4-wide panels good; needs better 'NoScript' compatibility, non-flat buttons
Please don't even REMOTELY fall into "the blackhole of scripting nightmares" (and the UNNECESSARY bandwidth consumption that comes with the CDN and 3rd party scripting bloatware library downloads) that too many OTHER sites "feel" they "need".
Using 'NoScript' caused most of the graphics to "not display". Please test with NoScript and its default settings, and make sure the appearance is the same. If it's because of "a bozillian different servers" are feeding content, please stick to ONE server (or at least one URL base), or maybe two at the most, and no use of scripting to load graphics. Most browsers are smart enough to keep connections alive. You don't need 'many parallel servers' to feed content efficiently for a single web browser. (so please don't head in that direction either, thanks).
Less 'bandwidth intensive' is _ALWAYS_ better! (even if it's not YOUR bandwidth that's affected)
NOTE: I _ALSO_ suggest fixing ad banners so that they NEVER have script in them. That way, they'll still work when people use NoScript. IT professionals SHOULD use NoScript, and practice "safe surfing". They should understand just how *INSECURE* scripting is (meltdown, spectre, 0-days, bitcoin harvesting, yotta yotta) and NEVER run scripts on anything but the MOST trusted of web pages, and even then, by specifically allowing for it "just for this session". With _THAT_ kind of very security-minded thinking, you'd expect MOST 'El Reg' users to NOT allow scripting, not even for El Reg. So make your ads work WITHOUT the script. Then we're ALL happy!
New column design: 4-wide instead of 3-wide: easier to scroll article titles. I like it.
HOWEVER, putting non-size-compliant panels (including ads) and THEN cramming others to make 'em fit: not so much. It breaks up my ability to eye-scan the page for interesting things to read. In other words, it GETS IN THE WAY. Things that GET IN THE WAY simply *ANGER* IT people. But you knew that.
And pseudo-random panel size changes are WAY too similar to a "the Metro" tile screen. That's enough to HATE it, right THERE!!! Think about how SOME people actually take it upon themselves to gripe at *ME* for using things like CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis (I do this to break up monotony and stress points). But, at least the text itself doesn't change size.
"The Metro" and "Tile Screen" and "Start Thing" are _NOT_ "modern", no matter how many millenials whine and call people like me "luddites".
The existing 3-wide panel design _does_ waste a lot of screen real estate. So going to 4 wide is good! Changing panel widths at semi-random to put an oversized ad panel in there? not so good.
The 'subscribe' "button" at the bottom looks like a flat red rectangle. How about some 3D skeumorphic effects to make it look like a BUTTON instead? That's right, I want to START a REBELLION against the 2D FLATSO! (I gotta try). FYI I use 'bitmap image' buttons for my stuff. The files are usually very small, and you can make 'em look like "whatever" that way. Hand-draw in the 3D skeumorphic, maybe with a vulture watermark, some ALL IMPORTANT 3D skeuomorphic features, and voila! [your own articles and research show that flat rectangle buttons make for BAD UI cues - can't recall the article, it was from about a year ago]
There's supposed to be a shadow effect in CSS but it may not be supported in all browsers. However, using a "bitmap button" works every time it's tried.