The New Look of Frankly Curious

Frank MoraesI know what you’re all thinking, “I don’t like this new website look!” But trust me, you’ll get used to it. This is hardly the first time that the website has changed. And every time it changes, people don’t like it at first and then they can’t even remember what it was like before.

But there are a number of good things about this new design. The first, and most obvious, is the new header. I always liked the Lego Don Quixote, but it did have it’s problems. The biggest is that the windmill was there. And as a lover of Don Quixote, it’s a bit embarrassing to have the cliche up — especially given that it happens early in the first book. What’s more, there was no Sancho Panza, and he is as important to the book as Don Quixote.

A smaller problem was that more and more I thought it made the website look like something aimed at 7-year-olds. Now given that in many ways, I still am a 7-year-old, there is something to be said for that. But I am more serious most of the time. The 7-year-old is more the spice — not the meat. And the artwork by Andrea English is great.

The most notable thing about this new theme is the slider thingy that currently scrolls through the six most recent articles. I like that quite a lot. Eventually it may drive me crazy. But I like it now. And the cool thing about it is that I can change it so that it shows random articles. I’m thinking of doing something like Random Mondays or something. I haven’t tried it out so I don’t know how well it will work. But with 7,000+ articles to choose from, it should be interesting.

A Brief History of the Website’s Look

Anyway, I thought I would share with you the way that the website used to look. All the designs were done by Andrea. The first one was the most brilliant. It was based on René Magritte’s self-portrait, Clairvoyance. It combines many of my other interests like the Indian Rope Trick, Christopher Marlowe, puppets, Madame Tutli-Putli. There’s other stuff.

Frankly Curious Website 2010

To be honest, I could have lived with that header forever. The problem with it is that it is so high. I don’t like to hide the content. So after two years, we changed it. Andrea came up with the following design. But it did not last long.

Frankly Curious Website 2012

I get the idea of it: the different interests that the website is supposed to reflect. But that head still just creeps me out. But you can see that the sidebar has become more sophisticated. So this design only stuck around for a year, then we got what you all are very familiar with:

Frankly Curious Website 2013

That was three years ago! And it hadn’t changed much. When we moved from the Nucleus CMS to WordPress, the designed opened up. But otherwise, it was pretty much the same. And what we have now is structurally very similar. The changes are really all cosmetic.

The only thing I wonder about is whether it isn’t all just too much blue. I’m curious what you all think. Feel free to complain. I doubt I’ll change anything, but it might make you feel better!

20 thoughts on “The New Look of Frankly Curious

  1. I dislike the fact that I cannot refresh by clicking on the header.

    I think that there needs to be more cowbell. And I like ice cream. That is all I have for this post.

    • That’s actually a good bit of accessibility programming. A link should not take you to the page you are on. If you want to refresh, the F5 key works on most operating systems.

      • But I am of the generation that expects everything to be super easy so when I am on this page, I should be able to easily return to the main page by clicking on the header up there!

        Actually I don’t care but it was something I noticed.

        • But you are able to return to the main page. You just can’t load the main page from the main page. I know this seems like a minor thing, but I think about this kind of stuff a lot. And it has always bothered me that you are able to do that, because it’s actually confusing. A link should take you somewhere you aren’t currently. That can be to a different part of the same page. But it can’t just reload the page, unless the link says, “reload the current page.” In that case, it isn’t really a link but a tool. I know: what a pedant!

          • I like it because it keeps down the number of tabs I have open since then I don’t have to click on your tweeted link to refresh to the new article.

  2. Hi Frank, how are you? I’m okay with your banner, but I’m here to say that first one is terrific and I wonder why you ever changed it? You could just add Don and Sancho to it and it would be perfect.

    But what do I know?

    Seriously, I’m thinking again of switching my blog over to WordPress, only because it’s more compatible to C&L and the other sites where I contribute. I hesitate because I have a Google Ranking of 5, which I think I would lose and would have to start all over again.

    I like Blogger and find it much easier to use. Are you using the free WordPress or the one you have to pay for?

    But enough of that.

    Congratulations on your new banner. Whatever floats your boat!

    • I install my own (free) CMSs. I’ve loved working with WordPress. It is so well designed. If you are using WordPress.com, you don’t get nearly the flexibility.

      The only reason I did get rid of the original was that it was about 400 pixels high. I like it, but I just can give that much space up. As it is, I’m thinking of making the header here shorter. A great thing about this template is how flexible it is.

  3. That original artwork is gorgeous. It doesn’t quite work with the site name in the lower right and so much empty space in the upper right, though. Maybe the best would have been the painter looking at another painter who was sketching Quixote/Panza. Too dense for a header image, but a cool idea.

    • You also have to remember that it was much bigger. You can see the way it looks by going over the Archive.org — which is where I got all these images anyway.

  4. “The most notable thing about this new theme is the slider thingy that currently scrolls through the six most recent articles.”

    I’m not sure I understand the purpose of slider thingies, on any website. Am I supposed to sit patiently while the page cycles through the six featured titles? Or do I click on each of the six tiny dots to speed things up?

    What I actually do is scroll down past the darn thing, quick as a bunny, just as I used to scroll down past the too-static “Recycled Genius” post, which I’m pleased to see has gone to the Recycle Bin.

    What’s wrong with putting the most recent blog entry near the top of the blog? With a date and TIME stamp so I can tell how fresh the entry is?

    I suppose I should offer at least one compliment for each complaint, so I will say that the new format is clean, bright, and easy to read. And your writing is always thought-provoking, which is what really matters.

    • Those sliders might be useful to new visitors, encouraging them to poke around the site a little more. A visitor interested in a search engine hit about “gerbils with psychic powers” (there must be one here somewhere) sees only that post if they click on the link, as opposed to the homepage where multiple recent articles are displayed in full. So the slider gives them a heads-up as to what else is available.

      In general, though, while the slider here actually serves a good purpose, I don’t like them on most sites. They often link to crap. The other day on a baseball site I saw a slider about “Player X’s hot start to the season” and clicked on it, thinking it’d be analysis of why that player was doing well. Instead it was a link to All-Star Game voting. Once you’ve been fooled by that sort of thing a few zillion times, you rarely click on sliders again.

    • Advertising!

      But it isn’t a big deal to scroll down. It’s more interesting for random articles, because, as I said, they are about 7,000 of them now — many of which I wrote when I didn’t have much of an audience. I do think I’m going to slow down the scroll though. I don’t like motion on a page. But at least this you can scroll past.

  5. I like the new look. I don’t entirely like the fact that the RSS feed now does the “Continue reading »” thing, so I can’t read the blog offline. If that’s a monetization anti-feature, I totally respect that, as not everyone can afford to sling a non-monetized website. If not, please consider going back to full post feed, as not everyone can afford wireline services, and also because bandwidth conservation is a virtue in its own right, or at least I’m inclined to think so.

    • Nope. No monetization. It’s just that I haven’t fully figured out this theme. I didn’t know that it messed with my RSS feed. I’ll look into that right away. Thanks for alerting me!

    • I think I fixed it. It wasn’t the theme, but the installation cased it to move to “summary.” Let me know if it is working as it was before.

  6. @Frank — there was no way to make the indents smaller? Because in a thread with multiple conversations it’s nice to be able to see visually who’s responding to what. But I’m sure everyone will get used to this.

    • I did finally work it out. I’d like to get rid of the stripes, but I’m not sure how that’s done. I think it is done with PHP rather than CSS, and I don’t want to get drawn into alerting the base theme. The current state doesn’t horrify me anymore.

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