How do you like the new MakeUseOf theme?

Tina March 18, 2011

Some of you may have noticed that no new questions were published on Answers yesterday. All activity across MakeUseOf was frozen for a day while we upgraded to a new theme. The tech team is still fixing things left, right, and center. We are aware that you can currently not submit new questions!

So now that the long awaited new theme is live, how do you like it? Did you spot any bugs? Please share your thoughts with us!

  1. Mike
    March 20, 2011 at 1:57 am

    div.comment-ctr a { margin-left: 5px; }

    looks way better :-)

  2. Alex
    March 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    The new theme looks nice, but it has a few problems...

    1. In the Geeky Fun and Answers parts of MakeUseOf, I can't find any "next page" links. This means that when I want to view an older question (Or picture/video/whatever else in Geeky Fun), I... can't. Unless I search for the specific question. But I can't search for something if I don't know about it.

    Yeah, that's the only thing I can think of.

    • Aibek
      March 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      thanks we'll look into it shortly

  3. fruitgeek
    March 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    The social plugin doesn't seem to be in the right place. It is floating at the left and I an only see a little bit of it. About the theme in general, I think it's OK, but I don't really like it in general when websites I frequently visit change their themes. I don't see the point since it really doesn't accomodate any new features. I'll get used to it soon though. It does look nice.

    • James Bruce
      March 26, 2011 at 11:46 am

      We will be removing it soon ;)

  4. Saptashwa
    March 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    There are several problems.
    1) In Answers section, in the right-hand column, down, in the Answers, where new 5 questions are shown, there's a link 'Ask a Question'. It doesn't work, and returns you to the main Answers page.
    2) I couldn't find any button to browse through the old answers. Top of the page it shows All Questions, bottom of the page - Top 10 Questions (Editor's Pick). Make up your mind.
    3) I liked the older theme better than the new one. It focused on the text and content more. Moreover it was minimalistic.
    And I agree that this theme can be made better than the older one by just a few tweaks. What Jack [Cola] says is absolutely true. Anyway, good theme.

    • Aibek
      March 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      thanks for the feedback. Give us a few more days and theme will look
      much better.

  5. Osama
    March 19, 2011 at 11:48 am

    now the site looks a bit colourful and sleek...but few button still DO overlap

    • Aibek
      March 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm

      working on it, stay tuned!

  6. Ravi Shankar
    March 19, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Add onmousedown images for the top menubar - like the deviantart site

  7. Jack Cola
    March 19, 2011 at 5:26 am

    It's terrible, to a point that I never want to visit MakeUseOf again. I would if I never previously worked here.

    Here's a brief snippet of my email I sent to MUO on why the new theme sucks.

    *First of all, intro images over lap on posts (which seems to be fixed now)

    *MUO Download page URL has changed. I wanted to show a team of people a PDF, but I couldn't find it to download it which = loss of new subscribers

    *All the PDF guides images were missing

    *My name appeared as an author, even though I left a while ago - but that's now gone :(

    *Overall, it feels that MUO has changed management, made all these changes without thinking - that is not the MUO I used to know. For example, the owner of this site had a really good community. He got ill, someone else too over, made all the changes, and the site is now crap. (The blue line)

    *As for posts, I don't even like the headings that are now used. For me, it makes it harder to read the post, and I now just scroll through skimming through everything as nothing grabs my attention.

    *And also, check out // - how's Google meant to find you when you don't want anything to be found in Google? (seems to be changed now)

    *I am a very tolerable person, but this new theme makes me want to leave the site - the site now feels cheap and amateurish - just like any other Blog. In other words, I would leave - and I am sure new visitors will do the same.

    I wouldn't be surprised if you traffic decreases dramatically.

    Sorry that I am a bit harsh, but that's my opinion - and since I like MUO so much, that's why I took the time to email you guys.

    Basically, I would have thought that implementing this new theme would have been done better, and all bugs have been ironed out.

    So that's my feedback

    UPDATE: Also, that social box that's on the left is incredible annoying moving every time you scroll. It makes it really hard to read content. Just make it fixed at the top of the page so it's still visible when you scroll, but it doesn't move.

    Oh, and you would also think that this URL would work
    Well it does when you put a / after it to make it - I am sure there will be in increase in 404 errors as no one types a / at the end of a URL

    • Tina
      March 19, 2011 at 6:20 am


      thank you for the honest feedback!

      I can assure you that the management at MUO hasn't suddenly started to suck. In fact, James is working like a madman behind the scenes to fix all the bugs and they are not his fault! Migration from one theme to another with a site like MakeUseOf is a major adventure to say the least.

      • Jack Cola
        March 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

        Hi Tina,
        Great to hear that the management is all the same (Aibek didn't sell out MUO) - It will be a shock when (if) that happens though.

        I can understand that there may be a lot of tweaking with this new theme, which may cause some issues, but I would have thought thorough testing would have been conducted so implementing was much more seamless. For example, take a backup of the site, install the new theme, work out what has to be changed, make a note of it, and then preform the changes.

        For example, the robots.txt file should have been properly fixed, and things like the Answers section properly presented.

        For example, in this post, you have "By Tina", "Tina Asks" (in blue), and then two logo's of yourself, then "Tina Asks" again in normal text.

        And for things like Answers URL answers/ Vs answers - why wasn't that tested previously? Both URLs should be accessible.

        To me, I think MUO is making James work harder than he should.

        So why did MUO get a new theme? What was wrong with the old one? I actually like the old one better. Based on this, I would go to W3 Edge for a theme.

        • Aibek
          March 19, 2011 at 10:20 am

          Hey Jack,

          Thanks for the feedback. There are many minor issues as you pointed out. We went through massive changes, theme is just a small part of it. There were major changes in the backend: from WordPress to WordPress MU, from apache to nginx, etc. All of those changes were made to speedup the server and make MUO more stable. We are working on the theme bugs now, hopefully by the mid of next week you will like the new theme more :-)

        • Jack Cola
          March 19, 2011 at 10:29 am

          Hi Aibek,
          I was unaware of all those major backend changes which would have made things a little more difficult. But hopefully, a little more tweaking, it will become better, or I'll get used to it.

          Why did you do all the changes at one? I would have thought you would have done one change at a time.... but I don't know the full story. I miss reading all the team emails :(

        • Mike
          March 19, 2011 at 11:13 am

          I can only assume but in my experience making those changes in one results in less downtime and inconvenience for the visitor.

          When you change your backend (in this case WordPress) there might be changes needed to the httpd configs and the existing content layout (SQL table changes or whatever).
          If you plan on switching the httpd (to nginx) too it is only fortunate to do it at the same time. Otherwise downtime probably would have doubled.

          I don't know how compatible both WordPress backends are but porting the old theme to the new backend when you are planning a redesign sounds uncalled for (assuming the new theme is pretty much ready).

          On the web everything is kind of a work in progress. While your initial critics are all valid a lot of them are only natural when a site undergoes some change. At least for me I always find 3-5 dead links in my tutorial bookmarks simply because the web changes.

        • Jack Cola
          March 19, 2011 at 11:32 am

          Hi Mike,

          I am all for minimizing downtime as much as possible, but you have to think about Change Control. If you make to many major system changes which in this situation, MUO has done 3 - theme, WordPress, Server, you may minimize the downtime, but if something goes wrong along the way, you can increase it a lot as you have to spend more time troubleshooting what went wrong.

          For example, the / on the answers URL. That can be caused by WordPress, or that can be caused my the server change. If I were doing this, I would have upgraded the server first - make sure everything works. Then upgrade WordPress. You would have to weigh the pro's and cons as both things will cause a downtime, so you may want to do them together.

          However, updating the theme should be done after the backend is all stable. WordPress themes can cause trouble, so you don't really want to add to it if your server/wordpress upgrade fails.

          Plus, it would be a bit embarrassing to switch back because of issues.

          Hopefully you see where I am coming from - do one major change at a time (if possible)

        • Mike
          March 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm

          I suppose it's a topic where both sites have legit arguments.

          For example you can easily run nginx parallel to Apache (using a different port) and use a different www-root to setup and test the new Backend (WordPress MU) with the new theme. Unless you run out of CPU cycles or SQL requests you can even access the same content.
          They could have tested the new setup for weeks and the final switch could be done within a minute (set nginx to port 80, kill Apache, restart nginx).

          The real problem lies in things you cannot anticipate: How does the server hold up the normal load and activity?

          For what it's worth MUO still seems to be served by Apache so let's call it a day :-)

        • James Bruce
          March 26, 2011 at 11:46 am

          Wow, this has been an epic thread.

          Jack, and all of you, thank you for your comments. We do take them very seriously I assure you and are trying to address them all where we can. There is a still a big list of fixes to do, but overall things have settled now and most of the fixes are aesthetic in nature.

          The migration has been less than perfect, and while I would like to accept responsibility for the downtime and issues, I cant, because it wasnt me handling it. I just get to fix it, and tidy up the mess.

          As Mike says, we are still running on Apache however the next phase will be to switch over to nginx. I am assured that this wont produce downtime as it did this time, as like you say you can run both processes simultaneously and just switch the ports.

          Ps, we'll be removing the side scrolling share thing very soon, please bear with us.

          Thanks again guys.

        • Jack Cola
          March 26, 2011 at 11:55 am

          You can leave the share thing on the left, just don't make it move when you scroll. Make it in a fix position, no matter what page position you are in.

          Any hoo, you're welcome for the feedback

  8. Rodrigo
    March 18, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Nice theme, brings some fresh air to MakeUseOf. There's only one minor trouble I'd like to point out: in firefox, the Similar and Most Popular article Widgets (or sections, I don't know exactly) do not seem to be working properly.

    The Similar articles section only shows preview images for the first three articles, and the Most Popular
    Section looks completely scrambled, with no scrolling at all.

    But, other than that, great job, MUO!

    • James Bruce
      March 26, 2011 at 11:41 am

      I think these should be working now, we had some minor issues

  9. Mike
    March 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Congrats on the design! Looks good.

    Two points:

    1. I think the article pictures on the landing page are a bit too large. Maybe make them smaller so the author will fit next to the preview text (next to the FB like button)

    2. Also looking through a few links it seems like blockquote is not working within the MUO Answers (don't know if that's related to the new design, just noticed it)

    • Roy
      March 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm

      I like the size of the article pictures, but I do agree that the author name and picture below each article looks very much out of place. It disrupts an otherwise very nice flow on the page.

      That's the only thing I can see that I don't like. Otherwise it looks great!

      • James Bruce
        March 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

        Hmm, good points. I do like the large size myself, but the author underneath is a little weird. I think we'll be playing around witha few changes on the front page, so let's see how it goes.

  10. Josh Fox
    March 18, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I like it. I especially like that comments are directly below the post in Answers instead of being separated by similar and recent questions. That information is handy, but having the comments directly below the post makes it easier to find and join the conversation.

    However, it might be a little overkill having 2 "Subscribe to MakeUseOf" sections that are both at the top of every page. On most pages other than the front page, they look like they're about 20 pixels apart.

    Over all, it looks pretty well polished.

    • James Bruce
      March 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Hi Josh, I killed one of the subscribe boxes and replaced it with a nicer facebook like box. hows that?

      • Josh Fox
        March 27, 2011 at 1:27 pm

        Looks better. It's not quite so repetitive and redundant now. :-)

  11. Anonymous
    March 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Looks great, a Fresh Air, I love it.

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