AfterDawn: Tech news

AfterDawn redesign goes to beta

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 19 Feb 2010 9:54 User comments (49)

AfterDawn redesign goes to beta After nearly a year's worth of work, the new version of AfterDawn's backend and layout is almost ready for the prime time. Still some minor bugs need to be fixed, a few mysterious issues need to be addressed, etc. but it is almost ready (we'd say 99% done) and you can test it now.
So, please visit AfterDawn "v4" at:

http://www.v4.afterdawn.com/

or click here to view this news article in the new layout.

Let us know your thoughts. Post your comments to this news article or use our feedback form to contact us directly. I must also mention that the site wont function properly if you're using IE6, Netscape 3.x, Mosaic or any other browser that is almost a decade old. Furthermore, many sections of the site utilize -- to very small degree, I must say -- JavaScript, so it is recommended to have it turned on in your browser's settings.

Here are some of the most notable changes:
  • Complete redesign of the AfterDawn backend
    • The page loads should be much quicker
  • Completely new look and feel to the site
    • The layout is now fixed to a width of 990 pixels. We feel this helps in keeping the content much easier to read.
    • Line height of the text has been increased - again to make the content more readable.
  • Comment and write without signing up
    • You can post news comments, write hardware and software reviews and write to forums without first signing up - new account can be created when you write new content
    • Some sections of the site allow comments to be written anonymously as well
  • New way to navigate, more distinction between sections
    • You now move between different site sections (news, downloads, forums etc.) using the links at the top of the page.
    • Navigation within a section is done using tabs and drop-down menus
  • New section to the site - Tech support
    • Got a small question that's eating you up, but you just don't feel like starting a new forum thread for it? Tech support is the place to go
    • Easily ask (and answer) all sorts of questions related to computers and other technology
Please note that the site is still beta -- report us all the bugs, typos, translation errors (in case you see something in some other language other than English..) and 404s. Furthermore, the beta site runs on one server as opposed to current site's server cluster setup, so it is bound to be slower than the current "v3" version until it finally goes live.

Known problems relate mostly to "my" section and to Product comparison section's prices.

-Petteri Pyyny, webmaster
AfterDawn.com

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49 user comments

119.2.2010 10:27

Nice new design. Although it's probably going to take something for me to get used to it.

219.2.2010 11:49

SSSoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo..... can we haz the report button for comments finally?

Nice to the PM feature...but reporting in comments without goign to the forums would be nice.....

Also make home more streamlined, less word and smaller pictures for each article so you can look through them quicker... oh I see..... under latest I haz a quick summery...ok....I like! APPROVED!! *slaps some drool on it*

A link to your profile needs to be by edit profile.

I will post more thigns later...mmm yyeess...it pretty....mmmm

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 19 Feb 2010 @ 11:55

319.2.2010 12:03

So is there no longer a quick way to look at the threads that you've subscribed to?

And it looks nicer than the original layout. As OmriSama said, it'd take a while for me to get used to but it's all good.

Quick Reply for the win.

419.2.2010 12:13

Ooo is nniiceeeee(posting from V4)

519.2.2010 13:00

Very nice. You will probably get a lot of criticism from us web developing folk, but the layout is cleaner, spaced out and easy to navigate. Will take a lot more scrolling than the old site maybe? lol

619.2.2010 13:01

Zippy: Each post has the red exclamation mark that'll act as the "bust your buddy" button. Each user's nick is a clickable thingy that has PM options, etc underneath it. Quick link to your own posts will come to the site later this spring - plan is to include variety of options to the top part of the page, next to your own nick.

But ye, this is very much a work in progress. We hope to go live in 1-2 weeks time after all the bugs have been squashed, after which, we will focus on further improvements/new features ("v4.1" if you like).

Btw. At the very bottom of the page, you see the latest revision number of the site, just to track if we've fixed something since you last visited.

719.2.2010 13:07

Originally posted by dRD:
Zippy: Each post has the red exclamation mark that'll act as the "bust your buddy" button. Each user's nick is a clickable thingy that has PM options, etc underneath it. Quick link to your own posts will come to the site later this spring - plan is to include variety of options to the top part of the page, next to your own nick.

But ye, this is very much a work in progress. We hope to go live in 1-2 weeks time after all the bugs have been squashed, after which, we will focus on further improvements/new features ("v4.1" if you like).

Btw. At the very bottom of the page, you see the latest revision number of the site, just to track if we've fixed something since you last visited.
I see it now,nice but I like it there at the top of the site, no need to go into a article,ect to get to my profile page.

The rest is looking good...mmm shiny *licklicklick* LOL

819.2.2010 14:16

As a trial run it may pay to change:
xbox to "Original xbox" on all of those headings for the first xbox then dump "Xbox 360 General Discussion" & change to "Xbox 360 All Topics"

It more than likley won't make a scrap of diff & idiots will still post 360 questions in the xbox forums,still it's worth a shot failing that posts should be deleted & person given lifetime ban,actually no a 3 strikes your out policy..lmao...

919.2.2010 14:41

looks great to me, more sleek, ssems you all can fit more info perpage. looks pretty good so far.

1019.2.2010 17:29

I think....I want my money back.
Just kidding...

look's great !
cheers!

1119.2.2010 19:16

Quote:
SSSoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo..... can we haz the report button for comments finally?
SNITCH!...no just kidding don't report me.

1220.2.2010 5:19
chris
Unverified new user

Just think of how much the mods will complain now with no need to sign up to spam.

Some of the new site is in French (or some other European language). If you scroll down in a news article to related news, "muut uutiset" is the title for the news articles.

The ads in the middle of the forums lists are too far. Also, why is there still only one xbox 360 discussion forum?

1323.2.2010 9:25

Originally posted by chris:
Just think of how much the mods will complain now with no need to sign up to spam.
We use automated spam blocks to prevent actual spam. Of course, silly comments will remain a problem, but they have been a problem whether the site has required registration or not :-)

Quote:
Some of the new site is in French (or some other European language). If you scroll down in a news article to related news, "muut uutiset" is the title for the news articles.
It is in Finnish :-) I've fixed that now, alongside tons of other issues as well.

1423.2.2010 12:39

Woah lookin' fresh, really like the home page over the old one, how it shows the entire article so no more crazy clickin' :)

Also do like comment box at the bottom of the article, just faster that way.

1523.2.2010 16:51

Is there an RSS link to v4?

1623.2.2010 23:29

I think it looks very good. I believe your headed in the right direction.


Know how to drive a person CRAZY? <<Click Here>>

1724.2.2010 0:26

Unlike the existing aD site, it does not scale with the width of the browser. This is something I liked about the old aD. The new graphics look excellent, but this I think is fundamentally important.
Example:
http://img202.imageshack.us/img202/1231/adv4.jpg
http://img43.imageshack.us/img43/5441/adold.jpg

Note how much more fits on one line with a wide browser window.

1824.2.2010 0:28

I like it... Very clean and sharp looking... Great job guys!

1924.2.2010 2:58

Originally posted by sammorris:
Unlike the existing aD site, it does not scale with the width of the browser. This is something I liked about the old aD. The new graphics look excellent, but this I think is fundamentally important.
Example:
http://img202.imageshack.us/img202/1231/adv4.jpg
http://img43.imageshack.us/img43/5441/adold.jpg

Note how much more fits on one line with a wide browser window.
This is actually something we investigated, tested, read articles and studies about and tweaked before deciding to take the "fixed width" route.

Reasoning: Wide-screen monitors and large screen resolutions have become a norm -- you can pick a 24" BenQ from any local retailer for 150/$200. Now, the problem is that while more advanced users usually multitask with their displays, most people don't (and as AfterDawn reaches 5M people each month, quite large percentage of those users are "Joe Averages") -- their browser windows are almost always maxed to the screen size, meaning a width of 1600, 1680 or 1920.

When we moved from original fixed width variable width 8 years ago, the massive screen resolutions weren't a problem, as pretty much nobody had those in use :-)

Now, as evident in your screenshots, this means that one line can contain more text. But even though it is fine for some people, for most people it isn't. According to tons of studies, a limited line length is actually better for reading, rather than a long one. One industry that is about 400 years older than Net, has tried and tested this issue several times -- newspapers and magazines use certain column length for a reason and the reason is that shorter lines are easier for eyes and easier to read.

Added to the facts stated above, designing a site for fixed width allows us to do certain small things with the layout and design that can't be achieved with variable width.

Thus, the fixed width. I know, some people will hate it at first, but based on the feedback we've had on our Finnish site, even the most hardcore opponents of the change have later admitted that the new layout is "quite good" :-) (on Finnish site, where the new layout was launched in November, the layout change caused a massive wave of complaints and we've fixed, improved and polished most of the issues by now, thus, you guys are having it bit easier this time ;-).

Originally posted by ElTwo:
Is there an RSS link to v4?
RSS links, titles, buttons, occasional missing templates and various bugs are being fixed, added and squashed as we speak. We expect this version to replace the current "v3" within next two weeks, once everything seems to be in order. Thus, browse the site, test things and let us know if you find anything weird.

2024.2.2010 7:14

Under "Software Downloads" on the new site, you're only able to see the 10 most recent updates when you go to "Latest Additions"

With the current site, you have the option of many more and the ability to see what was added on previous days...

With a limit of only 10 updates listed, you will need to be checking multiple times a day (maybe even several times an hour) to make sure you haven't missed something important or perhaps something new you might be interested in trying.. NOT a good idea.

2124.2.2010 7:33

Originally posted by Joleca:
Under "Software Downloads" on the new site, you're only able to see the 10 most recent updates when you go to "Latest Additions"

With the current site, you have the option of many more and the ability to see what was added on previous days...

With a limit of only 10 updates listed, you will need to be checking multiple times a day (maybe even several times an hour) to make sure you haven't missed something important or perhaps something new you might be interested in trying.. NOT a good idea.
Actually, the good olde listing is still there, just the link on the main front page seems to be missing (we'll fix that, thanks):

http://www.v4.afterdawn.com/software/latest_additions/

2224.2.2010 7:40

Apparently the "new comment added" message sent via email did contain an incorrect URL. This and handful of other issues have been fixed now.

2324.2.2010 8:49

i like the new layout

2424.2.2010 20:31

The design seems very nice. Perhaps now is a good time to find
a better way to deal with the SPAM in the forums.

On most other forums I've joined, new members must have their first
few posts reviewed by an administrator before they're allowed to be
visible on the forums.

Is this feasible at Afterdawn?

2524.2.2010 22:24

I love the new design and it is very easy too navigate.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 24 Feb 2010 @ 22:24

2625.2.2010 6:19

I like it....good work to everyone involved!!

2725.2.2010 7:20
light2030
Inactive

I have no problem with the new design

2825.2.2010 11:30

Great new look and so easy on the eye

2925.2.2010 12:03

UMMMMM If it Ain't broke Don't fix it.

It's been fine for how many years why mess it up?

3025.2.2010 13:39

it looks great, as previous post stated it is easy on the eyes..

just one question. where is the tab for the personal post? what threads you/me have posted in? i cant seem to find it anywhere??

3125.2.2010 15:21

i agree with if it aint broke nay fix.

3225.2.2010 16:49

Like it! easier to read articles, in one large Page

go for it !!!!

3325.2.2010 19:38

This looks very nice.....my first reaction is.....this is a great improvement.....job well done!

3425.2.2010 21:51

All my thread emails are now the new type, and are blank URLs (hyperlinks with no address). Please fix, I can't access threads via the update emails any more!

3526.2.2010 0:45

I find the new changes interesting and will take some getting used to for sure.

Originally posted by dRD:
Now, as evident in your screenshots, this means that one line can contain more text. But even though it is fine for some people, for most people it isn't. According to tons of studies, a limited line length is actually better for reading, rather than a long one. One industry that is about 400 years older than Net, has tried and tested this issue several times -- newspapers and magazines use certain column length for a reason and the reason is that shorter lines are easier for eyes and easier to read.
I'm curious on this; could you link to (even if it's via PM) some articles that go more in-depth on this?

I've been debating the fixed-vs-dynamic width issue for my own website and it's interesting for me to see aD, which is a very popular website, switch from being dynamic for so long back to a static display.

3626.2.2010 3:05

Originally posted by Pop_Smith:
I'm curious on this; could you link to (even if it's via PM) some articles that go more in-depth on this?
Can't find the resource list now (different comp - I'll PM them to you when I have a chance), but essentially, the research suggests that 95 characters per line seems to be the most ideal length for text (people read it faster than shorter or longer lines than that). And as the screen resolutions have gone up quite rapidly, also the font size needs to be adjusted to bigger pt sizes (again, taking Joe Average in account, who can't and wont use CTRL+'plus' to zoom the page). Using this font size and width, our news articles seem to contain 85 - 105 characters per line, depending on the text - putting the average line length quite close to the "ideal" of 95cpl. In discussion forums, the length is slightly longer, as the sidebar is missing (but offset by the fact that the "nick area" takes some space).

To basically sum the design approach we took:

1) Make the text as easy to read as possible, for majority of users. Keeping in mind that widescreen monitors, 1920x1200 resolutions, etc are getting much more popular.

2) Make the site look more "modern" and organized, specially for people who come to the site for the very first time.

3) Improve the rendering speed of the page by tweaking the HTML, JavaScript, etc (extensive use of Y!Slow and Google Page Speed..).

4) Organize each section individually, to make each section as independent as possible -- allowing each section to be built for its own purpose, without having to worry that "we need to have same sidebars across the site", etc. Now software section focuses on software, product comparison focuses on finding right products easier, etc.

5) To lower the bar of participating, by making "participation options" as readily available as possible (quick reply boxes, easier registration process, etc).

6) To finally drop the support for IE6, Netscape 3, etc and take advantage of Web standards rather than hacks.

7) Include AJAX/dynamic options to the site where it makes sense ("don't add AJAX because its trendy, add AJAX where it makes sense") -- good example being the "Latest user comments" box on the news section's sidebar - click the bottom link and it'll load more comments.

Originally posted by sammorris:
All my thread emails are now the new type, and are blank URLs (hyperlinks with no address). Please fix, I can't access threads via the update emails any more!
Thanks, this is a bug I spotted yesterday. We'll fix it asap.

3726.2.2010 5:43
Bornies
Inactive

EeeeAhhh.............Looking Goood.

Any new display needs a little getting used. But nice clean lines with a somewhat sophisticated look.

I Like.I Like.

Well Done Everyone.

3826.2.2010 13:03
light2030
Inactive

Its good

3926.2.2010 13:46
scum101
Inactive

What Daves after is a proper word filter, and I killed spammers outright on my site by disallowing link posting until 10 posts had been made... they just can't post.

wordfilter (simple stuff gets most of the spammers) and a link post ban until xxx posts.. same with the word filter actually.. same number should do. 10 seemed like a decent number in my experience to see off all but but most determined real human spammers. They try a few times then give up when nothing posts and look for an easier target.. Plus.. no escape.. just doesn't post.. no opportunity to modify/edit any made posts.. same thing 10 or more for the edit feature to become available.

just thinking out loud and popping in what I did to get rid of spam on my site.


4027.2.2010 9:54

Nice "fresh" look, I like the new line spacing, easy on the eyes. It will take a while to get used to the new page width but after reading the reasons from dRD it makes sense. Shorter lines do read easier. I didn't notice the arrow next to the member name till it was pointed out.
Keep up the good work...looking good.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Feb 2010 @ 9:57

4128.2.2010 10:25

This will be sent via the feedback form and posted.

"Completely new look and feel to the site".

Why? You don't need to.

Do redesign the back-end, tweak the functionality and improve load speeds, but keep the colour scheme, image(s) and layout.

It looks fine, it's easy to use and it's not broken - so don't fix it.

At the very least, please offer a skin, that makes pages look and feel as they do now.

The new "v4" looks barren and without anchor. Be sure that you'll lose users, if it's adopted without alternative / cover.

4228.2.2010 12:26

Originally posted by jlrm365:
This will be sent via the feedback form and posted.

"Completely new look and feel to the site".

Why? You don't need to.

Do redesign the back-end, tweak the functionality and improve load speeds, but keep the colour scheme, image(s) and layout.

It looks fine, it's easy to use and it's not broken - so don't fix it.

At the very least, please offer a skin, that makes pages look and feel as they do now.

The new "v4" looks barren and without anchor. Be sure that you'll lose users, if it's adopted without alternative / cover.
jlrm365, I actually like the new layout. The sides maybe "barren" but the color seems neutral to me so it's not distracting.

Also, the site's user base may dip a bit while people get used to the site but I believe they'll see an overall increase in active users in the long run due to better readability of the site.

4328.2.2010 13:26

I think I mentioned about it in our 10yr anniversary post -- every time we have changed our site's layout, we've received complaints about it :-) However, I think that if we'd bring the original "v1" back, most people would have serious issues with its look & feel ;-)

But then again, all change -- inevitably -- meets resistance. However, as majority of our site's users seem to be more than happy with the new layout (based on the response here, emails we've rceived through our feedback form and most notably, from 3 month experience on Finnish side), we're more than happy to roll out the v4 once the bugs have been squashed.

Once the v4 goes live, hopefully by mid-March or so, we'll focus on improving page load speeds further and to fix inevitable bugs that'll appear after the launch.

We have tons of coding stuff (about 14 months of work to be exact) scheduled after the v4 launch and sooner we get this online, sooner we can focus on bringing new features to the site (say, instant in-site notifications for PMs, etc).

4428.2.2010 21:12
joel2006
Inactive

I like the new look. good job!!!

451.3.2010 10:06
hkbeginer
Inactive

It is 100% correct that afterdawn.com not open properly in IE 6 and its take long time...
My request to the modrator that only one thing we want on thread board that we share picture easly for our problems. not in url..

461.3.2010 17:13

nice new look

473.3.2010 16:05
Drdetfqpc
Unverified new user

SH7tGr Thank you for the material. Do you mind if I posted it in her blog, of course, with reference to your site?

483.3.2010 17:52

IT LOOK BEAUTIFULL

493.3.2010 17:58
scum101
Inactive

Originally posted by hkbeginer:
It is 100% correct that afterdawn.com not open properly in IE 6 and its take long time...
My request to the modrator that only one thing we want on thread board that we share picture easly for our problems. not in url..
tough.. pics take hosting space

for what it's worth I like the look.. don't like all the java.. might be an idea to learn to code html5 properly ;)

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