Why Are We Still in Beta? Make It Stop!

Sackboy Beta
Beta, beta, beta. So tired of this. Anyway.

Still playing around with things. This week’s experiments:

  • Used Vector Magic to smooth out the logo, since it was annoying all the graphic designers who read the blog.
  • Partnered with Care2 on their widget, which will provide us with revenue.  After learning from Clarion West, we realized we needed to fix infrastructure on the site before attempting direct ad sales again.  This widget is a nice test to see how that works – one, it’s a social issue focused widget.  We essentially are paid from you all taking action on different petitions and items, and I think you will be asked to sign up to other people’s mailing lists. (This is all voluntary.) Eventually, you will see that Care2 widget at the bottom of each post – at the moment, it’s only in the sidebar.  We’re also hunting for a good ad network, let us know if you’ve seen any sites where you like their ads/layout.
  • We are prepping for September rollouts of various things.  So I’m going to be playing around a lot in the sidebar doing promotional stuff. Be forewarned.
  • Added most of our contributor books to the sidebar, as well as the book club landing page.

Things we are still working on:

  • Accessibility check – Holler if you’re having problems with sizing arrangement now that we’ve changed the margins.
  • Apple users – All my mobile devices are Android. So if you are using an iPad or iPhone let me know if things start looking weird. I’ve got a plug-in that’s supposed to auto-format these things, but you know how it goes.

After this is done, we will continue working on:

  • The podcast. Still.
  • Site survey. Still.
  • Bringing back the newsletter. Oy.
  • Business updates.  Renina and I had a chat on twitter about making the process more transparent for digital entrepreneurs, so I’ll see if that’s a good fit here and will talk about it.
  • Email – I finally got Boomerang for Gmail, so I am running through the inbox now.  Hoping to start August with Racialicious Inbox Zero.

Thanks for standing by, leave your comments/suggestions/complaints in the box below.

  • Julia

    Hey latoya,

    I do this kind of thing at work and I know how long it can take to work the kinks out. Feeling your pain.

    Just wanted to note that the Care2 ads actually appear at the very top of the screen for me, edging down the Racialicious banner by 5 inches or so. Don’t think that’s what it’s supposed to be doing…  I’m using explorer and the latest version of Windows (can’t keep track of what no. that is…)

  • Anonymous

    I love your site (so much!), but I have I have two criticisms:
    -the logo is broken
    -the sidebar/widgets are distracting and the UX is cluttered
    *LogoI often divide my screen into two side-by-side windows to facilitate RSS reading and article-loading at the same time.  When I load Racialicious, the logo is too large.I have a high-resolution screen, so I’m assuming that for the vast majority of readers (with screens of >17″, so virtually everyone on a laptop) the logo is too large.
    Screenshot: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/428887/Screen%20shot%202011-07-25%20at%208.30.17%20PM.png

    on my iPhone, I have a similar problem.  The logo and sidebar fit, but the main page is completely illegible:
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/428887/IMG_1186.PNG

    When I zoom in to read an article, the sidebar disappears and the logo is cut off:
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/428887/IMG_1187.PNG

    For me, the logo doesn’t create a visual identity which matches the content of the site, there is no secondary use of the gummy-bear theme, which feels deeply irreverent in the context of the serious content posted here, and like unfortunate me-tooism in the context of the lighter pieces.

    The logo is also alternately blurry, jagged and awkwardly kerned.

    *Sidebar/widgets
    Here’s what’s loading in my sidebar:
    About This Blog, sign a petition!/make change!(distracting colors), Follow us on Twitter! [tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4] (distracting colors), The Octavia Butler Book Club, recent comments [comment 1, comment 2, comment 3, comment 4, comment 5], BOOK 1 (distracting colors), BOOK 2 (distracting colors), BOOK 3 (distracting colors), BOOK 4 (distracting colors), BOOK 5 (distracting colors), OMLN ad (distracting colors), Recent Posts, Older Archives, Tags

    If it seems like a difficult list to read, it’s because it is.

    The sidebar greatly interferes with my ability to read the site (which I love).  You’ll also notice in the screenshot I took, only about 5% of the sidebar is showing when the window is narrow.  This ads to the distraction because I get fragments of words loading to the side of the article.

    It feels visually assaultive.

    I would prefer it if you removed the sidebar entirely.  The amount of clutter, while distracting, is not catching enough for me to actually read through it, and it makes all the fine books that you’re shilling look cheap, commoditized and interchangeable.  There’s nothing in the format or layout to suggest that “The Same Woman” or “I Speak for Myself” are relevant to the article I’m reading and little to distinguish them from one another.  Similarly, ad placement is a huge turn-off because it looks spammy and I’ve trained myself to ignore those kinds of tactics.

    The best place to put a list of “recent articles” is on the front page, and it’s much more intuitive place to look for it than the bottom-right hand side of the article.

    The tag cloud may be visually interested on its own terms, but I think it detracts from the attention you’d like me to pay to the article I’m reading.  Delivering relevant content would be an improvement, but better still would be eliminating this superfluous element entirely.

    I would appreciate it if you considered

    *Ads

    It might not host the kinds of ads that are relevant to Racialicious readers, but I love the format of ads (if not the website) from the Deck: http://decknetwork.net/
    If you’d like some examples of blogs I think handle their layouts really well:
    http://daringfireball.net/
    http://kottke.org/
    http://www.postsecret.com/
    http://www.todayandtomorrow.net/

  • http://www.biculturalmom.com Chantilly Patiño

    It’s looking awesome!  Love the sidebar widgets and you did a great job on the header/logo!  The only question…what happened to the gummy bears…lol?  I miss them!  Everything is looking great though…so clean and user friendly.  :)

  • http://www.biculturalmom.com Chantilly Patiño

    It’s looking awesome!  Love the sidebar widgets and you did a great job on the header/logo!  The only question…what happened to the gummy bears…lol?  I miss them!  Everything is looking great though…so clean and user friendly.  :)

    • Anonymous

      I’m actually thinking of sprinkling them down the side, in the white space. Not too many – think a few spilled across the space.

  • http://molecularshyness.wordpress.com jen*

    I can see the page fine on my iPhone, now.  Last week, for some reason I wasn’t getting page updates to the phone in real time.  But I’m glad I can use my phone to access the comments, since Disqus isn’t supported at my job…

    Keep up the good work!

  • another language

    Can you post a place where we can donate? You have had such great stuff here in the past few months, I want to give back!

  • another language

    Can you post a place where we can donate? You have had such great stuff here in the past few months, I want to give back!

  • http://euphorialuv.wordpress.com/ Nikki @ Euphoria Luv

    It’s all growing pains.  Looking forward to the new cool stuff

  • Jane

    … but I love the books in the sidebar!  I’m waiting on Feminism for REAL from my library.  I might have to order the others; didn’t know so many authors had books here!

  • Jane

    The new sizing doesn’t allow the page to resize to fit my browser window.  I have to scroll right to see the sidebar.  I think this is because the left column is set too wide?

    • Anonymous

      There’s only one column now – I shrank it from two. It’s a little hard to fit everything and get the balance right, but I’ll keep tinkering…it should autoresize though.

  • http://twitter.com/saandstorm George Lara

    In the past when you post the links pages, on the iphone the URL and title show up mashed together. If I see it again I can tweet a screen shot for you.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, please do.