OTB Redesign

It’s been three years since we last did a facelift on the site and the impending release of WordPress 3 and some ongoing code-related performance issues with the site made it time for a new look.

We’ve kept much of the branding and coloring but the layout is quite a bit different. It’ll likely take a while for you — and us — to get used to it.

Use the comments below to let us know if you’re seeing performance issues or are missing particular features from OTB 2.0 and we’ll see about adding them to the list.  There’s a minor tweak coming next month as we integrate all of the OTB Media sites into the new WordPress multi-site setup.

FILED UNDER: OTB History
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Brett says:

    How does this affect your RSS Feed? Will it show all the new content, or just certain parts of it?

  2. Steve says:

    Uggh. HATE the partial posts. I am not an RSS guy, so I don’t know it affects that, but I HATE having to click on individual posts to read them. I much preferred scrolling down through each post on the one page. My 2 cents.

  3. tom p says:

    Count me with Steve… Uggh! Tho to be honest, my biggest beef is, “I just got used to it! Now you change it?”

    I hate computers… and the internets…. and all things that change faster than I age…. grumble, grumble….

  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    don’t like the partial posts.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    My biggest gripe about the new format is the fixed-width page. My own blog utilizes a fixed width format but I don’t have two columns of advertising. That, coupled with the excerpt format, makes OTB a bit harder to read than the old format did.

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    The partial posts do make it a bit harder to read, I agree. However with the slurry of new OTB Contributors, and the increase in articles we’ve seen (thanks largely to Doug) this does make it easier to browse all that’s going on.

    On the subject of site wonkiness, pictures will no longer show up (and haven’t for a few weeks). It says I do not have permission to view pictures. I decided it was a fluke, and since it didn’t really affect the information, I’ve ignored it. I was curious if others have had this problem though.

  7. tom p says:

    I was curious if others have had this problem though.

    Neil, not me.

    ps: I hate having to click thru to read a post. If it is worth writing, it is worth having on the “front page.”

  8. Boyd says:

    Although I mostly read the blog through Google Reader, I often come to the site itself to read comments and, on occasion, add my own comments. So first off, if you hadn’t posted about it, I wouldn’t have known there was a change until I came to your site to read or post comments.

    Secondly, I notice the absence of a byline on posts on the main page. It appears that there’s no way to know who authored a given post without clicking through to the post itself. Without this feature, I wouldn’t know which of Alex’s posts to skip (just kidding, Alex, just picking on you).

  9. John Burgess says:

    I’d prefer that full posts–unless extraordinarily long–be available on the front page. It’s a nuisance to have to click through. The lack of bylines on the front page is also a bother.

    Neither of these are killers, but make OTB less accessible.

  10. James Joyner says:

    Brett: RSS shouldn’t be affected.

    Steve, Tom, et. al Partial posts are a way to manage the large amount of content. Almost all of the major sites that post a lot of posts that are more than a paragraph use some version of magazine format.

    Dave: My designer swears that we’re supposed to design for the modal reader. But I may push back, as I prefer the flexibility of non-fixed myself.

    Neil: I’ll have my guy look into it but photos are showing for me. And there’s certainly no reason they should have stopped before today, since the old theme hadn’t been edited. Hmm.

    Boyd and John: Quite odd: There’s a byline on all the front page posts except the very top one, which I’ll get fixed.

  11. Boyd says:

    If the bylines were there before, I somehow overlooked them. Maybe I was just going by the top story and scanning the rest too quickly.

  12. yetanotherjohn says:

    Perhaps a compromise on the partial posts. Give full posts for the last 24 hours (or 6 posts or whatever) worth of posts and partial posts for the older stuff. It is bad enough to push me to looking for a different “political center” blog. Your past practice of having a jump to the full post after their being enough to get a good feel for the article made a lot more sense.

  13. Brian Knapp says:

    I think that it will take a while for me to get the content flow, but I like the magazine format quite a bit. I agree that it is necessary with the amount of content that’s been going up lately.

  14. Bill H says:

    Whatever the theory about the partial posts and having to click to read the full posts, my theory is that the purpose of the design is to show more on the main page and to create the impression of being a newspaper rather than a blog. It loses the sense of a personal connection, it creates a sense of an attempt at grandiosity, and it causes me to gradually quit coming to the blog. Not because I boycott it, but because I just feel no longer personally connected to the person doing it. That has happened with Huffington and with Salon, places I not longer visit much if at all. They are just big places whose writers are no more personal to me than are the writers of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    If my pattern repeats, I’ll keep coming here and will read the headlines and the visible portions of posts, and will click through and actually read about one or two out of ten for a while. Then I will come here and read the headlines only, and will quit reading the “leads” because it’s too annoying to read the opening paragraph of an article and more often than not be unable to determine from that what the article is actually about. Then, having decided that the headlines are pretty much unilluminating, I will quit coming here at all.

  15. Dantheman says:

    I agree about the lack of partial posts. I would also add that not having a way to see if there are any new comments on a post is annoying, as if you are in a back-and-forth in the comments, there is no way to know if there is a new response without clicking on the post.

  16. James Joyner says:

    Perhaps a compromise on the partial posts. Give full posts for the last 24 hours (or 6 posts or whatever) worth of posts and partial posts for the older stuff.

    I think we’ll either go down that road or perhaps have a “Read More” expandability option.

    I would also add that not having a way to see if there are any new comments on a post is annoying

    You can actually check “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.” But we’ve got a comment counter on the post page, so maybe we can add it to the main page.

  17. Teri says:

    I also dislike the partial posts. The site I love best is Shakesville. They have a button at the bottom of a post called “open wide” and it reveals the rest of the post. That way you can look at all the different offerings and decide which you want to open as you read. This way I click on a post and have it open in a new tab. It makes reading multiple posts from a particular source very bulky. Just my .02.
    Teri

  18. anjin-san says:

    Not a fan of the partial posts. Some graphics look like they are incorrectly sized in Mac Snow Leopard/Safari.

  19. Steve Plunk says:

    I’ve struggled with how to say it but change like this is irritating as all hell to me. No offense to our host and the contributors but sometimes just leaving things alone is the best policy.

  20. tfr says:

    Another opinion against partial posts. Not worth all the trouble to click each one, which means I won’t be reading many of them. I liked the consecutive format better – easier to keep track of what you’ve already read.

  21. Rick Almeida says:

    Another opinion against partial posts. Not worth all the trouble to click each one, which means I won’t be reading many of them. I liked the consecutive format better – easier to keep track of what you’ve already read.

    Pretty much this. IMO, the new OTB looks a lot like Salon.com does now.

  22. Grewgills says:

    I am also annoyed by the partial posts.

    I think we’ll either go down that road or perhaps have a “Read More” expandability option.

    I was actually going to suggest this as a compromise. It worked well for the particularly long or the few not work friendly posts before.

  23. Dantheman says:

    “You can actually check “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.” ”

    Yes, but that requires me to give you my actual e-mail address, something I don’t do at any site.

    Also, I thought that only applied if I made a comment, not if I am just silently following the discussion.

  24. sam says:

    Hmm … no edit feature for comments before posting?

  25. Bert Adams says:

    Do not like th partial posts. Too hdazrd to find what to read