I'm posting the email I sent on October 4, soon after the beta went live. Let's see what got fixed and whether or not they're listening.
I have a few comments on the new site design. I agree with most of the feedback from that thread. It looks pretty grim. But here are a few specific things I noticed that I didn't see mentioned too much in that thread.
1. There are a lot of comments that mentioned that comments are harder to follow. That's true, but one thing I didn't see mentioned was the "Parent" link on each comment. I use this quite a bit. I'll often see an abbreviated comment that's part of a conversation. Hitting that link gives me context with one click. If you're not going to put back any other visual cues to help follow the conversations, this feature is critical.
Okay, it looks like they have clumsily addressed the ease with which you can follow a thread (indent both sides!), but the lack of a parent link is puzzling. I know this has come up a bunch in the comments.
2. The "Topics" list only has popular topics. I don't see anywhere to see "All topics". And Linux didn't make that list? Boy, how /. has changed!
Still the same. The original content still featured and no "All topics".
3. I have selected the "classic" view. A cookie or something remembers that setting, which is great. But when the site loads, I get a flash of the "standard" mode. This is really annoying.
This looks like it was fixed. Great job, guys!
3a. In fact, the whole "standard" mode is frustrating. Not so much because of its generic appearance, but because of the stock photos used for each picture. I know this was mentioned a LOT in the comments. But I'm going to bring it up again here. The great thing about the /. icons is that a quick glance tells me what broad category the story falls into. On the beta site right now, I see:
an old timey time clock for a story about Lockheed layoffs (not really helpful)
A screenshot of the overloaded healthcare site (helpful)
Steve Jobs holding an iPhone on a story about iPhones (sort of helpful - a story about Jobs, Apple, or iPhones??)
A quad-copter with a camera on a story about drone regulation (looks more like a story about modding drones than shutting them down)
The Steam logo for a story about Steam (helpful)
A water drop on a leaf for a story about hydrophobic materials in powerplants (not helpful)
The problem as I see it is that I expect a photo to convey more specific information than an icon. When a picture tries to do the job of an icon, like in standard mode, my brain gets confused; my brain expects the picture to belong to the story. In my opinion, the pictures make the site look cheap and make me want to look elsewhere. Please, please, default to classic mode to save bandwidth and to avoid the "photo as icon" thing I just tried to describe.
Yeah, they really like their pictures in the new design.
4. I'm also a little confused about the "All stories" vs. "Editor's picks". One thing I like about /. is that the editors, though they often don't do any editorializing or editing, do sort of curate the site. They act as a pair of eyeballs (hopefully) attached to a brain that makes the decision as to whether something gets on the front page. If the site defaults to "All stories" and that category is front page plus firehose, then I'll surely be looking elsewhere for my News for Nerds.
I haven't dug into whether "all news" is the same as front plus firehose, but it appears to be and is still the default.
I have little hope that any substantive changes will be made. The nature of UI redesign these days is to change things, ask for comments and ignore comments. We'll get used to it, right? Please don't do this to Slashdot. Although it's not quite the site it was ten years ago when I started visiting almost daily, it's still the best place for discussion of tech news and other major world events. Please keep it that way.
Yep. Not much has changed. It looks like the folks making the decisions are counting on the userbase sticking around and shutting up at some point. that's too bad.
P.S. Here are a couple other things that bug me but were already mentioned many times in the comments:
UID, comment ID/link, and moderation history must be attached to each comment.
This has not changed. Discussion still broken. Oh, and did you know that if you click a link to an archived comment, you can't actually read the comment in the beta? That's great, guys! Here's the link I tried it on this morning: Link
There's a ton of wasted space to the right of the comments, squeezing the comments, which will likely make for shorter comments and may change the way people hold a conversation on the site
Still there. Still a major complaint made by a ton of people.
The original BI, Cloud, etc. content being front and center in the "topics" list. I go there once a month, or so, just to see whether there's any action, any commentary going on there. There usually isn't. Sure, there's original content, but those sites lack the thing that makes /. great: the conversation. Don't make it hard for people to get at what they want, even if it's not what you want them to want.
Yep. That's still there. They're really trying to push those original content sites, it seems. But I they're trying to get the eyeballs of a different kind of people than the majority of users on /. (from what I can tell, anyway).
So that's what I wrote back then. I've seen from the comments and my time on the beta site this morning that many of the problems that have been voiced by a large portion of the userbase here in the comments, that most of the problems/issues are not being fixed. Soulskill admitted in a comment that the discussion system isn't finished yet. Owing to the fact that the discussion is the main reason people visit /. this is troubling. Why roll the beta out when the meat of the site isn't ready for prime time. I don't have a lot of hope for the future of Slashdot, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.