So now Slate has decided to suck

Slate was one of my daily reads, but probably not anymore. They just redesigned their web site, apparently with the goal of making it unreadable and awful.

They have done two incredibly annoying things to the site when viewed on an iPad. Like all web sites that don’t give a shit about their readers, they have disabled re-sizing. No more pinch to enlarge or shrink. That is basic - BASIC - fucking functionality on an iPad! What is gained by making your site one fucking size?! I could use the reader function for articles, but it won’t work on the home page. I’m not going to squint.

And they added a bar on top of the page that you can’t get rid of. Way to go - take over my screen real estate. Why?

They have two articles up this morning about what they have done. It reminds me of what banks say every time they change policies in order to wring more money out of people: “We’ve done this for YOUR benefit!” Yeah. Pull the other one.

Buh bye, Slate. Lots of other web sites that can actually be used and viewed properly.

I don’t normally have a lot of sympathy for these kinds of OPs but I really hate the new design at first glance as well. It makes my eyes hurt.

Huff Post went down this toilet a few months ago. The mobile version is almost unusable.

I must be completely out of it. As someone who doesn’t use mobile devices, I have been assuming that the websites that change their format and style to become virtually unreadable on my PC (Denver Post, I’m looking at you) are doing that to cater to the mobile devices. Not so?

Ironically, by designing their web site so that it almost forces readers to leave, Slate forces themselves to focus on finding better writing, thus making the site even stronger in the long run.

No. They pretty much hate all of their readers.

A lot of websites have separate mobile versions.

The thing to do, as I found on my iPod Touch 3 (both small and slow) is to skip all the nonsense and start reading everything via RSS. No ads, no navigation, just a nice list of articles to choose from that display in text only but often give you some photos too.

Check out the Feeddler app for reading and get an account with BazQux to manage your feeds (since Google Reader is now gone)

Here’s a link to Slate’s feeds.


This reflects my own reaction to Slate’s new site, an opinion I formed moments ago when I tried to navigate it for the first time.


Here’s Farhad Manjoo, Slate’s (apparently) outgoing tech columnist, on why men should wear makeup, unnecessarily divided into two pages solely for the page hits.

A lousy redesign is the least of Slate’s problems.

I fully believe that the reason why websites redesign their layouts once in a while is because they have to justify keeping their IT guys around when they’re not fixing bugs. There is no god damn reason why a functional website that nobody had complains about needs to be completely redesigned like that.

If there was small complaints, fix that aspect of the site. If some single thing needs to be more readable or accessible, fix that only and not everything else. I would have been fine if Slate kept their site the same for the next 10 god damn years, who gives a fuck as long as its readable?

There was a big black blob when I clicked on it this morning with various indicators that they had changed, as if I hadn’t f’in noticed the big black blob blocking all the text.

I don’t read it on a mobile cuz I’m a geezer. But geez, you’ve got to be able to resize for the mobile people.

I’m ignoring it until the big black blob of introduction goes away. Fortunately for Slate they have Doonesbury, and I go to Slate after auto loading that every day.

In his defense, he wrote an entire article about how much he hated articles being divided like that.

As an IT guy, I’m going to have to disagree with this. Enough stuff tends to break on a regular basis that we have no trouble finding something to do without having to deliberately make more work for ourselves.

Instead, allow me to direct you to the marketing department where they have to keep changing things to justify their existence. Ostentatiously under the guise of ‘keeping things fresh’. In reality, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is heresy to their doctrine.

I can’t stand any website that disables fundamental aspects of mobile browsers, like “pinch-to-zoom.” It almost always annoys me enough to ditch the site and find something else that works better.

And don’t get me started about slide shows!

I still use AOL for email, and occasionally click on links to HuffPost articles from AOL’s welcome screen.

Invariably, such articles almost always crash the browser and force it to reload (and sometimes then crash it AGAIN before finally loading the third time!) because HuffPo tries to run so many videos and scripts in the background that it overwhelms the client.

You’d think the company that owns HuffPo would make it compatible with their own browser, but no.

Count me as another person who doesn’t like the Slate redesign. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fine, and it was pretty easy to find everything. It’s now more difficult.

For example, i like the blog sections “The Vault” and “Bad Astronomy,” and on the old page there was a blog menu on the left where you could navigate directly to the one/s you liked. Now, that’s gone, and if you want to go to those places, you have to bookmark the individual blogs, or remember which broad section they’re in (Life; Health and Science)

Of course, as others have noted, the whole “split the page in two or three to maximize ad impressions” is an annoying part of the site. What’s even more pathetic is that they do have a “Single page” link, but it’s at the bottom of the page, so you have to scroll down anyway, making it essentially useless for two-page articles anyway.

On my Nexus 7, i usually read Slate using the Google Currents reader app. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

Eh, for pages like Slate, I suspect it has more to do with increasing ad revenue then just change for the sake of busy work (same deal as with page-breaks). Making money with online journalism is both hard and still relatively novel, which leads to a lot of tweeking (see, for example, the SDMB’s going to ads, then paid memberships, then back to ads again, to ads/selling titles/memberships/whatever the hell they do now).

Which doesn’t make it any less annoying, but someone has to pay to keep the lights on. All those tacos for Matthew Yglesias’s 45 part series on the economics of Mexican fast food aren’t going to buy themselves.