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Page 5 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
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Jeff and PeteGale,

I understand everything you have said, and even agree with some of it. There are some serious problems with other parts though. The backend and fronted argument is way more true of older technology (say from 1998) than it is of newer technology. These days if you build it right with some form of MVC or variant (MVVC) then your view layer is independent of any backend logic. This means the technology behind it doesn't matter. A template (skin, theme, whatever) could easily be created that displayed the data like the old site.

A good example of what is going on here can be seen over at a tech site, SlashDot.org. They were working hard on a redesign for the last couple years actually. They rolled out a beta version to some users over the last year and have had nothing but negative feedback, its been pretty mean in fact. Every comment thread was filled with users complaining, not about the article, but about the site design. After many months of them trying to force the horrible redesign of the front end on us they finally gave up. They threw it away last week and quickly redid a skin for the new backend technology that looked like the old site. Its got minor improvements, such as being responsive now, so its one site for all devices. But in general its the same feel, the same fonts, and most importantly the same information in the same locations. It actually looks great. Everyone is really happy. I highly doubt we are going to be so lucky here.

It is great to hear that you guys aren't the ones that put this together originally, but I am still having serious trouble believing this new site is ever going to be "fixed" in a way that gives the users what they want. Mostly because you all seem stuck on a path that was laid out before you by previous employees. Those employees were seriously wrong, and instead of deviating from the path, you're just going to continue down it with minor fixes here and there.

Viewing the source of the page that we can actually see I notice SSI's at the bottom. I haven't noticed Server Side Includes in an actual production site for about a decade, they died for many reasons. The last time I used them was the mid 90s. Tell me I am somehow wrong and your site is built on newer technology than that?
 
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gregghoush said:
Jeff and PeteGale,

Tell me I am somehow wrong and your site is built on newer technology than that?

I am now to the point of not caring about new technology, when there is obviously a much larger problem when the top of the page listing "Today on Cycling News, includes an article about Thomas Dekker attempting the Hour Record in the future.:confused:

WTF? Goodbye Cycling News

I put up with the mobile version being a piece of crap since the change last fall. I am now wondering if just being done with CN for awhile altogether is the best option.
 

Jeff

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spetsa said:
I am now to the point of not caring about new technology, when there is obviously a much larger problem when the top of the page listing "Today on Cycling News, includes an article about Thomas Dekker attempting the Hour Record in the future.:confused:

WTF? Goodbye Cycling News

I put up with the mobile version being a piece of crap since the change last fall. I am now wondering if just being done with CN for awhile altogether is the best option.
Those older related links will go away once we have redesigned that carousel (very soon). That will also fix the way it loads on mobile, which is frankly awful.

We also need to update the forum next week as it's not stable. I'll post an announcement about that on Monday.

We've only had full control of the site for a little over a month, so we are catching up on the backlog of work.
 

Pete

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gregghoush said:
It is great to hear that you guys aren't the ones that put this together originally, but I am still having serious trouble believing this new site is ever going to be "fixed" in a way that gives the users what they want. Mostly because you all seem stuck on a path that was laid out before you by previous employees. Those employees were seriously wrong, and instead of deviating from the path, you're just going to continue down it with minor fixes here and there.

Without wanting to get into details about the technologies we're using, or the front end / back end architecture, I just wanted to give a rough idea of what I've gleaned since we took control of the site. Ultimately I can't speak to any of the decisions made by the team at Future, and I don't want to be overly critical as it would be unfair to do so without knowing the circumstances.

We have the product that was handed over, but there's no technical path that comes with that. This team has the scope - and the motivation - to shape Cyclingnews.com into the best product we can possibly make it. Though we're currently working on fixes and functional improvements, rather than drastic changes right away, we're certainly not restricting ourselves to "minor fixes here and there". Frankly we'd get pretty bored if that were the case! The carousel is an example of an area we completely agree needs reworking.

I'm glad we've been able to offer some reassurance. As a side note, I've been a developer at Immediate Media for nearly 6 years now. A major part of the decision to move to this team was the resources and attention that the site will be receiving in its new home, and I'm very much looking forward to working on it.
 
PeteGale said:
Without wanting to get too technical about the technologies we're using, or the front end / back end architecture, I just wanted to give a rough idea of what I've gleaned since we took control of the site. Ultimately I can't speak to any of the decisions made by the team at Future, and I don't want to be overly critical as it would be unfair to do so without knowing the circumstances.

We have the product that was handed over, but there's no technical path that comes with that. This team has the scope - and the motivation - to shape Cyclingnews.com into the best product we can possibly make it. Though we're currently working on fixes and functional improvements, rather than drastic changes right away, we're certainly not restricting ourselves to "minor fixes here and there". Frankly we'd get pretty bored if that were the case! The carousel is an example of an area we completely agree needs reworking.

I'm glad we've been able to offer some reassurance. As a side note, I've been a developer at Immediate Media for nearly 6 years now, and one of the reasons for moving to this team was because of the resources and attention it's receiving in its new home.

Fair enough. Then time should be given for you all to get things right. The big question I have at this point is why the switchover happened without a lot more user testing?

The new design obviously needs a lot of work before many of us are even going to be remotely happy with it. The old one should have stayed in place until the new one was tested and fixed enough to actually replace the old functionality.

I am not trying to be harsh. I have been building websites since 1993, I know all about the fun you are having, and have actually been through a couple bad rollouts before.
 
My thoughts:


1) Old news appearing under the Big "Today on Cycling News" banner under the main story (it sounds like this is being addressed) is a big problem. I took me a a bit of reading to realize the Omloop Boonen article was a year old - super annoying.

2) The races keep getting pushed further and further down the page. Now you have to scroll to get to them. Very annoying as it's the most important thing I get from the site. Is it not possible to have news on one side and races on the other? This would also bring the tech and features sections higher

3) I don't understand the "Don't Miss" column at all. What is its purpose? Couldn't those just go under news or features? It takes up space on the page that could be used to bring the races up more or could at least be used to better effect.

4) On a similar note, you basically have news sections everywhere. On the top banner you have "Today's News" with 5 stories linked and a arrow on the right that changes pages to previous days' stories. Just below that there is a column that says "Latest News". To the right of that another column, "Don't Miss" with more stories. This all contributes to the actual races being pushed way down the page. On my laptop, you don't even see the races anymore without scrolling down considerably. Then there is the "Features" section which is really another news section as it's not really clear which is which on this site. I'd be strongly in favor of those being together - you could even say "News and Features" Or maybe roll the features in with the blogs. There are two many sections you're trying to fit on the home page at the moment with the size fonts and amount of whitespace you're trying to use.

An example of the news issue:

Currently there is a Wiggins Omloop story under "Today's News"
There are two Omloop stories under "Latest news", one of which is duplicated on Today's News"
There are two Omloop stories in "Don't Miss", one of which is duplicated in "Latest News"
There is a Women's Omloop startlist in "Features"
Then, of course there are two Omloop articles in the "Races and Resuts" section

I'm looking forward to the race too, but you have the Omloop scattered across 5 sections right now. Seems unorganized and fairly arbitrary which articles are in what sections. I get there's probably some journalistic definitions that determine exactly where everything goes but for the typical reader, it doesn't make much sense why everything is where it is and it all seems a bit haphazard. Consolidation somewhere seems to be needed.


5) The top two purple bars can easily be combined into one. The All, Road, MTB, Facebook, etc...buttons and the Races, Team, Tech, Forums, etc... buttons could be on one bar. To add to this, the vertical whitespace is too much on these bars. If you must have two bars, this whitespace should be decreased.

6) Speaking of bars and whitespace, the "Major Races" bar is superfluous and there is too much whitespace around it as well. You don't need a Major races bar at all - address some of the issues brought up in #3-6 and the races will be further up on the page eliminating any need for the Major Races bar.

7) My preference would be no pictures in the Races and Results sections but I'm guessing those are here to stay. Maybe they could be smaller however, particularly that first, larger pic. *The KBK pic is from Omloop, btw

8) Again whitespace could be reduced in the race section to provide more content.

9) Why are startlists in "Features"?

9) I like the new Galleries!

10) I appreciate that you guys are listening to feedback
 
Am still on a laptop (do not foresee changing that), but with a little bit of clicking around I am able to find things that interest me, personally. (Such as race schedules, forums, and whatnot.)

I'm more than happy to adapt... my only issue would be with gigantic pictures that people post that stretch the threads out to ridiculous proportions in forums.
 
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Jspear said:
Cyclingquotes.com is a pretty good place. I'll probably start using them more for news. They also usually get their info about any certain topic quicker than CN.

Thanks for the tip!

I just made them my start page since I don't fit the coveted demographic of this place any longer. ;)
 

Pete

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Tricycle Rider said:
Just what is this coveted demographic you speak of? Just out of curiosity....

There absolutely isn't one. I assume it's a reference to a comment in one of my previous posts, where I mentioned our statistics showing the growing number of younger users on the site. This was to contrast with the suggestion that we should be catering the site primarily to an older audience, but perhaps referring to one demographic in particular was ill-advised if it's so easily taken out of context.

The point I was hoping to make was that Cyclingnews.com has a broad, well balanced range of users from all age brackets. We're not catering the site to any "coveted demographic" as it wouldn't make any sense for us to do so. Similarly, trying to please a different section of the audience by not innovating with the site and its design would be equally as unfair.

I hope that clears up the misconception. It's not an easy balance to strike, and it's fair to say it's not currently being struck at all. But we're definitely going to work on what we've got; to improve, and to hopefully accommodate every demographic that chooses to visit Cyclingnews.com.
 
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typical web developers, too young, too faddish

First, as a web developer, I want to thank you for providing me with one of the best examples I've come across of a poorly executed 'responsive design' site rewrite. As soon as I saw this monstrosity on my desktop, I immediately emailed a big client, because we've been starting to look at the question of implementing a sane, coherent mobile support strategy, without ruining the actual site for desktop users. This attempt at cn was a perfect example of how to do it wrong, in almost every way possible. My client's first response on looking at the full screen version: it looks like an adsense site. If you are in the business, you know this is the worst possible thing you can say about a website, an adsense site is a site built only to promote adsense income, with generally junk content and layout. So that was a neutral person's first impression of your new layout. That's quite an achievement.

The 'winged' ads you see only when you have your browser set to full width on a wide monitor, are a special added treat in bad design, making the content sort of vanish into a spammy haze, but since I don't ever use such widths (the human brain has a sort of limit to readable line widths, so there's not a huge point of having a browser window be wider than that limit), I don't care that much. Your window width triggers are really poorly done, and really would benefit from some browser detection and custom css, ie, a desktop with a 1024 px width window does not need any responsive design at all, whereas super high resolution small mobile screens do at that width. The errors are so many that it's too hard to really list them all.

I've been reading cyclingnews.com for ages, I want to say since 2000 but I can't honestly remember. The old layout fulfilled good quality usability goals for desktop viewing, there was no problem with it, it did not need fixing. The new version fails in every single department, and I suggest you have your developers take time off from their college classes to take basic usability into account. Let's review: having to scroll is bad, presenting most of the information users want to see above the fold is good. Forcing endless scrolls by showing totally pointless images, too small to convey real meaning, but too big to be ignored, to the left simply makes the page harder to use.

This beta attempt is a text book example of why responsive design should be approached very carefully, and why mobile first development, despite google's nonsense about doing it first, generally results in a bad desktop experience. You can, with a LOT of advanced css /html and ideally, backend, skill, actually create two good experiences, using similar html, but different css, for mobile and desktop, but it's hard. I've been debating how to approach this, and your counter example, ie, how to do it wrong, moves me to believing that window resolution triggers can't be safely used when the actual widths in screen inches/cm vary so widely between high resolution mobile screens and 'standard' resolution desktop screens. I would conclude on a technical level that you cannot in fact use one style sheet to serve both mobile and desktop, to do so creates too many issues on desktops, as you can see easily on this site. It's not so hard on content light sites, I've seen it done quite well, but that's because there is very little actual information on the page in the first place. Since doing mobile detection is trivial, I believe I would as a developer lean towards not trying to serve tablets and desktops the same css as phones and phablets, I was debating going that route, but your negative example has convinced me that it's probably a bad idea. An iphone with a 1024 resolution screen is a tiny fraction of the size of a desktop screen of the same resolution, and shouldn't be treated the same. I'm thinking out loud here as a developer, making some mental notes on how to do it actually well and right on an established, content rich site. In fact, in looking at cn attempt to merge mobile and desktop html into one, I'm starting to think that it may not be possible to do that on a content heavy site, I'm not sure, I know I would have done the css and platform handling far differently, so I'm not sure how much I could improve a primarily mobile html page with this much content, I could improve it a lot from what I see here, that's obvious, since it can't be done worse, but I'm not sure how much. I'd of course use the original amount of data present pre beta desktop as a guide, obviously the goal would be to preserve that quantity per window height/width, which might be possible, it's hard to say.

Gregghoush puts this very clearly, if you find yourself as a developer getting very defensive about his crystal clear critique, then it is quite likely that it is you who are the problem, since he nails the problems. If you are confused about how a site should look and feel for a desktop, look at http://www.velonews.com, or, better yet, the pre beta cyclingnews.com, one of the best ways I've ever found to get easy acccess to high quality cycling news daily, for a long time. If you cannot see why that was a superior desktop layout, then you guys should probably hire someone with a bit more experience in my opinion. Remember, an improved design is one that is more, not less, usable. Usable means easier, not harder, to access the desired information. Having to click through stupid sliders on the top bar in order to see what is there is less, not more usable. Hiding content that should be easy to see is bad, not good usability. You have to do this stuff for mobiles because they are such a radically inferior platform that you have to dumb down the page experience to match that low quality interface, and that's understood, mobiles can't really handle a complex grown up web page, but desktops can and should do that.

Personally, I question the notion in the first place that many mobile devices even require anything beyond a clean 1000 pixel standard width screen width layout, an ipad certainly does not need anything like that in general, though touch is less forgiving than keyboard/mouse.

gregghoush said:
Today I visited my favorite site to get cycling news, CyclingNews.com. I, like everyone else, was sent to this new beta design. This is no longer my favorite site to get cycling news. In fact, I don't see how anyone could possibly use the site anymore.

The old site was easy to scan, my eyes could take in lots of information and it was laid out in a way that worked. The new site is a jumble of completely unorganized words that are impossible to scan. The slider area at the top (Today on Cyclingnews) is completely unreadable. At a glance you have no idea what is going on. The old one was easy on the eyes and very easy to read. This is a huge step backwards.

The amount of information delivered by the home page has been cut in half, if not more. A quick view of the site doesn't tell me if there is anything new I want to see since last time I was there. Now I have to scroll all over the place and try and figure it out from many locations, and probably still have no idea.

This website reeks of "Mobile First" design, and while that can be great, this time it is not. I will have to find another site to get this news from.

I have to disagree with a few points here, the amount of easy to scan information above the fold has been cut down to a degree that the site is unusable in a desktop, it's at least 5 to 10 times less information at a display width of say, 1000 by 1000 pixels, comparing old to new. That's a full on, total and complete usability failure.

I've never seen a content rich site benefit from mobile first, nor have I ever seen a mobile first design be great on a desktop, I always find them annoying, simplistic, and very hard to find information on. Most mobile focused sites get around this by just getting rid of more and more content, which is good for mobiles, not for desktops, which are actually moving in the opposite direction, longer and longer pages are doing better and better, longer as in more content, not as in amount of time you have to spend scrolling.

As greg says, it's not a question of getting used to anything, it's a question of a bad design, a failed responsive execution, and a poorly thought out strategy that makes my long time favorite cycling site unreadable and unusable, in almost every way. It becomes even more comical if you disable javascript, which has also, sadly, grown to become a crutch for developers who don't know how to do server side programming.

But again, I want to thank you for providing such a spectacular example of how not do responsive design on a content rich site, we have a similar issue, and this layout and design really locked down for us how NOT to do that.
 
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Thats possible the best post I've ever read on this forum.

I can't wait for the unholy hellstorm that will explode if they update the forum to vBulletin 5 (assuming they don't move to vB4 which still has bugs) :D
 

sam

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mewmewmew13 said:
new design not great. Login is a mess...it sends me from forum login to front page..then login and then I have to click to get that to go away and back to forum :(

Hi,

The forum has some really terrible problems, Jeff will update you all on Monday about that.

During the migration from Future to Immediate somethings just didn't bed that well - this is one of our major headaches at the moment.
 

sam

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gregghoush said:
Viewing the source of the page that we can actually see I notice SSI's at the bottom. I haven't noticed Server Side Includes in an actual production site for about a decade, they died for many reasons. The last time I used them was the mid 90s. Tell me I am somehow wrong and your site is built on newer technology than that?

Yes, SSI's are used, very lightweight and solves many a complicated problem very simply - also its much better than something like Varnish.

This is the issue, there are lots and lots of technologies out there that do pretty much the same thing, understanding what needs to be solved then understanding and installing the right software is critical.

Using technology from the 90's is not a bad thing if you know its limits and its capability.

Would be interest to hear why you think they are a bad thing though
 
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Although the new site fits nicely on my ancient and tiny netbook screen (I use an adblocker so not sure what it looks like with ads) I wouldn't say it was really an improvement over the previous version. The overall look is rather impersonal and there seems to be a lot more scrolling to find information. It is also annoying having to go through a slightly longer procedure (OK it's two clicks instead of one - but these things add up) in order to reach the forums.

The one thing I would really like is a link from the live ticker back to the main site. At the moment I have to remove 'live.' from the URL and press enter in order to go back. Intuitively, you would expect clicking on the big title/logo at the top of the page would take you back but it just reloads the live feed.
 

sam

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repechage said:
The one thing I would really like is a link from the live ticker back to the main site. At the moment I have to remove 'live.' from the URL and press enter in order to go back. Intuitively, you would expect clicking on the big title/logo at the top of the page would take you back but it just reloads the live feed.

Yes I noticed that today when I was reading the live reports, I will get that fixed now for release by the next race
 

sam

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repechage said:
Thanks for the quick response Sam. Immediate not only by name it seems ... :)

Ha, something like that - I noticed it a bit late in the day on Friday to get a fix out - was hoping nobody would notice :/
 
On design issues, my 2d: lots of empty space seems pointless but not harmful, but have some logic/consistency about what type of content is where: do race results (passing themselves off as reports, see below) really belong in "Don't Miss"?
Huge "Today on Cyclingnews" top item would be helpful if it contains the newest info today, but it doesn't, so it will simply become a part of the page I place in my blind spot.

But most importantly, and more as an editorial than page layout issue, please be honest: if you don't have a report on a race, but merely a list of top ten finishers, don't put up a link marked "report".

Frustrated users will soon be ex-users: false links and no useful clues as to where to find information will make frustrated users.