By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cancer
Welcome to the new, improved and redesigned SmartPlanet. Here's why we changed things, and why we're so gosh darn excited about it.
Welcome to the new, improved and redesigned SmartPlanet.
We'd like to take a moment to walk you through some of the changes and why we made them.
If the new look feels familiar, it should. We modeled this redesign on the layout of our big brother sibling sites BNET, TechRepublic and ZDNet -- plus incorporated the feedback you've sent us since we first (re)launched in 2009.
We hope that by establishing a more finely-tuned navigational scheme, you'll be able to more quickly and easily find content that's of interest to you.
Internally, we had three goals:
- More easily find what's new;
- More easily find what's original;
- More easily find a way to interact.
So here are some of the highlights of SmartPlanet 2.0:
—Understanding our mission. The old site told the SmartPlanet story with three terms: "Smart Business," "Smart Technology" and "Smart People." While that explains our mission from 30,000 ft., it doesn't help a new visitor understand what we're really about.
Secondly, we added a secondary navigation based on all the different topics and industries that we cover. That way, if you're really into stories about the smart grid, or robotics, or cancer cures, we can send you to a dedicated page with all the new stories about that topic -- no matter which blog covers it.
—Show, not just tell. We have a crack team of writers here at SmartPlanet, but often a story is better told through visual means. And with all the amazing things we cover -- electric cars, greener buildings, nanotechnology of all kinds -- you really need to be able to see it.
That's why we've added image thumbnails for every new story. And a big, honking carousel to show you the most important, best stories of the day. And added support for photo galleries, which we didn't have before. And enlarged the video player, so you can see more (award-winning!) content by default.
We've also expanded the blog post column quite a bit -- it used to be about 480 pixels wide, and now we're at a more airy 620 pixels.
—Engage. We've added comment counters to each story in the "rivers" of the site -- that is, the directories of stories on the front page and on the section pages. We've also added "most popular" roundups on the mouseover condition of the primary navigation, as well as implemented a few smaller "hot" lists around the site so you're never far from a great discussion.
But it gets better. We've also deployed a massive upgrade to our community system. In essence, our commenting system makes a lot more sense than it used to. In the old system, you couldn't reply to a specific comment. In the new one, a threaded view allows you to do just that -- plus, you can vote up and vote down comments that you think are or aren't worth other readers' time. (Editors also have the ability to single out a particularly exemplary comment, too.)
But don't take our word for it. Take a look around the site and let us know what you think. You can post your comments/suggestions/fixes in the comments below, or provide feedback through our standard customer service channel.
Let us know how we're doing. We're listening!
-- The CBS Interactive SmartPlanet team
P.S. -- If you're wondering who's responsible for building and operating SmartPlanet, well, look no further.
Apr 26, 2011
I am getting on in years, but I found no trouble adapting to the new site. I also feel that Hates Idols has a good point.
One suggestion. Limit the tags you put on each article. It makes the separate groups like Energy and Government usless when it seems like almost every article is listed under every area. Tag an item for 2, maybe 3 areas tops, otherwise the catagories become pointless.
-In your topical pop-up menus at the top, you could add the comment number icons like you do for each article. -in your sign-in name in the upper right hand corner, another handy item to add to the popup menu list when you scroll over the name would be links to the various posts done under that name. Otherwise, it's different, but I think it will be more functional.
The quality of content and information Smartplanet provides is huge. It's new, reliable, relevant, well documented and informative. But the site looses it all, it makes the information unusable, think of the way you represent the stuffs on the site, categorize, make it interactive and if possible integrate with user profile, help the user keep track and a list what he likes the most. Thank You, i have many more suggestions though.
The previous interface was really bad and annoying -one of the worst I have seen -but you didn't ask for feedback. This one is better, but still it suffers from the information-burring-syndrome as most blogs, where very interesting and valuable info quickly disappears after a very short time. Even more, you made the mistake to remove the "Active SmartPlanet" column, so very interesting and very active discussions are suddenly shut-down and buried without a warning, in favor of new -news or articles. You didn't give priority to your viewers, you think you're smarter than them, inline with you slogan "we make you smarter" like saying "I know what you should be reading and talking about, for your own good " -which is/was stupid, insulting and far from being true. If you were producing new technology or science, that might be acceptable -but you're just telling stories about those who do innovative stuff, to those who can evaluate them.
Harder to find stuff I might have missed. Annoying, but I'll figure the new out if the content remains good.
This is the first time we're implementing this system, so we've got a few kinks to work out. This is the biggest one. Thanks -- it's useful to know we're overcompensating.
...and we always want to hear how we're doing. So please tell us! You're absolutely right in that we've lost the "Active SmartPlanet" unit on the front page. It's a good point, and I'll pass it along. P.S. We don't think we're smarter than anybody -- certainly not readers. (If you couldn't figure it out, you're all a pretty intelligent bunch!) Try not to take the new design that way, because it from its inception was a project intended to improve, not detract, the reader experience.
We realize change is hard, but let us know if you continue to find certain parts of the site difficult to find.