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New Chowhound Design Coming Next Week

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Early next week, we are going to be releasing a new design for Chowhound. You can see a preview of the changes here: http://www.chow.com/redesign

This first design release will mainly affect board and thread pages, and is the first of a series of changes that will be coming in the next few months.

To answer your questions about these changes, we've created an introductory video that we'll be launching alongside the release to help guide you through anything unfamiliar. That said, we hope you'll find the new design to be clear and easier to use on mobile particularly, while maintaining all of the functionality that you currently enjoy.

Thanks!

Dave MP

  1. Meanwhile, the banner announcing the upcoming design change is screwing up the mobile site.

    2 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy

      Thanks for pointing this out SnackHappy. We've fixed this now.

    2. Looking at the screen shot, it looks like on the "category" (board) pages you've dropped the username from the last post timestamp? I hope not, since that's an easy way to avoid wasting time looking at posts from trolls etc., and to see when interesting posters have posted in seemingly uninteresting topics.

      27 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        In the new design, usernames will remain in the 'last reply' timestamp for the first 2 days since the last reply. After that, it will revert to just being the date.

        Of course, if an older discussion gets updated, the username will appear back in the timestamp again for 2 days.

        The screenshot we put up only has one discussion updated in the past 2 days (it's a mock version), but once the new design is live, most boards will have many more than that. For example, there are more than 50 discussions that have been updated in the past 2 days on the Manhattan board right now.

        Thanks for the good question, and hope this helps!
        Dave MP

        1. re: Dave MP

          Robert has a valid concern. Chowhound probably has many posters who do not check in within 2 days, and now that we are about to lose a point of reference (username from last post datestamp), I think that is a step backwards. Can this be tweeked back into the new design before it goes online? Thanks.

          1. re: Florida Hound

            User name is important. There are some I "know" that seem to have similar tastes as mine in restaurants and that makes a difference.

          2. re: Dave MP

            I missed the post about this subject and your reply. Why the two day thing? What's the point? What would happen if it were left with the name of the last to post would just stay up? I cannot see a problem with that.

            1. re: Dave MP

              I echo Robert's concern. I find the name of the last poster info to be very helpful and often make decisions to read something based who's been commenting.

              I feel this strategy underestimates the value of the folks who invest their time posting here.

              This is a community so why would we NOT want to see the names of folks who have been posting on a thread? This isn't a site I come to for "breaking news" so if someone in the community is the last to post on a thread I'll care just as much about that today as I will a week from now and I might just bump the thread to keep their discussion going or reply if I know no one else did and I recognize their name.

              1. re: Dave MP

                I agree as well - Breadcrumbs said it very well - I often look for particular names when certain subjects are being discussed - it matters.

                1. re: prunefeet

                  Hi all,

                  Thanks for this feedback. We are going to consider pushing the date/username out to 7 days, which would mean you'd see the username in the last reply column for any discussion that has been updated in the past week. This definitely won't be in place for the first release, but is potentially something we could get up and running very shortly after.

                  The new design is going to be a living, changeable thing. Once the design is live, you are going to see more rapid change than you have in the past, which means that starting next week, your feedback will be even more helpful. Once the new design is up, you'll be able to see how things really look on your local boards, so we can definitely continue this conversation about usernames in the 'last reply' field then.

                  Thanks!
                  Dave MP

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    Dave could you help us understand why Chowhound is insistent on eliminating the poster names after a prescribed period of time?

                    That would be helpful for those of us who value its retention and have taken the time to explain why.

                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      The aim of our new design of board pages is to increase legibility, and this change is a part of that. If you see more space in an area than there was before (such as in the 'last reply' column), chances are it's to make it the site easier to browse and read.

                      Not every change we make it going to be perfect for every user, but we have put a lot of thought and consideration into this new design, including user testing with current users.

                      We do always listen to feedback, and we're looking forward to hearing what you think of the new design once it's launched. I'd like to propose we postpone talking about this particular issue until the design is live next week, since you'll get a much better sense of what it really looks like then.

                      Thanks again for your questions,

                      Dave MP

                      1. re: Dave MP

                        I don't find the current format illegible...fellow Hounds? Any legibility issues?

                        1. re: MacGuffin

                          I have poor eyesight even when corrected and I think the current pages look good the way they are. For example, I used to post to the Top Chef Bravo website and found it almost impossible to follow with all of the extra crap. This is already clean and easy, why mess with it? (Wait a minute, I understand why it is being 'upgraded'. The IT guys need the work.

                          1. re: John E.

                            Hi John,

                            We are trying to create an improved user experience for all. I know that you think that the site is clean and super usable now, and we all respect that. Our motivation extends to unifying and simplifying other areas of the site as well as this, for example the mobile version. Please understand that we (chow engineering) are not redesigning this just for the sake of doing something. We are driven to make the experience on Chowhound second to none, and unfortunately it means that we need to iterate on the current design to make improvements.

                            Please understand that we do listen to the community's feedback, yours included. If a change is overwhelmingly disapproved by the community it will most likely be addressed. Your feedback and opinions are absolutely valuable.

                            Jason
                            CHOW Engineering (not IT)

                            1. re: dotspotter

                              But...wouldn't it be better to perhaps poll the community prior to redesigning the site?

                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                MacGuffin -

                                Unfortunately no, we don't think that polling is a way to get an accurate opinion or standpoint from the community. In situations like that, you end up usually with responders who are driven to respond, ones with stake in one aspect of the change, and largely silence from the other side. In the interest of obtaining as unbiased of an opinion in the changes that we are implementing, we have done extensive user testing.

                                Also, putting each feature up for polling doesn't look at the design as a whole. The new redesign is designed ground up as a whole experience to improve the usability and experience on Chowhound. This happens with all the features as a cohesive unit, not just some that were voted in and some that got the axe because they were too edgy. User testing also addresses this very well in that our testing is done with the product as a whole, not just 1 discreet feature.

                                As I said to John E., we are very aware of the feedback that you as a community are posting. It is an invaluable resource that does not ever go unheard. Thanks,

                                Jason
                                CHOW Eng

                                1. re: dotspotter

                                  Well then, how is it that you determine what we, the users, find helpful? Have there been complaints about usability? Because it would seem, e.g., that user response to the feature "upgrade" under discussion here isn't being greeted with a joyful noise.

                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                    Your implication on this is that no one likes the new functionality, but is based on 1/2 dozen users who don't like it. Like I stated before, the users who have stake in the argument are going to be the loudest group, which makes polling for feature inclusion unfeasible. I am not saying that you are not right, I am saying that you can't infer the opinion of the whole by 6 people, and you will never get an even turnout for a request for an opinion.

                                    Think for a second about the group that uses the username of the last reply user. They have a niche way of using the site, and that information makes the site much more usable for them. On the other hand think of the user who that information is not relevant to, who including that information on the page just makes it that little bit more busy. The first user is going to be upset that the information is gone because it impacts how they use the site directly. The second user is likely going to be less motivated to chime in even if they do have an improved experience because they either have no vested interest, may not conciously recognize that the change is improving their experience, or just might not think it is worth the effort. But as a whole, with the combination of features as they are, they have a vastly improved and much more concise user experience. We found that removing these names was favorable for the latter. However, we also are trying to cater to the individuals who use the reply username as a tool.

                                    There are an infinite number of ways to display the information at hand, and probably an infinite number of ways to use it. You can't make every user 100% happy all of the time, but you can try to balance it as best you can. We found that the page becomes less cluttered by removing these names for the general user, but because they are still useful to some we are trying to balance keeping them around for as long as possible.

                                    I hope you understand that we aren't trying to do this to make your user experience worse. We are on a tight rope working to make the site as awesome as possible for as many Chowhounds as possible. And to do this we sometimes need to make tough decisions that some Chowhounds don't like. This is always a hard thing to do.

                                    Jason
                                    CHOW Eng

                                    1. re: dotspotter

                                      "You can't make every user 100% happy all of the time, but you can try to balance it as best you can."

                                      I understand that but who was complaining? I appreciate the time you're spending on replies but basically--and appropriate to a food site--all I seem to be reading boils down to your sugar-coating the fact that ultimately, it's all about what you, "you" being "CHOW Eng"(s), think is best for us, the users. For all I know, it might turn out to be a good thing but given this particular "improvement," I'd say it's not looking good.

                                      What I'd really like to know is, how is it you determine the needs of "the general user?" Or even who they are since user polls are a no-no?

                        2. re: Dave MP

                          I appreciate your asking us not to comment on the elimination of poster names after a specified period until the launch of the new design, but those of us who read Chowhound on a smart phone already know what it's like to look for a poster's name and not find it. And you can add me to the list of those who will be very unhappy to see this feature go. I'm all for clarity and readability, but having spent my entire career working with graphic designers, I know that the best of them adjust the design to fit the necessary copy, not the other way around.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            ...<"you can add me to the list of those who will be very unhappy to see this [the elimination of poster names] feature go. ">

                            I echo this statement.

                          2. re: Dave MP

                            So you're making it legible by actually making it something we don't want to read because we don't know who posted it. This is what is known as a solution in search of a problem.

                        3. re: Dave MP

                          I feel the date/username should not be changed at all.

                          Saving to favorites is fairly useless since there is no way to search or group the threads. I frequently find myself looking for a long ago thread, especially when traveling unexpectedly. Often many threads appear in the search and the date/username is often the bit of data needed for me to identify the correct thread.

                          This decision is once again disregarding the posters who supply the content. The decision will affect the usefulness of the site as a deep reference. Perhaps if the surveys actually queried about usage patterns and motivations instead of being designed to simply gather demographics for ads TPTB would get it.

                          1. re: meatn3

                            Ditto that in its entirety. Why does this have to be changed? Fixing something that's not broken is never a good policy.

                            1. re: meatn3

                              meatn3, see my response to BreadCrumbs above.

                              In this first design release, the search feature will not be affected. So when you do a search, you will still see a list of threads, along with username and time of last update, just as you do now.

                              We are planning on re-designing search in 2013, but again, nothing will be affected on search results pages in next week's release.

                              1. re: Dave MP

                                Thanks for the quick response.

                                I'm attempting to slip my "open mind" cap back on...

                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  I appreciate the Chowhound community chiming in on the changes, and appreciate Dave and your colleagues' receptivity to our feedback. I don't want to be redundant, but MacGuffin's observation of (in essence) "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" seems to really apply here. The date/user name issue as debated above appears to be a no-win for the Chowhound users. Thanks again for re-visiting this aspect of the design changes.

                              2. re: Dave MP

                                Will the username still be on each reply in the thread itself?

                            2. re: Dave MP

                              And this is a good feature why...?

                          2. Please Include a way to delete a thread from the profile page. The are a couple of threads on which I have posted, but no longer wish them to keep coming back on my profile page. (ie. "Describe your cooking style in three words").

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: John E.

                              In this first design release, the only pages that are really going to be affected are boards and threads. The functionality of profile (and its various components) will remain almost exactly the same. The upcoming release is only the first of several in the next few months.

                              We do plan on re-designing and updating profile pages in the near future. So, to answer iL Divo below, we are always reading and listening to what users have to say, and input from Chowhounds is always considered.

                              Ideas for new features for Chowhound profile are frequently discussed on Site Talk. We'll be considering all of these discussions as we begin to address profile in 2013.

                              1. re: Dave MP

                                May I ask, please, as I have for years now, that when you get around to redesigning the profile page, put the name of the poster, now in red above the avatar, in cap and lower case rather than in all caps. First, as I say on my profile page, my name is "JoanN," not "JOANN." Second, many posters use capital letters to make their names easier to understand. "FriedClamFanatic" is much easier to read and makes a lot more sense than "FRIEDCLAMFANATIC."

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  I think "FriedClamFANATIC" does both. :)

                            2. wondering if there is any input that may be recognized from chowhounders or if it's just going to be visual changes.
                              I see John E has an idea and probably we all do. would it do any good to ask for 'ignore' feature or private message a fellow chowhounder?

                              1. Please don't tell us that you're again going to launch that blinding, no-contrast format that caused such dissatisfaction during the last upgrade...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: MacGuffin

                                  I'm not sure what upgrade you are referring to, but as you can see in the mocks that are posted, the new designs for board and thread pages are brand-new.

                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                    I hope the name of the Chowhound who made the last post will still appear on the profile page. Frankly, that is something that I wish would appear on the mobil edition of Chowhound as well.

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      This one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/724128 . The one a lot of people hated for awhile for being too monochrome.