UI Overhaul: New layout and design

Tonight we launched a design update that we’ve been working on for over a month now. The goal was to fix some of the aesthetic deficiencies in the previous design and improve the layout and navigation. The main goals of our update were:


We wanted a less “washed out” look, and though the color scheme is still far from perfect (like the oversaturated colors in the header that have been pointed out to us) it’s at least less colorless and better frames the content. We don’t have the designer we had been working with prior to launching the new a2k, so this is still just the best Nick and I, as opposed to a real graphic artist, can do for now and we’ll be on the lookout for design help in the future to bring a real graphic artist to the table.


We wanted to ditch the two column layout because we didn’t yet have the things we planned to put there built, and there was a lot of wasted space in the mean time. When those widgets come, we may change things but for now the layout is more streamlined and we moved from the vertical side tabs, to the horizontal tabs within the main content area.


Topic Grids

We wanted to remove some of the confusion of the sortable grids. Some users were not understanding what they needed to do to see the topics they wanted in the order they wanted. So now there are dedicated pages for things like “New Posts” and “New Topics”. This means some of the sorting and filtering abilities we had launched are no longer available (e.g. sorting by most replies within the last day) but we’ll work on ways to bring them back (possibly in the search feature).

So the first thing you may notice is that you now should click “New Posts” in the header to see those, instead of the home page, which is now a directory listing of tags.

We’ve also ditched more ads and put the listing of tags in the topic grids on the right side where the ads used to be and listed more of them with their related tags. We’ll need to bring some ads back (right now we probably don’t have enough of them running to pay the server bill) so please be patient with us if some return. They are what pays for the site.

Tag Directory

Speaking of tags, with all the tagging the members have done since we launched, we now have the related tags needed to display them as a directory listing. So the home page now has a directory of tags and their related tags. You can browse the top couple hundred pages of tags (they are ordered by popularity) and we’ve auto capitalized them to make them look nicer. This means the capitalization will sometimes be incorrect (e.g. acronyms, McCain, capitalizing articles like “and”) but for the most part is a big visual improvement.

Topic Pages

Without the side column we had to move the topic tagging form to the main content area. We moved the tag information under the topic title. You’ll see the public tags, your own tags, and a green link to tag the topic. Clicking the link will display a form where you can add tags to the topic.

With the change from the side tabs to the horizontal tabs we were also able to put a reply all link at the bottom of the page as an inverted tabstrip and we also added a new feature to the topic page in the form of the “top replies” list. Under the first post in the topic you can click to view the top replies, which can be a handy way of perusing a large topic and getting to the best posts quickly.

There were a number of other improvements that I don’t remember right now, but there are probably also some bugs (especially display bugs in various browsers). Please let us know if you run into any and we’ll try to fix them.

And lastly, yes we know some people won’t like these changes. That’s how it always is, since the beggining of the site there has always a significant percentage of the members unhappy (read for yourself, in every step of the site’s history there are some saying the site sucks, an opinion they are entitled to) and we can’t please everyone. We’ll keep working at this, and keep trying to make you happy but sometimes we just won’t be able to do so despite our efforts and we ask that you have patience with us, we have a lot of improvements planned and things may look better to you was we release them.