For the last couple of weeks, a small group of us have been working frantically – nearly around the clock – on reworking the look of ATP with the goal of making the user experience better without changing the essential feel of ‘Pakistaniat’ at the blog. We hope it has worked. Please let us know.
First, let me express my gratitude to the many who have contributed to this effort. Like all things at ATP this was a collaborative project and everyone in the team and our many readers contributed immensely with their ideas. My thanks to all of them. We have tried our best to incorporate the various ideas that people shared in response to our post on redesign.
The work itself was overseen by a small group of three – me on behalf of the ATP editorial team with ideas about user priorities, Awab Alvi with technical advice, design ideas, and setting up the test site, and long-time reader BD who lead the development of this custom theme from scratch. Later Schajee also provided many useful insights and ideas about the test site as it developed. The vast vast bulk of the work here is really of BD. And our deep deep gratitude for him. He has literally put in hundreds of hours. Developed a custom theme for us, written a bunch of new plug-ins just for ATP, and overall just been a delight to work with. I spent countless hours on skype with him talking through ideas, and there was not a single one – even amongst the ridiculous ideas – that he balked it. From the entire ATP community, my heartfelt thanks to BD.
This is, as regular readers know, our third design incarnation. We started as Pakistaniat.wordpress.com on June 11, 2006; then moved to a new design and our own server on September 1, 2006; and now this is ATP v3.0.
We have tried to keep the ‘feel’ of Pakistaniat that has been nurtured over the last year but made a number of changes that, we hope, people will like. These include:
- A less cluttered but still information-rich look.
- A different look for the front page from the post pages.
- Less intrusive and more integrated advertising.
- The comments section now shows 12 comments at a time, in multiple pages, but with the option to ‘Show All.’
- A ‘splash picture’ on the front page instead of a running ‘header’.
- A ‘Random Post’ button that shows up at the top of individual post pages and will take you to a random post from the past (this is my personal favorite and I have been playing with it for hours remembering the journeys we have been on together).
- Within the Single Post pages – at the top of the pag, near the post title – you will find some useful features including the ability to email the post to friends, go back to the front page, or click for a randomly generated post from the past.
- We now have a new area we call ‘Notice Board’ at the top of the right side (rectangle spanning the two columns) which we will use for breaking news, features, polls, etc.
- Two columns on the right now has designated uses.
- Right-most column will be exclusively for posts from the pasts, with visual heavy look, organized around a set of P’s – People, Poetry, Politics, Places, Polls and Pakistaniat. Hovering on a picture will tell you what it is about and clicking will take it to related post. This is not done yet, but very soon this column will become dynamic — i.e., the pictures and links will change each time you click on them!
- Middle (or left-) column is nearly entirely text and has all types of information about what is happening on the blog.? Popular features like ATP Disucussions, Most Commented Posts and Top Hit Posts have been retained. The Related Posts section will now appear only on the single-post pages.
- We have added a few new features that we hope you will like. One is a list of Top Commenters (with most comments) that appear on that front page. Also, in a new section on the front page called Blogistan we have a live real-time set of links to new posts on otherblogs that we have linked. This replaces the Links section and will now give you a view of what is actually happening in the Pakistan blogsphere at that moment.
- You will also see a Feed Bar (green buttons) towards the top of the page. This includes a link to the blog Feed that you can subscribe to, a subscribe by email option, and a count of (a) number of feedburner readers, (b) total number of posts on the site, and (c) total number of comments on the site.
- We also have a new Archives page where we have tried to make access to past posts easier by category, by author and by date.
These are the major changes. There are scores of other small things also that you will discover. We do not intend to make major changes to this now, but will be tweaking things and adding a few new features (like the dynamic right hand column) over the next few days. We hope that the site is also faster now (or at least no slower despite all the new features). Importantly, we hope that there are fewer CPU outages (which had increased greatly recently and was the motivation for these changes). We will keep an eye on this and will try to fix things over the next week or so as they appear. Please excuse us if there are any hiccups in this transition. Rest assured, we are working on those.
So, for now. Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the ride. And let us know what you think about it.