Help Us Redesign ATP

Posted on June 27, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, >Owais Mughal, About ATP
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Adil Najam and Owais Mughal

Regular readers might have noticed that ‘something happened’ to our two side columns yesterday. Essentially, a lot of the material about past posts disappeared. You might also have noticed that we have been having ‘overload’ outages on the page (these are the equivalent of internet load-shedding, I guess; we have recently had days with nearly 10,000 visits/20,000 views). The former happened as a result of our attempt to fix the latter.

We have just undertaken an update of the back-end WordPress platform. In the long term this will hopefully improve the speed of the page. In the short term, however, we lost the material we had in our columns!We want to turn this situation into an opportunity and maybe start thinking seriously about something we have been thinking of thinking about for a while. A redesign of the page.

Old readers would remember that we started with a fairly simple format and then had a really useful set of inputs from the readers on redesign last August. As a result of these ideas we moved to our own domain and launched a new page with new features in September (with great help from friends like TeethMaestro, BD, etc.). Since then we have been implementing occasional changes (in style, in number of posts, and especially in the side columns). We had hoped to implement some other major changes by our first anniversary, but that was not possible for time reasons.

So, with all that as background, we wanted to seek your inputs and ideas on how to go about improving the design of the page. Advice from all, especially those who understand the technical aspects better than us, would be greatly useful. Here are some points that we are going to base our redesign decisions on.

The essential principle is “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.” We believe that MUCH on teh page is ‘not broke’ and does not need to be fixed. So tell us also about what are the things that work for you and should be retained. But then also on things that can be improved or should be dropped or need to be added.

We know that speed is a problem, especially for those without fast connections. Ideas on how to improve this without going too far away from the current ‘visual’ style of ATP.

Is the page too cluttered? Or do you actually like, what one reader called, the ‘candy store’ look of the page?

How many posts per day should we have. We started from about 3 per day. For last many months we were at one-per-day. Is that too little? Too much?

What about the mix of posts. Some like only politics. Some want only cultural stuff. We are committed to having a mix. But the question is, what is the best mix?

What are best ways to incorporate ‘news’ posts and to make them even more interactive.

All bloggers are always worried about how old posts just disappear. We have been very very lucky in that many of our old posts still get significant traffic. People are always interested in the music of Attaullah Niazi, the films of Waheed Murad, the life of Edhi Sahib, the caps of Pakistan, the trains at Bolan Pass and the adventures of Inspector Jamshed. A major interest for us is to provide easy to use ways for readers – especially new readers – to visit older posts that are still of interest to them. Any ideas?

Also, do please tell us which particular posts – or what types of posts – from the past you think we should feature in teh right-hand columns?

By the way, what do people think of start ‘reposting’ interesting posts from the past? There was some great, not time sensitive, posts in the early days that many have not seen yet.

Please, please, please help us figure out how to deal with the few ‘shararti loag‘ who never seem to learn and force us to waste too much time in managing moderation lists.

We know many do not like ads on the page. Please hold your comments on that for now. We will say something on that separately soon. Meanwhile we will try to have fewer but more effective ads in the future.

Not every idea, not even every good idea, may be feasible or possible to implement. Also, we suspect, different readers may want different – sometimes opposite – things. So, readers, please be patient with us and understanding if we are unable to do what you suggest.

We are sure we will think up even more questions soon. But those are a few that come immediately to mind. Any suggestions? On these and other things we should be thinking in redesign.

33 responses to “Help Us Redesign ATP”

  1. Adnan Siddiqi says:

    @thanos: AJAX looks good if it has been implemented properly otherwise it’s pain in neck. What I mean to say that If AJAX components gets failed due to JS error or anything then your page get stuck. Unless alternative is not provided for slow connection. Gmail is the best example of implementing AJAX properly. if connection is slow,it shows non-JS version. WordPress has not implemented AJAX properly.

    Also, embedding of youtube URLs on main page also takes time.

  2. ShahidS says:

    Thank you for the opportunity
    1. You do not have a clutter and I like your current format.But its upto what majority likes.
    2. In order to survive you need advertisements.Since it is ATP , I rather see you promote pakistani brands.
    3.Can you stop repitition of the posts? After clicking “submit” a “please wait” sign might help.
    4.Rules for limiting the size of the post would be nice.

  3. a. says:

    to all readers of ATP who have complained about pop-up ads. Depending on your connection, I would highly recommend installing Google Toolbar on your computer, which works seamlessly inside internet explorer ( my browser, don’t know about firefox, etc). Google Toolbar blocks ALL nuisance pop-ups.

    If your internet service isn’t fast enough, but you have an updated Internet Explorer browser, you might be able to turn on Internet Explorer’s pop-up blocker and see if that works.

    My suggestions are nowhere near as technically advanced as some of the others up there, but I’d like to speak to the question of layout just a bit:

    I also agree w/ other commenters: all links to content outside ATP should open in a new window.

    If you get rid of the clutter on the side (three sidebars side-by-side are indeed a bit much), you could lose less space on the page in indentations and stuff in the body of the articles.

    Finally, if you want to keep the information in the sidebars accessible, you could simply put one horizontally on the bottom of the page, and one in another tab or smth.

    It’s very exciting to know that a bigger and better ATP site is on its way! Good luck!

  4. thanos says:

    I like your site fine the way it is, your work is appreciated. I note that you are having some of the problems I did with the last WP upgrade — the DB collation has changed, and my older posts now have strange characters where an apostrophe or other special character would be. ( I think they went to utf8_unicode_ci)

    The Ajax advice is good, all of the large volume blogs in the US are now using it to speed things in comments.

    Some of the popular statistics add-ins slow things down; I’ve noted that sitemeter can have its moments of hanging, as can Technorati, when they hang up I sometimes drag the widget out until they fix their problems at my site.

  5. Babar says:

    Some great suggestions above by shahji. Here are mine:
    a. moven blogs of note to a separate page
    b. 1-3 posts per day
    c. yes, previous page was cluttered. analyze/limit page size for faster loading
    d. include random or featured stories from past on main page

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