Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 26th Dec 2012 00:32 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes Now that the holidays are upon us (happy holidays!) and the year is about to end, we at OSNews thought it time to finally lift the veil a little bit on the next version of OSNews - OSNews 5. I've hinted at this next version of OSNews here and there in the comments, but we think it's time to make it all a little bit more official by taking in some initial feedback.
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Feedback
by Moochman on Wed 26th Dec 2012 15:27 UTC
Moochman
Member since:
2005-07-06

Here's my feedback on the redesign mockups, in no particular order:

(Disclaimer: not that it necessarily gives me extra authority, but I am an interaction designer in real life.)

1) Color scheme: The green is a tad too edgy for my taste. I actually like the current green (though I just noticed it doesn't *quite* match between the "Search OSNews" color and the "News" box headline -- I'd go with the current "Search OSNews" color in order to keep things mild and maintain the brand while not veering too far into chartreuse territory...) As for the background, I also prefer white to gray in the name of contrast and overall "friendliness". On the other hand, I'm glad you got rid of all the dark gray elements from the top of the site -- they were just needlessly darkening things IMHO.

2) The logo -- where did it go??? What I would really love to see is the current (and much-beloved) logo, but all-green (the same green as mentioned above, of course). That would be a nice brand identity!

3) The menu bar at the top left -- the most important actions should be more clearly given precedence. For instance, probably less than 1% of readers are interested in the menu item "Advertise" -- so why should it be given such importance, as opposed to a small link e.g. at the bottom of the page or underneath another banner ad? And "Support" -- really how often do we readers need support? It's not like it's a home electronics company here. Wouldn't it be enough to offer a link to a support e-mail on the "Contact" page?

Also, I'm not convinced that the "Topics" and "Originals" really need their own menu points--after all, both of them are "windows" on the Archive, so they could just as well be implemented as filters within the Archive page.

4) The user account controls on the right-hand side: The fact that this tiny box takes up all the space on the right-hand side strikes me as wasteful. The current UI of having other news items listed along the right-hand side is much more useful, if a bit distracting/cluttered. However, this is IMHO due to the current way it's implemented. The current clutter could potentially be reduced by showing only the first few lines of text per article followed by ellipses (...), and by responsively docking the news column to the right edge of the browser / hiding it when the browser window is too narrow.

As for the points within the user menu: Where are the links to comments, settings, and submissions? IMHO the current "My Account" menu is near perfect (aside from the fact that it requires mouse hovering as opposed to a more usable and touch-friendly click-to-expand). Baby/bathwater and all that...

On the plus side, I recognize the benefit of the fact that this user controls menu is (I'm guessing) designed to float and be available regardless of scrolling on the page. I applaud that. However, it could just as well be integrated in the top bar and the entire bar floated, as on some other sites such as Ars Technica.

5) The search field ... It needs some kind of "Search" button for touchscreen users, and IMHO it would make more sense at the top since that's the current established convention on web pages. Again see Ars Technica for a good example of this.

6) The comments:
a) In just about all modern OSes aside from Windows, as well as most web apps, the "Submit"/"Continue"/"OK" button is on the right, and the "Cancel"/"Back" button is on the left. This makes a lot more sense from a web conventions perspective as well, since the right side is associated
with moving forward and the left side with moving backwards. So I would advise to switch the button order.
b) As I mentioned in another comment, the distinction between comments and the ability to identify the speaker is important for the "conversational" feeling of the comments section. I believe it is possible to maintain a minimalist aesthetic while still clearly demarcating comments and commenters from each other. And this is important. Historically OSNews has been a kind of "community" because its membership is somehow small enough to easily recognize many of its members and get a feeling for their personality. When you recognize a funny user ID or a cat picture or what have you as an avatar, it gives you a warm friendly feeling inside to see someone you "know" and it makes you feel like part of the community to involve yourself in conversation with them and have yourself be recognized as well. This is one of OSNews' strengths and should be supported, not repressed. IMHO.


Anyway, I like the minimalism and the general aesthetic, I love the fact that comments are going to be in-line, and I am *especially* relieved to hear that the news submission process will be improved. That's my feedback for now. Keep up the good work. ;)


P.S. I'm generally available to contribute a critical eye or a creative hand to the design process, with or without pay. ;) So feel free to hit me up for this as you feel might be beneficial, if you ever just want a quick round of feedback without taking it to the general readership...

Edited 2012-12-26 15:36 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Feedback
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 26th Dec 2012 16:26 in reply to "Feedback"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The green is a tad too edgy for my taste.


I chose it specifically because of its neon-radioactive hue. It's incredibly distinctive, and yes, a bit sharp, but that does give the whole a unique identity that would be lost (in my view) with a softer green. Still, this is one of the easier aspects to play with, and of course, actual wider testing on different displays may easily reveal it's simply *too sharp*.

As for the background, I also prefer white to gray in the name of contrast and overall "friendliness".


I dislike plain white as a background colour - I find it unpleasant on my eyes. On my displays, there's more than enough contrast in the current mockups, but again, this may be different for other displays or people with eye issues.

Luckily, the text is actually a dark grey, so I could make it black instead, like so:

http://postimage.org/image/ds7xv1ahv/

Does that improve things? I really want to avoid going all-white for the background :/.

The logo -- where did it go???


I just can't get the current logo to look right on the smaller size I require it - so I went with all text instead. I'm indifferent about it, though - if an actual designer can get the logo to look right at the same size as the text 'logo' is now in the mockups, it could easily work.

The menu bar at the top left


(you mean top-right)

Don't worry too much about the items currently in there - I specifically designed it to be able to hold more items than it actually will, all for future-proofing. The 'advertise'-thing is a vestigial aspect of an earlier idea in which I want OSNews to play a more active role in advertising, and rent out advertisement space directly to people/companies interested. However, this is probably too much work, and likely wouldn't work anyway (we're too small).

The 'support' one should actually read 'support OSNews' - it's a page where you can become a member (pay a little bit and remove ads), donate (perhaps), stuff like that. I just can't find a good single word for it though, so for the time being, I just stuck to 'support' - even though it's clearly suboptimal ;) .

The current UI of having other news items listed along the right-hand side is much more useful, if a bit distracting/cluttered.


Won't happen ;) . Getting rid of the second column is a core aspect of the redesign, and I don't want it back in.

As for the points within the user menu: Where are the links to comments, settings, and submissions?


Same as with the top-right menubar - I just threw a few placeholders in there. It can easily hold more stuff like you just summed up.

It needs some kind of "Search" button for touchscreen users, and IMHO it would make more sense at the top since that's the current established convention on web pages.


I just think it needs to be above the fold, and not necessarily at the top. Putting it at the top would introduce a non-standard item to the top-right menubar (they're all text links, not input fields), which I don't want (it would look hideous). I can play with moving it above the user menu, though. Made a note to try this out.

It's actually a throwback to Eugenia's OSNews - it was at the bottom of the left-side menubar in OSNews 2.

In just about all modern OSes aside from Windows, as well as most web apps, the "Submit"/"Continue"/"OK" button is on the right, and the "Cancel"/"Back" button is on the left[


I prefer cancel to be on the right, but I have no hard feelings about it. I wondered when someone would bring this up ;) . This is easily addressed.

As I mentioned in another comment, the distinction between comments and the ability to identify the speaker is important for the "conversational" feeling of the comments section.


Heard this one loud and clear. I really, really, really don't want to go back to individual thumbnails (god those things are ugly and ridiculous, esp. since many people don't change it and you just get loads of default icons), so I'm going to look for a different solution. I'm currently drawing blanks, but hey, I'm tired.

I'm generally available to contribute a critical eye or a creative hand to the design process


Once we hit the stage where we're going to ask users to test, you're more than welcome ;) .

Edited 2012-12-26 16:29 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Feedback
by kwan_e on Thu 27th Dec 2012 03:06 in reply to "RE: Feedback"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Once we hit the stage where we're going to ask users to test, you're more than welcome ;) .


Just don't go all Josh Timonen and you'll be fine.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Feedback
by WereCatf on Thu 27th Dec 2012 03:26 in reply to "RE: Feedback"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

"The logo -- where did it go???


I just can't get the current logo to look right on the smaller size I require it - so I went with all text instead. I'm indifferent about it, though - if an actual designer can get the logo to look right at the same size as the text 'logo' is now in the mockups, it could easily work.
"

I don't think you really tried that hard. The logo doesn't actually have to be pixel data, it could be an SVG-file that allows it to scale to any screen resolution you might need, or it could simply be text with a few lines of CSS to sprite it up.

I just whipped you an example of what I mean: http://pastebin.com/Huq52qpF -- just save the contents to a .html - file, open it up in any browser of your liking, and POOF! Instant logo. Hell, it even scales well on all of my mobile devices, too, and looks good even if I overlay it on top of your own screenshot: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/11811685/nina_story.png . Also, yes, the red dot is there on purpose.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Feedback
by jrronimo on Thu 27th Dec 2012 03:29 in reply to "RE: Feedback"
jrronimo Member since:
2006-02-28

Something like Gravatar maybe? I believe it generates a 'random' thumbnail for people, but they are also able to customize it.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Feedback
by Luminair on Thu 27th Dec 2012 09:57 in reply to "RE: Feedback"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

I do suggest you listen to that guy and provide accurate designs rather than useless stuff that wastes time with useless replies. He provided a lot of correct answers and your replies were a lot of ehhhhhh meh

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Feedback
by Moochman on Thu 27th Dec 2012 18:03 in reply to "RE: Feedback"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

Luckily, the text is actually a dark grey, so I could make it black instead, like so:

http://postimage.org/image/ds7xv1ahv/

Does that improve things? I really want to avoid going all-white for the background :/.


Maybe a bit. But actually, what I forgot to write in my previous feedback is the question: Why don't you just allow users to tweak the color scheme for themselves? If you're already offering a "night" mode, I imagine it shouldn't be too much trouble to offer a few more alternative color schemes or even to allow more detailed per-user/per-HTML-element customization.

I just can't get the current logo to look right on the smaller size I require it - so I went with all text instead. I'm indifferent about it, though - if an actual designer can get the logo to look right at the same size as the text 'logo' is now in the mockups, it could easily work.


Agreed on the idea of taking on an actual graphic designer. Unfortunately I am not one. Anyone else reading this want to volunteer their talents?

Anyway, at the very least I would suggest you could try filling the current logo with all-green and with the font size of the word "news" increased. I think that could look quite decent even at smaller sizes.

Don't worry too much about the items currently in there - I specifically designed it to be able to hold more items than it actually will, all for future-proofing.


Fine and good, but seeing as you are playing the role of UI designer as well as graphic designer these things are important to define as best as you can *now*. Otherwise some technical "features" will in all likelihood fill in the blanks for you, in a manner that in all likelihood will be sub-optimally usable.

Think about what the actual needs of your users are, not about some abstract concept of "future proofing". Learn a lesson from KDE 4 and don't ignore current usability concerns in the name of an abstract ideal of future flexibility.

The 'support' one should actually read 'support OSNews' - it's a page where you can become a member (pay a little bit and remove ads), donate (perhaps), stuff like that. I just can't find a good single word for it though, so for the time being, I just stuck to 'support' - even though it's clearly suboptimal ;) .


Why not space the menu items out more so you can fit more than one-word item names, and call it "Support OSNews"? Seems simple and unambiguous enough to me.


The current UI of having other news items listed along the right-hand side is much more useful, if a bit distracting/cluttered.

Won't happen ;) . Getting rid of the second column is a core aspect of the redesign, and I don't want it back in.


OK if you're that set against it. But please at least take a cursory look at e.g. Ars Technica and the Verge, both of which make good use of this extra space.

It needs some kind of "Search" button for touchscreen users, and IMHO it would make more sense at the top since that's the current established convention on web pages.

I just think it needs to be above the fold, and not necessarily at the top. Putting it at the top would introduce a non-standard item to the top-right menubar (they're all text links, not input fields), which I don't want (it would look hideous). I can play with moving it above the user menu, though. Made a note to try this out.


Above the menu sounds good. Or again, check out Ars Technica -- they make putting it in-line with the menu work visually even though it is indeed another kind of element.

I prefer cancel to be on the right, but I have no hard feelings about it. I wondered when someone would bring this up ;) . This is easily addressed.


Glad you are responsive to this. It would be more consistent with the rest of the web. ;)

I really, really, really don't want to go back to individual thumbnails (god those things are ugly and ridiculous, esp. since many people don't change it and you just get loads of default icons), so I'm going to look for a different solution. I'm currently drawing blanks, but hey, I'm tired.


Why not only show avatar icons if they're available, otherwise don't show anything? That's how The Verge does it and it seems to work fine there.

One more thing: The "Submit News" link doesn't have anything to do with the user profile and so shouldn't be buried inside the user menu. In fact this is an incredibly important function that you want to encourage the use of, no? I should think it's at least as important as the "Support OSnews" function, seeing as content is the number one priority of a user-content-based news aggregation and editorial site. So why not put it in a highly visible position, for instance in the top-right menu, perhaps in a brighter color to emphasizes it (like the "Subscribe now" item on Ars Technica)?

Cheers for listening, looking forward to the next update. ;)

Edited 2012-12-27 18:08 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Feedback
by zima on Fri 28th Dec 2012 16:58 in reply to "RE: Feedback"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I just can't get the current logo to look right on the smaller size I require it - so I went with all text instead

It would be a bit sad if the only notable gfx on OSNews were those in ads... (which stay, I suppose)

Also, do links to comments stay the same? (as in, will old links to old comments still work?)

Reply Parent Score: 2