I’ve been wrestling with how to make improvements to WUWT for a few months, considering different options such as trying out the WordPress Enterprise that I was invited into last year (which didn’t really pay for itself as many of the options didn’t work as advertised), and looking at different themes. With a website that is working well, it is always a risk making improvements because sometimes “improvements” have unintended consequences.
But, learning from our users, I’ve decided to make a small change, which is entirely reversible; here it is.
What I’ve learned from readers, both in watching the comment flow and in reading emails is that due to the volume of topics covered at WUWT, with typically 6-8 stories a day, is that some popular stories that are still active with debate, often disappear from the front page quickly.
This has to do with screen real estate. As you know, we like to make big graphs and images here in essays, such as some of the splendid graphs Willis Eschenbach produces. I’ve always felt that these large format graphics help people understand the concepts better., But they often hog the front page if they are part of the story introduction.
So I’ve come up with what I think is a good compromise that will keep interesting stories on the front page longer (where people can find them) before they scroll off the page. It will also help WUWT load faster overall.
I’m going to a capsule format on the front page. This means small sample graphics coupled with a short introduction paragraph. It gives the reader a quick overview, and if they are interested, they click through, if not, they scroll past to see other stories.
Here is a before and after view of the front page of WUWT. The numbers represent stories:
As you can see, with the new encapsulated format, I’ve been able to effectively double the number of stories in the same column space, going from about 2.5 stories visible before (story 3 is cutoff) to 5 stories afterwards.
Because of that, I’ve also been able to increase the number of stories loaded on the front page from about 15 to 25 or more before the “load more” button appears.
This change should also improve the experience for people reading WUWT on phones and tablets where a lot of scrolling was previously required to navigate the front page.
For guest authors, please note this new format. Try to make a short introductory paragraph followed by the body of your post. I’ll handle adding appropriate thumbnails where I can, drawing either from the article or our stock of clip art and previously used but relevant images.
[Added: And, there’s a new header and a slight font tweak too. If you need the font to be bigger, press CTRL+ Mouse Control Wheel forward/backwards to change size. Ctrl-Zero resets.]
While I know change isn’t always welcome, I hope this one will be an improvement for everyone.
And for those of you that don’t have a Twitter account yet, get one.
It is the easiest and most effective way to speak directly to many of the people we cover in stories and ask them questions. WUWT has reached over ten thousand followers now, and I welcome you to take part in this. https://twitter.com/wattsupwiththat