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  1. #1

    Isn't a website redesign long overdue?

    Back in the day I'd check RPS several times a day, and the blog format worked fine for me then. Now, with more demands on my time, I check every other day or two, or I would, but I find I increasingly go to other sites first, such as Polygon. The reason is nothing to do with the quality of the content I've realised, but because the RPS site does such a crap job of catching you up with stuff you missed.

    I have a 23in 1080p display, which I'd guess is probably the single most common set up for readers of the site, and I think a comparison with Polygon is pretty instructive.

    I load Polygon and there are five well-presented stories at the top of the page, along with the site tab bar, and beneath it an ad. Scroll down and three more stories. Next there are five links to video content (though could be any form of content in principle), followed by two stories that get billing by their own next to an ad, and then another three side by side. It shows you a lot quickly, and by shuffling the layout it does so in a visually interesting way.

    I load RPS and the top half of the screen is just the site tab and an ad. The bottom half is six stories which, with the exception of big recent reviews, seem pretty randomly selected. To my eye the lower row of four stories is too small to do its job properly (unlike the generously sized ones on Polygon). After that, we just have the blog format of an endless single vertical row of stories, which uses all of a third of the horizontal space on my screen. To the right is a bar which is so baffling I long again learnt to just blank it out. It again shows a seemingly random collection of site content, firstly with another too small collection, this of 'News', a couple of larger links, complete with occasional red boxes because reasons, an alphabet of letters in order to search for tags (has anyone ever used this??), random snippets from BTL discussions (again, ever used this?), then more content links with occasional red boxs. My use of the site is as follows: ignore right hand bar, look at left hand side and scrollscrollscrollscroll, click Next Page, scrollscrollscroll... Any game in 2017 presenting itself this badly would be slated by the site.

    It actually saddens me how tired the site looks now. Its a site for PC enthusiasts which is designed for 4:3 monitors, a decade after 16:9 became standard. It manages to look both visually cluttered and to show too little information. It needs retiring. Please appreciate this is coming from someone that loves this site and has been with it since the beginning.

  2. #2
    Network Hub Sp4rkR4t's Avatar
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    Have to agree that the site, forums, well all of it is falling behind the times and does a very poor job of surfacing content you might actually want to use, this of course is made even worse by their use of the revcontent junk at the bottom of every article. It all just ads up to a unpleasant experience.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    I just wanted a full RSS like the old days, I'd even have subbed for it.

    I ad block the 'news from other sites' bit, it's fucking disgusting.
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  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus L_No's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    I just wanted a full RSS like the old days, I'd even have subbed for it.

    I ad block the 'news from other sites' bit, it's fucking disgusting.
    The blog format doesn't bother me as much, but that's probably because I check RPS multiple times a day and thus only have to deal with the new content on the front page. The news from other sites part is crap - it drags the entire website down.
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  5. #5
    Network Hub Viral Frog's Avatar
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    I've got no real complaints with the main site. Sure, it could be improved in ways, but I've seen a lot worse (almost every other games journalism website in existence).

    The only real complaint I have is with the forums. No mobile support? More than half the time I'm using the forums, I'm doing it from a mobile device. All the zooming in and out and scrolling and scrolling and zooming and scrolling and.... well, you get the point. The community makes the hassle worth it, but that doesn't mean that the hassle is necessary.
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  6. #6
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    Is there not an RSS feed? I'm getting something very like one from feedly. Also, is the news from other sites thing the taboola ads? They are the absolute pits.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarfrin View Post
    Is there not an RSS feed? I'm getting something very like one from feedly. Also, is the news from other sites thing the taboola ads? They are the absolute pits.
    I think helio means Full article RSS, not the "Read more" link thing we currently have.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    Agreed. I remember a thread about it about 4-5 years ago where I (and others) said pretty much the same thing.
    I actually kinda started on a redesign, but then the site changed and that blew up my concept.*

    The main issue is that the site has changed, but the format hasn't. The graphical design certainly looks old/basic in places, but that's more of a visual/style issue.
    The main issue is how it surfaces content.

    For a long time the site was basically a blog by 4 people. As such, the default wordpress blog format worked pretty well.
    Which is basically what RPS uses - a default blog layout with the blog posts listed in reverse-chronological order and a couple of categories.

    But RPS is no longer a blog run by 4 guys, it's a news magazine with content from multiple writers and freelancers, with (it seems to me - they do protest though) a much higher rate of content output. That means things get pushed off the front page pretty quickly and then disappear into the ether.
    They really need a magazine format, highlighting recent articles from different sections on the front page. This would allow the flood of news keep flowing without pushing the more interesting features out of view.

    Most other sites have switched to magazine formats long ago, and one can't help but feel that sites like Polygon, etc.. spend a lot more time, money and effort on web design.

    Things like the taboola ads are annoying, but probably unavoidable. Some other things may not be possible because of server loads, advertising requirements, costs, etc..

    But it still feels like they could devote a little more resource to improving the other aspects of the site.

    The current stream-of-conscious blog format still works ok if you are checking the site every day, or multiple times every day. But I'm in the same situation as the OP - less free time means I don't check the site every day and then when I come back I find that I need to scroll through 6 pages of stuff to spot the interesting stories. Which I'm doing less and less often these days.
    I can't say for sure that a site redesign would mean I came to the site more often, but it might.

    PS/ I'm sure someone posted a link to a mobile version of the forum a long time back.

    *Incase anyone is interested, my idea at the time was that people came here for the writers, so the design should surface that more and give each writer their own section, bio, photo, etc.. but then Jim left, Nathan left, John, Alec and Graham had sprogs and started writing less, and more and more content was provided by a wider range of freelancers and other writers... which kind of diluted that idea.
    Nothing against the new writers - I just don't know them as well and they don't seem to have have such distinct styles.
    It might still work, and I still think it'd be nice to have a games site that focused on the writers more.
    Last edited by BillButNotBen; 25-03-2017 at 04:07 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tikey View Post
    I think helio means Full article RSS, not the "Read more" link thing we currently have.
    Oh, OK. I quite like the read more version as I prefer reading the articles on the site.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viral Frog View Post
    I've got no real complaints with the main site. Sure, it could be improved in ways, but I've seen a lot worse (almost every other games journalism website in existence).

    The only real complaint I have is with the forums. No mobile support? More than half the time I'm using the forums, I'm doing it from a mobile device. All the zooming in and out and scrolling and scrolling and zooming and scrolling and.... well, you get the point. The community makes the hassle worth it, but that doesn't mean that the hassle is necessary.
    There is mobile support for the forums. At the very bottom bar is the box with --rps and contact US - rock paper shotgun - archive etc.

    Click on rps and a dropdown will appear choose mobile style. Much easier to read.

  11. #11
    Holy shit, there is! This is way better.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiril View Post
    There is mobile support for the forums. At the very bottom bar is the box with --rps and contact US - rock paper shotgun - archive etc.

    Click on rps and a dropdown will appear choose mobile style. Much easier to read.
    See, I knew there was one!
    I was even pretty sure it was somewhere at the bottom of the page... and I STILL couldn't actually find it. In the "style chooser" dropdown! Obvious!*

    *not.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    Out of interest, if RPS was to redesign the main site, what changes would people like to see in terms of:
    - Layout
    - Organization
    - Functionality
    or anything else?

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    Out of interest, if RPS was to redesign the main site, what changes would people like to see in terms of:
    - Layout
    - Organization
    - Functionality
    or anything else?
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  15. #15
    For me it has to start with designing for a 16:9/10 screen format. Have twice as much screen space to make use of instantly. A format that allocated front page space, and separated out, reviews, news, and features perhaps?

    Honestly the site now is so obsolete and unsuited (as pointed out above) to the amount of content posted that the list of possible improvements is pretty endless.

    Even if no redesign is forthcoming, things could be improved just by rethinking that awful right hand bar. Get rid of the pointless crap like the tags alphabet and the random posts window, and just have that side have a distilled version of the main window - that would speed up looking through content. Though admittedly would still be kind of crap.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Krathor's Avatar
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    I can only agree with most of the sentiments expressed in this thread, and am happy to feed them further up the chain (if no one's done it already?).

    The sidebar is a real bugbear (hurr) of mine, with things like this:



    (Taken today, 27th March)

    The 'What are we all playing this weekend?' article is actually from last weekend - 18th March.

    I don't have any interest in the Sims chronicle, and definitely don't think it represents some of the best work on the site. Moreover, that was published on 8th February 2017... why is it still being recommended to me two months later? Seems a bit arbitrary.

    But that's quite far down the sidebar, so what's the problem?

    Well I can only imagine the frustration of a new reader when they click on links near the very top of the sidebar, only to be told that half of them are for RPS Supporters only:



    The middle two are only for RPS Supporters, which isn't really clearly signposted prior to clicking on the links. This is content posted front-and-centre (or, er, 'right-and-centre') on the main site, yet isn't readable by the vast majority of people who visit the site. Encouraging RPS Supporters is very important, but the formatting of the sidebar makes it messy.
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  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    The red ones are from the archives. The "bear going Ta!" ones are for supporters only.
    I agree that it's pretty unclear. I think the "From the archives" posts are a reasonable idea, but I think there are too many of them, and they aren't clearly signposted, and by making them red it actually makes them seem more important than the newer news.
    The supporters ones would be fine, but they really need a graphic/message that explains that. I agree that it'd be very annoying for new visitors. Also, sometimes supporter articles open up later and i still have no idea if the "TA!" ones include those or not.

    I suspect that they are somewhat limited by the basic wordpress theme they're using. They basically only have the main posts column and the sidebar, so they have to cram everything into that.
    If they went with less of a blog-style theme and more of a magazine-style one (which wasn't common when RPS started, but is much more common now) then they'd have a lot more options for organization.
    Eg: They could have a list of Supporters Articles headlines and a random From the archives boxout along with the most recent posts from Reviews, Features, etc..
    They could also have a videos section, a podcast section (if they revive it), a news section, etc..

    I'd also go for a cleaner layout with more whitespace, and make it responsive.
    They may have some limitations on what they can do due to the requirements of the background ads though. Ad space requirements tend to f-up the best of plans for website layouts.

    I haven't really messed with wordpress for a while, so I'm not sure how much work there would be in refactoring for a different type of theme. Basic wordpress themes are pretty simple, but it depends on how much custom code they're running in the back end.

    Something like this would probably fit RPS pretty well:
    Last edited by BillButNotBen; 28-03-2017 at 05:48 AM.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Gee, who could have envisaged a template blog paywall would have caused problems?

    They should funnel some of that sweet subscriber funbux unto a site redesign which will be completely untested in the wild and breaks everything.

    Eh, it's a sequential blog with mostly time sensitive posts, video game coverage is one part hyperbole and one part preview with a sprinkle of insight (see movie coverage and music).
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  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus GameCat's Avatar
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    Something like this would probably fit RPS pretty well:
    So much clutter.

  20. #20
    Network Hub Sp4rkR4t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    Something like this would probably fit RPS pretty well:

    sweet jebus that's terrible, all it is is a even more cluttered and outdated version of what we currently have.
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