Over the past month or so I’ve mentioned how I was working on a slight redesign of the site and on Saturday night it finally went live hopefully giving some of you enough time to check it out and find any nits you’d like to pick, which is why I waited until now to post the announcement article.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed there aren’t any major changes to the layout other than cleaning up the homepage so it doesn’t look like someone vomited information all over it and tidying up the site logo above to take up less space and get you to what you came for quicker. On that note I guess I’ll bring up the first, and what I believe to be the best, change of all… the navigation.
For the longest time I couldn’t figure out how to make all the information on the site easily available without cluttering up every page. Well, with the increasingly common mega drop down menus becoming available I found my answer. Now each tab is loaded with links to goodies around the site. Best part of it though… you don’t have to look at it until you want to.
On the “NEWS” tab you’ll find endless amounts of categories. The “MOVIES” tab not only has links to the database, stills and trailers, but a full release calendar and alphabetic database selector. The “DVD & BLU-RAY” tab also has a release calendar and the “BOX-OFFICE” tab will always have the updated top five films at the box-office.
Speaking of the box-office, we have a brand new Box-Office Charts page which includes not only the weekend numbers dating back to November 2003, but it now includes Laremy’s Box-Office Oracle predictions, side-by-side with the actual box-office results for quick comparisons, accurate prediction indication and margin of error percentages. A wealth of box-office information at your fingertips.*
Next we’ll move to the homepage where the newest visual treat is available in the form of a new Flash marquee designed by Matsumoto Design here in Seattle. Believe it or not, Miles Matsumoto, the man that designed it for me also came up with the final title treatment for The Matrix while working for Girvin way back in the day. Pretty cool eh?
The new Flash marquee serves as the first time I have ever had anyone design something for the site. To this point I had been the only one doing any of the coding or graphic design on RopeofSilicon, which is probably evident if you look at the history of the site, but I am quite happy with what they delivered. The new marquee will be updated far more often than the old one and also gives me the ability to feature trailers directly on the homepage without a click through. As of the posting of this article the Toy Story 3 trailer is playing there right now.
Sticking with the homepage, it was my intention to simplify it as much as possible all while giving you all of the exact same information you were used to getting and then some. New to the page are the Popular Posts tab, a short list of the most recent database updates, the full weekend box-office and a list of websites I consider to be “Web Essentials”.
Now not all of this information will be there every day. I have set it up so the full box-office top ten is only displayed on Sundays and Mondays and the latest DVD reviews will only display on Tuesdays. This is all in an effort to make sure every day is a new day on the site and not just churn and burn factory work.
As for the list of “Web Essentials,” this is a list of websites I visit on a regular basis and while I always link to my sources whenever I gather information from elsewhere, I felt it was only right to give this specific group a shout out. RopeofSilicon isn’t a scoop site, it’s a site for information, opinions and ideas and where they can be shared freely. I leave the scooping to the pros while trying to beef up my overall film knowledge and if you stick with me and give that list a once over you should always be up-to-date.
Speaking of shared opinions, you may have also already noticed the new commenting system, which now treats your comments as threads as opposed to the “@” system I had before. It’s definitely a different style of commenting and may take some getting used to but I think it will make for better conversations in the long run. As for the comment editing option a lot of you asked about, I looked into it and it would add some weighty code to the site I just didn’t want to implement at the moment as another reason for this redesign was to hopefully speed things up around here so pages load faster, which I hope has been evident for many of you already.
The final new feature I’m very excited about has to do with movie reviews. With each review I have added a box inside the review (example to the right) featuring the RottenTomatoes score, the studio, director, cast, MPAA rating and running time as well as links to the trailer, movie stills and the movie’s overview page on the site. On top of this, users can also now enter their grade for each film directly on the review page without having to go anywhere else on the site.
Beyond that, most everything else is cosmetic clean-up and I really don’t think it was all that drastic of a change as everything is exactly where it used to be, it’s just not as cluttered or messy. My goal was to get the information to you faster and allow you to engage with myself and the other readers and I hope I succeeded.
On top of all of this I also started a Facebook page for the site and still have the Twitter page. Hopefully 2010 will be as entertaining as 2009, and hopefully the film discussions will be equally stimulating. Thanks for coming along for the ride, I hope you like what I’ve done with the place.
* Thanks to commenter Dan Tradler for a bit of help on the percentages.