New look to Locally Grown, now in process

If things look like they’ve gone to hell in a handbasket, they have.

It’s late Sunday night (10:50 pm) and we’re whacking away at some big changes.

Give us till 7 am Monday before you start asking questions. Thx!

107 comments to  (Including 4 Discussion Threads) New look to Locally Grown, now in process

  • 1
    Griff Wigley says:

    It’s after midnight… heading to bed. More to come in the morning.

  • 2
    Griff Wigley says:

    I’m a bit late…. working on more changes now. Give me another hour for some big stuff.

  • 3
  • 4
    Griff Wigley says:

    Yep, Tracy, we’re getting there. The blank banner ads are now up.

  • 5
    Griff Wigley says:

    I’ll announce this later but this redesign of the look of LoGroNo is a Griff/Tracy thing, not a Sean thing. I purchased the theme, called WP-Vybe and Tracy’s customizing it.

  • 6
    Griff Wigley says:

    I’m done tweaking the visual stuff and gizmos for now. Next task is to get the ad banner auctions lit.

  • 7
    Holly Cairns says:

    I stumbled on new.locallygrownnorthfield.org and wondered… this is great!

  • 8

    Griff, can the default font size be increased? I’m finding this tiny Verdana a little hard to read.

  • 9
    Holly Cairns says:

    Hey Sean, If you used Explorer you could zoom to 125% (bottom right hand of browser)!

    Ha ha, I know that’s pushing your button :-)

    Text looks fine according to my settings… but I do have my glasses on

  • 10

    Holly, I’m aware the browser can enlarge the font, but I think 8pt is uncomfortably small for most uses.

  • 11
    Griff Wigley says:

    I think it’s too small too, Sean. Tracy, can you tweak it?

  • 12
    Bright Spencer says:

    I don’t like the several comments after the right hand headers. It’s makes it hard to peruse the topics du jour. The little font I can deal with though, but is unnecessary, imho. Thanks!

  • 13

    Griff,

    Are you guys really going to be having ads on the site?

  • 14
    Tracy Davis says:

    I increased the font size of the main posts and left the sidebars at 8 pts (for comparison, and because increasing those will take up a helluva lot of room). Thoughts?

  • 15
    Griff Wigley says:

    Hayes, yep, we’re going to have ads. No spoof! I’ll blog about it as soon as I get the auctions listed. For now, you can see that the left sidebar has an ad for non-profits, whereas the right sidebar has two spaces (two sizes) for businesses. See the new LG Advertising Page for more.

  • 16
    Griff Wigley says:

    As an experiment, I’ve added the SezWho plugin for rating blog posts and rating comments.

  • 17
    Tracy Davis says:

    I’m experimenting with SezWho, but it makes me log in EACH TIME I want to rate something. I’ll try it in IE (currently using Firefox) and see if it’s different.

  • 18
    Tracy Davis says:

    I also noticed that something seems to have really slowed the site down since a couple of hours ago.

  • 19
    Tracy Davis says:

    Okay, I tried it again in IE and it worked fine. I need to practice getting the thumbs-down button all warmed up for Griff’s next Faux News piece….

  • 20

    The purple print on the right does not show up very well for me on my computer. Is this an homage to Maggie Lee?

  • 21
    Tracy Davis says:

    I brightened up the text color on the sidebar, Susan…. is it better now?

  • 22
    John S. Thomas says:

    Just a heads up guys… its loading painfully slow here. Well over sixty second page loads and transitions, and not completely loading the sidebar at times…

    I am using a brand new HP laptop Dual Core with 4 GB ram, on the corporate connection, with Firefox 3.0.4.

    I have rebooted, and cleared everything out.

    Main text is loading promptly, but the sidebars are clocking or not loading at all on the homepage.

    I will check it at home in a few hours.

    I LOVE the new design though. Do NOT change the fonts, but allow them to be manipulated by the browser.

    -J

  • 23
    John S. Thomas says:

    I am also VERY MUCH opposed to the utilization of a third party, SEZWHO.com to aggregate and track every one of my comments on Locally Grown. (see the who am I link next to your name.)

    It is my decision, not yours, when it comes to what I want to share online.

    I did not sign up for this, and it is an invasion of my privacy.

    Show me in your signup agreement terms where you stated you were going to do that, and share my information with third parties.

    This is unacceptable in my opinion, and I do not wish to participate.

    It appears that they suddenly have well over a year of LGN content postings on thier site.

    I need to hear from you on how I can opt out.

    LocallyGrown needs to have a posted privacy policy. You made this change without informing your user base. If you did inform us, it was not via e-mail, or readily apparent.

    Please advise. This greatly concerns me, and I want the option to opt out, as well as having these posts removed.

  • 24
    Tracy Davis says:

    John, I’ll check into this. My understanding is that SezWho requires you to actually register in order to work. What you see next to your name is probably the equivalent of a google search. I need more info. I agree with your concerns.

  • 25
    John S. Thomas says:

    I found the opt-out on their site:

    http://sezwho.com/opt_out.php

    I have no idea how it got my posts, as I did not register, and it did not recognize any of my e-mail addresses as valid.

    I will see if it removed the “Who Am I” link.

    Please let me know. I don’t mind my comments in the community, but I would prefer them not to be held by a third party.

    I know -- Don’t post, if you do not want it public, and I can live with that… but I chose to post to LGN, not SezWho.

    Thanks for looking into this.

    -J

  • 26
    John S. Thomas says:

    I get the following now, when I click on the “Who Am I” link:

    “This user profile is no longer available to the community. The user has chosen to opt-out of SezWho.”

    This will work for me, but I am still concerned to see if others have automatically been opted in.

  • 27
    john george says:

    What!!!??!! Is nothing sacred in this town?! Oh, yes, I forgot. This is a secular web site, not a religious one, though some do post here religiously! I liken this rearrangement to rearranging the grocery store. Just when I figure out where to find the pickles, they move them over next to the peanut butter. Oh, to be young and flexible again!

  • 28

    Yes, Tracy, the formerly purple is now a brighter blue. But it still will take some getting used to. Could it be a brighter color than blue instead?
    I am glad Griff deactivated SezWho. Like John T., I do not want to be part of it. And I don’t like the idea of “grading” or “rating” other people’s postings. Why add a popularity contest?

  • 29

    I don’t find the SezWho all that useful, but I think you’re being unreasonable, John.

    You wrote:

    It is my decision, not yours, when it comes to what I want to share online.

    That’s absolutely true. It was your choice to post on LG. After you submit your content to a site, though, it’s their content to do with what their want. The only promise they made you was to not publish your e-mail address — I think that’s been abided by. If you didn’t want your name connected to what you said, don’t say it.

    (I speak all this as just another commenter — as may have been apparent from this new theme, I am no longer involved with the tech work of LoGroNo.)

  • 30
    John S. Thomas says:

    Well, I don’t think knew the full extent of what SezWho does.

    It has never been about standing behind what I post, or a decision about having my name associated with what I post.

    I just don’t like to believe that the scope of my comments are on LoGroNo, then suddenly they are out on a third party site.

    I am not stupid in the ways of the internet. I have been in the industry for quite a long time and understand that as soon as you hit send, it is public, and lasts forever. I just would like to lessen the spread so to speak. There is no real reason for all of the posts on LGN to go viral and everywhere. The audience outside of Northfield could probably care less.

    My only fault is much of the time, I am far too vocal. 8-)

  • 31
    John S. Thomas says:

    I am also a bit concerned about this advertising model that is coming here, and wonder if a subscription model is next.

    If you move from a non-profit.org to a site that takes in revenue from advertising, the model and content then have a bias based on cash flow. I wonder how that is going to change the content here.

    Do we see the site becoming more “news-y”?
    Do we start to see premium content services for a fee?
    Do we start to have to start to pay to see streaming content?

    I just wonder what is in store for us in 2009. It would be interesting to see as someone who posts here frequently what Griff’s master plan is. 8-)

  • 32
    Holly Cairns says:

    What? No more Sean at LoGroNo?

    I like the ad space. It feels “real” now. It felt suspicious before. No ads = strange.

  • 33
    Tracy Davis says:

    We really are making this up as we go along. There’s no master plan of increasing charges or whatever.

    Griff regularly puts in anywhere between 20 and 35 hours a week on LoGro. Ross and I don’t do nearly that much in an average week, but the time invested is still considerable. In addition, there are some out-of-pocket costs involved in what we’re doing, and that seems to be increasing. So the short answer is, if LoGro is going to continue we need to do things differently, find a way to fund it, or both.

    I would *hope* that the independence of our content wouldn’t change as a result; advertisers should know what we’re about before they purchase space, and if they get offended, they just won’t renew.

  • 34
    John S. Thomas says:

    You know… I always thought that if Griff was to be played in a movie, it would be by Mike Meyers, and it would be somewhat like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers…

    Always have a master plan… and ask for one Meeeeeeelllioooon dollars… 8-)

    Griff always has a plan, or at least as most IT guys, LOOKS like he has a plan. He likes to futz with things and see how they work, much like I do.

    Frankly, I am really surprised that LGN has gone this long without a methodology to bring in some self sustaining revenue to pay the hosting costs, etc. Something needs to be done to feed the technology habit.

    It will be interesting now to see what businesses jump on board. Several businesses will have to create simple sites just to have a place for the banner ads to land. Interesting utilization of the E-Bay auction model for the ads. Innovative thinking.

    If one is a non-profit, how do they bid to garner space? I thought the goal of a non-profit was not to spend money, just as they should not make a profit.

    The new design looks great. Just be careful about having too many bells and whistles on the page that impact load time. Not all of the plug-ins necessarily need to be on the homepage. Load time is better at home, so I wonder if the websense blocking software at work is wreaking havoc on the page load. I will check again tomorrow.

  • 35
    Griff Wigley says:

    I’ve turned on a plugin for rating comments called Top Comments, the same one used by WordPress founding developer Matt Mullenweg. The plugin was launched on his blog last August.

  • 36
    Griff Wigley says:

    I’ve got a new blog post up to discuss the advertising plan. Join me there!

  • 37
    kiffi summa says:

    Griff: Lookin’ better; I like the “work in progress” theme. Thanks for explaining about the needs for ads, but I’d like it better if you could function off grant money rather than ads because people(innovative people) keep coming up with more e-ways to get your attention.
    Look at Talking Points Memo website; as you’re reading the headlines, the banner ad explodes and delivers ‘things’ all over the headline text! often great animation but bothersome as can be to the reader after a while. Please keep your ads confined within their boxes!

    3 comments about comments: 1. comment box hue often not very different from background….2. green for comment names help #1, but why are some comment names black and some green?…. 3. numbers on the comments were sometimes useful for going back to see what was said; are they coming back?

  • 38
    Bill Ostrem says:

    After a quick scan, I like the new look! Much cleaner.

    Regarding ads: as someone who has put a lot of time into generating content for his own blog, I understand the desire to be remunerated for the work. Without some income, it is much harder to keep it going. That said, my own site produces VERY little income, and I do it for other reasons.

  • 39
    Holly Cairns says:

    Hey, just an idea. I’m not reading the articles anymore! Maybe a different color and a half a point bigger, and a tiny more space between the article and title? There’s no draw and I see it all the same (hence scan and find nothing…)

  • 40
    Holly Cairns says:

    Different color and half point bigger = titles

  • 41
    Julie Bixby says:

    Changes always take me time to process! I do like the look. What is the “Current score: 0″ about?

  • 42
    Tracy Davis says:

    Julie, we’re experimenting with features that allow the LoGro community to rate comments as well as posts.

    It’s far from scientific, but it gives us all a way to provide feedback to each other on how interesting/useful/relevant/wonderful a particular comment may have been.

    It’s not a popularity contest; it is to be hoped that it may be a way to boost our discussions’ signal-to-noise ratio. It’ll take awhile to accumulate enough ratings for the feature to be at all useful; this may not be the right tool. (We already had one strike with SezWho.)

    Anyway, that’s the thought behind it.

  • 43
    kiffi summa says:

    But Tracy, you didn’t tell Julie How to ‘do it’ !

    Julie: If you think it’s a really good or useful comment, just click on the little blue/orange icon and you’ll see that the current score will go up one number.

    P.S. I think this is pretty lame because couldn’t someone just keep clicking on one they like , or favors their POV, and make the concept useless?

  • 44
    John S. Thomas says:

    That brings up an interesting point.

    I tried to “happy click” on a few of them. Firefox pops an error message saying you already clicked on it.

    If I then go right over to IE7, the score shows, but no clickable button.

    It must be tracking it on your side somehow. 8-)

  • 45
    Leonard Witt says:

    Hi Griff and Tracy:

    A guy brought up on linear design finds the site busy. It’s hard for me to focus on one thing and I have trouble knowing what’s most important. I know you have the rating system, but still there is so much I am having trouble connecting. But like the others I might have to give it time. I liked the simplicity of the older format. You blog on the left, commenters were on the right.

  • 46

    Oh, great. One more thing to worry about in life: Will I get a thumbs up or not. Tracy, what does “signal to noise” ratio mean? Is it a way to drive away those who don’t get anyone to click thumbs up on their comments?
    Here, John T., I am going to click on your latest. Want to reciprocate?

  • 47
    kiffi summa says:

    Leonard: I agree with you on all that you said , but I also know that one can familiarize oneself with the site if one wishes to continue to participate.

    My general issues are with what I would call the ‘cleanness’ of the design; maybe crispness is a better descriptor? An early commenter, Bill Ostrem… Hi, Bill! .. said he found it cleaner than the old site design, so maybe clean is in the eye of the beholder.

    From a designer’s POV (general , not specifically website) I would say your eye is not easily drawn to one area or another because of lack of meaningful contrast and I say that even with the right sidebar being so dark. There’s too much evenness of hue/shade to differentiate areas. It’s ‘pretty’, but is that graphically helpful?
    The old site design was ‘pretty’ also, but in a bolder, more attention getting way.
    This design doesn’t say: Look here, or look here!
    The various areas compete with each other for importance.

    Overall, I think many of the elements of successful poster design are applicable: What do you first want people to see? What is OK for them to have to look to find?

    All that evaluation , not criticism, said … keep fussing with it, Tracy and Griff.

  • 48
    Randy Jennings says:

    Tracy and Griff,

    Please say more about what value the scoring gizmo adds to civic engagement. It seems to me rating creates a false sense that the discussion is representative of community opinion when it is no such thing. (If you, dear reader, agree, please give this post a thumbs-up.)

    If it serves some important purpose, why does the rating system capture only agreement? Is that just Minnesota Nice? While there are many comments with which I will happily indicate agreement, there are just as many that I think are completely wrong. If there’s value in gauging assent, there must also be value in gauging dissent. (If you, dear reader, agree, give this post a thumbs-up, unless, of course, you’ve already used your thumb above.)

  • 49
    Charlene Coulombe-Fiore says:

    I accidently hit a thumbs up twice..and was warned…cheating huh??
    How cute is that?

    Your continued work on this site, amazes me!
    Great job! LOve the colors.

  • 50
    Julie Bixby says:

    Thanks for the information Tracy and Kiffi.
    I agree (and gave a thumbs-up) to Randy Jennings comment. I too think that if there is a way to agree then, perhaps, there should be a way to disagree, and yet, isn’t that what we all do by commenting?

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