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A fresh look for the Scientific American Web site

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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If you’re reading this from a feed via a viewer, click on over to the Scientific American Web site and take a look at our redesign. Last night, we took the old site offline at around 10 P.M. ET and relaunched with a brand-spanking-new look.
Web sites change all the time, of course. Our last major overhaul was in 2008, with a minor, blink-and-you-missed-it change in 2009. With this redesign, however, we hope we’ve made things easier to read, especially the linked text. We reorganized the content to be more user-friendly and simplified the navigation. We’ve also added a sharing tool to the "Latest Headlines" module; you can see the most commented stories or the most popular. (It may take a few minutes for your browser to respond properly.) You can also play videos directly on the home page now.
Our main entry point on the home page is something called "Today’s Science Agenda." More than just an area to feature content, it acts as a crib sheet of sorts, letting you know why a story should matter to you and giving you the main source or location.
If you read Scientific American in print, you’ll also notice that the October 2010 issue comes out with a great new redesign as well. No coincidence of course–we planned to have both the site and magazine share a common look and feel, with a unified editorial mission. Today’s Web site relaunch and the October issue represent the culmination of more than a year’s worth of planning and work.
And we’re not stopping here, either. In the near future, expect to see other new content and functions. Some of you already know we are planning to flesh out our blogs and launch a major science blogging network.
No overhaul of a site goes completely smoothly, and the online crew has been busy debugging and troubleshooting all day. I hope the glitches do not detract too much from the user experience. Please let us know if you find such problems by commenting.
Finally, I cannot thank enough staff members who were deeply involved in the redesign amid their regular duties here. They may not have bylines, but we couldn’t produce a Web site without them: Angela Cesaro, Mike Kelly, Ryan Reid, Carey Tse and, especially, our nuts-and-bolts guys Tony Moy and Nick Sollecito. Thanks, all.
Philip Yam
Managing Editor, Online

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Comments 18 Comments

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  1. 1. jasongoldman 6:17 pm 09/22/2010

    Looks great!

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  2. 2. jtdwyer 10:34 am 09/23/2010

    I agree that the articles are now more legible. There are a few start up problems that I’m sure will be corrected soon.
    <blank line here>
    However, there is one change I’m afraid may have been made intentionally: ignoring line breaks and blank lines entered in comments. While I agree that a few commentators abuse these basic features, eliminating them entirely adversely affects the readability of reader’s comments. I suggest limiting blank lines to one every 3 lines. I think that would eliminate abuses while allowing the commentator to control readability.
    <blank line here>
    <blank line here>

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  3. 3. jtdwyer 10:38 am 09/23/2010

    By the way, if you really need to save reader comment space, automated text hyphenation at line breaks would help…

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  4. 4. Wayne Williamson 7:29 pm 09/23/2010

    not sure if i like the change…spent the first hour trying to figure out how to remain logged on while going to a new page…other than that, so good so far….

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  5. 5. alexlai 7:32 pm 09/23/2010

    nice looking & navigation

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  6. 6. Wayne Williamson 8:02 pm 09/23/2010

    now i really don’t like the change…can’t get to anything but the first page of comments….sucks…change it back….

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  7. 7. jtdwyer 11:09 pm 09/23/2010

    For articles with more than 10 comments, there’s a page selection list:
    Show All | Jump To: 1-10 | 11-20 |…

    I think the ‘Show All’ option is new – it does show them all on one page, which might come in handy, for browser ‘find on screen’ text searches, for example…

    Cool, at least when you get used to the changes.

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  8. 8. jtdwyer 11:11 pm 09/23/2010

    SA: Thanks for correcting the blank line display. I guess I was a little paranoid, ascribing intention where none existed? Thanks again!

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  9. 9. afeibish 11:21 am 09/24/2010

    Yeah,not liking the change at all. The "Today’s Science Agenda" pane is totally blank for me, and the print preview on many articles is not sized right, cutting off a word or two of each row of text.

    My vote: change it back1

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  10. 10. afeibish 11:22 am 09/24/2010

    I should also mention that the page takes 4-5 seconds to load each time a new screen is presentd. …rather annoying and hardly an improvement.

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  11. 11. astubbindeck 11:42 am 09/24/2010

    No love for the team at Happycog? Rather uncharitable dontcha think?

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  12. 12. jtdwyer 11:53 am 09/24/2010

    That seems very strange to me – I’ve been on quite a bit and haven’t seen anything like the blank agenda, the print preview looks fine (I just checked for the first time), and accessing a page for the first time takes 1-2 seconds on a low speed DSL line – I think an improvement. Not that I’m disputing you – it’s just that your experience seems quite different from mine… Maybe I’m just lucky?

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  13. 13. pyam 2:00 pm 09/24/2010

    jtdwyer: Thanks for pointing out the problem. Glad the tech crew could fix this quickly.

    Wayne Williamson, afeibish: if you can say what system OS and browser you are using, that would help us figure out the problem. Some slow load times result because the page is calling other elements (like ads) from other servers.

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  14. 14. Wayne Williamson 7:46 pm 09/24/2010

    pyam…on this computer it’s vista and firefox…btw the clicking on the other pages (beyond 10) is working…thanks….

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  15. 15. repete_7 7:05 am 09/27/2010

    Since the re-design, the website crashes Safari on my iPad every single time I try to open it. Please fix.

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  16. 16. Wayne Williamson 6:16 pm 09/27/2010

    jtdwyer…all is working now…they even fixed the login "pain"…and i love the show all….

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  17. 17. pyam 12:48 pm 09/29/2010

    repete_7: Sorry about the crashes; the problem was related to the fonts. Our tech team has developed a work-around, so iPad and iPhone users should now be able to load the site.

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  18. 18. RobertFSherman 2:46 pm 12/27/2010

    I think the new format introduced with the October 2010 issue is wonderful except you continue to publish columns by Michael Shermer and Steve Mirsky. Once upon a time they contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge. For the past several years, Mr. Shermer’s columns have been so athiestic, he’s made a religion out of not believing in God. Mr. Mirsky’s columns seem devoted to proving that he is the wittiest being on earth and that who do not profess his and the progressive movement’s belief system are anti-scientific. It’s a good thing to have a system of political beliefs. Publishing them in Scientific American is not an appropriate venue. Neither one belongs in a scientific magazine. The space would be better utilized exploring an important social science at this time in our country, economics, in a non-political manner.

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