Transitioning to the New Design

We’re going to restore the old theme for a few days while we iron out some of the wrinkles with the new look. There are a few elements that didn’t reveal themselves in testing that we’d like to get fixed before we roll the design out again for real. Thanks for the feedback and stay tuned.

Author: Steve Davenport

UCLA alum Class of 2009. Tech admin for RBC.

22 thoughts on “Transitioning to the New Design”

    1. I would like to second this remark as emphatically as possible. The new design was overly bright and hard-to-read IMHO. This one is so much better. If it ain’t broke- and it ain’t, aside from the counterproductive comment-threading and the missing ability to edit comments- then there’s no good to come from fixing it.

      (Alas, you guys should also force Sabl to blog more. He’s awesome and I miss him.)

      1. Just a minor quibble that there are people who like the comment threading.

        Some of the functionality in the new site is interesting, especially the recent-comments. But it did lack the simple purity of the current version, and the wide sidebar may work on the main page but is a problem in the comment threads.

          1. Sure: if you really want to, you can reply to an early comment, so your comment will appear early. But if your reply isn’t topical or responsive, you’ll likely get called on it, especially if there’s a pattern of your doing this.

            I don’t think this sort of queue-jumping is a major phenomenon at any of the places I read who have threaded comments. Maybe if we regularly had hundreds of comments the temptation would be greater, but in practice at this site there are rarely more than a couple of dozen, and when there are more it’s mostly a few regulars engaged in back-and-forth; there aren’t a lot of people arriving late to the thread with a burning desire to plant a non-sequitor comment high on the page.

          2. I can’t say that I welcomed seeing the name of a thoroughly dispensable commenter staring at when loading the new home page. Just a quibble, however; I will give it a fair trial before whining.

      2. Count me in favor of threaded (nested) comments, with a reasonable level of indentation.


    2. Don’t let a bunch of neo-ludditism sway you. Forward progress is good! Change is good! The new look is good!

      I’m an architect and graphic designer and, while I’ve loved the content and debate on your site, the old design seems firmly couched in a late 1990s corporate skin. The new one, over time, will grow on everyone and is ultimately friendlier, brighter, and more humane.

      1. = = = Don’t let a bunch of neo-ludditism sway you. Forward progress is good! Change is good! The new look is good! = = =

        The DC-3 was designed between 1933-1935 and went into service in 1936. The C-47 cargo version followed around 1938 and has never been surpassed as a tool to accomplish its designated job. If the engines and fuel were still available Boeing could probably sell a hundred or so new C47s per year.

        Which is to say, trying and evaluating change is good. But newer and shinier does not automatically equal better.


        1. Yes, but old also doesn’t automatically mean better or more venerable either. The current site isn’t a DC-3. To use the metaphor of cars, which I know better than planes, it’s more of a Ford Taurus circa 1996—it works fine, but not elegantly. Looks a bit clunky.

          Many of the sites I regularly go to have transitioned their appearance, and it always creates chaos and bitterness among their users. It’s inevitable. The initial reaction is to hate it. But give it time. Maybe it will grow on you.

          1. I’m fine if you modify that sentence to “In my opinion, it looks a bit clunky”. The key being that other people disagree - basically a Google-front-page vs. Yahoo-front-page difference of opinion.


  1. Much better. Feels like home. (But also the layout of the new site was too busy, too bright and too difficult for me to process. There were features I liked (recent comments and older but still active posts being highlighted but then clicking on them seemed pointless) but which needed improvement.

    Is it possible to sort recent comments so that they sidebar so that they are identified by and associated with the post they belong with? I do agree with others that this capability would likely extend the life of older posts that get moved off the front page but, again, the implementation left the comments as disconnected shades lingering on the front page.

    I also thought the posts on the front page were excessively truncated, not as badly as Ezra Klein’s site where they only show a brief summary. The old site allowed most posts to be readable at a glance, without clicking through. This, too, seems to be related to the huge sidebars. If there were smaller and narrower I think there would be more room for the actual content of the blog.

    In all fairness, I’d the clean functionality of the old site but then I am not somebody who handles change.

  2. I never discovered if the new site offered the ability to edit comments but that capability is something I would like very much and obviously need. A lot.

  3. Pretty cool that this was a fairly painless option to roll back. Nice planning and prep for the migration! You would think it would be a must for any major change like this, but you’d be surprised how often fingers are just crossed and off the cliff you go.

    1. You do prep and opinion research, but the sheer quantity of users with different operating systems, browsers, screen sizes, and eyeballs — let alone aesthetic preferences — can throw a wrench into the cogs. It’s the sort of issue where one can’t make the changes incrementally, although that would help with the process.

  4. I am also thinking that this is more legible. I don’t like the continue reading button instead of the how many comments, is more inviting to join conversation than monologue. Putting number of comments in header made it hard to focus on content of header. The spacing of elements didn’t look like a professional typographer had laid it out.

  5. It would also be very helpful if internal links to articles or sources took one to a new window, so one would not risk losing the relevant page at RBC because one followed a link to another link … I think the new site does the same as the old one, i.e. one leaves this page to get to the linked page. That is pretty readily changed as a default, it seems to me.

  6. Ha! I completely missed the new design. So here I’ve been thinking, wow, they did a great job with the new design, I didn’t even *notice* it … and I only stopped by here today to see if there were any nifty, hidden tricks I should know. Ay caramba.

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