Sure, writing a post with a title like this is just begging for someone to go and list a bunch of reasons why they think it sucks, but what the heck — we’re really excited about the new approach we’re taking with the front page. Here’s why:
News is front and center.
The SitePoint Blogs have been ticking along for a few years now, but it’s fair to say that they’ve never really been the focus of our site. We’ve always devoted more screen real estate to the high quality tutorials, inspiring design commentary, and business tips and tricks that we’ve published. For years, these longer articles have educated and inspired our audience, while the blogs have sat quietly in the background, making the occasional splash but never really getting the opportunity to shine.
Because of this, many web professionals visited SitePoint regularly for educational and reference material, but they went elsewhere to get their news. With this new blog, which we’re calling News & Trends, we’re planning for SitePoint to become the site to visit for web professionals, for both their educational needs and their daily news fix.
Add the RSS feed for the SitePoint News & Trends blog to your feed reader now.
We’ve got Josh Catone. (Yes, the Josh Catone!)
We’re very excited to welcome influential blogger Josh Catone to the SitePoint team. Josh joins us on a full-time basis, having previously written for the excellent tech blog, ReadWriteWeb.
Josh was recognised in April this year as one of the top tech bloggers in the world — in a list compiled by TechCrunch, he came in at number 13. Needless to say we’re pretty excited to have him on board, and he assures me he’s champing at the bit to start posting. I’ve had a sneak preview of some of the posts he has lined up, and they’re great stuff — SitePoint’s blog content never looked so good.
Our reader survey earlier this year told us a lot about what our readers want, and one of the recurring themes in that feedback was that our whole site needs a visual refresh. And we agree.
Now let me be clear — what we’ve done with our front page isn’t that refresh, but it’s certainly a step in the direction of where we’re headed. We have grand plans, but we’re tackling one thing at a time. The first step is delivering this great new content, and we’ve refined the front page a bit to let that content take center stage.
A common criticism of our old front page is that it was a bit overwhelming. It tried to convey a lot of information, and new visitors just didn’t know where to start.
While I think we still have some work to do in terms of making all of the great content on sitepoint.com easily findable, I like the fact that the front page now has a focus. It’s unambiguous that our news content is the focus of the page (updated frequently), and our educational content is grouped further down the page, and promoted via one of four feature spots on the page.
Our old page served us well for over two years. Whilst creating a flexible design that scales well is infinitely more difficult than a creating fixed-width design, there’s a lot to be said for the presence of white space. Our new layout has plenty of it, and it lets the content breathe.
It speaks to each of our audience groups.
Scroll past our exciting new news content, and you’ll notice that we’ve grouped articles, blog posts and forum threads into the logical sections of Tech, Design and Business.
This is a direct acknowledgment of the fact that there are three types of people who visit SitePoint — programmers, designers, and business folks (freelancers and entrepreneurs). We like to refer to these groups of visitors as developers, designers and dealmakers. Obviously there is some overlap between the groups, but for the most part it’s a pretty accurate segmentation. And by grouping content that is specific to each of these groups, we’re able to begin providing content that is more relevant to each group. And that’s always a good thing.
We’ve got lists.
OK, so providing content in list-form is hardly new or original (our popular guru lists have been a great way to promote some of the more popular articles from our back catalogue).
But the new What’s Hot list is a way for us to provide a list of the articles, blog posts or forum threads that we think are worth a closer look. Because we have editorial control over this list, a long thread in the General Chat forum about whether Nicole Kidman’s baby has a stupid name won’t make it onto this list just because it has 76 responses. By the same token, we can also apply editorial control to promote blog posts or articles that we think are gold, but haven’t gained momentum yet.
The What’s Hot list will be updated regularly throughout the day. Blink and you’ll miss it.
We’ve still got all the other stuff.
Our regular tutorials, interviews, product reviews, Kevin’s prescient insights, Brothercake’s rants, Andrew’s coding-can-be-fun revelations, Alex’s awesome graphics tips, Lisa’s usability commentary, Myles’s Rails tips, Kay’s ColdFusion round-ups, and all those other folks who pop in infrequently to generously share their expertise … all of this will continue here at SitePoint. Nothing changes in that regard.
And of course we’ll continue to add to our ever expanding library of best-practice books and kits. Just because we’ve got the news covered doesn’t mean the other stuff falls by the wayside.
As you can see, we’re excited about our new approach, and we hope you like it as much as we do. I’d like to give a huge thank you to our hundreds of beta testers who left feedback and made suggestions — your input helped shape the design that you see before you. It’s certainly better for it.
PS. If you’ve noticed something weird, or have some feedback about the new page, let us know in the comments!
Photo of Uluru credit: ernieski