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Author Topic: The NEW LuLa Look  (Read 7818 times)
michael
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« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2013, 08:21:35 AM »
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Thanks everyone for your comments. They are appreciated, even when we disagree.

The redesign of the site was done over a long period of time, with a lot of thought and planning. We looked at current web technical practices as well as design idioms. We wanted to primarily add now capabilities (look beneath the surface and you'll see whole new navigation and publishing engine), plan for future products, (our new streaming video and subscription service, which just went live) and also address reader's past requests.

Importantly, we also wanted to update the look and feel while also keeping the site's familiar colours and design ethos. Not an easy task.

Now to some specific points. Fonts? The font is the same font that we've been using for 14 years. Helvetica. Easiest to read, used by the vast majority of sites.

Ads on the left? Well, we decided to move them from the top and had two choices. Left or right. We chose left. Some people don't like it. If we put them on the right, my guess is that there'd be those that would complain about that as well.

Animated ads? We've had them for years. Ads come and go. Some are animated. Some aren't. Look at all the major sites. Most have animated ads. They're designed to catch your eye. Sometimes they're annoying. But they pay the bills.

Speaking of ads, We only accept advertising from products and companies associated with the photographic industry. Many peer sites accept ads from anyone. We also don't put ads in the middle of articles the way others do. We do the best we can to respect our readers while still accepting the reality of paying the bills and keeping advertisers happy.

Thanks everyone for your feedback, even if we don't accept all of your suggestions, we appreciate the feedback.

Michael

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jdgagne
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« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2013, 08:29:02 AM »
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The home page looks like a 1990 chrismass tree web site type design. At the time people started to do web sites to push zillions of messages. What an advertising mess. I would say some photography composition rules could apply here to...

The menu on top is the cleanest idea.

My 2 cents

JD
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John Camp
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« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2013, 08:37:35 AM »
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I can't complain about the presence of advertisements, if they keep the site going, but I hate the *moving* and *blinking* advertisements next to the day's photo. How can you look at the photo with the Phase One ball (lens) that keeps coming in from the side? The front page is like looking at a pinball machine -- there's just too much on it, and in a fairly unsophisticated way (all little squares and blocks, some of them blinking.)

It will be interesting to see what happens, though. There's a sort of Darwinist survival-of-the-fittest fight going on among websites, as consumers demand more and more from the sites, but don't want to pay for them. Trying to monetize these things is turning into a nightmare. One possible option -- have two versions of the site simultaneously, one with ads, and one without ads...the one without ads available to subscribers, who pay a fee to see it. (I would pay.) On the other hand, I know nothing about website design, and that might be too complicated to pull off; and the people who *can* pay are probably exactly the ones the advertisers want.

I think what is needed is probably a serious designer (not an engineer, but somebody versed in aesthetics) to rationalize the page, and find some way to coordinate the ads with the editorial material.

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michael
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« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2013, 09:26:52 AM »
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John,

Look at other sites. Every one of them has similar issues. There are no simple solutions, only choices.

I resisted advertising for many years. I frequently wrote that for the site to survive people would need to buy our products (which many did), but eventually ads became an inevitability. They pay the bills. I don't know of any web site of any size or stature that now doesn't have them, and in every case I can find fault with how they appear and how they're displayed.

When something that's been around in much the same form, as LuLa for so long (14 years), people get used to it, and when it changes the new flaws (and yes, there are flaws) are glaring, while the old flaws are ignored, simply because they have become familiar.

We will continue to try and improve things, but making all of the people happy all of the time is an impossible goal. So far, based on correspondence that we're receiving, many people are pleased and excited about the new features, most like the new look, but a few dislike it.

Michael
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BJL
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« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2013, 09:51:49 AM »
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Overall I find the new look an improvement, in good part because it is friendlier to the small touch screens of the mobile devices where I do a lot of my recreational reading; it is even tolerable on a phone, where the old layout was a struggle to read and navigate.

I also like the neutral gray background, which is easier on my eyes, and I think it is also more "neutral" than either a black or white surround in terms of perceived contrast when viewing photographs. (I often use a similar gray for my desktop when working with photographs, and for the backgrounds around photographs.)


P.S. As to fonts; I agree that there is room for fine-tuning --- but at least it is not Helvetica Neue Ultra Light everywhere!
Can the font choices be adjusted according the the resolution of the display in use, so that for example screens offering about 2000 pixels or more in width get a "print quality" or "retina friendly" font, while lower res. screens get a simpler sans serif choice like Helvetica? Sometimes I miss the days when HTML mostly provided a "logical description" of the text content and left most of the visual formatting details to preferences at the client end.

P. P. S. About ads: I completely accept the trade-off between advertising and good free content, but --- Safari Reader mode FTW!
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 10:04:13 AM by BJL » Logged
eleanorbrown
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« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2013, 09:52:16 AM »
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Ooohhh my gosh...the ADS are driving me absolutely nuts!! Sorry but they are too huge and the Phase ad, for example,  keeps moving which is very distracting. Makes me want to click on another web site. Sorry. Eleanor
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 10:29:05 AM by eleanorbrown » Logged

michael
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« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2013, 09:59:17 AM »
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We hear you (and others) Eleanor. Ad content and presentation is up to the individual advertiser, but we'll see what we can do about this one.

Michael
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OldRoy
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« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2013, 10:27:09 AM »
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A big improvement. Much easier to read now each line isn't 24 inches wide. Orange+red+gold+LIME+green text looks a bit garish (using Frontpage, eh?), but overall a welcome change.
Eh?
I just tried to read the current newest article. The layout has substantially over 100 characters per line (optimum is established to be <65 characters) and doesn't re-flow with a resized browser window. I'm using Chrome. The line length criterion is just about the most fundamental typographic rule - undisputed as far as I'm aware and dating back to Gutenberg who used a two column layout.

WOB text (ok, WOG if you'll excuse the expression) is proven to diminish readability - in print media at least - and > 100 chars / line. Whatever else this redesign is intended to accomplish, improved readability isn't a by-product.

Overall, even discounting the fact that we become accustomed to a familiar format and resist change, the new design isn't an improvement, IMHO. And not just mine I believe.

Roy
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 10:35:34 AM by OldRoy » Logged
John.Murray
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« Reply #28 on: October 09, 2013, 10:33:00 AM »
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I like the overall look!  *Much* more readable, thank you!   My biggest concern is that the site is not device agile; frankly I'm a bit surprised.  By device agile, I'm referring to the site adjusting itself to the device displaying it.  

Here some examples (resize your browser window, or flip your device sideways, to see how they "flow")

http://demo.gantry-framework.org/
http://wright.joomlashack.com/demo/
http://www.getskeleton.com/

Nearly all major CMS systems (Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress) support this.  In addition all these frameworks are open source.

I read an article recently referring to an informal poll of internet users and devices; of those polled under the age of 35, 30% said their primary internet access was via smartphone......
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 10:39:04 AM by John.Murray » Logged

Colorado David
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« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2013, 10:51:54 AM »
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I'm using Safari and don't have any issues with the new look.  I might prefer a serif typeface for readability, but that's just my personal preference.  I just read the new article on composition and didn't find it difficult at all.  Advertiser supported Lula is my preference over subscription service for a number of reasons.  I appreciate all the work that goes into creating an maintaining a site like this and come here to receive and share valuable information, but I don't live here. What I'm trying to say is this is a resource and requires compromises.  There's nothing wrong that can't be adapted to.  Of course I could be wrong.  Your mileage may vary. Wink
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michael
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« Reply #30 on: October 09, 2013, 10:55:31 AM »
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Dear David,

You're not wrong.  Wink

Michael
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #31 on: October 09, 2013, 10:57:34 AM »
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Looks like the site design has been "successfully" Raberized too.

Is this really necessary (see the attachment)? I mean, do we really need big, all CAPS, underlined, bright orange "instruction" under each and every article headline!? Unless the idea was Christmas tree, that is. Since the dawn of the Internet we've been used to click on the headline to read an article. Or, alternatively, there would be a discreet "Read more..." at the end of an intro.
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« Reply #32 on: October 09, 2013, 11:09:33 AM »
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My first reaction is I like it. Layout looks way cleaner, the background makes text & images more readable, navigation feels more direct and intuitive. No sizing issues thus far with my browser (Firefox 24) on dual Eizo FlexScan L997s @ 1600x1200 each.
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E.J. Peiker
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« Reply #33 on: October 09, 2013, 11:28:25 AM »
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Needs to autoscale to narrower screens scrolling side to side is a non-starter.
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RobbieV
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« Reply #34 on: October 09, 2013, 11:31:45 AM »
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I echo what Slobodan writes wholeheartedly.

Other than that, I don't mind the ads. I just slide the window over to the left edge of the screen so I can't see the ads. I'd rather have the ads on either side of the screen than show up through the articles, so no complaints about that here.

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RobbieV
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« Reply #35 on: October 09, 2013, 11:33:42 AM »
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I also see that you are providing more information in the captions about the photos (including shutter speed and aperture).

Is this going to be consistent, or does it depend on the photographer? Michael never seems to provide more than focal length and ISO (which is fine, but I always welcome more information to learn from).

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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #36 on: October 09, 2013, 11:42:06 AM »
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Screen is too wide. Unusable.
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caerphoto
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« Reply #37 on: October 09, 2013, 11:53:51 AM »
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Now to some specific points. Fonts? The font is the same font that we've been using for 14 years. Helvetica. Easiest to read, used by the vast majority of sites.
A significant number of sites also still use <font> tags and inline JavaScript, that doesn't make it right. Furthermore, I'd strongly disagree with your assertion that Helvetica is 'easiest to read', when there are plenty of other fonts (Source Sans Pro, Open Sans, PT Sans, Ubuntu, to name just a few) that are much better, and actually designed for use at body text sizes.

For a long time I've resorted to things like Stylebot or, more recently, Clearly, to give my eyes a rest when reading articles on LuLa.

Quote from: michael
When something that's been around in much the same form, as LuLa for so long (14 years), people get used to it, and when it changes the new flaws (and yes, there are flaws) are glaring, while the old flaws are ignored, simply because they have become familiar.
Old flaws, indeed Wink
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Rob Reiter
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« Reply #38 on: October 09, 2013, 12:37:38 PM »
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 "Click here to read the article" is obtrusive and maybe unnecessary and certainly repetitive to the point of being visually unattractive. Otherwise, while I can't say I like the new design, it doesn't offend me.
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OldRoy
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« Reply #39 on: October 09, 2013, 12:48:12 PM »
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It amazes me that nobody but me appears to register the fact that 120+ characters on a single line of text is incredibly difficult to read. Take a look at almost any publication - newspapers, books, pamphlets - and you'll see that the "measure" is almost always restricted to <65 characters. This isn't a pointless convention; it's because longer lines are really, really, difficult to read. And the point of this stuff is to be read, isn't it?

On the overall layout the design criteria aren't so critical to one's ability to read and understand the text content. But presenting text in the format that these articles are currently presented actively impedes comprehension. (Turns round, bangs head against wall.) Ask any experienced, trained, graphic designer. It's the web, certainly, but it's still text and the same optical and neurological hardware are being employed to read it.
Jeeze.
Roy
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