New templates launched on five of our sites!

new design 2015

After months of design and development work, this morning we launched a brand new blog template live across five of the six Offbeat Empire sites: offbeatbride.com, vendors.offbeatbride.com, offbeathome.com, offbeatfamilies.com, and offbeatempire.com. (The only site that's not yet relaunched is tribe.offbeatbride.com, which will be back on December 30th.)

This was a pretty massive undertaking, and the first major redesign we've done in five years. Perhaps even more impressive to me, my developer Kellbot managed to get this redesign launched two weeks earlier than originally planned, so that we won't have to work through New Years Eve. (That said, this earlier launch means we're going to be doing a bit of real-time cleaning-up — apologies in advance. More about that in a bit…)

I wanted to share a little bit of the thinking behind some of the aspects of the redesign, so that you understand what my goals were behind some of the changes.

Everywhere: floating nav & mobile-first design

This year, we officially slipped over the edge: there are now more of you reading via mobile than there are reading on browsers. This in mind, the sites have been designed to be more than just mobile-friendly — they were designed mobile first. For mobile readers, we want to create a reading experience with content that's more visible, and navigation that's easier to tap. The entire template has been designed for you to read on mobile.

We've also got the primary navigation of the site now floating with you as you scroll down the page. With the old design, I was always alarmed at how many people admitted to me that they never even realized the Offbeat Empire HAD navigation tabs in the header of the site. Hopefully, with this guy floating down with you, it'll be easier to keep track of each site's primary navigation.

Homepage: magazine instead of blog

homepage screenieOne of the shifts that might seem the biggest is the rejiggering of our homepage designs. Since 2007, the homepage of Offbeat Bride has assumed that you're a regular reader, and that the thing you're most interested in is the most recent posts. In 2009, most readers came in through the homepage — here in 2014, the vast majority of readers come in through post pages. And with eight years of content, I would never ever assume that Offbeat Bride's most recent posts are the most interesting to any given reader.

These things in mind, our homepage design has shifted to include the five most most recent posts, and then a guided, ever-changing tour of our archives. On Offbeat Bride, this content will change depending on where we're at in the mainstream wedding planning cycle (right now, lots of folks are talking about proposals, so we're featuring that archive on the homepage), seasonal and holiday-related content (for example, LGBT content might be extra visible for Pride Month in June), as well as our editorial focus (ie, when Game of Thrones comes back on, we'll feature that archive more prominently).

Obviously, the topical logic for Offbeat Home & Life and Offbeat Empire will be a little different, but you get the idea. Homepages now have five recent posts, and then topical tiles. (If you want the blog-style homepage, that's built in too — just click "blog" in the site navigation.)

Single post pages: tags & thumbnails

While lots has changed on the single post pages, I had two big priorities for these pages:

  • Increase the visibility of our tag archives
  • Ensure that every page gives a visual navigation of other posts to read

Tags

I've always been obsessed with tags, and all 10,000 of the Empire's posts are obsessively tagged with relevant topics. The bummer here? Our tags were listed at the end of posts, where very few readers noticed them. In our old design, each post ended stuff like, "Read more about: nebraska, lgbt, jewish." Inevitably, someone would comment saying things like "I wish we could see more Nebraska weddings," and I'd be like "THE LINK TO OUR NEBRASKA ARCHIVE IS RIGHT THERE."

First solution: move tags to the very tippy top of the post, right up there under the title.

Second very small solution to increase reader understanding of how our tags work: format them as hashtags. "Nebraska," listed at the end of the post means nothing — but #nebraska linked at the top gives you a very quick indication that you can read more Nebraska posts with a click. And have you SEEN the tag archive pages? Suddenly they're gorgeous and actually look like a page you're meant to use.

Wall of thumbnails

Ah, Pinterest. You've trained us well. Who wants to see a bunch of words? WORDS!? Bah. We want to see a wall of images to help us navigate, and so now post pages feature way more thumbnails to help you make a choice about what next to read. Gone are the stupid "next post / previous post" text navigation links — now you can see thumbnails and titles for previous and next posts. There's also a whole chunk of awesome posts you might next enjoy reading, for easy clicking or tapping.

Offbeat Families: not embarrassing!

Let's talk about Offbeat Families for a minute: the site retired from actively publishing posts in September of 2013. As part of the shift, we did a bare-bones homepage that was functional but not especially attractive. While Offbeat Families remains an archive, the new homepage is SO MUCH BETTER. It shows post thumbnails from the most popular tag archives, dynamically produced every time the page loads. Even as the site's publisher (who read every single post ever published) I'm discovering tons of stuff I'd forgotten about via the new homepage. It's hawt.


Now, I'm guessing y'all have a few responses to this redesign, and I'm guessing I know what they might be:

WAIT THIS THING IS BROKEN

First thing's first: if the page just looks all sorts of weird, clear your browser's cache. The old styling might be barfing all over the new styling, and clearing your cache should fix that.

Second, since we pushed this redesign live two weeks early, yeah: there will be some stuff broken. When I say "broken," I don't mean you don't like how it looks — I mean straight up busted. Dead links, text that runs off the page, navigation that's not functioning. We've been testing this design for months on our staging server, but there's stuff that slips through the cracks and absolutely mistakes that are going to show up.

What to do:

If you find something that's broken, leave a comment on this post following this format:

  • Browser you're using:
  • URL where you saw weirdness:
  • What's weird:
  • Bonus points for using a tool like awesomescreenshot.com to link a screenshot of the weirdness!

We'll be working non-stop the next couple days to clean up the little bugs that slipped through.

WAIT THIS THING IS DIFFERENT

Yep, it's different, and change is terrifying. I've been terrified for months. We're all terrified. That said, I tried to ensure that there were some redesign security blankets scattered about for those of you who want them. For those of you who prefer old-style the homepage, just click "Blog" in the nav bar. That'll take you to the page that shows the most recent posts, just like the old homepage. You can even bookmark it if you want:

Some of you might also be used to the way we used to list all the Offbeat Empire sites at the very tip top of the page. You can still navigate between the different sites — now you just go on a guided tour. The nav of Offbeat Bride links you to Offbeat Home & Life. The nav of Offbeat Home & Life links you to Offbeat Families. The nav of Offbeat Families links you to Offbeat Empire, which links you back to Offbeat Bride. Yep, it's different, but you can still browse through the Empire network through the navigation bar.

UPDATE 12/19: After a LOT of reader feedback (and probably too much willy-nilly menu editing from me), here's what I'm settling on: selected sites are linked in the top navigation (based on reader usage patterns), but then for longtime reader convenience, ALL sites are linked in the footer of every page. When you finish reading one Offbeat Empire blog, you can scroll to the bottom of any blog page and click to view the next blog you wish to read. Now all blogs are linked from all blogs.

Despite these accommodations, there are going to be some of you who hate some of these shifts.

What to do:

Give it a week or two to settle in. If, after two weeks, there's a design shift that you just can't adjust to, then email me directly. I can't make everyone love this new design, but if there's something with the new design that you just can't get over, I want to hear about it.


Before I wind this epic post down, I want to give epic massive props to the team of people who worked on this redesign:

  • Kristy Haines, the longtime Offbeat Empire reader who's also an awesome web designer in Perth, Australia, who made this whole thing look great.
  • Catherine Clark, who many of you might know as an Offbeat Bride editor and our former Sales Manager, who it turns out has major project management experience and wrangled the fuck out of this project.
  • Kelly Maguire: our tireless lead developer who has spent months in the digital trenches untangling webs that were woven years ago, and has done amazing work with the enormous scope of coding designs that make 10,000 posts look solid on thousands of different kinds of devices.

So much love and appreciation to this amazing team of women. Managing a redesign is not my strong suit, this team made it way less painful than it would have been otherwise. Friends, thank you.

UPDATE 12/22: In the interest of streamlining feedback, I'm going to close comments on this one and direct any new bugs to this post: http://offbeatempire.com/redesign-maintenance-release-1-1

  1. Yay! Mobile looks pretty snazzy so far. I'll go do some exploring now. πŸ˜€

    4 agree
  2. I love it! I confess to about two minutes of "Ugh, this is different, and I fear change," but the new look is so clean and pretty, and the content is so much more visible now. It's awesome. And I really like the way the comments look now.

    The link to Offbeat Families on the nav bar at the top of Offbeat Home and Life isn't working (it is just "offbeatfamilies/" instead of "offbeatfamilies.com/".

    7 agree
  3. *stands and applauds* The change at first freaked me out (because change freaks me out), but reading all the stuff you've done to make it more accessible just makes me really happy. Good job!

    4 agree
  4. Maybe I'm missing it, but on my iPad, I can't find links between sites – like from home to bride to empire — not with one click, anyway. I had to jump around a lot to find this (via a 'staff' link, which I didn't expect but maybe for a new user makes sense?). Basically, I miss the bar at the top showing alllllll the empire sites bec. I love 'em all πŸ™‚

    4 agree
    • The site navigation on tablets is up there in the menu in the top left — although as I said in the post, it's a little different:

      Some of you might also be used to the way we used to list all the Offbeat Empire sites at the very tip top of the page. You can still navigate between the different sites β€” now you just go on a guided tour. The nav of Offbeat Bride links you to Offbeat Home & Life. The nav of Offbeat Home & Life links you to Offbeat Families. The nav of Offbeat Families links you to Offbeat Empire, which links you back to Offbeat Bride. Yep, it's different, but you can still browse through the Empire network through the navigation bar.

      • I am finding this very hard to adjust to, but I will wait as requested. My likely work-around will probably just be to go ahead and make a bookmark to Offbeat Empire. I have a bookmark to Offbeat Home & Life, from which I'd click to visit Offbeat Empire.

        I do realize this is old-school internet use – I like to actually visit pages and check for updates (more surprise and better for addictive time wasting), rather than wait to see what gets updated via a newsfeed or rss. So, I get that I'm not a typical user.

        Other than that, I love the new look!

        9 agree
        • Thanks for your willingness to give it a shot!

          I feel like I might be misunderstanding your concern a bit, though… you can still do what you're describing: the homepage of each site has the site's 5 most recent posts, and if you're willing to go on the nav bar "tour" (Bride > Home > Fams > Empire) then you can still click through the network of sites to read them one by one.

          Is the issue that you miss the combination of A) All Empire sites being linked in the nav of all sites and B) the "recent" page being the homepage, with more recent posts to view?

          I do have room to add Offbeat Empire to the Offbeat Home nav though… I'll go ahead and do that now. πŸ™‚

          3 agree
          • I miss being able to go from Offbeat Home & Life to Offbeat Empire in one click. I don't regularly check Offbeat Bride, and Offbeat Families doesn't have new content, so I don't want to go on the full "tour." I think I might already be getting over it, though . . .

            Edit: Woah, wait, did the Offbeat Home & Life nav bar just change? Thanks?!

            8 agree
          • Yep! I had room to add Offbeat Empire, so even though there are only a tiny few of you who read it, you have a direct link.

            20 agree
  5. It looks great on my tiny little phone! Much easier to read πŸ™‚ I didn't find the nav options on my own and typed in the websites to browse but I'll give them a try

    1 agrees
    • The nav options for mobile are up there in the top left menu button, similar to how they were before. πŸ™‚

      • Second the HUGE. Also, it's something about the shade of blue on the reply on the Empire page that makes it seem more prominent than the light teal on OBB.

        5 agree
  6. I'm having a problem with the "reply" buttons in the Tribe Survival thread over on OBB. I'm using IE9 (I KNOW, but I'm at work!). I wanted to reply to my thread about the corset I want to sell, but I couldn't get the button to work.

    • First: did you clear your cache?

      If so, can you give me a bit more detail about what the button did? Was it completely non-responsive? Did it change color? The more details you can provide, the better we can troubleshoot. πŸ™‚

      • It IS fixed! At least, it works in Google Chrome version 39.0.2171.95m. I will check tomorrow when I'm back at work! Thank you for keeping this site as user friendly as possible for this over 40 "chick" who doesn't always understand how that "newfangled" interwebs actually works!

        1 agrees
  7. I love the new look! Agreeing with the earlier poster that at first I was like "blehhh, new thing that I have to get used to, not into it," but it's so streamlined and easy to use. Awesome work, guys.

    1 agrees
  8. The floating nav makes me want to weep with joy. Awesome job, guys.

    6 agree
  9. On my iphone and iPad there's no way that I'm seeing to navigate from Home and life to Bride. I don't know if that's intentional or not. I was able to get to Family and Empire though!

    1 agrees
    • We don't have the room to link all sites from all navs, hence this concept of a guided tour. You can get from Bride > Families > Home > Empire > Bride, but the design just doesn't have the capacity to link all sites to all sites. (And honestly, a very small number of people read all the sites)

      That said, I may be tweaking the nav bars… it may be that it makes the most sense for Home to only link to Bride and Empire, instead of Families. I'm going to give it a few days to settle in.

      For now, you can click to Bride from the top of Offbeat Home's sidebar!

      1 agrees
  10. Wow, these changes are gorgeous! Families looks lovely, and the magazine-style layout is really nice for the other sites too when I run out of new content. I appreciate that you left that "Blog" link for the older style too. Oh, and I love the new comment timestamps–"1 hour ago" or "1 year ago" is so much easier to process than a specific date and time listing! And the next/previous buttons with actual article titles and pictures! And the tags at the front! So much to love here…

    I do have a few small critiques, though. On my small Chromebook the sliding header feels really large, almost a quarter of the vertical page space. It's nice on my bigger screens (haven't tried it on mobile yet), but maybe there could be a way to collapse or shrink it? (I know, I know, easy-peasy.) I'll probably be able to get used to it or use full-screen mode, but right now it feels like it gets in the way if I don't want to scroll constantly or there's a long paragraph or something.

    The other thing is the "0 agree" when no one has hit the "THIS!" button yet. It's a little…sad? That's a really minor one though. And I liked being able to navigate to any site from any other site, but I can see why you did it the new way. I'm sure I'll find some new ways to get there fast, like the links in Home's little intro blurb.

    1 agrees
    • Thanks so much for this thoughtful feedback!

      As for the "sliding header," are you referring to the featured post at the on the Homepages? It's set to be responsive depending on the size of your screen so that it's not too overpowering. Do you want to share a screenshot so I can see how it's looking for you?

      As for the "0 agree" thing — I'm tooootally with you. That's an easy revision for us to make.

      2 agree
      • Here you go! (I tried out that Awesome Screenshot extension; it's cool!) By "sliding header" I mean what you probably call the navbar. The image shows how much of the page is visible on an 11.6" screen. It looks a lot better when I hit the fullscreen button (F11 on a lot of systems), but that's what I start with!

        1 agrees
        • Ah, yes! That's called the "persistent nav bar," and you're seeing that somewhat awkward mid-width view. That design is the intended behavior, but I agree with you that it could be improved upon. I'll tuck this in my design issues to reconsider in coming weeks — thanks for the feedback!

          • I absolutely LOVE the new design in pretty much every way, but I agree with Jackie on the floating navigation bar thing – on my 13" macbook screen, even with the browser window as large as possible, it feels like it's covering up a ton of content, making me wish I could rotate my whole computer like an iPad to see more vertical space. Essentially I can only see one comment at a time. It would be cool if it could be collapsed to the top or something, so you could expand it only when you need it once you've scrolled down (says the reader who knows nothing about web design and has no idea how difficult such a thing would be).

            Awesome work on the new site though, y'all are the best!!!

            2 agree
      • For the "0 agree" maybe you could just put "0 people love you" or "0 paid attention" or even just a plain "Go Fuck Yourself". πŸ˜‰

        9 agree
        • Or "FUCK NO!" It would match "FUCK YEAH!" nicely; just sayin…

          3 agree
        • HAAAAAHAHAHAHihihvusduaf

          Thank you, I needed that laugh.

          Also: 0 Fucks Were Given

          8 agree
  11. Ariel, just wanted to chime in about the header/featured post. I'm not sure how large it's supposed to be, but for me it's taking up nearly the entire visible portion of the page, and it does feel overpowering (it's the only thing I don't like about the redesign!). I took a screenshot of the Offbeat Home homepage: http://awesomescreenshot.com/01441m1q9b

    This is on Firefox 34.0.5 for Mac.

    3 agree
    • That's the intended size as designed, and yes, it is HUGE. I agree that it's pretty enormous, but I'm going to let it settle in for a bit.

      1 agrees
  12. HOLY CRAP EVERYTHING LOOKS DIFFERENT!

    Sorry, I loaded up Offbeat Home, felt the need to post that and decided this blog was the more appropriate place. I will now calm down and actually read all the relevant (and irrelevant!) information.

    5 agree
  13. Weird this doesn't appear to be letting me comment within the thread above (now I'm on Firefox 31.3.0 for PC, fyi). I did get the 'tour' concept before, but I don't like it. I can see how it's great for newer users being introduced to the different sites, but having read the empire blogs for however many years, I just want nav to go where I want to get to, y'know? I usually go from OBHL to Bride to Empire but sometimes from Home to Empire to Bride, & sometimes if I'm feeling like some eyecandy, I go straight to Bride. I can bookmark, of course, or put all of 'em in my newsreader (old school!), I don't mean to be all special snowflakey. Just reporting πŸ™‚

    2 agree
    • Weird this doesn't appear to be letting me comment within the thread above (now I'm on the latest Firefox for PC, fyi).

      If I'm understanding you correctly, this isn't a bug, but rather our long-time setting of only allowing comment threads to go 5 deep:
      http://offbeatempire.com/cant-reply

      I did get the 'tour' concept before, but I don't like it.

      I totally understand. I used that top left nav bar a lot too.

      I did a lot of consulting with my stats on this particular design decision, and the reality is that less than .5% of Offbeat Bride's readers and less than 2% of Offbeat Home's readers read Offbeat Empire. We had that built-in navigation for many years, and only the tiniest fraction of the Empire's most committed readers ever used it.

      Now, those readers are my most favorite community members — I've know y'all's names and faces for years! I love you all! That said, from a design perspective, it just doesn't make sense to build navigation catered to such a small slice of readers. One of my goals here was to keep the pages relatively clean, and part of that was simplifying the navigation.

      But there's also a pragmatic issue: Offbeat Empire is updated once a week, at the most — why would I prioritize making it easy for readers navigate to a site with so few new posts? And finally, this nav change marks a strategic shift: That old top-left nav bar was a relic from a different era of the Empire. An era when each weekday, there were 4 Offbeat Empire sites with new posts. That's just not my business model any more.

      Anyhoo! More than you ever wanted to know, I know. I'm doing the best I can to offer alternate methods for getting around, but ultimately bookmarks or a reader may be your best bet.

      1 agrees
      • The reply problem was mid-thread, not the 5-deep limit, & it seems to be ok now (I tried to click & the reply button worked; prob. similar to the reply button issues that had been going on).

        Oh & I get the not putting every single thing in the nav, esp. Empire (that one being an insidery niche). It's more, for me, going directly from Home to Bride, which I realize is me being backwards & not following the more-obvious readership path. Having worked on UI & site architecture, I go back & forth about "let's show everything!" & "nobody but you cares!" HAHAHAHAH *headdesk*

        2 agree
      • I love how it looks but just want to say that Empire is possibly my favourite site of all! is that weird? I love the behind the scenes-ness. and it makes me want to be entrepreneurial, even though I am the world's least entrepreneurial person.

        2 agree
    • I agree with Trystan, especially now that there's a fancy floating navbar (which I love!) I want a link to go to the site I want, not (for instance) have to navigate through H&L to get to the Empire blog from Bride. That's my only issue so far, and I realise that it was an intentional change on your part so you may not want to get rid of it, but it seems like a strange way to dictate the way people explore the sites. I would sort of understand if the Empire blog was 'hidden' as it's more of a back-end/niche interest thing, but to have it linked from some places and not others is a little strange IMO. Also a little annoying to not have a direct link back to Bride from H&L. I used the navbar links on the old site all the time to switch between all the sites, so this is going to be a change in how I read the blogs!

      • Yeah, I completely hear that the inconsistency is definitely an issue.

        I've been working on this since 5am this morning, so I'mma make one last tweak and then say I'm too crispy to make any other decisions today (or even this week), but thank you guys so much for the feedback. I'll be continuing to think about this issue.

        • I wasn't liking this too, but I just discovered the wee text at the bottom of each page that has links to all the offbeat sites! Have you just put that in? Works great – I finished the post I was reading, wants to go to OBE, scrolled all the way down and clicked once. Don't mind that it's tiny, makes sense as you've explained that not many people want to navigate ALL the sites every day.

          • Yep, I edited this post on Friday to note the update to this (hopefully final) solution. Sorry for all the fiddling on this issue. Glad to hear this is working for you!

  14. When I got to OBH, as I always go there first, I was like "WTF IS THIS RIGHT?" and then remembered y'all's redesign.

    I'm a sucker for clean design and I'm so happy with this. Well done.

    I haven't found any bugs (yet). Chrome user, here.

    1 agrees
    • Found one —

      I had to manually type in to go to the Empire Blog because the link is missing from the top nav bar. Is there a secondary nav I'm not seeing?

      • All blogs are now linked in the footer of every page, both on browser and mobile view. (I updated the blog post on Friday with some info.)

  15. OMG, after looking at the sites off & on for an hour, I just realized what's missing: THE ARTWORK!!! The funky cartoon brides!!! The funky cartoon houses!!! Ok, the brides are kinda still there in a tiny little header on the right rail with "Altar Your Thinking." The yurt / apt / house have practically disappeared, hidden behind creepy spotted "Where Awesome Lives" girl. I never followed Families enough to remember its art but that's entirely gone the way of the do-do. Sadness.

    Will there be a wake? Where can we send flowers?

    (I'm not totally freaked out, just memorializing, mostly πŸ˜‰ )

    4 agree
    • While the illustrations have disappeared from the headers, they're still woven throughout all the sites — see how many places you can find them! Static pages, Social media follow modules… they're tucked in over the place. πŸ™‚

      3 agree
  16. I love the way things look, so far. I haven't played around with it too much, but I would like to say one VERY important thing: THANK YOU for making the share buttons at the bottom of the page SMALLER on the mobile site. I do still wish they were GONE entirely, but I suppose they make sense for some readers so I'm certainly not going to demand that y'all get rid of them just because I share content from the OBH differently than others do.

    Hokay. Praise aside, I found a broken thing. It's the "Recommended for you" widget thingamabob that pops up on the side once you've scrolled down towards the end of the article.
    And I used awesomescreenshot to document it! (thanks for introducing me to that service btw. IDK how I lived without it!) http://awesomescreenshot.com/02c41o6af6

    Tech-wise, I'm running Mac OS Yosemite, with Safari 8. I cleared my cache and it's still acting squirrelly. Sometimes it doesn't appear when I expect it to, but if I happen to hit the arrow to make it go UP, I can't get it to go AWAY. Sometimes I really appreciate that recommended for you widget, but if I've already read the article or it's not piquing my interest from the title, I want to make it go away.

    • Oh interesting. That's a bug with AddThis (the tool that serves up that function). I'll report it to them.

      1 agrees
  17. I really like the new look and feel! I was really confused about the navigation and why I couldn't find a link to here, but I appreciate that you put it in the header of Home & Life. I think that it'll take some getting used to, but I really like it! It also looks nice on my phone. πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  18. Congrats on the new design! I don't love all of it, but most of it, and we all get used to new stuff quickly, right?
    Two things are important to me:

    1. On the OBHL home page, when I click on "more recent posts", the page reloads and throws me back to the top of the site, so I have to scroll down past the 5 recent posts I've already seen to get to the "more recent posts" I requested. Is there any way you guys could let me stay where I was, just adding posts?
    Sorry for not expressing myself better, not a native speaker. I hope you know what I mean – like in disqus, when you load more comments.

    2. I've read the comments above and see that you changed the nav bar so we can go to Bride in one click instead of Families. Well… I actually don't read Bride anymore since my wedding, because I'm afraid I'll get wedding remorse, like "Whoa, that's so cool, I wish I'd done that" and "Ooh, I'm bummed I didn't think of that – now I can't have another wedding" – you know?
    However, I started reading the Families archives when I got pregnant last year, and I was sad not to see a direct link. I was actually afraid that you had scrapped the whole site, since it's not active anymore and you redecorated! Truthfully, I clicked over to the Empire to find out what happened to Families. Turns out it's still there – I just can't see it anymore when browsing OBHL. That's sad.

    I noticed that a lot of the comments refer to the nav bar and the "missing links". I wonder if this really important to the community and you might consider redesigning the nav bar so there is a spot for all of the sister sites. On the other hand, the comments might be biased, because the only people commenting here are the ones who read all of the sites? You might be able to assess this properly when looking at the site statistics.

    Finally, just wanted to let you know that I've been reading these sites for years and am a devoted fan. I'll stay with you until one of us ceases to exist. πŸ™‚ Nice to see you guys evolve.
    Offbeat loooooove! <3

    1 agrees
    • I will cop to being another one who regularly used those links, but since I mostly only regularly read Home and Empire, and I already had both bookmarked, so its not too hard for me to learn to adjust. I will say, however, that when I tried to go on the tour to check out the different arts on the sites, I couldn't find Families linked to on any of the other sites. It seems to have been taken off the tour.

      1 agrees
      • Yeah, I did a bunch of shuffling, and things are little messy right now. I have not figured out the solution yet (1% of beloved longtime readers wanting intrasite nav! 99% of readers not caring at all! me wanting clean menus!) so I'm just sort of stepping away from it for now to give myself some space to figure it out.

        1 agrees
  19. I was a so scared the first few times I opened OffbeatHome that I had to close it again and try again later. (Everything felt so BIG) But once I finally committed, it only took me two minutes to feel like I've got the new design figured out, and I already like it a lot! Good work everybody!

    I wonder if it would be useful to make the submissions link part of the Navbar? That's the one thing I feel like I had to look around quite a bit to find. But that may be me just wishing everybody would submit more so I have more deliciousness to read.

    • The SUBMIT link is in the top right nav on both Offbeat Bride and Offbeat Home, near the Contact… so there's definitely a logic to it being up there.

      The only downside with that top right nav is that mobile folks don't see it — but folks on mobile aren't generally submitting guestposts.

      • Oh, that's interesting – for me, on my 22" monitor, that bar is so small compared to everything else, and the blue on black so hard to see (although now that I see it, it is pretty!), that I never even saw that bar

        • Yeah, improving visibility on that font is a priority.

  20. The new design is going to take some getting used to. After using it for a while, most things seem to work well and I like the overall design. Just a couple things that still aren't quite working for me.

    First, the header images on the home pages just seem too big. They take up a large amount of the screen without providing much information, and many of the graphics look not so great when stretched to those dimensions. (Also some of the images are cropped oddly to fit the shape, for example I'm looking at a headless sloth on Offbeat Empire's home page.) Might you consider making the header smaller, or displaying more than one post at once in the header to make better use of the space?

    Second I really do miss the navigation bar that allowed me to navigate directly between all the sites. However, you've added enough buttons that I can make it work as is. (I'm glad I can go directly between Home and Empire.)

    Overall though it looks great, and I really like way tags are more prominent in this design.

    2 agree
    • Looks like now there is no link from Offbeat Home & Life to Offbeat Empire, though there is one from Offbeat Empire to Offbeat Home & Life. Any chance the Empire link could return to Home? If not, I'll try checking the site in the other order and that should work.

  21. The link to the body image archive from the "read more" button on the Offbeat Home & Life page is actually linked just to offbeathome.com instead of to the tag archive.

    Liking all the changes a lot ! (Can you tell I'm procrastinating from grading?)

    • Thank you for catching that! Fixed. πŸ™‚

      1 agrees
  22. The comments will not display for any of the Offbeat Families articles when I use Chrome. When I click to toggle comments, I see the URL adds #comments, but the comments don't show. I am using a Mac OS 10.9.5 and Chrome 39.0.2171.95 (64-bit). Clearing my cache didn't help. Safari and Firefox both show the comments just fine. I haven't encountered any problems in Chrome with the Offbeat Empire or Home articles so far.

  23. I saw the redesign on my phone first, and I clicked into a post with the affiliate notice at the top, and it was like BAM! AFFILIATES! — I think it's great! I personally always saw the affiliates/sponsor notification in the old design, but I remember a lot of people didn't, and I think it's way more noticeable now without being totally obnoxious (the color is preeeeetty). So, well done on that and thanks for reading my random comment.

  24. I can't find a link to Offbeat Families? I figured at first that was intentional since it's an archived site and you were done with it, but that's not the impression I get from this post so with all the real estate I'm surprised it's not just linked at the top.
    Anyway, your site, your design, but to me it's all a bit big with the pictures overtaking the content. I just want to scroll through the blog and see what's new to read. I know in another week I won't even remember how it was, but not gonna lie, I read at work and big pics are NSFW regardless of what they are.
    Anyway, well done in what was no doubt a monster of a coding and design project!

    1 agrees
    • Jo, based on a HUGE amount of feedback, here's the current navigation:

      Selected sites are linked in the top navigation (these are based on my reader behavior statistics ), and then ALL sites are linked in the footer of every page. When you finish reading one blog, just scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the next you wish to read. It's not perfect, but I'm trying to strike a balance between navigation real estate, and usability.

      Apologies to everyone for all the shuffles with this. This is a case of where it's easy for me to change, and I allowed myself to get overwhelmed by feedback and made too many changes too quickly. I've locked menus for now, and will not be making further changes, so I can let this current configuration settle in.

      1 agrees
  25. So, not sure if this is related to all the changes going on, but it looks like for most days OBH is only doing one post a day…sad if this is not just due to y'all being busy spiffying things up.

    1 agrees
  26. It's that time of year where I donate to my fave sites/orgs instead of buying anyone Christmas presents! However, I found the OBHL Support page, but when I click on the Support Now button it doesn't work. It just opens the image/button in another tab. I'm using Chrome. I just went to the Tugboat Yards site instead.

    • Ooh, thanks for the heads-up. I'll touch base with Tugboat Yards to see what broke over there.

      (ALSO, thank you so much for supporting the site! It's so very much deeply appreciated… especially in this week of 16-hour work days.)

      1 agrees
  27. When I'm not in fullscreen (using Firefox 34.0.5), the nav bar becomes thicker because the search box wraps. I'm not sure you'd classify this as a bug, and I don't know if there's a simple fix, but it is kind of annoying to have it take up so much of the page.

    Here are some screengrabs of it both ways: http://imgur.com/a/Noft5

    I really wasn't a fan of this new design because it felt like there were just two huge things on the main page when you first land (I pretty much always have my browser smaller than fullscreen) but now I see it's because of this resizing thing. My accidental fullscreening really changed my perspective on this! The new design looks nice, just not in my non-fullscreened browser!

    • Yeah, the nav bar is doing its best to adapt to the width of your browser, and there's no denying there are some midsize browser widths that display a little awkwardly. There's not a quick solution for it on our end (although we're working on a long term solution that might take a while to implement), but a quick workaround is either to have your browser bigger, or smaller. πŸ™‚

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