Home News Macfilos website update on progress

Macfilos website update on progress

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We are now into the third week of the new Macfilos website and things are running more smoothly than I could have hoped for. We have a few minor back-end problems but all will be sorted out soon. The most obvious one of these is that the Lightbox image magnification is not working, despite being switched on globally. This is something we are investigating and hope to have it fixed soon.

Galleries

The Lightbox effect — enabling individual images to be shown full size — is particularly important in the case of galleries of photographs such as those we have used extensively in the past, in particular with travelogue articles where the number of images could otherwise counterbalance the available text.

Going forward, we can ensure that these photographs can be expanded to full size. Unfortunately, past galleries created for Squarespace no longer work — instead the constituent images have been moved to full-size versions. This can make rather odd reading on some of the older travelogue posts.

Tip: Click on the author’s name at the top of any article and you will be taken to a gallery of articles written by the same author

Speeds, fast and slow

We have had many positive comments on the improved speed of loading of the site, plus a couple of complaints of slow running — just to balance the books. Any further feedback on this issue would be welcome, although it looks as though problems of slow loading are likely to be down to local issues. Temporary issues, I hope.

A few regular readers have not taken to the busy appearance of the new front page and miss the simple chronological blog-style of the old site. The front page does look busy, I agree, but it is a good place for new users to land, encouraging them to explore the site more widely. Many readers love this magazine layout and, in general, the tagDiv Newsmag theme for WordPress has proved to be a star performer.

Back to the blog

However, with traditionalists in mind, we have now created an alternative front page, called Blog, which you can find on the menu bar immediately to the right of Home. This reproduces the simple chronological blog-style layout which we were used to with the old site. If you still prefer this layout, it is a simple job to select Blog from the menu. You can even bookmark the page to ensure it is where you land when you click on Macfilos (see below).

Mobile issues

One or two readers have complained that the mobile version of the front page is confusing in that it is necessary to swipe to the left to see all the items in the large top panel. I’m not too fond of this aspect myself, but it is an integral part of the theme and there is no easy way to change it. I plan to speak with the developers to see if a less confusing alternative is possible. Now, however, it is now easy to choose the Blog page as the default viewer and see a more straightforward list of articles.

On a couple of occasions, we have had issues with the mobile version not updating with the latest posts. I have experienced this and one other reader has mentioned it. Closing the browser and then reopening seems to solve the problem but, again, I shall be looking into this to see if there is an issue at our end that could be causing the odd behaviour.

Comments

One problem area which is difficult to address effectively is that the comments section of blog posts is buried right at the end, often after a succession of “related articles”. Originally there were several further impediments, including an author box and examples of more articles from the same author. After complaints we have deleted these two elements in order to make the comments section more usable. It is sometjhing we are looking at with a view to improvements.

Involving

In general, though, the move from Squarespace to WordPress has put some much-needed life into Macfilos. The home page, which new readers see first, is much more involving and has encouraged first-time visitors to stay and explore rather than simply moving on after reading one article.

Even regular readers have been prompted into exploration and old posts from three, five or, even, ten years ago, are springing back into life as users find it easier to navigate and discover.

If you have any comments please leave them below. I will do my best to address any outstanding issues.

10 COMMENTS

  1. The busy appearance of the new front page is a miss really. Looks too much like other websites and I thought the original design gave Macfilos it’s own character just like a Leica camera in fact. This reminds me of a Sony menu.You have to look all over the place.I don’t find it very compelling to come back to anymore for an enjoyable read.
    Sorry. Only my opinion.

    • Steve, I really hope you can start using the Blog page instead of the Home page if you prefer the old more traditional layout. As you know, the “front page” is just a shop window on the content and there are advocates of both approaches. For regular readers, who visit the site daily, the linear blog approach is undoubtedly more entertaining. But a busier landing page for new visitors does encourage more involvement. None of this is to say that I will not be looking at ways of making the opening page look more attractive. I’m not wedded to the black panels and there are other options within the current theme that we can try. For the moment, though, I’m enjoying a bit of a breather and have decided to spend more time on content than on appearance.

      • Thanks Mike, good reply, totally makes sense. Will focus my attention on the blog page,
        Content is still great of course and I’m sure we all appreciate how much time it must take to maintain the site with new material updated daily. No easy thing, I know.Wonderful to read all the Leica content online and in English since I’m living in Japan. Please keep on doing what you’re doing!

  2. Good morning Michael, I was just about to comment that I didn’t like the busy appearance of the new site, when I read your final paragraph and as suggested, clicked the blog tag at the top of the page.

    Thanks, that has restored my beginning to wane interest. I hadn’t mentioned it before because I have been trying really hard to be less forthright, even though under the current state of things, I should have every right to be.

    • As I’ve said to Steve (above), the Blog page does provide a suitable alternative and I hope you can get used to using that page instead of the new home page.

  3. Hi Mike,

    I am generally happy with the new look, and the way the new article present. I have experienced a couple of weird issues that I cannot quite pin down yet.

    1. The missing quotes that you could see, and I oddly couldnt, that then magically appeared – no idea what that glitch was all about, but I havent been able to repeat the trick.
    2. Yesterdays excellent article by Kevin Armstrong I ended up viewing the images in the article on my mobile phone, as they wouldnt all appear on my Mac – not sure if this is my Mac or not, but cannot find a rationale explanation for why it did this – I will recheck tonight to see if it does it with other articles.

    Other than that, I think it has been worth the effort. But then I love change if it improves things.

    Keep up the good work.

    Dave

    • Hello Michael,
      Similar to Dave, I’m finding it impossible to load all of Kevin’s images. And it looks like the same is occurring with Jonathan Slack’s article today. It’s happening on both iPad and Windows. Is it a problem with a lack of grunt in my machines?
      And I’m also seeing the issue of either the home page or blog opening to an my last viewing, and needing to refresh to see the latest. Not a big deal, just a very minor annoyance.

      On the other hand, congratulations on the excitement of the new Macfilos. The Home Page and the Blog are like having two Porsches in the garage – the Home Page is the latest steroid loaded 911, and the Blog is the classic 1973 911 RS. One has all the latest gizmos, the other is manual lightweight handling at its best.

      • Hi Wayne,

        Ta for reminding me I am seeing the home page issue with both my Mac and Phone, although Jono’s article was fine on my Mac last night.

        These are curious niggles, but thankfully I think my Mac is fine now that Wayne is reporting similar issues. My Mac is using the latest OSX, and has sufficient power to process big images, so I am hopeful this is a site issue.

        Dave

  4. Cheers Dave (and t’Editor Michael).
    Well, the loading of Kevin Armstrong and Jonathan Slack images were grindingly slow yesterday morning (Oz time, Friday evening Europe and afternoon Americas), and finally they just gave up altogether.
    Then, 12 hours later my time they loaded fast with no problem. I didn’t change any hardware settings at my end, so I can only surmise that when the slow loading occurs it is due to either network traffic jam at my end, network traffic at the WordPress end, or slow servers. And that’s where I’ll leave my thinking on this issue – I know just enough to be dangerous, so best that I stop 🙂

    • I haven’t experienced any slow loading on either of my Macs or on the iPad and iPhone. As you say, there are many factors at work. However, I will mention this to our web designer, who also hosts the server. I did have many problems with the old site on Squarespace, especially when trying to upload photos and edit text. It was grindingly slow and added enormously to the workload. As I mentioned in the article, the ability to upload from a pre-prepared file, complete with embedded pictures, is worth the change from Squarespace.

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