Site design suggestions?

We're working on some tweaks, and are open to suggestions.

From Robert Niles
Posted January 31, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Hi everyone,

I'm working on some tweaks to the site design, to go up next week or so. If you have any requests/suggestions for changes, here's your opportunity to let me know.

Also, along with the design changes, we'll be bringing more writers to the front page of the site. They'll all be familiar names -- people who've been contributing to both the blog and the discussion board before. But they've agreed to take on more frequent posting, allowing us to have more posts on the front page on a daily basis.

I'm still looking for a few more writers, especially from the Orlando area. If you live in or near Orlando, have an annual pass to the parks, and enjoy taking photos and/or writing about food, hotels and/or attractions, let me know. We'd love to include you on the site, too.


From TH Creative
Posted February 1, 2013 at 7:28 AM
What I would really like to see is a best theme park related video awards. I'd be happy to work with you to create rules and categories.

From Russell Meyer
Posted February 1, 2013 at 7:43 AM
It would be nice to have more of a newspaper format on the front page with story excerpts instead of the entire story that limits the number of articles on the front page. If you're planning on producing more content, it would be nice if the content were more easily accessible for a longer amount of time.

From Don Neal
Posted February 1, 2013 at 8:06 AM
Here are some thoughts. By the way, I am a consultant for an IBM partner and web solutions are our focus so a lot of this is based on best practices. Totally aside from that, I am happy to even do a Skype session with you and anyone else on generating ideas or discussing any of this. All for free of course, not trying to make a business pitch just offering my insights from experience.

::Home Page
A layout that would allow for more stories showing above the fold would be great. "The fold" is where the content on the home screen stops without someone scrolling down. There are a couple of options for organizing that content.

One option would be by park or by park owner (i.e. Disney World versus Magic Kingdom, Cedar Fair vs Cedar Point). Another option is to organize based on where the content originated. So maybe something like the following "Editorial Articles", "BlogFlume", "CommunityContributions", "Food&Travel", "Tips", "Latest Forum Discussions", and "Top Category Lists" such as top theme parks, top rides, top this, top that.

Other widgets or features on the home page that make sense are the social media links, search, news by email registration, and of course navigation to the site. It also might be worth considering a more photo oriented carousel that would feature the latest stories or can be used to bring attention to an area of the site that was just added or recently updated.

For the news articles, it would be good to go towards a title, date added, small photo of sorts, and teaser text with a "Read More" link that would then take them to the detail or expand that area to reveal the story. This would allow you to get much more content on the screen.

::News Detail
Once you click into the story, there are all kinds of things you can add to spice it up such as video or picture galleries, recommended stories, and related stories.

::Forum Threads
It would be great to get more width on the forum threads so that you can see more of a post without scrolling. Going from a 3 column layout to a two column layout would help a lot. Right now ads are there so perhaps that is needed to help cover costs. Going from a fixed width design to one that scales with how wide your browser window is could help with that as well. The right and left columns stay fixed but the middle one would stretch allowing more content to show.

Some of these may be more significant than what you had in mind for this update but something to keep in mind for future revisions. Overall I love the site and have been coming here for over 7 years. Its great to see the continued investment in the site and the community. Thanks Robert!

From Dominick D
Posted February 1, 2013 at 9:08 AM
I wouldn't mind being a writer since I'm only 50 minutes from Orlando and go on a monthly basis to WDW and Universal.

From Brian Emery
Posted February 1, 2013 at 10:43 AM
I Personally would not change a thing… It is the best site in the World…

Well actually now that you mention it… I love financials and stocks… You could have a small section reflecting stock prices of Theme parks…
Disney = DIS + Current Stock Price
Cedar Fair = Fun + Current Stock Price

Maybe an expert section: Where a user can ask certain experts’ advice for anything about vacations. These sections responses will only be answered by a select few. Kinda like a Dear Abby – we ask for advice and receive a well thought out answer…

And sell some damn Tee Shirts…

From Brian Emery
Posted February 1, 2013 at 10:23 AM
You could keep degenerates like me off this site - Then this site would be tremendously better…

“Don’t Fret me Brother, Sticky Bun come soon”.

From James Trexen
Posted February 1, 2013 at 11:06 AM
The only thing I would suggest is more organization/accessibility on archived discussions. Rather than having to continuously click on "Previous Discussion Threads", develop a system where old threads can easily be seen, thus eliminating some potential of redundant threads.

From Rob Pastor
Posted February 1, 2013 at 1:22 PM
The back pages of the site are OK but I would suggest a change in the front page. Presently you have to scroll down through the entirety of each article, which gives the last posted article precedence over the rest even though it may be the least interesting. I would think the following articles receive less interest as they drop in rank. It seems there is a large drop in discussion posting once a topic drops a few notches even though it might have been posted very recently. I believe it would be more manageable if the title of the topic and a brief synopsis were posted in a box that you could click on to read the rest. That seems to be the way most other theme park sites are set up and it makes it easier to follow threads that may have been posted earlier that day or week. As an example, there is a very long article presently on the front page and you have to scroll for a long time to get to the next post. I think some discussions get lost in the morass of print.

From Lisa Estrada
Posted February 3, 2013 at 7:52 AM
How about something other than the boring tan sidebars? Seems like a waste of space. Some pictures that change weekly would be really nice!

From Andrew Dougherty
Posted February 3, 2013 at 1:33 PM
The ability to rate closed attractions.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 3, 2013 at 6:24 PM
^I'm not gonna beat around the bush. I think that's a really stupid idea.

From AJ Hummel
Posted February 3, 2013 at 5:28 PM
For the home page, I think it would be good to display a preview of the most recent article in a given category instead of just listing the articles sequentially. For example, you could have boxes for the categories "Disney News," "Universal News," "Other Park News," "TPI Features," and other appropriate categories arranged in an attractive format, and in each box a picture and the first three or four lines of text from the most recent article would appear. Clicking on the image would link to the full article. The archives would also be sorted by these categories so it would be easy to find an old article (if implemented, I'd categorize everything within the past year and then leave everything else in an "older archive" as is).

If possible, perhaps the vote of the week and other polls could be done in the sidebar. Only the poll need be posted, and a link could be available for the full article.

For the park rating pages, it would be a good idea to go through and update them. I've noticed several attractions that are no longer operating but haven't been removed yet, as well as rides that changed names several years ago but are still listed under their old names. The layout and format is good (although it might be a good idea to have the top text in a uniform format), but the listings are out of date. I could think of a few parks that should maybe be added, but that's not really a design thing.

Finally, on the discussion boards, it would be really nice to have the previous posts visible while writing your reply. It would be easier to have a post you're responding to visible directly above or below the reply box instead of having to open a new tab/window and keep switching between the two.

From Karly Tenney
Posted February 3, 2013 at 8:32 PM
^agreed AJ

From Robert Niles
Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:36 PM
I wanted to note that (except for the Disney and Universal parks), any registered member should be able to submit updates to the park listings. You can click the "[Update this description]" link to submit a name change or status change for any listed attraction or restaurant. If there's a change needed for a Disney or Universal listing, please just email me and I'll get to it ASAP.

From Tim W
Posted February 7, 2013 at 5:58 AM
I honestly like the clean and easy to navigate layout of the current TPI. However, I am certainly not opposed to seeing something with a bit more flare and modern feel to the site. I would just be cautious of this because I feel that some sites have failed once they drastically changed their web design (Miceage, JMH). Maybe what would be best is to test under certain templates and request user feedback.

One thing that I would like to see change is the color scheme. I'd like to see something different than blue, gold, green, and tan.

From Chad H
Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:51 AM
I'd love to see an international expansion...

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:38 PM
Looks very nice so far!!

From David L.
Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:40 PM
When I first got on the computer I said to myself, "Did I type in the wrong site address?" I think the new design is better, but it still doesn't fix the find really old threads easily problem (unless I missed something).

From Tim W
Posted February 10, 2013 at 5:37 PM
I like the new design alot. I think rotating pictures at the top will be a great idea. One thing I forgot to suggest, that I'm not sure if was mentioned, but is to eliminate the capping at 100 posts.

From Dominick D
Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:37 PM
I go to Universal for a day and this is what happens. Looks pretty good!

From Anthony Murphy
Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:06 PM
I went bowling and then came back to this....

Excellent so far! Make sure to go and update your information!

From Tyler Bell
Posted February 11, 2013 at 8:53 PM
Love the new design, is there a mobile app coming?

From Andy Milito
Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:19 PM
One question (may not be related): are the ads in the middle of the thread going to be a permanent thing?

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:30 PM
Well, they've been there a while, and ads support the I may not be Mr. Niles but my guess would be "YES."

From Andy Milito
Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:09 AM
^ Makes sense... I just think they look goofy right in the middle of the thread.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:17 AM
Well, that's the only spot where a reader is FORCED to see it.

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