Can’t Win

For years, one of the most common complaints about The Archive was that the layout was frames based. I’ve always been aware of the problems that frames present, but felt that the nature of the data being presented lent itself so well to a frames layout that I was willing to accept the consequences, even though advertisers pay less for impressions on a framed site. Still, getting rid of them was one of the big design goals of the new site, and I felt I had accomplished that pretty well.

Now that I’ve finally gotten that particular monkey off my back, guess what the most common complaint about the new site is? “Where did the frames go?” “I hate the new layout!” “This is much harder to navigate than the old site!” Sigh.

Now, to be fair, these commenters have raised a valid point: It’s no longer possible to quickly access all of the mishearances of a particular song, or all by a particular artist. Without the frames, you have to click your back button to return to the listing. And the javascript list collapser I’m using doesn’t remember which sublist you had open when you left the previous page. So these recent comments, in a way, are validation of the very reasons I used a frames layout to begin with.

During development of the new site, I was so focused on the voting system that I did almost all of my test browsing via the Vote button. Had not even considered trying to consume the site in such an orderly fashion. But one commenter had a great suggestion: Why not include a mini-list on every lyrics page containing all related songs and artists? </me smacks forehead>. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that eight years ago? Hey, that’s why it’s called a public beta. Will work on that next week.

Music: Smog :: Hit the Ground Running

3 Replies to “Can’t Win”

  1. The new layout is a go-jillion times better, don’t listen to the naysayers… =)

    Of course, some kind of breadcrumb or navigation aid for dealing with related songs would be welcome…

  2. no matter what, every website redesign, no matter how much better the UI is, or how many new features there are, gets complaints from regulars. it’s just the vocal minority, who have nothing better to do with their time than bitch.

    a site i frequent regularly just ugraded the forum software they use — same app, newer version. you wouldn’t believe the complaints. Now, even though the UI changes were fairly subtle (most of the changes were for efficiency, backend features, etc), instead of getting messages that said “hmmm….any way you guys can change the stylesheet so the heading font is a bit smaller?”, they were all like “i HATE the new site! it’s totally unusable. why are the fonts so freaking huge?!”. so take it all with a grain of salt, tho if you see some gold mixed in with the trash, grab it — which is what you seem to be doing.


  3. Thanks baald. I definitely remember you going through a similar process when you re-launched that big old corporate site you were working for/on.

    Anyway, I just added a “related artists / songs” feature to the bottom of every lyric page, so that complaint is now moot. Works nicely.

    Another interesting backfire is with the voting system: The largest bulk of votes for and against are for mishearances with vulgarity in them. In other words, people either vote big for vulgar mondegreens because they’re naughty (whatever) or against because they’re offensive. So voting on pure funniness is not getting the play I had hoped it would. But it is working in general, and I’ve been able to batch-delete a whole lot of dud submissions based on votes already, so we’re getting somewhere.

    Another interesting thing: Now that the slashdotting is over, site traffic is way down. I kind of predicted that getting rid of the frames would have this effect, because you can’t consume the pages as quickly anymore. Hopefully this “related items” feature will rectify that somewhat.

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