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Saturday, April 19

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Detour

Do this please: please clear your browser's cache for this site.

The first, very obvious thing you'll notice is that Gapers Block has been redesigned with a fresh, updated look. Like with our upcoming anniversary, it would seem that we redesign every year or so. We're hesitant to call it completely new, using perhaps an oft used adage from the auto industry: "new and improved." In essence, this version of the site (the third, if you're counting) has been like the others — an evolution rather than a revolution. We know what works for the site and all the things that we've been accumulating and jotting down notes for have resulted in this version. Consider it a major tweak.

We're not quite done, either. There are a few more bells and whistles — well, actually more like new sections and features — being added in the coming weeks.

So, What's New?

Larger Text
Readers have asked about larger text for a while now and we've gone ahead and done it. We're using larger font sizes all round. For ease of reading!

More Real Estate
The site covers more of your browser screen, but we haven't gone past 800 pixels wide. The site should feel very balanced now, as it adheres to a strict grid system for its layout.

New Functionality

The header for each section on the front page now contains several short-cut navigation icons. Hover over them with your mouse and menus appear, allowing you to access archive pages and articles right from the front page. We encourage you to play with these.

  In Merge, you can check out all the posts made by a particular author by clicking this icon.

  Merge archives by category, such as Books/Authors or Transportation, can be found here. You'll also find the column archives the same way in Airbags.

  Date-based archives for Merge, Fuel and Detour are to be found under this icon.

  Directly subscribe to the RSS feed for a section.

Please note: Users of the flawed Internet Explorer will have partial functionality — unfortunately you won't see the menus unless you use a standards compliant browser like Firefox or Safari but the links to the archives will still work for you. We are currently remedying this.

RSS Feeds
We used to offer several different flavors of RSS feeds, which worked to varying degrees. No more. Our feeds are now served by Feedburner and are as functional and compatible as they can be. To celebrate, we added feeds for Rearview and Fuel, too.

You can subscribe to a section's feed by clicking on the icon in the header, as we just said, or on the new RSS Feeds page. If you're subscribed to our old feeds, you'll want to update those URLs.

Complete Archives
We've tried to provide complete archive pages for each section, category, column, etc. Hopefully this will allow you to find what you need to find easily. You can access these by clicking on a permalink and navigating around or clicking on a shortcut menu icon (located in the headers on the front page, as mentioned above) or, in Airbags, by clicking on the column name. A re-invigorated Search is in the works and will be here in the days to come.

Comments
There is now a "live comment preview" — visit a comment form on the site (for instance, in Fuel) and you'll notice next to the usual form you fill out to reply that whilst typing in your message, the text appears live next to the form for your on-screen perusal and previewing.

Date and Weather
In the masthead, we now list the date and the high and low temperatures for the day. It may come in handy.

New Top Nav
There're a lot of new buttons up at the top of the page. They should be self-explanatory, but we thought we'd point them out just the same. Some of you may be particularly interested in the updated Submissions page.

What's On the Way

Transmission
You may have noticed that Transmission, our music section, has disappeared from the front page. We're revamping and relaunching the section as a full-fledged site within a site, encompassing our weekly mp3s and profiles of local bands as well as local music news, CD and concert reviews, interviews and more. We're looking for a few good writers to work specifically on Transmission — if you're interested, email some writing samples to inbox@gapersblock.com.

The Gapers Block Book Club
The Gapers Block Book Club is hardly new; we've been reading a Chicago-related book a month for a year now. But it's finally breaking out from a blurb in Slowdown and the bottom of Ask the Librarian columns and getting its own section. We're not quite ready to launch, but for now you can whet your appetite and participate in the GB Book Club forum.

The Party Line
Do you get our weekly newsletter, the Party Line? You should. Besides highlighting some of the best events of the coming weekend and beyond, it's loaded with special features unavailable on Gapers Block proper, including a great column by Party Line Editor Brian Sobolak. We'll be putting the archives online in the next couple weeks, but you'll still want to sign up for the email — which you can do right here

We Turn Three!
Not so much a redesign feature as an early warning: Gapers Block turns three in May, and we'll be celebrating with a big party at The Hideout on May 26. That's Memorial Day Friday, so start your long weekend by joining us for music from Canasta and Sycamore Smith, movies, readings and contests! And more! Watch for more details in the coming weeks.

Help Us Out

That's right, we need your help. And your feedback. Please let us know what you think, or if you find anything that's wonky or weird or just plain broken, in the comments below. Thanks!

Comments

Stephen / April 11, 2006 7:30 AM

I'm still peeking through the new GB site, but quick question... I understand the motivation for larger font size all around, but any chance of adding an control (via CSS, JS, etc...) for readers with better/worse eyesight who want even smaller/larger text?

Looks great, keep up the good work.

Andrew / April 11, 2006 8:49 AM

Stephen: Typing Control + should enlarge the text.

Atul / April 11, 2006 10:06 AM

I think this looks great... Reminds me a little of Khoi Vinh's recent redesign of the NYTimes.com page: I barely noticed that the site was different at first, but everything's easier to read and use now. I especially like this live comment preview—very nice solution to the whole post/preview problem.

Andrew / April 11, 2006 10:20 AM

A bug we're working on: Users of Internet Explorer currently can't see the dropdown menus on the navigation short-cut icons. However, if you click on the icon, you'll be taken to the appropriate archive page. We'll have that bug fixed soon enough.

Naz / April 11, 2006 10:42 AM

IE users, please be aware that we're currently working out the kinks. Thanks for your patience.

You could use Firefox though. ;)

paul / April 11, 2006 11:09 AM

The Merge Archive dropdown appears under the slowdown calendar in Safari.

A simple z-index of 10 or so in your #header-merge li:hover ul, li.over ul style will bring it to the front.

If you're worried about getting the validation police on your ass, you have too many ids with the same name, but they don't break anything.

aj / April 11, 2006 11:23 AM

Thanks for the weather addition - handy!

Naz / April 11, 2006 11:25 AM

Paul - thanks for the heads up. The id's need to be fixed -- they're for IE rather than for any other browser. Figures eh?

neil / April 11, 2006 12:50 PM

Beautiful work, guys! Now if I only lived in Chicago...

phule / April 11, 2006 2:21 PM

I miss the thumbnails in Rearview. That was a nice bit of design. I hope it comes back.

Naz / April 11, 2006 2:47 PM

Hey Phule - the thumbnails will be back and also a full archive. A bit of finangling there to be done.

waleeta / April 11, 2006 3:39 PM

Nice, looks good . But I have to reload when I open it in Mozilla Firefox, and only then does it look right. Is that my computer's fault?
Just FYI.

Naz / April 11, 2006 4:05 PM

Waleeta -- sounds like a persistent cache issue. That'll be your computer unfortunately.

christian / April 11, 2006 5:19 PM

I like the new look, even though it's like the old look. The color in slowdown looks great, makes it pop in a good way. Did you change the section title fonts? If so, they look nice, if not, I must have been asleep when I was reading before.

Dig the live comment preview.

waleeta / April 11, 2006 5:31 PM

D'oh!

waleeta / April 11, 2006 5:31 PM

D'oh!

corydalus / April 11, 2006 7:55 PM

Nice. Easier to read and navigate through; not as visually dense as before. Nice avoidance of tables as well.

Martin Hulth / April 12, 2006 8:30 AM

The emphasis tags in the current movie review article are included in the title in the header.

Great redesign guys. I loved the U of C's new website, and just put two and two together. I've become a big fan.

Martin / April 12, 2006 8:32 AM

And live comment preview allows more tags than the final thing. link here:

http://www.gapersblock.com/airbags/archives/brick_take_the_lead_dont_come_knocking_and_drawing_restraint_9/

Paul / April 12, 2006 8:36 AM

I like it overall, kids. The live comment preview is really nifty!

It feels like a refinement, and the little touches won't go unnoticed.

That said, this page is throwing a few JS errors my way in Firefox. I'll send them via electronic mail.

Gordon / April 12, 2006 9:31 AM

The new look looks great, guys, and everything works perfectly on my end so far (OS 10.3.9 and Firefox 1.5.0.1 on my work computer).

I'm glad to have been a part of Gapers Block while I was and sorry I haven't been a part of it since. I promised you a comic, didn't I? I'll get around to that, I swear.

This new live preview is pretty nifty, too.

bran / April 12, 2006 10:47 AM

I love the idea of the drop downs, but (in Firefox, at least) they end up being taller than my window is when fully-expanded. I can't select any of the items on them that bleed down off the window. How about some scroll bars or something?

Naz / April 12, 2006 12:01 PM

Brandon -- that is a concern. If you have a scrollwheel on your mouse you can use it to scroll the page down while hovering over the menu.

We're looking to stack the menu side by side for longer list items.

phule / April 12, 2006 3:54 PM

Naz,

Thanks for the response. Glad to hear their coming back.

phule / April 12, 2006 3:55 PM

Er, that should be they're.

*Hangs head in shame*

Andrew / April 12, 2006 4:44 PM

Also to return: the search box. Watch for it below Slowdown.

Christopher Fahey / April 13, 2006 6:50 AM

Wow, excellent work. I am impressed with all the nifty little things and attention to detail -- not just getting the details right, but actually inventing new micro UI elements. You rarely see that on community/blog sites. Great job!

Naturally, I hope to rip off some of these ideas at my earliest convenience.

Christopher Walsh / April 13, 2006 8:07 AM

very sharp, good work.

clearly you may have thought of this, but if the 'clear cache' advice is for picking up stylesheet changes, you can also rename the stylesheet. this forces browsers to download the new file.

Craig / April 16, 2006 11:35 PM

As always, the devil in the details. Well played.

About the Author(s)

Naz Hamid and Andrew Huff are the co-founders of Gapers Block.

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