Site Update: Big Changes Coming, New Site Layout Just Part 1 Of More

As you have surely noticed by now, the site has a new design and layout. The old layout, with light text on a dark background, has been dropped, and the new site has switched to follow the golden rule set by every website designer, usability expert and ergonomics consultant on the planet: dark text on a light background. Readers from around the world had asked for the change for a couple of years now, and I finally caved in to their requests. The readability is now vastly improved, but the framing layout with orange links on a dark background has been retained, to preserve something of the feel of the old site. Photo stories will continue to use a dark background, as we feel that the darker layout does more justice to Scott Jones' beautiful photos.

The change has not been completely finalized - there are still one or two points of the site that need to be tweaked, and all comments and suggestions for improvement are more than welcome. Some tables, in particular, could still appear with either the wrong background or the wrong text color; if you spot any errors, please feel free to drop us a line at webmaster@motomatters.com. Site supporters have a wider choice of page layouts, including the option of reverting to the previous layout with the light text on a dark background.

The switchover is part of what is now becoming a customary winter rejigging of the site. With the new layout in place, work will now start on building a mobile-friendly version of the site. That should be completed in time for the 2012 MotoGP season (the 2012 WSBK season is just a little too close to get it all done), making it easier for you to keep up on everything that is happening in the world of World Championship motorcycle racing.

More good news is on its way, as we hope to expand our coverage of the World Superbike series for 2012. A dedicated reporter will be taking over to provide some of the coverage of WSBK, allowing me (David Emmett) to concentrate on MotoGP. We will also be looking to hire an assistant (and general dogsbody) to do some of the donkey work in our MotoGP coverage, allowing me to spend more time providing the analysis and background that I hope most of you have come to expect from MotoMatters.com.

The bad news stemming from the site redesign is that it has taken up a significant portion of my time. It was necessary, but it was also time-consuming, and the addition of a mobile-friendly site will also take more time out of my schedule. As a result, I have not had the time to finish some of the background pieces I have been working on, but I will get around to completing them once I finish work on the site.

The reason for all of these changes has been the phenomenal growth of the site. We continue to grow at a rate of around 40% a year, hitting 100,000 unique visitors and three quarters of a million unique pageviews a month in late 2011. But our continuing growth and expansion requires money, and the support of our readers and advertisers. If you love the site and wish it to continue, please consider taking out a subscription and becoming a Site Supporter. You may also want to buy one of our 2012 Motorcycle Racing Calendars, which are still selling, or a MotoMatters.com T-shirt, of which we still have a limited number available. Or you may just want to make a donation. You might even want to try to convince your boss that the best way to reach a well-educated and relatively wealthy audience is by using a well-respected motorcycle racing website as an advertising and marketing platform.

Please feel free to leave your comments about the new site layout below. They are all welcome, they will all be given serious consideration, but we can't promise to implement them all. You, the readers of MotoMatters.com, are what make the website what it is, and the outstanding level of contributions from so many interesting and intelligent readers is one of the things that I, personally, am most proud of. It is an honor to have you reading the site, and I am eternally grateful.

As you have surely noticed by now, the site has a new design and layout. The old layout, with light text on a dark background, has been dropped, and the new site has switched to follow the golden rule set by every website designer, usability expert and ergonomics consultant on the planet: dark text on a light background. Readers from around the world had asked for the change for a couple of years now, and I finally caved in to their requests. The readability is now vastly improved, but the framing layout with orange links on a dark background has been retained, to preserve something of the feel of the old site. Photo stories will continue to use a dark background, as we feel that the darker layout does more justice to Scott Jones' beautiful photos.The change has not been completely finalized - there are still one or two points of the site that need to be tweaked, and all comments and suggestions for improvement are more than welcome. Some tables, in particular, could still appear with either the wrong background or the wrong text color; if you spot any errors, please feel free to drop us a line at webmaster@motomatters.com. Site supporters have a wider choice of page layouts, including the option of reverting to the previous layout with the light text on a dark background.

Comments

more!

>>allowing me to spend more time providing the analysis and background that I hope most of you have come to expect from MotoGP.

YES!!!!! Best news so far this year......

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 128

Thank you!

Thank you!

Total votes: 106

Glad I'm a supporter

as the first thing I did was switch back to the original light on dark. Like it a lot better that way. I know I'm in the minority, though.

But looking forward to all of the rest of the changes, especially the mobile site.

Total votes: 119

Agreed.

While I totally agree that black text on white background is preferable, to me this partial implementation does not work at all. Grey border, white text, orange links, white infill, blue headings, black text, grey supporter badges... This is meant as constructive criticism, but it looks a bit amateur hour.
I understand and appreciate it's probably the best response to user requests available within time constraints, and that's cool, but I hope at some time it will regain the cohesive look in white. The MM logo at the top needs a freshen up anyhow thanks to the rider merry-go-round, and presumably that would clear the way for the black background to go the way of the 'strokers.

Till then I'm back in black.

Total votes: 103

agree ... and disagree

I agree with everything above except the final sentence. Black text on white background is much easier for me to read and I look forward to the full implementation to make the site cohesive, but I'll stay with the patchwork look and watch it improve.

David, your delegation of WSBK and monkeywork to free up time for MotoGP analysis is by far the best news on this page though. This is good timing for the change; the CRT effect on the circus will spark a lot of words so it will be interesting to see your take on it.

Total votes: 94

ugh.

David, as an architectural and graphic designer, I must as well stress my discomfort with the current layout. I stare at computer screens all day in drafting/modeling programs which are filled with vast spaces, as do many of my fellow designers, and there is an overwhelming majority of us who all immediately turn the settings of whatever program for a black background with colored objects. This is just preferential, but I can say this is coming from people that stare at screens for a living.

As a suggestion, the reason why GPone.com and autosport.com (the only two other sites I read regularly) reads so well visually is that it maintains the "whiteness" throughout all of its text, and uses the border to frame the data. The constant back and forth eye movements in MM's current format while looking at main article information and then shifting attention to your twitter updates (which i look at a lot from the main page) causes unneeded and frequent pupil dialation due to the drastic contrast from dark text on white, to color text on black.

If you want to maintain the white, I think you need to use more of it then. I think there needs to be more transition between the austere white, and the lead pencil black we currently see.

Some images would be nice background accent as well. My mind always immediately goes straight to the GPone layout after Marco's passing. They blended the images of him, used to frame the articles, very cleanly and effectively.

PS. is there a way non-subscribers can get the original format back?

Total votes: 96

Yes.

Become a subscriber!

Total votes: 103

Nope

I am an Orange on Black kind of guy, love that layout ... back to the old layout for me and long may it stay that way .. :)

Total votes: 111

thanks for the tip on setting back to white on dark

I didn't know there was an option to change the view until I saw your comment. Thanks!

My Settings > Edit > Account > Theme configuration > subscriberdark

I also prefer the white text on dark background. Way easier on the eyes. Hope future changes will preserve this option for supporters.

Total votes: 115

Doh!

Obviously, I hadn't seen this article:
http://motomatters.com/subscriber/2012/02/14/choice_of_two_subscriber_la...

Total votes: 100

login text

Login name text is black on black background when logining from mobile phone otherwize all good :)

Total votes: 104

Thank you!

All those website designers, usability experts and ergonomics consultants have a point, you know :) Your site is really much easier to read now.

Total votes: 129

i will miss the unique-ness of the site

but change is invetiable and it's the content that matters most

Total votes: 110

login text

I had a time with the black on black on the main site. Really appreciate all you're doing for us David!

Total votes: 121

Great start

Great start David, looking forward to the mobile version of the site. Any plans to make the site available in Google currents?

Total votes: 100

Re: black text...

Not that it's worth anything, but I am also one of the few that prefer white text on dark backgrounds...

Legibility on screens is much easier for me (on paper it's another story, as paper reflects light whereas screens are backlit)

Agree with a previous comment though, that if you are going to use a white background for text, the site needs more of it. Right now it just looks disjointed from a design point-of-view.

Another point is the antialiasing of pure black type on pure white backgrounds at smaller (copy) sizes: letters look blurry and poorly designed. Switch to dark grey color for copy if you feel you need to keep the pure white background.

Just my 2 cents

Total votes: 119

o i like the new layout, but

o i like the new layout,

but i actually much prefer a dark background under the text, it's easier on the eyes for your long articles

Total votes: 120

Hmmmmmm

Whilst I appreciate the work you put into making MotoMatters one of, if not, the best bike racing news sites there is, I have to side in favour of light text on dark background.

Having used CAD for many years, light on dark will always trump dark on light purely because it's more restful on the eyes over long periods of time.

I also agree with FlyinLow27's point, the shift in contrast when you look from the main article to the side menus, etc, is quite tiring on the eyes.

That said, I won't stop using MM, as content-wise, there is nothing else to compare.

Total votes: 107

Great news about the growth

Any chance you could add UK / European dispatch centres? If there are large numbers of readers in different markets, it might help encourage sales. As someone who has made donations in personal 'good months', I'd really like to buy a T-shirt to advertise the site at the races, but I've been put off by the total cost of product and postage when buying from the current model. Perhaps you could investigate either getting a local print run, or sending a bulk shipment across for distribution? I know that it probably isn't a job that you yourself can add to your workload. However, if 1% of the 100,000 people are europeans thinking about a T shirt and you make a couple of quid on each one, it must be worth thinking about getting something sorted.

Good luck with the continuing project. Looking forward to the new season.

Simon

Total votes: 111

Keep up the good work

Good luck with the changes to the site.
Like a lot of computer users I immediately change all colour schemes to black background, coloured text.... easier on the eye strain.

Been using this scheme in gvim for donkeys years so it's nice to come across a website that uses the same colour scheme.

Cheers
Andy

Total votes: 109

Keep up the good work!

I read your columns all the time. Now it became even easier to read. Just ordered a calendar and I hope you make good profit from it!

Total votes: 107

Oof...

Yeah, not a fan. The old layout was easier on the eyes. New layout looks clunky, and overall a much less original look - the old look made MM stand out from the bunch. It's a shame to lose that individuality.

The Cynic in me asks, is this a push for more site supporters ? IE, support the site, get the nicer, nore original, less retina burning site back if you want it... certainly that's an outcome of this 'redesign'.

Total votes: 108

Black text on white and CAD

I am another long time, and currently full time, CAD user. However, I use modern3D CAD with predominantly light backgrounds by default and find the new layout easier to read.

I prefer the new layout, so thank you for changing it.

Total votes: 102

Part 1 of More!

Love the change to dark text on a white background David. Reading the site on an large monitor was okay (sort of) but on an iPod touch or iPhone, it was painful!

I'm a designer as well so I'll back up the comment from FlyinLow27 about the incomplete look of the dark background around the white text box, but as we all saw in your article title, this is "NEW SITE LAYOUT JUST PART 1 OF MORE".

But as always, this site is about the content and you could have it typeset in pink with fluffy poodles and unicorns in the background and we'd all still visit it every day!

'nuff said.

Total votes: 116

If it ain't broke don't fix it

Sorry David but loved it just the way it was. Still won't stop me from reading what you have to offer but the feel has changed completely. Having said that it's really the quality of the articles that brings me back so I guess the key to the equation is that if business is booming then don't change anything!

Total votes: 103

Thanks for your comments!

Thanks for everyone's comments. They've been very helpful, and they will definitely be taken into account. Now, to answer a few of your questions:

First of all, the move was not taken lightly. I have been pushed to make this change for the past 2 years, and have held off until now. Personally, I prefer the old layout, because of its distinctiveness, though to be honest, I am now using the new layout. I have to agree that it does make things easier to read. As a comparision, if I look at the subscribers, only 20% of them have reverted to the old layout, giving you some idea of the numbers on each side. (And yes, I did write a detailed set of instructions for everyone on how to change to the dark layout!)

To come to the fact that the site looks a lot less well-integrated: I have to agree, but I'm still tweaking details to improve that. My aim is to try and retain the look and feel of the site, while making it easier to use for the vast majority of users. To that end, I will be messing around with the site over the next week or so, tweaking various elements of the site.

Some of you said you would prefer it if the site was entirely light, such as Autosport.com or GPOne.com. I understand the point, but again, my fear is I would sacrifice too much of the site's uniqueness by doing so. I am still experimenting with switching other sections of the site to a light background, such as the blocks of text in the side bars on either side and several other elements.

As for the Twitter feed, I have already updated the color for the tweets. I hope to be adding a couple more Twitter feeds to the side of the page soon too.

The Logo: yes, the rider lineup is outdated. A new logo will appear at some point, possibly with the riders removed. Don't hold your breath, though.

To answer the question as to whether this is an attempt to get more subscribers: It is not. I do not believe that you can blackmail people into being site supporters, and I certainly do not believe that people are stupid enough to fall for it. The reason we have chosen the subscription model we have is because I do not believe that paywalls are very effective. We want to offer readers a chance to support the site, without excluding other readers. The only content behind the subscriber paywall are desktop-sized versions of the photos posted by Scott Jones and the other photographers who contribute, and an ad-free version of the site layout (with a much wider main column). All of the articles are available to everyone. Our philosophy is that we hope to attract as many readers as possible, and then ensure they love the site so much that they want to help keep the site running by contributing financially. The NYT paywall operates on a not entirely dissimilar principle: most readers can use the New York Times exactly as before, but only those that frequent the site need to pay. We firmly believe in the voluntary paywall, but we also believe that people really have to want to support the site.

The reason that non-subscribers can't change the layout back to the old layout is that it is currently technically impossible to make different types of layout available to different types of user. We need to find a way of providing granularity of control over the layout system, and that is a non-trivial technical challenge. If we find a way of doing it quickly, we shall try to implement it.

The good news is that development of the mobile site is going very well, and it should be ready ahead of schedule. There will be an announcement once the site is ready.

One final note: the correlation between those who love the dark background and those who regularly use CAD is an interesting one. I'm not sure what it means, or if it means anything at all, but it has provided some interesting data points.

Thank you all again for your patience, and for reading the site. I hope to get back to writing about the sport in much greater detail again very soon.

Total votes: 102

Layout has stopped me reading articles

Hi David,

MotoMatters has always been my first site of the day until the change. I don't like it in white. To me the layout lacks credibility which is a total contrast to the content that I know it contains. Even so I have stopped reading the articles because it no longer feels that I will find unique insight. To me it is a shame that it had to change. Never one to be scared of change but doesn't mean that you can't be disappointed with un-necessary change.

Cheers,
MA

Total votes: 113

Necessary change

First of all, let me say I am deeply sorry you feel you do not want to read the site any more. However, let me emphasize that this change was necessary, and in response to a lot of demand from both readers and professionals. It was a change that I had resisted for a long time, but it became clear that it had to be made if the site was to move forward. 

Though the design is not yet complete, the main elements are in place and its final form is taking place. I hope you will change your mind once I get the site finalized. What I may do is make a layout available via the Mozilla Firefox extension Stylish, which could be used to revert to the older look and feel. 

I would like to emphasize once again that it is only the color scheme which has changed. I have not changed, and I hope the ethos of the site and the kind of content we will bring will not change. I want this to remain a site that I am proud to run.

Total votes: 110

No Problem

I had no issues with the previous layout, but the new, shall we say 'stark' contrast is better. Maybe its my ageing eyesight. I like it a lot !!! Thanks David.

Total votes: 92

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