Feedback On The New Feld Thoughts Design

Every year or so I freshen up the Feld Thoughts design. This time I did it with the help of Cole Morrison, who is the Hackstar I hired at the end of last year.

I’ve gotten some feedback so far but am looking for more. And I’m happy to get whatever you’ve got for us – nice, constructive, or harsh. Whatever comes to mind – just toss it in the comments or email it.

For an example of “substantial” and “harsh” take a look at this. Like all helpful feedback, it’s very precise and actionable.

Feldthoughts feedback
  • http://www.alearningaday.com Rohan

    Looks a bit funny on the archaic version of IE that I’m on. :) Will see at home.

  • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

    You shld have more pics of cars + motorcycles.

  • davidthomas8779

    The image isn’t visible on Safari for my ipad on iOS 6.

  • http://www.participate.com Alan Warms

    When I go to your site, I want to see your latest blog post, if there is one. That header is just so much noise and is actually hard to read for me (however the design etc. is laid out).

  • http://thedaddyclub.blogspot.com/ Christian D.

    On my phone (Droid Bionic) the first thing that popped out to me was the Twitter and Facebook links. Needs to be some separation there (Looks like this “TwitterFacebook” on my phone). Pulling the site up, just now, on Chrome I’m not sure about the top part of the main page. I think the post page looks good, but the top on the front page seems a bit busy to me.

    Otherwise I think it looks good!

  • DaveJ

    Since you asked… it’s extremely cluttered. There are buttons and icons and links and ads and tools everywhere. It seems like the source of this is that you overload the function of the blog page: it is your personal website, your laboratory for experimenting with various online services and tools, a place to sell and promote things, as well as a blog. For the easiest comparison, Fred Wilson’s blog is just a blog. I like that layout better – less is more. Of course, this seems to be the trend in content sites, and it doesn’t really prevent me from reading the content… thankfully you have not yet put in pop-up links to other posts and such.

  • http://hegranes.com/ jonathan hegranes

    Agreed. Really like his feedback… Spot on with the sidebar!

    Re the overall look and feel, rather than a digital landscape or – gasp – a *flat* UI, I’d propose some 3D glossiness — analogous to my favorite pic of the Foundry Group team.

  • http://bothsider.com/ Mark Gavagan

    VERY handsome design.

    I really like the mountains in the background and the color scheme.

    Consider raising the opacity on the white content background a little so the mountains behind that text are a bit less visible (pretty good as it is, but this would make it even easier to read)

    Could simplify and thin-out by moving the top of the page items into the categories below (books under books and organizations under “about)

    Categories is pretty extensive (seems more like a list of tags). I kind of like it as it is, but here are a few alternative ideas on this:

    > Consider boiling all of these into 8 or 12 actual categories and listing those

    > Consider the top 12 most popular then a “more” link to a page devoted to this content.

    > Consider three sort options (see attached image).

    > Consider tighter vertical spacing on the categories

    > Consider moving “Legal” to the footer and replacing it with Categories as a drop-down or link to that as a page

    I often read your blog in bursts, so an easy way to see your 5 most recent would be helpful (the current link to the next most recent at the top-left is okay, but if this is a common wish, perhaps there’s a more robust solution).

    Overall it’s well-organized, pleasing to the eye and there’s a lot to be proud of. Good work Cole. I hope everyone’s feedback is helpful and constructive. Looking forward to your refinements…

  • http://www.feld.com bfeld

    I like the new site design. A few observations / criticisms related mostly to functionality …

    LAG TIME ON EMAIL UPDATES – I am signed up for the email updates, but notice that your posts generally publish a # of hours before the update goes out on the email side. Why? It’s nice to be able to comment when there are other people commenting as well (as opposed to feel like I’m always late to the punch when I want to say something – and everyone has moved along).

    DIMINISHING UTILITY OF TAGS AND CATEGORIES – I do not believe that the utility of the tag cloud and the categories on the right nav is sufficient for it to consume so much real estate. The first few categories that I clicked on had 1-2 posts, and they were as far back as 2009. Then there is the sort of wackiness of overlapping categories like “VC Financing” and “Venture Capital.” I would guess that heuristics on where people are clicking would show that right nav to be driving very few clicks relative to the % of screen it occupies.

    ALT IDEAS FOR SIDEBAR – These are all things I would be more interested in about you, for the sidebar: your twitter stream, a stream of news about co’s you are invested in, tech events you are attending, news that you read that you recommend others read, your disqus stream.

  • http://sitetherapy.net/ rick gregory

    OK design thoughts.

    1) Width. The main post area should have a line length of no MORE than 80 letters. 60 is probably better for readability. You can do this and keep the layout liquid by setting a max-width in the CSS for the container div that encloses the content, header, sidebar, etc.

    2) Collapse the categories. Aside from solutions that just do this visually (putting all of those inside a select dropdown), you could a) go through and recategorize things so there’s not a lot of close duplication (Financing, Finance Fridays, Financial Statements) or you could not show categories with fewer than N posts or with posts older than M.

    3) Speaking of categories, you’re misusing the categories vs tags a bit. For example, you’ve categorized this post as Blogging and tagged it as Blogging. In the words of a great design critic.. “Bwah??”. The best analogy I’ve come up with about categories vs tags is the cookbook. Categories are the table of contents and provide an overall organizational scheme that shows how the writer wants the reader to approach the material. Might be by course, type of main ingredient, season, whatever.

    Tags are the index. In a cookbook, a good index will show you ingredients, techniques, etc. These will span categories but are something specific that the reader will want to know about (“I have some chicken, show me all recipes in this book that use chicken”). Final thing on this topic – don’t closely duplicate either categories or tags (Marathon, marathons in tags).

    4) The words Books and Organizations in the top header don’t contrast with the background. If I were not looking for them I’d miss them.

    5) The snippets above the main post… I usually click through to a post from Feedly, so the home page doesn’t affect me, but in looking at it I’d consider moving it below the main content, between Also on Feldthoughts and the footer. . If they were all your thoughts they’d fit better (this is Feldthoughts after all). I’d consider why they’re there. Actually, I’d look at clicks on those and see if any are generating traffic to their sources.

    Finally, the design is an odd mix of responsive and fixed. Pick one. For example, the main content area adjusts its width to accommodate narrower screens, but the boxes on the top of the home page don’t adjust within their container and the categories listing and tag cloud don’t either. Specifically, I’d:

    * Move the 4 boxes under the content and at narrower widths have them move from a 4×1 grid to a 2×2 and then a 1×4. Doing this with them above the content would push content down too far.

    * At a certain narrow width, collapse the tag clouds and categories to select menus (dropdowns) and place them just above the content area.

    * At mobile widths, collapse the menu into an accordion or slideout menu.

    All of this is quick feedback on one cup of coffee and from just looking at the side on an 11″ Air. I’ll take a look at this on my iPhone and Android phone later and post if I see anything substantial.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Super helpful – thx!

      • http://sitetherapy.net/ rick gregory

        You’re welcome. Oh and btw, if you want to consolidate tags, you can run SQL UPDATEs against the database to alter, say, all Financial Statement category entries to Finance or whatever. Obviously do this on a copy of the database on a staging/dev server, but that would be a fast way to consolidate things without the time and labor overhead of manually reassigning things.

  • Startup New Zealand

    @Brad first of all thank you for always being accessible & eager to help! Here is feedback

    a.Too busy / too many channels for a user to grab & focus on. Agreed there’s a lot going on on your end however you might want to arrange the added channels vertically instead of horizontally with milder prominence from a usability standpoint. At the end of the day its YOU who users come for so your initiatives don’t need to be over advertised as that is common awareness and have their dedicated sites. Nevertheless my prospective here may reflect that of a regular user but for someone who has just heard of you and lands here this is a good one stop hub

    b. Design is constantly evolving and I would confess I am more for simplicity & focus however busy seems to be the trend these days and if a majority of the users are in with it its the way to go

    C. I fee this strongly that this format beats the thought of the day notion (if that’s where your coming from)

    d. In my opinion the site design is awesome (background, font, color scheme & aesthetics) but the usability & messaging could be better

    An illustration to what is suggested http://justpaste.it/2ve3

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Great – really helpful example. I like where you took this.

  • Startup New Zealand

    @Brad first of all thank you for always being accessible & eager to help! Here is feedback

    a.Too busy / too many channels for a user to grab & focus on. Agreed there’s a lot going on on your end however you might want to arrange the added channels vertically instead of horizontally with milder prominence from a usability standpoint. At the end of the day its YOU who users come for so your initiatives don’t need to be over advertised as that is common awareness and have their dedicated sites. Nevertheless my prospective here may reflect that of a regular user but for someone who has just heard of you and lands here this is a good one stop hub

    b. Design is constantly evolving and I would confess I am more for simplicity & focus however busy seems to be the trend these days and if a majority of the users are in with it its the way to go

    C. I fee this strongly that this format beats the thought of the day notion (if that’s where your coming from)

    d. In my opinion the site design is awesome (background, font, color scheme & aesthetics) but the usability & messaging could be better

  • http://pashagivesback.com/ William Mougayar

    I LIKE:
    – New fonts (the body has larger fonts and that’s good)
    – New colors
    – bi-color title
    – Book banner on top and linked icons

    I DON’T LIKE
    – horizontal content section between the menu’s and the first post – (I don’t get its purpose.)
    – the list of categories is too long and takes valuable space. how about a drop down or scrap it. The cloud does a good job.

    SUGGESTION
    – Add a Video collection link. You are in so many great videos. Maybe Reece can help :)

    DOESN’T WORK
    – Search isn’t working for me. I plug culture for e.g and get a bunch of unrelated posts. I’m expecting a results page or something more accurate, See this: http://www.feld.com/?s=culture

  • Startup New Zealand

    Adding text only running links could work to highlight other posts & events more mildly

    • Scott Roberts

      I REALLY like this revision. The books make more sense to me in the sidebar than as part of the header. It also gets rid of the “app” feel. The text-only links feel better than the text +image links.

      When it comes down to it, though, I consume most of your content in Feedly, so if you hadn’t mentioned it,a long time may have elapsed before I even noticed the design.

      • Startup New Zealand

        Thanks! From a usability standpoint I feel the text only links suffice in redirecting a reader to content of their specific interest while not cluttering the overlay & ensuring direction to the main post. I wonder though the scope of changes that the theme / template would accommodate

  • StevenHB

    I’m generally better at giving small, point feedback but I’d have to agree with the various points about the overall business of the page that Dave made. There’s too much going on.

    I don’t find the Colorado mountains to be at all distracting nor do I feel that they hamper readability to any significant extent. They do connect thematically, which makes me like them.

    After I commented privately to you about the location of the links to the next and previous entries and you changed that, I started to notice the white space between those links and the post title. There’s the same space above the Tags title. Those gaps are just too large, especially in the context of the density of the rest of the page.

    While it is very direct, I wouldn’t describe the feedback that you posted above as “harsh,” it’s honest. I tip my hat to whomever created it for you – it must have taken the author a fair bit of time to create and a bit of courage to send.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Harsh is probably the wrong word – “direct” is better (I’m tone deaf to harsh – nothing ever bothers me).

      • http://jackdempsey.me Jack Dempsey

        Were you always a “nothing ever bothers me” type or did you grow into it? For someone who’s so in touch with themselves and emotion, I’m a bit surprised to learn this.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          I grew into it after having many things fail, not work, or disappoint me.

    • http://byJess.net/ Jess Bachman

      Thanks for the hat tip, feed back was mine. I give a lot of feedback on stuff. http://byjess.net/table-of-contents/

  • Scott Roberts

    Ewww….the whole design flows, but not the tiles at the top. A mid-page scroll bar…how 1999…

    On a positive note, I +1 for the larger font and greater white space. Old guy eyes, in my case.

  • James Mitchell

    At the very top of the page is a black horizontal bar. The color of the text (Brad’s books and organizations”) are too similar to the background, which makes the text very hard to read. Also, this bar consumes a lot of space relative to the one link that I can see.

  • http://patrickfoley.com/about Patrick Foley

    1. Reading the feedback was worth it simply for the introduction of “mastabatory responsiveness” to my vocabulary (and I like the spelling just the way it is – we wouldn’t have half the words in our language if people like Shakespeare hadn’t made stuff up like that all the time).

    2. I do 95% of blog reading on my phone. In reality, my experience didn’t change at all, because the RSS feed worked the same. I appreciate that – thanks.

    3. Going to feld.com itself on my Windows Phone (yes, the Koolaid sank in), I thought it looked great … but I couldn’t use the navigation links at the top of the page. Perhaps your hacker could visit a mobility testing lab to make it work on non-iOS, non-Android devices.

    4. I think the rollover effect on the books is kinda cool, but I suspect he’s letting the browser resize the images. He needs to use photoshop to get readable images (and cheat more if he already has).

  • http://twitter.com/andyidsinga andyidsinga

    more paralax (or more cow bell …either way)

  • http://me.damanbahner.com/ @Daman

    I really like the new design, but as most longtime readers, I get my Feld Thoughts through RSS most of the time, though of course I enjoy coming here to comment. I’m mixed on the addition of the social icons at the top. I just finished reading Chris Brogan’s “It’s Not About The Tights” and after his explanation, I tend to agree with his opinion on not putting social icons up top and center, perhaps on a separate social page, etc. It works as a filter for those who are genuinely engaged and interested in you. I followed you on Twitter and Shelfari years ago, because I liked the Feld sauce (poor wording, first cup of joe). Overall, kick-arse job by Cole and yourself :-)

  • http://www.iheavy.com/blog/ Sean Hull

    The color scheme & layout is excellent. I’d increase the font size to 18 or 24. Makes it more readable. I’ve actually seen pages-per-visit go up since increasing my font size from 14 to 24. Used to be 1.55 now hovers around 1.85.

  • http://blog.kwiqly.com/ James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I come here – almost daily bar my Saturdays (CET) which align conveniently with your sanity Sabbath (though you call it digital – as I understand it is a positive thing ie “a rest for spiritual sanity” not a “rest from digital pressures”)

    So the site – I come here to read your most recent post. So the promotional sections at the top are dysfunctional to me (though I understand your motive) – otherwise site is clean and accessible – Great.

  • Rob Ryan

    Love the books – BUY! BAM! Your other affiliations to the right should be in the background – embossed – subtle. Love the summary below nav. Mtns background dirties up the cleanliness of the site. Not a fan of that. 1.5x larger titles of posts. Nice work Cole – R

  • Dan Callahan

    I like Cole’s comments (but his spelling could be better…).
    – I don’t like the horizontal scrolling at the top. Might work if it was one of those automatically scrolling sections, like what we do on our site (www.cgnet.com) or what is currently on the Apple home page.
    – the banner at the top of the page looks like a pop-up add or banner ad. I’d take the content and create a box off to the side (like you have with Categories). Could be “stuff I like” or whatever.
    – can you single-space categories? or have a …more control? takes up a lot of real estate
    – general comment: you have a ton of interesting stuff going on, and it seems like you’re trying to put all of it in front of the reader at once. That comes off as too scattered. Maybe you could highlight different areas on different months. At any rate, showing less would provide a more satisfying experience. And to go with that, have a good site map or search box so if someone is looking for a specific thing, they can find it quickly.

    Dan

  • FAKE GRIMLOCK

    IT GOOD COMMENTS.

    ME HATE MOUNTAINS IN BACKGROUND. MAKE SCREEN LOOK LIKE IT DIRTY.

    ME TIRED OF KEEP WASHING SCREEN WHEN GET TO FELD.COM!

    • shadowspawnfoxxy

      feld.com?

      • FAKE GRIMLOCK

        IT A URL, THEM USED ON INTERNET.

  • http://byJess.net/ Jess Bachman

    Thanks for being open to feedback. Credit on the comments would have nice. I do site audits for a bunch of companies, often unsolicited like this one. http://byjess.net/posts/design/audit/

  • http://www.y8friv.asia/ Friv 4

    I fancy a reading good informative article. this could be such a chunk of writing. The specifics throughout this content ar original and spectacular. I share these thoughts.

  • http://patrickfoley.com/about Patrick Foley

    A buddy of mine just posted a great account of “substantial” feedback between Asimov and Roddenberry: http://diogenesclubarchives.blogspot.com/2012/12/isaac-asimov-vs-gene-roddenberry.html. Read through to get to their letters.

    BTW, I couldn’t post this from my phone (Windows Phone). I used to be able to.

  • http://www.fri-v.com/ Friv

    I really like the new design.

  • http://www.y8friv.asia/ Friv 4

    I take nice pleasure in reading articles with quality content. this text is one such writing that i’ll appreciate. continue the good work.

  • williamhertling

    This may be a very uncommon use case, but have you tried hitting File->Print? It’s not pretty.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Wow – that’s AWFUL. Eek. On it.

  • David Cohen

    While the content grows horizontally in portrait mode on iPhone the comments not.