Redesign… slowly commences! Help us get it right

// 11 November 2009

The long prefaced redesign of The F-Word is looking like it might happen in the near future.

We want to start by asking for some reader feedback to help influence this process: particularly –

  • What are the top five things you’d like to see more of?
  • What are your top five gripes – things you’d like to see work differently?

Feel free to leave your lists as comments – or email me.

Photo by m-c, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Jo // Posted 11 November 2009 at 9:21 pm

Hello

My only gripe is this – if I’ve not looked at the site for a week or so – when I read down the blog and new entries span more than one page, I get to the bottom of the page…and can’t flick to previous page. Or have I missed something?? This would be my top change.

Otherwise just aesthetics – would be good generally to have a re-vamp, also the site mapping a bit clearer. It’s fine when you get to know it, but I found it confusing at first what was available, and where. The boxes and lists down the sides are useful, I think a change of main ‘menu’ options at the top of page to be clearer.

Thanks for a great site.

Sarah // Posted 11 November 2009 at 9:27 pm

Please don’t make too many changes to the layout – it’s simple and clean and easy to navigate. I love it!

earwicga // Posted 11 November 2009 at 9:46 pm

I would like a different way of presenting latest comments, so it showed something like the last ten post names that have been commented on – rather than the last ten people who have commented. It would make it easier to follow conversations on older posts.

Off topic I know – what happened to the Horne & Corden post? I can’t seem to see it anywhere.

Katie Edge // Posted 11 November 2009 at 10:57 pm

I’d very much like to see more features. It seems like there’s only one or two a month, and yet they’re the pieces I find most interesting. While the blog is informative, it is more factual than discursive, and the discursive pieces are those that I find most feed my feminist soul!

Also, what happened to the podcasts? They were great, why only three? Bring back the podcasts! I realise they were very long, and probably quite labour intensive, but I see no reason why the format couldn’t be shifted a bit to make them shorter, perhaps following a similar format to Philosophy Bites (free on iTunes for reference) where they have a different person speaking on a different topic for 10 minutes. I think they’re out once a week. Maybe you could do one a month if that’s a bit too much to ask? I for one would be very happy :)

Jess McCabe // Posted 11 November 2009 at 11:14 pm

Hi @Katie Edge – the reason there’s not more podcasts was a combination of difficulties getting people together to do one and the huge amount of time it took for me to edit them. Also, we didn’t really get much feedback. Sadly it just wasn’t possible to make the time commitment anymore :/

Katie Edge // Posted 11 November 2009 at 11:20 pm

@Jess. Ah. Fair enough. Pity though, I loved them.

Sabre // Posted 11 November 2009 at 11:32 pm

What Jo said! If I haven’t visited for a while it’s tricky to navigate to older posts.

Emily // Posted 11 November 2009 at 11:39 pm

Having a slight colour over the text would make it easier for people with visual sensitivity to read… However the font you use atm is pretty good to stop it being too painful as is :)

gadgetgal // Posted 12 November 2009 at 8:06 am

I agree with earwicga – if loads of people comment at one time on one particular post you can’t really see if anyone else has commented on any others. And as a newbie it’d be nice to see what older posts are still going since I probably didn’t read them the first time round!

polly // Posted 12 November 2009 at 8:12 am

On the subject of accessbility the RNIB have some guidelines.

http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/webaccessibility/background/Pages/myths.aspx

George // Posted 12 November 2009 at 9:00 am

Just keep it simple – I think the best thing about the revamp they’ve just had at Feministe is that the site no longer takes an age to load

aimee // Posted 12 November 2009 at 10:25 am

I think it would be nice to be able to respond to individual’s comments, perhaps?

Jess McCabe // Posted 12 November 2009 at 11:03 am

@aimee Hmm, not really sure what you mean? Something like comment threading, so comments can go off in different directions?

JenniferRuth // Posted 12 November 2009 at 11:07 am

It would be nice if The F Word facebook page was more incorporated. It has over 1,000 members yet it is very quiet – it seems like a good place for grassroots activism and connecting UK feminists but you don’t even have a link to it on the front page!

Catherine Redfern // Posted 12 November 2009 at 11:09 am

I think it should be pink with pictures of ‘ironic’ 1950s housewives all over the place.

JOKE!!!!!!

earwicga // Posted 12 November 2009 at 11:14 am

Totally agree aimee. Like on Feministing and wordpress blogs – comments can be responded to individually. But not like on the Independent website and Livepress where individual responses have to be expanded and you lose the whole thread.

tamasine // Posted 12 November 2009 at 11:48 am

I like the layout of the site, and it’s really easy to navagate. I think the thing about the comments; an easier way to be able to quote what someone’s said in a previous comment would be helpful. Currently it’s hard to select text and paste into the comments box, as well as making it clear it’s a quote from someone else (unless i’m missing things…)

Keep up the good work :)

Lara // Posted 12 November 2009 at 12:25 pm

when you do ‘more posts’ it lists by month. I would rather it listed all the stories of the last month and then you could click ‘more posts’ again and it would take to months if you see what I mean? x

Lilly // Posted 12 November 2009 at 12:28 pm

I agree with Jo about the previous page; I can’t find it either. Otherwise I quite like the look of the site, the colours especially, and I’m hoping it doesn’t change too much :)

One question, though: is there any particular reason why there’s no regular commenting enabled on feature articles? Most of them would likely spark really interesting and lively discussions, so I’ve always wondered about that.

Hannah // Posted 12 November 2009 at 12:37 pm

In addition to stuff that has already been mentioned (really like the idea of a more active FB group!) maybe updating the resources/websites pages, possibly a list of Uk feminist blogs which readers can submit their own to, definitely agree on the comment threading thing.

Legible Susan // Posted 12 November 2009 at 12:42 pm

The design works pretty well now imo, it’s not over-complicated like some sites. In particular, please keep the font as it is! I find it clearer than other people’s default fonts. Even the small print down the side is legible.

I think threaded comments, combined with the fact that someone has to approve all the comments so they don’t go up in chronological order, would be too confusing. Perhaps you could make it easier to quote previous comments – at the library (which still uses IE6) I can’t highlight text to copy, only the whole page.

I might be the only person who uses the RSS feed for all comments. It doesn’t link to the individual comments because the format of the anchor is wrong (#c42394 in the RSS, #comment42394 on the page).

Charlotte // Posted 12 November 2009 at 12:52 pm

I agree about the finding old blog posts issue, I’ve always found it a bit odd that there isn’t just an ‘Older posts’ button to take you to pages of previous post.

Hazel // Posted 12 November 2009 at 1:10 pm

Regarding comments: I would like comments (for commentators who have been approved before) to appear on the site immediately. It is sometimes hard to get engaged with a discussion if you have to wait a while for comments to be approved.

I also read the comments via Google Reader and they all appear with entities (making them hard to read). This is the only blog I subscribe to that does this so I wonder if it is something that can be fixed via your end.

I like the general look of the site. It is uncluttered.

Rosalind // Posted 12 November 2009 at 1:32 pm

Four Things I’d Like to See More of:

More reviews of books, films etc.

More campaigns/ projects (but I understand that this is hard to maintain)

More guest bloggers on specific topics of their expertise.

More links to other blogs and websites of use and interest (see gripes also)

Top four gripes:

I’d like the website resources to be organised better (by topic and tagged?) rather than as a long list and have an easy way on that page that readers can suggest/ submit resources to the list. This is my number one concern.

I can help with relevant careers and employment resources if you’d like/ need me to email me if you’d like this.

Similarly the events listing is not easy to read/ use. Plus it would be great if there was a way on that page to submit events (even if you’d have to check them first).

I’d like the comment box to be as wide as the actual comments as it is difficult to see what you’re writing if it’s long. I like the idea of having comment threading but not down too many levels.

I find the current commenting system for features and reviews rather confusing and annoying and would rather they had comments enabled like the blog pieces.

Generally I think the content of the fword is great but the organisation and navigation less so. Please do not increase to more than three columns as it gets confusing and harder to read.

gadgetgal // Posted 12 November 2009 at 1:59 pm

Just a quick one – I like the way you check comments before posting them. I’m never sure if what I’ve put is appropriate so it’s good to know someone checks, even if the discussion slows down a little. Also they’ve had a lot of probs on a few other other sites (I’m mainly thinking DoubleX, here) with abusive trolls so I think that should definitely stay the way it is!

Rachael // Posted 12 November 2009 at 4:39 pm

I like the lay-out of the site, it’s uncluttered and works well with my screen reading software. I’m glad you don’t have a capture box that has to be filled in before posting as that’s totally in accessible for anyone with a visually impairment (though thankfully more sites are using an audio capture too now). It’d be good if you could maybe provide Utube links to videos as well as embedding them because many screen readers can’t cope with embedded videos, also be nice to have captions and transcripts with videos, though I know this is a big ask, but just thought I’d mention it.

Elmo // Posted 12 November 2009 at 4:48 pm

hey, i love the f word the way it is, espcially the comment monitoring, i think its a really sensible idea.

i would like to see maybe a “help” page-tips for budding feminists who want to get involved in local projects, or who need help explaining to their friends why they are feminists (something i could do with!) -a facts page, basically, like the one on the Fawcett site, containing info on the history of feminism, key figures, statistics. it wouldn’t have to be really in-depth, or constantly updated, just a mini database for important feminist issues. I know that sounds a little daunting, but I think it would really help non-feminists visiting this site (ie my friends, sigh) to realise just why its still so important, and maybe persuade people to support it.

Cath Elliott // Posted 12 November 2009 at 8:04 pm

I’d like to second the request for a comment facility to be opened up on the features and reviews. I’m not sure just publishing comments received at the end of the month works, as it doesn’t give people a chance to then discuss anything that arises out of those comments.

Rachel // Posted 12 November 2009 at 8:22 pm

In general, the site works well, and it looks lovely, so I hope there won’t be too much fiddling with colours! It’s very easy on the eye as it is.

I agree with whoever said that a more comprehensive site map would be good.

The “resources” page is a great idea, but could do with being organised into categories, or shortened somehow, so that you can get an overview of what websites are on the list. I found that by the time I’d got to the bottom, I’d forgotten what had been at the top!

Perhaps a list of areas/cities that have feminist groups active would help? So you could have one list of “national” groups, one of “regional” groups and one for individual towns.

Would it be possible to have an archive of old events? After such a lot of effort goes into writing up what *will* be happening, it seems a shame to lose it, and it would be nice to keep a record of feminist stuff.

Hope the revamp goes well.

v // Posted 12 November 2009 at 8:52 pm

5 wants

– more features

– more linking and promoting of other UK feminists online and off

– be nice to be able to thumbs up or down blog posts (not comments)

– better representation amongst the bloggers eg working class women, lesbians, mothers, women over the age of 25, radical feminists as well as liberal..

– yes the ability to see the last so many blog posts commented on instead of the last so many comments, its too easy to lose track of an older thread

5 complaints

– lack of representation (as above)

– lack of support for other UK feminist bloggers

– comments closed on some blog posts with no explanation, so they just look like advertising. This has been happening recently with controversial links – so its a bit like forcing an agenda on visitors, instead of trusting them to be able to discuss and make up their own minds.

– not being able to go to ‘older posts’ at the bottom of the page

– blog was a great idea but it seems to have taken over a bit. Make reviews and features more prominent somehow?

Laura // Posted 12 November 2009 at 9:29 pm

Thanks for all the input so far everyone :-)

Just to respond on the comments under features and reviews point: while I understand the desire to debate, I think as many people as possible should feel comfortable having their writing published here. The kind of instant feedback that comes with having live commenting, as on the blog, can be a lot to deal with and has emotional repercussions offline, which isn’t something I think contributors should have to cope with, particularly those who may be nervous about getting their voices heard for the first time.

Ali // Posted 12 November 2009 at 11:53 pm

I agree with an earlier suggestion of encorporating details of feminist activist groups that are currently doing stunts and protests. When I first visited the Fword as a budding feminist I didn’t realise there was any feminist activism going on that I could get involved with, I thought that people just talked about it! It took me a while to find out about some of the feminist groups that I could meet up with and become part of.

Jess McCabe // Posted 13 November 2009 at 12:17 am

Just to add to what Laura has said, this is definitely the rationale why there’s not live commenting on the features and reviews.

It’s also a balancing act and I’ve still basically not made a decision. As well as the issue of making everyone comfortable to comment, there’s also the question of how much time it takes – it’s very labour intensive to do the comment round-up as it is, true. However, if we move to live commenting, there’s also the issue of who would moderate those comments. On the blog, for the most part we just moderate our own threads, and share it out between the bloggers. But if commenting was opened up on features and reviews, then it’s a question of who would do that job. There would have to be some kind of pay-off – for example, one option I’ve been considering is live commenting – but then closing comments after a certain amount of time.

Tom // Posted 13 November 2009 at 12:59 am

Skimming the comments, I’d really recommend switching to WordPress as it has a lot of the things mentioned (threaded commenting, excellent social networking integration, etc), including a ton of templates you could choose from or customise (none with ironic ’50s housewives yet though…)

I’d happily help bounce ideas around if that’s useful. If not, sure you’ll be fine, just don’t sign up to some bespoke system you have to pay to update!

sianmarie // Posted 13 November 2009 at 8:33 am

i wanted to second what Jess and Laura say about commenting. although in an ideal world it would be great to have live commenting on features, (i know that sometimes i want to comment and see people respond straight away!) it is a big job for someone to take on to moderate, read and respond to all the comments in a live environment. because the features and reviews are written by volunteers (as is the whole site) who often have other full time jobs, it would become quite difficult and time consuming to write the feature and then to be on the ball to check through, read and moderate comments as well. for example – i write reviews for the f word which i love doing, but i don’t think i would be able to continue writing them if i had to moderate and edit comments as well as i simply wouldn’t have the time to do that on top of my full time job and other writing commitments. it could put off people from writing for the site i think, and therefore the site would lose its diversity of contributors. also, as a blogger as well, i know how it can be upsetting when trolls write nasty things about your work or views, for new writers it could be offputting or upsetting to wade through some of the crap that needs moderating! so, although it would be great to have that facility, i can see why realistically that would be difficult to manage and a bit of a big ask for the writers and editors on the site.

i agree with the older posts link though, as it can be hard to navigate. and a resource page would be great, especially if you had a list of resources e.g. LFN or Object, and then alongside each resource had links to blog posts or features that related to the organisation, so that people can find out more about it straight away.

also – a larger or wider comment box would be great, as would pre-populating of the name and email address fields if you comment regularly. (although, that might be my machine??)

Lindsey // Posted 13 November 2009 at 10:29 am

I have general love for the site and things you do here and agree that the clean and simple layout is fab.

I would like it if maybe once every three months or so someone could check the links on the resources page. Last time I checked I found several that had gone dead. Any volunteer could click through then report back to save regular bloggers time. A quick post asking for help, plus suggestions of any new sites/blogs/shops/other resources would set the ball rolling.

Jess McCabe // Posted 13 November 2009 at 10:29 am

Thanks for the suggestions Tom. There’s a chance we might switch to WordPress, but having accumulated all these years on Moveable Type I’m not really convinced yet it’s worth it. Unless there’s features we can’t build into MT then it seems like extra effort for no reason. Also, we’ll be getting a custom design – don’t worry, no ironic ’50s housewives :-)

@v and others who have raised issues of more prominence for features – and just more of them in general – this is already pretty high up the list for our redesign, as IMO the current homepage in particular just doesn’t do credit to the content.

And thanks to everyone who has made recommendations on making sure the site is fully accessible, this is definitely a big deal for us too.

@Rachael Good point on embedding youtube videos, I didn’t realise that was the case. I’m not sure at the moment if it’s really going to be possible for us to do transcripts for all videos we post, where they’re not already available, but we can certainly try and do this at least for short videos.

Jess McCabe // Posted 13 November 2009 at 10:34 am

@sianmarie Yes, and I’ve heard the same from other feature/review contributors. In reality, we wouldn’t be able to ask contributors to moderate their own comments, so it would effectively be either just me doing that, or possibly with some other volunteers from the bloggers’ collective. So I’m just not sure it’s realistic.

Rosalind // Posted 13 November 2009 at 10:37 am

Regarding comments on features and reviews could they be attached to the original piece after the month or whatever? I understand about not wanting instant commenting on these articles but the main problem for me is that when I read the comments a month later I have to flick back between them and the article as I can’t remember the details. If they were put with the relevant piece it would make it easier. Although that would potentially cause problems with not having a snapshot of all the comments for the month which can also be nice.

saranga // Posted 13 November 2009 at 11:00 am

I agree that comment threading would be nice- just so long as if you click to view one comment you can then also see the whole thread, as opposed to having to click on each individual comment.

I would also like the comments section to highlight the most recent posts commented upon, not the most recent comments.

I think it’s very important to have moderation of comments, please don’t change that!

re the events and resources pages, I think these could be organised better and made easier to navigate. If you are going to allow bloggers to provide links to their sites could you also ask them to provide a summary or description of their blog? It would also be helpful to organise them by subject matter or alphabetically, at the moment the website list is just too long for me to navigate through.

cleverpostingaddy // Posted 15 November 2009 at 2:16 am

I can’t find articles about women. For example, the top story today is about three men.

What’s up with that?

aimee // Posted 17 November 2009 at 9:42 am

@Jess:

Yeah, so you can respond to the thread as a whole or you can respond to individual comments… just because sometimes people respond specifically to things that other people have said, and it gets a bit confusing trying to work out who is talking to who. I just think it’d be a bit more conductive to discussion :)

aimee // Posted 17 November 2009 at 9:48 am

I think that maybe having instant comments wouldn’t be a good idea, just because of the nature of the site. I think the lovely people who edit the comments get rid of a lot of horrible trolls so we never have to see them… not only that but they’ve saved me from making a prat of myself by pointing out something i’ve said that was unintentionally offensive BEFORE it’s published… that’s kind of good. :)

Shazbat // Posted 17 November 2009 at 6:42 pm

How about something where you can sign in as a member, who can comment without being pre-modded, and anyone who wants to comment anonymously can be held in the queue? Anyone who wants to engage in constructive debate won’t mind, and it would be nice not to have to write my handle and email address everytime I want to comment here. There would be a bit more work with membership, but it will also mean that bloggers moderating their own threads will have less to do, so maybe more time for volunteering in other areas?

MariaS // Posted 23 November 2009 at 9:18 pm

I’ve always really liked the current design, it’s very simple and easy to read, so I’d hate to see any very drastic design changes.

For the blog I think that the current system of pre-moderated blog comments works well – I do admit to impatiently refreshing pages to see if my comments are up yet, but it’s a nice change to avoid that immediate back & forth that’s usual in most blog discussion and it encourages me to think carefully about what I write. Plus I like that there’s a slightly slower traffic of comments than there would be otherwise – easier pace to keep up with. If it’s working ok for the mods then I don’t

Yes to links to most recently commented-on posts, instead of most recent individual comments, in the right-hand column of blog pages.

For comments on features, I don’t mind that they aren’t as immediate as blog comments, for all the same reasons as above. I can also see that it would be a faff to implement blog-like commenting to them, since they have long been (as far as I can tell) static pages that pre-date the addition of the blog to the site.

However I very much second the suggestion to append the comments to the feature pages themselves as well as having the monthly round up of new feature comments. Actually, perhaps the monthly round up could simply link to the features which have had new comments added.

Looking at the site home page, there’s a line of description about the blog section, but none for the features & reviews section – I think it would be good to add similar for those sections of the home page, plus a link to the “contribute” page, so that it’s more immediately obvious that those parts of the site aren’t the preserve of a set group of writers and moreover that contributions are invited.

Similarly, the “latest comments” section on the home page would be better titled “latest comments on features & reviews”

The left column containing archives for whichever section of the site you happen to be in could do with those links being more specifically labelled – if in the blog section, then “Blog Archives” ; if in the features section, then “Features by date” & “Features by category”, rather than “Articles …” (the review archive links are already labelled as reviews). I think this would help reinforce which part of the site one is in & indeed the fact that the site has distinct parts.

Finally, it would be good if the websites page in the resources section were divided into more pages – into types of site, e.g. blogs (especially UK ones!), zines, print magazines, other kinds of resources etc, and by subject. There are such a lot of great sites out there, it would be great if the links were more organised.

Given that if you google for “uk feminism” The F Word is at the top of the results (followed by some strangely non-feminist things!) I think it would be well worth developing the resources section so that the F Word can be a more effective portal for UK feminists to discover other websites on feminism & related anti-oppression activism . (A easy-to-find form/email address to suggest links could help share the load.)

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