Brand New Web Site, Before and After

When we launched Brand New back in October 2006 I have to admit that I haphazardly put the blog together. I wanted to do it quick and painless, not knowing or assuming that it would become our flagship blog. 30 months, 420-plus posts and 25,000-plus comments later, it was time to give Brand New a relative taste of its own medicine and we decided to redesign it. Following are the improvements we made.

Design
Nothing major here. The layout is basically the same size and the elements remain constant. We ditched the bright blue in favor of black and gray, because it would sometimes compete with the logos. The Brand New logo is a little smaller. We have introduced the sans serif companion, Apex New, to the logo’s Apex Serif.

Hierarchy
We’ve made some visual adjustments to make the post themselves a bit clearer, with the author’s name right above the title of the post, and new styles to clearly define quotes and captions.

Title Link
A lot of people have asked us to turn the title of the posts into a link for the post, which is common practice, but we hadn’t implemented it before, so there you have it.

Voting!
Months ago when we had the discussion about comment etiquette, one of the things that kept coming up was some of sort of quick release of opinion through a voting mechanism. So with our limited technological know-how of complex things like voting mechanisms, we came up with a simple add-on to each post where you can quickly vote as well as see the results by totals and percentage. Every post from now on will have the voting; for the most part you will always have the option to vote on concept and execution separately, and every now and then we will throw in a third question that is more specific to the post. We hope this adds a fun layer to the Brand New experience and encourage you to vote whether you are commenting or not.

Threaded Commenting
This is the biggest change and one that we will be testing for some days to see how everyone likes it. This new commenting system is powered by Movable Type’s TypePad Connect which allows for a little more interactivity between comments and also more personalization for those that want it. You can sign in to comment on Brand New through TypePad with any of the following sign-ups: A TypePad account (free, of course), an existing Facebook account, a Google account, and a few other options. No Twitter yet, so hopefully in an upcoming update to TypePad. Or you don’t even need to have an account, you can just comment without registering.

One of the limitations of TypePad Connect is that you can only see 100 comments at a time, with a “Click here to see the rest of the comments” link at the bottom of the thread; since we regularly reach 100 comments we will see how this feels. Do let us know what you think.

Feedback
If you see anything wonky or some other modest change you would like to see, feel more than welcome to comment on it.

Thanks
A special thanks to Anil Dash and his team at MovableType for helping us set up TypePad Connect and modify it to fit our readers’ habits. And, of course, thanks to everyone for your continued support and readership.

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July 13, 200907.13.09 by Armin


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