Functionality

Sharing Buttons?

Readers have asked me to consider adding social sharing buttons to Futility Closet posts so that they can share them easily with their friends. I’m willing to try this, but the share-button plugins that I’ve found tend to have large, colorful designs that would look out of place on this site. The most conservative set I’ve managed to find so far is this:

blogger share buttons

But that’s from Blogger, so I can’t use it here. Does anyone know of a WordPress share-button plugin with an appropriately understated design? Or one whose appearance I can customize? Thanks.

Mobile Theme?

On mobile devices, Futility Closet is currently served by the WPtouch plugin. This works well enough, and I’m perfectly game to leave things as they are, but I wonder if the site might not be more usable if I invested in a proper mobile theme (or perhaps an app?). What do you think? WPtouch serves content well enough, but you can’t browse the archives very easily, and you can’t surf randomly. I think it must be difficult to use. Is it?

Puzzle Solutions

Okay, puzzle solutions. When I asked readers to suggest improvements for the new site, the most common request was that a solution box be provided with each puzzle on the main page, so that one could reach each solution with a single click.

Actually, we can do this now:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Click for Answer

The reason we don’t do it this way is that this site has 14,000 subscribers, and most of them use clients that don’t support javascript. This means that if I follow the method above, the solution will be displayed openly to those readers.

My workaround has been to put the solution on a separate page. This way I can publish a puzzle on the homepage and syndicate it safely to RSS and email, but then everyone has to click through to the post page in order to see the solution, which is clumsy.

I want to improve this, but I can’t think of a fix that meets all the requirements:

  1. It must work in the RSS and email feeds.
  2. It must support puzzle solutions that include images.
  3. It should be intuitive to newcomers.
  4. The solution must remain concealed if you forward a post to a friend or discover it in the archives or via the Random Item button.

The Random Item button draws randomly from the main WordPress database, so I can’t afford to have the solutions floating around in there as separate posts. (That’s how we used to do it.) In a nutshell, what we need is a way to include a hidden solution with each puzzle, as above, but in a way that will be preserved reliably in RSS.

What do you think?

Okay, Try It Now

We’ve made the text on this blog a bit bigger, which should improve readability (thanks, Tristan), and text zooming with Ctrl-+ should work now.

Want the text bigger still? Once we’ve established a consensus here, I’ll copy the settings onto the main site. Thanks, everyone.

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 gregblog@gmail.com. Thanks for your patience during this transition, and thanks, as always, for reading.