Bil Browning

Help us get better and win a prize

Filed By Bil Browning | April 08, 2009 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Contests, Site News
Tags: Rob Byrnes, Straight Lies, website redesign

Today's contest is going to be a little different. We've recently hired a team to redesign all of the Bilerico sites and they need your input. We're keeping the logo, but other than that everything is up for grabs. Tell us what you want Bilerico to look like, what we should add, what the site "feel" should be, what should get kicked to the curb, anything that's on your mind in the comments section and you could win one of these fabulous prize packages from author Rob Byrnes:

Rob's new novel Straight Lies came out last week and not only is he giving Projectors copies of that novel, but he's going one step above! StraightLies.jpgWe'll be giving away autographed sets of his complete library (Straight Lies, When the Stars Come Out, Trust Fund Boys, and The Night We Met) to three lucky winners plus two other winners will win an autographed copy of Straight Lies. That's over $300 worth of books to give away!!

STRAIGHT LIES is the story of a pair of small-time gay criminals who learn about a sex tape proving that the world's hottest openly gay celebrity is actually heterosexual. What should be a simple plan -- retrieve the tape, blackmail the celebrity, and live happily ever after -- gets complicated when the tape is left in the back of a cab. That sets in motion a madcap crime caper involving a tabloid gossip editor; a lesbian realtor and her spoiled girlfriend; a cop who is also an Internet predator, an alcoholic ex-cabbie, a boy toy whose IQ might be smaller than his waist size; a shallow social climber who has never crossed a bridge he didn't burn, and Tori Spelling.

Contest rules and specifics that the designers are asking after the jump.

From the design team:

We're interested in what you think about the following:

1. Page layout. especially where videos, posts, and miscellaneous items like RSS and archives are laid out. What should stay? What needs to change? What items could be folded into a separate page?

2. The "look and feel" of the page. Many could describe the page as a newspaper layout, especially with the box layout. What do you like and dislike about the look and feel? What adjectives do you want users to use to describe the site? (cutting-edge, serious, funny, friendly, etc.)

3. Keep it. Which areas of the site do you feel are successful, and why?

4. Needs to change. What areas of the site do you think need to change?

5. Posts and comments. Are you happy with the relationship between contributors and commenters? Why or why not? What do you think could be improved from a design perspective?

6. Fonts and Colors. Do you like the fonts and colors used on the site? What are some of your favorites that you'd like to see used in the new design?

7. Examples. Do you have websites in mind that you really like design-wise? Send us links to websites you like, especially if they are content-driven like Bilerico.

Contest rules:

Contest will close Wednesday, April 8 at midnight Pacific. You can enter more than once if you include new ideas each time. Winners will be drawn at random. Please use a valid e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. Any prizes not claimed by Monday, April 13 at 9am Pacific will be given to someone else.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

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bigolpoofter | April 6, 2009 9:27 AM

1. Pages are too damned long. It should not take six clicks in the right scroll bar to hit the bottom.... hmmm... hit the bottom....

2. Green links with same-size black tag lines, as in the Recent/Popular panels is more reminiscent of a highlight and just plain fugly.

3. The freakin masthead logo is just too frakkin big.

4. Re Comments: BP staff and regular named contributors ought attempt to refrain from being the first commenters on an article, to keep the forum from appearing self-congratulatory. Really.

5. Examples? 1 and 3 kill 99% of the sites I've seen re good design.

I like the "newspaper" feel that is present on the top part of the page with a title and introduction to the story; however when I'm away from the site for a day or two, I can never really tell what the older stories are all about. The headlines only for older stories makes it harder for me to know what any particular story is covering, as the titles are often vague or hard to connect to the content of the stories. I'm not very good with graphic design, but maybe a paged format whereby the stories that would now begin the condensed format at the bottom of the main page would instead start the next page in a format that mirrors the front page.

Could I just paste in what I said last time you asked this question as a contest? Hm?

I agree with Rebecca that a mobile version would be nice. It's a lot of scroll down, scroll down, scroll down to get past the logo and ads. I haven't been able to comment from my LG Dare either.

But what I'd suggest more than that is just a general cleanup. I'm not talking about ads; I know those aren't going anywhere. I'm talking about all the junk (if I may be so bold) like the bookmark buttons (Do people really use those? I've read that most people who use delicious, mixx, etc. are more technically savvy and usually have the button built into their browser.), the sphere link (sphere found no related articles even on the Mason Wyler rape and Lawrence King articles), the twitter link, the email link, the digg button. (I looked at the digg results or whatever for your most popular articles, and most of them hadn't been submitted. None of them had even a hundred diggs. (That says less about you than it does about the changing relevance of digg. Same with delicious.)

And that's just to get from the article to the comments. Then below the comment form is three paragraphs of mice type that people don't really pay attention to. Could that be put on a separate page and be linked to before the comment form? Something like G-A-Y does. If not that, edit it down to a couple lines at most.

Then there's the tag links over in the 2nd column. They've been leading to 404 pages for as long as I can remember. Ditch those, or at least the showcasing of them, and maybe put the dropdowns for categories and authors that are currently on the Archives page in their place.

God, I'm a bitch.

To re-state it in the positive, I guess what I'm suggesting is that you clean up the presentation. Look through the data and see what tools people are using. If they aren't using it, toss it out. If there's a better way to showcase it, change it up.

A little more on the mobile edition. I'm pretty sure you can set a separate css configuration for mobile phones to render by default. If not that, at least move the link over to the top of the first column so we don't have to scroll through 2/3 of the page to get to the link so we don't have to scroll through the page.

Seriously, the mobile version is your Achilles's heel, as far as layout goes. Take a look at the Onion's mobile edition. They do a fantastic job of stripping it down but giving a full experience. Ads and all.

I agree with bigol--the masthead logo is quite large and takes up a good portion of your page. Perhaps a bit smaller..

I would appreciate the ability to pick a different font style from a choice of perhaps 3-4 fonts, as well as font size. I have MS and it often affects my vision, and I am sure there are other vision impaired persons reading.

The three column design kind of makes the whole page look crowded/cluttered. I believe that getting rid of the middle column and turning Most Popular, Recently Filed and Project Highlights into links will increase the space for actual articles, and therefore reduce the size of the page, which is number one issue with bigol.

When I first started coming to Bilerico, you used to be able to scroll through the stories on the front page and then click a link on the bottom to get to a page with the previous stories, and you could continue backward like that as fas as you wanted. Then suddenly one day that was gone and you had to go to the archive and remember dates.

I really miss the old way. It made it much easier to find posts I was following. Isn't there a way TBP could have both?

I'd say you could probably reduce visual clutter by cutting down on the number of black lines on white (gentle bg contrast should be less distrating), and possibly having a section where the "special features" (for lack of a better term - what the buck, town called dobson, etc) rotate in one-per-pageload.

On the article pages, the related posts links could be put at the bottom of the article - there or at the bottom of the page (too far down here with so much discussion IMHO) is becoming the accepted location for "if you like this, you might also like", which would let you possibly widen the content column so it doesn't feel as crowded out by the side columns.

The mobile stuff, feed, bookmarks - all good candidates for a horiz nav bar at the top of the page: think a "get connected" bar beneath the more content-oriented bar you have now, or up by the login/account links.

For recently archived articles on the homepage - those which are collapsed to a headline - I've seen some sites where there is instead a "gallery" about 3 col, 2 rows, of "tiles" for recently previous stories taht list the title and an excerpt in effectively body text (usually either the excerpt is italic or the title is bold, but same size) to provide a neater and more informative glimpse at the articles I missed because I got too busy. A simple "earlier-later" view of the archives, too, is also probably prudent given the "blog"-type format - it's pretty much expected.

(The towleroad approach to recent articles - having "pages" in the footer of every page - is actually pretty useable and useful in practice, color scheme aside.)

If you get the tag stuff working, having a tag cloud under the tiled recent articles block on the homepage would be a potentially nice addition.

Rick Elliott | April 7, 2009 2:32 AM

Personally I'm ather pleased with the current framework. However, I would offer one comment:
--Somehow group the articles--something like
Humor, Political Issues, Advocacy, Human Interest. It would enable readers to more easily choose what to read.

It's busy, to say the least. Perhaps adding a color background would make it more visually arresting ... Joe my god and towleroad have black all locked up. Pink seems ... something to perhaps be beyond in a post-gay post perez hilton ... perhaps a basic blue would liven things up?

Playing with the size of the columns is worth experimenting with ... I like the cleanness of Joe's one column blog.

Lynn David Lynn David | April 7, 2009 2:49 AM

Considering that I use an RSS feed to read the stories and continue on with those of which I find the most interesting (ie. more nude Prince William please!) I'd say things are mostly ok. Except it does take a long time for even the RSS to download now, not sure why. And loading the page for an article often comes up with a page with an error. Likely that is because I am one of those few poor gay men who only use dialup.

So that is my suggestion. Don't forget those of us who are less endowed in the bandwidth department....

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | April 7, 2009 10:34 AM

"Somehow group the articles--something like
Humor, Political Issues, Advocacy, Human Interest." Like Queerty is doing.

"2. Green links with same-size black tag lines, as in the Recent/Popular panels is more reminiscent of a highlight and just plain fugly.

3. The freakin masthead logo is just too frakkin big." Check and Check.

Lose the white.

Go international. Get contributors from the EU, Japan, SW Asia, Mexico, Africa, Texas etc.

You can visually condense a lot on this site, and yes were gay people fer cryin out loud! More color, pul-heese!

Content-wise, I don’t go to you for entertainment and music. Would appreciate more news and issues content, want to know what’s new and interesting on issues affecting our lives and perspectives.

1. Page layout.
I vote for 2 column. Title size is not an issue to me but may be such for those with smaller screens

2. The "look and feel" of the page.
The page reads well but I agree with the above that font options might assist, if such is within the technical capabilities of the site. Changing background color to something other than stark white would be easier on the eyes. Even beige would work. (no comments on the implied joke please)

3. Keep it. I like the photos of the bloggers, but updated pics might be appropriate. This allows us to put a face with a "voice". Other than that, changes will always create controversy, but will come to be accepted. Video and other suggested sites are also good.("however, is below)

4. Needs to change. As above, go to 2 column. Video and other links can go into a single column instead of 2, since we have to scroll down for blogs anyway.. this will fill the other half of the page as we get further down.

5. Posts and comments. I am too new to have a real opinion here, I just started reading last month. I find the ability to give the feedback is always informative, if not always constructive.

6. Fonts and Colors. (see above)

7. Examples. Unfortunately, I have not visited enough sites to know what might be better.

Thanks for asking all of this!