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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Comments

Make it look like, and have similar content to DPReview. ;)

In general I like the balance and slightly eccentric range of content on TOP but if I could have more of anything it would be discussions of specific photographs and analysis of style in specific photographers. As far as the presentation is concerned it would be nice if it were easier to locate stuff in the archives by theme etc and if images displayed larger and everything wasn't squeezed into such a narrow band. When I go to the site I would love each day to first see a striking photograph writ large, so to speak. Good luck with it. This will still be the one photo blog I read every day regardless.

My only comment will be to be careful with reply nesting. While it sounds like a good idea on paper, it's very easy to mess up, as facebook's absolutely terrible implementation should make clear. One feature that's absolutely key to have if you insist on having nesting is the "hide child comments" which promptly hides everything below a certain reply, allowing one to quickly move on to the next discussion rather than have to endlessly scroll down (especially since it is very hard visually to remember at which indentation level we should start reading again). If you want to see an implementation of it done right, check out reddit (e.g. http://www.reddit.com/r/photography/comments/1rg3cc/good_guy_getting_screwed_the_online_photographers/) : when you click on the [-] sign on top left of any comment, it hides that comment and any below it, using a nifty javascript trick which doesn't require reloading the page.

Or you could just keep using a linear structure. It's messier but it also "forces" people to read other comments to follow any discussion, which is half the fun.

I don't think website features are a huge thing for me, but these ones are I think de facto for a modern website

Bigger and better image representation, without overly fussy gallery and slideshow stuff. Better full width initial images (making use of current responsive design techniques) and simple click-through enlargements. For third party photos some restrictions may apply of course)

Good typography and layout - TOP is not an easy read at the moment. For myself I use Readability at the moment to make it a better experience, but that takes me away form the site of course

Easier commenting. I would favour registered users, but obviously this is an issue with a large readership.

From a technical point of view. (I do this stuff for a living, although I don't claim to know better than anyone else)

Your own server, of whatever flavour. Don't be hostage to fortune. You already have theonlinephotographer.com domain name.

Platforms. A year ago I would unhesitatingly have said go with Wordpress (open-source self-hosted). However in my experience it has become bloated recently and being popular and using lots of server side technology and third party plugins may become increasingly a target for the sort of problems you have with Typepad. If you have technical expertise available and are willing to pay a modest amount, I would now recommend building a static website - using something like Jekyll for example - hosted on the cloud and managing comments using a service like Disqus. Advantages are fast response, independence of server and DB issues, easily scalable when you ht the million-users-a-day scenario, Easy to move to other platforms etc etc etc. Also not really a problem to integrate ecommerce solutions for print sales

My tuppence worth

A simple suggestion: theonlinephotographer.com should take one to the blog, not a page about the blog.

The way you've handled ads has been exemplary. No spinning, flashing animated GIFs, no rollout monstrosities requiring an action to close, no animated banners. They've been unobtrusive and perfectly acceptable. I hope their absence won't cost you much in revenue.

The best blog format I've seen is Ming Thein's. Its only shortcoming is reliance on Flickr for click-through to larger images.

Happy to stick with you on the journey, but at the risk of sounding like a party pooper, I enjoy the current format. This is not a "don't change" vote, just "don't change for the sake of change." Assuming that the content is still the same mix of information and opinions, I expect to have TOP in my daily routine of interesting things to see or places to go on the Internet. Good luck with the transition.

Ben Marks

Things I have liked best on ToP have been musing on the state, nature, and future of photography, as well as your various efforts to curate photographs into interesting collections.

Your thoughts and tastes are similar enough to mine to make me love these things, and different enough to make them interesting.

Well, it sounds good. The details of online forums are totally personal and persnickety, but "fast" is good, and I generally prefer threaded comments (I expect that one to be controversial, and how well it works depends on how easy it is to see just new comments). "Fast" is important of course, and a good way of viewing photos (maybe more photos that we've usually used), and access on phones and tablets.

Since advertisements pay for TOP (meaning you, plus the hosting costs) I can't very well complain about that. The way you've been doing it is okay. The new way you describe sounds like it might be better -- not throwing the same ads in my face in the same positions week after week.

I don't mind creating an "account" for something I actually want to use (I have good enough password management tools that it's almost transparent to me in use). That would be better than hassling with the "captcha" each time I comment.

TOP is the only online forum I bother to read regularly, Usenet and mailing lists just have so much better an interface.

Mike, in your new site I'd like to see more accomodation/encouragement for readers (and you) to incorporate photographs in the comments & articles that demonstrate/support their (your) thoughts. I'm not thinking this would be, at all, a place just to download lots of images. But I would like to SEE ideas along with the reading about ideas.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Good luck! :-)

Not exactly a suggestion more a plea with regard to nested comments - please make sure that comments don't get narrower until they end up 3 letters wide as the conversation progresses, which seems to be the way on many fora.

For the specific item of looking at a group of photos, I suggest some mechanism to do that via opening a new window so that when the viewer closes close it, they are returned to where they started (middle of article or something). If you're sticking to the daily blog update kind of flow, looking at a group of photos will almost always be in the context of reading something else.

If you intend to also have a permanent set of galleries available, they could be located one link away. The occasional single photo in the blog itself is ok though, imo, for one-offs.

Really only one request - keep the type black, and the background against which it sits white. You were probably planning to do that, anyway, but...

I suggest not indenting comment replies. It tends to increase the left margins too much.

What I'd like it for the site to keep track of the last comment I read on any given page and scroll me to the end of it the next time through.

Don't muck up a good thing by trying to improve it.

Neutral gray background, not the yellow-gold one. Causes colour shift in the brain.

Please no tea columns, I like Ctein but have no interest in tea.
Coffee and pool are okay cars too, cameras, printers, paper and images are on topic.
I prefer parrots to dogs (one for Ctein) Nikon to Canon and M43 to Sony or Fuji.
I have no problem with your ads as long as there are no pop-ups.
I like the sepia feel of your colors, and that your site looks the same on my iMac and iPhone.
Make yourself comfortable in life and keep on keeping on.
Thanks Mike.

Will the new site continue to support viewing through a feed reader (RSS feeds or similar)?

One of the things that I like about the current site, and hope will be retained, is the reasonable column width (read: narrow by web standards) for the main text. Overly long lines are much harder to read, witness the layout of well done printed books.

As much as I like his insight and editorial orientation, I find Kirk Tuck's site much more difficult to read. It fails the old typographer's rule, that line length shouldn't exceed 40-45 characters, by a massive amount.

Long running series may I suggest.

I am reading the 3880 reviews here to consider getting one. It is not possible for you to compete with site but what you get is trust. Hence, a long term series on a topic eg review sony 6 or 3880 after 3 years could be now feasible. We reach a stage you can hold a camera and use it a few year layer and it is still good to go. Hence this is viable now.

Even a dark room ...

I started out on blogger (with a fairly popular motorcycle related blog ans changing to Wordpress once things got popular and a bit more complex was the best move I could have made. Good Luck

Hi Mike!
First, I want to tell you that I am very excited,and I'm wishing you the best of luck.
Secondly, as is traditional, I'll complain about the choices you are making :-)
No, seriously, I think comments sections benefit from an absence of nested replies. People stay more civil, and write more clearly when it is evident that what they write will be read and judged by everyone. It makes it clear that the comments are part of a conversation, not a sequence of points batted back and forth. I would refer you to Making Light as a good example of comment culture done well. (Though the graphic design is rather plain.)

I wouldn't mind seeing an individual post describing a patron or sponsor as part of the daily blog. John Gruber handles them nicely on Daring Fireball, for instance in this weekly sponsor post.

Thirdly, as is not traditional on the internet, I want to thank you for all of your hard work, and to wish you the best of luck in this new endeavor.
Will

Well, I LIKE TOP the way it is now. I also like Kirk Tuck's site, and Luminous Landscape. I don't like any byThom site, nor Mirrorless Photo Tips.

Hope this helps, at least a little.

When you have a "committee" make or influence decisions like this you end up with the lowest common denominator, which is usually a compromise of awfulness.

Mike, As long as the content stays the same I honestly do not care what the format is!

Well, I read TOP nearly daily and nearly 100% via RSS feed. I'm not sure how you trigger comments to appear on the feed, but you do a good job of feeding what I might call "highlight" comments. I'm often intrigued enough to click through to the article and read more of the comments. And the great thing is that even without clicking through to the site, I feel like I'm following the conversation with what you're feeding. It really makes a difference because there are some others I read that aren't like that and I always feel like I'm missing something.

Keep it simple with the addition of a photo gallery and a recommended books library. A products-for-sale page* with a shopping cart that changes with your offerings would be a big plus for all involved. From my limited 15 years in internet retail and design, I have found a simple design can help maintain future upgrades flawlessly.

*not a storefront

I have no problem with the layout of the current site. Having said that, my only suggestion is that you keep the comments set up as close to the way they are as possible.

I like the fact that clicking on the "Comments" link returns a page with the entire post intact. This makes it much easier to quote and refer back to your post when commenting.

I like the fact that there's no registration involved, and that I can click on a commenter's name to get to his site, rather than to a member profile in Google+ or some other intermediary page. I've been introduced to a lot of good work that way. I've also seen a lot of referral traffic to my own site as a result of those clicks.

I like seeing the comments unthreaded and in chronological order from oldest at the top to newest at the bottom—it's how I read.

I have no problem with Captcha. If I've taken the time to write a thoughtful comment, a couple seconds more is no hardship.

I like the column width—it's easy to read. The ads in the margins are not distracting.

That's it. Here's to the new and improved TOP.

Whatever design changes you may implement, don't change your content too much. TOP is such a pleasure - good writing and good photography together.


TOP's strength is that it is all about the written word, and not images. Please keep that focus, Mike, whichever way you go. Also, I understand you make a living from the blog. I have no objections at all to advertising on a free site; especially as at present, which is unobtrusive but effective.

I am happy with the current version, but what would be really nice is an app for android devices.

I'm glad to read that you've decided not to nest comment replies. Nested comments kill conversation.

I see someone has pointed at Making Light as an exemplar of a good commenting community. I'll second that; also, I hope you will consider a sidebar list of the most recent comments, as is done there. It helps to keep comment threads on older posts active, which is good for people like me who think slowly and are often late to comment on a post.

"It will be natively adapted to reading on tablets and smartphones" worries me--most blogs that do that are actually very hard to read on a phone, while current TOP looks just fine on my phone.

I read your site on an iPad and double tap the column of text so that it expands to nearly fill the screen in landscape mode. This allows my old eyes to clearly read the text (and lose the ads). So please don't mess with font sizes and column width too much!

Perhaps there could be a way to toggle back and forth between chronological comments and nested/child comments?

I undesrtand that this site is mostly not about showing pictures, but in the few cases the images are important, the presentation of them is really awkward. I think the images could and should be somehow a more natural part of the content.

Please get rid of the buff background. I suppose this sort of thing used to be popular a decade ago because people had the brightness cranked right up on their screens, and the Windows font engines of yesteryear didn't antialias fonts well if they did it at all. On a properly calibrated screen with a decent font engine, black on white is much more legible and attractive. A Mac with a nice photographer's monitor handles black on white beautifully. So does a Retina iPad. I don't have experience of recent Windows machines but I know the font engine is much improved.

Whatever you do, don't make it white on black with no option to ser it to black on white. I really think I would stop reading and visiting.

As for a grey background, that particular fad also annoys me. It's like handing someone a pair of glasses smeared with Vaseine when they entered the library and tellng them they weren't allowed to read a book without wearing them. Why would you do that?

[It's going to be black on white. --Mike]

Content. I love TOP for the content. I also like all the off topic posts as I have many interests. So keep up your writing, that is king, and the format is not important to me.

I read all the blogs I follow with Feedly, that means that everything (and I mean everything) I want to follow comes to me through Feedly. And the current "low tech" solution support that very well, as I can read the whole article in Feedly. When an interesting topic comes up, I click through to read all the comments, as I find the comments on this site to be of high quality.

I realise that this don´t fit well with advertising, but I participate in print sales and use your Amazon links, so I think in my case you make more money this way by having me as a reader. :-)

If the future web format of TOP don´t fit into Feedly (and similar RSS solutions), I think I will loose you over time, as TOP then no longer will be part of my daily information feed. Sure, in the beginning I will remember go to you site, but over time that will probably change in this content rich time where everybody want my attention. And then one day while driving to work I will think, "TOP and Mike Johnston, that was a great blog, wonder what happen to him, I have to google him one day."

Best of luck on your new design!

I endorse Edward Taylor's featured observations about comments. I didn't mention this in my earlier suggestion because I know you need to moderate comments, or to have registered users. You obviously don't have time moderate comments regularly so I guess you do it in big batches. This makes it difficult to handle any sort of conversational aspects of the comment timeline which is one of the main values of the site. It is also frustrating that you can't easily find if someone has answered your comment in order that you can respond in kind, if only as a show of politeness.

Remember also that the comment timeline is indexed by google, and I suspect a lot of google hits are generated from the comments especially for specific tech phrases related to photography

I enjoy looking at the work of commenters on your site. I hope you continue to have commenter's names linked to their website opening in a new tab/window. As I do most of my web reading on an iPad I find DISQUS to be dysfunctionally annoying to use on sites which use it so I hope you aren't planning on using it. Other than that I think your design goals sound spot on. Looking forward to the new site.

I like the current site.
Someone made an important point ( db ?) about column width. Too wide is difficult to read. Current setting is fine.
I would not like to see TOP turn into an equipment review site but I do appreciate your comments on your own likes and dislikes.
More of the same would be my wish

I could say skip the coffee articles, but keep the tea ones. I don't like coffee. As you well know you can never please everyone, but you do some of the best writing around. Keep up the good work. I don't actually care as what it looks like, as long as I can read it. If I'm not interested in an article I will skip it. The off topic articles are usually interesting, and they give us a fuller view of you, the person.

+1 on readability for smartphones. The current format is fine in a desktop but hard to read on an iPhone.

Since you can hardly avoid consideration of numbers and themes in these responses, I will add one more voice to those who have said that content trumps form. I visit TOP regularly the way I would read a first-rate newspaper column … if I had access to a first-rate newspaper which had a first-rate columnist. (Ah, those were the days!) First and foremost, Mike, I am here for your writing. However Edward Taylor's featured comment awakened me to the importance of the comments section and the lively and usually inteligent conversation to be found beneath TOP's banner.

TOP's articles and comments combine to educate me, but most importantly they frequently change my mind about things and prompt me to change my opinion or my point of view. That makes TOP a valued part of my life. As long as you don't really screw up the design, I'll keep coming back faithfully.

I only have two comments:

1. For me, the most important thing about comments is that they be moderated and approved fairly quickly. I know you've been busy AND experienced technical issues recently, which is a double whammy, but when comments don't get posted/updated for hours, they feel less relevant and it is harder for a conversation to develop. I know that moderating comments takes up a substantial amount of your time, so I hope that in the future you can hire a promising high school student to take on some of this work.

2. Like many people, I mostly read TOP at work, and my company has a fairly restrictive Internet policy. Many things that are entirely harmless are blocked and not accessible at work. Right now, TOP is fine. I hope you won't move to a service provider (for the blog, the comments or image hosting) that I won't be able to access. Just about every popular photo hosting website (Flickr, SmugMug, etc.) is not accessible to me. Obviously, you can't take my specific situation into account, but before picking a service provider, you might ask a few of your readers who work in a corporate environment to test whether they can access other content on that service provider.

I love TOP and will always read whatever your write. I have exactly zero complaints or suggestions in terms of content.

Best,
Adam

I agree with listing comments in the order received though many platforms let you switch between threaded and flat comment conventions. See DPR for an example. If you can do this in TOP nouveau then it will let people choose what they want.

The moderation burden can be lightened by supporting a login with each user having a moderation flag. Initially all users are moderated. After say, 10 non contentious comments the user's comments can be posted directly. Any moderation problem or subsequent complaint causes the moderation flag to be set true again. Of course such schemes can be gamed so keep it quiet if that is what you do.

Lots of good comments here -- and for every person advocating a specific change someone else opposed. That's a committee.

A few people have mentioned the narrow text column and the ease of reading. I concur.

Otherwise, go with your gut feeling. Can't go wrong with that.

David

My only suggestion is a please don't: Please don't go light-on-dark text. Too many photography-oriented sites use black or dark grey backgrounds, which is annoying and induces eye strain.

Light-on-dark text works well in dim or dark conditions, and conserves battery power, but that should be my option, not a baked-in design, and most reader apps and browsers these days give one the choice of "night-mode" when needed.

An ace designer will be able to give visitors a choice of themes, but that might be too costly (in multiple ways) to be worth it.

And while I'm on the topic, I should say that I like the sepia background on your posts and comments. It's easy on the eyes and sets TOP apart from "hipper" and louder blogs. It happens to be my preferred color scheme for ebooks. I'm sure a lot of people think it's staid or boring, and I won't consider it the end of the world if you change it, but I'm hoping you won't.

OK, I guess I do have a second suggestion: Please don't abandon us RSS users--please continue offering full posts via RSS (as opposed to just headlines or a paragraph); it's so much more convenient when trying to keep up on the go via small screens and iffy connections. Usually, I start reading posts via RSS and then go to the main site to read comments, but that's not always practical.

Sounds like I'm saying I pretty much like TOP the way it is, and that's largely true. The thing I least like is the captcha for comments, but I expect that requiring registration for commenting will eliminate the need. And I know we're all on the same page about giving images more respect.

Thanks for asking.

I'm glad I waited before commenting because Edward Taylor is spot-on about the blog and the comments.

This blog is one-of-a-kind. There should be more like it but . . .

There are many accomplished photographers reading this blog. I would like to get some ideas about a very basic, "beginner-type" issue: "What is the thinking about best practice when it comes to cleaning an expensive, filter-less lens."

Include: specific techniques, names of supplies, gadgets, etc.

I like it as it is and don't really have problems with any aspect of it currently except maybe sometimes when I go to that page that isn't TOP but that tells one where TOP is. Captchas are a bit of a pain but a price worth paying.

I prefer a light, not white background with black type. There is enough contrast and it is easy on the eye. I also like the narrow column and general layout.

One issue I have is that sometimes photos when enlarged are too big for my screen (2008 iMac) but that might be at my end. I have no idea.

I'm glad you are not doing nested comments. As a member of a motorcycle club that discusses many things over the web, we were using emails until we got close to 20 members, then topics would split off into several similar emails and confusion reigned.

We now have our own private forum and while we often veer off topic, we always know what we have and haven't read, and the whole discussion is there in order. As with many forums (I think) the icon changes to show that there is a post or posts that I haven't read. This may be possible for you, but as other have said, being placed at the first new comment would be nice.

I forgot: The mix of subjects is just ticketyboo. I can't think of any changes you could make here.

I have been crying in the wilderness for a "recent comments" box, which for a comment driven site is essential.


I would only like that and a wider picture format.

My own readers on my blog prefer nested comments, but they get squashed so narrow after just a few replies.

Hi Mike,
I second the opinion of Trecento on nested comments.
For the rest of it, I like it very much just the way it is!

Regards,
Aashish

Dear Mike,
I'd like above all, to see more stuff about the art of seeing, about where you can take photography aesthetically and intellectually. I have special fondness for B&W film, but I have to face it - it is becoming a dying genre, so let's move on with whatever makes interesting images. I certainly am not interested to find out why the latest sensor outresolves the previous one, and by how much.
Best.
Marek

All these comments mostly are a great complement for this site. There is not much left to add, so I just would like to second Marek Fogiel's post: more on the art of seeing would be nice. And maybe a Latest Comments Section.

I would love to see a vertical bar (or other arrangement) of thumbnail pictures/links for book recommendations. I really miss this feature from your older blog. I can even imagine another column of thumbnails on the other side for "random excellence" examples, so that we can explore other photographers' websites that you've discovered and found interesting. This would help greatly when I'm visiting TOP for the 10th time in a day because my data crunching is driving me crazy, LOL, and there are no new posts/comments to read.

Looking forward to the new site. Black on white will definitely be an improvement to me.

As a general comment, I find that photos are pretty scarce on TOP, which is kind of ironic. I really think that most of you excellent articles would greatly benefit from having more than the usual one or two images. Maybe it's the layout and I have a false perception on this, but I'm sure you know what the average number of photos per post is.

Also, in book reviews, do you think you could occasionally include a short video-clip (kind of a hands on) describing the layout, feel, etc, or at least some photos showing double spreads from the book? Sometimes that can be a good complement to the written review, and make some people more inclined to buy the book. Again, not sure if this is doable in terms of copyright laws.

That's all I can think of right now. Good luck with the changes!

Content aside - you need a reliable webhost. Someone who can handle traffic, offers CDN, etc.

I've very good thinks about RockStar Hosting, I myself use WPengine. They cost more but are worth the money.

Cheers
Mark

Mike,

I'm glad you axed the idea of nested or threaded comments which would have added to your moderation burden. Comment threads will go against TOP's "site zeitgeist." In other sites, threaded comments tend to provoke oneupmanship and self-indulgence even when moderated. It's also insidious in that it inflates the count and deflates the quality of comments (say, a 100+ comment count most of which can be attributed to a handful of commenters who have hijacked the discussion and the inevitable host's replies or refereeing which are counted as "comments").

Content-wise, I have no complaints and look forward to more of the same in TOP's new platform. My suggestions below are all about the layout or template, mindful of your plan to make TOP "streamlined, reliable, fast, and responsive."

Two-column layout in stead of three

The current three-column layout at its default (100%) magnification renders the base font too small. I have to zoom the page to 125% to be able to read it without eye strain. When zoomed to 125% one of the two sidebars is truncated anyway.

I suggest retaining only one sidebar at its current width. The width of main (blogpost) column could then be increased by the width of the second sidebar. The advantage of a wider main column is that it will accommodate both: (a) wider pictures, say, at least 800px (the current 640px default width is quite small) and (b) a larger base font for better legibility at the default magnification. (If the line width in the main column in a two-column template turns out to be longer than the current one which we have been used to, this can be adjusted by "indenting" the paragraphs of the main post and comments relative to the picture width. The resulting white space will add relief.)

Some of the contents of the second sidebar (i.e., the rightmost column) can be moved to drop-down menus in a navigation bar, just below TOP's masthead, e.g., SEARCH, RESOURCES ("About"), CATEGORIES, ARCHIVES. The others (just as important) can be consolidated with the contents of the left sidebar. By casual inspection, I think the contents of the consolidated sidebar will easily fit the scroll-down Main page (and the article page as well depending on its length and the number of Comments). The surviving sidebar may be located to the left or right of the main column.

Reader-friendly and intuitive Comment window

In stead of the "(You can use HTML tags like <b> <i> and <ul> to style your text...)" "legend" below the current TypePad comment box, please provide icons that will automate the insertion of photos, videos, and links which a reader may wish to upload with his/her Comment. (Like the icons usually found in the "Compose" window of email apps).

This way, a commenter only have to type (or copy and paste) the url address of his/her pictures. In addition, the blog software should automatically resize the photo to fit the template's default size. It should be at least 640px wide. The current 470px default width is too small. And since we have to submit the image at the prescribed 470px max width, it remains at that size when clicked-through. Ground rules re uploads of images owned by third parties, should also be indicated (or linked to) below the Comment box. (I think the current "protocol" is to link to third party images rather than submit it as an inline image.)

Text formatting should likewise be automated with icons rather than manually typed tags. (This will get rid of those instances when the Comments suddenly go italics because a commenter forgot to type the closing </i> tag.

Hopefully, broken links (to images), truncated pictures, ungainly spelled-out hyperlinks, formatting shifts—the bane of the current Comments section—will be a thing of the past come the new TOP platform.

HTML 5 compliance

If the new template is "natively adapted to reading on tablets and smartphones," then it's HTML 5 compliant. As I understand it, HTML 5 streamlines the insertion (uploading) of multi-media (video and audio clips in addition to images) and their display across platforms including tablets and smartphones. Up-to-date templates at Blogger and WordPress already implement this.

Modern (HTML 5) templates are faster loading across platforms. They are optimized for display on computer screens, as well as tablets and smartphones which have smaller screens and use a different GUI. I think the blogging software senses what platform is being used at the receiving end and deploys the appropriate template. Just because a modern template is accessible to other platforms doesn't mean that the manner in which a page is displayed in "traditional" computer screens is compromised. It isn't.

The RSS feeds of pages using a modern template ought to improve as well, whether or not the reader is HTML 5 compliant. If the RSS reader is HTML 5 compliant, it will feed off the appropriate template. If not, it will feed off the template optimized for computer screens.

Thank you for soliciting readers' suggestions. Looking forward to the new TOP!

(P.S. I'm re-submitting this comment because the one I posted on Sunday hasn't come through yet, maybe because of an outage?)

The writing and content (and comments) here are excellent, Mike. I imagine these will remain much the same, as they should.

I have only two small suggestions, otherwise:

1. Going to www.theonlinephotographer.com takes you to the blog/content and not the "about this site" page (this is a peeve of mine; my browsers always default to the "about" page as the top hit).

2. Clicked links should open in the current window; they should not spawn a new window. Reason is that navigation shortcuts (back button) don't work as they should, or you expect, when you get booted into a new window. Opening another browser window should be by user's choice only (e.g. with a right-click).

Mike,
Larger photographs, or at least links to larger versions of the photographs you feature in your posts.

Well, if you really have to make some change, I can suggest a blog whose design I appreciate and tell you what I think are good points: just google for... theonlinephotographer!

I read it mostly on my phone on the way to work, and I like that the column width is as large as it can be while still remaining a practical read, I hate it when I need to switch the phone to landscape orientation to read. On the computer, I also appreciate that the column is not larger than needs be. A bit more would be ok but at some point it starts getting harder to find the line below on the other side.

It's really great that there are enough posts on the first page, it's tedious when you only get access to the last 3 or 5 posts before you need to go to the next page. But it's even worse if you have to click on a post to be able to read it entirely (comments excepted of course).

They have an über-great featured comment feature! Regarding comments, I for one appreciate that they do not appear immediately or even too swiftly. I find it prevents the development of many parallel one-to-one conversations and helps keep the comments of general interest and on-topic.

OK, for a photography blog maybe the pictures side could be better. If you have to have overlays, just keep it easy to come back to the post. And beware the page weight: most of all, I appreciate that the site is light in terms of bandwidth, which comes in particularly handy when the network is sketchy in the metro!

For smartphones, please avoid this wordpress feature where if you swipe right or left you go to the previous or next comment. It's more often unwanted than not. By the way, I've seen many really bad implementations on wordpress, but not on all blogs so it must depend from user (writer) parameters. At some point Kirk Tuck's blog became unreadable (I see it's on blogspot now).

Of course, I am a regular for the excellent content and not the design, but I'd hate to think the latter would prevent my enjoyment of the former by being an obstacle. Oh, and good luck! Not unexpectedly, from the comments it looks like a tough job to please the many contradicting opinions!

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