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The redesigned Brickset site

BooTheMightyHamsterBooTheMightyHamster Northern edge of London, just before the dragons...Member Posts: 1,296
I know there's an ever-growing list of comments on the news article about this, but it strikes me that it warrants a forum topic of its own.

I've only been around for about a year, so I'm not sure if this is Huw's first revamp of the site, or whether it's been done before. I know that over at my usual hangout (a videogaming site) we've had about 5 major overhauls in the last decade, which usually results in :

1) Much screaming, wailing and beating of chests, while demanding that 'the proper' site is returned to us immediately.

2) A select few announce that they will never accept the new blue colour scheme, and unless the orange one is reinstated, they will flounce out, never to return.

3) Some people say they actually quite like the new look.

4) Some people say that additional use of colour will make it even more difficult to browse the site while at work, and why can't we have a site that looks like an excel spreadsheet?

5) Within a couple of months, everybody's forgotten that it was changed.

6) A couple of years later, the site is revamped and people demand the return of the 'original' blue site.


And so on, and so on...

I suspect that I'll get used to the new look. It doesn't immediately appeal to me - the current site has a more 'grown up' look and feel, while the new version, with all the primary colours and whatnot appears a bit more like an aisle of TRU (although given that this is a site devoted to a toy, that's not unreasonable).

But given that (iirc) under 16's aren't Brickset members, so the demographic seems to be from late teen to middle-aged, I'd say that a more reserved style would be in order.

Personally I'd prefer the look to stay as it is, but at the end of the day, it's the people and the info that keep me coming back, so if I don't like the look of it, it won't kill me.

And it's worth restating - none of us pay a penny to use this valuable resource. So the fact that Huw has given us the opportunity to comment is very good of him indeed - he could have just said 'This is the new site - like it or lump it.'
LegoMom1margot
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Comments

  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,938
    edited January 2014
    @BooTheMightyHamster Have a look through the Wayback Machine at the old versions of Brickset.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20010402070741/http://brickset.com/
    There was a news article Huw did back when he first announced the new site design (or some other such occasion. At any rate it was several years ago) which had all the old designs side by side, but I can't find that now. (Speaking of which, maybe that's a signal for a feature request - better news article searching?)

    I'm actually quite happy with the new site. It loses the iconic blue colour theme (or I always thought it was iconic at least) and some of the simplicity that I always liked about the current UI, but it does look decently modern. Of course, I'm sad to see things like the wallpaper repository and so on go, but I can see why they would. I hope, as he said, a new home can be found for them.

    The thing I like least about it so far is quite minor - the fonts. To me they make it look like a stock sort of Wordpress-type blog.

    One final question, though, for @Huw: for how long will we be able to access the old-style site?
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    edited January 2014
    I've probably had more than my say on the comments, but heyho!

    On my phone the new site looks great - a massive improvement in usability. I literally never did anything but the forums on my phone because it wasn't nice to. Now I can (although I suspect I still wont) read the news items etc much better.

    The problem I have is that its now harder to do what I tended to do on the desktop/laptop - which was read the news and browse themes (on the new site this is now much worse than the current version). The news stuff i'll probably get over (the structure, fonts, text sizes, colours) but the browsing themes has been really degraded with the unnecessary size increase.

    It just seems unfortunate that in order to improve the mobile usability the desktop/laptop usage has suffered. As an example of it, when looking at my (admittedly long) first comment on the old site I could read the 4 other comments around it. On the new site my comment doesn't even all fit on the screen. When browsing a theme where as I could see 7 sets listed on the old version, now its just 3 on a screen.

    Honestly, when looking at a page like this on a desktop - http://new.brickset.com/sets/theme-Creator/year-2014 - it feels like I've somehow managed to get on to a mobile version of the site and need to look for a 'View Desktop Site' link.

    Brickset is still the best lego resource available and everything that @Huw does is massively appreciated but the reality is that, imo at least, there are some significant flaws in the new design that degrade the user experience rather than improve it - things that go way beyond just not being accepting of change. I've been in the position of developing websites that clients/bosses don't like parts of and its annoying - much nicer when everyone says its awesome, but it rarely runs that way.

    Oh and there's definitely a problem with the font used for headings and links - some letters don't render well at all (w and s). Combining Serif and Sans Serif fonts is in vogue at the moment but it needs to be done carefully as I've always been taught that serif fonts are easily read in print media, but sans serif are better for screens.
    OldfanTheBigLegoski
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    The biggest improvement that could be made for me is to have links to sets written on the forum like #6990 work on my phone just like they do on the desktop/laptop.
    TheBrickLadd
  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,548
    Ooh... has it just changed while I'm in the forum... (goes back to see) ahh, i see, the open test linky...

    *clicks*

    Well, my initial response (once i got over the natural culture shock), was that I felt the front page lacked 'focus'.

    To explain: You know how a good painting will take your eye to a certain spot, and then slowly ease you around to exactly where the artist wanted you to look (cos' he knows his medium), and that wherever you do look, you don't feel rushed to look somewhere else. Well, I felt this page was more of an everything at once, and the eye didn't quite know where to go (which can be painful if you get migraines from computer screens).

    Now, this might wear off once I've taken it for a spin, but it also reminds me of the behaviour I develop when I do get used to websites that have this all-at-once effect, in that I start to ignore parts of the page completely (at risk of missing important stuff), and eventually (if i can live without) stop visiting.

    And yet the odd thing is I compared the two side-by-side, and could see the same info, in (pretty much) the same places, all present.

    So... why should I feel my eyes were being pulled around so much, and having to do a lot more work to look at anything?

    Looking again at the current page, we see (for the first time, now that I'm actively looking for it), a delineation of sections thanks to a grey boxes technique (bit like a star trek panel). Whereas the new site is all white. That's what's doing it.

    When looking for the first time at current site, the eye is drawn instantly to the news section (white backdrop), and will scan the the scrolling boxes at the top (if something attracts). The right hand column does not distract, or pull focus, due to the segmentation/backlight. You will scroll down the news section. Scrolling back up, you will be attracted to the grey side bar as it comes into view.

    On the new site, we now have a double column of equal commanding presence (same colour/backlight). The eye is torn, as reaching the right hand side of column one, it trips into column two (while wanting to return to column 1)... Each section as you scroll down is pulling focus with equal strength, making any section focused on a difficult read as you scroll. Made worse when neighbouring pieces contain an image.

    I would suggest a receding 'backlight' behind the secondary column. To bring one forward, and set the other back.

    Okay, i've tried my best to explain my initial impression.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    This is the first major redesign: all others have been variations on the same basic, plain design.

    Boo, I think you have it spot on in your 1-6 and while I am not planning on ditching the new design entirely I am prepared to make changes and additions to appease those who dislike it.

    The bottom line is that the current site is 5 years old and becoming hard to maintain. If Brickset it to move forwards it needs a stable, supportable, platform to be able to do so. Launching the new site isn't the end of the work, it's very much the start.

    The header font, Arvo, has proven to be tricky to work with. At some point sizes it does not render well at all on a PC but looks superb on high-res tablets. At 34pt, used for the headers, it looks pretty bad in some browsers, particularly s and w. I've now changed it to 28pt and it looks much better to my eye although perhaps a little undersized. (you might have to ctrl-F5 to see the change)

    > it feels like I've somehow managed to get on to a mobile version of the site and need to look for a 'View Desktop Site' link.

    There are currently three views, list view, gallery view and table view, as you will have seen. The former two have the advantage of not having to squint at the screen to see the images but do take up a lot of space, I agree.

    There is no reason why I can't add more views to the list, it would be easy to do so, and I could add a 'classic view' that is like the current table view. Would that work, do you think?

    I haven't yet looked at the feedback submitted via the form to get a feel for whether the general vibe is positive or negative. 360 people have filled it in already and I'll knock up a quick a dirty page so we can all view it.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,315
    Huw said:


    There are currently three views, list view, gallery view and table view, as you will have seen. The former two have the advantage of not having to squint at the screen to see the images but do take up a lot of space, I agree.

    There is no reason why I can't add more views to the list, it would be easy to do so, and I could add a 'classic view' that is like the current table view. Would that work, do you think?

    This would be an excellent idea.

    As @Huw is well aware, I'm a bit of an old stick-in-the-mud at times and fairly resistant to major changes to the site, but I do understand the need for a fairly substantial overhaul and I've gradually come round to most of the changes. As someone who uses the site extensively primarily through desktops and laptops, my main concern is much as @cheshirecat and others have pointed out, namely that in making the site vastly better for mobile users there are trade-offs which make the experience less favourable for desktop users; building in features like the 'classic view' option above would go a long way to getting the sceptics on board I think.

    I've noticed a fair few comments about the effect of the changes on the various Amazon Bargain Watch listings and pages; a fair bit of time was spent trying to optimise these on the existing site, and I anticipate further tweaking to come in order to try and optimise them for the new site as well.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,938
    I see what @cheshirecat is saying - everything is quite "big", which is good for mobiles and bad for laptops. Adding a PC-optimised view ("classic view" or something) would definitely be good, but is it actually possible to have that set as the default for PCs and another view as the default for mobile browsers?
    @Legomatt maybe the side panel should be 1/4 of the width rather than 1/3? Would that change the focus?
    Oldfan
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,315

    I see what @cheshirecat is saying - everything is quite "big", which is good for mobiles and bad for laptops. Adding a PC-optimised view ("classic view" or something) would definitely be good, but is it actually possible to have that set as the default for PCs and another view as the default for mobile browsers?

    Presumably once set it'd remain the default for users until such time as they changed it or logged out. That'd be fine by me.

  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,548
    @plasmodium

    I'm not sure about the ratio being the issue - i'm viewing on a table top screen if that makes a difference (don't ask what sort, I don't speak the language, all i know is there is a screen on a desk ;oP ).

    I felt pretty certain that it was the background colour being the same (white) across the whole page that was doing it. It affords both columns equal strength. Whereas if one was greyed, or some other receding colour, it would instantly take a back seat.

    But I don't know if that's something that can change, I'm not a techy person. Obviously I support whatever decisions are made to make the site more stable and supportable.

    Hold on... there's three 'views'? I'll have to have another see, maybe i just had a 'bad for me' version up.

  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,548
    I must have misunderstood, but I couldn't find how to change views.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,485
    edited January 2014
    I just want to throw in my two pence worth.

    There's been a number people (of whom I was one) testing it over the past couple of months - finding bugs, suggesting things, saying what we likes and didn't like etc. I think I'm right in saying that pretty much the first comment every single one of us made was 'blimey that font is a bit big!'. However, I was reading the news article comments on my computer last night (on the new site), and then switched to reading them on the old site, and almost without realising, I thought 'blimey the font is a bit small!' - I realised I was leaning in to the monitor to read it.

    I think it's like anything - there's the shock of the new, until you get used to it. I'm not saying people don't have a valid point about the size of the text, but I do think that most people will get used to it as they use the site more.


    On the subject of 'shock of the new', it seems to me that there's two audiences here. The first is people who have been on the site for years, know their way around it like the back of their hand, and don't see anything wrong with it precisely because of that.

    The second audience is those who have joined relatively recently, or who come to the site new, having never visited before. I've only been active here for just over a year, so count myself among these.

    The current site is brilliant for the first group, but actually quite bad for the second. I think people like fresh modern looking designs when they first visit a website, and if it looks too complex to navigate then chances are they won't bother visiting again.

    Look at Bricklink for an (extreme) example - people who have been on it for years know their way around it great, know all the hidden functions and everything. Yet for people who have never used it, and just want to buy Lego bricks, the mass of links and information is extremely off-putting.

    The current Brickset isn't that bad, but it's certainly not friendly-looking to new people - it doesn't look accessible, and that's the key. I think @Huw has done a great job of building a new site that will appeal to - and be accessible to - new users who've never visited before, yet which will also be acceptable to old members who are the backbone of the site.

    I really haven't seen virtually any comments from members saying they 'hate it' or that they'll 'never use the site again', which is a really good thing, because it means that while some might have reservations, they can probably live with it, and as @BooTheMightyHamster notes above with reference to other sites, they'll get used to it just as they have the current site. If Huw can, as he says, tweak it a bit to help them get used to it, then that'll be great.

    Another thing that occurs to me is that if new people think a site looks bad, they may also assume it is bad - or certainly not worth bothering with. My first impression of the site, before I actually joined, was that it looked a bit old and dated, and was probably just the hang-out of die-hard fans who were stuck in time 10 years ago. I got involved in the site through the forum at first, started using the main site a few months later, and obviously came to appreciate it as the great resource it is.

    However, my point is that not everyone will persevere, and I really believe the new design will help Brickset grow a lot over the next few years, and bring a lot more people into the fold.

    Anyway, that's just my two pence worth. It turned out to be rather longer than I was planning!


    Oh and as an afterthought, I'm looking forward to the outcry that will be Bricklink 2.0! I fully expect there to be outright warfare whenever that's unveiled...
    Bumblepantssidersddrocao
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    > I must have misunderstood, but I couldn't find how to change views.

    On this page http://new.brickset.com/sets/theme-Creator/year-2014, see the three links in the dark grey panel near the top.

    ^ That's a great 2p's worth, Paper, you've hit the nail on the head.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    edited January 2014
    Yes, a table view optimised for desktop/laptops would certainly help.

    As I've said, I totally agree for the need of a refresh - the site although still great and fairly easy to navigate is looking dated. As its grown so that navigation has become less intuitive. With the rise of mobile devices that side of things has to be addressed. I don't think that there's any disagreement there apart from a fairly small number of people who really do just like things like they are.

    What I'm struggling to understand is why the font is as big as it is on the new site? Presumably the font size is handled differently on desktops and mobile devices (certainly thats how I've always done it) so the dekstop font size is purely a matter of choice. You may be leaning forward to see the classic site, but then presumably you also do on Facebook, Google, BBC etc etc. I'm guessing your monitor is too far away or you need a trip to the optician. Theres just no need for it to be so big. It seems to me to add nothing and just mean we'll all have to scroll much much more often.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,485
    Nope I don't need to lean forward for any other sites, and my eyesight is perfectly fine. I sit about 2 - 3 feet away from my 24in monitor (depending on whether I'm at work or home), which I reckon is fairly healthy.

    The current Brickset site uses 11pt, with Facebook and Google using 13pt, BBC using 14pt, and the new Brickset using 14pt and 16pt. So the font size on the current site is smaller than all of them, and is also smaller than every single high-traffic site I can think of.

    I do slightly prefer the 14pt on the new site than the 16pt, but I'd rather have 16pt than 11pt.

    I guess it depends which websites you visit. For example, http://www.iaindale.com/ uses 18pt, and I even read a site fairly regularly which uses 24pt for normal text (which really is a bit too big)!
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    Brickset changes - Smooth transition

    Bricklink changes - More bumps ahead

    Brickish changes - As much as I want them, dear god it will be a bloodbath ;-)
    LostInTranslationcaperberry
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,485
    edited January 2014
    Oooh now if ever there was a site crying out for a complete overhaul, it's Brickish! As I've pointed out over there, their forums are like something from a '90s messageboard (no offense Huw!) and desperately need something like these forums on Brickset.

    However, even that lone voiced opinion caused rumblings of disquiet from deep within the bowels of the site, as older members - many of whom probably last surfaced with the Herald of Free Enterprise - rose up to voice their fervent opposition to any kind of change to the forums.

    Even the more reasonable ones still wanted the older forum posts to be retained, presumably as some kind of record to their sheer longevity, as well as to keep on record noted AFOL topics such as 'Has anyone seen James/David/Mike? Their model is due in the LUG Showcase this weekend', not to mention the whispered-about-in-corners-lest-sensitive-members-get-angry Grey/Bley wars of the early '00s. ;)


    Personally I think quite a few Bricklink members will go ballistic when that's unveiled, but I could be wrong. I'm not sure there's enough people really active on Brickish to raise massive amounts of objections, but again, I'll probably be proved wrong.
    LostInTranslation
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    edited January 2014


    The current Brickset site uses 11pt, with Facebook and Google using 13pt, BBC using 14pt, and the new Brickset using 14pt and 16pt. So the font size on the current site is smaller than all of them, and is also smaller than every single high-traffic site I can think of.

    In this situation with different fonts being used on different websites pt isn't what matters, when you actually compare the pixels on a screen viewed at 100% this is what you get using the letter 'l' in all cases, note the big line spacing too...

    Old Brickset - 9px +5px line spacing
    Google - 10px 6px +line spacing
    Facebook - 10px +7px line spacing
    BBC - 10px +8px line spacing
    New Brickset - 13px +12px line spacing

    Interestingly, the site you said is a bit too big has the following (used an 'i' as its the tallest letter in the font, 'l' would be 13)

    IainDale - 14px +12px line spacing

    People may understandably think that 3 extra pixels compared to the bbc isnt much, but that's vertically, assume a similar 30% increase horizontally, add in 50% extra line spacing and its clear why it one, it looks 'lost' and two is hard to read and three blinking massive!
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332

    Personally I think quite a few Bricklink members will go ballistic when that's unveiled, but I could be wrong. I'm not sure there's enough people really active on Brickish to raise massive amounts of objections, but again, I'll probably be proved wrong.

    I think that's definitely going to be the case. You would hope that they would pay considerable attention to some kind of change management. Its absolutely true that we're all mostly reluctant to change, but that bunch seem particularly reluctant. I've no experience of brickish but heard enough to have a good idea there too! Of course, with bricklink it is for many their livelyhoods so they are much more invested than anyone other than Huw is with brickset, still in the same way they have more to gain as well. That just needs to be pushed extremely hard.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    @Huw - yep the heading text is now looking fine for me, both w and s. The links in the body of the text was the worse of the two though.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,485
    edited January 2014


    Interestingly, the site you said is a bit too big has the following (used an 'i' as its the tallest letter in the font, 'l' would be 13)

    IainDale - 14px +12px line spacing

    I wasn't meaning that site when I said the text was too big, I was meaning the one at 24pt (which for comparison has the 'I' at 17px +13px line spacing).

    I actually think the font size on Iain Dale's site is fine.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^Oops, need to read more carefully!
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    Before everyone gets upset, you do know that zoom has been built into web browsers for awhile now...

    Press Control+ or Control- on your keyboard, works in most of them.

    I view at 200%, otherwise everything is very small.
    caperberry
  • MartinMartin Member Posts: 375
    This is an interesting discussion. I guess some people are going big with desktop monitors and the new design must look huge. Personally I have gone completely the other way and my only PC is a an Ultrabook with a 1920x1080 13.5" display so I'm loving the new Brickset - it looks perfect for me. I use my mobile and tablet much more than a laptop for internet use though, and as Huw has correctly predicted this will only increase. Responsive and mobile-first is the only way to go for Brickset. Well done @Huw, its looking fabulous.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,485
    I have a 24in 1920x1200 monitor at home and a 24in 1920x1080 monitor at work, and it looks fantastic on both.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    Thank you @Martin. It's definitely the way to go, we just have to try and drag the stick-in-the-muds along with us :-)

    ^ I'm using 1920x1080 and interestingly it's not enough resolution to display the Arvo font well. My Nexus 7, 1920×1200, but with an screen resolution of half that does a much better job of rendering it, as do 'retina' i-devices.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,485
    Everyone seems to want the 'New at [email protected]' back at the top of the main page, yet I removed it from my custom view so that it didn't clutter up the page. I hope that if you do add it back Huw, it'll still be as an option.
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    After using the new design for a while, I've mostly gotten used to it. I think it will be just fine moving forward. There are things I feel are better, but also things I feel could use improvement.

    If my critique comes across as harsh, overly specific, or long-winded, it's because my degree is in graphic design. While I no longer work as a graphic designer, the subject is very important and interesting to me. I don't mention this to suggest credentials or some sort of critical superiority, only to explain what otherwise might seem overdone.

    Main Page

    The new page header is great, for the most part. It's much more clean, easier to read, and more focused. I like the large category buttons; the bold slab serif font works very well here. My only nitpick is the blue box of the Brickset logo, which extends just a bit below the bounds of the gray background box. If it extended more, it would look fine. As is, it looks like a mistake. My suggestion: Align it with the gray box, leaving only the 1x1 plate portion to overhang.

    I understand the desire for an "overview" of recent news. But for me, this treatment just doesn't work with the rest of the page design. First, it doesn't establish that the left column is where the main content is located, because without scrolling down and realizing that all news is in the left column, the page looks like it's broken into a 2x2 grid. Second, it creates a disconnect from the "normal" news items below. Rhetorical question: Why is the format of older news items larger and more detailed than more recent news items? Lastly, the design of this element isn't consistent with anything else. The gray "In The News" header seems out of place. If it's unimportant enough to be such a light shade of gray, it can be smaller. The background box with gradient causes two problems. Because the news item images are inset, they are misaligned with the top content box in the right column. And because the gradient is darker on the left, it gives more contrast to the right-most image, which is presumably not the newest item. My suggestion: Redesign the recent news items element to be used in the right column, above the site updates element. Then keep the three most recent news items in their expanded format in the left column. This will establish the left column as main content and clearly present the most recent news item while still providing an overview of the most recent news items.

    The site updates (new database entries, inventories, shop items, etc.) seems too prominent where it is. This isn't something a first-time visitor to the site needs to see. My suggestions: Move the recent news element above this, and give both a header (Recent News, Site Updates) to match the header for "Our Community". This will unify the right column and make it clear that it contains secondary content.

    I think the community section is a fantastic addition to the front page. My only critiques here are that the reverse text is somewhat dominant and I don't particularly like the cloud imagery. The latter is quite subjective, though. My suggestion: The reverse type wouldn't be so dominant if the content above the community section (i.e. site updates and possible recent news) were treated the same. Doing this would also help differentiate the main vs. secondary columns.

    The expanded news format is a great upgrade from the existing format. Left-justified text with images on the right is much more readable than the opposite. I've got only two critiques here: The comments link masquerading as a "tag" creates redundancy with the comments link at the bottom, and the font and size of the poster's name and date fights with the title of the news item. My suggestions: Remove the comments link at the bottom, change the color of the comments box link so it doesn't look like a "tag", and change the poster's name and date line match the font and size of the body text.

    If you've actually read this far, well, here's more!

    Browsing Views

    Beyond the front page, I spend most of my time browsing the database. My default view on the existing site is Table view. It seems the nomenclature has switched so that what was Table view is now called List view, and vice versa. This makes more sense, given the two formats, so no problem there.

    The new Table view looks nice and clean. It seems the results should be sortable by column, but perhaps that simply hasn't yet been implemented. A possible bug is that clicking on the set number link presents an image of the set rather than going to the set's main page (and there is, otherwise, no way to get to the set's main page).

    The new Gallery view is mostly fine. I rarely use this view, so I'm not too concerned about it. My only suggestion is to reduce the height of each set's info box. The "I own" and "I want" checkboxes have a lot of space above, between, and below them.

    The new List view is probably my least favorite part of the re-design. Ideally, I'd like to see at least five sets at once in this view; I now see only two (with the header) or three (after scrolling down). I do like the larger images, but I feel there is too much information crammed into too small a space. My suggestions: Remove the Instructions and Notes fields, making room to move the Packaging and Availability fields, as well as the "Buy This Set" bit to the center column. This should free up a good amount of vertical space and will make the height of each set's info box more uniform. The info in both the Instructions and Notes fields aren't particularly necessary in this view, in my opinion; Notes, especially, seems too detailed for an overview such as this.

    A couple notes that concern the Gallery and List views: First, I like the use of the slab serif font for set names, but it seems the tracking (i.e. horizontal spacing) is too tight. I understand this has likely been done to keep set names on one line, but when letters are touching or in some cases overlapping, it becomes a readability issue. Second, the gradient background of each set's info box is ruining the illusion of the set on a seamless white background. Considering this is the default image for most "mainstream" sets, I think a different background would look much better. My suggestions: Reduce the size of the set name font, or use a condensed font, and replace the gradient background with a simple thin, light gray border for each info box.

    Lastly, the things I like for which I have no critique! The new tag-based browsing with subthemes is great. It should really speed up finding specific groups of sets. The combined LEGO and Amazon discount watch is helpful. I see more VIP points in my future. And, in general, I just love how much more crisp and clean the site looks. The colors are bright but not overbearing and the site overall looks much more modern.
    MatthewrocaoYellowcastle
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    That's really excellent feedback @Binaryeye, thank you.

    Allow me to pick up on a few points, while hopefully trying not to be dismissive:

    > My only nitpick is the blue box of the Brickset logo, which extends just a bit below the bounds of the gray background box

    That sort of thing is very subjective and to me it looks OK as is. That box was originally dark grey and without the 3-bricks and thus nothing like the current logo. The colour and bricks were introduced in order to give some visual link, as it were, back to the old site.

    I take your point about the 'in the news' section. Whether it's actually needed or not and should be there at all is debatable, I agree. Do you think that to have the left column simply 'launching in' to the first news article, if it were removed, would be preferable?

    The site updates area was added to highlight all the stuff that is going on behind the scenes on the site, which isn't of course just a blog, because it's otherwise hidden or cluttering up the news. I feel it does serve that purpose but it seems it doesn't do so as well as the 'new in database' etc. does now, if feedback is to be believed. I don't want to add 'new in database' above the news again because IMO it take up too much prime real estate but I am toying with the idea of making the current site update area tabbed to show the different types of update more clearly. Any thoughts on that?

    > The comments link masquerading as a "tag" creates redundancy with the comments link at the bottom,

    The one at the bottom is not in the design the designer provided, I added it thinking it was needed and where people naturally look for it. But it is redundant, I agree, and maybe could be removed.

    > the font and size of the poster's name and date fights with the title of the news item

    I think that's because at the moment I've reduced the heading from 34 to 28px to try and solve the poor rendering of the Arvo font at that size, but the ultimate solution is to find a font that doesn't have that issue and thus can be the size the designer intended.

    > It seems the results should be sortable by column, but perhaps that simply hasn't yet been implemented.

    The reason for that is that the table may not be displaying the entire data set and thus to do a sort on it all, a call to the database is needed. However I guess if it were clever enough, column sorting could be implemented for when the table is displaying it all.

    > A possible bug is that clicking on the set number link presents an image of the set rather than going to the set's main page (and there is, otherwise, no way to get to the set's main page).

    That's intentional, I figured you might want a peek at the set before viewing its details.

    > The new List view is probably my least favorite part of the re-design.

    I agree that it needs tweaking and I will spend some time doing so.

    > I like the use of the slab serif font for set names, but it seems the tracking (i.e. horizontal spacing) is too tight.

    It's that damn Arvo font again which really doesn't render well at all. I've been playing with alternatives on my local machine and it makes a heck of a difference when one which does render properly is used. I'm awaiting input from the designer before changing the font willy-nilly since the typography is a key part of the design and something I have no skills in. By all means, if you wish to suggest some to try from those at Google Fonts, http://www.google.com/fonts, then please do. The one I am playing with at the moment is Domine which, while not a slab serif font and thus not necessarily in-keeping with the designer's vision, does render well at all sizes and looks great at 34pt, not bad for the hyperlinks and possibly OK for the tags when upper-cased, see the attached image.



  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    Just came across this site which makes some good suggestions for slab serif fonts, http://sachagreif.com/google-webfonts-that-dont-suck/, I'll give them a go...
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409

    I have a 24in 1920x1200 monitor at home and a 24in 1920x1080 monitor at work, and it looks fantastic on both.

    Ugg, the sooner we can all get off those old resolutions the better the world will be.

    4K can't get here soon enough. As it stands, my primary desktop uses a trio of 30" monitors running 2560x1600, which is an improvement, but still grainy IMHO.

    Even at 200% zoom, these forums still leave a lot of blue space on the right and left side, and that is only displayed on a single monitor.

    A 350 dpi display at this size would be nice.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,485
    @huw just to stick my oar in where it's probably not wanted, I really don't like the use of a proper serif font, it doesn't look right to me for this kind of site, and doesn't work well with the other font, IMHO.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    To add my unwelcome oar I like it on the headings but not so much in the body text links.
  • legoprodslegoprods SpainMember Posts: 440
    BrickSet for me has been only the forum for so much time that I never noticed the change link until reading this. I think I like the new layout. I HATE changes, but I know that I always end up getting used to it, so no need to complaint.
  • beegeedeebeegeedee Galway, IrelandMember Posts: 380
    Not everyone has a hi-res display to work with. At home I'm hooked up to an HD-ready TV which is only 1366x768 - perfectly fine for what I use it for. The laptop I use at home is 1280x800. I don't have a problem with either on the new site and have to say I never really noticed any issues with the new font - I like it as it happens.

    My main grumble is on a mobile device (by mobile, iPhone 4) the In the news section, which shows first, takes up the whole screen - that sucks. Sorry but it does. And it takes up a good portion on the desktop display as well. I want to go straight to the articles. If I switch the phone to desktop, if the sidebars were gone then it would look far better and even with the tiny screen it is perfectly readable without zooming.

    Sidebar and "In the news" are the 2 things I like the least about the site and I can live with, except in the news on a mobile device - please lose it. The rest is nice although the old site was perfectly good as well.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    Don't worry I'm just experimenting with alternative fonts, that one almost certainly won't be used.
  • PhiloPhilo Member Posts: 5
    Overall I like the new look, but I have a small issue with my browser setup: its default background color is set to grey, and it seems that the new code doesn't define background color as white. So I get patches of white color where there is text or images on a grey background... ugly.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    I'll put in a body { background-color: white; } for you...
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    Huw said:

    I take your point about the 'in the news' section. Whether it's actually needed or not and should be there at all is debatable, I agree. Do you think that to have the left column simply 'launching in' to the first news article, if it were removed, would be preferable?

    I do believe there is worth in having a recent news section, I just don't think it should be the first thing to draw attention. The latest news article should be that, so yes, I think it would be preferable to have it lead the left column. I can understand worry that this may look too much like a blog, but I think the header with the categories makes it clear that the site is more than that.
    Huw said:

    I don't want to add 'new in database' above the news again because IMO it take up too much prime real estate but I am toying with the idea of making the current site update area tabbed to show the different types of update more clearly. Any thoughts on that?

    I agree this takes up too much space at the top of the existing page. I much prefer how it is handled in the new design, and tabs to separate types would be great.
    Huw said:

    That's intentional, I figured you might want a peek at the set before viewing its details.

    Ah, that makes sense. I completely missed that clicking on the set number at the bottom of the window goes to the set's main page. So disregard my comment on this (here, as well as in the comments submitted "officially" via the feedback form).
    Huw said:

    By all means, if you wish to suggest some to try from those at Google Fonts, http://www.google.com/fonts, then please do.

    Rokkitt is an alternative. The main problem I see with Arvo is the horizontal serifs, for example on the C and S. While they look fine at header size, they just don't read well at smaller sizes. Rokkitt has vertical serifs for these letters, so should be more readable at small sizes. The drawbacks to this font are that it has no italic set and the bold isn't as bold and blocky as Arvo's bold (which, I imagine, is one of the reasons Arvo was chosen by the designer).

    Oswald is not a slab serif, but is condensed. I think this would work well for the set names in the Gallery and List browse views, as well as news item headers. Truthfully, I think it would work as a replacement for Arvo, but I'm not sure how it would look used for the category links in the page header; it would likely need increased tracking.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,938
    @Huw, a bit of a 'bug report' - not sure where to report it otherwise, but I was just rambling about the new site and I noticed I can see Bricklists people have made which say "unpublished" in red. I'm guessing that's not supposed to be the case?
  • BooTheMightyHamsterBooTheMightyHamster Northern edge of London, just before the dragons...Member Posts: 1,296
    At the risk of derailing this tech-spec-fest by talking about the new site...

    Having had a play around with it for a few days now, I have to say that I'm really starting to like it! There are still some font issues (certainly with the IE8 that I'm forced to use on this machine), but Huw's already said that he's looking at alternatives.

    I particularly like the gallery view when browsing sets - clean and crisp, though if I'm sitting in bed with the lights out, the masses of white can be a bit harsh on the eyes.

    I suspect if I had the choice of 'classic' or 'new' I'd probably stick with classic for most things, but I'd use the new view just as much, so fair play to you, Huw, on reflection, even this grumpy old so-and-so thinks you've done a pretty good job!

    P.S. We're British, old chap - be a good sport and list the 'Between us we own...' statistic in Sterling and not US Dollars! ;o)
    plasmodiumbrickedin
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    Thanks Boo :-) I don't think it will ever look good in IE8 because it doesn't understand some of the CSS and thus doesn't render multiple background images/gradients etc. I'll check what percentage of users are still using it, but I'm probably not going to worry much about them :-)

    Some good news, though, is that I have fixed the terrible rendering of Arvo in Chrome thanks to http://www.dev-metal.com/fix-ugly-font-rendering-google-chrome/.

    The difference is like chalk and cheese and it now looks better than in IE11 and as good as on a tablet. There are some tweaks needed still but overall it's very promising.

    Good point about the $, I'm not sure why I did it in $ and not £s...
  • klatu003klatu003 Hobbiton, Shire, Middle EarthMember Posts: 719
    The look and feel of the new site is fresh and clean. I like the new font and the white. It sizes well for split screens and is also is readable on my Android phone (Samsung.) Glad you aren't listening to the "put it back" crowd. I like the changes and I'm a senior (and everyone knows how cranky old people can be.)

    Test drove the MySets Function - very nice. The Text instead of Icons (ACM, Edit, Duplicate) is easier to understand.
    Adding ACM link to the table view is very helpful, but I am greedy:
    Is it possible to add the function for increasing the number of copies in this Table View, rather than just "Own" and "Want." The other views with that function require paging down to see all the sets in a theme and it is harder to get an overview.

    image
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    edited January 2014
    Huw said:

    Allow me to pick up on a few points, while hopefully trying not to be dismissive:

    > My only nitpick is the blue box of the Brickset logo, which extends just a bit below the bounds of the gray background box

    That sort of thing is very subjective and to me it looks OK as is. That box was originally dark grey and without the 3-bricks and thus nothing like the current logo. The colour and bricks were introduced in order to give some visual link, as it were, back to the old site.

    Just to clarify, @binaryeye is not criticizing the logo design, but he's pointing out that the blue block extends only slightly beyond the gray header stripe so it looks more like an error than a deliberate choice. He's suggesting to line it up, or the converse would be to make a larger overlap.
    Huw said:

    > The comments link masquerading as a "tag" creates redundancy with the comments link at the bottom,

    The one at the bottom is not in the design the designer provided, I added it thinking it was needed and where people naturally look for it. But it is redundant, I agree, and maybe could be removed.

    I think the "N comments" block in the design spec should be removed and your addition should be retained. I think binaryeye would agree since he described it as "masquerading as a tag" and it's easily missed.
    sidersdd
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    If you came here for a lively debate on resolution, it's been relocated here: http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/13559/resolving-resolution-or-revolving-dissolution
    LostInTranslation
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    rocao said:

    I think the "N comments" block in the design spec should be removed and your addition should be retained. I think binaryeye would agree since he described it as "masquerading as a tag" and it's easily missed.

    I've thought about this more, and I agree. My initial reasoning for suggesting the link at the end be removed was to free up vertical space. But it makes more sense to have the comments link at the end so it can be clicked on more easily at the end of longer articles.
    sidersdd
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    I agree, it will be removed with the next update.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,486
    edited January 2014
    Tabbed site updates area on home page now live, LMKWYT.
    binaryeye
  • BooTheMightyHamsterBooTheMightyHamster Northern edge of London, just before the dragons...Member Posts: 1,296
    Liking the tabbed look!
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    Huw said:

    Tabbed site updates area on home page now live, LMKWYT.

    That looks great. The only problem I see is that when the content of one tab (e.g. "More") is shorter than the longest in the group, it causes a good bit of space before the next item in the column. Minor issue, but it might be worth determining a way to prevent it.
  • adello25adello25 U.S.A.Member Posts: 360
    Huw said:

    Tabbed site updates area on home page now live, LMKWYT.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I would like it if there was an "All" tab. I don't really like having to click 3 times to see all of the updates.
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