Walking away from Slashdot: a story of design

July 24, 2006

A while back I wrote about the two faces of RSS, in the process of which I held up Slashdot as an example of a site where I preferred the actual site to the syndication feed by a large margin, and why.

I have to change that, because Slashdot has lost me as a regular visitor to their website, and what Slashdot stuff I read nowadays is almost entirely through their RSS feed. It's for the traditional reasons: a website redesign that actually injected 'design'.

Slashdot used to show me the article text (the most important thing) in my preferred font at my preferred text size. In the redesigned Slashdot, they don't; instead they commit the most common problem of setting the important text in a reduced text size. They also force their text to be set in sans-serif (whatever that is in any particular browser), instead of my default font.

I can fix a too-small font size, but the problem is I have to keep fixing it every time around. And that's been enough to push me away, and since the Slashdot RSS feed is not really a good substitute I read a bunch less Slashdot these days. (Some people would say that this is about time, or long since overdue; personally it makes me a bit sad.)

(I am not interested enough to do something with Firefox's GreaseMonkey. Possibly some user CSS stylesheet magic would do it too; perhaps this will be an incentive to learn about that particular obscure Firefox feature. But really, Slashdot has persuaded me not to care.)

Slashdot isn't by any means alone in this sort of stuff; people do this to their websites all the time. At one level I can say I have no idea why, but at another level I suspect I do: people feel that the browser defaults are bad. (Are they? I don't know.)

Written on 24 July 2006.
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Last modified: Mon Jul 24 01:32:06 2006
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