…and yes – ack! There are changes afoot!
Change can be difficult, but in this case, the change is promising to bring with it some extra double servings of awesomesauce. Jump or scroll, it’s all good!
- Answer the Beta Question of the Week
- Wait, what does Beta even mean?
- Tell us about another problem you had
- Rant (or gush!) your little heart out
- Find out about our new Smart Bitch
The goal for our new design is… We want to make everything about the site better for you. We want it to be easier for you to involve yourself in the incredible SBTB community. We want our site to load quicker for you, and we want you to be able to view it on your phone, for goodness sake. And searching. Oh, yes, searching. Why?
We have a lot to talk about in the romance world, and with the new site, we have enhanced searchability and thus, find-ability (the bitchability comes standard and won’t change, of course). We want you to be able to find the things you’re looking for, while also maybe discovering some new books, discussions, and moments of mayhem and hilarity which you might have missed.
Our redesign is an evolving process which includes a lot of inspection, discovery, questions, and more questions. How can we do some parts better? How can we make the site faster and easier to navigate? Why have I run out of cookies? No, ACTUAL cookies, not web cookies. We’re never running out of those.
We want to hear from you, too. The point of all our efforts is to make the site and the community within it easier to use and easier to navigate. This page is for all of us to talk about what’s new, and why it’s new, what is particularly rocking your socks, and what you think we can do to make it even better. We invite you to get involved as much or as little as you wish.
No, it’s not a stupid question: here’s what we mean by Beta
Beta testing is the process of using real people in the real world to find bugs in a new site. Why’s it called beta, you ask? Because it follows alpha testing, the internal, pre-launch, error-slaying, bug-squishing process that happened before the new design went public. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet. Beta is the second. “Beta Testing” is just a fancy way to refer to the second testing process.
And yes, logically Gamma Testing would come next, but we just call it Ongoing Beta. The site will keep evolving. We’re going to keep testing. And sooner or later we’d run out of Greek letters. (Though, must say, I do like the sound of “Omicron Testing.”)
Beta Question of the Week:
SBTB has lots of different ways to subscribe to our content! Are they easy to find? How would you do it?
Ongoing Open Beta
FOR REPORTING ISSUES, BUGS, AND GENERAL WONKINESS
Tweet @TeamSBTB or fill out the form below.
This is the spot to report anything you want to tell us about the new site. We want the site to be easy to use and accessible to all, so if you notice a problem or something’s not quite right, we want to know. Basically, if anything feels odd to you, we want to know about it. (And if you think something is covered in coolness, we want to know that, too.)
The more info we gather from real site visitors, the better we can make this site moving forward, because we have big plans. But it would suck to build on something that isn’t actually working for you. We need your feedback. What is driving you crazy? Is anything confusing? Is there content you can’t find now that we’ve redesigned? We really want to know if something looks wrong, like if images are overlapping or if a link goes nowhere. Please don’t assume we meant to do something that looks bad to you or made you work too hard. Different versions of different browsers on different operating systems display sites really differently and we might have never seen it look the way you’re seeing it.
Let’s Talk About It
Finally, use the comments section below for general venting… or to tell us about the changes you like! Comments are for discussing the redesign, while the form above will send fixes to the design team as quickly as possible.
Add Your Comment →
I miss the pink.
I will adapt, because it would take a lot more than layout change to deter me from participating in the Bitchery, but I don’t have to like the process.
Did I mention that I miss the pink?
It needs more pink.
I miss the hot pink in the new design. The black is classy, but SB is known for the pink, in my opinion.
Love that there is a HaBO direct link now!
Also I like the darker background, but I miss the stripes, always loved those.
I miss the pink too and I don’t even really like pink, but it’s something I associate with the Pink Palace of Bitchery. Black background with light font is very hard on the eyes. Also, it took me a while to find the search box. Having it near the top rather than the bottom would make it easier to locate. Good news was that I was able to search ‘Podcast Transcripts’ and they came up. Yay. It might be helpful to add the transcipts to the main Podcast link in the header.
I like the new look! I think the darker pink classes up the joint a bit. 😉
There’s a search at the top – in the top right corner, the yellow Lady with glasses is the search trigger. Click on her or on the magnifying glass, and the search window pops up. I loooove the strength of the new search. Like whoa.
And I hear y’all on the pink and the “Wait, what? Change? ACK!” I go through the same thing. There’s pink, but for this version we went with a darker shade.
The redesign makes me VERY happy. Much cleaner, easier to navigate, and easier on my eyes. (I hated all of the pink and stripes on the old layout.) This is my expert opinion as someone with a master’s in web design and usability. 😉
couldn’t figure out what was missing, the black title bar seemed a little empty…finally got it, hope you put the logo/site title back up!
I’m not loving that there are only twenty comments per page. (I sometimes like to catch up on long comment threads when away from the internet. Twenty comments per page makes that impossible.)
And my eyes like the bold text more than the regular text, the regular is too thin and “spindly” for my eyes. Or something. (I’m on a laptop.)
I agree that the header needs The Ladies.
Okay, after a few more minutes here…
Thicker or otherwise more contrasting text would be better for we older folk with tired eyes.
If there’s a way not to split the comments into pages, that would be most excellent–it’s not hard but it is tiresome to have to click to another page every few comments, particularly if you are looking for something you want to comment on after a while. And more more so on heated discussions, eager recommendation posts, etc.
@Olivia (comment #8): the “black” bar is actually dark grey, and the logo is in it. If you are seeing it as black and empty, we really want to know. Please head up to ONGOING OPEN BETA higher up on this page and submit your issue — we will look into it. Thanks.
My initial reaction is it’s different enough to be noticeable but not enough to totally freak me out (I’m not good with change). I’ll play around with it some more to see if I have more substantive thoughts on the re-design.
One thing that did jump out at me immediately was the lack of any retro ladies of color–they’re all white ladies again, though I do like what I assume is a shout-out to RedHeadedGirl in the lower right corner.
@ms bookjunkie (comment #9) and @azteclady (comment #10): the pagination of comments is necessary now due to the fact that all SBTB pages are now fully mobile. All comments on one page would make that page too long for the phone. We could perhaps make it 25 per page, or better, nest comments so that replies are substacked and conversations therefore grouped, but we didn’t want to impose *too* much change all at once, ya know?
@KatieF (comment 12): we have ladies of color in the works! The problem is that authentic images that we can use from the 1950s are not plentiful. That said, we’ve started a lightbox and we’ve tried a few (alas, we couldn’t make the styles blend — it looked really forced). But know that this is definitely an official Coming Soon thing.
@azteclady (comment #10) re: the font size and thickness. This font was chosen for a lot of reasons, and I am sorry you are not instantly loving it. I can assure you that in the next few weeks we will be adding in the functionality so that you can up the size of the Post Content font to suit your reading experience. We simply needed to test it more as it was breaking the layout. We didn’t want to hold up launch for it. Stay tuned!
Also, re: the pink. The “Smart Ladies” in the masthead / Logo — that is the “Old Pink.” We didn’t want to change *everything*
First thing I notice – right off. The regular font is, as one of the commenters said, “thin and spindly” I’m reading on my desktop monitor which is HD and it’s somewhat unpleasant. I can see headaches coming if I read for a long while.
Other than that, so far it’s great! 🙂
LOVE IT. Clean, crisp and easy to navigate.
@AndiLeigh (comment #5), @Julie (comment #7), @Evaine (comment #16), and @Mochabean (comment #17) — Thanks for the love. We know it’s a big change — it’s good to know it’s working for people!
Also, Evaine, please see above to my comment #15: the font. It’s going to be adjustable. But in order to have it render crisply on the phone and be scalable, the font selected had to fit specific criteria. Stay tuned.
@Emily (comment 13) — Please, please, please no nested comments.
A number of other sites I frequent have nested comments and I hate it. Like Smart Bitches, I periodically check those sites throughout the day and with nested comments instead of straight line comments, I always miss out on good discussions.
It takes too much time to scroll back up through the comments to see if anything has been added since the last time I checked in.
@Lynn (comment 19), this is so interesting. Most of our research shows that people are frustrated because of no nested comments. We made sure not to impose them on the SBTB community, but the vast majority of web users prefer being able to reply to a specific comment. I find I am already losing track of who is saying what, and if I could hit “reply” I wouldn’t have to call out @NAME (COMMENT#x)…
Down the road we plan to introduce a page that makes it easier to follow multiple conversations within comments across multiple posts (if that makes any sense), and at that point not having nested comments might possibly become redundant. But for now, we left it as is.
Emily, I don’t expect any future changes to come solely because I’m having trouble with this version.
However, please and for the love of all that’s good and sunshiny: no threaded comments.
With threaded comments, a person has to read every thread, every time, to see what’s new–and will often miss the new stuff after a certain threshold because of the sheer volume of comments. I beg you, no threaded comments.
@Emily Count me as one of the users frustrated by the lack of nested comments here. Sometimes I avoid reading comments on posts — even though I know I’m interested in what others have to say — if there are more than say, ten comments, because I can’t keep track of conversations.
I prefer my laptop over my mobile or my kindle to visit SBTB, so the 20 comments per page isn’t my preference. I would like to be able to reply directly, BUT NO NESTING….PLEASE! I would rather have it as it is, than go to nesting. I like seeing commenters gravatars….but that’s not important.
The font is fine, but I wish is was BOLD….it would be easier to read. I was feeling the strain after reading for just a few minutes.
Miss the pink…..miss the ladies, but other than that SBTB looks very professional and is easy to navigate.
@azteclady (comment 21) and @Julie (comment 22) re: nested comments. I am aware that the vocal sector of the SBTB community (for the most part) rails against nested comments. However, since the majority of the web prefers it, we have been devising an interface to please both Old School (no nesting) and Current Prevailing (nesting). We just don’t have it perfected yet. One of the Very Big Goals of the redesign has been to make interacting easier for everyone, and to encourage even more of the community to participate. Many people won’t comment without nested comments as they find it too linear, too confusing, and not a followable conversation.
But whatever happens, everyone’s preferences will be considered. Promise.
@Emily Thanks for your response, and thanks for listening and considering everyone’s opinions and preferences.
Love the new design, but the font is really tough to read with bad eyes. If it was a little bolder, it would make a huge difference.
@laj (comment #23) Sadly we can’t have reply-to-a-specific-comment AND no-nesting. The two go hand in hand.
Hello from the web team: please notice we have increased the number of comments per page to 30, but we really need to keep mobile load and page length in mind. We may be able to switch in the future to paginate at different points based on viewpoint, for now, thanks for giving the pagination a shot.
I’m one of those old farts who don’t read the site on a phone, so a lot of the functionality that requires is lost on me. I’m also aware we are the minority (though we can always be vocal–at least, I know *I* can).
I much prefer the reply link to the nested comments. Among other things, there’s only so many levels of nesting you can have, while people may want to continue going back and forth for what may seem forever.
I do appreciate all you guys are doing to make the site more functional to the majority of the Bitchery, even if and as I complain.
@Emily: I’m confused. Many sites I’ve visited (DA for one) have a direct reply without nesting….maybe I don’t really know what nesting is?
20 New comment
21 New comment
Is this nesting? If it is I’m not a fan….it’s really hard to follow, especially with posts that are “emotional” or like “whatcha reading”.
I apologise for taking up so much space.
@Emily know nothing about coding and how difficult or not this would be would it be possible to do something like on the groups on Ravelry.com? There comments aren’t nested but there are links so users can reply to a specific comment and then the original comment shows a link indicating how many people have replied. It’s possible that way to jump from comment to comment following a specific conversation of that is what you want to do or just read all the comments in the order they were posted. (Sorry though to see what I’m talking about you do have to join Ravelry).
@azteclady (comment #29): please see my comment #27 above: the reply to specific comment functionality requires nesting. We can’t have one without the other. As for the level of nesting, we can get to a nested level of ten replies. Thanks a lot. That’s not ten total, that’s ten to each specific comment. Meaning If I had been able to reply directly to your comment #29, then I would have been comment #29.1. If someone else replied to your comment #29, that comment would have been comment #29.2 — each .1 and .2 would be able to have ten under each. It would be pretty hard to max it out. I mean, it could certainly be done, but most needs would be satisfied within the nesting level capability.
And yes, we want to hear from as many people as possible. We need to be clear, however, that we are getting more emails via the OPEN ONGOING BETA than comments here, so please know that even if it seems that the most vocal contingent in the comments are saying one thing, it still might be a minority opinion of the whole.
If you have specific issues, however, I encourage you to use the ONGOING OPEN BETA form above as that will go to the web team. We won’t necessarily see all these comments here as in real time after this morning, and regardless, we’d need info about your browser that we make super easy for you to provide. Thanks!
This is the last from me on the changes to the site.
I really love the Podcast link…terrific!
@laj #30 and @Mara #31 — it’s a lot of additional code to do the reply without nesting. I should have clarified my comment #27 — it’s doable, but it adds a lot of code and we were concerned as to how that would affect the load, especially as SBTB is mobile for the first time. We were hoping that nesting might work as that’s the default for most of the web (though we were pre-warned about the vocal naysayers. 😉 ).
Working with the commenting functionality is something we plan to continue with. We have to get more feedback than just a handful of folks, though — if we don’t get a wider consensus before changing things we are merely being end-of-bullwhip reactionary.
Thanks for your input whether here in the comments or above via the OPEN ONGOING BETA form. We really are listening.
Thanks @laj (comment #33): one of the goals was to make the Podcasts easier to access. Glad to see it’s working for you.
I’ll join those who dislike the font – it might be necessary for mobile use, but please don’t forget that many of us read on computers, too. My eyesight is fine, but it’s too thin and makes for an unpleasant reading experience. SBTB should be fun, not painful! I also think that there is too much going on in terms of fonts, font sizes, colors and emphasis.
On the positive side, I like the darker pink and don’t mind the comments being split into pages.
I think there may be something a little off with the Search function. I am a longtime lurker – my first post was earlier this month (I think), but I can’t find it. It was on an article about the addition of older Harlequins to Scribd’s subscription service. When I search using “Scribd”, I get an Oct 11/14 column re DBSA podcast (no comments), and the next one is one from March 14 2014 with links, the next one after that is from Sept 2012 – “thanking the Sept advertisers”. None of these is the post that deals with the Harlequins/Scribd announcement. I am using Firefox 33 with NoScript and Ghostery extensions, but have allowed the SBTB/aspnetcdn.com/ajax.googleapis.com websites. Do I need to allow anything else in NoScript? Only other thing showing is twitter.com. Thanks.
I assume that answers to search queries are displayed with newest entries first.
I also tried “Harlequin” as a search term and I still don’t see the post about Scribd.
@Dot (and everyone else finding possible bugs): please use the ONGOING OPEN BETA for specific issues. Comments here are not for potential bugs and things that seem wrong as it may get inadvertently missed. This space is really/truly for commenting :). It’s very very helpful if you can use the form above as that input goes directly to the correct part of the web team. Much appreciated.
I’m liking the changes a lot. I’ve spent time at my job uploading to clean, easy-to-read sites, and a few that were too full of cartoony crap. This new site loaded quickly (granted, I’m at work with a super speedy connection), the individual elements pop, and the font looks really good to me. Loving the white space, too.
I’ll check it out on the phone and iPad later.