Welcome to Comics Bulletin 3.0!

A column article, Manifesto by: Jason Sacks

 

On behalf of all of us who work on Comics Bulletin, let me welcome you to Comics Bulletin 3.0!

If you're a new reader of this site, you probably read that sentence above with a shrug of your shoulders and a glance around in a vain attempt to find something odd. After all, you see a really nicely designed, attractive and smart looking website and you figure that this is the way a website should be, right? What's special about that, right?

But what you new readers may not realize is that this version of Comics Bulletin has been a long time coming.

When I took over Comics Bulletin as editor-in-chief back in 2008, the site had a hopelessly outdated and confusing design, showing several hundred words on the front page thrown willy-nilly all across the page and delivered in a hideously ugly red and gold color scheme that was known to blind certain young children. It was an ugly design, the relic of random design decisions made by the site's then owner, and was reflective of an early '00s design aesthetic.

Worse than that, though, was the fact that Comics Bulletin was an absolute nightmare for us staffers to manage. It was incredibly difficult to make any sort of changes to the site such as adding new columns - a process that involved editing XML, PHP, JS, SQL and a dozen other technical acronyms, a bad edit to any of which would bring the site down to its knees.

And even doing standard work for the site like adding new columns involved some very intense back-end work that angered staffers and - no lie - helped to lead to more than one divorce.

When I took over the publishing duties on Comics Bulletin a year ago, buying the site out from its previous owner, the biggest request I got from the staffers on the site was incredibly clear. They screamed in capital letters: MAKE IT EASIER! MAKE IT LOOK NICER!

And so we did. The tremendously talented and incredibly devoted Christopher Power led an intense effort to deliver a site that we called CBv2. CBv2 was filled with changes that were powerful and insightful and long overdue, things like inline commenting, smart organization, a design that moved the site design out of the way of the content, and, most importantly, a back end that was incredibly easier, more intuitive and way, way less cumbersome. Suddenly work that had taken me - no lie - four hours was taking me 30 minutes. For us who work on staff on this site, the change was huge and exciting and very long overdue.

And for our loyal readers, the site was way better than the old - more intuitive and attractive, and which moved the site chrome out of the way of the rest of the content on the site.

But there were also some complaints about the design, the most important of which were that the site looked a little stark and austere, without a lot of life and energy. CBv2 favored brains over beauty, and our readers want some beauty with their brains. Mmmm, brains.

So we immediately undertook CBv3, the wonderful website that you see all around this column. We think this site looks fucking great, combining a smart and thoughtful color scheme with design elements that accentuate rather than get out of the way of the site chrome. CBv3 is colorful and interesting and we hope feels welcoming and interesting, the kind of design that asks you to sit down and look at a few interesting pages of material. And we think that's a huge accomplishment by designers Jay Zawrotny and Steve Gallant.

Of course we're not done yet with the rework, not by a long shot. There's no way a site can stay vital these days without continually reinventing itself, continually grasping new and smarter ways of making its users happy. There will be a CBv4 and a CBv5 and I'm sure a CBv6 some day, and I hope you'll be along with us for the ride.

So please share your comments about the redesign in the comments section below. We really want to know what you think - what you like, what you don't like, what bugs you see, anything you want to share. And if you run into any of us this week at Comic-con - we'll have a large contingent of folks at the con - make sure to stop us and let us know what you think. And if you like the new site, buy us a drink in San Diego.  We need it!

 

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