7 Reasons Why The New SitePoint Front Page Rocks

Matthew Magain
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Uluru sits majestic and coloured bold red under a bright blue skySure, writing a post with a title like this is just begging for someone to go and list a bunch of reasons why they think it sucks, but what the heck — we’re really excited about the new approach we’re taking with the front page. Here’s why:

  1. News is front and center.

    The SitePoint Blogs have been ticking along for a few years now, but it’s fair to say that they’ve never really been the focus of our site. We’ve always devoted more screen real estate to the high quality tutorials, inspiring design commentary, and business tips and tricks that we’ve published. For years, these longer articles have educated and inspired our audience, while the blogs have sat quietly in the background, making the occasional splash but never really getting the opportunity to shine.

    Because of this, many web professionals visited SitePoint regularly for educational and reference material, but they went elsewhere to get their news. With this new blog, which we’re calling News & Trends, we’re planning for SitePoint to become the site to visit for web professionals, for both their educational needs and their daily news fix.

    Add the RSS feed for the SitePoint News & Trends blog to your feed reader now.

  2. We’ve got Josh Catone. (Yes, the Josh Catone!)

    We’re very excited to welcome influential blogger Josh Catone to the SitePoint team. Josh joins us on a full-time basis, having previously written for the excellent tech blog, ReadWriteWeb.

    Josh was recognised in April this year as one of the top tech bloggers in the world — in a list compiled by TechCrunch, he came in at number 13. Needless to say we’re pretty excited to have him on board, and he assures me he’s champing at the bit to start posting. I’ve had a sneak preview of some of the posts he has lined up, and they’re great stuff — SitePoint’s blog content never looked so good.

  3. It’s fresh.

    Our reader survey earlier this year told us a lot about what our readers want, and one of the recurring themes in that feedback was that our whole site needs a visual refresh. And we agree.

    Now let me be clear — what we’ve done with our front page isn’t that refresh, but it’s certainly a step in the direction of where we’re headed. We have grand plans, but we’re tackling one thing at a time. The first step is delivering this great new content, and we’ve refined the front page a bit to let that content take center stage.

  4. It’s clean.

    A common criticism of our old front page is that it was a bit overwhelming. It tried to convey a lot of information, and new visitors just didn’t know where to start.

    While I think we still have some work to do in terms of making all of the great content on sitepoint.com easily findable, I like the fact that the front page now has a focus. It’s unambiguous that our news content is the focus of the page (updated frequently), and our educational content is grouped further down the page, and promoted via one of four feature spots on the page.

    Our old page served us well for over two years. Whilst creating a flexible design that scales well is infinitely more difficult than a creating fixed-width design, there’s a lot to be said for the presence of white space. Our new layout has plenty of it, and it lets the content breathe.

  5. It speaks to each of our audience groups.

    Scroll past our exciting new news content, and you’ll notice that we’ve grouped articles, blog posts and forum threads into the logical sections of Tech, Design and Business.

    This is a direct acknowledgment of the fact that there are three types of people who visit SitePoint — programmers, designers, and business folks (freelancers and entrepreneurs). We like to refer to these groups of visitors as developers, designers and dealmakers. Obviously there is some overlap between the groups, but for the most part it’s a pretty accurate segmentation. And by grouping content that is specific to each of these groups, we’re able to begin providing content that is more relevant to each group. And that’s always a good thing.

  6. We’ve got lists.

    OK, so providing content in list-form is hardly new or original (our popular guru lists have been a great way to promote some of the more popular articles from our back catalogue).

    But the new What’s Hot list is a way for us to provide a list of the articles, blog posts or forum threads that we think are worth a closer look. Because we have editorial control over this list, a long thread in the General Chat forum about whether Nicole Kidman’s baby has a stupid name won’t make it onto this list just because it has 76 responses. By the same token, we can also apply editorial control to promote blog posts or articles that we think are gold, but haven’t gained momentum yet.

    The What’s Hot list will be updated regularly throughout the day. Blink and you’ll miss it.

  7. We’ve still got all the other stuff.

    Our regular tutorials, interviews, product reviews, Kevin’s prescient insights, Brothercake’s rants, Andrew’s coding-can-be-fun revelations, Alex’s awesome graphics tips, Lisa’s usability commentary, Myles’s Rails tips, Kay’s ColdFusion round-ups, and all those other folks who pop in infrequently to generously share their expertise … all of this will continue here at SitePoint. Nothing changes in that regard.

    And of course we’ll continue to add to our ever expanding library of best-practice books and kits. Just because we’ve got the news covered doesn’t mean the other stuff falls by the wayside.

As you can see, we’re excited about our new approach, and we hope you like it as much as we do. I’d like to give a huge thank you to our hundreds of beta testers who left feedback and made suggestions — your input helped shape the design that you see before you. It’s certainly better for it.

Enjoy!

PS. If you’ve noticed something weird, or have some feedback about the new page, let us know in the comments!

Photo of Uluru credit: ernieski

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  • Robb

    I love it, I am not going to lie I am new to site point (hence im not registered yet) and I really wasn’t impressed by the old front page – not saying I hated it but it was just average – I visit the site today and I couldn’t of designed it better

  • http://mingz-online.com mingz

    As a regular anonymous visitor of Sitepoint, I feel I should register a forum account and leave my first few words here. Comparing to the previous homepage, not bad!

    The feature of blogs are great to me.

  • Leadeye

    Hi All,

    I’m not bad-mouthing the new design, but I did prefer the old one. I just found that when I first saw this new design, I didn’t know where to look. In the old design everything was contained in boxes to separate things a little more.

    I also felt that I had to scroll a little too far to get to the featured forum posts, but I’m not sure how many people read those quite as consistently as I do…

    Change is always interesting none-the-less!

  • TheAnarchist

    I also prefer the old design. Some may have considered it to be cluttered, but it was organised. It was very clear where everything was, and the use of colour and blocks to separate things made it easy to look at.

    With the new design, well, my first impression was that my browser didn’t download half of the CSS for the page or something. A whole tangle of words and icons thrown onto whitespace, with no easily-identifable organisation or separation of sections.

    In addition, nothing on the front page about recent forum threads?

    If anything, it’s halved the amount of time I’ll be spending on that page, not increased it…just too hard on the eyes…

  • http://www.xeninesolutions.com bvarvel

    I would like to have the ’10 most recent posts’ widget back. That was a regular destination for me.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ Kevin Yank

    barvel,

    Thanks for your feedback. The latest forum posts are available here, if that helps you.

  • http://rollerscapes.net s.stok

    Very 2.0-like :) I love it!
    Only the information that matters.

    I was scarred that it would become terrible.
    But I love it!

    “With the new design, well, my first impression was that my browser didn’t download half of the CSS for the page or something. A whole tangle of words and icons thrown onto whitespace, with no easily-identifable organisation or separation of sections.”
    You have seen nothing yet… http://www.tweakers.net Dutch most fames tech site.
    The previous design was heaven, but this one sucks.

  • http://www.dotcomwebdev.com chris ward

    Hell no. (Hear me out for a moment!)

    What’s the difference between “What’s hot?” and “News and Trends”?
    Surely that’s the same thing right?!?

    Secondly, the items below News & Trends have much larger icons, are they of more importance? I’m confused as to why they’re below…

    As for the tag-cloud at the very bottom… I suggest you get some omniture/WT tracking on those links to see who will actually be using it.
    I mean, these are all very general categorisations, to define the whole myriad of content… used to act as a filter, so maybe they would be immediately more useful closer to the top or to the side?

    A good point is that it looks cleaner, so at least you’re trying to make a difference, and maybe my view on this will change once I start using it…
    will give you an update later this week!

    Keep rocking ;)

  • http://www.cromecreations.co.uk crome

    I also prefer the old front page. I can’t seem to get my head around what is what or where to find things in the new layout.

    I preferred the boxes that contained the content on the old design, the white space doesn’t do enough to define areas on the new design and everything seems to blur into one.

    I can see that all the books on the right are good for newbies but for regular visitors like me who own most of them it’s a little in your face advertisement mad and wasteful of space. Could you make the blocks hide able like on the BBC website so us regular users can customise what we want a little and be able to put lists and widget in that space?

    I’m glad that you’re trying and not leaving it stagnant but I just can’t get my head around this new design. I must be getting old, opposing change and getting confused!

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ Kevin Yank

    Thanks for the note, Chris:

    What’s the difference between “What’s hot?” and “News and Trends”?
    Surely that’s the same thing right?!?

    Secondly, the items below News & Trends have much larger icons, are they of more importance? I’m confused as to why they’re below…

    Would it be clearer if we changed the title of the “What’s Hot” list to “Hot on SitePoint”?

  • TheAnarchist

    @ s.stok

    I have not seen the previous design for that website. While I won’t say that their new design is great, it isn’t terrible. Do you notice on the left how they use colour to distinguish one section from the others? This makes it easy to look at.

    On the old Sitepoint design, colours and blocks were used to separate content. In the new version, there is nothing done to that effect, and the differing column widths (and columns within columns) don’t help either.

    Yes, I’m pedantic. But I’m a person who typically puts art and non-functional aesthetics aside, and visits websites to find out information. To come across a new design for the website which does not clearly distinguish – at a glance – different topics of information is not a pleasant experience. I don’t rate the new design too highly in the “I’m in a rush” readability scores…

  • http://charlessweeney.com Charles Sweeney

    I’m easy on the old page versus the new. I don’t know how typical I am but I pretty much just use Sitepoint for the Marketplace. This means I just hit the front page to get the link for the Marketplace, so in that regard the new design is as good as the old for me.

    Generally speaking I don’t think it’s a great idea to have a lot of content on the homepage. In this case it requires a lot of scrolling. Better to make tidy and logical navigation to the key areas. Google’s homepage being a very good example.

    I didn’t scroll the old one and I won’t be scrolling the new one. You are in good company mind you, for years I used Ebay without scrolling the whole of their front page to see what was on there! As ever, I just used the homepage as a launchpad to the content I was after.

    Just a point about the writing style of the article. There’s a lot of “we”, “our”, “us”, “I”. Any business should be customer-focused, not self-focused. Here’s an example: In the Josh Catone announcement there are six self-focused references and zero customer-focused references.

    What difference does it make? The customer isn’t interested in you, your thoughts and your feelings, he’s only interested in himself and what’s in it for him. Concentrate on telling him how you have just made his life better!

  • http://www.cromecreations.co.uk crome

    I agree with Charles, there’s too much scrolling required on this new design. I only used to scroll the old homepage occasionally but I think I felt more inclined to do so. Because I can’t really work out the sections on this new design, I’m not sure if it is worth it or necessary to scroll so I probably wont bother.

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    @crome

    This design is a step in the direction that we are heading, but it certainly not the final destination. Your request for being able to customise the content on the front page is a recurring theme, and it’s not falling on deaf ears. However, establishing a reputation for SitePoint as a go-to place for news for web professionals was the focus of this launch. Now that this front page is live, we can look at tackling the other tasks on our list, such as rolling out these styles to the rest of the site, making content more findable, and yes, investigating the best way to let users filter content they want to see on the front page. But one thing at a time. Patience, obi wan :-)

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    @chris_ward As Kevin hinted, “What’s Hot” is supposed to represent a list of content that we consider worth your time. Whether that be an interesting forum discussion, a must-read tutorial or a controversial blog post, this list will contain all of the above, and will change frequently.

    “News & Trends”, as I explained in my post, is our new blog about news-worthy happenings that affect web professionals. It’s a new blog, it’s updated frequently, it’s interesting content, and it’s broad enough to be relevant to anyone working on the Web, whether they’re a designer, a developer, a freelancer or an entrepreneur. As you can see, this new blog is the focus of our new page. That’s a conscious decision, and we’re hoping people will keep coming back to read it.

  • http://www.websiteinsites.com mgagnon

    I like the new home page actually. As a daily consumer of content from SitePoint for many years, I always found the home page very cluttered, confusing, and just … busy. I partially solved that problem by subscribing via RSS. But now with a cleaner design I may actually visit the website to read the articles. :)

    Nice job guys! Keep up the great work!

    Matt

  • http://www.websiteinsites.com mgagnon

    @mattymcg: I’ve always felt that if you have to explain any elements of your website you should probably reconsider the wording or design. Your meaning should be immediately obvious.

  • http://www.assemblysys.com/dataServices/index.php mniessen

    I hate that the articles and blog entries are mixed together in the same section. As has been said by others, the “10 most recent posts” was a regular destination for me too.
    I do not always have time to read a full article, but I could easily read a blog post instead. With the old design, you could easily tell one from another… Now, you have to go through all the titles and see if the target is an “article” or “blog” link. Complete waste of time and I will certainly visit SitePoint less frequently. Too bad, because I like the content…

  • Seether13

    Well done. I like it much more than the old one

  • user_A

    The new design is alright, I personally perfer the older design it was more organized. I don’t like that the categories are so far down the page, even on a 22inch flat screen, i had to scroll down to see the categories, the news part takes up too much space, it should have shorter text for the news items. That’s my two cents, none the less as Leadeye said, change is always interesting…

  • Kerry-Anne

    I like the new front page. A lot cleaner and easier on the eyes. :)

  • rainmakr

    All changes take getting used to. However, with the old layout I could find most of the new articles and blogs with minimal scrolling. Now there’s a lot more up and down.

    The biggest flaw that I see is that only the articles are emphasized in the different sections. Currently, the “Business” section features an article more than three months old, while newer blog content is virtually hidden in the list on the right. This makes scanning for new content much more difficult.

    I’ll also agree with what others have said — not differentiating between articles and blogs is a step backward.

    John

  • Anonymous

    Great. Just what we need… more “lists”. Is this a gratuitous attempt to get on to Digg?

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    Thanks for all the comments folks. We do intend to differentiate between articles, blog posts and forum posts better. There will be some other tweaks that we make throughout the day too as things settle.

    I’ve always felt that if you have to explain any elements of your website you should probably reconsider the wording or design. Your meaning should be immediately obvious.

    I definitely agree with you on this in principle mgagnon; rest assured that we are considering all feedback and questioning everything to ensure that it holds up under scrutiny. Having said that, it simply is impossible to please everyone.

  • Ben

    I like the new look.

  • Tim

    I have to agree with thoughts on “it’s not that easy to find stuff anymore”. Mind you I’m trying to find stuff that has either moved, or been renamed. Doing these two things at once makes it seem like the old stuff has been removed entirely, especially seeing as the new home page came with a new ream of content. At least before I could have used the actual content as a reference for what moved where.

    On the bright side, now the page is arranged vertically, I will never scroll down further than the content I want which is conveniently now located at the top of the page. You possibly shot yourselves in the foot with this change. The previous page gave you the ability to bring things to my attention. So unless you are going to feature things from the bottom of the page near the top, I may never scroll further down than about half way anymore.

  • http://www.tnrstudios.com tnrstudios

    really loving the news, checked the site more regularily than normal just to see the news! well done!

  • TheAnarchist

    Hmm… perhaps I’m not the only one who has noticed the lack of separation of different types of content.

    @ Sitepoint Staff

    Granted, the website belongs to Sitepoint and you can do whatever you want with it, for better or worse. But from the comments that have been received thus far, has Sitepoint identified items that they want to address with the new homepage? Is there a list you can share with us? Does Sitepoint have a deadline or guideline for the deployment of the next revision?

    Again, it is Sitepoint’s site, but I am sure that the community is more than willing to help things happen faster if they can.

    Do keep us updated.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ Kevin Yank

    TheAnarchist,

    Do keep us updated.

    Absolutely! I’ve just published a list of the “Day One” changes we have implemented on the home page.

  • http://www.flowdrops.com Toxane

    I feel that there is too much unused space which could be used otherwise. Overall, I feel ‘so so’, a little undecided about the new design, but that’s just my personal opinion.

  • mudelta

    hello,

    it was a step that is taken.

    there is less visual cluther, begging for attention.

    i feel like it’s much more content oriented, which is great.

    But i’d love to decide what items are in my viewport (sort of buildingblocks of which i can create my own starting page) from the site itself. (because then i can disable my greasemonkey script)

    I’m sure you guys have thought about that, and i’m sure that eventually the site will becustomizable to my preferences, so i will be patient.

  • http://www.xeninesolutions.com bvarvel

    Kevin – the link you gave for recent forum posts doesn’t work. Will this make it back to the homepage?

  • JCary

    I absolutely love the new sitepoint home page design. Personally, I couldn’t grasp the old style and would usually just make my way quickly to the forums or arrive directly at an article via the Tribune… but now, I feel like I can call the new sitepoint home page, well, home!

    I like the organization, I appreciate the bigger icons and block layout and anticipate really tearing into the home page in ways that I never have before.

    I’ve been a sitepoint visitor and user since the days of ‘webmaster-resources’ and keep a close eye on everything sitepoint. I can truly say I have learned the majority of my web design and development skills by being a part of your journey. Keep it up, and thank you!

    -Josh

  • http://www.magain.com/ mattymcg

    @bvarvel I fixed the link that Kevin posted. I think he meant here.

  • bsmbahamas

    just wanted to say i like the new design, was looking forward to it and happy that you guys have open ears and will tweak as you go. the only problem for me is more vertical scrolling, and maybe mixing blog and articles in one area.

    i recommend you do change what’s hot, to “what’s hot on sitepoint” and maybe news and trends to “industry news and trends” as i thought both sections were exclusive items within sitepoint.

    it seems the top whats hot section is related to sitepoint content while the news and trends is related to the entire ‘industry’.

  • Matt

    Maybe I got caught up in the hype, but I was expecting more. All you did was rearrange the content boxes. To me, it looks very Googleish (ie. dull) w/some elements of Yahoo thrown in (ie. having everything, but the kitchen sink on it). I would add some more color/graphics, remove some of the content, and make the topics box at the bottom (which should be at/near the top) all the same size. I know most blog sites do that, but I find the changing sizes for hot topics to be annoying.

  • Anonymous

    new centering and crazy line indenting on new tech times is not a favourite, just looks, not right.
    sorry!

  • Steve Wa

    I hope you write a blog posting about your expecations of what users would think, and then compare it to the comments here. It would be very interesting to me (maybe others too) because:

    1. This happens to me with clients, I present a design or idea that I think is great, but they shoot it down, then I get pretty depressed and don’t want to work anymore.

    2. Being able to respond to criticism in a positive and constructive manner and keep your attitude happy is very important in being able to reach your goals. Unfortunately it seems hard for me to achieve that state of mind.

    Also, you mention you wanted SitePoint to become THE destination of choice for web news. Can you explain in more detail how you reached this strategy, i.e. was it an internal tactic to support the strategy of selling more books, was it a feature request by visitors, or was it a trend you noticed in the analytics (visitors searching for news, or news content getting the majority of hits, etc).

    I’ve had the depressing experience that many clients have an idea for their site that turns out to be 180 degrees opposite of what their users really want. Sometime they correct it quickly, othertimes they stubbornly march into the “shutdown the site” zone. So any insight you can shed light on that would be very interesting (and would also probably get a lot of incoming links). I’ll look for it in your latest email newsletter (which I do like the new design of that – open and clean, but leading with an advertisement amost made me close the email without reading further.)

  • amelvin1968

    I’ve been here quite a while, back when Tech Times had few enough letters that mine could be printed in full!

    This is easily the best design that Sitepoint has had in the last seven years. Although the new Tech Times email format is poor; I thought that the orange obsession has finally been stopped, but was wrong again.

    Finally I think that part of a comment I made in 2001 that was printed in the Tech Times:

    I get more tips from TechTimes, that I actually use, than any
    other such publication.

    shows how Sitepoint has changed over time in both design and content.

    The focus of Sitepoint was once as a tutorial, tips-an-tricks and ‘getting things done’ site. But as the site has matured it has become a book sales, tech news and new tech tasters site – and it is now right that this is reflected on the home page.

    Its interesting that you have employed a RWW guy and it probably backs up this analysis that the likes of RWW and other tech bloggers are now your competitors where once it would have been 4Guys, CodeProject or ALA.

    Good luck.

  • Skweekah

    Nah, I like the old one better. It was cluttered, but in a bustling, things-are-happening kind of way. The new one is sterile, sleepy, nothing-to-see-here. The old sitepoint rocked. This one will have to grow on me. Dont take this the wrong way, it is great, very nicely presented, but I think you should have applied these minor aesthetic design changes to the old layout instead.

    Skweekah

  • willdonovan

    I like it,

    I didn’t like the 4 certificate acceptance questions at the start though to load this page.

  • willdonovan

    stike that last things about the 4 certificates,

    The new design Rocks.

  • O_o.moo

    no comment… well what I mean is, I don’t think I use the home page all that much *shrugs*