By now I'm sure you have all noticed... things look a little different around here. I've been talking about an upcoming redesign for the last couple of months and finally pulled the trigger and hopefully you like what you've seen so far. However, I know change is a tough thing when you're used to something being one place and then it's not there. I hope I can help make that transition a little easier as well as receive some feedback that will help me further improve the site and tailor it to exactly how you would like to use it.
To begin, my goal wasn't to do a drastic overhaul as much as a bit of streamlining, but before I go too far, let me first give you a quick rundown of some of the new things you can find on the site.
- User profiles
- New homepage story rotator, no more sticky posts
- New movie pages featuring all the information on one page
- You can now comment on movie, celebrity and DVD/Blu-ray pages all award pages
- Simplified navigation for faster access to what you're looking for
- New quick-access awards hub
- New Movie and DVD/Blu-ray homepages featuring the newest releases that week
- New box-office articles, which will now also feature budget numbers, theater counts and per theater averages
- Studio specific pages now exist
- Twitter handles for over 365 celebrities
- Bookmark movies to your profile for later reference
- Site skins giving you the ability to customize your time on the site
- New 720p trailers for many recent trailers and the majority of trailers going forward
- Speed should be increased for all pages
Now let's look at a few of these a little more closely...
Upon release of the last redesign I got rid of the homepage Flash rotator featuring five most recent stories. I did this because it was Flash and because it didn't work on the iPad or iPhone and it was, quite frankly, a pain to update and keep up-to-date. A lot of you grumbled because you liked it and at the time I didn't have an instant solution to the problem. Well, it was one of the first things I made sure came back with this redesign.
So, as you can see above and on the homepage a new featured story rotation is back and it work on all mobile devices and tablets and, best of all, it is easy for me to maintain.
Probably the most dramatic change is to the top of the site where you'll see the new RopeofSilicon logo and instead of a multitude of links and drop-down menu options, which hardly anyone was using, I now have eight very specific topics to choose from. The inspiration here was Apple products. We've all become so used to simple and easy, point and click. My goal was to make everything as simple as possible and you'll notice that theme throughout this post and the new design.
Of those eight links available in the navigation, "Movies" will change to "Blu-ray" on Tuesdays and instead of linking to the new movies in theaters that particular weekend it will link to the new DVD and Blu-ray titles coming out that week. Other than that, it will remain just how you see it each and every day and I urge you to browse through them all to get acquainted with what is available beyond each link.
The hardest link to leave out was the Box-Office link, which is why when you go to the homepage, directly under the Featured Story rotation, you'll see where it says "GET MORE" and next to that are five additional links to content around the site, the first being for Box-Office, a page that has also been given a major overhaul, now offering links to all the top ten weekend box-office results since I started collecting them in November of 2003.
New Movie Pages
The Internet has changed in a lot of ways since I first started the site and access to more information at once has become a priority. The way people use RopeofSilicon has also changed a lot since I first started the site, which is to say the articles now get the bulk of the attention whereas my movie pages don't necessarily get as much. So I changed them.
The movie pages used to have multiple tabs for each movie giving you traditional information such as cast, director, synopsis, etc. on the first page, stills, trailers, awards, news, review, DVD and Blu-ray and more on other tabs. Well, that's all on one page now and there is no better example than on the page for The Avengers, which features all the new features including the featured trailer right next to the poster.
There are also dedicated related stories pages for each movie in the database with stories linked to them. To access the movie pages you can always just click on any link to a movie title you see on the site, search for the specific movie or you'll see at the bottom of many posts a link to movies and celebrities referenced in each article, just give 'em a click and off you go.
In addition to the collection of information on all of the site's movie pages you'll also be able to comment directly on each movie page. In fact, you'll be able to comment directly on almost every page on the site from movies to celebrities, Oscar shows, Oscar predictions and more.
Registered users will also be able to Bookmark their most anticipated and favorite movies, which will then add those films to your RopeofSilicon profile for easy future access to look for new pictures, trailers, casting information, news, etc. on the titles you care about most. This feature, in fact, is in its most dramatic infancy and I can see it becoming much bigger in the future giving you the ability to create lists and sharing them with others.
The new Awards Hub is one I absolutely love. From there you will have access to the winning histories from the Oscars, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. You'll also have access to my Oscar predictions once they go live and just released with the launch of the redesign is the newly updated Awards Calendar.
The awards section of the site will become incredibly active after I return from the Toronto Film Festival and my first round of Oscar predictions will be released. That section will also become more active year-round as I now have much more administrative control over how it looks and operates thanks to an all new, more powerful behind the scenes system.
Speaking of registered users, this is one of the new features of the site I really hope to take advantage of greatly in the future, but there are a few other things you can do right now.
For starters, by registering and logging in you can simply set the login to remember you and whenever you return you'll be logged in and ready to comment. No more having to add your name, email, etc. before commenting. In addition to this, inside your user profile you can set up a specific website you may want your profile name to link to, if you don't it will link to your RopeofSilicon profile where people can check out your personal bio, where you're from and what movies you've bookmarked. It's one of the first steps in bringing us together as a larger community.
You'll also notice when you're logged in a short little movie quote at the top of the right column. This is a random quote generated for each page for logged in users and is one many of you helped put together with contributions on this Facebook post.
Next, there are the custom skins, which is something a lot of the people who responded to my survey didn't really think would be all that exciting, but after the launch yesterday it seems a lot of people are enjoying being able to personalize the site a little more.
As of right now there are two default skins, the white background, which anyone who isn't logged in sees, and a darker version. Beyond that, there are six custom, movie-specific skins I have created with many more to come. Here's a tease of all six, which you have access to right now if you go to Edit Profile from your RopeofSilicon profile.
These six for Drive, David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kill Bill, Raging Bull, The Dark Knight and silent movie star Harold Lloyd were just the best ones I was able to create. The goal was largely subtlety and if you ask me the Dragon Tattoo and Kill Bill ones are my personal favorites.
Stay tuned, there are more to come, and this was the main reason I asked you all to list your favorite movies in that survey I did a couple months back.
ONE NOTE: One thing I noticed in testing is that browser caching can cause for a skin not to show up on pages you may have visited before applying the skin. If this happens to you, you'll need to either refresh the page or clear your browser cache manually. I apologize for this, but it's one problem currently out of my control.
There are several other small tweaks around the site, such as new and faster in-article gallery pages, there are now studio specific pages, which you can access from any of the movie pages by clicking on the studio title. For example, click here to visit the The Avengers page and click on "Walt Disney Pictures" and you'll see what I'm talking about.
Finally, I have added over 365 celebrity Twitter profiles to their bio pages such as this one for Tim Roth, which I added just last night, or this one for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Just a couple more things to bring you a little more information than you otherwise thought you might get and I plan on doing the same for the movies in the database very shortly.
Beyond all that, the site should be faster for all visitors and will be getting even faster in the coming months as we streamline it even further and add a few more tweaks behind the scenes.
Oh, and there is more to come, one specific new feature I'm really excited to roll-out, but it isn't quite ready yet. Soon though... soon.
So that is the long of it, but now I want to hear from you. What do you like? What don't you like? Is there anything you're having a problem with? Anything you believe is "missing" from the past version? I want to hear it all, the good with the bad, because otherwise I won't know what's working and what isn't because I do plan on perfecting it even more as we go along and your input is vital.
Oh, and thanks for visiting! I hope you like what you see so far.
I would first off like to thank all the readers that added their input and comments when asked. Your help was extraordinarily appreciated and valuable.
I would also like to thank the folks at my hosting service, Nexcess.net who are so attentive to changes and issues and in assisting with my merge to the redesign I'm not sure I could have done it without them. If you are looking to host your own website, look in their direction.