What Do You Think Of The New Look? (Back To Old: Temporarily)

Everybody gets to vote. Though, like in any socialist paradise, there is only one candidate. This one. This new design, I mean.

The old one was growing stale, it was hard to read in some contexts, and much of the site wasn’t used. I’ve eliminated all but three pages: the main-post one, which you are seeing now and which of course must stay; the old Start Here, which is a list of fundamental posts; and a modified About, which combines contact information with my CV and so on.

This style focuses on the posts, or rather, wordy posts, which is all we really do here. Larger font, wider separations between paragraphs, lighter colors, easier on the eye. No having to click on a post to read it, either, as before.

The links to other blogs and sites and other functionality are now at the bottom of the main-post page. These items were scarcely used by anybody, but they are still helpful to have, so they stay but are tucked away.

Comments should be easier, at least in the sense that there is a guide showing which HTML commands are allowed. I still do not allow nested comments. I find them ugly; and they are too apt to become squished.

I’m particularly interested in hearing from anybody who reads the site on a mobile device or tablet computer. It looks great on a/my laptop, anyway. There are some tweaks of the code I know of, but I’m sure there are others you will suggest. What do you think of the within-posts linking? Little dots as underline. No color.

The theme is a (minorly) modified version Esquire theme by Matthew Buchanan. This explains the colors, which for now I’m leaving default. Still some problems with the blockquotes. My mug is covering the search drop down. I’m working on it.

Update Thanks for the comments everybody. I’ve temporarily switched back to the original format to give me time to work on the new. There are lots more problems with this old version, but we’re all used to them and three’s something to be said about familiarity.

The “extra” whitespace on the test theme wasn’t extra. You can’t have text running from left end of the screen to the right. All the text has to exist in a box to be readable. You don’t notice it in the old theme because it’s not white but blue gray space.

Also, this old theme is even worse for mobile viewers…


  1. Rms

    Took a look using iPad. Looks ok. Lots of white space though. I have to admit to always reading with Reeder which ignores all your formatting.

    Keep up the outstanding writing!

  2. Entire right side is empty, lots of room to bring links back up top to the right or expand/autosize the main post, for those on pc. Otherwise, cleaner neater and easier to read, thumbs up.

    No img tags allowed?

    Nice having allowed tags showing.

    Thanks for all your work, I’m a daily reader.

  3. BillR

    Looks just fine on my RSS reader and in Safari Reader. But both of those isolate the text…

  4. Piceth

    Like the two-paned approach, easier to read without having to click links. I don’t like the yellow on white though on the left pane.

    I usually read your blog on Google Reader though (and Flipboard on iPad) so it’s not really a problem for me as long as the text formats correctly for GReader.

    I see a black horizontal line under the tag (“fun” for this post). Is that intentional? It doesn’t look nice.

  5. Robert

    Gotta say I hate it. I’m old, so I use my cntl+wheel to zoom pages so fonts grow for aging eyes. The new look does not well accommodate that. Try it yourself.

  6. Paul Hurley

    It takes a few minutes to get used to, but it is cleaner. Like some others here my aging eyes need help sometimes, so I often read web sites through Readability which removes formatting.

  7. JH

    “You can’t split your name into two lines,” said my first grade teacher.

    Be bold and shameless; put your name at the top 1 or 2 inches of space in a large font.

    I don’t like the yellow on white though on the left pane. Yellow walls with white ceiling work great for a kitchen though.

  8. Max Lybbert

    I like the layout. But, like a few others, I mostly read the blog through RSS feeds and only see the layout when I want to comment on a post.

  9. Luis Dias

    Rss here too, however when i try to view it in the browser, the only thing I first see is that huge yellow rectangle. Can’t you do a mobile version?

  10. Wits' End

    I’m not sure the new design is an improvement. It’s not worse but I’m not sure it’s an improvement.

    The yellow color is fine for a kitchen.

    I’d move the links back to the side. I use them almost every time I visit. At the side they are (were) a useful reminder.

    But as you pointed out this is a ‘socialist’ vote.

    All that aside it’s a great blog.


  11. Christina

    The yellow is a bit hard on the eyes, it makes that bar look like an ad and not like a menu. So the first thing I thought when seeing the page was “where is the nav menu?” and it wasn’t until you mentioned it in the post that my eyes registered what was going on on the left.

    Either way though, I tend to read in Google Reader – as long as the text comes through no real complaints there.

  12. Speed

    Spare and utilitarian. Easy to read. I like it.

  13. Tom

    I agree with all the dislikes and suggestions above.

  14. Speed

    My comment above was rendered before reading beyond the first paragraph of your post. It seems that you have achieved your goals.

    Per your request I’ve looked at the blog using a Kindle Fire. Upon opening in portrait mode, it didn’t scale to the screen — all I saw was the left column and about half of the right (text) column. This is repeatable. I can “pinch” it to fit but that leaves the column of text small using only about 2/3 of the horizontal space.

    It looks fine in landscape.

    Using IE10/Windows 8 on my laptop works fine.

    A comment preview facility would be great — as would be free beer and return to the gold standard.

  15. Will

    I like the right side, the font, layout, etc… Looks great on an iPad. The left area is too big though– its bulky expanse of nothing is distracting. The right frame would be more effective if it were a third the size it is now, putting more emphasis on the blog posts and less on the blog title.

    Agree also about the yellow on white. There needs to be a shaper contrast. Buttons should be immediately noticeable (ex) and their function clear (check).

    Good to see you mixing things up though. 🙂

  16. Will

    Err.. I meant to say the LEFT frame would be more effective if it were a third the size.

  17. Speed

    As much as I like the new look on my laptop, it doesn’t “work” on my Windows Phone 7.5. It’s fine in that it renders well and the font and colors and design show up as expected but the left hand column takes up lots of space on the small screen.

    A quick “pinch” will “shrink to fit” but then a big piece of the screen is used by the yellow William M. Briggs box. It is possible to manually pinch and pan to fit the text column to the exact screen width but that gets a little fussy. This behavior is common — Wall Street Journal for instance.

    ClimateAudit shifts to a different format/mode when viewing on my phone. It is easy to read.

  18. Ye Olde Statistician

    Does this mean I will now never learn the significance of the comic strip that once graced the header?

  19. The text is easier to read, but the screaming white background makes my eyes hurt almost instantly. In this day and age, it seems people feel anything one year old is stale, but focusing on that misses the point. Your writing is never stale. While you do have certain issues you circle back to on a regular basis, you still manage to present original ideas in a concrete yet humorous fashion. Keep writing, it is good stuff.


    P.S. If you look at the WaPo, they use almost the same background color, but the edges are a more subdued white, putting a little less load on the eyes. Perhaps your left pane could be toned down a touch.

  20. Ethan Esdras

    As of old, I need to horizontal scroll to bring the article into view.

    But now I also need to shrink the page to keep the title bubble from covering the article.

    Very annoying but always worth the bother.

  21. Tim Lambert

    BRING BACK THE OLD!!! or else……..

  22. Briggs


    Thanks for the comments. I’ve toned down the yellow on the left, darkened the main text, and will soon reduce the glare of the left panel. I’ve also figured out how to change the mobile problem. Check back again in a few hours.

  23. Big Mike

    The site looks good, but I come here for your writing, not for the visual aesthetics anyway. Getting a nice site design is hard, but I think you’ve succeeded, lack of flashing banners and uninvited pop-ups notwithstanding 😉

    Thanks for all your thought-provoking articles.

  24. Ray

    I prefer the archives and other links in the left pane. I was startled to find them at the bottom of the comments.

  25. Carmen D'Oxide

    Meh. Don’t particularly care for change ’cause the old neurons are programmed for the old style. I’ll adjust. But lose the yellow… your posts don’t need a warning flag… How about a nice soothing green instead?

  26. Speed


    In case you think you’ve fixed the phone version, you haven’t. The yellow(ish) graphic is gone and in its place is the white background … the same white as the rest of the page. The vertical black stripe is gone as well but the Donate button is still present (don’t pass up any revenue opportunities). So you’re part way there … a different version for the phone.

    Keep coding.

  27. Bob

    Welcome to the world of responsive themes. It’s too bad that the theme you chose is not responsive well enough for smart phone screens. Laptop, iPad, and Kindle Fire show that the screen does re-size depending upon the device being used. However, the Motorola Atrix 4G and the Samsung Galaxy Note do not give satisfactory renderings of your web page. I have to pinch and pull to read your blog.

    It should not be too difficult to add media queries to the CSS file to complete the job. Maybe Matthew Buchanan is already doing that. There are lots of themes now that are fully responsive.

    I am hosting my blog on WordPress.com, and many (if not most) of their free themes are fully responsive (will handle pads, and smart phones). WUWT is hosted there, and Anthony’s theme works very well.

    I use the Genesis theme framework by Studio Press when building WordPress sites, plus their child themes. It does cost money, though.

  28. Pieter

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for your consideration for the mobile readers. I mostly read your blog on my commute home.
    Mobile browsers can behave differently in unexpected ways and there is an issue and it is quite a showstopper, well, at least for me it is.
    Before android 4 the css position: fixed was not supported. This means that the site on an phone with android 2.3 or earlier is ok.
    On a galaxy nexus with android 4.0 the text dissappears behind the image when you scroll sideways to see the content pane, because the image stays in place, it has a fixed position on the screen.
    I have made screenshots to clarify the issue:
    Galaxy nexus portrait
    Galaxy nexus landscape
    There is also the floating donate button, but that is just a minor annoyance.
    The iphone behaves like the galaxy nexus with android 4.0, the sidebar image is fixed on the screen. But the iphone automagically scrolls to the content pane. I’m not sure if android can do this too.

    Pieter Meijer

  29. Eric Anderson

    The formatting is OK.

    However, lots of space on the right for links/information that is just blank now.

    Yellow on white on the left is a bit jarring.

  30. DAV

    Looks good. Maybe want to cut the width of the side banner by 10% or so?
    My phone is running Android 2.3.5. The side banner is blank except for the donate button. On the good side, the text comes out larger than before and is easily read. I am using some bookmark widget and I don’t know what it uses to process the HTML. Looks good in Android Firefox , too.

    The spell checker in Firefox doesn’t seem to work anymore. Wonder why.

    Miss the top banner.

  31. Tom Pollard

    The big font and extra whitespace are annoying, and make the page harder to read for me. I really thought there was nothing that needed changing about your previous site layout. If you’re just in the mood to do a little spring cleaning (in June), maybe you could play with the color scheme or the banner graphics.

  32. William Sears

    Whenever this question is asked my answer is always the same. I put on my curmudgeon hat (a fedora) and grouch: I hate it, change it back. But it is your website and the change will not stop me from reading it (or commenting).

  33. obiwankenobi

    Your phenotype I care not.
    Your content I care lots!

  34. Milton Hathaway

    On the Kindle Touch (experimental browser), the “Article Mode” appearance is unchanged. This is good, except that the comments still don’t show up. Oh, well. In “Web Mode”, for the first time I can actually fit the column width at a scale factor that is still readable, so this is an improvement. So now I can read the blog article in Article Mode and revert to Web Mode to skim the comments. I’d call this an improvement.

    On a PC, I find the stationary image on the top left edge annoying and (as others have noted) it covers the text when the page is zoomed for aging eyes. But that can be defeated pretty easily in Opera (Disable Positioning).

    Would you consider moving the stationary pane to the right side of the page?

  35. Bruce Foutch

    Better have a re-read of Edward Tufte. Too much white space and too much ink that doesn’t contain any content (the vertical line)

    Although I agree with the comments about why I frequent your blog – the writing – I do not care much for this format. I am using a standard desktop PC with large monitor.

  36. Speed

    Briggs said, “Also, this old theme is even worse for mobile viewers… ”

    This old theme works better than the new on my Windows Phone 7.5. A quick pinch shrinks to fit and (in portrait) the text column is wider than with the new and the font appears bigger (from memory). It is quite readable for me. In landscape it is even better. And the “shrink to fit” remains when switching from portrait to landscape and back — the new version required re-shrinking when switching.

    I commend your efforts to change and improve the layout and readability of the blog. It shows that you listen to and care about your readers — which we already know. And we also know that not everyone likes having their cheese moved.

    Design is hard.

  37. Larry Geiger

    Looks good on my PC. I like it. Crisp and clean. Also, not overloaded with ancilliary stuff so it seems to be pretty fast!

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