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MacNN's 2016 desktop and mobile redesign is live, updated Friday
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NewsPoster
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Feb 4, 2016, 09:48 AM
 
Live, on desktop and mobile, is the new MacNN homepage design. We're pretty pleased with it so far, but with any major renovation of a venerable property with a deep history so many years after the last one, there are bound to be problems, concerns, and issues. Let's continue to discuss them, shall we?

The new design reflects the new reality of our drive-by traffic -- graphic-heavy, and mobile-focused. Our periodic readers, lured in by social media, outnumber the long-term readers, though we'd like to see you all stick around. I know that MacNN purists, some of whom still lament the departure of the "legacy" interface we deprecated about eight years ago, will have problems with the new design. We're listening to rational and calm criticism. We'll even discuss rationale with you!

As you can see, the main news feed, with our long-form articles, runs down the center of the page. Off to the right of every page are "snippets." These are paragraph-long news items that are worth bringing to your attention, but don't have the meat for a full-fledged article. We didn't do much with pieces like that before, but we're going to integrate them into our news-gathering going forward.

The editorial team is hammering away today on both the public-facing side and the back-end of the design, and we've already found some issues we're going to get resolved sooner rather than later. The new project was a challenge; there's 20 years of history in the database, and we'd rather things not just up and die.

I know you have gripes, and maybe even some complaints. Toss them here, and we'll work on them together. I'll respond to what I can, so come back to the comments -- maybe there's an answer to your problem.

Update, Friday February 5, 2016

The first round of fixes has gone live. While the vast majority of work overnight was behind the scenes and in content management, the page loads even faster than it did yesterday. Additionally, the work on making links visible has begun, with a slight font color change right now -- I've asked for this to be a bit more dramatic.

We had a lot of complaints about no more headline view. If this view is still what you want, you can get it here.

With some users, Internet Explorer 11 mangles the page. We're working on this, but I don't have a timetable to share on a fix. If you're one of the users on IE11 and can't upgrade to Firefox, Chrome, or Edge, the classic headline view will work for you as well.

We've also had some strange remarks about advertising. This doesn't make any sense to me, as our ad density may actually be a bit lower than it was.

During the last site revamp nearly a decade ago, users lamented the new design with many of the same complaints. We weren't quite so open about the conversation that time. We're being accused of "change for the sake of change" and that's not it at all -- there was a lot that was outdated and unmaintainable about the old design, and we made some very welcome back-end and infrastructure changes as well. Here's the thing -- the content mix isn't changing, we're not increasing our ad volume, and if you spend a little bit of time getting to know the site, you'll find that discovery has increased, not decreased. Plus, as I said above, we've still got the classic headline view available.

One more thing today -- if you haven't checked the site on mobile, you really should. Let's keep the conversation going!

-- Mike Wuerthele
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( Last edited by NewsPoster; Feb 16, 2016 at 04:16 AM. )
     
makemineamac
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Feb 4, 2016, 10:50 AM
 
Love the look and feel so far, feels so much more current and 'light'.
     
David Esrati
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Feb 4, 2016, 10:56 AM
 
I used to use the MacNN homepage as a demonstration of how a WordPress site was organized and optimized for displaying ads, increasing page views, and shareability.
I just saw an article I wanted to email to a friend- and tried clicking on a headline to isolate the article for sharing- no luck.
I'm kinda happy not to have to click the more tags to read articles-
but- scanning this version for what's important to me- is SO much harder.
Have to scroll past way too much junk.
Also- the stuff on the left and the right- is downright too much to scan. Sorry-
Not thinking this is a step forward.
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HPeet
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Feb 4, 2016, 11:13 AM
 
Would you please add the dates of the articles to the "Reviews", "Most Popular" & "Most Discussed" column on the left side of the page.

Thx
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 4, 2016, 11:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by David Esrati View Post
I just saw an article I wanted to email to a friend- and tried clicking on a headline to isolate the article for sharing- no luck.
Which one?

I'm kinda happy not to have to click the more tags to read articles-
but- scanning this version for what's important to me- is SO much harder.
Scan targets, we're still working on a bit. Standby.
     
sunman42
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Feb 4, 2016, 11:27 AM
 
I can see that the large visuals and block-filled columns make for easier transitions between full-size browser windows and mobile devices, but the larger blocks would appear to mean my thumb its going to get really strong with all the extra sweeping.

I'm constantly amused at sites feeling they have to redesign their appearances to in order to be "current." Some people, like your first commenter, will love it; some will hate it; most of us will judge it on usability. Right now, the change feels more pretty than useful, but we'll see. I'm not your target audience anyway, just someone who has used the site for years.
     
sidewaysdesign
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Feb 4, 2016, 11:29 AM
 
Don't mind the idea of a refresh, but the desktop layout looks very messy.

The mobile layout is so much simpler and more sleek, that it leaves one feeling as though your desktop readers are being punished for something.

Hope I don't seem too negative in my comments below, and most would be easy to address.

-- Too much is crammed into the "Top Stories" section, which makes it self-contradictory if everything is "top".

-- The heading of each review in the left margin tries to unify a teensy thumbnail image with a brightly coloured banner with "Review" in it. Plus, this treatment is repeated for each review unit. There is a descriptive header at the top with "Reviews", so there's no need for the repetition. Additionally, those banners contain the only use of purple, diagonal angles and coloured links in the entire layout. It looks at though the reviews are a tall banner in a iframe from some other site.

-- Further down on the left, the "Most Popular" and "Most Discussed" headlines are a heavy condensed typeface with a lot of whitespace around each, which makes them stand out like clumps, instead of as a set of related information.

-- The section heading "Reviews" is 14px, whereas "Now" on the right is 15px — why the inconsistency?

-- One last detail: in the body text of articles, links are invisible, except for a highlight upon rollover.
     
bonaccij
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Feb 4, 2016, 11:55 AM
 
You know, it's a site redesign. Every site should go through this on the regular just to keep fresh. I think it is generally fine. I've just never been a huge fan of "Blocking" on any site... it just sort of muddles everything together, but it's not horrible. It does seem much speedier and lighter... so that is good. Haven't tried it on mobile yet, but looking forward to that experience. Cheers on the new site design. Good to see that MacNN is moving forward. I love your site - visit it every day.
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phishphan
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Feb 4, 2016, 11:59 AM
 
I have to agree with others that are saying that it is harder to find the "Important" stuff. There is no hierarchy. I would like some more definition of sections.
     
deharlow
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Feb 4, 2016, 12:11 PM
 
I am sure I will have more feedback, but for now could you make clicking on the logo in the upper left take you back to the home page.
     
TigerN28763
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Feb 4, 2016, 12:12 PM
 
Clipboard type design. As you said, OK for mobile but well, not sure here.
     
DrSkywalker
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Feb 4, 2016, 12:15 PM
 
Not liking this at all. Too much like Facebook with all kinds of graphic drivel on each side, and what I really want to see is lost amongst the clutter. And I don't like Facebook at all. You say that "drive by traffic" needs the heavy graphics. I say NOPE. It's CONTENT that drives interest, at least of the real long-term readers, not pretty pictures. Absolutely a step backwards - a big one.
     
David Esrati
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Feb 4, 2016, 12:24 PM
 
I'm seeing a different view on the homepage now- the article I was trying to send was the one about upgrading an iphone to128Gb.
It's looking much better now-
Still agree- the 2 sidebar look- is busy- put them both on the right.
Seriously. Please.
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David Esrati
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Feb 4, 2016, 12:25 PM
 
I'm seeing a different view on the homepage now- the article I was trying to send was the one about upgrading an iphone to128Gb.
It's looking much better now-
Still agree- the 2 sidebar look- is busy- put them both on the right.
Seriously. Please.
And- in the articles below this comment- it doesn't have links on the headlines.
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wisti
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Feb 4, 2016, 12:56 PM
 
Make text links visible. All links blend with text and change so slightly when you put the mouse cursor above the link. You might as well not even link anything, because the readers will never find the links. It's like hide and go seek!!!

Also, why do I have to have 50% white (on left and right??) I have a large monitor and I see most of it white!! Comment block is 15% of the width and wraps horribly.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 4, 2016, 12:58 PM
 
Link text fix is underway, and not intentional.

I am sure I will have more feedback, but for now could you make clicking on the logo in the upper left take you back to the home page.
This as well.
     
panjandrum
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Feb 4, 2016, 01:01 PM
 
Well, I know you want everyone to like it, but as others above have said; the site no longer scans well at all. In other words; it is less readable. It's much less readable. As a general rule, when designing websites, I suggest people look at really nice print magazines; National Geographic, Scientific American, etc. Magazines that tend to focus on readability rather than sensationalism. (Take a look at those websites too; notice how SA has 3 - columns, but it's still easy to read?) It's not that the design is ugly; it's just that readability has taken a huge hit, and IMHO you probably want your site to be easily readable, don't you? I do like that the main news page keeps auto-loading older news as we scroll down. I like that you haven't gone with a crazy color scheme. But the new site layout looks more like a cheapo tabloid magazine and a lot less like a reputable news site. I'm sure you can fix it though: A bit fewer "in your face" elements on the front page. A bit more white space between the 2 - column news that populates the upper portion of the main page (maybe a very thin grey vertical line between the columns so the eye doesn't try to track across columns when reading), and skip the double-whammy of Reviews on the left and Now on the right. Removing one side will allow you a little more room to space the other elements out so it all flows more nicely.
     
panjandrum
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Feb 4, 2016, 01:08 PM
 
Oh, I forgot to mention that my primary issue isn't functionality, but rather readability. I like the menus to allow us to do things like choose News by Date or by Category. That's all great stuff and much appreciated. Just don't sacrifice readability.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 4, 2016, 01:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by DrSkywalker View Post
You say that "drive by traffic" needs the heavy graphics. I say NOPE. It's CONTENT that drives interest, at least of the real long-term readers, not pretty pictures. Absolutely a step backwards - a big one.
Drive-by traffic does need heavy graphics. And you're right in most regards about long-term interest, so I've got good news! The only thing I have any real control over is content, and that's not going to change.
     
coffeetime
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Feb 4, 2016, 01:34 PM
 
Two thumbs up. Like it. Finally the comment section works properly on iPhone.
     
edac2
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Feb 4, 2016, 02:45 PM
 
More modern, but way too busy, especially the left sidebar with reviews. Having "Review" in a box for each item in the list, and star ratings, a a sliced photo... it's just completely unreadable. BentonSansBold heads everywhere are too hard to read. Also, clicking the MacNN logo no longer takes you home.
     
Jayhorn
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Feb 4, 2016, 03:05 PM
 
If your site looked like your description, I might like it. I'm viewing this on Windows 7 using IE 11. What I see is the top third of each web page has "Reviews", with the items being reviewed on the far left edge of the page, a button that says "Review" on the far right of the page, and a LOT of empty space between. I then get to the title of the article, followed by a large image that fills the page, followed by the text of the article. The text goes from edge to edge, with no border of any kind. It is so close to the edge that most letters are slightly cut off on the right side of the page. After the article, there is a place for comments, and the last third of the page is filled with "NOW" section. It looks as if it may look good on mobile, but something needs to be done to improve certain configurations for display on desktops.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 4, 2016, 03:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jayhorn View Post
If your site looked like your description, I might like it. I'm viewing this on Windows 7 using IE 11. What I see is the top third of each web page has "Reviews", with the items being reviewed on the far left edge of the page, a button that says "Review" on the far right of the page, and a LOT of empty space between. I then get to the title of the article, followed by a large image that fills the page, followed by the text of the article. The text goes from edge to edge, with no border of any kind. It is so close to the edge that most letters are slightly cut off on the right side of the page. After the article, there is a place for comments, and the last third of the page is filled with "NOW" section. It looks as if it may look good on mobile, but something needs to be done to improve certain configurations for display on desktops.
This doesn't sound like ANY kind of test result we ended up with. Can you email a screen capture to [email protected] please?
     
Paulrm
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Feb 4, 2016, 04:07 PM
 
PLEASE put back the option for headlines only!

It takes too much time to look at summaries of articles that I have no interest in.
     
iBricking.com
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Feb 4, 2016, 04:37 PM
 
After a reverse-chronological listing of posts, "Previous" and "Next" buttons are terribly unclear.

Something "Older" and "Newer" would indicate proper perspective.
     
lukeduran
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Feb 4, 2016, 04:55 PM
 
Although I'm a big fan of "white space," this layout is too light, too bright, and overwhelming to look at. When I look at this new design, I don't know where to start. I would suggest reintroducing some of the blue tones you had previously, for contrast and structure.
     
lukeduran
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Feb 4, 2016, 04:57 PM
 
Although I'm a big fan of "white space," this layout is too light, too bright, and overwhelming to look at. When I look at this new design, I don't know where to start. I would suggest reintroducing some of the blue tones you had previously, for contrast and structure.
     
designr
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Feb 4, 2016, 05:03 PM
 
OMG. What a hot mess. WHAT were you taking last night?? Jeez! Take a chill pill and try to sleep it off!!
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 4, 2016, 05:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by NewsPoster View Post
We're listening to <em>rational and calm complaints</em>
I was about to commend you all for adhering to this. We are listening, but no "chill pills" will be consumed, thanks.

As a reminder, I run editorial. I have been, and will continue, to pass these along to the web team. Here's the deal, though. I've had complaints about too many ads, but we have parity with what we used to have. I've had complaints about "this is the same as last time," but it isn't, not even close.

What we've got, is (with some minor modifications) what we're staying with. It was jarring to me this morning as well, but over the course of the day, the improvements are clearer. Keep your suggestions coming, and stick with us -- but realize, that not everybody is going to be pleased, here.
     
nitram_again
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Feb 4, 2016, 05:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by Paulrm View Post
PLEASE put back the option for headlines only!

It takes too much time to look at summaries of articles that I have no interest in.
This. Just this.

I stopped reading MacCentral when they went to a 'magazine-style' layout. MacNN had headlines. Now MacNN doesn't
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Feb 4, 2016, 05:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by nitram_again View Post
This. Just this.

I stopped reading MacCentral when they went to a 'magazine-style' layout. MacNN had headlines. Now MacNN doesn't
Will this do?

Apple, Macintosh and iPod latest news headlines | MacNN
     
Makosuke
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Feb 4, 2016, 07:21 PM
 
So far, I'm seeing two issues with the redesign:

One is what happens at awkward intermediate widths.

At mobile widths with no sidebars, it's great, and MUCH better than the old desktop design or its hard-to-use mobile version.

At "tablet-ish" widths, when the left column isn't visible, it also looks very good.

And at wide desktop widths, it's pretty good, although at a glance it's rather difficult to tell main center-column content apart from the sidebars.

But at smaller desktop widths (just before the layout switches to tablet-two-column), the center column gets awkwardly thin. In particular, because of all the whitespace on the sides of the comments, comments look kind of ridiculous--just a skinny little stripe of text with a bunch of empty white on both sides.

The other issue is how when you're looking at the individual article view you get more full articles below it. In the past you could just flick down to the bottom of the page to see comments/post a new one. If you do that now, you end up on a completely different article's comments and post box, and there are more in between.

Basically, if you're quickly scrolling, it's hard to find the bottom of the article you're reading, and too easy to end up on the comments on the wrong one.
     
davisadm
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Feb 4, 2016, 08:35 PM
 
I don't like it. Before, I could view all the news items for a day without scrolling because they had a one line blurb. Now I am forced to view a much more expanded list, which is more difficult to quickly skim thru.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 4, 2016, 08:42 PM
 
Did the link I posted two comments up help, davisadm?

I'm also not sure what you're talking about. The first paragraph of the story is unchanged in length as to what it was before the re-design. Are you just talking about the mechanical scrolling process being lengthened by the location of the pictures?
     
fergnetserv
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Feb 4, 2016, 08:58 PM
 
I can live with the new format except that when I launch the site I get a blank news page with both side bars of info. I have to click on the NEXT button to see the news.
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Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 4, 2016, 09:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by fergnetserv View Post
I can live with the new format except that when I launch the site I get a blank news page with both side bars of info. I have to click on the NEXT button to see the news.
What's your landing page? MacNN.com or MacNN.com/news
     
nitram_again
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Feb 5, 2016, 03:52 AM
 
I seem to have found MacNN.com/classic That's pretty nice. The headline only option is pretty spartan, but there's just no pleasing some people :-)
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tedoburger
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Feb 5, 2016, 11:57 AM
 
I am not a fan of the new design. I run Firefox with AdBlocker active. When I click on a story the rest of the story is blocked by AdBlocker. The full story must look like an ad instead of a news item. OK, so I turn off AdBlocker for MacNN, but then I see ads with images of half-naked women. I think maybe I will have to find a new place to get my Apple related news.
     
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Feb 5, 2016, 12:02 PM
 
Images with half-naked women? We shouldn't have any of those. Possible to get a screenshot of both the story being blocked by Adblocker and the ad in general?
     
panjandrum
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Feb 5, 2016, 01:07 PM
 
Kudos guys. You've already taken some of our, hopefully constructive, criticism and made some nice changes to the new design. It already scans better than it did, and looks nicer too. I think going back to a single Top story instead of having two dueling images went a long way towards making the new design look less "tabloid". I didn't keep a screen-shot of the initial redesign that went live yesterday, but I'm fairly sure that there is a bit more white space between the columns (as well as a thin grey line, at least in the topmost portion). All of those things make a big difference.
     
panjandrum
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Feb 5, 2016, 01:10 PM
 
OH, and I agree with a comment above that having "review" next to each review just isn't necessary. Plus, it looks like a button (link), but isn't. Tidying up that section so it's less busy will also help things along IMHO.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 5, 2016, 01:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
OH, and I agree with a comment above that having "review" next to each review just isn't necessary. Plus, it looks like a button (link), but isn't. Tidying up that section so it's less busy will also help things along IMHO.
Yeah, that's on the list. It's a vestigial organ from a previous design thought.
     
DrSkywalker
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Feb 5, 2016, 01:19 PM
 
Liking this new format less and less. It used to have time and date of posting (or at least hours) but now that only shows up for a couple of entries and then it doesn't appear.
Still think this revamp is an overall mistake. Very disjointed and unreadable.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 5, 2016, 01:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by DrSkywalker View Post
Liking this new format less and less. It used to have time and date of posting (or at least hours) but now that only shows up for a couple of entries and then it doesn't appear.
Still think this revamp is an overall mistake. Very disjointed and unreadable.
Time and date for all newsposts are on the list already. I propose that its "disjointed and unreadable" because it's radically different from what you're used to.

There are still tweaks and fixes coming. We are listening, however, we aren't going back.
     
DrSkywalker
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Feb 5, 2016, 01:31 PM
 
...and now for macnn.com/classic, which was a bastion of hope for those of us who don't like the new interface, there are issues. Some articles are not appearing properly in the headlines - all you see is "more". Sigh.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 5, 2016, 02:07 PM
 
I did mention that there'd be issues. The "more" is because of the brief news items we're doing on the right hand side of the main page, and the old implementation doesn't deal with that very well, maybe not ever. That's why I mentioned the headline-only view in my update earlier today.
     
Flying Meat
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Feb 5, 2016, 03:27 PM
 
As I stated in a related thread, I prefer the news article listing's graphic to be on the right side, with the text flowing around it. The graphic isn't as important as the headline and first paragraph. It adds visual appeal, but is not nearly as important as the actual text of the article.

Otherwise, I'm getting used to the new look. Thanks for letting us be critics, and thanks for your hard work!
     
OkieDoc
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Feb 5, 2016, 08:37 PM
 
The new redesign is just ugly and confusing. If I can't see at a glance what I want, I'll just go somewhere else.

Time up update my Adblock filters I guess
     
dxtr
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Feb 5, 2016, 09:14 PM
 
Hi,

Sorry the new design is completely unusable on Safari Version 9.0.3 (11601.4.4) MBP 13" mid 15
     
Stuke
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Feb 5, 2016, 09:30 PM
 
Give the link to the old site (desktop and mobile versions), please. Not a fan...too busy and loads slowly because of the business.
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