The New Dish: Your Thoughts

Feb 5 2013 @ 11:09am

dish-launch-reax

Yes. My brother also kindly pointed that out to me on the phone yesterday. A reader writes:

Congratulations on the new site! Clean, simple, requisite beagle presence – everything the Internet should be. I have to say I’m shocked at how unusual it is not to see any ads or large blocks of white-space from ad-blocking software! It feels a bit weird, like the site is too perfectly formed. My brain is just so used to tuning out extraneous garbage. It certainly was worth the subscription! Thanks for all your hard work!

As another puts it, “Your site is a perfect visual equivalent to your brand of conservatism: clean, straightforward, and keeping the best of the old without the clutter.” Another asks:

Remember when you had a darker background? Can we have that as an option again?

The new Dish has an echo of that old color. To see it, just highlight any of blog’s text. And for a fun effect, press Command-A (or Ctrl-A on PCs). It’s back to 2001! Another reader notes the faster page-load speed:

Congratulations!  Love the new space!  As this is the site I refresh most frequently, not having it suck my browser resources to load ads and busy cross-promotional sidebars is more than worth whatever it was I paid.

Another:

A mobile optimized site! Can it really be?? This alone is worth the subscription price.

Another adds, “Finally, I can read you on Android!” Another:

Among my favorite new features is your kick-ass search.  I’ve been looking for this post about Lem Billings for ages, and searching on Google had always been fruitless.  Found it using your new search engine in a few seconds (“jfk gay” was my query; was always struck by that passage you quoted by his friend Lem Billings and your little homily to friendship at the end).

Another:

The baying beagle representing the ‘I’ in Dish is wonderful.  The beagle has long been the Dish’s mascot, but intended or not, I can’t think of an animal more suited to represent Andrew than one howling at the moon.  Is he gobsmacked by the rehashing of a flight from Texas to Alaska?  Ranting about circumcision? Prickling at a perceived slight elsewhere in the blogosphere?  Singing along to the PSBs?  Perhaps he just needs a few ginger snaps.

About that seemingly spartan masthead.  I have an idea to kill a few birds with one stone.  You have the space in that masthead (or perhaps prominently atop the sidebar) to embed the week’s VFYW contest.  Just slap the window view up there with a link.  This would make it a much easier post to return to in case we wish to research it in multiple sessions, and as you’ve already decided the answer to the contest would be a coercion tactic to sign up members, it would make for a subtle subscription drive as well.  I can’t help but think that the weekly window view teasing me in the corner will bring me back for another round of futile sleuthing.

A great idea; we will probably give the window contest a permanent presence in the sidebar. But I love all that white space on top. Looks like freedom to my eyes. Alas, the ginger snaps disappeared with the gluten-free regimen. I only liked the Nabisco version and they’re never gonna be gluten-free. Now for the criticisms:

Were you not wearing your glasses when you proofed the design!? Turn down the font size! It looks like one of my father’s ebooks.

I think we got an equal amount of emails asking us to increase the type-font. We’ll revisit it after our eyes get used to the new, spacier design. Another:

I like the new look and I think, god, I can only pray, that my iPad crashes on the site were caused by the Javascript stubs on the ads. I have to give it a workout, but I hope they were the problem of my crashes. But as a retired IT project manager, congrats on what appears to be a successful migration. I’ve done several of these things and your last minute frenzy is typical. You can imagine what it would take to bring a whole company of several thousand people over to a new system. Glad I was able to contribute to a subscription to make this happen.

The new site and mobile versions have had a variety of glitches since Monday morning, but things have gone smoothly for the most part. Chas, Chris and the Tinypass team have been working all day to answer your questions and troubleshoot any difficulties. You can reach them at support@andrewsullivan.com. One technical issue we are on top of:

My office network blocks access to your new site because it is tagged as a social networking site.  I imagine others may have similar problems with corporate networks that block access to social networks. I don’t know how that tagging is determined, but I had the same problem when you were first hosted at the Beast.

We are already in process of correcting this. Another reader:

There should be an “email the Dish about this post” link at the bottom of each post, alongside the Twitter and Facebook buttons. I’ve emailed you only a couple times, but here’s what I’ve gone through each time: copy the post URL, scroll around until finding the “email Andrew” link, paste the URL into the email window … That’s pretty inconvenient, and frustrating in its petty way. I’m sure other readers have experienced this small frustration.

We initially left off an email button in order to cut down on clutter and page-load speed, but many readers have suggested bringing it back, so we will. Very soon. More constructive criticism from a reader:

Congratulations on getting it up and running! As a web developer, believe me when I say I understand what a Herculean task that can be, regardless of how prepared you are. Anyway, new site looks different and will take some getting used to, but I did want to suggest that you increase the contrast between the post and the background space, and that you add some noise to your page header/masthead. Right now the whole page comes off as way too white. It looks more like an 8th grade book report than a professional web publication. Some borders or texturing might help too.

Signing in was easy and straightforward, hopefully your other subscribers have the same experience. And whoever your artist is, the new graphics are fantastic – especially the cartoon versions of Chris and Patrick. Happy to see them out from behind the curtain!

Our cartoonist is the brilliant Terry Colon, whose work we are going to feature in an upcoming post soon. Another reader:

Just subscribed today. I hope that a lot of people were like me and waiting to see the makeup and look of the new site (which is great), and you’ll get a raft of money coming in this week. Just wanted to say that I never pay for or subscribe to any sites like this, ever – until yours. Unprecedented behavior on my part. Thanks for helping me surprise myself.

A reader who subscribed on January 2nd:

Do you not understand that many readers will want to donate a small amount RIGHT NOW when they read something that they particularly like? Where is the option to do so? You’re apparently still caught up in old-media payment models, where subscribers pay for a set amount of access time. This is fine, but many people will ALSO want to vote with their wallets for stuff they like. So far, that’s just not possible on the new Dish, and so you’re leaving money on the table.

We are trying to stay away from the tip jar model, but the Dish is currently developing a gifting option through Tinypass where you will be able to buy subscriptions for friends and family. We are hoping to launch it soon. Another writes:

I’ll admit, I was hesitant to join the club. I’m a generally frugal college student mindful of a budget and was initially planning on consuming my daily Dish the way I’ve always done once the meter hit: my trusty Google Reader. But that plan went out the window this morning.

Browsing through the Dish’s feed on my Google Reader, I saw that the favicon had changed to the WordPress “W” (maybe someone should get on that…). I was curious to see what the new site looked like, so I hopped over to dish.andrewsullivan.com and knew what I had to do. It was time to subscribe.

Clean lines, good typography, no ads, snappy response for an initial build, focus on the words and visuals – this is what an online experience is meant to be. You know how drinking a Coke from a glass bottle just tastes better? Sometimes I think that blogs are meant to be consumed the same way: in their original environment. I normally use an app like Reeder to read my RSS feeds, but who knows now… things can change.

One of my favorite things about The Dish is its community, carefully led by its awesome team. I’ve always been really interested in different ways of defining a community. You can have communities of place, where people are brought together by where they live, work or visit. There are also communities of interest, which are collections of people knitted together by similar interests or passions. One of my favorites is the idea of a community of memory, where the people have not only a shared history, but a shared sense of what they want to see in the future. The Dish is all of these, through and through.

I’ve been part of this “community” for years now. When I first got interested in politics, volunteering for a young senator from Illinois before I could vote, I voraciously read anything that was worth reading. As I’ve grown, the Dish has been a constant as I try to pull my dreams of a brighter future to present. Part of the reason why I subscribed was that I wanted to take a more active role in trying to shape the Dish’s conversation on how to do that (and have a little fun, too).

So take my $21, my current age. Ideally, that number will climb upwards as I continue to be part of the Dish community in the years to come. So here’s to more reasoned debate, links from reddit, beautiful videos and lively conversation.

You can join the Dish now by clicking the red subscribe button in the upper-right corner of the blog. The next few days are crucial to convert some of you fence-sitters to supporters, since the seven free read-ons are running out for some. If that’s you, you’ve been kinda busted already as a Dishhead. Please help us keep you part of this community.

(Photos provided by readers)