By on March 1, 2007

7122.jpgOK, here it is. And it's already evolving. Our web gurus, Mark Madden and Kyle Morton, are on the case. The font size will grow. They're going to decrease the column width within the Review pages. The search box will be restricted to selecting makes (the current search engine is basically worthless). The stats and stars arrive next week. There will be lots of tweaks in the days ahead. Now, before you let rip, try to keep in mind our goal: to make the site user-friendly for mainstream car buyers while maintaining our full editorial and review mojo for the faithful. OK, the floor is yours.

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147 Comments on “New TTAC Site Design: Your Comments Please...”


  • avatar

    Are you going to add a way to research like list and invoice pricing, and such?

  • avatar
    miked

    this is a vague and probably worthless comment, but i don’t have a specific complaint. the only thing that bothers me is that the front page just looks very busy to me. it’s not nearly as clean and simple as it used to be. it seems a little edmundsish to me. it’s kinda hard to get the info i’m looking for (i.e. is there a new article since the last time i visited).

  • avatar

    I like the new design, but I despise the Google mania in the new design of TTAC. With Google ads top, right and bottom. It really is not a plus, and if it is a way to make up the cost of the site, I would be willing to put a discrete ad which helps pay TTAC bills and ads would likely bring in more revenu than the Pay-Per-Click share of revenue, and I would hope many of your readers would as well. Your site content is beyond unique to greatness and I can well imagine you will find some support there. One way to assure ads blend in and do not overwhelm you site is to insist they all be in black and white and no animations. That will keep the content at the forefront and may well help give you that clean distinctive look more journalism and less mardi gras with every ad vying for most blinking color noise. By keeping rates low for B&W, instead of getting the biggies you may get lots of grassroots sponsors. My two cents, if not worth two cents send back change.

    Henri

  • avatar

    HenriDeschamps: We've been using an ad broker… Google is kicking their butt. Say no more? Except this: we're working on "non-ad related revenue models." (Jargon eh?) When that kicks in, we'll reduce the Googlemaniacalness. miked:  Point taken. Anything's going to look busy compared to our previous Zen rock garden. And I realize that the visual downgrading of the editorials is more than slightly annoying– for those of us who give them equal weight. You should get used to the text only ed slot after a while. Give it a chance. If not, we'll revisit it. Meanwhile, remember that we're trying to capture more of the "casual" shoppers, who couldn't care less about Death Watches and Inside Baseball stuff.

  • avatar
    jnik

    At least I can read the article without the advertisement covering the right side; I just found I can print the comments now. Pretty good so far.

  • avatar

    jnik: Yup, printing comments was an issue for a bunch of folks. Anyone have any thoughts on whether comments should go from first to most recent, or most recent to first? And are you up for a threaded forum?

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    I might like to see more contrast between the colors of the ads and those of the site content.

    I did like the old abstract banner photos though.

  • avatar

    NoneMoreBlack: I'm looking into replacing the abstract banner photos; they were removed for advertising, but Henri's right: too much Google action. Oh, and where are the italics, bold and other buttons for this box? And why is it "e" instead of edit?

  • avatar

    I think the re-design achieves what you need, Robert. You'll never please everyone all of the time. I wrote to you about Google ads back when you were umming and ahhing about the whole thing and I'm glad they're working well. To those that don't like them, they are one of the best ways to get revenue in without being beholden to anyone as there's a middle man in between. He takes some of the revenue, but still…. I'll be interested to see how things go getting in more casual shoppers. It's hard serving two masters.

  • avatar
    miked

    threaded comments would be ok, but not necessary. but definitely the comments should go from oldest to newest. it’s too hard to follow conversations if you have to read from the bottom up. or you could always go the slashdot route and let people choose the comment order and type of threading they want.

  • avatar

    Trollhattansaab: But not impossible. The stats and stars will make the reviews instantly accessible and Karesh's data stands on its own.

  • avatar
    ben

    While you’re at it, you might want to upgrade from WordPress 2.04 to at least WordPress 2.09. There have been a lot of security updates and bug fixes in the past 5 versions. Also, you need to update the email template for your NCN’s to reflect the change in design. Since you’ve eliminated the header images at the top, why don’t you update the favicon? Doesn’t make much sense to have that gas cap if you’ll never see the actual image it came from. One thing that will really help the legibility of the site is if you increase the line-height between the text. Adding “line-height: 20px” to the body CSS tag will help a great deal. Because you’ve increased the width of the columns, it’s harder to follow the text from line to line (that’s why newspapers print in such short column widths). Increasing the line height will help that out. It’ll also help the site not seem so dense. Or change the font size and line height to this: font-size: 76%; line-height: 150%; That will use the default font size set by a users browser rather than forcing it to a certain size. Here’s a good article explaining why it’s better to do it the latter manner: http://madross.com/blog/how-to-size-text-with-css/

  • avatar

    Robert:

    Love the clean look. White as a background rocks–faster loading, too.
    Has a “Googley” look, but that’s why they use a white backdrop–speed.

    – I’d forgotten about the price data offered by Mr. Karesh–fine business.

    – I like the comments format as is-in order as received.

    – Threaded comments. My comment on that: Yuck.

    – Do others like the threaded style? If so, why?
    Just askin’.

  • avatar

    ben:

    The web guys are listening– which is just as well given my level of technical expertise. I was wondering how to make this sucker easier on the eyes. Thanks.

  • avatar

    Oh, I forgot:
    No more edit for comments?
    No more insert link in comments?

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    TreyV

    I suggest something shamelessly like the Salon.com comments engine if you can swing it? On Salon, radio buttons can swap comment time order. Also, there’s a ‘show editor recommended comments’ button as well. On salon it’s good for filtering out the crap responses (they actually post links on the front page to vigorous comment threads), but on here it would be good to point the not infrequent that genuinely add to the article.

    Oh yeah, rock on with the minimum number of font colors and sizes! And no flash that I can find.

    Just noticed: Editorials only go back to the 16th?

  • avatar

    Glenn: The edit thingie will return. Links work just by typing in the url, but the buttons will be back as well. As will the number of views on the eds and reviews once you're off the home page into reviews and editorials. TreyV: Just noticed: Editorials only go back to the 16th? Uh-oh. Who knew? We'll look into the Salon widget. I'm pretty much limited by WordPress at the moment… 

  • avatar

    Now that you mention it, reviews only go back to: January 31, 2007

  • avatar
    jim

    Clean, attractive, but the default font will be easier on old eyes if it is a bit larger

  • avatar

    Actually, there are older reviews, my bad.
    I see if you search, old reviews are there.
    It’s just the 1st page of ’em stops at a given point in time.
    Never mind.

  • avatar
    hellogodsy

    It would be great if you lost the google ads at the top of the page. At the moment it seems way to busy and ad focused with ad bars on the top bottom and side. The old abstract photo’s gave each page a great atmopshere, or something like that, because you knew visually what the focus of the site was.

  • avatar
    dean

    Only one comment: When you open an article there is no byline. I have to go back to see who wrote it in the (likely) event that I forgot. Please fix.

    On the whole, it looks fine. It is different, for sure, but like anything we’ll get used to it quickly, and in a couple weeks we won’t even remember what it looked like before.

  • avatar
    TreyV

    Yeah, selecting a ‘by make’ link from the front page brings up reviews going all the way back. I was more lamenting the absence of a ‘more x’ link to bring of the next page of articles.

  • avatar
    Rob

    Pretty bland. I like the old site with it’s colorful photography at the top of the pages. The look
    now is too corporate, boring…. Does not grab you at all. Geez, I know it’s a fact of life, those ads,
    but do they have to be at the top as well? The side’s ok. At the top before any content, the place
    looks like just like, well, all the other ad based sites on the web… sad. Need some color!!

  • avatar
    TreyV

    Rob you should ask for some color. IIRC, most of the color on the orig site just came from the masthead image and the images next to the articles.

  • avatar

    >The old abstract photo’s gave each page a great atmopshere

    Yep, yep. http://www.8thcivic.com does something similar (a.k.a. “colorful photography”).
    Every time you visit/refresh their home pages, a new Civic pic appears at the top.

    My employers site has a new pic that appears at each visit, too.
    There’s a fixed number of pics, and the site randomly rotates one in.
    We ripped the idea of from the Yale University site some time back. (heh heh)

  • avatar

    I as well really miss the abstract car photos at the top of the page, I think the current design is just a bit too busy.

  • avatar

    If you must add color to the background, this grey background is okay:
    http://www.vtec.net/

    Note that both it and 8thcivic.com use a predominatly ‘white’ presentation, however.

  • avatar
    TreyV

    One more time: “Funny you should ask for some color. IIRC, most of the color on the orig site just came from the masthead image and the images next to the articles.”

    Am I missing how to edit my posts?

  • avatar

    I will admit that I usually read the site via an RSS feed, so the issues of “design” are sort of moot.

    That said, I really liked the old design (other than the exceedingly narrow column width for those of us on 72dpi screens) as it was refreshingly… Unbusy.

    I loved the large format photographs, though the photo content was getting quite stale.

    ….

    Thoughts on the new site: Thank you for not burying the editorials. I know you writers are wordy guys, but would it hurt to have a few more, or larger photos? I enjoy LOOKing at cars as much, if not more than reading or talking about them (as is obvious when looking at my site.)

    I know the google ads are paying the bills, but if you stand back and squint, they seem to be half of the content “below the fold”… meaning once I’ve scrolled down to the “meat” of the site, I see two reviews, two editorials, a review nav box, and a swam of google ads that have them all boxed in like Germans in Stalingrad.

    I love your content, and I know you’re agonizing over the “look & feel” to try and take TTAC to the next level. Hang in there.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    JR

    This is brutal, but… the site design took a big step backward. The previous design was limited, but it was also clean, bright and focused. This is grey, grey, grey, with a mess of competing areas and no hierarchy.

    Previous design: B+
    This design: D

  • avatar
    Luther

    I like it. Yeah, font size could be bigger and the “Search” feature takes up a lot of real estate (Maybe put the Search feature as another Tab at the top after “About Us”). I like the way you separated the reviews from the editorials on the home page.

  • avatar
    Alex

    I’m just worried that this looks a lot like those placeholder webpages … ones with no content but lots of ad material, if you for example mistype a web address. I appreciate that it is clean and easy to navigate and read, but when I navigate to Jalopnik.com I know I’m at a serious (not their attitude) site. I’m afraid this looks a little less than official, if you get my meaning.

    And the masthead is unbearably plain. I think TTAC needs a logo or stylized typeface, and a design THEME carried throughout.

    My two bits.

  • avatar
    ttilley

    I entered “Outback” in the search box and the most relevant review came up fifth in the list…I had to scroll to find it. I guess this isn’t a design comment so much as a technical comment, but if the design calls for “Search” to be front-and-center then the results need to be “front-and-center”.

    I hesistate to offer further comments before giving this time to evolve…I was happy to see the “Editorials” tab on the top, but since the point of the effort is to expand the site’s appeal beyond my original reasons for visiting…

    Tom.

  • avatar
    ttilley

    Oops…having entered one comment and seen the result, I need to add another nit…I entered my comment at approx. 8:02 PST and the comment is said to be entered at 12:07 AM. There’s no time zone where that can be accurate…assuming that’s fixed however, “12:02 AST” would be clearer, assuming you’re in Puerto Rico.

  • avatar
    TreyV

    Maybe you could try the search box on the same line as the blue header bar? That would free up space, make the box immediately jump out, and maybe add a little zen cleanliness back?

    You realize that the word ‘search’ makes up 3 of the 5 words describing the search box, right? “Search, damn you!” :)

  • avatar

    I thought I would just drop by as usual make a vague statement, and give you a link to my website which contains some data vaguely related to this article.

    http://truedelta.com

    I hope this with TTAC deal works out for me– ideally there will be comments allowed on every page so I can continue to post TrueDelta URL’s.

    http://truedelta.com

  • avatar
    allen5h

    I like the new look. The white background is great for quick loading. (Quick loading is an extreme advantage IMO, many web sites just don’t get this.) Also, those abstract images at the top really gave the old site character, and a “visual theme” that was unique to TTAC. I would like to see a return of the abstract images. (I have no ideas how to balance the need for the google ads with the abstract images at the top, though.)

    Whatever is done with the web site, any desire to “idrive” the site should be quenched. (IOW, the fancy shmanzy “flash” and other slow loading gadgetry should be avoided at all costs.)

    I understand this is a work in progress, so I (and all other TTAC faithful) will be eagerly awaiting the final revisions. RF, thank you and your staff for all of the hard work.

  • avatar
    Ed

    I’m with Alex.

    I think the site may have taken a functional step forward, but two back graphic and branding wise.

    I miss the header images, and the overall cohesiveness of the old site.

    Just looking at it, you’d have no idea what TTAC is all about. That’s not good.

  • avatar

    Bring back the title bar photos, as mentioned above, but I’m digging the changes so far.

  • avatar
    c

    That top ad bar has to go! It makes the site look like cheap cheap fake ad bait..

  • avatar
    Bob

    Ah, the wonderful world of design by committee. Before you know it you’ll have the Aztek of websites.

    Good luck guys!

  • avatar
    krick

    A big step forward in terms of mainstream user friendliness, a giant step backwards in terms of aesthetic design. It looks bland, sterile, cheap and amateurish. If you’re going after mainstream car buyers, you want a site design that inspires confidence and trust, and, like it or not, aesthetics play a big role in those areas. You also need a way for new visitors to immediately understand what the site is all about and to get them to investigate further instead of moving on to the next site. Whether it’s a motto, mission statement or other type of intro statement, you need something front and center to let visitors know who you are and what you do.

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    I really wish there was a search function for author.

  • avatar

    The two comments here I agree with most:

    1. Top ad bar has a low-end look

    2. Very much miss the header photos

  • avatar
    rtz

    The old site sure was nice, clean, and simple. Everything right there on the front page. I sure did like it. The new one is blindingly bright(white), and uses a very small font. Set your desktop to 1280×1024. About three inches on the left and four inches on the right are being unused. Why can’t the page scale to use up all the screen space for the various resolutions? I like larger fonts.

    I’d like to be able to set the background to a dark color.

    This site for example ( http://www.bluesnews.com/ ) defaults to a bright unappealing color. Scroll down a bit and look on the left. Click on where it says “retro colors”. Click on that to change the page back to black. That’s how that site originally was in ~1995 for a few years. See; I come from a DOS background and that’s how it was and how I got used to it. Staring at a white screen is like looking at the sun or a light bulb. It’s too late at night for this much white.

  • avatar
    Michael C

    I liked the old masthead a lot better. My first impression of the new site (from the top) was that it looked like domain-camper or spammer blog–very generic.

    The new layout is about as exciting as the harsh plastic interiors you’re always complaining about.It needs to be more immediately appealing. More sexy. More *something*. Seriously, liven it up a little.

    To be specific, the cut-corners look dated to me, the multitude of boxes breaks up the site into too many elements (even just moving the “site updates” line right up underneath the navigation would help), and there’s no visual flow. The new header needs a graphic instead of the text for the name of the site, and I liked the red from before. Your writing is witty and interesting, and the site should reflect that.

    Ever think about pull quotes beneath the articles? Reviews might especially benefit, since they just get the name of the car instead of an attention-grabbign “death watch”-type title?

    By the way, I mainly read from RSS and wouldn’t object to ads in the feeds like many other sites do.

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    I prefer the the other one –very sleek and digestible from the clean design. This looks like replication of the other sites –indistinguishable from each other. It it wasn’t broke, why fix it? Too busy. Bring back the bauhaus look. Less is more.

  • avatar
    misterbozack

    Robert,

    I read TTAC every day, I love your writing and I love what this site stands for. I want this site to be successful because it represents my greatest passion in life (cars) with a flair and zeal I share (a no bs attitude). After carefully reviewing the new site from both the consumer (reader, car nut, information seeker) and publisher (entrepreneur, business owner, financial analyst) perspectives, I can confidently say this: it sucks. A lot.

    You’ve taken a clean, attractive site that’s easy to read and drop-kicked it back in time 5 years. Where’s the logo? Where’s the header image? The dark grey color scheme and plain fonts make this look like what we in the internet business call a search engine spam site. In other words, a site containing nothing more than ads to drive revenue and providing little to no additional information (aka value). This is clearly NOT what TTAC is and it’s definitely not the feeling you want to convey (especially to Google).

    Here are some basic suggestions to head in a more lucrative direction:
    1. Hire designers who understand how to design a publishing site. They’re not very expensive and it’ll make a world of difference for your users and for your revenue. Don’t forget: programmers are not designers. Ever.

    2. Design a logo and add some color to the site other than grey. Again, not expensive will make a world of difference.

    3. Navigation tabs should be placed across the entire width of the screen, not just in one corner. You’re also allowed to use left navigation as this is where people expect it to be. Use your navigation to allow people to browse by car make, model, and type. Many of the people who will come here to figure out which car to buy won’t be car nuts like us. They may not even know models (yes, those people). Cater to them. They click on ads.

    4. Never do a fixed width layout like this unless you are willing to keep the width to the lowest common denominator (around 800 pixels wide). You can do a variable width for people like me (and, I’m guessing, you) but you’ve got to be flexible with your design so the site works in all major resolution settings. Right now you’re irritating about half the people who do see, and will see, this site.

    5. Google ads are a great idea and are going to be your most lucrative advertising. They work best when the text is wrapped around them. This may be painful (aka ugly) to look at from your perspective, but I promise you your revenue will increase significantly.

    6. Search is king. Allow people to search the entire site from the top or left nav (aka from every single page) so that when they look for a car, or just a brand, both review and editorials come up. A dropdown for every car is nice in the beginning, but when you’ve got 67 things in it, it’s a disaster to use.

    7. It’s great that you have multiple ways to subscribe to the content on just about every page. Add a sign up box somewhere else on every page and call it a newsletter and you’ll get a ton more subscribers. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you build your list this way. Eventually you will want to put ads in these newsletters, but for now you’re building a relationship with your (new) readers.

    8. If you want people to fully register for the site, tell them why and make it obvious. Why would someone want to register? What do they get out of it? Who cares and why?

    I could go on, but you get the point. You’ve got an opportunity here to take this site to the next level and beat the Farrago out of the public like they’ve never been beaten before. You just have to keep the lights on long enough to do it. This will help.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    life is all about compromise (unless you’re depressive). in cars, one of the things i expect is a good ride-to-handling compromise. on websites, a good information-volume-to-design compromise.

    to overuse the analogy, the former design was, in my mind, an rs porsche. very good but only for very specific purposes. what is it now? i’d say, a buick — much more versatile, but lacking sexiness. with some tweaking, tailoring, oompf-adding and de-shmucking, it will be a bmw.

    and i second what Michael Karesh wrote above, about the top ad bar and the header photos.

  • avatar
    i6

    Maybe some corrections have been applied already, but I don’t know what everyone is complaining about. The ads are ubiquitous for the web and easy to look past, the site’s purpose is quickly gleaned based on the TTAC title and car review pics on the front page, all the important stuff (to us as well as casual surfers) is presented upfront (except for the search-by-make listing, I understand that will be put on top in the form of a drop-down list?) The style is restrained, sure, but at least it’s tasteful. Also love the wider columns (less scrolling).
    Regarding threaded form, I would love to see that. At the very least comments should be numbered so we can pause reading when real life comes knocking, then easily resume from where we left off .

  • avatar
    i6

    ‘form’ should have read ‘forum’.

    That was in response to the changes that have been made. Regarding the site’s future potential, misterbozack (Mar 2 2:23AM) makes some excellent suggestions.

  • avatar

    32 seconds into the redesign and I hate it. It’s got no soul. Sure, it’s “Googleish”, but that’s no longer trendy. Where are the bold colors? The snazzy banner with, oh, I dunno, a picture of a car? This feels very bland and like I ended up on one of those ad-ridden placeholder sites for parked domains.

  • avatar

    Morning all.

    Well, I’m digesting your comments and preparing a hit list for the guys. Meanwhile, the most vociferous complaint I’m hearing is the loss of the banner photos. Getting them back will be job one.

    Please keep the ideas/feedback coming. This is your site. We’ll get there.

  • avatar
    Scott Brite

    WTF everthing used to be in order according to date, now you can’t find anything. Why the hell change somthing that was working fine.

  • avatar

    Robert,

    Good progress!

    Three suggestions:

    1. More article teasers on the front page.

    2. Too much space allocated to the search box.

    3. Use WordPress’s “pretty URLs” It will improve your search engine performance.

    Wes.

  • avatar
    JimP

    The main page indicates who wrote each review, but I didn’t catch it within the actual text of the review. I don’t know why that’s important to me, but it is. (And, yes, the new design does look a lot like a placeholder website. O the joys of trying to please everyone…)

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    Firstly, Great job guys, The ever evolving site just keeps getting better with age. Kudos to integrating the Review searches by Make, that is very helpful. As for the google ads, someones gotta pay the bills, and if that is what I need to see (and click from time to time so that you get paid!) to see this site gain more success, then so be it.
    Well done, to everyone at TTAC!

  • avatar
    tom

    The only thing I miss are the car shots at the top of the site. Apart from that, I really like the new design. Great job!

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    Quick comment: Sajeev’s author biline is lost when you click from the front page to the full review page.

  • avatar
    ben

    Robert,Take a look at this template for WordPress…http://getk2.com/ Do a search for WordPress over on the right in the search area and results come back without having to refresh the page. Very handy. Also click on the archives link in the top nav and scroll down on that page. The archives can be searched by chronology or taxonomy. Your developers can download this theme for free and then extract out those pieces and add them to your site fairly easily. Since there seems to be a desire to be able to search by author, check out this plugin: http://www.zirona.com/software/wordpress-advanced-search/ Also, if you’re looking for plugins to improve your site (search, media, stats, whatever) try: http://wp-plugins.net/. To put the author’s name back into the reviews and editorials, they simply need to add [?php the_author(); ?] (replace the brackets [] with ) where they want it to show. Here’s a link to the WordPress codex (documentation) with template tag explanations: http://codex.wordpress.org/Template_Tags

  • avatar
    augury

    it also seems that the author names were lost in the process
    I think it would be nice to have the author names appear somewhere
    or maybe I overlooked them, but in any case having them more visible again would be nice

  • avatar

    Bylines will return.

  • avatar
    Aaron Clint

    I don’t see ANY ads….oh nevermind my IT department uses ad blocking on their Proxy Server-on a side note you can also get a Firefox browser extension to hide banner and google ads…I’m all for supporting TTAC with ads but I’ve never bought a single thing off a banner or google ad the entire time I’ve been online so I’m not too worried about not seeing them.

    Otherwise I like the site although the ads interrupt the flow of things on the right side, seems like the ads would be better placed below the right side content box with the editorials. OK, here is something that people may not like much, but the most effective ad is in the middle of the article…I KNOW IT SUCKS!…but the reader is more likely to see it there and actually read it. If it helps TTAC I could care less about scrolling another 4-5 lines down past the ad.

  • avatar
    Aaron Clint

    I still see the ad boxes btw, just not the content…my server puts “Advertisement” in the middle of the ads.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Looks good. I’d prefer a two column layout with reviews in one column and editorials in the other, versus just having reviews on the home page.

    I’ll second the other 10,000 comments that ask for the header photos. I always enjoyed ID’ing the cars.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    ummm, nevermind.

  • avatar
    Dan Weber

    Get rid of that horrible “gray out the page and pop up a photograph” when I click on the picture to go to the story.

    It’s a terrible interface.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    Love the new site design. However, could we have another Bristol “review”?

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I think the layout is good. But the current color scheme makes things look busy by not focusing your eye on the content. The old design was better in the sense that it was more attractive, easier on the eyes and focused your attention to the content immediately. Perhaps if I have a bit of free type I’ll work up a style sheet for you guys.

  • avatar
    NeonCat93

    I’m afraid that I have to agree with Dr. No and misterbozack: I liked it better the way it was.

    I don’t agree with Dan Weber; I like the pop up for the pics.

    I understand you want to make the site more accessible for people looking just for car reviews, I’m just not sure this layout is the way to do it. It is so… blandtastic.

    Don’t worry, though, as long as content is king I’ll keep coming to TTAC every day. And yes, I click on the ads.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    I’m -really- looking forward to integration with truedelta. It may sound idiotic, but I really like quick access to numbers to back up a review…

  • avatar
    BlueBrat

    First off, I’m an old-school web-design vet. Currently, I’m an svp web designer/marketing at a very large Bank. In Of America. (hint-hint).

    The Search Car Reviews box is way too large. It kicks down the page too much. It could easily be added at the header strip at the very top of the page.

    Your drop down for Find Editorials is also in an irrelevant position. It could also be in or under the top-header. It’s just floating right now.

    The Receive Site Updates strip is also out of place. Usually RSS feed info is at the bottom of a website, or on the side-strip. Having the official RSS orang logo-button is nice, it’s makes for an easier identification of the feature.

    The check box for “Notify me…” is aligned to the left of the page and the text pertaining to it is far removed from it. :)

    The gradient strip seperating the google adsense banner at the top is a bit odd.

    Essentially, more thought needs to be put in on the general flow of the site’s controls (menus, features, etc). Right now, stuff looks hap-hazzardly placed, there is no sense of user-centric guidance in the layout. If you want to attract the mainstream crowd, you should research about navigation hints & user guidance also.

    One last thing, I haven’t check the site yet for any standards compliance, both CSS/XHTML & ADA compliance. I actually do spend most of my time reading the site on my phone in the morning during my commute. It’s very nice to be able to do this. WordPress excels in these departments, it was one of the first open sourced CMS’s to be compliant in this regard.

  • avatar
    Aaron Clint

    I agree with blue brat…having done web design for a living for the last several years you get accustomed to flow and setup. The rss link is a must have as my eye usually catches it when I’m looking for it. Otherwise there are just some flow issues…I got an email notification on a comment from ben, he had some good links for wordpress add-ons and templates that looked very nice.

  • avatar
    nichjs

    Re-iterating some of the points above, I preferred the narrower format before, it was easier to “carriage return”.

    As the readership grows, it would be interesting to know where the commentors hail from. I started reading TTAC 18 months ago while I was working in Detroit, but have now returned home to the UK. It would add some context to peoples’ comments I feel.

    Like others, I come to TTAC mostly for the editorials, since nealy all the reviews are of US variants. Perhaps you can keep the balance more even between Editorials and reviews? I do like their being separated, though.

    Good work, RF, the valiant mission continues! In Bocca al Lupo, as they say in Italia!

  • avatar
    Rob

    I’ll add to my previous comments. The place now looks like one of
    the sites you get when you mistype a URL. Honestly, I love TTAC and read it
    multiple times a day, but it just looks awful right now. The ads could be
    more subtle, the search box is way to big and should not be at the center top
    but to the side. Please some color!!

  • avatar

    Robert,
    You posed a question earlier about a threaded forum. I for one would like to put 100 votes to the positive for that. Ever since the AutoWeek forum shut down, I’ve had little to no online vehicular camaraderie since all the other auto mag forums pretty much blow. If you can keep it simple(read no avatars, no signatures, just messages and user names with a simply reply feature) I think you’ll increase site traffic a hundredfold and I’ll have my auto family again that I miss so much.

    Just my two cents.

  • avatar
    Donald Mlyers

    The new layout is a disaster.

    You need to get your old clean colorful format back with an adjustment for new content. The most unique thing about the site is the daily editorials or reviews. They should dominate the site as they did previously. The review list, those published previously, should be handled as you handled them before, or a small picture list left of the dominant editorial.. Forget ads on top. Keep the home page as clean as possible.

    It’s sad that your site went from great to bottom rung in one swoop.

    Glad you are bringing back the stars. They will attract people to your reviews and the site. But your appeal was that your site was different. Fire the site designer and start over. Also reign in your editorials and reviewers , the verbiage is getting far too cute.

  • avatar

    OK. I hear you– every last comment and suggestion. As the guys finish some other non-TTAC work (LOTS of all nighters) and head towards the weekend and a well-deserved rest, I’ve made the following priorities.

    1. Re-instate the photos on the banner. We’re looking at something of a compromise: widen the top banner and put a picture underneath it. For expediency’s sake, it’ll be one picture now. Eventually, they’ll change according to section.

    2. Fix the text width and size and legibility thing.

    Other stuff WILL get done (e.g. reducing the search box, building a proper search engine and LOTS more). Meanwhile, I ask you to keep these comments coming and be patient.

    No matter how much you want this site sorted quickly, it’s nothing compared to my OCD anxiety. That said, persistence is the key to success. I will see this through.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Just for kicks, I go the the “About” page to see what ads are next to Robert, Jonny, and Sanjeev. Sort of like an “8-ball”, but about the uncertain future of the car industry.

    They are currently Consumer Guide, Consumer Reports, and $100k+ Executive Jobs, respectively. Good luck, Sanjeev!

  • avatar
    C. Alan

    To be honest, I liked the old format better. For some reason, the color scheme and the layout reminds me of a internet squatters page.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    It takes a minute to work out the new navigation, the editorials were so important last time that it feels you’ve moved away from this and back into the mainstream.

    As for the design, feels a little plain, the font title on the home page is a little lost (make it bigger and ghost the old image from the original homepage behind it.)and the general design feels like it could have some more texture involved in the background and window boxes (like the diagonal stripey stuff, gives a modern tech’ feel perhaps using a steel texture behind it all would add to the feel of the site, perhaps i’m being too designer pickey.) Maybe use a brighter happier colour than the blue, something with more of a contrast to the greys, feels very monotone, go on be brave try reds or oranges with the grey, maybe make the grey a slightly warmer hue?
    early days, i guess we’ll get used to it

  • avatar
    Nurfle

    How about this: bring back the random photo up top to fill the space where the current title is, streamline the nav buttons within it instead of that boring and clunky grey yesterday’s-tabs look, move the top google ad to another vertical one underneath the already-existing one, and for goodness sakes make the “search car reviews” box much smaller and innocuous–right now it’s an eyesore. maybe you should hold a design contest like Slashdot did, because I’m sure there’s a lot of us with ideas and know-how.

  • avatar
    swoop

    Oh man.

    The Truth About The Aesthetics Of This Redesign:

    Oooh. Ow. It’s like seeing someone that just spent lots of money and endured pain for plastic surgery, and you’re looking for something nice to say, and trying not to look at them…

  • avatar
    Nurfle

    oh, and the clipped-corner box look and small, boring title fonts need modernizing if not sacking. that’s probably what’s making people say it looks five years old, institutional, etc. The old design was bold, a little web 2.0 tastic, yes, but at least it had more soul to it.

  • avatar

    Hmmm…redesigns of a product like TTAC are always risky. Now that we have a look that we’re happy with at The Garage, we try to work on polishing rather than full redesigns.

    That said, the new look at TTAC is a tad bland for my liking. I’m looking forward to seeing it with header images rather than the grey header. The adsense locations are in proven locations, so should work well with the ever important search engine visitors. We’ve chosen to use more subtle placements on TG, at the expense I suspect of some income. We just like the ads to be a bit less obtrusive.

  • avatar
    Brian

    Your “Search for reviews my make” box doesn’t work with Netscape 8.1 — the text is to the right of the box, and overlapping the regular text there.

    In truth, I also preferred your old “clean” layout, but if you admit that change is inevitable, it would at least be nice if my browser of choice is supported.

    B

  • avatar
    Aaron Clint

    Ugh, Netscape…I didn’t know they were still around, Everything looks fine in Firefox so I guess Netscape must have strayed from their old Mozilla base even more than they did in the past.

  • avatar
    JLowe

    Preferred the previous layout and design but I don’t care how it looks as long as there is the usual high entertainment content from well informed scribes. Unaffordable cars (for most of us), are by far the most readable/enjoyable element for me. I own transport, I dream Ferrari et al.

  • avatar
    tms1999

    The text of the articles is fixed at a determined width. I can resize the browser but it does me no good (my screen is big, I never use any app “full screen”) so it would be nice to slightly alter the design so the content width changes with the browser window.

    I’m saying that because narrower columns of text are easier to read (think newspaper, or even the former design of the site)

    Also I liked the graphics that used to show up in the header. Now all I can see is a big greyish bar. Kinda grey. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and I get grey all the time. The overall color scheme is a little drab. Where’s the red?

    Otherwise, I like the overall overhaul, but I’m not usually browsing the site, I find most articles from those nice notification emails.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Definitely awaiting the return of the edit button, and different format options when posting (bold, italic, etc.)

  • avatar
    digitator

    I find the new design overly busy, and a bit too ‘safe’ for lack of a better term. I loved the old Zen layout, with its abstract photos providing an instant cue to the viewer that this isn’t another overloaded Edmunds/TrueDelta/Autoblog clone. Now, the only way to tell that you’ve arrived somewhere different is a small, gray strip at the top of the window containing a very web 2.0 logotype and rather generic tabbed navigation.

    If it were up to me, I’d put back in the abstract photo headers, move the search bar to a more narrow right column, and give editorials and reviews equal billing on the front page (especially since you have tabs for both already). I also find the blue and gray palette rather generic and unimaginative; I think a little more color would add some recognition and punch to the overall design.

    The bottom line is that, if the writing stays as solid as it has been, I’ll keep visiting no matter what the site looks like.

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    I don’t like it. Too busy and hard to navigate. The original design was simpler, more intuitive, and has a “keepin’ it real” look. The new design smacks corporate sponsorship and marketing department wizardry.

  • avatar
    Wally Vance

    I wanted to re-read the Murano review, so I did a search for it…the result of the search did not show a “read the rest of the review” link. I had to click on “comments” and then back up to the review.

  • avatar
    kps

    “We’ve increased the font size.”

    As I write this, the text is still too small — for me. The problem is that the size is specified in pixels, so the appearance will vary depending on the user’s display. I’ve only got 108dpi and it’s barely readable; those with 120dpi or 144dpi displays must need magnifying glasses. I guess the 96dpi people see what you intend, and those with older 72dpi displays are wondering why an auto site would want to target first-graders.

  • avatar
    tms1999

    Two other things missing:
    – the ‘edit comment’ feature is gone. That may be on purpose though.
    – the author is not mentioned on the article page.

  • avatar
    JSForbes

    The text is too small for me on a 19′ 1280×1024 lcd. I don’t like the purple/grey/white combination.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Since everyone has commented heavily, and I have no sense of design, let me comment on the technical side of it for those of us who view mostly from their PDA/phone – the comments section formats much more nicely on my small screen. The frames still come out in a rather odd fashion, and because some of the content is less linear than before and more frame oriented, it could make navigation a little tougher. But once I get to the article, it’s easier to read on my PDA.

    A special PDA (or WAP) version would be much appreciated, but I know we’re a VERY small demographic. Probably flush with disposable income, and potentially attractive to certain advertisers, but maybe not the right fit here.

    My two cents. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    I do like the new layout, but I agree that it needs more colour. One thing I would love to see is a numbering system for the comments. When the topic is one that draws a lot of comments, I will return several times during the day to read the latest ones.It takes too much time to scroll through to look for the spot where I left off. The only other complaint is that the buttons in the top right of the page are overlapped, and unreadable.

  • avatar
    pk

    what i liked about the previous version was that, reviews, editorials, etc, were all in one column with no hierarchical distinction between them. this was very refreshing, as cars are probably the most complex cultural objects of our time.

    therefore i would find it appropriate that editorials received the same visual and functional stature as reviews.

    the more colorful page was also enjoyable and coincided well with the lively and interesting style of writing.

  • avatar
    omnivore

    I liked the old design. It was like a vacation from the insane, busy, seizure-inducing designs of the buff books’ websites. I mean, you haven’t even begun to approach Motor Trend standards in terms of sheer visual overload, but I don’t like that the design is trending that way. Less is more, and the old design was a real proof of that comment.

    Also, please add the authors’ names back to the full-page articles. I really like to know which of your stable of personalities I’m interacting with when I read an article.

  • avatar
    C. Dumm

    From the comments already submitted, it looks like I’m not the only one who’d like to see the abstract car photos come back. The font size of the new page is a little small for me, and the lack of color is a bit, well, colorless.

    The old design was more sophisticated and eye-catching; now I kind of have to force my eyes around the page to see what’s interesting. The Google ads are awfully prominent, and their color and typeface are so similar to the graphic style of the editorial content that you can’t see the TTAC forest for the Google trees.

  • avatar
    noley

    I miss the elegant photos of parts of different cars. They made the site more engaging, IMO. The new look is colder.

    But this is still very nice. Can use some tweaks, but this is good.

  • avatar
    Infamous Dr. X

    Robert –

    I feel like something beautiful just died well before it’s time.

    I know the writing will continue to be top notch, and I’ll always come back for more. I’m sure this new design achieves some worth goals…

    BUT. As far as looks go, I feel like we just traded an Alfa Romeo for a Yugo. A Maserati for a Mitsubishi Fuso delivery truck. The previous design was, IMO, everything good about web design – minimalist, clean, excellent use of sparing color and overall visually simple and pleasing. The new site…well…

    Alex, I think it was, said it best above. It looks like what comes up when you mistype the web address. In fact, when I clicked my browser bookmark and the new site came up, I nearly choked on my mountain dew – I thought the site had been taken down and replaced by one of those ad-laden placeholders! It took me a full 30 seconds to realize that it was just a new design.

    Robert, as I said, I’ll always come back for more. The ads were (and are fine) but boy, I’ll miss the beauty of the old site.

    Good luck. Keep up the hard work.

    Cheers
    Infamous

  • avatar
    Engineer

    RF,
    I am missing the author’s name on this view…

  • avatar

    Do not despair. The changes and tweaks are on their way.

    Don’t let all the problems blind you to the fact that there is real beauty in this design. Some of you will recall that the last TTAC iteration began as absolute cr4p: gray buttons, piss-poor nav and more. It quickly evolved into something of genuine style and grace.

    Remember: WE created the last one. With your help, we will make this one sing!

    With your help, the swan will be revealed.

  • avatar
    TreyV

    “It’s like seeing someone that just spent lots of money and endured pain for plastic surgery, and you’re looking for something nice to say, and trying not to look at them…”

    With any invasive plastic surgery, due to swelling, it takes weeks or months to see the full effects. :)

  • avatar
    TreyV

    A few observations on login/logout, which seems to have acquired some quirks. The comment entry box no longer has an ‘or just log in’ link right next to. Okay, so there a login link at the top of the page. Clicking that takes you to the old username/password box. Entry through there takes you to your profile, every time. To get to the art I actually wanted to comment requires hopping to the main page and then selecting the art/ed. Oddly, clicking on the logout link actually takes me to the login screen/box.

  • avatar
    Tim

    I haven’t read the 100+ comments but some of this may be redundant — if so I apologize. First and foremost, the site seems very sterile now. I miss the iconic ‘TTAC’ title images of all things automotive. Your color scheme is great, but add some images / splashes of color to liven things up. Second of all, the ads are fine and unobtrusive, but can you make them use a different color scheme so that it’s easier to separate the advertisements from the content? Also, I understand you feel reviews are going to make the site an overnight success, but I don’t think editorials should be some small side-bar. Let them share the spotlight.

    That’s all for now…

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Glad to hear that the “zen” automotive photos are on their way back. Like others, I was mourning their loss–they give the site a touch of artistic cred.

    RF, you’ve got plenty of great comments to sift through here, but well, here’s another one: the TTAC logo needs to find its mojo. I think a great deal of people’s rections to the Google ads is that, on the homepage, they command more attention than the (small, gray, generic-font) “The Truth About Cars” script.

    I’m no graphic designer, but something more stylized, with a little more color, would help give immediate legitimacy to the TTAC name for first-time visitors. Something with the visual punch of the C&D, R&T, or Edmunds logos. Anyone have more-specific ideas than my “it needs to be more better?”

  • avatar
    Chris Volpe

    Robert – the new looks strikes me as cold. It has lost some the artistry that the previous renditions had – I really miss the original graphic at the top of the page that faded between detail shots; that was a nice touch.

    I don’t come here for the look, but for the content, community and attitude. I am not sure what it will do for the community aspect of it, but the new look is more mainstream and accessible – a guy’s gotta eat I suppose.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I just noticed that your Search Car Reviews box actually will search through all the site content… editorials etc. You could easily move that to the top bar, make it smaller and just call it “Search”.

  • avatar
    Mike A

    FWIW the ‘Find Car Reviews by Make’ section doesn’t render right in the latest version of the mozilla browser(which firefox is based off of, I haven’t check it in firefox though); it’s shifted over to the right and overlaps the editorial sidebar.

  • avatar

    Don’t thread the comments – too clumsy – why no give them immutable numbering so responses can reference to the earlier post by number. They’ll also make it easier when when returning to read the new comments.

    Make them immutable so deletions don’t affect the references.

    cheers

    malcolm

  • avatar
    MichaelH

    I can’t handle it! This was my oasis, the mecca of car truth, now it looks like a domain camping spot. I miss mostly the clean look, the beautiful header graphics and the excellent editorials. I won’t be suprised if this move creates the “TTAC Death Watch 1”. I for one will consider removing the rss feed from my home page….

  • avatar

    I still don’t see nested comments or comment rating. Of course the Google ads are a nice touch, I hope you’ll make some cash off them, they’re better than big blinking banner ads and since you don’t have to find the advertisers you get to maintain your independence.

  • avatar
    Maxwelton

    A bit late in the game–the new design is awfully generic.

    One thing that’s very interesting–this site rails against (and rightly so) car design by committee, and yet that’s the very process that’s “designing” this site. I think the results in the end will be about the same, from a design perspective. You may end up with a decent transportation device but you won’t end up with a supercar.

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    i miss the orange! and the sparse, clean look of the old one. but i WILL keep reading. courage, robert.

  • avatar
    shabster

    Robert,

    Man, it’s lucky you’ve got thick skin. Us posters are brutal!

    I’d be too sensitive to all the criticisms, if this were my site.

    Anyway, I like the changes.

    Regards.

  • avatar

    shabster: The really brutal bit is that the majority of these comments are, as the Brits say, spot on. The truth hurts. But Shoemaker's company makes an exceedingly fine Chardonnay.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I’ve not read all the comments, but for me the new format is, while rational in arrangement, also cold and off-putting. It reminds me of a newsletter from one’s insurance company presenting newest product offerings. The design in no way speaks of anything automotive nor evokes any of the excitement found in much of the writing. I’d say back to the drawing boards.

  • avatar

    Well….
    It may sound less than brilliant to start out with: I agree with everybody – but I do. Visually the new design is not an improvement. (Sorry)
    It may, however, be *functionally* better than the old one. Tabbed subsections and the ability to differentiate types of content on the startpage are potential improvements in usability. Once you get used to them.
    What is needed is visual focus and a sense of identity. Re-introduction of (some version of) the old super-wide-screen car close up, some tuning of the colors and maybe even a logo would work wonders.
    And by the way: I think that TTAC is the most informative and consistently entertaining site for car enthusiasts on the web. And if I ever want to know exactly what a Subaru Tribeca looks like, I know just where to look.
    :oJ

  • avatar

    One word:

    Ugh.

    Old site looked like something original. New site looks like a cookie-cutter WordPress site. Bland header, generic blue color and Google ads are the problem. Plus by splitting the reviews and the editorials into two columns and eliminating photos from the latter, you’ve reduced the visual impact and value of the editorials. But the editorials are one of the best parts of the site.

    TTAC is what it is because it’s different from other automotive publications. Why make it look like so many other sites? I read your replies to the various comments, Robert, and understand what you are saying. I’m sure return of the banenr photos will add a bit of color, and that may help things… but the last design looked good from its inception, and the tweaks just made it better. This design is a sow’s ear, and I don’t see any silk purses coming. It just doesn’t say TTAC to me.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    The last iteration of TTAC was clean, to the point and very well laid out. And it looked like no other car blog — the design was fresh and unique.

    This new version is just too busy and distracting. Not only that, but it looks like any other blog out there.

    On a scale of “0” to “10”, a “3”. And even that “3” was a begrudging one.

  • avatar
    rtz

    I really miss the old site. How could you not like the old version? What did you not like about the old version? It was perfect, professional, and unique. It had charm and it had character. I’ve seen this(current) type of site before.

    I used to take my time reading the editorials and enjoyed reading them. I’d read ALL the comments. Now I try and read the editorial as fast as I can and I skip the comments because I am appalled by something here. It’s too bright and that makes it unpleasant. I just read it quick and get out. I have to window it down and read on another site and read the article one part at a time. I can’t read it in one take. I guess I can’t handle change.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I could make several comments, but I’ll focus on one:

    I do think that the two-column layout has some pluses. Instead of rushing to get rid of the layout, I would suggest going back to the Verdana font, which was used on the old TCAC. I like Verdana, because it’s easy to read and familiar, but without being overly commonplace. When preparing Powerpoint slides, it’s my font of choice.

    Arial is a very common font for these types of sites. For example, C&D, R&T, Auto Week and Inside Line all make heavy use of Arial, as do many other websites on the internet. Perhaps many of the complaints about the site appearing to be “generic” may stem largely from the use of such a common typeface?

  • avatar
    factotum

    I, too, miss the macro photos of chrome and steel. Make it your own template–everyone else seems to have made a WordPress template. Nothing on the site conveys its about cars except the text and I think that’s a shame.

  • avatar
    disgruntled

    It’s way too generic looking. It looks like the font for the TTAC masthead is either Avant Garde or Futura. If it’s something else, then it’s some font vendors version of one of those fonts. Pretty boring. In some ways it looks like a plain version of canadiandriver.com, which is slightly less boring than TTAC. I’m not looking to be entertained, I’m just saying a website needs to have a personality, something unique about it that lets people immediately know where they’re at. This looks like I punched in the wrong key in a Google search and came to some random default page that sells USB cables at discount prices. The overall format is fine and is easy enough to navigate, you just have to add some personality. Try a bolder font for TTAC with a bright orange or green banner accross the top.

  • avatar
    disgruntled

    What happened to the edit feature? Because I meant to say that canadiandriver.com LOOKS slightly less boring than TTAC—did not mean to say that TTAC’s content is boring in any way.

  • avatar
    hondaboy55

    Sorry Robert, but I vote for the old site hands down over this one. Most objectional the google ads right at the top of the page……. Were you guys high? The last thing you want to do upon arrival is invite a person to leave.
    Run that stuff down the side way after a person gets into reading.

    The other reasons already mentioned include the beautiful page top graphics, narrow page widths, better looking buttons etc. I am happy though, that the home page now for whatever reason is not off the screen for me on the left, a unique Netscape 7 problem.

    On the design front, to satisfy those who have odd-ball screen sizes (I’m one of the old 72DPI 800X600’ers) you can always design using percent of screen, but be sure to set limits min. limits on the div’s or you’ll get items crossing over each other. Designing for small screens 800’s keeps most from having to scroll across to read content, perhaps the most annoying.

    You can also do something I will be incorporating into new designs I am working on for some of my clients. Since javascript is in almost every browser that will support modern web pages, your included. You should give some thought to checking each arriving visitors previous page to see if they are unique, and if they found you looking for a review of some car, or truck. This can be done using javascript, and cookies, php, cgi, whatever your flavor.

    The real kick is in the page you return. For unique, or “looking for a new car review” your intended revenue crowd, (the straights) have a separate landing page with a greater emphasis on your reviews. For the rest of us nuts, you can have a page more suited to what we love. And a default middle road for the few that can’t be identified. It can be as simple as giving reviews the center page for straights, and death watches center stage for those who arrive with cookies containing nuts in them.

    I’m sure by now you have enough tracking data to be able to set up, and yet predict a proper matrix, and steer new visitors to a custom landing page designed to at least keep them there until they get to know us. If your web guru is good, and you HAVE the data, you can even take a person who uses “Best price Ford focus” or some other search string right over to a Ford focus review, and a few ads by Ford dealers.

    If’n yer good, you can have 2 worlds exist side by side and only a few know whats really going on.

    While were here, the tabs are a nice idea, how about giving them a few curves. I like dreamstime.com you have to search for something to get off the landing page. I like their buttons too. But I still vote for the last ttac best.

    Have a great day !

  • avatar

    I think I miss the image rotation in the title banner … some of those shots were pretty cool.

    The dog-eared tabs are also kinda yucky, I tend to prefer radiused corners. Of course I find that the “tab” interface is overdone anyway. Especially when they aren’t tabs (though yours at least seem to behave like tabs).

    If you can, you should also tighten up the column on the right with the Google block. Most of your articles are quite long (espcially including comments) And that wide ad format eats way too much space. Tall & narrow would be better.

    It seems like you went from a nice looking design to a canned blog template.

  • avatar
    mark06902

    Im going to have to agree with alot of these guys…..I really liked the clean and simple look of the old site….The first time i saw this new layout i thought i mistyped the address and was on one of those wierd sites that sell domain names…..There arent enough articles to justify all of this extra clicking. I love just reading the latest entries from each section all on one page…just my opinion though…Im sure ill get used to it.

  • avatar
    Subifreak

    New site is alright.

  • avatar
    flytoget

    Robert,

    In my opinion, the best and most important aspects of TTAC are (and should be)its independence and simplicity. As it seems, You’ve aked your web designers to make a nice webpage. If you ask me,I believe It’s a typical mistake highly potent of derailing your design strategy, for the ultimate design task, in your case, might be to figure what does it take to convey a great content. By finding an answer to that question and having a wide palette of tools at hands you, then, can move on.

    My immediate observation regarding the new layout is that you’ve put way too much info on the front page. It relegates the whole user experience to a mere search-engine-like-criptic-overkill. This is a site about AUTOMOBILES!.. Where are they?

    best regards

  • avatar

    As someone who designs websites for a living, I like the new structure overall. My one gripe would be the loss of the banner pics. They could be smaller (to match the new header size) without a problem, but the gray pinstripes (IMHO) go beyond austere and venture into the “dull, boring, and omnipresent” territory.

  • avatar
    hellogodsy

    I would love to see forums implemented as one person stated in the middle of the comments. This site really has a community feel and a forum where people could post thier own ideas and start new topics would be a great thing. A thread for eaech new article could be used which would keep the main article pages sweet and short, and then with a link to the related forum thread that would be far easier to navigate than that of the comments sections right now. The key to this would be moderation because other wise a forum could easily descend to flaming and stupid arguements over the same point over and over again. While I doubt you have the time to moderate I imagine there would be atleast a few contributers or commentors who would be willing to. With the whole redisgn on your hands right now I doubt it’d be worth it to try something like this right now, but in time when the site has settled down again it would a cool idea to try and implement.

    One little peve I have right now while writing this comment is that the comment text box is far too small. I can only see 5 lines of text and it is squished horizontally compared to how it will be viewed. A larger text box is needed and perhaps a preview button so you can see how it looks before submitting.

    Good luck on the changes!

  • avatar
    Carlos

    It could have been easier (and cheap) to tweak the other design.

    Not to tell that it looked much more professional.

  • avatar
    TwoTwenty

    I read this site everyday, so I will still be reading regardless of its design.

    That said, I agree the site looks too generic. I miss the banner pictures, so I’m glad to hear that they will be coming back. If anything, the site needs more “pop” – more color (as in, not just blue and gray), something to grab the eye. I’m all about simplicity in design, but this is too dull.

    Also, I actually think the new site is more confusing to navigate. I didn’t even notice that the editorials were listed on the side of the home page, in addition to the tab on top. I think the home page should prominently feature the most recent review and the most recent editorial.

    Whatever the result, keep up the good work!

  • avatar
    John

    I like the new design better than the old one. Once you notice the tabs at the top of the page it all makes sense. Tabs are a very common modern navigation tool because they work so well. Long Live Firefox and Long Live TTAC!

  • avatar

    It looks like you forgot to supply a unique <title> value to each page/article.

    So, when I look back through my history of visiting the page I can’t see which topic each “?p=xxxx” is referring to. They all simply say “The Truth About Cars”.

    I think that losing the title tags in the html might impact you as far as how search engines index your pages.

    I know that it impacts how I find your pages.

  • avatar
    Austin

    I can’t find the Honda Civic review. I have five pages from TTAC open and all the titles on all the tabs are the same.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    A few comments.

    The reply box is too small.
    The editorials need to have the same weight as the reviews.

    Other than that, rock on!

  • avatar
    autobahner44

    It’s very generic looking now-thought I’d accidently gone to edmunds. You’ve gotten rid of the one standout differentiator-the beautiful detail shots on the masthead. Boring and bland summarizes your new look.

  • avatar
    i6

    I’m seeing the new ‘Review at a glance’ and like Horse from Ren and Stimpy would say “I don’t like it. No sir, I don’t like it at all”. Where does roominess factor in? What about ergonomics, utility, efficiency, noise all the things performance afficionados aren’t supposed to care about but everyone else does. And then you throw in ‘Design’! As if the styling wasn’t perfectly subjective and shoppers couldn’t judge for themselves at a glance.
    Really, all automotive qualia can be grouped under four headings; economy (purchase price, depreciation, operating costs), performance (accelerations, response, balance), luxury (features, comfort, safety, yes safety) and utility (how many horses fit inside, how deep can you take them into the woods and how easily can you clean it up afterwards).
    For the benefit of the casual web surfer/car shopper I think you owe it to yourselves to revise these ratings while also providing a quick explanation of what each one means.

  • avatar
    campocaceres

    The updates to the look of the site are an improvement each time, and I’m warming up to it compared to the original look.

    Minor nit-picky comments/suggestions:
    – The “corner cut-off” on the title boxes and tabs(don’t know the technical term for this): Personally, I think it flows better if you cut-off the right-hand corner instead of the left. It feels more natural to me since the eyes move from left to right.

    – Leave out the “Find reviews by make” drop down box at the top. It’s unnecessary in my opinion since I would expect a majority of front page views will be looking for the latest articles. The listing at the bottom is adequate since the page is intentionally not meant to be too lengthy. The listing of all makes right there is more convenient and looks more in line with the rest of the text on the page.

    – The gradient on the footer should match the gradient at the header.

    – The background is broken for Category views when using Firefox.

    Hope this helps. Love the site, new articles always seem to brighten up my day.

    – Category views are

  • avatar
    campocaceres

    Just two more, and I’ll stop before I get too OCD you guys :)

    – The word search appears twice: Get rid of the “Search: ” or rename the button to “submit”

    – The word Reviews doesn’t need to appear above every review anymore.

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