A few IPR users have expressed concern about the changes so far, such as reducing the number of comments or loading the archives and categories as drop-down boxes instead of lists.
Please keep in mind that there is a goal behind these changes. That goal is to improve the site for most users. A key example is the site’s speed. Before the changes the site was very slow. After the changes pages load more than twice as fast. Here is the graph from Google Analytics:
The average from November 10-15 was 17 seconds for a page to load. For the the 16th to the 18th it was 6 seconds.
The changes that increased speed involve reducing the number of items that appear on the pages, such as the number of “recent comments” (reduced from 20 to 10, and increased back to 15 based on user objections) the number of blog posts on the home page (reduced from 20 to 8), and removing SiteMeter.
Faster page load times will improve search engine results, and more important, it improves user experience. So says my guru, Matt Cutts.
For those who remember recent server outages, these changes also reduce demand on the server. Having too much on the site was part of what caused those outages. The server was overloaded.
The next step I’m thinking about is the long list of links on the right side. I’d like to identify the most important of those to keep there, and then move the rest to a “More Links” page.
Regarding the category and archive links, I put them in drop-down boxes (on the left). In my experience drop-down boxes are very easy to use. They don’t speed up the site (nor slow it down), but they do make the page more user-friendly. Otherwise their length pushes other things further down the page.
It might make sense to move these higher up on the column. After this month the ad on the top of the left column will be gone. I might also eliminate the Google ad in that column. Perhaps some users would find having the category and archive at the top of the column a fair trade-off for the drop-down box?
I hope you all can appreciate the value in having the site load quicker, and making the site more user-friendly in general.
With that said, the existing group of users are the most important users because this site is ultimately a community website. So don’t be afraid to tell me what you think.
And most important, I am particularly attuned to Paulie, who writes more articles than anyone else, and Trent, who writes a ton – and both of them help manage the site. I hope everyone appreciates their contributions as much as I do.