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Subject: Persona 3: FES
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Date: 3rd October 2014 Time: 16:00 EST
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Author Topic: new site layout/design  (Read 24513 times)
Vilnius
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2009, 04:38:52 AM »

It looked pretty bad until I adblocked all the ads, now it's just ok.
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2009, 10:48:16 AM »

I know I'm probably not going to be very popular with this answer but it's very easy to complain about something when you don't have all the information behind the decisions being made.  Given the fact that just a week ago, there was a good chance that RPGFan would have to close entirely for many reasons that I'm not going to explain here, it's nothing short of a miracle that Mike was able to go from absolutely nothing to a complete implementation of a new design in about a week (while still working a regular job) in order to try and help the site survive.  You also have to take into account that we don't have the manpower to redesign every single page of the website so Mike has to work on making a new design while ensuring that the current pages fit within the design without having to go and change them all individually.  Not an easy task.  I know people will bitch about the ads, that's inevitable.  In the more than 10 years of RPGFan, we've been one of the sites with the least amount of ads you can find.  I've always hated ads and although we could have made money in the past by putting tons of ads on the site, making money was not our goal and all we wanted to do was make just enough money to survive and pay the server bills.  Profit has never been RPGFan's goal.

So basically, we willingly decided not to make money from this site in order for YOU GUYS being able to browse the site relatively ad-free.  Now that we're in desperate need of money to survive, we don't have a choice but to increase the amount of ads.  The only other solution is closing the site down completely.  If you guys think closing down the site is a better option, then fine, we'll do that.  If not, then I don't want to hear people bitching about the ads.  Given the fact that nobody on this site ever gets rewarded with a single penny and work their ass off on their spare time to bring content to RPGFan, I don't think having ads to ensure that you guys still have a website to visit is that much of a problem.  Is it?  Just look around on the internet.  Every other website out there have TONS of ads all over their site, some incredibly intrusive and annoying.  In this day and age, it's a necessity, we really don't have a choice.  We're trying our best to keep the ads at a minimum.  Just barely enough to survive is what we're aiming at.  If things go well, we might look to eliminate that Soundtacks ad next to the RPGFan logo.  That's always a possibility.  However, right now we'll wait a bit to see if that's feasible or not financially.

Now, keep in mind that I'm not saying people aren't allowed to comment on the new design.  We certainly welcome any constructive criticism and suggestions (like some of you have done) but just saying: "I like the old design better, can you put it back" serves no purpose.  It's not possible to keep the old design, I liked it too but it's not viable in today's market and restricts us too much in the stuff we need to do on the site.  Also, as much as I think it "looked" good, it was pretty outdated and needed to be changed after 6 years.  I think Mike did a great job with this design, Yeah, some things could look better but as I explained, without the ability to change every page on the site and having to keep the current older page design for every page, he is stuck having to design only an "outer shell".  If given the opportunity to create an entire design from scratch, Mike could do some amazing stuff but right now, he's stuck having to work with a ton of restrictions.  To be honest, I think the site looks pretty good right now and we'll be working on changing more stuff in the future too.
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blackthirteen
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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2009, 10:50:14 AM »

Honestly I love it very much. I especially love the top section with the big news.

It's perfectly understandable that you try to monetize your website with advertisements. Anyone complaining about this probably don't understand the process of running a website. My only concern is the organization of the ads, it lack of visual balance.

Anyway, I love the new direction with the overall design :)
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Wild Armor
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2009, 12:12:02 PM »

The Good: I like the larger News banner. The design doesn't bother me at all, especially if the content is still there. The ads are quite ridiculous, but working on a game site, that is offline right now, they are a complete necessity.

The Bad: Location of ads. They just seemed clumped together.

Other than the ads location, the new layout is just fine, especially done when working a regular job. Hope to see new changes.
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magusgs
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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2009, 02:00:11 PM »

Mike, as one designer to another, I've gotta admit, I've got a lot of problems with it, man. It feels very unbalanced, formally, and doesn't breathe enough. The gutters are small, and the fact that your content has no separators with the ad bar, you've created a lot of weird blank space in the center that just doesn't sit right with the eye. The old page had a much better sense of separating content from navigation and ad bars. The eye was drawn vertically down the page, but was able to pick out the commercials in periphery. Currently, I find my eye wondering kinda aimlessly to find what I'm looking for. Finally, this "padding: 0" thing just isn't working for me, it feels like my browser isn't displaying the page correctly, adding a good 15px of padding between the sides of the page and the content. It works great for the navigation and images at the top, but not for the news links list. It almost feels like the page was formatted with tables, like we all used to do back in the 90s, instead of using CSS.

I don't understand most of the aesthetic speak here, but I find myself agreeing...I think.  I liked the side navigation bar, and I thought the page didn't load right when I didn't see it there the first time.  Speaking strictly from a functional point of view, clear navigation is the most important aspect of a front page (for a user).  The old navigation bar worked very well in that regard.  As it is now, navigation is semi-hidden, and stands out less than the daily topics.  Your 2 advertisements on the right side of the page are also redundant.  They show the same picture, just sized differently.
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« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2009, 03:10:21 PM »

Mike, as one designer to another, I've gotta admit, I've got a lot of problems with it, man. It feels very unbalanced, formally, and doesn't breathe enough. The gutters are small, and the fact that your content has no separators with the ad bar, you've created a lot of weird blank space in the center that just doesn't sit right with the eye. The old page had a much better sense of separating content from navigation and ad bars. The eye was drawn vertically down the page, but was able to pick out the commercials in periphery. Currently, I find my eye wondering kinda aimlessly to find what I'm looking for. Finally, this "padding: 0" thing just isn't working for me, it feels like my browser isn't displaying the page correctly, adding a good 15px of padding between the sides of the page and the content. It works great for the navigation and images at the top, but not for the news links list. It almost feels like the page was formatted with tables, like we all used to do back in the 90s, instead of using CSS.

I don't understand most of the aesthetic speak here, but I find myself agreeing...I think.  I liked the side navigation bar, and I thought the page didn't load right when I didn't see it there the first time.  Speaking strictly from a functional point of view, clear navigation is the most important aspect of a front page (for a user).  The old navigation bar worked very well in that regard.  As it is now, navigation is semi-hidden, and stands out less than the daily topics.  Your 2 advertisements on the right side of the page are also redundant.  They show the same picture, just sized differently.

They're both google ad boxes on the right - we're not the ones who designate which ads go there, the goodle ad bots are.  Sometimes they'll be the same, sometimes they won't - it's a lot of the same MMOs, etc. that buy that space up.
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« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2009, 03:46:50 PM »

A lot of stuff.

This is not an all-or-nothing proposition, though. We're suggesting ways of improving the quality as it is. First off, I don't really have any problem with the ad position or size, and I'm guessing that's where your financial problems are. The problem isn't the ad part it's the CONTENT and NAVIGATION portions that feel disjointed, not because of their size, but because of their layout and lack of guttering. The way "space" is distrubuted throughout the page is very disjointed. It's not too much, it's not too little, it's just not very well constructed. This has nothing to do with the balance of ads, navigation and content, but their formatting.

Secondly, redesigning a site shouldn't be any harder than redesigning a page if the webdesigner is doing his job right and using a combination of CSS and Dynamic XHTML. Navbars should be stored in separate pages so that updating one document will update the entire site. Colors and formating should be cast in CSS, so adding things like padding and changing layout should be a fairly simple job. This is precisely why CSS was invented.

I'm happy that you guys have saved RPGFan, however.
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« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2009, 05:08:26 PM »

Quote
I liked the side navigation bar, and I thought the page didn't load right when I didn't see it there the first time.  Speaking strictly from a functional point of view, clear navigation is the most important aspect of a front page (for a user).  The old navigation bar worked very well in that regard.  As it is now, navigation is semi-hidden, and stands out less than the daily topics.

Well, the problem is that we needed horizontal space so we HAD to get rid of the vertical navigation because it was taking too much space.  Nowadays, almost all websites are designed with the navigation at the top.  Take a look at IGN, Gamespot and most of the other big websites.  Navigation is often at the top.  This allows for more space to fit stuff horizontally on the rest of the page below.  In our case, it was essential to free that space in order to have that all-important 300x250 ad in its current place.  Also, as I said, top navigation is becoming more and more the standard now.
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« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2009, 05:16:17 PM »

I an back Eric on that one. It's simply good design now to have a top-set navigation bar for all primary purposes. Not only is it a space saver, it also takes visual precedence over other information, which is something you want in a primary menu.
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« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2009, 05:21:28 PM »

I like the new design alot. I find it clean and easy to navigate, and the design/sizing on the features is great.

I've been a fairly consistent reader at RPGFan, as I trust your reviews better than pretty much any other sites. While I don't know much about design, my reader's eye has no problem navigating the new layout.

The only thing I find fault with is small: in the navigation bar near the top of the page, there's no space between the "Staff" link and the search bar. Is that just my browser?

Either way, thank you for the extensive update and for keeping the reviews I trust in business.
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« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2009, 05:27:49 PM »

I like the new design alot. I find it clean and easy to navigate, and the design/sizing on the features is great.

I've been a fairly consistent reader at RPGFan, as I trust your reviews better than pretty much any other sites. While I don't know much about design, my reader's eye has no problem navigating the new layout.

The only thing I find fault with is small: in the navigation bar near the top of the page, there's no space between the "Staff" link and the search bar. Is that just my browser?

Either way, thank you for the extensive update and for keeping the reviews I trust in business.

That's actually a browser issue - if possible, could you provide me with your Browser and OS in a PM?  We'd appreciate it!
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« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2009, 05:30:59 PM »


This is not an all-or-nothing proposition, though. We're suggesting ways of improving the quality as it is. First off, I don't really have any problem with the ad position or size, and I'm guessing that's where your financial problems are. The problem isn't the ad part it's the CONTENT and NAVIGATION portions that feel disjointed, not because of their size, but because of their layout and lack of guttering. The way "space" is distrubuted throughout the page is very disjointed. It's not too much, it's not too little, it's just not very well constructed. This has nothing to do with the balance of ads, navigation and content, but their formatting.

Secondly, redesigning a site shouldn't be any harder than redesigning a page if the webdesigner is doing his job right and using a combination of CSS and Dynamic XHTML. Navbars should be stored in separate pages so that updating one document will update the entire site. Colors and formating should be cast in CSS, so adding things like padding and changing layout should be a fairly simple job. This is precisely why CSS was invented.

I'm happy that you guys have saved RPGFan, however.

Yeah, as I said, my post was only refering to people who complain about ads and a few other things, it wasn't meant for everybody's comments.

Now, as far as the issues you're mentioning is concerned, I'll let Mike answer that since he's more knowledgeable about these things.  However, one thing I'd like to tackle is your "redesigning a site shouldn't be any harder than redesigning a page if the webdesigner is doing his job right" comment.   Yes, I agree with you on that front, for recent websites.  But the problem here is that you have to remember that RPGFan was created 11 years ago.  Techniques like these weren't invented or weren't really used much back in those days.  By the time these techniques were common knowledge, RPGFan was already a site of more than 10,000 HTML pages and we did not exactly have the time or manpower to go around to changing everything.  We always had to work with existing pages and existing designs.  Over the years, we've been able to incorporate a lot of SSI, CSS and CGI scripts into RPGFan but the site isn't completely done that way.  The "shell" itself which includes the navbar, the top and the bottom can easily be changed since they are "includes" but the "content" itself, the part that changes on every page, this is all hardcoded (except for CSS stuff in some places).  Sometimes, this part isn't easy to fit well with the outer shell.  But once again, Mike can shed more light on that if he wants to.

As for RPGFan being saved, that's not exactly the case, it'll never exactly be "saved".  Every time, we just find ways to extend its life for a little bit until the next crisis.  Right now, we're trying to make things better by changing the site and adding much-needed new ad space for our advertisers but there's no way to tell if we'll be successful in finding advertisers.  But, at least we're still trying and still have some life left in us. :)
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« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2009, 05:34:06 PM »

Quote
The only thing I find fault with is small: in the navigation bar near the top of the page, there's no space between the "Staff" link and the search bar. Is that just my browser?

Yeah, definitely a browser issue.  We tested with Firefox, Safari, IE7 and IE6 and it seemed to work on all of them.  As John said, let us know what browser you're using and what OS and we'll try to see what's wrong.
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« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2009, 05:44:01 PM »

To be honest, I don't really come here for content.  I get my news elsewhere and I don't read reviews anywhere by anybody.  I only go to the front page to click on the forums link.

Save for the ads raping my eye holes and the general Mac over-shininess of everything...  Yeah, I guess it's okay.  In a high level of alright.  Like, you know...  Kinda moderately awesome.  Or absolutely and perfectly middle of the road.  Amazingly decent.  Sorta nonpartisan.

I'm totally 100% indifferent to this new design!
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« Reply #29 on: April 13, 2009, 05:45:36 PM »

Ads is not a problem, they are not intrusive and are of aproporiate size.
What I missed is the preview section.  Isn't it too bad that all these previews are no where to be find?
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