New Homepage

I know the staff, and some members, are tired of hearing criticism of the recent changes the site has undergone. Some is probably valid, most is just knee jerk. I don't want to pile on, more than I already have, but after seeing the homepage today I have to say something. I've attached a screen shot of the current home page full screened on a 23" monitor.

Lets say I'm visiting Instructables for the first time. Is a giant, scaling, Radio Shack advert really the only thing you want to show up? (Since the ad scales with the window yo would need a huge screen to be able to see anything else on landing, also if you aren't full screen it is literally all you see besides the header.) Sure there are a links to the categories but what if I'm new and don't know those are the categories or what they mean. What if I'm a regular but don't know what category the thing I'm looking for is in?
Search you say, just use the search bar. Right, ok, just as soon as I find it. Oh you mean this giant thing in the middle of my screen that typed out like it's a non-usable flash animation when I first landed?
What if I don't know what I'm looking for, lets call it browsing. Looks like there are some featured projects down below. *scrolls down* One project with a picture large enough to discern it's subject, three with shrunken down thumbnails, and 8 more in a wall of text with no pictures to give any context to the titles.

This home screen is no longer a hub for the site. It's 50% add, 25% blank space, and 25% links to specific things. With the giant ad filling the entire screen the stuff below feels like it is tacked on as an afterthought. It really feels like it was designed around the ad. You have to know what you are looking for for it to even be remotely useful. Over 3/4 of the time if I'm am looking at a project on Instructables I found it by browsing ALL the categories, at once, on the old homepage. Unless I'm looking for something specific I'm not going to spend the time to click through every catagory just to see what's up. I have broad interests and jumping to 6 different pages just isn't going to cut it.
It also makes it feel very disjointed. You go from a page with almost no content to a page filtered down to 1/6th of the sites content, at most.

This isn't just bad for people browsing either, this will directly impact authors as well. With only one decent sized picture and only 4 pictures total what are the chances your project is going to make the front page?
Average case I would assume people might click through half of the six categories in the current format. Right there that's a probable 50% drop in eyes even seeing your project, click through rates will decrease that number further but those could actually rise (as a percentage of the total people that see the project. This doesn't cancel out the first decrease though). A 66% decrease is also plausible and of course roughly 83% is worst case.
If the browser doesn't win and the author doesn't win then who wins? Unless Radio Shack has paid for all the space on the top of the home screen, in which case the Autodesk balance sheet wins, nobody does.

It causes me some concern that the reasoning given for the major format changes to the Instructables themselves was to really emphasize the pictures, and I believe the same ting was said about the previous homepage update, but now pictures of projects have almost entirely been removed. The motivation here is fuzzy at best.

I would love to hear from someone on that staff that knows the actual reason behind the change. If it makes sense I'm willing to listen and adapt my usage habits but if this is simply a numbers game in the ledger book then this probably signals the end of me browsing other peoples projects. (Unless a staff member will actually come out and say it's a money grab in which case I appreciate the honesty and maybe we can all work together to find a way to generate more income. The last thing we want is Instructables to go under.)

EDIT: Interestingly it's not as bad in IE8 (The ad that is. The lack of projects is still quite apparent) but there is a little issue with the scaling of the "search bar". Maybe the ad size is a bug, as there is at least one other FF bug already spotted, see below.
Also the image comment system seems to have reverted to the old style click and drag, at least here in the forum. Maybe it nerev changed, I don't post photos here much.

Picture of New Homepage
Homepage 3-25 IE8.png
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Ben Finio2 years ago

I'm SUPER late to the party here (just randomly browsing forums I don't usually frequent)...did we give up the fight on this? Is the company convinced that the new home page is actually better/did the community come to accept it? I only joined about a year ago, so I very vaguely remember a nice-looking homepage where you could immediately see a bunch of new projects. Shortly after I joined it was replaced by a single, obnoxious, giant image and a search-bar thingy that I didn't immediately realize was a search bar.

If I hadn't already known what Instructables was, I probably would have just been confused as hell and left immediately (saw a good comment from a web designer below about how your customer better know what your site is about in <5 seconds). Maybe the stats say otherwise in terms of gaining new users, but I'm glad I got on board when the old homepage made it obvious what the site was about.

For the record - I actually like how the MOBILE version of the site allows you to just immediately scroll through all the new featured projects without having to click on anything else or get rid of a giant banner...I wonder why the philosophies for the two versions of the site are different?

crazyg2 years ago
think the rotating image could be shorter, giving a featured structables longer on yje page,also makes screen shots of being on the front page tricky,
i like the orange.
ewilhelm3 years ago
Thanks for the feedback! I and everyone who worked on the new design has read your comments.

The new homepage will make more sense in about a week when the Radio Shack homepage-takeover is finished. The idea was to really put a spotlight on Instructables authors, and we have several large images of authors that rotate through on the homepage.

Radio Shack asked if they could sponsor the new homepage when it launched, and I said yes. In retrospect, I had the wrong perspective on this. We should have introduced you to the new homepage as we've been looking at it: with big pictures of authors rather than the big Radio Shack image. That mistake is made; hopefully I'll be able to make different mistakes in the future.

There are fewer Instructables shown on the homepage. However, we are trying something new by listing recent Instructables, not just featured or popular ones. Ultimately, we want your Instructables to get as many views by an engaged audience as possible. If we have an indication that this new design decreases the average views an Instructables receives or the number of good comments posted on it (as a proxy for engagement) we'll try something else.

As I've written before, I like change. I feel a static website is a dead website. I'm glad you've liked some of the previous designs, and I'm glad you and so many others are concerned about a new visitor's first experience. I am too. So far, we're doing ok -- the site continues to grow and almost every month is our best month ever for traffic. Of course, you may think this grow is in spite of our various design changes, but I suppose we'll disagree on that.

By the way, how do you like the new orange?
I’m a bit late to this discussion, but it’s an interesting one so I’d like to chime in. I expect search gets most of the site’s views and is crucial to the income stream, so the big change to make it front and center probably makes sense from an overall traffic point of view. And I appreciate any efforts to improve the site.

What bothers me more than tweaks to the consumer experience, though, is that recent changes to the site seem more geared to extracting golden eggs (maximizing ad revenue) than looking after the goose (making it easy for authors to post quality projects). With the exception of the authoring capabilities of the app (which may well be amazing, but taking photos and writing and editing a project on a phone strikes me as a form of cruel & unusual punishment), the lot of ordinary authors has been a pretty sorry one of late. Basically the same old editor and library interface and uploader; all still a bit clunky. Many file types not uploadable. Photo layouts follow weird sizing and cropping rules that require trial-and-error selection of photos to get looking half-decent… and we have no control over this layout short of html-ing the whole thing or assembling the photos into a single image offline. Image tags appear on some photos but not others. We don’t get to decide which projects we want displayed on our profile page; in fact, projects can’t even be sorted any more, it’s chronological only. The stats tab has been half-broken almost as long as I remember it existing, and the “views today” number on individual instructables nearly always seems to be wildly inflated. Thumbnails keep changing aspect ratio (I think something close to 5:4 is currently in vogue, so all those I edited for 1:1 now look bad). Projects are being deemphasized on the homepage in favor of the photogenic maker. Figuring out who commented on what in the comments sections of our projects is often difficult. Adding images to a comment is tortuous. Newsletter badges no longer happen. Contest commenting has been eliminated along with promotion of winners. The separate author newsletter has disappeared (at least from my inbox in 2013). No new pro features: no site-hosted maker blog, no way to share ad-free instructables with friends. Collaboratively authored instructables no longer give credit to co-authors. No cool new web tools for authoring/layout/design of instructables, no online photo/figure annotation (apart from the image boxes); no integrated Pixlr for online editing/layout; no embedding of 3D objects.

While none of the complaints above especially bother me on their own – they’re all minor gripes, I’ve continued to publish regardless and doubtless will continue to do so occasionally – collectively their existence is frustrating and they create a barrier to documenting further projects. I do of course agree change is necessary - you have to constantly improve just to compete in most fields, let alone internet-related ones – but I’m troubled by the fact that recent changes seem to be focused on the cosmetic and that little has been done to improve the ability of authors to painlessly & expertly disseminate their work.
Thanks for this! This is a great list of feedback, but it's going to get too overwhelming for us to reply in a meaningful way to each of your points. Could you please post them independently in the feedback or bugs section?

You can share an ad-free Instructable with friends by sending them the PDF.

We're taking many of the lessons learned from designing a mobile authoring experience and applying them to the website. That new editor should be available for you to test soon.
Thanks for the response.

I'm not down on change, it's just this was not handled as smoothly as it might, as you've acknowledged. Maybe a clearer announcement in the forums would have helped - the update posts don't stick and get lost very quickly.

As for the orange, on my monitor it looks quite scary, a hellish glow in my periferal vision as I type. I'd rather have the old orange back, like in my avatar's background.
canida Kiteman3 years ago
As for the orange, on my monitor it looks quite scary, a hellish glow in my periferal vision as I type.

You sound like Martha Stewart. :D
He is the Doyen of DIY...
Er, if there's a cultural reference there, I'm afraid I missed it?
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