It's been a long road. We've been asking for your opinions and suggestions for a while now
, to help guide the creation of a new, cleaner look for Slashdot. (Many of the changes are below the surface, too.) What we've arrived at so far in our Beta looks and acts differently in several ways than the early iterations did, thanks to your ongoing input. That input has come in the form of thousands of comments, a few phone calls, many hundreds of emails, and even a fax(!).
Slashdot's been evolving for a very long time, with just a few major redesigns along the way. Looking at the site as it appeared in 1998
, or even 2010
, you can watch this evolution take place. Most of the changes (especially the look of the front page) have been fairly subtle; you can poke through these (and other snapshots) at the amazingly useful Wayback Machine to see when this or that element on the page appeared, disappeared, grew some rounded corners, or moved into an AJAX element. The front page of Slashdot shows how much (but also how little!) has changed in the course of our redesign: Here's that front page in Classic
, and in the Beta as it stands
Unlike our typical changes over the years, though, the Beta has been co-existing with the current look for a long time. That's because the Beta consolidates quite a few changes, and changes have a way of stepping on each others' toes sometimes, so it's important to have the whole thing getting prodded by users. Since we asked for public feedback two short months ago, we've been steadily adding features, tweaking the design, and fixing bugs. Your suggestions have helped us prioritize the important things. Here are some examples:
You said: The comment section is too narrow.
Yup, you were right. Originally the page was divided into two rails (like the front page is, currently). The wider left rail had all the comments, and the right rail held widgets and ads. We've tweaked this now, to let comments stretch all the way across the page. Ads may keep the lights on, but the site is for discussions, and this makes them easier to read.
You said: We can't see comments below our score threshold.
We've added the ability to see that there are comments below your current threshold, and clicking on the 'hidden comments' link will expand those so you can view them. We're not done building this out, yet -- we fully intend to make it easy to drill down into an interesting comment thread.
You said: I don't want images
One of the most polarizing features of the beta site was the addition of pictures to the news feed. We had a view selector that let people switch to basic text, without images, but even after making it bigger and replacing the icon with text, too many users had trouble finding it. So, we've simply made Text-Only the default setting. The view selector remains, at the top of the story column. It also has a headlines-only option, if you want to cram more stories onto the page.
You said: Stop truncating the summaries.
Now that will only happen if you intentionally switch to the Pictures view.
You said: I prefer to see the page denser with text than most of the Beta pages make it. Why is there so much white space?
This is a big area that we're working on, starting with the front page of the site. Getting the fonts, spacing, and elements just right is a tricky business, but we're working on making both front page and story pages easy to scan on a variety of devices and screen types. After a lot of improvements on this front to the front page, we'll next be digging into the look of the comments attached to each story.
You said: Bring back the department lines on the front page.
Ok. They're back. We've also tweaked the formatting on the summaries to be a lot closer to the classic look, which should make them easier to read.
You said: Moderation doesn't work.
It's implemented, and it works now. If you find bugs, please let us know.
You said: Let us link to individual comments.
Ok. Comment links work now.
You said: Where are the daily quotes, the UIDs next to commenter names, indication for mod points?
All implemented. You can see you have mod points on your profile page. We're also going to have a notifier show up in a more prominent place so you don't have to check every day.
Some users were also having an issue with choppy/blinky scrolling, which has been fixed. We've cleaned up the navigation bar, and fixed some of the text formatting.
You said: The beta site's not working on my mobile device.
You're right. Even though the beta has some features intended to be useful on phones, tablets, and other small devices, for right now it's got some rendering glitches that make it the wrong choice there. Until we automatically redirect mobile readers there, we suggest using instead either the site view meant specifically for mobile devices (m.slashdot.org
) or -- as many people prefer -- the Classic view of the page
We're not done.
We've got a giant list of suggestions from the community and a number of minor features that need to be implemented on the new version. We've knocked out a bunch of them, but there's plenty left to do.
And where does that leave the “classic” Slashdot page?
The Beta's not *finished* (we'll keep working on the code no matter what!), but as of now it's a site we're happy to point readers to, whether they're new readers or long-time users. For a while now, the Beta is where the bulk of development attention has gone, and that will continue. (New features that show up in Beta may never make it to the old look of the site, and features in the old look may appear in different form in the Beta; for instance, the beta's user pages are much easier to read than are the ones on the current look, and in the Beta you'll see a lot less in the way of scattered options and preferences, as we try to make the options that people actually use easier to find and manipulate.)
Many readers prefer to read with the current (as of early 2014) look of the site -- what we've taken to calling Slashdot Classic. We welcome that -- the editors all still use Classic quite a bit, and for all the work that the Beta's seen, we know there are still some features that aren't yet translated to the Beta. So don't panic: Slashdot Classic is going to stick around for quite a while. Feel free to read the site there, to make it your default (just make sure you have cookies active), or to alternate between the old and the new to see how they differ, and how the Beta continues to improve.
What kind feedback is the most helpful?
As we continue to bring the new site up to feature parity with the Classic site, one thing we need to do is prioritize the different bits of functionality. What we'd like from you is to hear what features you can't do without. (For example: linking to individual comments was one of the biggest requests last time around, so we made sure to prioritize that.) Your continued impressions of the current look and feature set are quite welcome as well.
Note: the best feedback is also the kind with details and concrete descriptions. There are a lot of combinations out there of not only hardware and software, but reading preferences and styles. Knowing the details of your OS, browser, and screen resolution can help us replicate problems or better understand your ideas.
Thanks for contributing -- please keep the suggestions coming!