- EphBlog - http://ephblog.com -

New EphBlog Format

Got opinions on the new EphBlog format? Let us know in the comments.

1) Basic motivation is that half our readers come to us on mobile phones and the previous format — now more than a decade old — was ill-suited for such viewing. (I had to turn my phone sideways and, with my fingers, expand out the center column. I assume others had similar problems. If not, tell us!)

2) Main thing is to remove all clutter and allow scarce screen space to be filled with text from the most recent posts. This means one column.

3) We are using Twenty Nineteen, a widely used WordPress theme.

4) We hope to fix two things quickly: a) place our traditional cover photo at the top of the page and b) provide a box or menu of some kind on the upper right which would show, perhaps after a click, the most recent comments. For now, you can see all Recent Comments (and other material like Related Posts) by clicking on a post and scrolling to the bottom of it.

5) Suggestions are welcome, both general and technical.

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#1 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On July 24, 2019 @ 8:06 am

I can live with the new format (though I preferred the old one). I also look at EphBlog on my phone, but I didn’t mind turning the phone sideways (YMMV). The one big problem with the new format is the lack of easy access to seeing what recent comments have been made. As I’ve noted before, and I think somewhat in contrast to DDF’s views, I think that the comments are a very important part of EphBlog, and not being able to access them as easily as we could using the old format is a big negative.

#2 Comment By recent grad On July 24, 2019 @ 10:59 am

Something that’s always an issue, when discussing a website layout change, is that we don’t know exactly how the website looks for other people, or if they see it the same way we do (because of browser differences, platform, etc.) So, I’m including screenshots of how the new site looks for me. For context, I almost always browse and comment from my phone, using Chrome mobile browser, especially since I’ve been travelling.

One problem I’ve always had with the major WordPress layouts (of which, as David points out, the theme Twenty Nineteen is one) is that the text is so annoyingly big. Maybe this is generally something people like, and something that makes the site more accessible to older users, users with less vision, etc. If that’s the reason, then I can live with it, but generally I much prefer smaller type and more words per screen. Here’s a screenshot of what a full screen looks like on my phone:
http://ephblog.com/screenshot_20190724-234439/

As a result of that, when I click through from a post, after the end of the post it takes me a good four or five scrolls to get to the comments section, which is usually, when I click through, what I’m most looking for anyway. (Like Whitney, the comments section is very important to me and should be highly accessible.) Four or five full screens of “stuff” (recent posts, Facebook and Twitter links, etc) between the content and the next thing I’m actually looking for is rather a lot, mobile-site-design-wise.

Also, there are some weird formatting things that happen, like this that I caught in a comments section–I assume that the blue check is supposed to indicate that Whitney, who is the original poster, is commenting: http://ephblog.com/screenshot_20190724-2344162/

What’s weird about this is that ostensibly, that’s part of the WordPress theme, not something that we can directly edit (well, of course, we can, but not something we probably want to look for in the WP source code). Could just be a bug in the theme itself; perhaps consider rolling back to Twenty Eighteen? All of the WP Twenty Somethings have a similar vibe.

#3 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On July 24, 2019 @ 2:38 pm

“One problem I’ve always had with the major WordPress layouts…is that the text is so annoyingly big. ”

As someone who was born before the Apollo 11 moon landing, I have to say that from my perspective, big text is OK!

One other complaint is that, at least on my computer using Chrome, the HTML codes for use in the comments aren’t listed in the comments sections, which makes it difficult to use things like links and embedded quotes in the comments.

#4 Comment By fendertweed On July 24, 2019 @ 2:40 pm

On my iPad this looks more cumbersome to navigate and more bare bones constant scrolling. Workable but less readable than before.

#5 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On July 24, 2019 @ 4:29 pm

The old format is back! At least for now. I like it, but I’m a traditionalist. If you prefer the new format, please speak up so that the blog can try to please as many readers as possible.

#6 Comment By Williams Alum On July 24, 2019 @ 4:55 pm

I strongly prefer the old format. I’m glad it’s back.

WA

#7 Comment By Williams Alum On July 24, 2019 @ 4:55 pm

I strongly prefer the old format. I’m glad it’s back.

WA

#8 Comment By abl On July 24, 2019 @ 4:58 pm

I’m generally resistant to change, but regardless of what happens, I feel strongly that in whatever format you choose, some form of a “recent comments” bar is easily and quickly accessible: this is the primary way that I interact with Ephblog.

#9 Comment By fendertweed On July 25, 2019 @ 8:55 am

Old format is far superior.

#10 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On July 25, 2019 @ 9:02 am

Thanks for the feedback! I mistakenly assumed that, with so many mobile readers, any change to a mobile-friendly format would be better for our readers. I was wrong!

#11 Comment By Arch Stanton On July 25, 2019 @ 10:19 am

Agree on the old format. I am tangentially involved in my firm’s work with consultants on redesign of our tablet and mobile apps, and for the last few years there has been what I think of as a design fetish for lots of white space at the expense of providing more
information in a single view. Unsurprisingly, the user feedback sessions they themselves conduct reinforce their recommendations. I’ve always had a different opinion, as have many people I’ve talked with about it. Probably just validation bias, but really interesting to me that the comments uniformly preferred the previous format.

#12 Comment By PTC On July 25, 2019 @ 12:26 pm

It depends on what Ephblog is after.

The phone friendly format reads more easily “on a phone”, but is far inferior in terms of a wholistic view of recent and past content/ commentary.

Basically, the phone friendly version is more limited as per post: much less expansive for involved commentary and exchange. The view now (old format), from 10,000 feet, allows the user to pick targets and access intel broadly access the ephblog spectrum. The “new format” is like an immediate action drill. You react to what is in front of you, rather than having the capability to easily access the entire battlefield and then react.

My view is that ephblog is essentially a computer or tablet space by content- because informed commentary requires the ability to shift between posts and look for facts and other opinions online- in both other posts and/or on the internet generally- and then post. You are not going to do that easily from a phone.

In the vein of what Whitney posted; for me this comes downs to how involved readers want the commentary to be. More phone friendly/ less computer friendly means commentary that is more reactive, less involved, but you can use a phone.

My vote is to keep the old format. Comments from the past past as well as current, combined with the necessity to research in order better access relevant facts, is what makes the blog.