Special note to Romenesko readers about this redesign

Romenesko’s readers are the most loyal of those who visit Poynter.org, so I want to extend a special invitation to you to share your feedback about the redesign.

But first, some history. Romenesko has been a part of Poynter for 10+ years, and in that time, we have redesigned the website 3-4 times. Each time we hear the same thing from many of you: “Don’t touch this blog. Change it back. I hate it.” And every time we’re asked (rhetorically), “Why ruin Romenesko’s unique quality by making his blog more like Poynter?”

So here, in advance, are our responses.

Why change this blog? As you might recall, many of you hated the look back in 2008 and told us that the site was cluttered, unfocused and difficult to use (and you’re not the only ones who told us that). Perhaps it’s grown on you, and perhaps this one will, too. Regardless, this change isn’t about the past, it’s about journalism’s future and helping people position themselves within it by providing the news they want and the skills they’ll need.

Why must you try to make Romenesko more like Poynter? Actually, this time we’re trying to make the rest of the site more like Romenesko. No one covers what’s happening in newsrooms & news organizations better. And, a lot of journalism is happening outside news organizations, which is one of the reasons we’ve created the Mobile Media blog, Social Media blog, and the new Media Lab. These new blogs follow Jim’s lead with curation, aggregation and quick highlights. And they appear in the same section as Romenesko (Latest News) because together these blogs explore journalism’s future as it unfolds.

Why did you make it harder to find Romenesko? Romenesko is where he’s always been. You can find him at poynter.org/romenesko or by clicking on Latest News, just like before. He has more company in that section, but he hasn’t moved.

Change is hard. To your credit, many of you initially dislike any change we make and recognize you will adjust. We appreciate that.

Some improvements we plan to make immediately, based on your feedback. We’ve heard the gray font is hard to read in the body of posts, so we will darken that. It’s also difficult to access an individual post for commenting or e-mailing. We’ll fix that quickly as well.

If you have other specific suggestions for how we can improve the experience, please let us know. We are grateful for your loyalty and aim to keep deserving it.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • Anonymous

    Why not post your traffic results for the month before and the month after the redesign and let transparency dictate whether people like it or not.

  • http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca Marshall Letcher

    The new design works fine – roomier, easier to read, and same great content.

    Marshall Letcher
    Web LInks Editor
    The Canadian Encyclopedia
    Historica Dominion Institute

  • http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca Marshall Letcher

    New format looks great; its less cramped and easier on the eyes; and as informative as ever.

    Marshall Letcher
    Web Links Editor
    The Canadian Encyclopedia
    Historica Dominion Institute
    http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com

  • Anonymous

    Ms. Moos
    You’re way overthinking this. It’s lousy. As others have said, it is bland and the personality has been stripped away.
    Yes, people get used to design changes on websites and in newspapers because they have no choice. They can’t see the old design. I can get used to the pain in my hip but that doesn’t mean my hip is better than it was before.
    You’re alienating your core. What’s the demographic of Romenesko readers? I imagine it must be mid-late career folks, not the 18-29 group. Your followers are people who are prone to nostalgia and don’t appreciate unnecessary change.

  • Anonymous

    Ms. Moos
    You’re way overthinking this. It’s lousy. As others have said, it is bland and the personality has been stripped away.
    Yes, people get used to design changes on websites and in newspapers because they have no choice. They can’t see the old design. I can also get used to the pain in my hip but that doesn’t mean my hip is better than it was before.
    And you’re alienating your core. What’s the demographic of Romenesko readers? I imagine it must be mid-late career folks, not the 18-29 group. Your followers are people who are prone to nostalgia and don’t appreciate unnecessary change.

  • Anonymous

    I find the new layout unreadable. You can dismiss that as coming from someone who does not like change. But that would be wrong.

  • Anonymous

    I find the page unreadable.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Sylvan, we did consider making that change to how the headline links function, but the current mode is such an ingrained part of the Romenesko reading habit we left it as is for now. It’s definitely something we’ll continue to consider, though.

  • Anonymous

    The biggest issue with Romenesko remains… your stories all take us away from the page. I often click through to read more, then never make it back to Romenesko. Why can’t the links open a new window, so we can easily get back to Poynter? I would argue that is the most crucial update you need.

  • Anonymous

    The biggest issue with the site still exists… when you click through to the stories to read more you’re taken away from Poynter. I often don’t make my way back and finish getting through the Romenesko news. If anything needed to be redesigned, I would argue that is it!

  • Anonymous

    Julie – yes the previous format was cluttered, but now the main text is too diffuse. Please apply baby-bathwater analogy. Oh, and if Roger Ebert doesn’t like it than who am I to argue with him! : )

  • http://twitter.com/GlennF GlennF

    This is exceedingly bland, harder to read and scan, too much white space, and personality-less. Jim deserves better (even though he might himself care as much about the change).

    MediaNews was densely packed like a newspaper. Now it’s loose and all over the place, feeling less interesting and intimate, and harder to read at a glance. This feels precisely like a redesign done because a redesign felt necessary instead of being guided by the purpose of the information being delivered.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradleyfikes Bradley J. Fikes

    The redesign looks to me like a clumsy attempt to downgrade Romenesko and make us think about Poynter, complete with the supersized “Poynter.” with the too-cutesy period. But you’re dealing with journalists, who see through such marketing gimmicks and laugh at them.

    “Actually, this time we’re trying to make the rest of the site more like Romenesko.”

    If that’s really your intent, then you should let Romenesko redesign the entire Poynter site. He’s Poynter’s top draw for journalists. Please listen to him.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Good questions. We know that Romenesko readers are often very interested in our other coverage, but don’t often see it unless Jim links to it, which he can’t always do. So, yes, we definitely want to find ways to make that content more visible to people who read Romenesko. We had success with that in the 2008 design; although readers objected at the time to the “top story” and “recent articles” widgets, crazy egg tracking and Analytics told us they used them to view other parts of the site. Time will tell whether our redesign strategy this time has that same effect, and I will be happy to share what we learn in a few months. Thanks for asking.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    We’ve heard from a bunch of folks about the scrolling and are looking at some options for more content on the page. Thanks for the feedback.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Aki, Glad to know you like the site. I hadn’t seen that issue on the “share” button for articles, I’ll add it to the list of fixes. Thanks!

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Dennis, Several people have mentioned that it seems like there’s less content on the page; I’m looking at a few options for addressing that. Thanks for the feedback.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Gary, thanks for the feedback. The related tweets on Romenesko’s page are now only from the @Romenesko account, since Jim is using Twitter as his new “left rail.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VNQJJ2V527UBL7THL6VONEL6NE Gary

    Don’t like the redesign – bland. Don’t have any desire to see twitter feeds. I get David Carr directly. Your Twitter scrolling is just irritating.

  • http://twitter.com/warpafx Robert Moran

    I was going to complain, but then I thought to myself: Why? I rarely come here anymore. News about journalism comes to me now, via Twitter, including from Romenesko. As I convert more from web to mobile, I am becoming more disconnected with what people are trying to accomplish with web redesigns. Oh, but since I’m here…Reminds me of the frequent newspaper redesigns that annoyed readers rather than helped them. Instead of focusing on creating more great things for people to read and enjoy, the redesigners worry how to make readers eyeballs move this way and that, and direct them into loops around repackaged content. I could be wrong! I haven’t checked everything out. I’m shooting from the hip. You could be enjoying great traffic. Like I said, the web looks more and more alien to me. Good luck. -Robert Moran

  • http://twitter.com/warpafx Robert Moran

    oops. double post

  • Anonymous

    You used to be able to quickly see a lot of headlines. I suspect most people are like me — quick scanners who are looking for items of specific interest and then need to move along. The new design will boost your “time on site” metric but it isn’t user friendly to make people work harder on a site that is predicated on quantity as well as quality as a reason for being.

  • Anonymous

    Meant to add — before I got tangled in the Disqus registration maze — that the loss of links and higher density of content per page really deadens the Romensko blog. Each redesign seems to drain the energy out of what used to be a vibrant live wire.

  • Anonymous

    Way too much white space. And by submerging Romenesko in the larger Poynter universe, you’ve killed the one great entry point you had.

  • http://twitter.com/hughmcook Hugh Cook

    I don’t like it. Too much white space. Have to scroll down forever to read the day’s content. Reads like two-thirds of the stories are missing.

  • http://twitter.com/ebertchicago Roger Ebert

    A sad day for Romenesko lovers. The personality has gone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1530637755 James Joseph

    Just an FYI that a lot of us have no interest in reading Twitter. None. Won’t do it. Why? I just don’t need to add one more site to my routine. So anything you post there is not getting read by me, and I’d imagine more than a few others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1001024793 Peter Abraham

    The lone reason I go to this site is for Romanesko. The blog was once easy to read and uncluttered. With each passing redesign, it gets harder to read and cluttered up with links I don’t care about. What used to be a 3x a day habit is now once a day, if that. With this latest redesign, I know it will be less.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=720315735 Aki Soga

    I like the new, less cluttered layout. It’s cleaner and the stories are easier to see. I mostly come to the site for the post so anything that makes it easier to get to the stories is fine with me. Also, the multiple pages means I don’t have to keep scrolling down for ever. However, the twitter button on the “share” link only pulls up a standard “Romanesko/Poynter” with the link. I like to have at least a version of the headline to work with.

  • Anonymous

    I think at some point you need to be candid and explain that this re-design is an attempt to leverage Romenesko’s big audience to other parts of the Poynter site. That’s what Atlantic Monthly did with Andrew Sullivan’s DailyDish. We can talk all we want about aesthetics, etc., but the bottom line is you have a valuable property and you’d like to leverage it.

    The real question (from my perspective) is: will you be successful? Who cares if people complain if they stick around and explore more?

    Will you report back to us in a few months on whether this redesign achieves this goal? There are lessons for the industry here.

  • Anonymous

    If it’s not broke, why break it?

    Dan

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=529349199 Dale Eisman

    It’s telling that the “special note to Romenesko readers” urges us to accept the new design but provides not one single word of explanation of why the designers believe it is an improvement. Is this just change for change’s sake?

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Darth, we are working to resolve that and expect to do so shortly. Thanks for being patient in the meantime.

  • http://twitter.com/josephtartakoff josephtartakoff

    As for why you’re redesigning Romenesko, you write, “this change isn’t about the past, it’s about journalism’s future and helping people position themselves within it by providing the news they want and the skills they’ll need.”

    That sounds nice, but what specifically about the layout changes accomplishes this?

    It seems to me that because the posts are now spread out so much (and the text is much bigger?) it takes more effort on the part of the reader to scan the latest news since you have to keep on scrolling and scrolling. A positive aspect of the previous design was that it was easy to quickly read and therefore, presumably, you were able to get “the news you wanted and the skills you needed” faster.

    I’m very glad you switched the font to black, although it’s somewhat troubling that it ever was gray. It’s hard to see how that would have helped the stated mission.

  • Anonymous

    It’s irritating that each entry now occupies so much screen space. I have to scroll a lot to find out what JR has posted, which is a pain. I want to get a snapshot of the new posts in one screen, which the old site better allowed.
    Making the type black is a big improvement–that was my other beef.
    Why is Romanesko now being called “Poynter.”? (And why Poynter with a period?)
    I agree with earlier comments about too much white space and bland corporate/amateurish blog look–a list of giant posts.
    The content is still great tho–thanks Romanesko!

  • Anonymous

    At this rate the next redesign of Poynter.org will be a GeoCities page.

    What happened to Poynter as a design leader?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RFX27RTJ3IDWE66DKOAO64VIP4 Darth

    There’s an ad that keeps refreshing every 10 seconds. Please make it stop!

  • Anonymous

    I find this much easier to read. I’ll actually spend some time reading the lead paragraph instead of just scanning for headlines.

  • Anonymous

    This redesign, like many, is not an improvement! When you scroll you now see less content. The “feel” is lifeless. Better luck next time.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Well, the silver lining is that people care so much, and Poynter is lucky to have such a smart following, eager to share their ideas, often proving the wisdom of the crowd.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Thanks, Jay. Eliminating registration was a priority for the new site since it really inhibited commenting. Note to self: Be careful what you wish for!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628233825 Trevor Butterworth

    It must be horrible to have to face such horrible criticism from PIAs like me; so props there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jill.geisler Jill Geisler

    I think the darkened font looks significantly better! Nice to see such quick response to constructive feedback. The posters are really helping the Poynter.org team refine the redesign.

  • http://twitter.com/jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen

    An oversight? Okay, got it. Still doesn’t make any sense to me. That’s like saying “we realized after we launched this thing that we needed to put the date on our posts.” I am glad it will be fixed.

    On the positive side, that I can comment at Poynter.org with Disqus is a vast improvement.

  • Anonymous

    And why isn’t Romenesko’s name part of the large type at the top — instead of just “Poynter”? Initially, I kept clicking to see if I could find the actual Romenesko page. I thought I had someone gotten to the Home page of Poynter. Romenesko is a true Brand. And you should present him as such.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Thanks, Trevor. The feedback is helpful. We’ll look at the two sidebars.

  • Anonymous

    I have always been a Romenesko Addict. But if this is the new look, I will look elsewhere. This is poorly organized. And I agree that nothing stands out. The previous design looked substantial, meaty. This looks like some amateur blogger who doesn’t know how to do anything but string a bunch of items — all looking the same — together and let them run down the screen. I have worked at 8 newspapers and know that you can’t please all readers when you change design. But in this case I think you really blew it. This is change for change sake. Nothing here improves the content. It’s all costmetic — and not even good cosmetics.

  • Anonymous

    I had attempted to post a comment earlier about the font, which I find extremely gray and difficult to read, but a remedy appears to be in the works. Great. Now about having to scroll pages at the bottom….
    This reader doesn’t like that type of jump page.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Hi, Jay. Sadly, you’re giving me too much credit. The lack of permalinks was an oversight that we are in the process of addressing (should be done by the end of the day). It’s interesting that you mention the left rail. That has been an issue in all of the previous redesigns and this time Jim and I both felt that his Twitter feed had essentially replaced it. He rarely updated the left rail and used tweets instead for those smaller items, which he’ll continue to do and which will feed into this page. People find the charm of Romenesko’s brand in different places, I guess, but most consistently it seems to be in his editorial judgment, which is a constant that has withstood name changes and multiple designs and years. I have faith that will be no less true today.
    Julie

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Phogan, Thanks for commenting. We’ll take a look at the two sidebars; we considered positioning those differently but that seemed less readable. No doubt, we’ll be making improvements in an ongoing way, so stay tuned and thanks for giving some of the new blogs a try.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628233825 Trevor Butterworth

    While I understand the benefits of incorporating more functionality into the reader’s experience, a commitment to an aesthetically pleasing reading experience seems to have been abandoned. This looks like a bad corporate blog. I couldn’t agree more with the previous comment that the double right column is like a gate post that’s almost as big as the gate – and your eyes keep crashing into it. There’s too much white space around the key information and a mess of clutter in the top right hand corner of dubious value. We’re not here to graze like ruminants; we’re here to grab what’s going on in the media world – quickly – and go back to our jobs. Mediagazer is looking like a better sell right now – vastly more content that’s easier to visually assimilate.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    James, Thanks for the comment. The gray font is being darkened as I type. You should see it by the end of the day.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad to see the first comment here leads with one of my two issues with the redesign: the body font is way too light, gray and includes too much leading. It’s just plain difficult to read.
    I also dislike having to scroll pages at the bottom in the new manner.
    Who likes to read jumps?

  • http://twitter.com/jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen

    Sorry, Julie, I don’t like it. I didn’t grow to like the last re-design, either, but I did tolerate it. The problem with this one is that nothing stands out from the page. The headlines and bold faced names and the charms of the Romenesko brand itself seem lost in a wash of sameness. I think you were crazy to get rid of the left rail feature he had used so effectively. This looks like an archive to me, not Romenesko. And how come I cannot link to an individual post? That sounds far too basic to be an oversight. What was the theory there?

  • http://twitter.com/jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen

    Sorry, Julie, I don’t like it. I didn’t grow to like the last re-design, either, but I did tolerate it. The problem with this one is that nothing stands out from the page. The headlines and bold faced names and the charms of the Romenesko brand itself seem lost in a wash of sameness. I think you were crazy to get rid of the left rail feature he had used so effectively. This looks like an archive to me, not Romenesko. And how come I cannot link to an individual post? That sounds far too basic to be an oversight. What was the theory there?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the comment on the right side of the page. The two sidebars are slightly off-kilter between each other, giving the whole thing a jarring effect.

    I may give the new blogs a try. I used to subscribe to E-Media Tidbits, but I removed it from my RSS feeds a few months back because it rarely ever updated.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the comment on the right side of the page. The two sidebars are slightly off-kilter between each other, giving the whole thing a jarring effect.

    I may give the new blogs a try. I used to subscribe to E-Media Tidbits, but I removed it from my RSS feeds a few months back because it rarely ever updated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1530637755 James Joseph

    The gray font really has to go, and the right side of the page is much too cluttered IMO. Vertical stacks of links right next to each other never look good and are very visually distracting to the eye. The right side of the page is so visually heavy that it really competes with, and takes away from, the content on the left.