O'Reilly Network Homepage (beta)

by Derrick Story

I started working with O'Reilly Network in the Summer of 2000. We had just sold Web Review to Miller Freeman, and for a few moments there, I was out of a job. Fortunately, O'Reilly offered me the managing editor position for the fledgling O'Reilly Network, and I've been here ever since.

A lot has changed at O'Reilly Media over those years. Remember when it was O'Reilly & Associates? (Who were those associates anyway?) My first OSCON was in Monterey. It's still my favorite location for our flagship conference.

One of the things that hasn't changed much during this time is the O'Reilly Network home page. We've been thinking about how to refresh www.oreillynet.com for more than a year. I won't go into all the hemmin' and hawin', but the upshot is that we now have a beta page to show you:

Update: March 20, 2008: The beta link is no longer available, so we've included a link to the resulting release page.

Our first goal was to give you a compelling overview of the best stuff happening throughout the Network on any given day. That's what you'll find in the center column labeled "Today's Features." There you can scan current O'Reilly Radar posts, MAKE hacks, book excerpts, weblog entries, articles, and tutorials. You can even subscribe to this content via an RSS feed.

Down the right column we list the "In case you missed it..." articles and posts. Here are some of the gems from recent history that are just too good to let slip away. So we're going to keep a handful on display. Also, to double our odds that you never miss any of these jewels, you can subscribe to them via RSS. We've even added an archive link in the upper right corner. We're going to make it hard for you to miss the good stuff.

The folks behind this effort -- Daniel Steinberg and Sarah Kim -- are the same tandem who created the successful java.net site. They're interested in reading what you have to say about the beta page for the Network. So, give it a spin and post your comments in the Talk Backs below. Daniel will be managing the beta page, so he'll take all of the feedback into consideration as he works with Sarah on the refinements. And, of course, we'll keep you posted along the way.

Oh, and one other thing... thanks so much for supporting O'Reilly!

Post your comments about the beta home page for O'Reilly Network here.


2005-09-13 18:31:16
New site
Well. What a frickin hassle it was just to sign up and post a comment. 2 different sites to allow for cookies, redirects that went nowhere and all I really wanted to say was "IT'S A TABLE-BASED LAYOUT!". Good grief.
2005-09-13 19:34:04
Existing site easier to scan/browse
To be honest, I think the existing site is much better in terms of information organization and design. I can very quickly get to the content I want, and pass over any topics I'm not interested in. I typically don't even look at Make and Java blogs, for example, because those just aren't within my interests. And I can look through everything with a minimum of scrolling.

With the new site, it's all jumbled together in chronological order, but when it was posted has little relevance to me in terms of determining interest. Everything's the same size and relevance so it's hard to distinguish one form of content from another. And the huge block ad on the front page sucks up about 1/3rd of the top of the front page, yet another thing that gets in the way of my finding what I want to read. (It's one thing to throw ads at me when you've got my attention and interest, another thing entirely to put ads in front of me when I'm still trying to figure out if I want to read something on your site...)

I can see why this type of format would be useful for an RSS feed, but as a homepage design, in all honesty I feel it's a step backwards. It takes me 3 times as long to scan this page for relevant info, and that probably means I'll visit less often and gravitate to other sites.

And, one last thing. I don't know if it matters much to others, but I like to know who is writing what I'm reading. In the new site, that's much more obscured and often even missing. In this day and age where information is pushed at you from a hundred different directions, the source of the info becomes more important when you're trying to filter out things that may not be useful/relevant to you. If I found a lot of a particular author's articles interesting or informative, I start clicking on links even when I'm not sure if the topic will interest me.

Please take this all as constructive criticism. I read the site daily and find it's one of my favorite sources on the net for content that is focused on the technical, and not political, aspects of emerging technologies and methodologies. So I really like the site and would like to see it continue to be the excellent resource it always has been.

2005-09-13 19:59:38
CSS Layout
O'Reilly, it's time to step up to the plate and upgrade to a CSS Layout, just like SitePoint.com did more than 2 years ago :)
2005-09-13 20:43:31
It's Better How?
I compared the two sites together side by side and I think the new design makes it much more difficult to find the content that I want.

Please do not embed kitschy little logos and photos into the main content layout. It only obscures the content I really want to see.

I greatly prefer an organized list on the right for each Radar, Make, Blogs, Annoyances and Java. I can discern what I want to read faster.

If you insist on following the tradition of some print media by including an unnecessary photo of the author, please keep it on the actual article page and not on the list of articles.

On the current design I can scan the page and read the title of 13 articles on my monitor. In the new design, I can only read 6 articles. That means that I will have to work twice as hard to find the material I want.

2005-09-14 00:44:20
Why not join the new Web, some people call it 2.0, and drop the banners in favor of textads.
The new design is nice and clean. Not sure if it's easier to browse though.
2005-09-14 01:04:16
old is better
The current site is superior. The main content on the new site is way too compressed in order to make way for the sidebars.

And indeed get rid of the flash ads now that you have the chance :)

2005-09-14 06:23:29
It's Better How?
Actually, I don't feel that the logos themselves are a problem, but instead, its their implementation.

This is just me, but as a web developer/designer, I think it would be better to have a set of icons for each topic (and even a catch-all Blog icon) and place them to the left of each list item. You could decrease the size of them if you wish (and do away with the photos, I agree).

But my overall point is that with some kind of icon for everything on the left, it could appear more like specialized bullets applied by topic rather than some obligatory icon off to the upper right.

2005-09-14 06:40:38
Another vote for the existing layout
When I hit the oreillynet site, I look for:

new articles

new weblogs, make blog entries, and radar entries but not java or annoyances.

You defeat the purpose of having different threads (Radar, Make, Java,etc.) if you then go and mix them all together.

2005-09-14 07:05:58
Too hard to scan for new content
I read new articles, and I read new blogs and features that are listed to the right. Being able to quickly peruse those titles is important to me, and I was already saddened by there being so little space that sometime's one days' updates push new entries off the oreillynet main page.
2005-09-14 08:10:45
Old is better
I deem the current site excellent --hands down over the beta site.
2005-09-14 08:28:00
new is good; content suggestion
I like the new layout fine. I would like to suggest a learning section for newer geeks with more basic skills sections. I am often very interested in what is offered, but don't yet have the background to fully understand what articles are referring to sometimes, especially regarding UNIX/Linux, although I am learning as fast as I can!
2005-09-14 08:35:08
prefer old
I prefer the higher information density
per square inch of the old site. For me,
the graphics sprinkled an the new web page
don't add much. On the old, deleting the
graphics, would be ok.
2005-09-14 09:06:39
Old site is better because...
The old site is much, much better, because when I log into that, as opposed to using the link to the new site from the e-mail invite, I don't get a message saying "FORBIDDEN, You don't have permission to access /beta/" on this server." Other than that, I would say the page is very lacking in information.
2005-09-14 11:24:09
Beta better? Not really
I agree that the additional graphics don't really add anything except to reduce the density of information. O'Reilly's fame comes from technical density. O'Reilly is the "go to" source for IT knowledge with reduced brand marketing. I suggest that the sponsorship and advertising be restricted and those founding and successful instincts be maintained.
2005-09-14 22:16:05
The existing, higher-information density site is preferable. Like others, I strongly dislike the mixing of different sources. Having Radar, blogs, and Make separate is great, because I read the first two regularly and the latter rarely. Mixing it together and having fewer article links per page is a huge step backwards.
2005-09-16 09:30:54
Good, but...
The 'In case you missed...' section is too wide and too long, it makes it look like two of the same things, i.e articles flow from left to right(two columns) instead of straight down on the left on both sides, I personally think the 'In case you..' section should indicate what area the article is from, maybe with an icon(i.e. macdevcenter or java, etc). I like the way the way the articles go straight down(in a list), the icons were nice(the featured ones at the top, the row of three of four) but it wasn't easy to tell quickly when visiting the page if the article is new or not(also sometimes there would be a rush of articles and then I naturally would go down the list and see where I missed some), from time to time I missed the icon and dismissed that there wasn't any new articles. I also like the blogs to be there, I wouldn't normally read the blogs until I see something interesting there on the right. The icons aligned to the left of the brief summary of the articles are nice. Obviously this helps to show the area they cover, but this should also in a smaller icon be shown in the 'In case..' area. The idea of 'In case...' is great I sometimes look back at the archive and asked how I missed an article which had some gold. Keep up the good work, I hope my suggestions help. :p
2005-09-21 16:44:18
Existing site easier to scan/browse
2005-09-26 17:20:16
Right column useless?
I'm a daily reader of O'reilly network, but this beta page is making me nervous.

Giving nearly equal width to the right and left columns makes it very hard to read. Because there is too much text in the right column, I get the impression that I have to read the page twice to be sure that no new article has come in.

When scanning the page, my eyes are restricted in a vertical movement, because horizontally, the information is staggered and is very hard to take in. Its like having two timelines in a single page.

Honestly, I don't see the point for making the "In case you missed it..." column. In the age of RSS, nobody is going to miss anything, if they cared enough.