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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.

Discussions

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?

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crazyg

4 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.

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.

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

Er, if there's a cultural reference there, I'm afraid I missed it?

Coo, if being a "doyen" gets me that rich, I'm happy to ignore the dictionary references to "oldest man in the group"...

if being a "doyen" gets me that rich, you can call me "Martha"...wait

I kept on looking to see if it was RadioShack red or the new orange not the robot orange. I thought it was just my monitor viewing angle but I eventually scrolled down to the bottom of the page to see it was a gradient color which is playing around with the way my monitor renders the color.

"Gradient" is pushing it a bit - it's only the vety bottom that changes.

Orange.jpg

A static website is not a dead website. That's the same motto M. Z-Berg must have for Facebook. The only reason more people haven't stopped using that is the absence of a worthwhile competitor. A dead website is one that no longer attracts visitors.

I understand your desire to mix things up a bit.. every so often my parents would rearrange the furniture in the living room, but since the TV could only be in one place because of the co-ax jack, so everything still had to make sense with regard to that.

This new homepage does not feature "authors." It features the editors of this site. You aren't fooling anyone with why these changes took place. If it were really about getting more views for everyone, than the scrolling pictures would be of the recent/popular/featured instructibles, not the same 4 people over and over again.

This new homepage does not feature "authors." It features the editors of this site

Yeah, and one of them's left......

Looks like the RadioShack ad is gone so we can all see the proper homepage.

Featuring authors is great as an idea but only featuring Instructables staff, or ex-staff, means you're doing it wrong. Most likely everyone already knows these people or will quickly get to know them without this. I'm aware that this is probably temporary until you decide on a way to choose people to feature but it's an auspicious start.

The featured author/search area is still to big and it needs to stop scaling up at some point. I still can't see a single project without scrolling and now it's just an awkwardly large photo of someone. I'd like to feel comfortable opening this page when other people are around.

Not sure why the orange is still only on the forums. The blue is so bland and makes me think I should be searching for my nearest health care provider or something else deary.

My search no longer auto types but it defaults as focused and you can't use the arrow keys to navigate the page, something that is a necessity with the projects not appearing until you scroll down, no matter your browser size.
Did you have statistics that showed that the majority of people were loading the home page and searching without looking at any projects or is that the attempt? I guess I don't see the upside to a homepage whose main goal is to get people off the home page asap. If I come to Instructables.com for the first time after someone tells me about it am I more likely to want to search a specific term or be able to browse a diverse selection of high quality Instructables?

I still don't see the usefulness of the "Recent" stream without pictures. I have no idea what "Gronden", "Revamp Glass Jar Project!", or "How To Keep Your Dog Healthy Between G..." are. Without photos the first two are unintelligibly vague and the last one doesn't fit in the allotted space, and the space doesn't scale. See the attached image to see how the scaling makes no sense. The picture at the top scales infinitely while the area around the projects just generates more white space. At the very least it should fully expand the titles.

Homepage Stretch 4-3.png

Thanks for the continued feedback.

More large-format featured author images are coming, and it's our intention to do as many of these as possible for featured authors. Going to someone's kitchen or shop to take pictures of them and their work takes a bit of time.

Since we made the changes to the homepage, the exit rate and bounce rate both fell 17%. Whatever the cause, the new homepage is statistically more engaging as it sends more people off to look at an Instructable or to search for something of interest. This data set includes only the Radio Shack homepage in comparison to the previous month, so it's possible the featured authors are even more engaging and the rate won't just regresses to the mean.

Even if you stay with the new design, can you at least have the decency to not disable keyboard shortcuts? Can you make it not autotype when the page loads? It looks fancy and artistic the first time, but it gets really irritating after the second time.

The text field should remove the auto-typed word when you click on the field to enter your own search query.

That's the problem. The text field is ALWAYS active. I hit space to scroll down, and it types a space instead. I click elsewhere on the page, and the text field is active. I switch tabs, and it still stays active.

It does, but normal people expect to start typing where the cursor is placed and when the cursor is blinking at you to start typing. It seems to be the convention, even in Canada.

Who types before clicking a field to enter data? Also, Canadian convention dictates that we apologize before we enter any information, and then take a break for hockey.

I think Kiteman would say "even the Beiber's detained codemonkey would be able to ijeeit-proof an input field"

For the first time in a few days I took a quick look at the homepage this morning, three of the twelve 'ibles showcased at the bottom of the page were spam meaning that 25% of your homepage content links to unpaid advertising, all sponsored by Radio Shack.
As I said before I agree that change can be good for a site but in this instance I think a poor decision has been made, I truly believe that the home page should be reserved for featured & editors pick content ensuring that new visitors & seasoned members alike see the best the site has to offer.

>we are trying something new by listing recent instructables, not just featured or popular ones

I appreciate how the link to the "all recent" feed is now easier to find - under the old layout, it took me a while before I figured out how to do that.

Being able to view all the new content is an important ability that a lot of people like... but it's a very low reward-density activity - your moderation team and the automated "popular" tags are pretty good and it's rare (perhaps twice a week) that I find something that slipped through the cracks; something I would have missed if I didn't just read the "featured" feed.

In my view, the homepage should filter content as tightly as possible, so:
a link to the feed of everything? Valuable feature; good use of screen space.
the feed of everything? Not very valuable.

(...nevermind that the text&thumbnail interface to the everything feed isn't enough tool for that task. (You can't sort treasure from junk while blindfolded))

That sounds good. Will there be provision for spam creeping into recent instructables? That would be a worse turn off for new users if they visited to find spam content on the front page. That's one plus of featured content being there, there's a much, much lower chance of that happening.

The other touchy area this gets into is having ibles reviewed for basic quality, especially on the weekends. Besides the regular spam product/services posts, you've got the facebook type nonsensical self-referential ego ibles that will creep into the recent feed. But hey, it's a way to get new members.

We have a weiner. https://www.instructables.com/id/GoodKush/ first crapible to make it on the homepage

I love typos, you said weiner :-) How did that get on the home page?

Apparently when it was published, it made it to the recent ibles listing at the bottom of the homepage when I happened to be looking. Ibles will have to put some controls in place to prevent that from happening (see the sarcasm there?)

I'm so glad all the people who worked on this have read the comments, have they actually taken any of them on board? & are any of them actually web site designers or are they ad guys?
I like change too, but would you buy a car & take delivery of it before it was completed? I can imagine the conversation...
"it looks great like it is Mr W, I know you can't use it too well & it kind of looks odd without the body & seats but we made sure the manufacturers name on the wheels shows up real well so everyone will know who makes those even if they won't know what the car is until we come back & fit the rest in a couple of weeks"
Wouldn't it make more sense to roll out the completed site all at once rather than a chunk her & there?
I'm quite sure the weekend spammers will be pleased that they will all get some front page viewing before they are deleted on Monday too; keeping the front page to featured content ensured that the best of what the site had to offer was showcased for new visitors & seasoned members alike, now everyone & their uncle can & will appear there which will doubtless serve to increase the amount of spamming to epic proportions.
The traffic is generated by the content supplied by the members, the old page encouraged people to stay longer & look around because it offered a wide range of choices & themes reducing the range detracts from that, if that front page content is full of spam it will give new visitors the wrong impression of what the site is about & drive many of them away probably for good.
I applaud your efforts to make the site fresh & attractive & in many ways agree with your statement that "a static website is a dead website" but I have to say if your intention is to generate a higher hit count I believe this latest change is the wrong way to go about it.
When I first joined Instructables the site was vibrant & fun, it looked like a place where exciting things were going to happen & almost dared you to look around; I'm afraid it now looks like a hybrid of a newsletter from the local electronics store & one of my bank statements; I'm half expecting to get up in the morning & find the robot in a dull gunmetal grey.
As far as the orange is concerned, I agree with Kiteman I prefer the old one too, the gradient at the foot of the page reminds me of those stick on sunshades people used to have on their windscreens in the 80's.

Thanks for replying, it's good to know we're not entirely just talking to the wind.

That sounds like a much more usable homepage and I'll definitely suspend judgment until using it.

The inclusion of recently published Instructables is nice but I still feel like a list of titles isn't going to effectively generate clicks. Even a small thumbnail can help give context, especially if the author got a little clever or humorous with the title. Maybe this is part of the real homepage but in it's current state that list is sort of passed over as a wall of text by the eye when quickly browsing the page for interesting content.

No argument that change is good an necessary but I think some of the communities complaints with each big update are due to them feeling like sudden and unannounced, massive sweeping changes that are often buggy and don't feel like they were designed with much input from an average set of the user base. For me at least it's the little things that get missed and never addressed that then build up to more annoyance than it's worth.

It's definitely better than the blue. If I'm really honest though I'm not sure why it can't just be the regular instructables orange that you see on the rest of the...
Wait, did you just change it for forum topics? :D But seriously, the blue is killing me, figuratively of course.

Holy crap. Everything I click in Firefox opens in a new window. I tried logging in in Firefox 20. It failed and I had to turn on caps lock to type lowercase letters while trying. I haven't screwed up any settings either. No sticky keys, nothing. I tried IE 8 (or 9? I stopped caring about which version I had) and it failed too in about the same way. Links opened in the same window, thankfully. Finally, I tired Safari, and it finally worked! Three browsers to log in! Wow! I wish I had an IT department THAT good!

For the love of God, people, some of us prefer keyboard shortcuts! When I can't use them at all on the homepage, or when page up and down or space and shift+space do the exact same thing, I get kind of pissed. That's terrible design. Again Firefox opens all links in new windows. That includes step two and three and what not within the instructions themselves. If you want me to bottleneck my system and slow down everything, just tell me and I'll write you some Javascript code to slow down the site. Is there any reason at all to have a new fancy homepage? I hate it. For comparison, would you like a Porsche with an engine that needs maintenance every ten miles driven, or would you rather have a rugged engine with wheels that actually does what it needs to?

Finally: REMOVE THE AUTOTYPING TEXT! It does nothing at all! If your search bar is so poorly indicated that you need to do this so new users can figure it out, something has gone horribly wrong in the design process. If your website needs Javascript and Flash to function, you need to go back to design school. Going back to cars, that's like needing heated leather seats and satellite radio for the brakes to work. There were several projects I wanted to post, but you know what? I'm not letting you use my material for ad revenue if you can't design a decent, functional site.

Alright, as of today I take back what I said. Keyboard shortcuts are back, autotype does not get in the way, and I can finally say it looks good. My sole request is a return of categories on the homepage, not just popular and featured.

"Scooch quit?" That's a bummer I will miss her :(
The most recent changes are an improvement, but it still stinks browsing via the tags of "recent", "featured" etc. and still scrolling through THE SAME DAMN INSTRUCTABLES OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It was freaking great to browse through the workshop channel and seeing all things related to it, but now you have to skim over food, food, food, and other things you don't care to look at regardless of the category of "recent" or "featured" (they can be both). It is still a mashup of all the categories. I used to visit this site 7 of 7 days a week now it's maybe 3 or 4. This site is hosed up. And please get rid of the scrolling monstrosity at the top of the page, us veterans of the site know who these people are. It was unnecessary to plug their presence before the change because YOU COULD BROWSE BY CATEGORY AND LEARN WHO THE EDITORS WERE BECAUSE YOU VISITED OFTEN!!!
So angry, so angry....

Hi,
Maybe no one cares what I think...but I'm going to contribute anyway...
I LOVE THE NEW WEB DESIGN!!!! :)
love it. It is easier to navigate and more visually pleasing! Plus I love seeing scooch on the coverpage rotation! :)

:) Nat

"Scooch quit"
What's that got to do with it? She's still Instructable's most viewed author and one of the best examples of good authors.

Just its not a current view of the site's authors, on the brand new site. She's a great author, that wasn't the point.

No, it's a selection of featured authors that I'd imagine it's easy to compose good, arty title page shots for. Much easier than visiting Britt in Germany or Rimar in Argentina just to take workshop photos.

Ah, recognising Scooch, I thought they were all editors.

Great, now you chime in when they fix things. Don't we look silly.

Yes, we care what you think. We want to make it better for everyone.

It seems we were heard and change has happened! The new home page is so much better, not perfect, but better. The spam riddled "Recent" list is gone, all the projects have a picture attached, and there are a lot more projects.

The infinite scaling on the featured authors banner still makes me avoid the page though. There is also a bug tied to the search bar, it seems to randomly jump back up so the search bar is in view and using the arrow keys just refocuses on the search bar.
Personally I preferred it when the page was sorted by section. It was just easier to browse. Having more projects is great but there's something about the look of this page that isn't easy to browse. I think it's the lack of a contrasting color, like orange just of the top of my head. The background is white-ish and the project boxes are white-ish and it all just looks, bland for lack of a better word, nothing pops.

Only tangentially related to the homepage; there are now three color schemes on the site. White background on the homepage, the burnt orange in the forums, and the corporate blue everywhere else. One of these is not like the other.

Yes, with featured authors' images the new homepage has much sense, although lately I'm beginning to miss the list of featured ibles which attracted so much my attenton... usually I go on Instructables not to search something paricular, but more to see how much brilliant are the authors. then I remained a little disappointed about the advertisements disguised as instructables. I'm referring especially at the four beautiful girls which appeared today at the bottom of the front page... yes we all are pleased to see them and of course they're much better than any blender or robot, but it's not good discovering that this has nothing to do with any instructable. I removed ads from my website and that good explains my thoughts.
About the orange, I prefered the old one, this is too warm in my opinion...

2013-04-06_205536.png2013-04-06_205459.png

It does seem the leakage of SPAMibles is reaching epidemic proportions. But hey, maybe that's the increase we are seeing in the stats.