Introducing our new Front Page (July 2020)

In early July, almost four months after we invited the Daily Kos community to use the new design and offer feedback, we began the next step of introducing site users to the new Daily Kos front page. The release is explained in detail here.

The new page differs in a number of ways from the old page, some visible to the user and some not. The new design is meant to function more like a site index page, providing more headlines at a glance with just enough information about each story to encourage a user to click through to the full story page.

This change allows us to get more stories on the front page to accommodate the amazing work of over a thousand distinct writers in a single month, which includes both community and staff. The blog format works well for a site that hosts a handful of writers, but less well for a firehose of over 100 stories a day. Great stories written at the wrong time of day scroll away before they can be seen. We have some bandaids that we apply to get around this, including the amazing people at Community Spotlight, but they’re all workarounds. If you’re a regular reader and you missed one of the linked stories above announcing the front page changes, that is evidence that the front page didn’t give you all the information you wanted and needed.

The new design offers more visibility to some specific efforts that are important to our shared mission of progressive activism. Now, original stories from Daily Kos Elections, Daily Kos Liberation League, and Prism, meant to highlight key areas where we can collectively make a difference, are easy to find. Civiqs has a larger dedicated area featuring noteworthy poll results in a format that is easier to read and more useful than the tiny banner that felt like an ad instead of information. “Trending” stories (formerly known as the Recommended List) have a more prominent place than offered by the old sidebar display. “Recent Community Stories” highlights the latest from the community, with staff stories filtered out. Popular and active Community Groups are highlighted with randomized rotation to bring forward the niches that those groups address with their own vibrant subcommunities.

The less-obvious improvements in the Front Page design involve coding for a far wider array of devices and displays than the old one could easily accommodate. Responsive design enables a more consistent experience for users across platforms, from 2 inches to 2 feet in screen width. These changes also pave the way for increasing site accessibility along a number of different axes. Generally, the new design gives us much more flexibility to adapt the page for special coverage and to include special features without needing to rebuild the whole page from scratch.

Regarding Community real estate on the new Front Page, please see this comment by elfling where she also expresses her appreciation of users’ fondness for the old Front Page, which she helped design:

[The new Front Page is] also meant to be more friendly to people who can’t use a mouse, to people who need to be able to customize their display, who use screenreaders, and other assistive tech. We want to better highlight all the community groups that produce amazing content, and make it easier to find important community stories….There are more stories on this new page, and more community stories in particular. What was the old “recent list” has staff stories filtered out in the two places it appears, so that you can get to the community goodness. The top section of recent community stories is much higher on the page than on the old front page. Community stories are given a billing more equal to staff stories — which used to hog the real estate of the page.

Our plan is to continue a gradual rollout of the new page. In small percentages for now, gradually increasing over time, users will be automatically routed to the old or the new page with each site session. Logged-in users can switch between versions by clicking a link displayed at the bottom of the user drop-down menu, “Switch to old/new frontpage design.” Anonymous users can use these links to switch:
To reach the old FP display, go to https://www.dailykos.com/softlaunch/set_default
To reach the new FP display, go to https://www.dailykos.com/softlaunch/set_default?to_new_page=true

We are still very interested in user feedback. We’ve opened a category at Helpdesk for new Front Page questions and commentary. If you open a ticket there, please provide details about the type of device you’re using, its operating system and browser, along with as much specific information you can supply about your question or issue. Helpdesk does permit the upload of screenshots, which usually facilitate explanation and diagnosis.

We remain fully committed to fulfilling our slogan, “News you can do something about.” The new design will help us grow the progressive coalition we need to accomplish the social transformation we all seek.