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adamzerner comments on Feedback on LW 2.0 - Less Wrong Discussion

11 Post author: Viliam 01 October 2017 03:18PM

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Comment author: Viliam 01 October 2017 03:24:49PM *  12 points [-]

I don't know if there is a Schelling point for providing feedback, so I made this thread.

Speaking for myself, my reaction to LW 2.0 could be summarized as: "This is so confusing and so difficult to figure out, that I'll just... leave it for later." Before I get to the individual complaints, here is the meta one:

If you want to change dozen things about a website, don't change them all at the same time. For the user, some of them will feel like an improvement, and others may feel like an opposite of improvement; but all of them feel like an extra cognitive burden. So even if of those dozen changes 7 are in the positive and 5 in the negative direction, the overall impression may still be negative. Also, consider loss aversion; people will be more annoyed by losing a feature they liked.

Now the details:

The font seems to be bigger, and the spaces between lines also seem bigger. (I didn't actually measure it; this is my impression from looking at the page.) As a result it feels like there is much less content on the screen, which makes it more difficult to perceive as a whole, reduces my efficiency of speed reading, and makes me push Page Down more often. In general it creates what I call a "Facebook experience", where you keep pressing Page Down till your fingers hurt.

The font is blurry, and gray instead of black. So despite the text being larger, the smaller contrast makes it actually more difficult to read. Ironically, the only thing that should be less visible against the background -- the upvote and downvote buttons you didn't click -- is visible enough, so I have a problem to quickly see whether I did or didn't vote on the article.

The screen area containing the text is not limited, making it more difficult for my eyes to scan the lines. (Yes, this is a repeated topic in my complaints: it feels as if the page was optimized in various aspects to slow down my reading speed.) On LW1, the parts of the screen containing the text has white background, the sides have a light gray background; when reading the text I am barely aware that those sides exist. On LW2 the text is floating in the large ocean of white background; I am reading on a wide monitor, and my eyes are constantly jumping to the edges of the screen. (No, I am not going to change the size of my browser window to fit LW2; all other websites are okay with me keeping the window maximized.)

The new content is displayed in a what seems like a random order. Yeah, it can be changed. But then I will create a bubble for myself where what I see is quite different from what other people see, so I hesitate about that.

The comments don't have boxes, so it is difficult to see where one comment ends and another comment starts, or which comment replies to which one.

...I guess this is enough complaints for one comment. Trying to be a bit more constructive, I guess the easiest solution for my problems would be to create a CSS stylesheet which would try to make LW2 visually as similar as possible to LW1. Like, seriously, look at LW1, look at Hacker News, look at Slashdot, look at Reddit... all those websites use small fonts with sharp edges. It probably happened for a reason.

Comment author: adamzerner 02 October 2017 12:52:22AM *  1 point [-]

The font seems to be bigger, and the spaces between lines also seem bigger. "On the web, the op­ti­mal size is 15–25 pixels.". "line spacing 120–145% of the point size"

Looks like LW 2.0 is using a 20px font size, and 25px line height, which is in range of what is recommended.

The font is blurry, and gray instead of black.

NN Group supports what you're saying, although the text on LW 2.0 looks plenty dark to me.

The comments don't have boxes, so it is difficult to see where one comment ends and another comment starts, or which comment replies to which one.

Agreed.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 02 October 2017 01:35:37AM 1 point [-]

Looks like LW 2.0 is using a 20px font size, and 25px line height, which is in range of what is recommended.

Correction: the body text has font size 19px, line height 32px (ratio of ~168%). This is definitely too widely spaced.

Comment author: Habryka 02 October 2017 07:15:38PM *  1 point [-]

Yeah, this was a bug I accidentally seem to have introduced a bit ago. I apologize. The correct ratio I wanted to use was the one that Tufte CSS uses, which is 21px size to 30px height, which is a much more reasonable ratio. (This will be fixed in the next few days)

Comment author: Habryka 06 October 2017 09:16:02AM 2 points [-]

This is fixed now.

Comment author: adamzerner 02 October 2017 02:10:05AM 0 points [-]

It might depend on screen size.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 02 October 2017 03:11:22AM 0 points [-]

It does not.

Comment author: adamzerner 02 October 2017 05:50:46AM *  1 point [-]

At https://www.lesserwrong.com/sequences, when I open up Chrome's dev tools on my 13 inch Macbook Pro with a macOS Sierra OS, the computed value of font-size for the paragraph of main text is 20px, and the computed value of line-height is 25px. But on https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/AmaWMMWPzuQ62Ernf/against-individual-iq-worries I'm getting the same values you mentioned. So I assume it at least depends on what type of post is being displayed.

Comment author: Jiro 11 October 2017 07:35:54PM *  0 points [-]

Looks like LW 2.0 is using a 20px font size, and 25px line height, which is in range of what is recommended.

Is "what was recommended" similar to "mistakes were made"? It blames it on someone else, while leaving the "someone else" unnamed.

Existing recommendations about text size (and particularly, about not fitting too much text on a line) do not consider that Lesswrong has a different usage pattern than most sites. There are references dating back to 1971, but I can't figure out if any scientific studies were actually conducted at the time to determine this, and at any rate, printed text is not the web.

Also, beware of using some recommendation just because it's easy to measure.

This is basically breaking the site in order to fit "recommendations". LW 2.0 is bad, and everyone involved should feel bad. It is fundamentally designed around a bad idea.

Comment author: gjm 12 October 2017 04:30:59PM 1 point [-]

It is fundamentally designed around a bad idea.

That seems rather extreme. What specific bad idea do you mean?

(Context here suggests that it's something like "the idea that typographical choices for LW2 should match those for the web as a whole", but even if LW2's design makes that assumption and even if it's a bad assumption it doesn't seem fundamental enough to justify your last paragraph.)

Comment author: Jiro 12 October 2017 08:45:16PM *  0 points [-]

Context here suggests that it's something like "the idea that typographical choices for LW2 should match those for the web as a whole"

The idea that the study of typographical choices for the web is a mature science whose (nontrivial) recommendations can all be taken at face value.

Comment author: gjm 15 October 2017 02:58:32PM 1 point [-]

So LW2 (as a whole, it seems) is bad and everyone involved should feel bad ... because the people who designed it think that web typography is a mature science whose recommendations can be taken at face value?

Maybe I'm being dim, but that seems really strange to me. It isn't clear to me what even makes you confident that they think that; I'm not sure what it means to say that something is designed around that idea (it can be designed via a process that assumes that idea, I guess, but that really isn't the same); and getting from there to "LW2 is bad and everyone involved should feel bad" seems like an enormous leap.

I wonder whether I'm missing some vital context here.

Comment author: username2 12 October 2017 09:41:09AM 0 points [-]

The recommendation by "someone else" is anything but anonymous, adamzerner's comment quotes and links directly from Matthew Butterick, author of the online book that provides said guidance (and also explicitly makes the point about print vs. online).

While I fully agree with you about strong distaste for the visual design of LW2 (at least using default display settings in the current beta) you have failed to make a valid argument here.