New Homepage Answered
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.