeks the site it will be better than ever.

    The content is what matters most, so keep up the good work, we will all be fine in a while, assuming that we have a season to discuss.

  • fb_avatar

    Awsum i can post using facebook, that makes it all worth it =)

  • I will be patient but if turns out like Boozer I will want to dump it.

  • Lol, nice one!

  • ok i jumped through your hoops to get my avatar back so it better be there on this post

  • Let's stop beating around the bush. This new format is worse than the Bulls Shooting Guard situation.

  • fb_avatar

    And the new format falls somewhere in between.
    Doug you rock, and keep up the fight.
    P.S. Is there an APP coming?

  • This new format made me leave the blog at first. At second thought I wanted to know what you had to say Doug, but I can't enjoy it as much as I did before.

    The space for the article (and comments too) is much too narrow.
    The font is awkward to read.
    The colors were a lot better much more convenient for the eyes.
    The navigation has no space enough
    I don't want to have the most space occupied by information I don't want. I come here for this blog and not for so much other stuff, it bothers me when reading.

    About the lockout: I hate it with a vengeance. I bought some t-shirts and stuff last month, but I won't even look at it anymore until the Bulls have won their next game.

    How will you cover the time here Doug?

    I wish all of you a nice weekend!

  • Just lost a long post :( so I make it short this time.

    I don't like the new format, it makes me want to leave the site immediately, I don't like the colors, I don't like the font. The whole look and feel is awkward. I'll still come here and read the blog, but it is not so fun with this design.

    The content side is too narrow and should be at least 700px IMO and there is too much stuff on the right side. I want to read the content not all the other stuff. (Lol I just adjusted the main content width to 700px with firebug and it moves the right side content under the comments, now at least I can start reading again)
    Threaded comments pls come back!
    The font-color in the commentbox is horrible for the eye.

    Doug what are you going to blog about during the lockout?
    I hate the lockout and I hate it that those power hungry Stern and Hunter guys are controlling the whole process.

  • Looks like it took about 15 minutes to get my first post up the second one was right there ... and so much for the 2nd one being shorter than the first one.

  • Love the blog Doug. I'm a huge fan and a daily reader. Sometimes it amazes me how nitpicky folks on the net can be. The change in the layout is different. Aparently people just hate anything that is different. The new design is not so horrible that we need to cry to Doug about it. He had nothing to do with it. It's gonna take some getting use to but I'm sure you will. And for all those who say that they won't post here again because of the layout.....good riddance.

  • Right now the site doesn't look great, but it's not awful. I've seen worse. It's okay for now, and if it gets better than that's good.

    One thing I wanted to mention, just to make you aware: The RSS feed for the site changed, too. For one thing, it no longer puts full posts in the feed. That's more of a nuisance for me, but it does force me to come to the site directly, which is probably better for you. I prefer it the old way, or for the blurbs associating the posts in the feed to be hand-edited, but it doesn't bother me so much.

    The other, more important point regarding the feed: it seems to be having trouble with (I assume) Unicode characters. All the posts in the feed have strings like "’" in them. It makes it very annoying to read the small blurbs.

    On the other hand, the new site has a much better looking mobile version.

    Overall, I will of course keep reading and coming to the site because of the great content. So keep plugging, and I hope the site just gets better as it goes on.

  • One thing I'd like back is the recent comments on the sidebar ... as someone who posts a lot during off peak times it's nice to know at a glance whether anyone has said anything since I last checked the site without having to scan through the threads again.

  • The bases have pretty much been covered already, but they are all valid points. The blog is not as visually appealing, the text column is far to narrow, the font is terrible, the loss of threaded comments is a killer... as is the ascending comments themselves.

    I run a web forum myself, so I know that making a switch to a new layout/program can be hard and a lot of people are unhappy with the visual differences, but this is a issue of quality. I started reading this blog last offseason and followed it religiously... pregame posts became my read on the morning commute on the red line and I would follow the comment thread on the way home. That is near impossible now. If you haven't yet, try reading the site on a phone. Whereas the site used to be perfectly proportioned and organized to follow on a phone, it is now unusable.

    I hope the blog gets fixed, because I really enjoyed following it... but if the readability and commenting aren't fixed I see the once frantic activity on this blog slowly dwindling.

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