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Inside AP.net: 2 Hours of Beta
|Inside AP.net: 2 Hours of Beta|
10/20/08 at 04:05 PM by Jason Tate
|Yesterday I turned the "beta" version of the new AP.net on for a little while because I was using Browsercam.com to run a whole bunch of screen captures of the new layout to check for OS/Browser compatibility. Basically - I wanted to see what the website looked like in a variety of browsers and operating systems to check to see if things were looking right ... obviously as this was the first time running these tests - there were quite a few bugs in the browsers I don't have natively installed on my systems.|
Firefox 126.96.36.199 renders the website as I want it to look. IE 7 and Safari seem to work as well. Beyond that it was a crap shoot. Hahah, but I found some of the problems and will now have to work to fix them -- which was the entire plan to begin with.
The funny thing was that for the maybe 2 hours the beta was "live" people found it. That's fine, I knew that was a possibility, and the site works in its beta stage enough that I don't mind people taking a look. I figure that I should discuss some of the comments from people right now so I don't have to answer them 300 times and so that people are aware of my thoughts behind the changes. The good thing ... I knew exactly what people were going to take most issue with, so that's a good thing -- it's always better to know what people are going to complain about compared to someone hating something you think is perfect. Also, people seemed to really like the new band profiles and member profiles -- which I think are the two biggest improvements on the website. The new band profiles are basically re-written from scratch and are what I am most proud of on the new website.
Ok, so let's talk about a few of the things people talked about (note, I am not addressing anything where people said "ew" or "ugly" or something like that -- I have been doing this long enough to know that some people will always have an immediate reaction that's negative. I also know I did not change the fundamentals of the website or even the over all theme/look of the website. This is not a top to bottom change ... it's an improvement on our current system to provide uniformity and user-friendliness.)
1) The font. I saw a lot of complaints about the font change. I saw some weird ones -- like people saying I went "overboard" with the "font smoothing." Heh, technically impossible. The font used for Windows machines is Tahoma (a built in font) and for Apple it is lucida grande (also built in). These are the two most used fonts on the internet right now -- google, facebook, myspace, new york times, espn, amazon, ebay -- the list goes on and on. It's a very readable font that has a clean read to it. I think it reads better in the size I wanted to use than any other font (Arial, Verdana were the two others in consideration) - and it works best for font-size degradation. We can use three sizes of Tahoma while only one of Verdana or two of Arial to achieve the look I wanted. I didn't want every font to be the same size and Arial is incredibly hard to read at a smaller font size. I wanted a font that can be read by all users - and that is consistent with their other webbrowsing habits. Myspace and Facebook are two of the most used websites on the planet -- if the font is good enough for them, it's good enough for me. I practically duplicated Facebook's font scheme. Soooo ... yeah, the font isn't going to change. Hahah, it takes some getting used to as it is a bigger font; however, it's definitely for the best. Typing up blogs/posts/etc. now is so much easier using the new font.
2) The "news post format." This is something else I saw people complaining about. So, I figured I would address it. What I did with this design is create a uniform design for all content portions of the website. When I say content I mean "news, artist profiles, member profiles, blogs, reviews, gallery, interviews, release dates, articles" - anything that is a part of the "content" of the website. Whereas the "forums" of the website are considered separate. The forums are for people to sit around and talk about anything and everything where the "content" portions of the website are for people to talk about the content they revolve around. So, for me, it was important that the content portions revolve around the content that is at the heart -- not only this but be designed in a way that would give a new user the most information about what was being presented (instead of having the page feel like a forum, I wanted it to feel like a content page ... and the design is built around New York Times pages and Yahoo! News pages combined with Facebook's old note pages).
So, let's take a look at these "content" pages and I'll break them down for you:
- News Post Page
- Artist Profile
- Album Review
- Blog Page
- Gallery Page
Now, as you see from looking at these screen caps -- they all follow the same theme/look. This is the uniformity I am going for -- each page works, acts, and looks the same way. These are content pages where the main focus is the content - and then we have the ability for discussion/comments underneath on all of them. Here are a few things to point out about the discussion comments: first, I purposefully hid some of the information (age/location/picture) to appear in the "more" link because that information is usually the first thing tossed out in disagreements, and I think that the post itself should be the first thing read - and then that information given if people want it. I also think it gives the pages/mini-postbits a cleaner and more efficient look -- which is always one of my goals, how to present the information in the most efficient and cleanest manner.
Also, I got a few bug mentions which is good (seeing as they were ones I did miss). I also recently gave Anton "admin" privileges on the website so he could edit users/create band member accounts/etc. - so he technically can still see the beta version (and all skins) and hopefully help with the bug issues if he chooses to -- in case you're wondering why he was talking about the holiday version of the website.
Now, there is still quite a bit for me to do. The website needs to work for all browsers, all OS's, and it's important I get that all fixed up first -- as well as making sure the site works for regular users and unregistered users (since my account views pages differently as an admin). After that there are some little things I want to make sure are fixed up (news icons/images is one of those). So we are still not really ready to launch the new site to the public yet ... but I hope this blog gave people a better understanding to why I did some of the things I did - and explained some of the reasoning from what people got a glimpse of yesterday. I've still lot a lot to do. I want everything to be as perfect as possible before any wide launch.