Crowdsourcing new web designs and site features

November 21, 2020 • 10:00 am

For a possible change in the design of this site—which will be a conservative change as I don’t want major changes in appearance—I’m asking readers to comment below about what features they like and don’t like. I am aware of some of the glitches, like having to fill in your name and email each time you comment, while others I don’t know about (mobile appearance, as I never access my site on a phone). I also know that some of the links that used to be on the right sidebar are broken.  Futher, some people like the new “like” buttons for posts and comments, while others don’t.

At any rate, you have about a day to give me recommendations for fixes as well as features that you’d like to stay. I can’t satisfy everyone’s wishes, but I do want to make the site user-friendly—and the main user is me.  But, while we have a chance, you are encouraged to sound off below.

Thanks!

77 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing new web designs and site features

  1. Many of the sites that I frequent have undergone major upgrades in the past year or two. The biggest change that I have noticed is that links to their most recent stories are in boxes with perhaps three across and three down. Each box contains a picture relevant to the story and below it is the title of the article and below that a sentence or two that describes what the article is about. Thus, in contrast to your present setup, a link must be clicked to see the whole article. Although such an approach may be too radical for you, I like it because I can very quickly determine what articles I want to read without scrolling down to reach them.

    1. Yes, that would be marvellous – or a preview facility. However, with respect to comments, the site will be limited to the features that WordPress allows i.e. it might be impossible to have comment editing.

    2. Yes, Yes, Yes. An edit function would be great! Some idiotic spelling mistakes, ‘autocorrect’ and other inanities that are sometimes appearing could be remedied? Yes.

    3. I disagree — I think an absence of editing functions raises the bar for composition of comments.

      Consider a dramatic example to show a problem : a comment could express unhinged vitriol, attract lots of attention, and then edited back down, presumably losing the original. This ends in confusion, at best.

  2. I am not sure what features are possible, but one wishes for:
    1) Being able to autofill ones’ credentials (of course), and…
    2) It would be nice to be able to edit our comments shortly after posting.
    3) When replying to someone, and the nested replies get 3 or 4 deep, the text winds up being posted into a very narrow column. It is hard to read those sorts of comments. Part of the issue is that the left and right sidebars continue to take up a lot of screen real estate all the way down through the comments area.

    1. I fully agree with your 1 and 2, and 3 for about 90%.
      This shifting (making columns thin) has the advantage of seeing who is replying to what comment. When you know you are far to the right (thin column), you should keep your comments succinct.

  3. The biggest problems with things right now are:

    1. missing the ability to follow a post and receive emails when others comment. This checkbox has recently gone away.

    2. Having to fill in my name and email on EVERY comment, even though I am logged into WordPress.

    The Like button is nice but I would gladly give it up for the above two items.

        1. I’m almost always on a phone or iPad. You understand my typos and autocorrects much better now don’t you?

          I’m on a computer as I write this just to be contradictory.

    1. Ditto – particularly Number 1. For me, readers comments are an important part of this site, and now we have to return to the post to see any responses.

    2. I agree with Paul’s 2 recommendations. I do comment on both my laptop (Google Pixelbook) and my iPhone.

      I do not see a like button – all I see is “loading…” beneath every comment on both my devices.

    3. Yes, your no 2 is particularly annoying. But at least you can post your comments.
      When I post from my tablet they ask for my username and password, and i get the message that they are not correct. They are wrong, I know my username and password. Extremely irritating.
      The process of getting a new password does not work either, because the same username and password are asked to do that and you get the same response.

  4. In addition to having to sign in for every comment, there no longer is a “Subscribe” option to receive emails for the comments. For me, reader comments are an important part of this site. Thanks.

  5. I liked it the way it was before it broke. I can’t think of anything I’d want except either a preview or an edit facility for comments, but I don’t think that is likely to be possible with WordPress.

    1. I’d pick preview over edit. A preview can catch html errors; a comment edited after a reply is posted could cause confusion.

    2. If Jerry has a “Business” plan with WordPress, he can install plugins. I do not have a Business plan so I have not test-driven these, but here are some good looking options:

      Lightweight Subscribe to Comments by Isabel Castillo

      Filosofo Comments Preview offers a button to preview comments before posting.

      Live Comment Preview shows a real-time preview as you type your comment.

      Here is Lorelle with a very useful discussion. By the way, Google search worked much better for me than searching the main WordPress page for plug-ins. Google led me to Lorelle.

  6. There used to be a feature up top to see if you had replies to a comment, seems to have gone missing, at least on my end.

  7. If you are paying someone to do this update to the site then I would like to contribute something to that payment since I read your site most days and have done for over 5 years, advert free. You could do this as a one off exercise if you don’t like the idea of having a permanent link like other sites do.
    As for suggested changes, I like the simplicity of the current layout so have no desire for any changes.

  8. Can the background color behind the main text be done as a solid color, rather than as a left-to-right color gradient? As my eyes scan horizontally, I find the changing color a bit weird and distracting.

    Thanks for considering it, but more thanks for keeping up with the site as a whole!

  9. I agree with those who liked the site before latest changes.Please fire the like feature into the sun. It’s childish.

  10. Don’t like like button- even if I could find it. I think it contributes to ‘woke’ mentality or just yes/no mentality. Just take a minute or two of time and effort and say what is on your mind for heaven’s sake.
    My name etc did self load?
    Please restore automatic emailing of comments if requested. I enjoy reading the comments.

    And please keep up the science posts. The more detailed and convoluted the better

      1. as coded here, it appears to not even be an anonymous way to express “+1″ – in other words, the purpose a ” [star] Like” button serves – and specifically, the advertisement of the number of “[star] Like”s – is unclear.

    1. Anything that allows users to create an identity, like avatars, signatures and especially user ratings, sets bad incentives. Apart from that, I have long wondered whether some waiting period before posts appear would help.

  11. “… like having to fill in your name and email each time you comment“

    This I found to be unimportant after I took control of keyboard functions in iOS. Namely, shortcuts.

    Also I suspect — but do not know — of privacy issues with autofill.

    Related issue : fingerprinting and tracking – what are these necessary for on this website? I block and scramble them as a precautionary measure.

    1. Yes, you need to allow sites to track you cross site to allow autofill….at least I can autofill when I turn the feature off (ie: allow myself to be tracked across sites) in MacOS.

  12. I agree with those who liked the layout and features of the site before WordPress ‘improved’ it.

    I cannot abide the drastically embiggened photos and illustrations. They’re too large to fit on my screen and they distort the perspective I’m used to, so I mostly just scroll through them now because I can’t keep adjusting my perspective. For instance, I love Hili but she’s too damned big for me to appreciate.

    And with comments box way down at the bottom, it’s virtually impossible for me to comment on another’s post without breaking my train of thought. One needs to be able to comment directly. Now I must open another tab for WEIT and toggle back and forth to keep my ideas straight and many times I have multiple ideas — I’m probably the only one who needs to do this, but why add unnecessary hardships?

    1. PS In addition to distorting persepctive for me, I must use my computer’s zoom feature to make the images/videos smaller to fit on my screen, but when I do that, the type is too small, I require 110-125% enlargement to read easily, so after I look at the visual, I must stop again to adjust the type size, then again and again for each image. That’s absurd.

  13. I’d use the Like button, but WP wants to know my username, and when I give them Hempenstein they don’t seem to know me. Hell, I even have two different avatar thingies depending on which email I give it – I try to just use the green one, since I like green, but occasionally I slip and click the alternative that gives the reddish one.

    Anyway, apparently I’m missing something. Long ago I tried to go deeper into this mystery, but gave up.

    1. I found exactly the same thing. I had to create a ‘new user’ – tried ‘infiniteimprobability’ but it said that already exists (which is odd because it would never accept that in its comment boxes, it always truncated the ‘y’) so registered as ‘infiniteimprobabilit’. I really don’t know what’s going on.

  14. Not a comment but an observation. The emails previously appeared in my Gmail’s “Social” tab (my Gmail puts incoming emails into one of three tabs: Primary, Social and Promotions). Now they all appear in the Primary tab. I prefer the former system, where they appeared in the Social tab because then they were not mixed with my more time sensitive emails.

    1. That happened to me, too, but I found an easy way to fix it. Just highlight an email from this site, then drag it up to the “social” tab. I then got a prompt asking whether I wanted emails from this site always to go to the social category, I clicked on yes, and that took care of it. They are back where I want them!

  15. I find the >>*Like<< feature visually distracting. As people can already just say they agree if they especially agree, I don't think it adds anything to the content.

  16. Other sites have a side column listing the subjects covered. If I want to look at one of,your previous posts on music or cats, for example, I have to scroll down, maybe a lot, and find a post that has music or cats listed at the end as one of the subjects oa the post. If you had a subject side column it would be a lot easier.

  17. Hi
    1. the colors
    2. allow us to post photos in comments if possible?
    3. There no longer is a way to follow comments after you post a comment. Or my computer isn’t working right today and I don’t see it.
    Thank you.

  18. The onlyproblem I’ve ever had is that sometimes my reply to a comment ends up in another place.

    As for “likes”: you have previously encouraged us not to post “Wow! I didn’t know that!” . Most all of this stuff is new to me, that’s often all I can say. But a “Like” star can serve the same function.

    WordPress’ stars seem anonymous, so there can be no direct competition to be “liked” by a specific person, which is a plus. (On Facebook, I use it as a way to remember read comments.), but it also has seven response buttons, and everyone can see how you “vote” for each emoticon.)

    If there was a free WP preview app, I would gladly use that. I view my errors as a personal problem, not yours.

    1. Agree. I do not have a computer so my only access is with my iPhone. I never had problems until they started with all these so-called improvements.

  19. It would be nice to search comments by commenter name across the site as well as comments. I swear I remember someone making an apt remark prior to the 2016 election that said Trump would be all about himself if he became president and it was really spot on. I think of it often & I’d love to see who said that as I don’t know if it was a regular commenter.

  20. A word of caution as someone who has worked as a systems analyst, developer, business analyst, business systems analyst, project manager, and lots more in my long IT career. When you start working with your developer make sure that the customizations are kept to a minimum and that changes tend toward configuration instead. It will reduce the likelihood of something like this happening to you again when WordPress updates. A good developer will advise you this way but some will just do whatever you are paying them for….they give you what you ask, not what you need.

  21. I find the website quite workable as is. An edit function would be slightly but only slightly convenient—after all, it is easy enough to write a comment in a word tab and then copy it to WEIT. If
    re-design is costly, I would contribute.

  22. Observation: Being liked by one or two people leaves you with the default blue star; it takes three to get you a gold star.

    1. It is already annoying enough that EVERY TIME I COMMENT I HAVE YO LOG IN! I just tried the like but as it wanted me to log in I really couldn’t be bothered on the iPhone… bloody iphone!

  23. For goodness sake let us have the mobile version of the site back – for me it disappeared after your previous problems a few weeks ago. I find this almost impossible to read on mobile otherwise, & have almost given up reading other than in the email notices.

  24. Any responses should continue to be entered and edited directly under the comment it responds to. That feature was gone for a few weeks.

    The rest is not as important.

  25. The long-ago function of emailing me when there’s a reply to a comment of mine, hasn’t worked for many months.

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