Feed redesigns.
December 11, 2000 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Feed redesigns. I can imagine the design review: “Easy on the bandwidth!”
posted by capt.crackpipe (39 comments total)
I love the new simplicity. I hated the old frames-based interface. Reading articles is easier, especially now that there isn't a throbbing banner ad always shown in a frame, next to pages of text.
posted by mathowie at 5:20 PM on December 11, 2000

so that was sarcasm? because it looks pretty low bandwidth to me (I've never seen their old site).
posted by howa2396 at 5:21 PM on December 11, 2000

My initial reaction was that it was a bit busy looking. It certainly seems to be loading more quickly though.
posted by davidgentle at 5:26 PM on December 11, 2000

Here's the announcement of the new design. It's entirely driven by PHP and MySQL, running on Apache and Red Hat Linux.

As for the design, it's not obsessed with identity, but instead focused on highly usable and very well organized pages. The newest information floats to the top of almost every page, like a blog. I love it.
posted by waxpancake at 5:31 PM on December 11, 2000

Not only is it not obsessed with identity, but it reminds me a lot of salon's old design.
posted by brushman at 5:35 PM on December 11, 2000

Looks really crowded to me and there isn't the kind of obvious arrangement that you find on pages equally as loaded with material. Deeper down, the individual subject areas are a bit easier to swallow. Also, the orange is a bit hard on the eyes. I never was a fan of the old layout but this one is kind of dull.
posted by leo at 5:47 PM on December 11, 2000

They seem to be taking after ICQ, putting all their links on the main page....both sites need new web designers IMHO.
posted by grank at 5:49 PM on December 11, 2000

at least they got rid of that horrible bottom frame thing that plagues Wired and Suck
posted by briank at 5:58 PM on December 11, 2000

If you think the new design is busy, you should have seen the old one. It was much worse.
posted by mathowie at 5:58 PM on December 11, 2000

Although I visit Feed each day, I didn't notice the redesign because I always use their low bandwidth page. That page shows the clean, readable style I want when I am reading for content, not for images and other flashy stuff.
posted by girlhacker at 6:11 PM on December 11, 2000

Yeah matt, but somehow it was grouped better. You had a little color here, a little change in font size there. Now you've got nothing but a sea of orange. If it didn't look so much like milktoast, I'd be looking around for the "Not From Concentrate" sticker.
posted by leo at 6:15 PM on December 11, 2000

Wow, I think the low-bandwith page is beautiful. Why not use that design (or a slight variation thereof) for the whole thing? If you must have illustrations, the high-bandwith version could include an embedded cover image.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:21 PM on December 11, 2000

Very disappointing. Feed has always pushed the boundaries in visual design and the presentation of information. This design seems like they've given up.

I especially hate their new upside-down e logo. Awful.

Sure the old design had it's problems. But the information was better managed, the identity was a million times stronger, and it was easier to grok in a glance.

This redesign is just bland, uninspired, and crammed all together. And where's my beloved Feed Daily?

Two thumbs down.
posted by fraying at 6:28 PM on December 11, 2000

Nah, I wasn’t being sarcastic. At first glance it seems they’ve forsaken any identity or artistic flourishes for low bandwidth and open source tech. This page is very bland and flat.

I know Automatic Media has an inclusive policy for their users, but this page is very stifling, and very orange. I really liked the title graphic changing every season. It’s navigation and information over expression, whereas all of these things are equally important.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 6:38 PM on December 11, 2000

I agree redfoxtail - I didn't even know the lofi page existed, but it's great. Unusual, too. I think I might just lift a couple of its features for one of my own projects...

posted by Mars Saxman at 7:05 PM on December 11, 2000

I go the impression that a lot of the redesign was to do with technical underpinings, so it's possible that the actual layout might improve.
I won't stop reading it unless they stop running interesting articles (which is the point of the whole thing).
posted by davidgentle at 7:45 PM on December 11, 2000

I miss the old site but I am glad to see another great site flexing their muscles and trying to grow because many of us benefit from their mistakes. I for one love it when a big site redesigns so that I can see what the people on the front line are thinking.

We should give them credit for sticking with their old design as long as they did when other sites could not keep away from playing around with Photoshop.

posted by Brilliantcrank at 8:03 PM on December 11, 2000

I dunno about it. It's clean and whatnot, but when I look at the page, it's very busy. I don't know where I'm supposed to look first. I would suggest widening the main content column and making the font in there bigger than the fonts in the outside columns, so your eye knows where to go first.
posted by tomorama at 8:31 PM on December 11, 2000

I guess this means that very few people use Netscape 4.7x any more, or else I've got something really bizarre happening with my software. While I liked the general look of the site, I found that when I scrolled up and down the main page in Netscape 4.76, the page turned into an unreadable hairball of orange and black text. Worked just fine in Netscape 6 and IE 5.5, though.
posted by maudlin at 8:53 PM on December 11, 2000

Maudlin: Exact same thing happens to me with IE5. I think it has something to do with the <body background> attribute.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 10:46 PM on December 11, 2000

It's unfair to compare the new Feed design with that of ICQ, but there are some whitespace and typography issues. A little more space between stories and more attention to the typographic hierarchy (i.e. making sure section titles look like section titles, etc.) would go a long way in improving the usability & readability of the site.

And why did they so obviously mimic the previous Salon design? You'd think Feed would want to distance themselves from that a little more.
posted by jkottke at 11:08 PM on December 11, 2000

Wow - regarding the scrolling-mishmash issue, it hosed my IE5, had to restart to get all back to normal. Too bad that slipped thru any testing they did.

So I peeked at the code and, it's no wonder it's killing the page redraw - their background watermark image is 2000x4000 pixels!! While it's only an 11k download, that's a Hell of a lot of pixel-painting (up to 8,000,000 pixels or more depending on your resolution or any tiling of the image) that has to be done on every scroll. Even a lightweight image can kill a browser if it takes up too much real estate.
posted by kokogiak at 11:43 PM on December 11, 2000

What I want to know is, just who the hell does this 'jjc' person think he is?!?
posted by jjg at 12:03 AM on December 12, 2000

That watermark image is idiotic. 2k by 4k pixels = 8Mb of RAM to render the image. Stupid.

they could cut it down to the lower right hand corner of the D in feed (probably about 500px wide and 400px tall), then set it at 0,0 in css like so:

body {background: white url(images/newWatermark.gif) no-repeat 0% 0%;}

which would place the mark exactly where they want it in both Netscape 4+ and IE 4+, and be a fraction of the size, and use a fraction of the memory required to render the image.
posted by mathowie at 12:03 AM on December 12, 2000

Or how about (gasp!) no watermark? Watermarks on the Web don't work very well...it's much easier to read text over a pattern on paper than it is on screen. Resolution, contrast, and all that jazz, you know. The watermark contributes little to the design anyway.
posted by jkottke at 12:28 AM on December 12, 2000

I’m with kottke on this. Every aspect of this design looks like a draft. Some of you webloggers commented on how simple and attractive everything is, but Feed isn’t a weblog, it’s a magazine, and it needs to look like one.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 12:35 AM on December 12, 2000

> Feed isn’t a weblog, it’s a magazine, and it needs to look like one

If I were to compare it to a site, it wouldn't be a weblog. I'd say all the Feed subpages appear to be clones of the WiredNews subpages (their previous design).
posted by mathowie at 12:41 AM on December 12, 2000

For reference, the original design can be seen at: feedmag.com/index.html. I seem to remember being disappointed when they pushed that redesign live, although it's been so long I can't remember what the previous design looked like.

Thanks, though, girlhacker, for the pointer to the lo-fi site. Except for the background image repeating halfway down the page, it's flawless. I hope they keep it current (the 12/12 feature article isn't there yet).
posted by muta at 1:51 AM on December 12, 2000

The old site looked quite a bit like the lo-fi page, with the seasonal title graphic across the top.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:28 AM on December 12, 2000

I like it, basically, and I don't care whether it conforms to anyone's expectations of what a magazine "should" look like--traditional magazine design is an important touchstone for the web but not necessarily an all-good one.

But I agree with Jason that more attention to hierarchy is needed. The orange is too orange, and the excessive contrast gets all undermines the usefulness of the bold type in guiding the eye. The interior pages are better, but the problem's still there. I think this is a problem a lot of sites will have if they go the low-graphics, HTML + CSS route. With the relatively impoverished control of type that CSS allows you (as compared with Photoshop), you've got to depend on whitespace and layout--traditional typographic treatment--a lot more.

My suggestions: make the type in the link columns smaller, tone down the orange, add drop caps in the feature stories to help the eye find an entry point, increase the leading in the feature stories, and somehow set off the teaser items better. I don't what to do about the main page as a whole.

OK, maybe I don't like it so much.
posted by rodii at 7:06 AM on December 12, 2000

I find the main page pretty bland, sort of "online magazine template #12". I really liked that I got the whole first graf of Feed Daily on the last one, and the darker, more sombre graphic (even when it was bright, it seemed less cartoonish) zigged where most other online mags zagged.

The rest of the discussion above was really interesting - thanks everyone.
posted by mikel at 7:26 AM on December 12, 2000

I can't even read the page in NN 4.7 on the pc. it all overlaps. no scrolling required.

posted by rebeccablood at 11:55 AM on December 12, 2000

first of all, not every design has to break new ground, and neither does feed. so get over it.

i will whole-heartedly agree, however, that there are pretty big visual and content hierarchy issues. what am i supposed to look at first, anyway? and if you're gonna let the most recent content float to the top like a blog, why the arbitrary "subjects" headings? why not find a way to label articles more clearly and effectively by date AND subject heading since both seem to be so important? at least then when i scan a page i can start to visually separate the individual pieces into constituent categories. later when the stuff gets archived, at least it'll make more sense than the free-for-all dumping ground that are the subjects areas right now. also, it's pretty darn inexcusable that they're not using fricking ALT tags on the images for the redesigned article titles (and most other images for that matter). that kind of crap is infuriating. why the need to use graphics for text titles for a publication site like this anyway? i can just see it a few months from now-- "where's that 'beautiful losers' article?" type in the title in the search engine, think you're gonna find it? think again.

posted by miscdebris at 1:52 PM on December 12, 2000

it took forever to load on ie5.5. well, I have a 56k modem so most things load relatively medium speed, but this was at 25% for like 5 minutes...it was struggling on downloading something and I suppose it's that graphic everyone was talking about. I couldn't scroll or anything; I just saw the hideous orange links and 2 stilted lines for that time.

as soon as it finally loaded, I wasn't too impressed really. it didn't draw me in to read at all. of course, I've never read this mag before, but still. I agree, the lofi design was alot better and nicer to my pc.
posted by aekastar at 4:58 PM on December 12, 2000

Text with relevant links and pictures is all I really want. Magazines are paper entities and when you force that on the web it doesn't ever seem to work. The fact that a lofi page exists should be evidence enough.

I like bland web pages. It is a good indication that the concentration has been put on the articles. I'm not anti-design, it's just that most of it has so little to do with anything interesting on the web.
posted by john at 2:26 AM on December 13, 2000

what is with that watermark? Is it me, or is it blank? Did they change it in the last day or something? It just looks all white in my browser.
posted by beefula at 12:32 PM on December 13, 2000

Aha! They did remove the hugemongous watermark. Good for them.
posted by jkottke at 1:42 PM on December 13, 2000

Hmm. Does that mean they're reading this?
posted by davidgentle at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2000

The watermark is back in 800x1000 form.

Too bad they got tripped up by this little problem, and didn’t focus more on their identity.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:03 PM on December 13, 2000

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