back to article The Register's 2018 homepage redesign: What's going on now?

If you're reading this, you've probably seen a link offering to opt you into checking out our new homepage design – and you're perhaps wondering what it's all about. Right now, The Register is alpha testing a new front page layout, which we started talking about publicly in July. Back then, you had to click on a link in an …

  1. LenG

    Lipstick on a pig

    I stropped using the front page years ago - I come to the Register via the weekly summary page. I'm not sure if the new page is an improvement or not. I'm not convinced the boxes add anything and the Top Stories/Latest News/Most Read divisions mean a number of stories appear twice on the homepage - in some cases adjacent to one another which just looks silly.

    The weekly page gives me a chronological list of stories. I can go to the top and scan down picking up the new stories I want to read, stopping when I reach the material I have already seen. Maybe I'm just an anti-social old fart but I don't care if a story is most-read or unvisited by anyone but me - I actually deplore trending/most read as it pushes people to all read the same stuff at the expense of other potentially more significant material. As for Top Stories - decided by who? Without knowing how they are selected the category is more or less meaningless.

    As an experiment I turned my adblocker off on the new front page. It has animated ads so I turned it back on again. I don't object to a limited number of static ads but animations are a no-no for me.

    Not, I'm sure, what you want to hear and maybe I am an atypical reader. But you asked.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: Lipstick on a pig

      @LenG

      Yours is the only comment so far, and I came to say exactly the same thing. I use the weekly page, and for exactly the reasons that you mention. That makes TWO atypical readers, at least...

      1. VBF

        Re: Lipstick on a pig

        Make it 3 - seems like much fuss about very little.

    2. The Jon

      Re: Lipstick on a pig

      Absolutely agree with this

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/Week/

      is the only way to know what stories I may have missed since yesterday / this morning / 10 minutes ago.

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        Re: Lipstick on a pig

        I use the RSS feed and only use the front page if I want to go back to re-read or check something. When I have used my 'smartphone' to read El Reg, I prefer the non-mobile verison and I resent those websites that force 'mobile friendly' pages on me. If I wanted the 'mobile' page, I'd bookmark it.

        (I think that 'Lipstick on a pig' is over-egging the pudding.)

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Lipstick on a pig

          Exactly the same as Frank Ly, RSS feeds for me.

          The feeds represent zero publicity and leads me directly to the article that interests me. It's far easier than on the eyes to read some basic text without having all the surrounding HTML fluff..

          I almost never go to the Front Page as it doesn't offer me anything more than the feeds already offer.

          1. Magani
            Happy

            Re: Lipstick on a pig

            Wot they said above.

            RSS feeds show me what I'm interested in, and fortunately I don't have to read anything on my phone when it can wait until I'm in the presence of a decent sized screen.

            Ditto to the comment re 'I see you're on a mobile device so here's the mobile version...'. A pox on all their houses.

    3. oiseau Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Lipstick on a pig

      Hello:

      ... don't object to a limited number of static ads but animations are a no-no for me.

      +1

      +1

      +1

      And a round of beers for you.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Lipstick on a pig

      I use the front page but dispute the lipstick. It's what you get when you fix what wasn't broken.

      1. sorry, what?
        Facepalm

        "Top Stories"?!

        I don't want to have this hog the top of the page. I liked the area tucked away, out of the way. This is not my go-to part of the page and is only of minor interest to me. I want to see the latest stories list. If you want to make this UI responsive, make the top stories a "slide out tab" when on a narrow device and otherwise leave it perched on the right hand side. Or let me turn off display of this section.

        Perhaps I need to switch to the "week" page that everyone is talking about in the other comments; I didn't even know it existed and have been reading El Reg for at least 8 years!

  2. Giovani Tapini
    Stop

    Informal test results

    Takes longer to load new page on mobile due to top line ad. Little difference on desktop.

    Don't like the new page selecting the different topics for me, I just read what's interesting. I really don't see the point in trying to push me towards the topic areas of storage, security etc on landing.

    If I ignore the content, it looks OK visually. but latest news should just be latest, not latest for each topic. Often there are several decent "latest" articles in security for example.

    I'll probably carry on with RSS feed as my primary, then I can see what really is latest.

    I cant bring myself to add to the application of PIGmented paraffin wax to a porcine (double pun) though. El reg is just a bit better than that, at least for now!

  3. K Silver badge
    Pint

    Its too busy...

    Lots of boxes and I can't figure out WTF is going on.. Its almost as if there should be lots more "headered" sections below "Latest News".

    On another note, if you want boxes, then use Tables.. They're far more organised.

    When I was a back-end developer, the front-end guys detested my efforts at creating a UI, as I always used tables. Magic things they were, but apparently "DIV" was the new "cool thang". But they say fashion repeats, so El-reg has an opportunity to be a trend setter hear, go on, use tables!

    1. tony72

      Re: Its too busy...

      Agree, the boxes look clumsy, I don't really see what they add; the page looks much cleaner without them. I'm struggling to picture the creatives meeting that came up with that;

      "What can we do to change the look of the site?

      [head scratching]

      [beard pulling]

      [blank stares]

      "We could draw boxes round everything?"

      "Genius!"

    2. Marco Fontani

      Re: Its too busy...

      Its almost as if there should be lots more "headered" sections below "Latest News".

      Like the "most read" unit, with a different background and a "Most Read" title?

      All the others boxes under "latest news", at least right now, are stories ordered in descending order of publication time.

      The list is kinda "interrupted" by the "most read" row, and then it continues on after it.

    3. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Its too busy...

      And the boxes in different row don't line up either so it looks really jarring

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its too busy...

        I just gave the new homepage a, brief, try. I find it somewhat visually jarring. I suppose it's much like my preference for doing things from the command line at work versus making changes using GUIs. I know I could get used to the new homepage or perhaps switch to the RSS feed as others have mentioned. I do understand the desire to operate a single page and enjoy the articles and the comments so I suspect I'll stick around either way.

    4. matjaggard

      Re: Its too busy...

      Use tables? Seriously grandad?! Just go back to sleep and let the working age people sort the website out.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Its too busy...

        "let the working age people sort the website out."

        They did and this mess is what we got.

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Its too busy...

      On another note, if you want boxes, then use Tables.

      No, if you want a table then use a table but don't use tables for layouting not least because it doesn't work well for different viewports. Flexbox gives you the best of both worlds.

      Regarding the design: boxes and guttering but without a consistent grid is distracting. The guttering should be sufficient otherwise using background shading is less of a distraction.

  4. Refalm

    I don't really care about the front page, since I use RSS.

    But adding a night mode would be nice.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "I don't really care about the front page, since I use RSS."

      Is the RSS still working? I used to see it on Myth TV and it stopped updating a week or too ago so I unlisted it.

  5. Lt.Kije

    RSS Rocks

    MeToo, & all that.

    Just the stories,thank you very much.

    Shame RSS seems to be withering elsewhere.

  6. ChrisElvidge

    RSS here too

    I download the RSS feed and then convert all references to www.theregister.co.uk to m.theregister.co.uk and serve that feed locally (cygwin, sed and nginx).

  7. JohnFen Silver badge

    Optional thumbnails

    It would be sweet if there were a preference setting that disables the little thumbnails that go with the stories.

    I agree with others who dislike the boxes. They're distracting and unattractive, and don't really add anything. If they were a lot lighter, then I think they'd be a bit less objectionable.

  8. CHMultimedia

    As for me, I enjoy the new design. Maybe a little too much white on mobile. But this is according to my preferences. It's impossible to please to everyone

  9. phy445

    Desktop front-page should be three stories wide

    The front page view appears to default to being four stories/boxes wide. I think this is slightly too wide to take in at one glance–especially if you prefer larger typeface sizes. Its a bit like the wide margins in LaTeX documents are disconcerting to someone used to Word documents, but once you get used to it, it is easier(quicker) to read as the eyes do not have to move back and forth as much.

    1. EastFinchleyite

      Re: Desktop front-page should be three stories wide

      Agreed. The loss of the "Top Stories/Most Read" separate column on the right of the screen is a mistake. The change looks cluttered.

      A familiar website layout is much the same as a product Brand Identity. It takes time and effort to build up and is easily lost in the search for new "shiny". There needs to be compelling reason for change and I can't see it here.

      Is this layout change an essential part of the goal of " responsive – so that it looks good automatically whether you're reading us on a phone, tablet, or desktop computer"

      or is it to make it "more dynamic for our editors."

      Screw the editors, your priority should be this; does it please existing readers and attract new ones.

      I suggest you leave both layout options open to readers for a full year and then gauge the results. If industry practice is anything to go by El Reg will switch to the new layout regardless.

    2. EastFinchleyite

      Re: Desktop front-page should be three stories wide

      ps.

      Fired up the website on my Android mobile. Tested the old and new. mobile layouts.

      The existing frontpage has tabbed choices for Top Stories and Most Read. The new discards this feature. I suppose that makes it more responsive and or more dynamic for editors otherwise you wouldn't have done it.

      Also with the old design I could see the banner plus three stories on first view (without scrolling). The new layout has one big advert. With scrolling I get two stories in the same screen area. Bloat.

      How much is all this costing? Wouldn't the money be better spent on paying journalists?. I/We read ElReg for the content, not the pleasing layout.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Desktop front-page should be three stories wide

        @EastFinchleyite

        Agreed but as I don't even bother with Top/Most read I'd ditch those as well and make it even less cluttered.

        I/We read ElReg for the content, not the displeasing layout.

        FTFY

  10. John Crisp

    Tried again

    But no, still horrible.

    I don't want images & other mush on mobile.

    I don't want suggestions & bright ideas. I rather enjoy exercising the grey cells.

    A simple uncurated list that I can choose from. No images. Puts a premium on you writing good headlines.

    I tried the 'week' list as suggested above but images are a pain and the text far too small.

    If you want to do garish on the desktop then go for it. I almost never use it.... maybe once a year.

    Mobile I'd just like a simple, clean, chronological, text only list. So 1990s. So easy to use.

    Since messing with front ends over the last few years, particularly when you started going all responsive, the site has become less and less readable and I spend less and less time on it. Sad but true.

    I just CBA to wade through crud.

  11. jfm

    Looking at the new homepage on a Moto 5g in Chrome. It's hopeless: have you actually viewed it on a phone?

    There is not a single headline visible: just an ad covering half the screen, and the top part of the image for the first story. The font on the first 5 or so stories is way too large and just wastes screen space. In the remaining stories with images, the image is too big, taking up half the width of the box with the text crammed into the other half almost as an afterthought. The boxes are ugly, and between them and the wide linespacing there's a general sense, again, of wasted screen space.

    Clicking through to the archive is like a breath of fresh air: headlines and stories with no faffing about.

    Please, try reading the page on a phone and then reconsider the design.

  12. matjaggard

    I really like the better distinction between editor chosen content and the latest stories in date order. However it's frustrating that I now get zero content without scrolling on my mobile - just a lot of header, a big advert at the top half of an image which doesn't really represent the story it is with (I'm fine with the choice of amusing and/or pointless pictures, but not as the only content I can see!)

    1. Miguel Vieira

      Agreed, the 'Top Stories' unit has now a more compact look to it, we've dropped the top image for smaller devices and reduced font-sizes and margins, the result being you should now see in the vast majority of mobile devices, at least, the headline for the first Top Story without the need for scrolling.

      On a technical note, we're looking into optimising that image markup, as right now we're simply hiding it with CSS 'display:none' which doesn't prevent the browser from loading the image.

      But wheels are being spun and whips are being lashed to deliver a solution where the image is not loaded at all for those devices where it's not meant to be shown.

      We have a few other changes in mind to "clear up" some space to fit actual article content into those mobile devices as well which we'll be addressing through the course of the week.

      Thank you for the feedback so far.

  13. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Confused

    Didn't like it. Too many changes of layout as you go down the page. It looks chaotic and disrupted. If anything, I'd prefer fewer images on headlines, since the images rarely add anything to the stories, so they're just taking up space.

    In passing, I didn't know about the weekly summary page, but now that I've tracked it down I won't be using that either. Again, too many images and too much text-per-headline means that it isn't a space-efficient "index" in my book.

    But maybe I'm just odd.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Confused

      "But maybe I'm just odd."

      Maybe but in view of the rest of the comments most of us are similarly odd. But we always knew that.

  14. asdfasdfasdfasdf

    Too few articles shown at the same time...

    On mobile at least, the new site only shows 5 or so articles at a time. The old site could show 30 or so. Also on the old you could scroll left and right to make navigation much faster.

    Basically it’s the mobile site curse - one very long vertical list.

  15. Joe W

    Boxes.. (mobile layout)

    Hell no! At least the layout books I read tell me not to use them. Use whitespace as a separator. Do not get caught by the horror vacui...

    Especially annoying are the vertical lines on the mobile (single column!) layout. The vertical lines of the boxes take up a lot of horizontal space and have no function as there is nothing to separate from in that direction. As Tufte wrote: remove all ink that has no function.

  16. MichaelGordon

    Layout still needs some major work. For example, if I view the page with the web browser window at my preferred width I only get one story per line when more would clearly fit. This is demonstrated by the fact that if I make the browser window roughly 1/3 wider than my preferred size I get 4 stories per row. Other than that I don't think there's anything major that can't be fixed with a few CSS overrides to move/resize/hide a few things.

  17. Shades

    Nothing that can't be fixed...

    ...with a few User CSS / Stylish rules....

    https://imgur.com/a/StJYqMp

  18. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    Info density too low

    Classic style gives me at least 4-5 story heads even with images; without it may be 6+. New design? Lucky if I can see 3 (echo: what's with all the boxes...?)

    Took me 10s to switch back... Any more undedense and it will become vacuous.

    Content still good tho ;)

  19. OliP

    please, no

    The latest news bit being all different widths is breaking my brain.

    Please tidy it up for those of us who need visual order.

    I'll be moving to that /week view that i had no idea existed.

    only been here nearly a decade :)

  20. David Roberts Silver badge
    Windows

    Place holder before I check it out.

    I will come back and reply to this once I have checked out the new layout.

    I mainly read El Reg on a Full HD 10" tablet in portrait mode. I resize the visible display to hide all the cruft down the sides so I just get three columns abreast. I find this just the right size to read.

    I have adverts blocked because they are just so infuriating (or were last time I checked). A subscription option would be nice with no adverts.

    Nobody so far has mentioned the style change between W7 and W8/W10. That did not go well. Then again I think I usually opt for the Classic view in earler Windows versions, and so I must be resistant to change.

    1. David Roberts Silver badge

      Re: Place holder before I check it out.

      Well, curate's egg.

      First annoyance; the opt in has a link next to it to this comments page so you can come and comment. Once you are in, the opt out has no such link. I opted out again so I could find the comments page. WTF??

      Kudos for recognising a high resolution device and giving me the desktop version not the mobile one. Must go and check this out on my phone.

      Kudos for the four wide layout which makes the home page more compact on my device and requires less vertical scrolling.

      Demerit for what seems to be a pointless "Latest News" heading. As far as I can see this just tells me that the articles at the top of the page (which is in date/time order) are the most recent. Uh, duh?

      Top Stories is intrusive but is right at the top so I can ignore it.

      Most Read is a pain. It was much better to one side where I could ignore it by resizing the screen. Oh, and what makes something a Top Story if it isn't the most read? Personally I don't care which is most read because I read what interests me. On newspaper sites such as the Guardian (Oops, outed!) where there is a mass of content which never makes the front page then the Most Read at the bottom of the page (BBC does this as well) gives an alternative route to what news is hot at the moment. El Reg, as far as I can tell, has all the news in one place and the last few days can be easily viewed by vertical scrolling.

      Summary. I would go with the new format just because the 4 columns suits my device of choice, and ignore the irritating bits which disrupt the generally smooth layout.

      Oh, and are you going to tinker with the forum page layout? Currently it matches the old front page style and this suits me just fine.

  21. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Hmm.

    I wonder what the stats are - how many people opted in to see the change, and how many are still using the new layout?

  22. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    Waste of space.... literally

    Category and time/comment count - two lines that just aren't needed: headlines should speak for themselves. And "hrs" since when? No idea when I last refreshed. Date/time if you have to but followed link color change treks me what's new. There's not enough news in my visual field to fill my input buffet. Increase info density and eliminate the vacuous.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Waste of space.... literally

      "Category and time/comment count - two lines that just aren't needed"

      I kinda like those bits. Though now I'm trying out the RSS feed, that doesn't include those bits. We shall see.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Waste of space.... literally

        "Though now I'm trying out the RSS feed, that doesn't include those bits."

        A couple of weeks after declaring that I'll be trying out the RSS feed, and I think I like it. I haven't looked at the home page since. RSS informs me of new articles, and https://forums.theregister.co.uk/my/forums/ informs me of new comments on any article I'm interested in. If we could get an RSS feed of the user forums, then it'll all be good.

  23. pstiles

    Sorry, it didn't make finding new articles easier or browsing older ones

    my vote is to leave the front page alone.

    this is like the new BBC front page; that redesign didn't help me find things.

  24. AlternativeFact

    Why does mobile keep getting worse?

    Originally there was an El Reg app for the iPhone. Nice and compact, could scan the titles of the articles each day and read what interested me. Then you dropped the app (presumably for economic reasons) and really made it difficult to find the mobile version. Eventually I found it and managed to store a link to it on my phone, and that was a reasonable substitute for the app, even though it reset itself to the desktop page from time to time. Having struggled to find the new mobile homepage (at least I assume that Top Stories is where it is), I find that the title and description of each article means that my phone (an iPhone 5) can accomodate no more than three articles, and because the titles are longer it takes me longer to find out what they are about. Why can't you understand mobile usage?

  25. onefang Silver badge

    User forums feed?

    Speaking of RSS feeds, the user forums needs one (or more), they are kinda invisible on El Reg in general.

  26. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Nah.

    Sucks on a mobile. Too much wasted space. Cant comment on the ads; long since gave them the boot - you only inflict animated/video ads on me once.

    I have to agree with previous comments regarding pigs & lipstick

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Nah.

      "Cant comment on the ads;"

      It's too early on a Saturday morning, first time I read that I was thinking "We can't write comments on the ads?" It's still too early in the morning, now I'm thinking that might actually be a good idea. Let us commentards write comments about individual adverts. It could be a source of entertainment for us, might encourage some of us to whitelist El Reg in our ad blockers, more eyeballs on adverts, more money for El Reg. What could possibly go wrong?

      I need brekky.

  27. beardypete

    Please leave things as they always have been - the content doesn't need to be curated, users read at least daily and simply want to know that they haven't missed anything, the old format works perfectly to that end.

  28. Alpc

    Prefer the current version

    Personally, I'm quite happy with the current site layout. Only minor problem is that articles tend to be repeated on the home page when I scroll down. Aside from that, seems fine. Article tags such as On-Call etc are really handy for finding what I want to read. Tried the new layout and went back to the old one. My tuppence worth.

  29. Anthropornis

    Screen almost all white!

    On my netbook (1024x600 screen) I thought it was being very slow to load (that's normal, an old machine with minimal memory and loads of windows across two browsers, so swapping a lot). Then I realise it had loaded - option at the very top, to restore to old home page, then the rest of the screen had a label, and lots of white space. Scrolling down, I eventually found items - full size picture, text, repeat (for a couple of items). Totally useless.

    Back to the old homepage, several columns of headlines where I can decide if I want to read something, and open it in a new tab if I do.

  30. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Nope

    Add me to the list of people who dislike the new layout. I like the simplicity of the current design, whereas I find the new design cluttered and confusing. I do navigate from the front page instead of using RSS, but I think I would spend less time on The Register if the new layout goes live--good for my work habits, less good for keeping my eyeballs stuck on El Reg.

  31. Robert Forsyth

    Desktop Version OK, but...

    (I thought) The original design was to mimic a red top tabloid, I assume that is why in landscape there are useless grey bands left and right. Could these unused areas of screen fulfil the mechanics of a web-page (navigation to the left) and (slow moving or static) advertising (to the right).

    I am not sure you have to limit yourself to this metaphor, it is a web-page.

    Don't have an ad at the top, then repeat it down the page, that just annoys. Although I want you to make the most money from your adverts. Perhaps you could have a classified ads section.

    Basically there are landscape and portrait modes, with a roughly portrait content area.

    In landscape the banner, navigation menu, and footer can slide to the left. And the equivalent to the leaflets that fall out of a newspaper to the right.

    In portrait mode the banner and navigation menu reveal when you scroll up or stop scrolling for a few seconds.

    The main content area, seems reasonable:

    Big picture news story somewhere near the centre.

    Top News big size, medium, small, small; top left

    Most read just a list to the right

    Latest news big size, medium, small... below

    I don't think the categories (Data Centre, Software, Security, etc.) work, although the headline could be tagged with its category in small perhaps DC, SW, Sec, DO, Bus, PT, Sci, ET, BN, and Lec. Clicking on the section navigation would filter.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    PERL?

    [disgust intensifies]

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope

    All the nopes. Definetly nope. It's really not doing anything for me - specifically: everything. I like what we have now, it kinda works with it's own oddities, but the new one - nope.

  34. AutonomousCustard

    Given up and opted out

    I've stuck with it for a couple of months but finally get fed up with it today. It's a mess and needs too much scrolling. I like to graze through the articles, but to do that now I have to scroll past a load of 'most read' 'top stories', and when I finally get to the meat there's more scrolling because the lots of the tiles are now bigger.

    El Reg, I think you've taken a leaf out of Microsoft's UI book. Please give it back.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Given up and opted out

      There's always...

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/Week/

      ...which displays a list of articles in date order from the past seven days.

      C.

  35. Dwarf Silver badge

    Damn opt out cookies

    Only last for a week, then you have to go through it all again. Why not keep my choice, it my eyeballs - or did you hire the programmer from Apple that always forgets the choices on media playback on the next install ??

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