UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 34 February 17, 2006

Our life in beta

First of all, let me clarify that this was supposed to be a monthly “developer diary” but as it turns out, a month went by and we were busier working on the site (and its content) than this diary. We’re now nearly two months old and in dire need of a recap of what’s been happening at camp UX Magazine.

It’s been a bit mad. We launched this thing in time under normal circumstances: sleep deprived, doped up on coffee and late night radio. And there it stood, domains pointing, bug-ridden and all. But it was launched and a couple of people saw it and liked it. It was a good day. A few days later it would get linked on some a-list sites and everything would change. All of the sudden, we needed to get our act together and quick.

So we fixed bugs, actively courted writers and took every single piece of feedback to heart; and there have been quite a few. Everything is scrutinized, from our mark-up to our content, which is quite honestly, absolutely great. After two months, we have a clearer picture of what needs to be done.

Not everyone likes the “magazine layout” of the front-page. Most people (we’d like to say 95%) do, but a fair amount still feel more comfortable with a standard “blog” style. Also, some have complained about the lack of support for browser-selected font sizes in our current setup. At the same time many love the layout. What do you do in a case such as this? Drop the design and revert to something classic? Snub the critics and stick to what you have? We’re weak spirited so we’ll try to please everyone. We’ve been developing a system which could allow multiple views, such as the magazine style view, blog view and whatever we can think of next. This would also make things easier for people who’ve complained about the restrictive font-resizing aspects of the front-page. We have no set date for this as it brings with it all kinds of mark-up headaches but we’re committed to nailing this.

There’s always more content. We knew that we’d need to add stuff as time went by but what we’ve needed to come to terms is just how much. We quickly noticed that the layout as it currently stands needs to be modified to accommodate more content. This means, the Feed Merge and Link Pool on the front-page will be replaced by a more versatile area. This means more space, more freedom to add, you know, stuff.

Colours, icons, letters, what? People are getting utterly confused by our colour-coded categories. We’re working on a new way to display articles which would make this clearer even if it means radically changing the way we display things.

It’s all user experience. While we’re called UX Magazine our content can seem pretty broad. Getting a boss to see things through his/her client’s eyes, Apple’s switch to Intel chips, etc… We believe UX is in all of these things, we firmly believe that everyone involved in developing, selling, marketing or designing anything that a user interacts with should be into UX. Steve Jobs’ presentation skills can teach you things about designing a better interface, understanding why a design works can help you sell it. Our aim was to get people from all related fields to discuss what they believe made great UX, not to get UX specialists to have just another news site to go to. Call us a lifestyle magazine…

Every idea spawns a dozen more. We’ve been working on creating a final list. The features which will officially take us out of beta and into the brave new world of the 1.0 version. Exciting stuff, but where do you stop? As I said earlier, we’re pretty weak when it comes to accepting reading recommendations and they’re pouring in. So we’ve had to be strict with ourselves and make sure that we don’t turn into feature junkies. I’m probably the worst, starting most of my sentences with “how difficult would it be to…” or “would it be possible to”. It’s been hard but I think we’re finally close to a final list.

We’re still in beta, forgive us. While we’re just about two months old, wobbly legs and all we’re quickly losing the leniency afforded to us in the first couple of weeks of existence. Occasional CSS bugs pop-up, things break, things look funny… We’ve all come to terms that this would deserve a lot more time than originally anticipated but we also have full jobs and lives. Not really great excuses but hopefully extenuating circumstances. Thankfully we’re getting help, the commitment of amazing writers and if all goes well a better server.

Thank you all for making this a truly memorable experience. We’ll try to keep you in the loop more regularly from now on. As always, feel free to comment or drop us a line.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

User Profile

Alex is CEO of Sideshow , an award winning creative agency. You can read his blog here.

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Comments

44
45

Find intereating papers proposed by our paper writing services.

36
47

I don’t care if it’s Beta, Alpha, 1.0, or 8.23, I love it. Bugs are bugs, but apart from that, I’d have to be a critical Nazi to whinge on about any of the rest – keep up the good (late) work.

43
43

you guys have done an excellent job on the site. i love the home page. to me, it redifines how one can navigate a site.

rock on guys…
ciao

36
47

I haven’t been really looking, but I didn’t find any bugs around here. One of the best things I found was the movable 3rd column depending on the screen size. That is cool.

I also love the concept of the homepage, though I still have trouble finding the latest content, especially if I’ve missed a few updates.

37
54

As far as design, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice by changing it to a “standard blog style”. One of the reasons I quickly fell in love with the website was because of its excellent front page. It’s an excellent example of effective grid-based design.

At first, I was a bit confused by the color coded system. But once I made that connection between the top right and the little letters next to the articles, it was fantastic! Now that I’ve gotten use to it, I find it a lot more effective than the “standard” link list of categories. That’s part of the design which makes it unique.

Maybe you’re “weak spirited”, but please don’t change things already in place unless you’ve got a darn good reason. You’ve got an excellent setup, one it would be a shame to see go.

43
46

I think it’s brilliant. Out of the 30 or so blogs I read daily, yours is one of my favorites. Visually, I think this site has a class in it’s structure and form that few have, and especially for a 1.0 design, this deserves a lot of respect.

Keep it up!

39
46

I love the small blocks grid on your homepage. Details as category and date are not so crystal clear. But plz, don’t switch to the thirteen in a dozen weblog layout.

38
42

Thanks for the great comments, truly means a lot. Just to clarify, we’re going to try to have a “blog view” as an optional secondary style. Maybe letting people choose which option they want is the way to go. We’ll keep you posted. Thanks.

35
48

From what I’ve seen already, I’m certain you’ll nail it soon.

33
51

I love your homepage! The grid layout works so well, and it is original – I can’t believe anyone would want to have it revert to something more standard.

43
42

This sites layout is by far my favourite. I really enjoy clicking through the site, and thus far haven’t encountered any bugs at all. Keep up the good work!

44
44

What’s wrong with the category system you have in place? Who ever that’s confusing here shouldn’t be here in the first place then. You emphasize common sense here and if someone can’t figure out the three categories and what they mean, then this really isn’t their place.

50
43

Seriously, this is one of my favourite sites on the whole web. The content is great, split into three of my favourite categories and beautifully presented in award-winning style.

Don’t take the heat – you guys are doing a great job!

38
48

I love the current front-page, except for the issues with font-sizing. It strikes me that this would be the ideal use for display: table; and its kin.

If only the most popular browser supported it, eh? :)

37
49

don’t change the homepage guys – magazine/online style convergence is cooool. best of luck.

ps love the “bullshit sandwich” article title!

34
54

i founded this wonderfull site just today surfing the net and i like it very hucm! great job!

37
43

I feel the ‘magazine’ style frontpage (whatever ‘magazine’ style is) rather refreshing; you select what might interest you in the blink of an eye. I don’t know if categorising articles will assist my decisions to read, probably not, but I guess other people will choose on category.

I can understand that some people will experience accessibility problems with this style of frontpage, but that’s where technology can assist: one or more alternative stylesheets and the option to make your choice of stylesheet persistent will help out.

Ow, one more thing: loose the XHTML-strict/CSS/508 buttons: it’s silly. Validation is not a goal, but a means. It also will lessen your mailbox load in case in some article somehwere an ampersand is not coded correctly and some zealot will find out and fire a hate campaign—these things do happen.

39
49

Martin: Indeed, the validation buttons are a bit of a curse and attract all sorts of comments. We felt the need to show them as a way to explain that strict standards do not mean lack of control over the design or structure of a site. The strict standards are not to blame here but the black/white “validation is everything” philosophy that many of us have adhered to. A page explaining what’s going on and why this or that won’t validate might be a better way to go in showing the value of standards.

31
47

KEEEP THE FRONTPAGE!

It differs from all those stupid blogs out there, I like it. And thats why its the only RSS feed I have on my firefox topbar ;)

42
42

Frontpage is wonderful, really.
Not like all blogs in the net.
And again – everything is terrific. Keep up the great work :)

38
49

I think you guys rule!
Great layout. One of the best I’ve ever seen for articles.

48
41

I personally think this design is fucking amazing and I run several design businesses and have been in the field many years. You have really turned around a boring blog format into something interesting, good to read, good to use and something that I will bookmark AND subscribe to.

Don’t do anything different to this design other than slightly improve it, if you have to! It is simply amazing and I believe you are leading this field.

39
49

Love the design. Suggestion for the colour category thing… why not another row (under the box header thingy)? Background colour it and add in a wee text graphic with the category name??

And Ben, having spent a little time here I NOW know what the categories are but to a NEW VISITOR it’s just a wee coloured box with a letter in it. Surely THIS site should be encourage inclusion rather than prompt exclusion? “If they don’t know they shouldn’t be here?” If that’s the case how are we ever going to educate others?

Only thing that irks me is the fact that the front page hasn’t changed for ages… or at least doesn’t look like it has… finding new content is the first thing I’d want to do…

39
45

The UX Mag is excellent, keep the good job!

40
52

I wrote a review of your site, though it may not seem nice. As I like the design but there is some major issues with usability. You can read it here http://blog.theladderproject.com/archive/2006/03/24/127.aspx

34
40

Any chance you guys can divulge the txp plugins uxmag uses?

Thanks.

41
42

Don’t revert the design but maybe do offer an alternative, bloggy view of the content?

(or don’t bother, since you’ve got feeds and they can be rendered any way people want outside of your site)

39
40

Don’t revert the design but maybe do offer an alternative, bloggy view of the content?

(or don’t bother, since you’ve got feeds and they can be rendered any way people want outside of your site)

35
42

Any chance you guys can divulge the txp plugins uxmag uses?

Thanks.

40
46

I wrote a review of your site, though it may not seem nice. As I like the design but there is some major issues with usability. You can read it here http://blog.theladderproject.com/archive/2006/03/24/127.aspx

45
43

The UX Mag is excellent, keep the good job!

41
42

Love the design. Suggestion for the colour category thing… why not another row (under the box header thingy)? Background colour it and add in a wee text graphic with the category name??

And Ben, having spent a little time here I NOW know what the categories are but to a NEW VISITOR it’s just a wee coloured box with a letter in it. Surely THIS site should be encourage inclusion rather than prompt exclusion? “If they don’t know they shouldn’t be here?” If that’s the case how are we ever going to educate others?

Only thing that irks me is the fact that the front page hasn’t changed for ages… or at least doesn’t look like it has… finding new content is the first thing I’d want to do…

39
37

I personally think this design is fucking amazing and I run several design businesses and have been in the field many years. You have really turned around a boring blog format into something interesting, good to read, good to use and something that I will bookmark AND subscribe to.

Don’t do anything different to this design other than slightly improve it, if you have to! It is simply amazing and I believe you are leading this field.

39
39

I think you guys rule!
Great layout. One of the best I’ve ever seen for articles.

46
39

Frontpage is wonderful, really.
Not like all blogs in the net.
And again – everything is terrific. Keep up the great work :)

36
50

KEEEP THE FRONTPAGE!

It differs from all those stupid blogs out there, I like it. And thats why its the only RSS feed I have on my firefox topbar ;)

43
41

Martin: Indeed, the validation buttons are a bit of a curse and attract all sorts of comments. We felt the need to show them as a way to explain that strict standards do not mean lack of control over the design or structure of a site. The strict standards are not to blame here but the black/white “validation is everything” philosophy that many of us have adhered to. A page explaining what’s going on and why this or that won’t validate might be a better way to go in showing the value of standards.

46
46

I feel the ‘magazine’ style frontpage (whatever ‘magazine’ style is) rather refreshing; you select what might interest you in the blink of an eye. I don’t know if categorising articles will assist my decisions to read, probably not, but I guess other people will choose on category.

I can understand that some people will experience accessibility problems with this style of frontpage, but that’s where technology can assist: one or more alternative stylesheets and the option to make your choice of stylesheet persistent will help out.

Ow, one more thing: loose the XHTML-strict/CSS/508 buttons: it’s silly. Validation is not a goal, but a means. It also will lessen your mailbox load in case in some article somehwere an ampersand is not coded correctly and some zealot will find out and fire a hate campaign—these things do happen.

34
45

i founded this wonderfull site just today surfing the net and i like it very hucm! great job!

45
43

don’t change the homepage guys – magazine/online style convergence is cooool. best of luck.

ps love the “bullshit sandwich” article title!

38
45

I love the current front-page, except for the issues with font-sizing. It strikes me that this would be the ideal use for display: table; and its kin.

If only the most popular browser supported it, eh? :)

41
52

Seriously, this is one of my favourite sites on the whole web. The content is great, split into three of my favourite categories and beautifully presented in award-winning style.

Don’t take the heat – you guys are doing a great job!

39
50

What’s wrong with the category system you have in place? Who ever that’s confusing here shouldn’t be here in the first place then. You emphasize common sense here and if someone can’t figure out the three categories and what they mean, then this really isn’t their place.

43
45

This sites layout is by far my favourite. I really enjoy clicking through the site, and thus far haven’t encountered any bugs at all. Keep up the good work!

38
41

I love your homepage! The grid layout works so well, and it is original – I can’t believe anyone would want to have it revert to something more standard.

35
41

From what I’ve seen already, I’m certain you’ll nail it soon.

47
40

Thanks for the great comments, truly means a lot. Just to clarify, we’re going to try to have a “blog view” as an optional secondary style. Maybe letting people choose which option they want is the way to go. We’ll keep you posted. Thanks.

39
49

I love the small blocks grid on your homepage. Details as category and date are not so crystal clear. But plz, don’t switch to the thirteen in a dozen weblog layout.

41
43

I think it’s brilliant. Out of the 30 or so blogs I read daily, yours is one of my favorites. Visually, I think this site has a class in it’s structure and form that few have, and especially for a 1.0 design, this deserves a lot of respect.

Keep it up!

35
43

As far as design, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice by changing it to a “standard blog style”. One of the reasons I quickly fell in love with the website was because of its excellent front page. It’s an excellent example of effective grid-based design.

At first, I was a bit confused by the color coded system. But once I made that connection between the top right and the little letters next to the articles, it was fantastic! Now that I’ve gotten use to it, I find it a lot more effective than the “standard” link list of categories. That’s part of the design which makes it unique.

Maybe you’re “weak spirited”, but please don’t change things already in place unless you’ve got a darn good reason. You’ve got an excellent setup, one it would be a shame to see go.

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