New Website Design for the Weekend

SRN_Logo_Shadow_350Hey everyone! You may notice over the next few weekends that our site design is going to look different than what you are currently accustomed to. While Monday through Thursday we will maintain the theme that you have come to know, we are trying something new on the weekends. The themes you will see are not indicative of a specific design, but rather us testing different layouts, backend infrastructure, and visual philosophies. We hope that over these next few weekends you will continue to use SRN as you normally would, and share any feedback you might have for us in regards to the designs.

A few things we’d love to know more about:

  • What did you like about the previous SRN design?
  • What did you dislike about it?
  • What types of features would you like to see come to SRN?
  • What are some of your other favorite websites, in terms of design/functionality?

We are excited to go on this journey with you and we can’t wait to hear your feedback!

Update from Sohrab:

Please don’t mind how weirdly some of the sidebar items like Facebook and Instagram look at the bottom. Nor mind how the articles display two pictures as that’s all due to this current designs layout which will change.

  • fluxx

    Nice one to try new things + ask for feedback, keep it up :)

    On this one, I like the clearer structure of the site, content on the left rather then on the right. The behavior of the responsive layout ist well done.

    What I don’t like is the small font and the lined background – it’s simply not easy to read. I also feel like there is to much wasted space on the top of the page. Kill the whole head section and move the logo to the top menue.

  • What are your thoughts on sites that display most of the content (like it is right now) on the front page but that you need to click on each article to read? With the previous design which I’ll revert back to on Monday, for the past few months, I’ve been doing it as such that most, if not all of the story is not tucked behind a ‘read more’ section and that it’s displayed right on the front page.

    There are consequences to that however:

    * For some, the site will take slightly longer to load (I don’t personally notice them since I have very fast speeds around the house, but others do)

    * Some people don’t like the idea of having to scroll a ton to get to a story they want to read and this is further hightened when on mobile

    * There is a business side to it technically, which is click counts. Now for the most part, I’ve tried to keep SRN at a dead minimum with ads as I loathe them. More on that in the future but this is paving the way to something else that’s hopefully completely ad-free.

  • Hi Sohrab, I think that there are several reasons to only put an overview on the front-page and not list articles with all the content right away:

    – Especially on mobile it is unlikely that visitors read through more than the first one or two articles. You might prove me wrong with google analytics, but that my first guess.

    – Putting (mainly) all of the content of an article on the front page might likely hurt your SEO because you are creating duplicated content. There should be only one site that holds all the content of an article and it should be accessible over a permanent link (like it is already the case for the article pages).

    – More content means longer loading times which will distract some visitors and will also hurt your SEO. Especially the front page has to be fast and accessible. (Although I can’t remember that was ever a problem on sonyrumors, you should be fine with this anyway.)

    – You already mentioned click count.

    I would suggest to go with a blog style (like now “most recent articles”) or to go with a more controlled layout that highlights the 3-4 most valued recent articles. The Verge is a good example for this, they keep the headline articles on top for a few hours or days and continue with a more timeline oriented list afterwards. This would be better, although it also needs a polished layout and more work. If you stay with the blog style, the pictures should be a little bit smaller and more uniform, I found them a little bit distracting right now. (Rechecked: CSS probs, I leave you alone with that :) )

    You wrote some great editorials in the past, you can highlight these or keep them on top a little bit longer than the usual news!

    From my personal point of view: I’m a regular visitor, but I’m using Feedly to stay on top of things, so keep the RSS feed. If I wouldn’t use Feedly my main question as a regular visitor would be: What’s new? The short list of recent articles is great for that. Personally I would prefer a longer but unpartitioned list instead of the current 3*3 points. I can filter by headline what’s interesting and what’s not. If there are too many new articles I watch especially for articles that correspond with my interest (mobile + marketing) or articles that have a high comments count (these must be interesting).

  • tristi lumina

    Hi, i am new fan of this site (coz am as Sony fan too)
    Great to see that SRN try to refresh the website look.

    My suggest,
    1. Please make the article font bigger :)
    2. Maybe recent articles should come first rahter than recent editorial, and two other. As a reader of ‘news product’, I always need to see what the latest article rather than ‘sticky article’

    Thanks, and sorry for my bad english

  • Thanks so much for being a reader :) I absolutely agree that the current font size is very small. Please check out the site tomorrow when I switch back to our normal theme and let me know if you still find the font size too small

  • tristi lumina

    Back to previous theme, nice :)
    But hope your new theme will be better

  • Agreed. We’ll be going back to our weekend theme later tonight for more testing and back to this on Monday

  • I really appreciate your detailed insight. I’ve certainly worked hard at ensuring the site runs as fast as possible. Can’t imagine the number of sites I would enjoy if it wasn’t for terrible load times, coupled with the bombardment of ads everywhere. That on mobile, especially if you click through from Facebook or something just leads to the most terrible reading experience.

    I think you’re absolutely right on the SEO part. My experiment for the past few months was to show more of the content on the front page to see if general landings on the site would increase. The theory was that there would be less of a obstacle for them to read the article (even if it was just one click away) and in turn, they would more regularly visit the site. Numbers haven’t quite worked out to that and I think as you’ve noted, we’ve actually taken an SEO hit.

    I think the future of the site is something more like what The Verge has though less busy. I tend to get overwhelmed when I visit their site and want to read something.

    Something that I know ultimately hurts my click counts is headline titles. I tend to have far less flashy titles and more straight forward but that’s a hit I’m willing to take. But with that all said, RSS won’t be going away with our next major redesign. Just did some testing of it and it should work just fine :)

    Some features of the site will likely go away, including Disqus (there will be another commenting system) but I think it will be far better than this. Unfortunately though if I do make the change, all previous comments will be gone so there is that.