Here’s Your Chance to Help Me Redesign HA!

Okay, now that I’m back writing at HA (at least for the moment), I’m absolutely sick of staring at it’s five-year-old design. It’s cramped and busy and the sidebars are filled with a bunch of outdated bullshit. (Yes, I know.) And it fails to take advantage of all the latest technology that allows websites to automatically resize to fit various screen sizes from desktop to tablet to phone.

So I’m doing a redesign.

Nothing fancy. Very sparse. Lots of white space. Larger text. Wider content column. Won’t win any design awards. But my goal is to make the site a lot more readable than it is today, regardless of the device you are reading it from.

And as long as I’m under the hood, there’s room for functionality improvement too, so I’m interested in hearing from the HA community what changes you might like to see implemented. For example, threaded comments? I’ve always been enamored of threaded comments, although the current chronological display has its merits too. Or how about requiring comment registration? There are available plug-ins that can enable registration via your Twitter or Facebook account, so it wouldn’t be much of a hassle.

And of course, there’s the design and layout itself. Like I said, I’m not planning anything fancy. I’m not a designer. But if you are, and you’ve got some (free) ideas, or maybe you even want to take a crack at a new (and free) logo, let me know.

Or not. One way or another I’m tossing out this tired old template.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Well, Goldy, this format is pretty easy to read, and we’re all used to it, and we know where to find links, and so on. It may be time for an update, but you also maybe want to be a little careful about how you do this — you don’t want to make it less user-friendly, know what I mean? I’ve seen a lot of websites get fucked up by redesign. If something ain’t broke, don’t fix it too much, just a little.

  2. 2

    Mirror spews:

    I agree with what RR said. Plus, I don’t mind registering, but if I have to use fb to comment, I won’t. The outdated blog roll is a fascinating museum piece. Wait two more years and students will be using it as a historical reference.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 Re Facebook, I’m not on Facebook, don’t want anything to do with Facebook, and if I have to be on Facebook to post here, I’ll be outta here. I refuse to be forced into a user relationship with Facebook.

  4. 4

    Deathfrogg spews:

    An honest pre-post preview button would be nice. I would hope maybe a way to post pictures as well.

    The design the way it is is fine, it’s low-load and free of superfluous bullshit except for that of some of the schizo-effective trolls that lurk about.

    And no goddamn FB tie-in. It just gums up the system and lets them snurp the posts for keywords and writing patterns to send people more advertising.

  5. 7

    seatackled spews:

    What are threaded comments? If that means a little pop-up window, then yes, that’s what I would want.

  6. 8


    I second the idea of a choice of threaded or non-threaded comments.

    If you move to registered comments:

    1. use authentication options that don’t feed commercial data gathering. Make sure facebook, twitter, google, etc. aren’t collecting info via your blog.

    2. Have a local account option for people who don’t do the other social media or don’t want to use the username on their, e.g., twitter account here.

    3. Consider doing what “some other” blogs do–allow unregistered comments that don’t appear by default for registered users. That way registered users can opt-in for viewing them.

  7. 11

    wl spews:

    Me too on the no Facebook registration, or at least make it optional. I’m not much of a troll, but I like to pigeon hole the different parts of my life.

  8. 12

    wl spews:

    Instead of an extra step to preview before posting, I really like the 5 minute cooling-off/editing window. Very nice.

  9. 13

    TFitz spews:

    Mostly I’d say stick to your stated goals and don’t mess with it otherwise. It would be great if you could cull/update the blogroll for the PNW (or whatever region you consider relevant for your readership). Since the demise of the P-I, I feel I get all my northwest political/public issue news from you,Blue Oregon and

  10. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 Why the hell would anyone want to receive alerts of comments posted on this blog?

  11. 17

    Calpete spews:

    Echoing resistance to tie-ins with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and all those other high-intrusion things. I’m gone if I can’t stick my nose in from time to time without having Silicon Valley participate.

    I don’t mind the current design at all. Loads quickly, easy for me to navigate, easy to read. Remember: Less is more.

  12. 19

    rob! spews:

    I save interesting posts by printing to .pdf, and your automatic formatting (CSS?) works well and looks good. Keep that. And the fact that comments append automatically when printing is fine. It’s easy enough to remove pages from the .pdf, and a good discussion is a good discussion. Check functionality with Safari’s “Reader” button as well as other common print-to-.pdf options like PrintFriendly and CleanPrint.

    Please, please avoid every kind of floating button bar, slide-out, persistent header/footer, even a floating “go to top” button. And please do not make it endlessly scrolling. “Previous” and “Next” post buttons are OK, if not really necessary—I think most people look mainly at the home page and open posts that interest them in new tabs/windows.

  13. 20


    @19 Really? I always thought the print functionality was kinda sucky, they way it would include the sidebars. Always meant to offer a print view or something.

    And what do you have against persistent headers? I was definitely considering a small persistent header, at least for wide screens.

  14. 22

    rob! spews:

    @20: Printing from Safari on Mac, the sidebars are not included, and the format flips just after the print call and before the .pdf opens in Preview, so there must be some kind of CSS action going on. I’ll send you a sample.

    A small (narrow) persistent header is OK, like Business Insider’s or Hollywood Reporter’s. That would be an acceptable place for social-media buttons. If you have to make a floating bar for social-media buttons, I’d suggest a) be sure it doesn’t ever block body text at different zoom levels, and b) put them in a container so they can be killed with AdBlock in one zap (hate it when each button has to be killed separately).

  15. 23

    Better spews:

    I would stop using this, if you tied it to Facebook/Google etc.

    A 15 minute edit window would be great.

    There are times I wished I could post images like illustrative charts, but I have seen that ruin other blogs and forums. Can you imagine the nasty ass visuals the person who pretends to be puddy would post when he’s got his rage on after he’s become pissed that nobody was paying attention to him? His text ranting are vile enough.

    Otherwise I like the simplicity of the site. It’s text, links and opinions. More would just be visual clutter.

  16. 24

    Jon Matheson spews:

    Goldy, I’m an artist and can help(for free) with a new logo. Let me know what your ideas are and I’ll work up some designs. I must agree with everyone else in saying NO to anything facebookie.

  17. 25


    To be clear folks, if I offered Twitter and Facebook login, it would only be as a login option; I would offer local login as well.

    Why offer registration and login?

    Well, for example, I might default to collapsing comments of unregistered commenters (like on Slog). Or I might offer options like the ability to choose between viewing comments threaded or unthreaded, or even personally blacklisting selected commenters. Mostly, I’d just like to assure consistency of pseudonyms.