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Upcoming Site Changes! Answered

Hey folks,

You may have noticed the new look on our homepage and header - I just want to let you know there are more exciting changes coming!

We try to do small site updates about every two weeks, and now that the development team is a bit bigger we'll be able to stick closer to that target schedule. The one constant in a healthy website is change, and our philosophy is to test and modify based on actual results: it's incremental, hypothesis-driven website design of both function and aesthetics.  Lots of small, frequent changes help us evolve the site at a comfortable pace.

So stay tuned for new features, design updates, bug fixes, and other good stuff coming your way!  We'll keep working to make Instructables a better place to visit.

Christy (and the rest of the Instructables team)


More changes? aaa, well, ok I guess....When I clicked on my ible's this mornig, the first thing noticed was that the "STATS" box on the Infor box was no longer there...am I missing something or is it really gone? How does decreasing the amount of information available to subscribers and viewers for that matter "improve" the site? I'm just saying. And, for the record, I experience more bugs here now than at any time previously. So I think when cosmetic changes are made, and I thoroughly understand that these are mandatory, something happens in the code or to the code, or whatever....I have recently got a new computer and it's really fast, which is great. But along with it, came Windows 7 and what seemed like a new set of problems. Just the changes from XP were daunting, but I'm getting used to them now. I listed two bugs in "BUGS" and apparently they have not been addressed as of now. Bugs experienced:
1. Can't view all subscribers (followers).
2. Unable to access image library in certain circumsances.
3. Was writing reply to Lemonie on "symbology"...it was pretty damn good, I thought, but I hit post comment, and it evaporated! Sorry Lemonie, just didn't have the energy to re-do it.
4. Once, was working on submitting ible, and somewhere, somehow, all text was evaporated from all steps....ouch!
5. Have a heck of a time rearranging photos in "add images"....you, know, when you want to put them in a particular order? Sometimes it doesn't want to budge a bit, or work, or function properly...Picasso has a perfect system, if you can borrow some of their code!
6. I'm sure there are others, but the mind is giving out about now.

I might add that with the new computer and wireless printer and router, I have more issues (buts, problems, et al.,) so my best conclusion is: Things are just way to complicated for the average and or even above average human being. If I have a major bug now, it has to addressed by the sob from the factory that has all the answers. never used to be that way...Anyway, there it is. I think the site is terrific and amazing, by the way, but I like things to work as well as possible, and I am sure you do to! Thanks.

The stats thing is a known bug, and should be fixed soon.

Number 3 is a known, and old, bug. I have no idea when it is going to be fixed.

The rest, I remember you reporting them elsewhere, and I know the dev team have a bad habit of only responding to bug reports when they have been fixed or they need more details to do the fix, so maybe they're being worked on?

If you want a better response than I can give (I'm not on the dev team, nor will I ever be - I break code just by reading it), then I'd email HQ at service [at] instructables [dot] com, because they check it more often than they read the forums.

Thanks mr Kiteman! At least someone in the vast infinity of cosmic stellar consciousness looks and reads....am real curious to the main issue: the more changes made to codes, anywhere, everywhere, the more bugs are introduced down theline, or what ever theright terminology would be for that little tidbit of cause and effect. What say you, Sir?

Bugs of some kind are inevitable once you get more complex than scratching in the dirt with a stick, and even then your stick might break and the rain might wash the dirt away.

As I understand these things, the best way to de-bug any system is to let it run for a while, see if it goes wrong, and then fix what goes wrong.

That works for anything from hanging a door to building a website.

(But not nuclear reactors. )

Its all good, but... I kinda miss seeing the rows of newly featured instructables, rather then mixture of old and new thats presented today. This is just because I've plowed through so many instructables over the years that what I see on the home page now, is stuff I've seen a while back. Ah repeats! Good for new people as it will all be fresh for them.

With >50,000 Instructables it had gotten harder for people to find the oldies-but-goodies, so we're trying to put more of them on the homepage. The plus for you is that more people should find your old projects. ;)

(Idle thought - maybe add a class of project ("Classics"?), where every project with over X views automatically gets added to a particular group, and then add a "browse classic projects" button to the front page, which takes you to that group?)

True enough, were just wanting perfection, thats all. While your at it, can you guys save the whales and end global famine? Kind of an inside joke, but I'm sure you'd get it.

Make a category at the top (bump "food" down) for those sorts of favorites. You could also keep the intent of the current FPF showing while at the same time making the title image and text show up, set up like the old slideshow, or elements of it at least, and randomly change the older showings every so often.

Just some thoughts.

You know what it is? I think its a touch of selfishness, developed a tendency to visit the homepage to see if I was still featured in one of the rows. oooh pride issues I think, my bad.

For what it's worth, I really like the changes. I think the mixture of new Instructables and some old favorites is a smart move when trying to get more people interested in the site.

The one thing that I really miss is the new PRO feed on the front page. That perk was a very real incentive for someone to go PRO. Just my 2 cents, I would change the Most Popular section into the newest PRO Instructables posted.

I'm usually all up for updates, especially if I get more hits because of them ;-), but the new layout doesn't really motivate me to post new stuff, because to me it seems as if new projects don't get the attention they deserve any more.

I've noticed, that since the update I haven't clicked on a single project on the front page (mainly because I know most of the stuff). I get that you would like to show new visitors all the amazing stuff on the web page, but I just lack the time to click trough the channels every day, to see what's new.
In my opinion it's probably a good a idea, to make the pictures a bit bigger, especially with a higher screen resolution, they just seem to get lost. An other thing is, that due to the mouse over, I'm not able to click directly on the user name, it would be nice, if you consider changing that.

Cool! I think instructables is a great site, but if there was one think I'd like it would be a way to see how many votes you got in a contest. That would be cool and save me the anticipation every time I enter a contest. :)

Knowing how many votes you have doesn't save any anticipation because (1) vote rank changes until the last minute of a contest and (2) the votes get reviewed for cheating/loading the ballot box which means that even after voting has ended, the rank changes again.  It's honestly best to not know and wait for the finalists to be announced.  You'd have to wait for the finalist announcement anyhow.

Would it be feasible to implement the layout and visual changes in a THEME pack - and give users the option to pick the theme that suits best for themselves?

I've been around a while, quietly having fun. I've found some cool projects to get my teenage nephew involved in. When the elementary age niece and nephew drop by for the weekend, I sit them down in front of my huge monitor and we hunt around on here for something fun we can use to mess up the stove and the kitchen counter. I drive the mouse and they debate.

The previous layout was more appealing to us because it was familiar. If given the option, we would have set my "View Options" to default that layout.

Different people under different circumstances process things differently. If changes could be implemented with the ability for users to optionally select which is most appropriate for their thinking/researching/planning preference - that might be worth implementing.

I'm not the greatest person when it comes to the nuts and bolts and gears behind the scenes of operating a website, so I have no clue how easily this could be accomplished. But I'd like to throw the idea on the table for consideration.

The recent change is visually appealing, but it seems to detract from our overall experience. We think that 'useful' trumps 'pretty'.

We think that 'useful' trumps 'pretty'.
I can't agree with you more. People also disagree on what constitutes "pretty" - that's why we collect numbers after any aesthetic change, and make sure we only do things that prove to be more useful to people visiting the site. We're still in the data-gathering phase of this update, and it's almost certainly going to be tweaked in upcoming weeks - stay tuned as we test and figure out what works better. ;)

I like theme/skin options idea, but it would involve a lot of dev time. Right now we're working hard on updating the site and adding some long-awaited features - there's a (long) laundry list of functional changes to make, so building a set of style options is unfortunately down the list a bit. But as said - it's an awesome idea, and on the list!

I am more than willing to wait. This site is my favorite, hands-down. I very well understand that anything really fantastic will involve time and effort.

I have not personally been able to comprehend CSS and other skin/theme functioning, therefore my own sites use prefab plugins or do not include an option. My guess is that some big brains on the staff can implement user selectable customization. The question is whether the effort is worth investing.

I wanted to voice the idea, hoping somebody might pick it up and run with it.

Thanks for the reply.

My 2 cents - the change on the front page is a more pleasing visual layout, but I don't like the rotating thumbnails quite so much. The illusion of motion distracts my focus while eyeball browsing. It is a bit prettier than it was, though.

*sigh* Where to begin...

Ok, at the risk of not being nice, I will speak my mind.

You may have noticed the new look on our homepage and header
lol, which one? I jest, but in all seriousness, it seems now as if the front page changes every time I visit it and its a bit unsettling, so much it's almost ridiculous.

I just want to let you know there are more exciting changes coming!
Yay! Warning regulars in advance of the upcoming changes is a VERY good thing, it lets us prepare for that somewhat unsettling change so the transitions are easier.

...small site updates about every two weeks...
I like the use of the word "small" there.
Every 2 weeks? Thats pretty fast IMHO, If you intend to have the site rapidly evolve, wouldn't every other month (or more) with a 'beta' site button at the top work better? 1) it would move minuscule bug-finding over to the public, 2) it would give the dev team more time to fix the bugs, and 3) it would reduce the pressure of a deadline, allowing people to think of better ways to go about everything.

The one constant in a healthy website is change
Not really.
Healthy websites have a constant flow of visitors new and old. Google is a good example, their front page has had almost ZERO change since its inception and its one of the most healthy businesses out there! Facebook is another good one, it doesnt seem to have changed a bit and its insanely popular. Both of thous prove my counter-point: user base is what drives a healthy website. Both sites have billions of page hits from a phenominal number of unique visitors. At the rate you change the homepage, let alone the rest of the site, you'll only have facebookers and kenxers left.

and our philosophy is to test and modify based on actual results: it's incremental, hypothesis-driven website design of both function and aesthetics.
Actual results show that with each change you see a noticeable drop and a gradual increase (which then drops again with the silly changes)
"hypothesis-driven" is not the best plan, learn from your mistakes and others before you change (it doesn't seem like that happens too often though).
Both function and aesthetics seem to go down with each new round of changes, and the issue I keep hearing about small device screens not seeing any actual content without scrolling first has got to be one of the oldest problems (I don't have that one since I use Adblock Plus and its incredible) and is kind of bothersome.

Lots of small, frequent changes help us evolve the site at a comfortable pace.
Try not "evolving" for a while (6+ months), see how that works, it shouldn't lose you anybody if you do it well, in fact, it might gain people back.

Are you really telling me Facebook doesn't change? Fascinating.

Ok fine, it doesn't SEEM like it changes that much. Of course, I'm really only referring to the aesthetics from my point of view.

Well what you probably mean is the branding and look of the site- Facebook is still blue-grey, Instructables is still orange :)

What they do change is how you interact with the site, and give you new ways to annoy your friends with the minutiae of your life keep in touch with people :P

Yes, that.

...Instructables is still orange
In text, sure, but why am I no longer bombarded by the former orange glory that was the homepage and indeed almost every page?

You may need a special Greasemonkey script to achieve the full eye-bleed effect - I'd recommend aiming for the uber-orange version c. 2006.

To newbies, it's still a pretty frightening quantity of orange. ;)

I thought it was, until I got used to it, and then it disappeared. In fact, the version with the orange stuff bar was a decent balance of color come to think of it, what happened with the advertisers that made you change it to this generally meh color scheme? Did they threaten to pull out?
I like he Greasemonkey script idea, it should work out well, one question on that though, where can I find the (archived, I hope) collection of past site layouts?

P.S. Thank you guys for feedback and publicly communicating, It will make me (and possibly others that feel slighted/betrayed/muted/detested or generally made to feel like a pariah) significantly less likely to migrate to MAKE or a personal blog of some sort.

After a long-enough period of time, everything becomes background - that's the way humans are set up. Your brain adjusts to the new normal. That's why you think this color scheme is meh. I guarantee someone coming new to Instructables will still say "why is so much of that site orange?" We just hope not to punch their eyeballs out. ;) I'm not sure about the past layouts question, as I don't do any of the coding, but will ask.

By the way, we do make incredibly regular changes to the site - it's just that you don't notice 80% of them because they aren't so involved with the color/design. Out of curiosity, how does changing up the color scheme make you feel like a pariah? It's a question of personal taste, which is why we back up all changes with numerical tests to decide which way to go. Feel free to PM me if you have a longer response.

As to the question of past layouts and Instructables' relationship with advertisers, see ewhilhelm's reply in this thread.

Um, almost every time I bring up www.google.com it is different; times in the same day....

And besides, "www.google.com" doesn't contain any content - why should it change? They get tens of millions of hits a day, so they minimize the front page to reduce server load. Apples to Oranges. Instructables needs to impress first-time visitors, and a fresh, dynamic front page is one way to do that. Tons of quality content will hopefully cause those people to return.

I was commenting on: "Google is a good example, their front page has had almost ZERO change since its inception..." and yet, that is just not true.

Besides, I return to Google (instead of using Bing the Censure) because it WORKS,  and with Bunk, I can't get the answers I want....ever.

Exactly - the search query page is very simple so doesn't need to change much, though they do change the picture/doodle quite frequently.

The search RESULTS page changes (at least) daily, and in exactly the sort of hypothesis-driven testing and revising that we do. Keep an eye on where they put news, images, videos, tweets, etc in the results page - it's all over the map. They're almost certainly alpha/beta testing on all of us as well, trying to figure out what the largest number of people find the most useful.