October 10, 2002
11:57 PM   Subscribe

Wired just got hit with the ugly stick
posted by zeoslap (54 comments total)
Although to be fair, the nav does lend itself to exploring deeper into the archives
posted by zeoslap at 11:59 PM on October 10, 2002

I think it actually looks better than the previous design, and easier to use, to boot. Then again, I'm not a regular visitor there, so that's just at first poke around.

What, specifically, don't you like about it?
posted by majcher at 12:04 AM on October 11, 2002

Ahh, lynx, the wonderfully fun browser. I see even wired has taken to insulting it.

"Note: All of our content is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, the browser you are using to view this page prevents you from seeing most of our site's design details because the browser doesn't support basic Web standards. Later versions of most browsers do support these standards; specifically, Netscape V6.0 and above and Internet Explore V5.0 and above. Wired News supports the mission of the Web Standards Project in the campaign encouraging users to upgrade their browsers."

And where does the link go to?

A site that doesn't have any textmode browsers to reccomend.

And Lynx is 100% "web" compliant. It does a great HTTP 1.0 negotiation sequence, and fully supports all HTML 1.0 codes. Without screwing up. Or crashing.

The worst part? It does it with all text browsers. w3m/(i assume)links included.

BLECH. "Wired" they are not. Maybe GUiED should be their new name.
posted by shepd at 12:09 AM on October 11, 2002

... arguably Wired was hit with the ugly stick long ago. Many might see this is an ongoing abuse.

And shepd — I find Wired's lack of support for lynx disturbing; incompatbility with lynx probably means incompatibility with screen readers.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:16 AM on October 11, 2002

Actually ... if you scroll down a bit past the verbage regarding web standards (which is really intended more for Netscape 4 users who are wondering why the page looks so odd) you'll see that ALL of the content is incredibly easily wonderfully accessible in Lynx (and screen readers, etc).

In fact, there's actually additional navigation that shows up in Lynx (and would so for screen readers) that allow quick jump-links to the navigation section and to the content. This is actually one of the requirements for Section 508.

The power of web standards. And easy to boot! It's great to see high profile sites like Wired finally, finally jumping on ship.
posted by treebjen at 12:37 AM on October 11, 2002

I'm able to access all the content and navigation in lynx - it says at the top the "design details" are absent, but I can read the content and links. Though it's sort of misleading to have the message right at the top like that - you don't see the content unless you scroll down. Somewhat of a bad design choice, I'd say. You see the message first thing and think you're S.O.L. (The version of Lynx I'm using is 2.7.1, and I know it's not the latest version.)
posted by sixdifferentways at 12:40 AM on October 11, 2002

I just think it's less useful than the previous version, which had a good broad spread of features every day. This looks like it's about leveraging an archive, rather than having to underwrite the ongoing expense of producing hot content daily.

I'm not pleased, and I *did* make Wired part of my daily rounds. But then, I was already disgusted with the Terra-Lycos frame/branding. Maybe this is the straw that broke, etc.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:43 AM on October 11, 2002

I'm with you, adamgreenfield. It was nice to hit the site once or twice a day and scan the main page and know what they'd posted up. Now it's going to be a trawl through the different sections... Though they have at least lost that huge bottom advertising frame. Actually, I quite like the look of it - bit busy, but hey, they do like to be 'trendy'...
posted by humuhumu at 12:58 AM on October 11, 2002

Yeah, looks like crap in Opera. I'm glad though they got rid of that crap and red and black scheme for left hand topics.
posted by nakedjon at 1:21 AM on October 11, 2002

Yeah, it sucks. Scratch that from my daily visits...
posted by Orange Goblin at 1:52 AM on October 11, 2002

Not too bad.
posted by spazzm at 2:04 AM on October 11, 2002

Lynx is 100% "web" compliant. It does a great HTTP 1.0 negotiation sequence, and fully supports all HTML 1.0 codes. Without screwing up. Or crashing.
By web standards they mean CSS is required. CSS is by design optional and here is abused and relied upon to change the HTML content. Nothing new.

Like webstandards.org they wouldn't know web standards if they yadda yadda...
posted by holloway at 2:17 AM on October 11, 2002

I wonder if the design company was named, "Ugly Stick Design Group"? That would be funny. I'm color blind an I can see that some cataract sufferer was in charge of this project...
posted by internook at 2:36 AM on October 11, 2002

You people are weird. But, you know, in a good way.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:41 AM on October 11, 2002

I like standards compliance ( Flash-only pages suck BTW ) and that it works in Links, but they still PAGE their stupid articles.

It might be that they're trying to make it more like the dead-tree version where you have to turn from page 49 to page 97 to page 513(*), but to talk about good user interfaces and then do that is unforgiveable.

I hereby launch a campaign to boycott any links that read "Page 2 >".

(*) That was in '99 of course - it'd be more like page 113 nowadays...
posted by godidog at 3:09 AM on October 11, 2002

XHTML + CSS + layout improvements = Good

However, their site isn't valid, and is being sent with the dubious, but popular (hell, I even do it), practice of sending XHTML as text/html. Not so great.

..and yes, the colour scheme still isn't the best. Better than before - sure - but still hard on the ol' eyes.

As for paged articles, I don't understand the need for that either (more adverts displayed then?), but you could always read / link to the print versions instead. I suppose.
posted by digiboy at 3:32 AM on October 11, 2002

Better link here. (Sometimes it's better to wait rather than just post to the front page.)
posted by mcwetboy at 3:46 AM on October 11, 2002

posted by bhell13 at 4:07 AM on October 11, 2002

Heh. I don't think it looks that bad, in fact, it's very reminicent of the old school mag. You know. Before it sucked.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 AM on October 11, 2002

Large companies are taking accessibility issues much more seriously these days. There is an Australian legal precedent where the complainant was awarded AU$20,000 in damages against the maintainers of an inacessible web site and an American case is pending.
posted by snarfodox at 5:03 AM on October 11, 2002

does anyone know how many "big" sites are now xhtml/css? in my last job it took me months to get the designer to understand what css was all about - i'm thinking i should have got him to load a site like wired into his horrible gui tools... (how can you be a web designer and not know what <a> is?!)
posted by andrew cooke at 5:06 AM on October 11, 2002

ps arguably it looks better in lynx - certainly the content is more obvious. note that the warning about browsers is at the end of the page (not the top) once you follow a link. maybe they'll move the warning on the front page too, once people are used to the change.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:12 AM on October 11, 2002

I hereby launch a campaign to boycott any links that read "Page 2 >".
posted by godidog at 3:09 AM PST on October 11

I suppose that onenever dials a number on a touch-tone phone anymore, or asks what the dial up speed is on a modem or punches in at work. Sure, these are often linguistic anachronisms, but I suspect a majority of people understand what is meant by saying, "Next Page," instead of something more glaringly modern, like "Next Screen."
posted by piskycritter at 5:23 AM on October 11, 2002

I don't think the concern is linguistic. Paging an article spikes your ad impressions at the expense of usability.

For those who are keeping up with the site enough to care about this interface change, Wired News offers an RSS feed that makes it easy to find the newest stories.

Personally, I'm glad to see that the spirit of ugly design lives on at Wired. One of the things you could count on during the mid-'90s was that Wired would be on the forefront of garish Web design.
posted by rcade at 5:35 AM on October 11, 2002

That horrific green is literally giving me a headache.
posted by padjet1 at 6:00 AM on October 11, 2002

Anyone know the relationship between Wired News (owned by Lycos) and Wired Magazine (owned by Condé Nast)? I know they cross-promote, and they used to be owned by the same company, but their editorial standards seem to be quite different!
posted by hyperizer at 6:12 AM on October 11, 2002

I don't think it's bad, it sure is better than the frames-based site they've had up for a while. XHTML + CSS isn't bad for anyone.
posted by mkelley at 6:16 AM on October 11, 2002

From mcwetboy's link: "Longtime readers will notice that many of the early design elements are back, the color scheme is different (and will be changing daily) and several navigation capabilities have been dramatically redone."
posted by dayvin at 6:29 AM on October 11, 2002

daaaah! it looks like that Whitney Houston video with the dayglo gloves and lipstick and sunglasses...feh.
posted by serafinapekkala at 6:29 AM on October 11, 2002

Yikes! Those colours....

Fortunately, since the colours/design is being controlled by CSS - you can turn it off! I've put a toggle CSS favlet here for anyone who needs it. ;-)

It would be great if they could let users pick their own stylesheets!
posted by Stuart_R at 6:36 AM on October 11, 2002

I had stopped reading Wired because of that awful moon-sized ad frame at the bottom. Looks like it's now safe to return. As for the colours, if it weren't garish, how would we know it was Wired?
posted by Yogurt at 6:54 AM on October 11, 2002

Standards compliance don't mean dick if the color choices blind people. I've seen puke that was more attractive.
posted by Captain Ligntning at 7:28 AM on October 11, 2002

I suspect a majority of people understand what is meant by saying, "Next Page," instead of something more glaringly modern, like "Next Screen."

What would be wrong with the medium-neutral "more" or "continued"?

I actually love the colors! It makes me happy!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:38 AM on October 11, 2002

Web standards are great, and it's great that Wired is (sort of) using them, but I'd be willing to bet that the main motivator behind this was cost. Back In The Day, ad revenues could cover the costs of serving 20 megabytes of frames and nested tables and javascript with every page view; now they have to cut back a bit.
posted by Tlogmer at 7:55 AM on October 11, 2002

The BBC has an interesting web-app, Betsie (BBC Education Text to Speech Internet Enhancer - phew!) that converts nested table-style design (or in fact most kinds of text markup) into "plain" HTML to improve its accessibility particularly for screen readers.

But those colours? Eeuggh!
posted by Lleyam at 8:01 AM on October 11, 2002

Zeldman weighs in with his thoughts on the redesign, and explains why it doesn't validate due to third-party content from advertisers, etc.
posted by dayvin at 8:49 AM on October 11, 2002

Tlogmer - How is Wired (Sort of) using web standards?

Zeldman's page states that the only reason that both the CSS and XHTML on Wired's new page does not validate is because of the non-standard HTML coughed up by ad banners and the ad banner middleware. Save the code, cut out the ad banner stuff, and it validates like a charm. (On preview - dayvin beat me to the Zeldman link.)

Personally, I agree with Zeldman. Appearance aside (And, as many people have already said, Wired ... both print and web form ... has always been at the forefront of incredibly garish web design... no keed to keep stating that ad nauseum, please! Besides, Wired is PROUD of being ugly. They go to great lengths to calculate their ugliness.), the fact that Wired is now CSS and XHTML 1.0 compliant means that I can do it too. The fact that at least one other organization that is not "one of them crappy teenager-run web design mags" is paying attention to standards, combined with some of the recent lawsuits, means that I get a say when our graphic designer works up photoshop comps, just to make sure that I can code things in a compliant way. It means that the new corporate website where I work will validate to XHTML 1.0. It means that I can simplify the output code for our corporate CMS.

[This is good]
posted by SpecialK at 9:01 AM on October 11, 2002

Wired is irrelevant.
posted by copacetix at 9:18 AM on October 11, 2002

I love it, the articles are easier to read, everything seems to be in the right place, and the color scheme is reminiscent of their classic designs. To me as a longtime user of wired news and magazine, it's a 100% hit.

The only bug I see is that in mozilla, the second paragraph on every article has a weird right hand margin that doesn't line up with the rest of the article. I haven't dug into the code, but I would guess they're doing something wrong there with the positioning of the left hand side info (which should just be simply floated left to let the article flow right).
posted by mathowie at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2002

"My eyes! Ze goggles, they do nothing!"
Anyways, it's business as usual for Wired. I for one will keep reading.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:55 AM on October 11, 2002

Whoops; I stand corrected. (I actually had skimmed the source before commenting and didn't find anything horrible, but it was just a skim and I took from the other comments in the thread that...eh, you get the picture.)
posted by Tlogmer at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2002

It's a damned site more readable than it used to be.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 10:49 AM on October 11, 2002

the fact that Wired is now CSS and XHTML 1.0 compliant means that I can do it too.

RES went XHTML+CSS last month as part of the print magazine redesign. We're still working out the kinks and missing pieces as we go, since we had a serious crunch of a deadline to turn it out. In other words, we know about the embed. It'll be gone soon enough. :)

Kind of a self-link by paycheck, sorry.
posted by teradome at 11:35 AM on October 11, 2002

This is still way better than 1997-98 era hotwired, when they were oversizing gifs and going for that blocky look.
posted by 2sheets at 11:58 AM on October 11, 2002

To be fair when I posted it, the site had a totally different color scheme from the one everyone can see, it was a weird orangey/black thing.
posted by zeoslap at 1:12 PM on October 11, 2002

All in favor of standards here, and glad to see Wired is as well, even though I'm not a big fan of them...

One thing to point out re: splitting articles by pages -- it is typically not done to reduce page load (since the general load is just text, it is far outweighed by ads and graphics loading around it) -- but to increase ad views.

Famed sites like television without pity as well as more prominent ad-driven publications adopt this approach often -- sometimes explicitly, sometimes not -- to drive up the number of eyeballs that 'see' (read: 'mostly ignore') their ads.
posted by babylon at 1:15 PM on October 11, 2002

eesh! Looks like hotbot, which kinda makes sense since both are owned by TerraLycos. Yet Hotbot has had that "why are my eyes burning?" color scheme for quite some time...
posted by samsara at 2:20 PM on October 11, 2002

AAAAAAHHHHH! My retinas! My retinas!! That green should be banned as a web color!
posted by misangela at 2:37 PM on October 11, 2002

And yet, with all that nifty standards hoo-ha, they're making the oldest mistake of all: running text from one side of the browser to the other on story pages. Long text lines are hard to read. That's why newspapers have columns. Readers don't care about CSS and XHTML - they care if they can read the stories.
posted by fraying at 3:16 PM on October 11, 2002

So adjust the window size. (Yes, I know; nobody does that. I didn't myself until quite recently.)
posted by Tlogmer at 5:32 PM on October 11, 2002

it looks like a happy medium. The text flexes to window width until the text block gets to be 800px, then it stops stretching. They could have gone with a narrower max, but I like that it's fluid below that. A little wide, but not so wide that text is painful to read.
posted by mathowie at 5:53 PM on October 11, 2002

Yay, they've gone for making their articles span the entire width of the browser. Great, now I only have to resize my browser to read the article without getting neckache *g*

Fixed width columns have their place, people.
posted by wackybrit at 11:09 PM on October 11, 2002

I don't mind the fluorescent green as much as the black side bar, which makes the main text on white harder to read - something a little less high contrast would be nice.
posted by Lynsey at 12:56 AM on October 12, 2002

Oh, man, is this a keeper.
posted by y2karl at 7:26 PM on October 12, 2002

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