Upgrade Part #2

November 19, 2006
A thought by James Berardinelli

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has written.

After reading tons of e-mail, some of which have extolled the virtues of the new site and some of which have condemned them, I have done quite a bit of tweaking. The version of movies.html (the main movies page) now available should be close to the final version (although there will be another shift when the graphics are upgraded, but that may not be for some months). Many of the changes are the result of reader suggestions. First, a survey of what I changed.

The background is now "pure" white. Several people pointed out that the light gray looked washed out, so I did a mock-up with white and decided I liked it better. So the site now has a white background. Boring... perhaps, but pleasing to my eye. The menu background color has been changed from yellow to a light blue. Hopefully, this isn't as offensive. Quite a few people don't like yellow, it seems. The "logo section" has been juggled a little and compressed. This allows the newest reviews to appear on the screen without scrolling. I have made the Announcements section larger so items in that section won't be missed as easily. "Search" has been removed from the menu bar. It can be accessed directly through the Archives and will be accessible from the new "Fast Archive Access" when that is implemented.

All new reviews will have menu bars on the left side. This will soften the blow of frames removal. However, I will not be going back and changing old reviews. Too much work. High profile new reviews will have ads under the menu bar for a limited time. (I don't know how long; I'm guessing about three weeks.)

The star positioning has been changed. Stars are now to the left of the review, right justified. This was done at the suggestion of a reader and seems to solve several problems, including making it easier to associate a rating with a movie.

Things that have not changed... One persistent request is to go back to the dark purple background. I mocked up a version of the page using that suggestion and found that I didn't like the way it looks. Too gloomy. The old version of movies.html lightened things up by using light-colored cells for the tables. All purple is not appealing, even when using white text and lightened link colors.

Thus far, movies.html is really the only page that has changed. The opening page is pretty much the same (although the Frames/No Frames option is gone). The master frames page just drops you into the non-frames option. The master non-frames index (main0.html) now replicates the front page. It's redundant, but I didn't want to leave a hanging link or something old in case some readers have bookmarked it. Over the next few days/weeks, there will be changes to some of the other pages to bring them in line with the new look. Some will be minor - ReelThoughts will gain the menu bar but nothing else. Others will be complete overhauls - Video Views will lose its tables and go "white."

For those who are wondering, the overwhelming response to the changes has been positive, although many people have expressed reservations (most of which I have tried to address as best I can). There is a small, vocal group of readers who HATE the changes and think the new site is ugly. Hopefully, those readers come for the content, not the look, and will have patience with the new appearance. My goal is not to turn people off and lose readers as a result of a facelift.

At this point, I don't plan to write any more about the look of the site, at least for a while, but I still encourage and welcome comments. Next time, ReelThoughts will return to my cinema-oriented musings as I ask a question I have posed before: Can a bad sequel ruin an entire series?