To change or not to change?

Woke up today and saw that the new design template for FTB had gone live across the whole network. I took one look at the ugliness and thought…

And because I’m a rebel and I just don’t care, I went back and switched to the old one.

Change happens, and often it’s necessary and for the better. (The FSM knows our TV show website is well and truly overdue for an overhaul.) But the new FTB template, with its ginormous sans serif font and absurdly wide columns, wasn’t pleasing to my eye. What say you, faithful readers? Do you prefer the new look and want us to switch back, or should we keep flying the rebel flag and decline to fix what wasn’t broke?

Update: Russell here.  I’m not sold on flying the rebel flag, and Martin and I are still hashing out how we can compromise on this.

2nd update: Martin again. Okay, Russell — who really wanted to go with the new template (Philistine!) — has at least worked out how to dig into the CSS and change the body font to Times Roman, which is, on its own, very much an improvement. So we’ll just go with this, I guess. Fellow dissenters, always know the rebellion lives on in our hearts!


  1. says

    Right now, I prefer the old look. I like the simple, white look.
    I’m not sure how much of it is just habit. Maybe I’ll get used to the new look and not mind.

    For the time being, I’m quite happy for the blog to stay like this.

  2. Lord Narf says

    The columns are better in the new format, for me. I run at 1600×900. If anything, a lot of websites that don’t adjust to window size are too narrow.

    I prefer the old font, but it’s not a big thing, for me.

  3. says

    The new look is easier to read. Of course, few like change, but I think it will definitely grow on us all. Either way, I’m happy to keep reading.

  4. brickparade says

    The only thing I don’t like are the centered post titles and preview text; it makes it really hard to scan the headlines.

  5. cswella says

    The recent posts for each blog on the front page is a mess. Font is hard to read and the text is all a blob.

  6. scott1328 says

    I prefer the new look. But don’t dislike the old look. However, I do dislike the threaded comments. It is too difficult to follow as the discussion continues and replies get so nested.

    How about you keep the old look, and turn off the conversation threading?

    If you reply to this I probably won’t be able to find it…

  7. fullyladenswallow says

    I rather like the new banner area and logo design. The rest can stay the same, however. The San-serif looks to be too “wirey” for the amount of given white space and the column width seems a bit excessive- not quite as efficient to read.

  8. Lord Narf says

    I’ve seen much worse, on what are supposed to be professional websites. I still remember the company that had everything in dark-gray text on a black background.

  9. says

    I actually do like the new FTB logo ( which, naturally, some people hate — no pleasing everyone), but my general dislike is for how everything on the new template suffers from gigantism. Big logo, big white space, big fonts, big columns!

  10. Zme says

    I much prefer the original serif font and its size (I’ve always felt sans-serif is inappropriate for blocks of text).

    As to the rest of the changes:
    • Column widths are fine
    • Grey borders are disconcerting
    • Next/Previous article links should be both before and after the current article, and in the same font/size/color as every other link.
    • Home page is a mess…centering (within columns) titles and text is really bad.
    • It would be nice for thread display to be under user control…threaded, oldest first, newest first.

  11. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    With my browser window at 1024 width, the new template feels like 800×600.

    And, for me, the comment preview renders anchor tags with twice the line height of regular text so links look big and subscripted.

  12. natashatasha says

    I dislike the new scheme. The decorative banner at the top take up half the height of the screen (for some reason there’s a large amount of white space between banner and text), it’s not immediately clear who the author of a post is (if you’re new, or don’t know all the banners), and this information is only available half way down the page.

    The author tab in the column should be swapped with the advertising one, so you can see who it is, and the white space below the banner should be removed. If those changes are made, I think most of the issues will be taste, rather than usability.

    Oh, and the grey bar with “FTB”, “Privacy Policy” etc. up the top is awful at displaying correctly. Instead of terminating at the borders of the box it’s in, in some pages it will go to the edge of the screen, while in others it will terminate on the buttons themselves, leaving a giant gap in the massive header.

  13. Kazim says

    I’ve restored the FTB theme but changed the default paragraph font back to 14 point Times Roman. Is this workable?

  14. vgerdj says

    Well, if you keep this format, reduce the indents of replies to 2; make the column (div) for replies wider, so, after 4 indents, the column is not 2 in, and the reply goes on for a page and a half.

  15. vgerdj says

    Had the old format, commented, automatically went to new format on ‘submit’, backed up one page, got old format, reloaded, got new format.

  16. fwtbc says

    I second the above request to move to chronological comment threads, rather than nested/threaded. As a screen reader user, they pose accessibility issues for me, in addition to the inherent useability issues they pose for fully sighted people.


  17. docsarvis says

    One of the cardinal rules for page design: San serif fonts for headlines, serif fonts for body text. The new design breaks that rule.

  18. Lou Jost says

    Yes, that is a crazy senseless change. It is very hard to read those headlines and post excerpts quickly.

  19. scott1328 says

    See, that is why comments shouldn’t be threaded! Oh please Martin, hear my plea, I beseech you.

  20. becca says

    After spending a couple of days with the new look, i’ve decided I hate it. It’s cold and industrial-looking – all it needs are rivets along the sides to complete the look. It’s not welcoming at all.

  21. garnetstar says

    Thank you SO MUCH for getting rid of that huge awful sans serif font! It was so difficult to read. Any chance of persuading your fellow bloggers to do the same?

  22. says

    I like the look of the blog pages. However, I think the main FTB page looks terrible. I think it’s mainly the centre justification that breaks it for me.

  23. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    I am not sure where else to complain about this, but since you guys seem interested in discussing the new look…

    The silver/gray menue bar at the top of the page seems to have been designed with a fixed window width in mind because on my screen it runs out of the sides of the top banner.

    The text previews of the blog posts (and the titles) look really odd being centered next to a bullet-point.

    I do like the way nested text looks now though.

  24. Anonymous Atheist says

    I’m disappointed to see they STILL haven’t fixed the bizarre homepage problem that’s been there since Day 1 – the omission of punctuation from the preview quotes! To me, that makes it much more annoying to read than any alignment change.

  25. F [disappearing] says

    Couple of thoughts:

    1) Providing multiple CSS for a website and allowing visitors to choose among them is practically trivial. Everyone can choose their flavor of cake.

    2) They finally provide a site icon and it’s the blood-dripping T.

    Otherwise, I don’t care too much. Anything that is too annoying, I would rectify on my end, because we can do that.

  26. drivenb4u says

    I’ve given up complaining over stylistic issues and just accepted 90% of web content is distastefully presented. At least I haven’t seen any more ads here lately… seriously, wtf was up with those?

  27. jamessweet says

    Wow, so, I mostly didn’t mind the new format, but something about it made it just feel a little.. unfocused.. Like my eyes would look away from it sort of.

    It was the font. You fixed it. Can we get this rolled out to all the other blogs? Heh…

  28. OverlappingMagisteria says

    I don’t mind the change on individual bog posts much, other than the font seems a tad too big. However I have 2 big gripes about the new layout.

    1. There are no longer any “Next Post” or “Previous Post” links on each blog post. This makes it very annoying to catch up.

    2. The main page looks terrible with the new font. I think it is the fact that all the text is centered. My eyeballs have been puking every time I look at it and I’m considering finally getting an RSS reader just to avoid it.

  29. Lord Narf says

    I dunno, I find the stuff on that site amusing at times, if a little infuriating, because I know there are ignorant people who read the site and can’t immediately see through all of the stupid arguments.

    From Is There a God:

    The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously.8 Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

    Well, no shit. Evolution was never supposed to explain that. But guess what … we have another science that does that.

    Oh, and I think Allah is going to be pissed that they keep quoting things out of a heretical book that claims that Allah has a son, when the Divine Koran clearly states that Allah had no sons.

  30. garnetstar says

    So true.

    Serifs are meant to help you read: they encourage your eye to flow along a line of text. That’s why books and newspapers use them.

    Sans serifs are for graphics only. They encourage the eye to take in text as one picture, not as something read from left to right. That’s why they’re good for banners, highway signs, and presentations, where you don’t want someone reading your slides, just taking in your points. I’ve spent a large part of my life getting grad students to use only sans serif on ther job-interview slides.

    Having your eye trying to pop long lines of text into your brain as one picture is disconcerting, it’s harder and it takes longer to figure out the meaning.

    Please do tell the other FT bloggers, and encourage them to make the change!

  31. says

    Ok I found how to make me like this change. Go look at “a million gods” and how there’s a nice colourful pattern on the side of the blog instead of mat grey. If everyone could do something like that my sense of aesthetics would be very thankful.