I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve been making changes to our “face” – our layout – gradually over the past weeks. There are two main reasons for it.
First is the feedback we’ve gotten from you, our readers.
One of our most popular pages is the one for Leipzig movie showtimes in the original (aka Movie Showtimes – OmU). For a couple years, I’d been doing it (manually!) the same way every week: big dates on top of each of the sections. Movies and theaters below, ordered by showtimes. Some trailers. But I still found it clunky. So what did I do? I made some changes a couple weeks ago, including adding more trailers! Go figure. I also began sorting by movie titles instead, with more information. Now, that latter part made sense to me.
Ah, the perks (and downsides) of being one’s own webmaster…
While some readers liked the new look – we asked on social media – some of our most loyal Movie Showtimes – OmU followers did not. They wrote us and asked what was going on with the page they’d relied on for so long for their cinema fix. So I started breaking my head for a solution that could please most of our readers. A way they could sort the page however they liked, or search for specific movies, theaters and dates. Here’s the database I’ve just come up with – have a look and let me know if it works for you.
I’ve made other changes, most noticeably on 1. the front page and 2. inside the posts themselves. We’d had the same “cover” for the past couple years, as well, which looked just fine to me. In fact, I’d spend some minutes a day staring at it admiringly. However, my OCD mind kept telling me that it wasn’t right that the posts from the top slider were being repeated in the body of the page. We’d written more than one thousand articles, but most remained buried, because what were the odds you’d find them, unless they were sometime somehow specifically on your radar?
We listened to you on that one, too, although maybe not as directly as in the case of the movies page.
Our number of story views, social media likes and shares, as well as a survey, have all told us that our readers want local tips the most. So now we’re serving them up right below the slider, which still shows our most recent stories (now extended to 10). As you refresh the page, you should get different local tips or at least combinations of tips, though sometimes we fix them there on special occasions. Below that, you get a sampling of what makes us “glocal” – travel and opinion pieces by diverse people, about diverse situations and places around the world, written at different times since we started in March 2015.
And yes, our most popular stories from the past almost four years also make an appearance, before the footer with all the website info. Because the sidebars with all the white spaces annoyed me, so I eventually had to get rid of them. And so did the menu items lying above our web magazine title. Since I was making other changes anyway, why not just move them below the title? I guess it’s a snowball effect with the changes.
You must think I have a lot of time on my hands to obsess over all this; but trust me, I do not.
Which brings me to the second reason we’ve made changes: simplification and editing time!
I like that our front page now keeps itself fresh by showing you articles you might not have known about. Some are evergreen, others are a bit dated, but I’m confident you can always get some useful insights from them. I intend to bring some of those articles back by posting them on social media, as well. Oh dear, it takes so much energy and creativity to populate our channels on a daily basis, as one person managing them.
And you have no idea how much extra editing time and work I took on for the luxury of having two columns inside articles in our layout, to make it all look like a newspaper. Words had to fit perfectly in them, without breaks (try this shit especially with German words). Pictures had to look just right, and not be cluttered side by side on the page. Until one day this winter, during the whole layout soul-searching, two columns joined in harmony and became one. And I was reborn, free(er).
In short, we’re trying to make our pages and posts easier to edit and populate, while keeping them fresh and useful. We’d appreciate your suggestions and any other feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.