|A few more updates to the aging UI have been released so I thought it worth walking through a few of them and providing a little rationale.
First, the homepage is, clearly, a little different. While the old page had high information density, it was so high as to be approaching noise. I always thought of the homepage as a newspaper front page - lots of boxes with lots of info all available at a glance. That's great when you know what you're looking for, but terrible if you are casual cruising or if you just want to quickly scan a page and quickly look through what's new.
And that's what most homepage readers do: see what's new and move on.
So the design of the homepage was done to allow someone to take a quick peek at the homepage, see what's new, what's interesting, and then get on with it. There is still a little tweaking to do in terms of the actual data shown, but the layout itself is as it will be.
You may have also noticed that I've removed the sidebar on many of the pages. My idea with this, way back when, was that readers would come to the homepage, diligently read the entire page, then peruse the list of chapters and sections and (diligently) work their way through the article.
Except that everyone just hits Google and then goes directly to the article they need.
So, instead of the sidebar navbar we now have a simple link to the main Site map, and we also have a fly-out sitemap under the "Article" menu. Removing the sidebar gives us two benefits: vastly reduced page size (and quicker download/page render) and more screen space. The homepage is now around 18K vs 77K (give or take) which means a lot when you're mobile or on a slow connection. Further speed increases are coming.
I've also added visual hints in the top scrollbar showing where you are in relation to the nav bar navigation. A small thing but a useful thing.
The survey has been moved from the bottom to the side. While the surveys are not exactly the most scientific of research (let's be honest - Sunday night and a bottle of red and hey presto! A new poll) they are hugely interesting, but they were buried. Just watching the partipation rate this week showed the move has been good for the polls.
There is also a nice bonus for those who feel advertising is the root of all evil in this world. I've removed two ads from the homepage and replaced with a smaller box ad. I, personally, always read our ads because I always see stuff potentially interesting (a requirement for any ad we run). However, I'd rather have a cleaner layout than advertising any day, so I fired one of them.
One non-UI addition is that sign-in and profile update is now all done via SSL. I know this won't help issues with packet sniffing over unsecured Wifi networks, but what it will do is protect your passwords. People hate thinking up and remembering passwords so there is a ton of password reuse. By keeping the passwords out of the hands of miscreants, and hashing, not encrypting, passwords, we can do our bit keep your private business your own.
There are also a few smaller touches around the place. A little shading and shadowing, highlighting of the currently focused text box, a small tweak to colours but nothing that, I hope, will cause tempers to flair.
The point of all of this is the old maxim in editing: remove half of what you write; then remove half again.
While I will never claim to be a designer I can claim to be a user, so my focus is on making the UI work for me, and for the majority of those who use the site. While this will never make 100% of the users happy, creativity can certainly help me bridge that last little gap.
The Code Project | Co-founder
Microsoft C++ MVP