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Weblog Entry

Format Change

October 11, 2005

Since many of you are likely reading this an RSS reader, I doubt this’ll change a thing. For everyone else, I just made a quick change to this site. The full content of the past 7 articles are displayed on the home page. That’s right, mezzoblue is a blog once again.

About a year or two ago, I decided to separate articles out into their own pages, and reduce the home page to a summary of the latest bits and pieces of what was recently added around here. It was appropriate at the time, but it’s not working anymore. Along with that change came a subtle shift in my mindset; I was no longer writing quick posts, I was writing “articles”. Any time I sat down to write, why, it had better be good and in-depth.

But that format is no fun anymore, as evidenced by the relative infrequency of updates around these parts. So it’s gone. Let’s see how this works. (And yes, that probably means at some point I’ll be ditching the separated comments pages and merging them back into the individual post pages themselves.)

David R says:
October 11, 03h

However, this does mean you need to scroll a lot.

Perhaps you could have little scripting widgets that show/hide the rest of the articles?

Dave S. says:
October 11, 03h

Or, maybe just a sidebar item with most recent posts. But is scrolling really that much of a problem?

Adrian says:
October 11, 03h

Extra scrolling or extra clicking? I prefer the scrolling, if only because it takes less clicking to head back to where I came from.

Back at the end of the last century I remember reading some expert or other saying that there should be no more than a certain number (was it 3?) of clicks to go from any part of a site to any other. It was considered the right thing to do on behalf of your visitors, an early accessibility feature. As sites become larger and older, with huge archives, this becomes more and more difficult. I wonder how many still try to do it?

Dave, I applaud you for taking the mid-article click away!

Dave S. says:
October 11, 03h

“…there should be no more than a certain number (was it 3?) of clicks to go from any part of a site to any other.”

Wise advice… in 1999. These days we’ve figured out that if people are looking for something specific, they’re willing to put up with more clicks, and if they’re not, they’re probably just in from Google anyway and won’t spend much time ‘surfing’ your site.

Best bet today is to design for easy and intuitive categorization/archiving, and damn the formulas for number of clicks. But, keeping in mind that all things being equal, less clicks are still better.

Adrian says:
October 11, 03h

Takes you back though, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t mind betting that students at various places of higher education are still being given that advice during their initial classes on web design. My Wife took a Graphic design course a few years ago and I sat in on a couple of the web design sessions, hoping to pick up on something new. Boy, was I in for a shock! They were teaching about stuff that had not seen the light of day for 5 years or more! Now I get emails asking for help from her old lecturers and I am a diesel mechanic by trade!

October 11, 03h

Actually, I kept meaning to prod you to get the full content of at least your most recent post back on the home page, since I found the summaries-only version not only annoying but also not as attractive. But I never got around to it. Maybe I just sent out psychic waves and you received them, since now it’s just as I like it.

Yay for full content in RSS, though!

October 11, 04h

“Since many of you are likely reading this an RSS reader”
Every time someone does that, I feel I’m getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar… Yes I was reading in Bloglines.

About scrolling: give me the scrolling any time and put the comments along with the article!

I never understood why I couldn’t have the original article on the same page as the comments. Usually I have to have 2 tabs open to read both.

Recent posts on the sidebar also gets my vote.

Calrion says:
October 11, 06h

I like it! I have another request, though:

I use Bloglines, but I click through to to read each article. Sometimes, a few articles are posted before I get to read them, and I end up going back and forth to Bloglines to read each. What I’d really appreciate is a set of “previous article” and “next article” links at the bottom of each article page, so I can click through to the oldest article then just “next”, “next”, “next”.

Another idea: what about two different types of content: blog-style posts for the quick, daily stuff; and full-page articles for the less frequent, more in-depth content. These could be grouped separately on the site. Similar to the dailies, I suppose.

PS: I read articles on thier respective sites as a matter of habit; it makes me more likely to remember where I read something, and I think I better-appreciate the content when I also experience the typography, layout and visual design.

Dave S. says:
October 11, 06h

“What I’d really appreciate is a set of “previous article” and “next article” links at the bottom of each article page…”

Consider those on the list of things to add. I never saw the point of them until I started using them elsewhere, hence the lack of ‘em around here. But they sure are handy when you have a specific post you’re looking for.

“Another idea: what about two different types of content…”

Another good idea. Not quite sure what I’ll do with the increasingly-inaccurately named ‘Dailies’, but merging them into the main site somehow seems like a good idea at this point. Longer articles, both here and off-site, would live in their own section. Which all leads me to think it’s time for a re-architecuring or even full redesign. Not that I’m at all eager to plunge in to either at the moment.

Kristen says:
October 11, 08h

What are you a corporation or something where we all sit around and tell you what WE’D like and expect you to change to meet “customer demand”? ha! Looking great, love the new format, very back to basics and I miss that, the old-school days when blogging was just blogging and fun and simple. Keep up the good work.

October 11, 08h

I don’t see any problems with the extra scrolling.

It is nice to see that you’re blogging again though. You know, however, now that you’re “back to blogging”, it’s going to require a little extra effort on those really short posts. All of your “notables” are going to have to require actual thought or commentary.

I went ahead and set that aside with my delicious links since that seems to be a simple way to “briefly note” a site without making a full post out of it - which in the end takes up unneccessary archive space.

On another side note, you could work them out to function like Mike’s where he completely separates resources and blog posts. The difference though over there is that he probably has more subscribers to his resources feed than his actual blog posts.

Above all, again, nice to have Mezzo back to a real blog :)

Jo says:
October 11, 10h

When it comes down to constructing a proper navigation that not only sits in the mind of the site owner but is build to make navigation a breeze for any average end-user, I would say a lot of sites fail miserably when it comes to toughtful navigation. First reason, all look the same, more or less like the axioma of the grid in design, the most navs all miss dare and efficiency. Also news feeds (are not that well incorporated in the browser, leave alone ‘known’ by the average internet surfer. Positive side, web designers can do a whole lot of redesign jobs.

Ryan says:
October 12, 01h

I don’t like the new format, or reversal to the old format. Too much scrolling, articles loose their emphasis; not standing on their own, everything starts to run together. This makes it much more difficult to decipher information one may be looking for amongst the onslaught of copy present on the front page.

In my opinion the standard two column layout in webdesign just isn’t working for me anymore. The right column becomes this long neverending empty mass, while all the copy remains shoved in the left column.

October 12, 02h

> at some point I’ll be ditching
> the separated comments pages and
> merging them back into the
> individual post pages themselves

I’d welcome that as a change us RSS people would profit from as well – I click through about a third of the time in order to read the comments, and merging the pages back together would save me a click and pageload.

(Just as long as the old URLs keep working so people’s links don’t break.)

As for the front page, now that I look at it, I think it’s better this way. If there’s a problem, it’s because the most-recent-first format is broken.
And I don’t know how one would fix it, really.

October 12, 02h

Please change back. It would only work if your column width wasn’t so narrow. As it is, there is a lot of scrolling needed. Also, now every time I visit, I have to reload all your images in the posts, whether I want to load them or not. I only want to check for new titles on the front page. (And then, and only then, click the titles to read the full posts.) A step backwards.

trovster says:
October 12, 03h

Your mindset you’re changing from is where I am with my blog/site/thing.

I decided I didn’t want to just put quick posts up like “I went to the bathroom on my own” kinda thing. I wanted formulated, (reasonably) well-written entries about set topics that have a general-ish theme. However, because of this I’ve ended up not posting as frequently as before.

I get to a stage where I want to write about something I’ve read somewhere in a quick post, but then I don’t want a small entry. Longer entries involve more research, more time and a lot more effort.

Ah, motivation. Someone motivate me!

trovster says:
October 12, 03h

Oh yeh, about the scrolling. No problem at all. Usually I’ll come to the site to check whether there is an update, or come straight from the RSS feed to the entry post itself.

Only problem I have with it, is that the column is pretty narrow. OK for short posts, but long posts it can fray my attention. But then again, the post still has it’s own, full-width page!

But, like you mentioned, I’d like to see the comments on the actual article page. Saves that extra click to some potentially useful information. (annoyance on ALA too)

Meri says:
October 12, 04h

Yay! Yay yay yay yay yay!

I was late to the RSS wave, so your homepage being just those little linked summaries really really bugged me.

I even wrote an entry about it:

Very happy with this move. Although I’d add a vote to the “Previous” and “Next” buttons for navigation too :-)

October 12, 12h

It’s bad. Sorry, but it’s bad.
It’s so long that you need a TOC for that page, with named anchors.

Try displaying only the last 3 or 5 entries since yours are substantial.

October 13, 07h

It doesn’t help having sub-headers in the posts the same style as the main post headers. Now when I scroll down it appears there are more posts than there really are. It also makes it harder to find the start of the posts.

One big improvement would be to have a list of the posts at the top. Then I could just click on these to jump to each one.

Andy Kant says:
October 14, 06h

I like the format change but I agree with that it would be helpful to have a “read more” expander for longer posts like articles or the links to posts in the sidebar.

Indranil says:
October 22, 07h

I think you’ve hit the sweet spot. I am one for long meaty front pages, with no flashy show/hide javascripts. I love it.
On a sidenote though, you may want to see the date structure, as some of your posts posted on the same day end up without having dates.
Other than that, I also like the comment on the same page thing. weeee…

Once a blog, always a blog… ;)