Redesign Feedback

This is a thread for general feedback on the redesign. The content and functionality are essentially unchanged — the full eight-year archive is accessible via the same navigation controls (and random-item button) as on the old site, and the feeds (RSS and email) should work as before.

As I mentioned on the main site, the main difference is that I’ve turned off the WPtouch plugin in order to see how well this theme works on mobile devices. I’d like your feedback here: Do you prefer this presentation, which offers more flexibility in using the site? Or would you like to go back to WPtouch? If we develop a dedicated mobile theme, what features would you like it to include?

All other feedback is welcome. As a consensus emerges I’ll address the most popular requests first; we probably can’t accommodate everyone but I do want to hear what you think. If you prefer you can write to me privately at Thanks for your patience during this transition, and thanks, as always, for reading.

47 Responses to “Redesign Feedback”

  1. Shecky R says:

    I like it! so often, re-designs smack one in the face, but this one seems very much like a clean and natural evolution… I still wouldn’t mind just a bit of color (perhaps ‘navy blue’) somewhere in the heading (probably for the graphic or the sub-heading) just to add a little splash to the starkness, but overall very pleasing.

    • r10pez10 says:

      We certainly like our navy blues don’t we! (I’m in for that too.)

      Was also going to ask about serif fonts, but maybe we don’t need them here anymore?

      Thanks for managing to keep the layout so clean.

  2. unekdoud says:

    I miss the old header already.

    Anyway, the sidebar design somehow doesn’t look intuitive to me – the info and search sections shouldn’t be more relevant to users than the archive or category section, in my opinion. (I know that it’s difficult to squeeze the category section above the fold, but perhaps it might be redesigned to fit. I don’t know if it will still fit on mobile, though.)

    Oh yeah, and may I suggest adding a dark-theme option, for those who read at night.

  3. KicktheCAN says:

    The new design is clean and legible and overall I enjoy it, but I do have a few nitpicks.

    The background image behind post metadata is inconsistent with the rest of the website. This should be a solid color.

    The blog header has a few issues. It is inconsistent with the regular header, possessing different font weights and positioning (this is likely due to one being and image while the other is not. The font choice for the word “blog” is unusual given the rest of the logo and it looks squeezed in.

  4. Michael says:

    The new site design is OK, but I use the RSS feed via google reader than the site directly.

    Previously, the answers to puzzles and so required me to click through onto the site to press the “show answer” button, but now the answer is visible immediately below the question.

    I’m happy with the idea of clicking onto the site to get the answer to the puzzles, but I’m wondering if we can go back to having RSS that doesn’t display the answers immediately.

    Looking at the current code output by the RSS feed, it looks like things are hidden by a WP plugin to hide spoilers – perhaps that got upgraded and now doesn’t hide in quite the same way as before?

    • Greg Ross says:

      Hi, Michael. I think what you’re seeing is a leftover test post in the blog’s RSS feed — please ignore it. I’d hoped to begin syndicating a solution with each puzzle, to spare people the trouble of clicking through to the site (a common request), but as you’ve seen, most RSS readers simply expose the solution. I’ll write more about this in an upcoming post. The upshot is that, for the time being, puzzles will be handled as they always have.

      • Tom says:

        I don’t think it was a leftover test post – I’ve just had the same problem with the chess problem today. Will send a screenshot if it will help troubleshooting.

  5. Revdj says:

    I liked the old header, so it will be hard to get used to the new one. But I come to the site for the content, which I’m hoping will continue to be a treasure.

  6. Chris says:

    Long-time fan of Futility Closet here…

    The new design is a huge bummer for me, and here’s why: the font seems extremely small and I can’t affect the text size. I have an enormous monitor (I’m in commercial music) and I like to press “command- + ” to make websites readable. I do this on most word-heavy sites, and I generally like to zoom in Futility Closet even on my laptop.

    I’ve never come across a site where “command-+” doesn’t affect the text. Two things usually happen: ONLY the text is zoomed, or the entire site is zoomed, keeping the font-to-site ratio. On Futility Closet this morning, zooming in only makes the blank white areas around the text get bigger…. a completely useless task.

    Was a huge fan of the old site design. I actually really dig the new header and stuff, but the site feels so blank and the text so very tiny.

  7. George says:

    The font is too small, either bump the size to double or set up a mobile site

    • Zhoen says:

      Seconded. Bump up the size. The stark black on stark white makes for a lot of vibration. Or grey the print and make the white a bit creamier, to reduce the interference, and worsens the small size issue.

  8. Rahul says:

    Hi Greg,
    The grey ‘Navigation’ box at the bottom seems a little messed up. It shows up fine on the blog but on the home page it isn’t wide enough to contain Contact/Submissions. The last 2 letters stick out of the box. I have a full size laptop on high resolution using Chrome. I have tried resizing the window and at all sizes the same problem occurs. If this isn’t happening to you and you would like to see a screenshot, send me an email (find the email address either from the one provided or from my website).

  9. Cheryl says:

    I’d like a bigger, bolder font, please.

    • Cheryl says:

      To add to what I previously said, I’m not sure I like the new format, but then again, I Loved the old format, it had an “old-fashioned” look to it.

  10. ciph3r says:

    Long time fan here .. what follows is constructive feedback. Content is as always great.

    I do not like the new design’s background and will be sorely missing the old look. This is too white and bright and the font not easy on the eyes. Ctrl+ works non-intuitively.

    Please consider putting in a more soothing background and change the font size.

    Also one of the unique things of futilitycloset, the black and white images; their appeal is lost with this color scheme.

  11. Mandybrigwell says:

    The font is too small for me, and doesn’t resize when I use my browser’s magnification buttons.

  12. Tim says:

    I tried loading the site on my Droid BIONIC running the Dolphin HD browser, and this is what I got:

    It looks as though no optimization for the small screen happened at all.

  13. Greg Ross says:

    Thanks for all the comments so far. I’ll be sure to address the font size, which seems to be a common theme. Thanks for the feedback!

    • Chris says:

      Hey Greg,

      The font size might be an issue, but generally the look of the new design is bitchin’.

      Also, Futility Closet is consistently the greatest thing ever. Thanks a millon for the daily brain massage….

  14. Eric Herboso says:

    The font size is hard coded, which is a very poor design decision. This is not print; this is the web. Your task is to provide the content alongside design suggestions in the css, but if the user wants to consume that content by using a screen reader if they’re blind or larger text if their screen size is small, then that should be their decision.

    You must allow users to make text bigger when they zoom in on the page. Currently, your css demands that the size of text remain the same at all zoom levels. This is something that _must_ be changed. Accessibility is important.

  15. nicholas says:

    pretty sure I would buy a book for myself AND for my family. good look if you do this!

  16. Greg Ross says:

    I’ve reverted to WPtouch to handle mobile traffic both here and on the main site. I’ll explore getting a dedicated mobile theme; please let me know what features you’d like it to include.

    • Pål says:

      Hey, apparently I am very happy with WPtouch. It seems to have been activated again after not being active yesterday. I access this site through mobile only (Samsung Galaxy SII (Android) @ Firefox) and was a bit disappointed to see that theme gone yesterday.

  17. Mitt Romney's Dog says:

    Do not like AT ALL. The font is hard coded! I can’t zoom into the page, and cannot read this small type.

    Please don’t fiddle with what already works. A blog is a good idea, but why change the overall design? Now this looks like every other 2003 WordPress site.

  18. Briano says:

    Not as easy to read as the previous design. With the grey bars it’s harder to quickly distinguish one post from the next. Also, the new font is bland. There’s nothing about the redesign that I like better than the old, which I thought was perfect.

  19. hans says:

    Th addition of a blog and community is nice. Although, you may be opening up for some pain allowing for feedback on things such as site design ;)

    But you have asked.

    1. Font scaling would be very nice.
    2. There isn’t any indication that there are comments or a way to comment for a blog entry unless you display an individual blog entry.
    3. The visual separation between the main site’s entries isn’t clear. It would be nice to have a border of some kind.
    4. WPTouch worked well when I viewed the site via my iPhone
    5. The previous design was unique and nice to view. This newer design is nice in that it’s sparse but it’s sparse in a generic blog site way.

    I would like to conclude that above all, your content is king. I appreciate the effort you make in maintaining the site.


  20. Debra says:

    Love Futility Closet content…do not love the new design. Functionality improvements are one thing but why continually change a good thing as far as looks go? The design has gone from a warm, old-timey, classy feel to a minimalist, amateur, off-the-rack look. At least give us a serif?

    • Phil says:

      Agreed. The old look is classic and elegant. The new is modern and stark. Content is the most important thing, but the “feel” has been significantly downgraded.

      That said… I’ll still read every day like I always do…

    • Scott says:

      My feelings exactly.

      • Joanne says:

        The new look is charmless, sterile and entirely at odds with the content of the site. It’s like refitting a book lined walnut paneled study to look more like a dentist’s waiting room – it may be more efficient but it’s a much less pleasant place to be. Sorry.

  21. Ambrose Chapel says:

    I mostly read Futility Closet via RSS (using a web-based reader called NetVibes).

    Until recently, the “click for answer” portion of some posts was invisible to me unless I visited the site. This is no longer true. I don’t know if that matters to you or not but it might affect traffic.

    Also, on the actual site, the answer when revealed is too big for the column it’s in and overlaps the right-hand column, see this screen shot:

  22. Dai says:


    I only have one small issue with the redesign: The body text in a san-serif font makes it a little harder to read, I may be in a minority, but I would prefer a serif font. Keep up the good work!

    • Cantras says:

      I also preferred the san-serif font. It would be a little more readable, I think, but it also looks more… educational? More educated? Silliness on my part perhaps, but I know what I like. ;)

  23. Mark N says:

    I guess I’m seeing things after most of the complaints have been addressed, as I have almost nothing to complain about ;)

    My ONLY gripe is that the separation between posts is a little hard to distinguish. I have a few suggestions that could work; either a footer at the end of a post separating it from the title of the next, or a background to each post that allows differentiation of posts vs. background, or increased margins for the body of a post that separate it from the title.

    Please enjoy these lousy mockups!

    Have loved the site for years, keep up the amazing work!

    • Greg Ross says:

      Thanks. We’ll be moving the metadata bar (“Greg Ross | January 07, 2013 | Functionality | Leave A Comment”) from the top of each post to the bottom — I’m hoping that will help with this. Actually we’ve already done it here on the blog, but I plan to change the main site to match.

  24. Alejandro Pareja says:

    Dear Greg, I have no concerns with the font size, but if your intent is to improve readability, switching to a “sans serif” font is a very bad idea. And I feel a font like that doesn’t go well either with the contents, which appeal mostly to a well-read audience.

  25. Saumi Joshi says:

    A regular on this site, love the content.

    I’d prefer the old font to the new one. The former had a feeling of publication class to it. Also, the indentations and were perfect.

    It would be a great thing, Greg, if you could tell readers the reason behind the theme change. Just for killing the curious cat.

  26. Greg Ross says:

    The previous design was a free WordPress theme that I installed when I started the site eight years ago. It worked well for a simple blog, but I want to develop Futility Closet into a full-featured modern website, and for that I needed an original design with more functionality.

    The first new feature on the redesigned site is this blog, where I’m hoping I can involve you in discussing further developments. Some of the ideas I’m considering include creating a community here (comments? a separate forum? nothing?), designing a mobile theme or app, offering merchandise (what, exactly, and how?), and publishing books, possibly a series, either in print or as ebooks.

    This redesign was a big first step — it required getting well organized on the back end, and now I have a team of good people to help me build new features. I’ll use this blog to keep you informed and seek your input as we go along. Thanks, as always, for reading.

  27. Bug says:

    Dear Greg,
    Love the continued minimalism through the redesign. And thank you for great postings.

    The only issue that I have noticed thus far is with the RSS feeds. There used to be separate, dedicated, feeds for every category of interest -e.g. Quotations, Humor- using which I was able to filter, bookmark, share, re-read posts at leisure, and with much ease. While the main feed, with everything in it, being a nice flow to browse through regularly.

    It appears that there is only one common RSS feed across the website now, and that doesn’t seem to be a very good idea.

  28. Sarah says:

    Just wondered what the rationale was for moving the ‘Random item’ button etc down to the bottom. I liked it at the side because I didn’t have to scroll as much – many of the articles are short, but my screen isn’t huge!

  29. Greg Ross says:

    Hi, Sarah. I think that must be your setup — the Random Item button should be at the upper right, where it’s always been. Can you check again?


  30. Classof65 says:

    I like your blog so much that I followed it back and read it to the beginning! I do wish you would allow comments — I don’t always “get” the puzzles and I thought that comments might help explain them to me or that I might ask for an explanation. I wouldn’t be a pest, you won’t have to explain advanced chemistry or physics or logic… I promise. I am happy with the larger font and would like to be able to share some of the humorous things on Facebook or by email, but that’s not a requirement. Thank you for asking for feedback.

  31. Linnea says:

    Awesome website you have here but I was curious if you knew
    of any forums that cover the same topics talked about here?
    I’d really love to be a part of online community where I
    can get suggestions from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
    Appreciate it!

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