Sunday, October 16, 2011

Notice Anything Different?

Yes, it's the changeover to a new format.

First off, to our angel computer whiz, thank you, thank you.  It went much more smoothly than if Charlie or I had attempted this ourselves.  (Our whiz has asked to remain anonymous to you but I count the kindnesses of our readers among the blessings of this blog.)

Second, still a work in progress.  Lists have to be cleaned up.    There may be some font and color tweaks.  We did choose to stay with Blogger because of its ease of use and protection of our content.  (I understand the issues of the spam filter and I am going to do more in-depth research on how to avoid that issue.)

Third, you'll note the new calendar off to the right.  It is going to be updated to include events outside of the district's calendar.   We did put the Labels in a cloud at the bottom that can be scrolled.   It's kind of big and messy looking but also kind of cool to see what are the big issues that we write about frequently.

Fourth, we have a quick link to e-mail Charlie and me for corrections, new thread requests and guest postings.

The one thing we didn't do was the comment thread following with Disqus as some of you had requested.  (This would be where a chain of comments would follow one comments so you could track who comments on what.)  The hesitation is because while Disqus is easy to install, it can have some issues (like eating up all old comments).  I'm thinking of waiting to see if some bigger entity (like Google) buys them up.  If you have any thoughts on this issue or experience, please let me know.

I find this a cleaner, lighter presentation and hope to have more content (updated links to documents, a SPS glossary, etc.).  I hope you like it as well.

Last question; we're still thinking of changing the name.  I do understand about branding, etc. but the "save" has always been problematic for me.   What about:  "Seattle Schools Today"?


anonymous said...

Am I just missing it or does the new format not show the author of the thread? I can't tell if Melissa or Charlie wrote this "Notice Anything Different" thread.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Good catch. It should have been there so something to check on.

Anonymous said...

The author is still there, just invisible in the current color format (white text on white background).

If you highlight the whitespace to the left of the time stamp at the bottom of the post, it should reveal it to you.

Other than that, I'm liking the format.

-D's mom

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm the anonymous dev who helped out with the reskinning you see on the site now. I think the author visibility issue is fixed now (either that, or I didn't see it). We tried to keep the simple benefits of the old site design while cleaning things up. Please let me know of any other changes you like / don't like / want to see.

One other change I wanted to surface for feedback is that we're considering using twitterfeed to channel the blog to facebook and twitter. Let us know if you would find that beneficial / objectionable / problematic. Thanks!

Jeanette said...

Love the idea about changing the name to Seattle Schools Today. Great redesign!

Anonymous said...

Seattle Schools Today is maybe a bit too neutral, like USA Today or The Today Show. Maybe "Seattle Schools Community"? That says a bit more about where the blog comes from and what it represents.


Anonymous said...

Techsters sez-
Yes on twitterfeed!

Anonymous said...

Like the new look. I agree about the hesitation on Disquis - a big pain, and won't load on some older Macs.
I see the spam filter is still just as active as before, as I'm evidently caught up in it in an earlier post.

SP said...

New format looks great, especially as more links/info are added on the side.

A request for those of us with poor eyesight- please put more contrast between the print and the background---the light blue & grey print just blends into the white background. Bolder print would help but the color difference is really important.

For example, look at the West Seattle blog- the easiest sections to read with contrasts are their highlighted boxes with light blue background, as well as their comments section with grey background, instead of all white. That contrast would be really be appreciated, both for your main commentary & the comment sections. Besides, a bit of color is a nice break- there's almost a big whiteout on the screen right now, like the blinding snowstorm up in the mountains.

Thanks for all your incredible efforts!

Anonymous said...

Although I like the lighter color scheme of the blog overall compared to the old format, I agree that the white is a little too bright on the eyes for reading.

I've never really like the name "Save Seattle Schools". "Seattle Schools Today" does feel a little generic. I like Seattle Schools Community or Community for Better Seattle Schools or something along those lines.

-regular reader

ArchStanton said...

Ironically, it's a little thing, but I think the "Save Seattle Schools" title font is a bit too big. I'm using a netbook more often than not and the title takes up a fair chunk of real estate.

Don't care much about Twitter or Facebook since I don't use them.

I mostly like the new look, though.

someone said...

I like much of the changes but agree on the color choices - it's very stark and very bright!(and while I'm whining- the font size seems to have gotten smaller? - oooold eyes and tiny font do not a good match make).

I personally prefer the current name - I do think name recognition is a vital component of such sites.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sahila said...

keep the name and ditto about the brightness/contrast issues... hard to read now... and kinda hard visually to delineate between posts, and the calendar/sidebar now... old format had a definite layout - this doesnt so much...

This site IS our social media said...

Thanks anon-dev, for your assistance. I thought about volunteering to do some of this myself, but I probably would have pushed for a move to wordpress, for all its tools and flexibility. Still, this seems like an improvement.

I would echo the request for a slightly off-white background and more contrast on the right column text.

As for the name, I think just dropping the Save would be fine, leaving it as Seattle Schools Community Blog, but keeping the name does have the continuity appeal as well, so not a huge deal to me however it falls out.

Lastly, for TwitterFeed, I don't see the need, and in fact I would prefer our posts don't find their way to Facebook without explicit permission from the contributors, many of whom post with their real names, but many do not. I don't even understand what it would mean to "feed a blog to Twitter" for a blog like this. 140 characters doesn't buy you much in this context, and there's a skill to writing blog post titles/text to take advantage of that.

Jamie said...

Since you're asking, I like "Seattle Schools Community Blog." And nice work on the redesign.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great feedback so far! I shrunk the title down 1 click and added back "community blog", since maybe that's the way the renaming will go. I also increased the contrast 1 click- does that address the readability issue? I could look at bumping the font or going light on black, but those changes would be more drastic.

Before doing anything with twitterfeed I'll wait for renaming decisions.

-anon dev, aka "angel whiz"

SP said...

angel wiz-
Your tweek improved the light blue font considerably (one more+ would be even better!), but the light grey font in both links & titles is still way too light.

The white background still looks so sterile & harsh on the poor eyes- any chance of just even a slight color background?

I also agree that the font size (especially for the comments) seems smaller than before. The Most Popular posts from last week is handy.

BTW- my computer seems to be a lot slower now in switching windows/links on the blog now- does this new format require more juice?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know about the readability issues. I bumped the font size and page width up for easier reading, and I also bumped the contrast on the grays (e.g. visited links). I'm not sure about changing the background color- I already shifted it to a slight gray, and any further off white is going to lesson the contrast. Do the other changes make enough of a difference for you?

Note that the font size bump messes up the blog archive title trimming. I'll look into fixing that with some custom css later on...

-angel whiz, aka "miracle whip"

SP said...

Angel Wiz- Yes, big improvement on the contrast with the darker font!
The font itself looks almost too big now (more difficult to read for most people that way?)- it looks like everything got larger, not just the comments section (which was smaller than the rest). Like you say, when it gets larger it also gets wider which gets awkward. Maybe with the better contrast, the original font size you had might be easier to read?

FYI- I find the combination/size that the West Seattle blog uses is quite readable with great contrast, easy to read paragraph width, etc.
Thanks for tweeking!

Anonymous said...

How about "Seattle Schools Now!"
I like the changes, except the white is still too white.

Anonymous said...

OK, I fixed the wrapping on the archive, so the larger font seems to work now. I like the larger font as it's better for older eyes and better for the tablets and other small screens. The site looks very groovy on an ipad now.

I don't understand the white background issue, as most sites are all white (e.g. nyt.com, seattletimes, and so on). It could be there's too much purple, or maybe it's just a matter of adjusting to the new layout. We could also go with light on dark like metafilter.com, which I've always thought is very easy to read.

-angel whiz

Anonymous said...

Wish I could see the other's comments while I comment.

Overall, it's visually pleasing, but like Sahila, I prefer, or need, the definite layout separating different types of content.

Rather than the "most popular" list, I preferred the topic, with the # of comments in parentheses next to the topic.

Plus, Contributors & other links, subscribe buttons, are currently where I'd like to see the latest posts.

Form follows function, not the other way around. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Having said that, thanks to whomever the angel is doing this. I appreciate the time and effort. And I know these things are never easy, and there's lots of critics, like me, pining for the "way things used to be around here." Grrr. WSDWG

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