Our web site upgrade (BETA) reminds me of a local restaurant in my area. The owner painted the storefront a hideous purple, the sort of color that is an insult to all buildings. He did it without city approval, and it got the residents up in arms. Everyone was talking about the restaurant with the awful color. A month later, the owner repainted with an inoffensive color and everyone was happy. In the meantime, the controversy made this restaurant universally known in the area. I drove past it the other day and it was packed. Damn, I wish I had thought of that idea with my own restaurant.

We weren't nearly that clever with our web site redesign, but something like the purple restaurant happened by accident. The majority of people who left a comment had bitter (and totally valid) complaints. We used way too much Flash, the servers slowed to a crawl, the navigation of strips was klunky, and so on. We plan to fix all of that in the next week or two. The developers won't be getting much sleep. We've already made the site much quicker.

Meanwhile, traffic on Dilbert.com doubled. And the new features, particular the Mash Ups and the archive search functions are a big hit. People either loved that the strips are now in color or hated it, but everyone had a strong opinion. That's what I love about Dilbert readers. It makes my job a lot more interesting.

Linux users were the most vocal in their complaints. (Who saw that coming?) Your numbers are small but your power is mighty. Just for you, we're working on a bare bones page with only the strips, text navigation, and not much else. Look for that in a week or so. You'll be able to jump from there to the main page if you want to experience the new features like regular folk.

In the meantime, you can always use the new (legal) Dilbert RSS feed. It's just the strips, the way you like it. Click here:

We appreciate all the comments. We're looking at them carefully and making changes. Some will say we shouldn't have inflicted this messy Beta version on the public. There's merit to that argument, but if I was worried about embarrassing myself in front of millions of people, I would need a new job.

Thanks for working with me through this upgrade. I apologize for the messy start.

P.S. My blog hasn't officially moved to this page yet. You can read the regular posts at the old site:
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+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 22, 2008
Scott, I second the opinion of those who are impressed with your attitude. You've gotten a lot of outright hate and insults in response to what was obviously a LOT of creativity and hard work on your part. That is rough. Thanks for not giving up on us when we behave like... well, human beings. One important thing first and then my own personal list of things to improve, because I know you are just *hanging on my every word*.

IMPORTANT THING: Listen to the people saying that the Linux complaints aren't primarily about a bare-bones site. I'd hate to have you go to all the effort of maintaining two sites only to have no one use it. The features will draw people in over time. People who just want the comics will use the feeds and whatnot. I'd just loosen the browser checks and restrictions if I were you, and leave it at that.

MY LIST (For your immediate and undivided attention, of course):

1. Mashups are shows in a list at half-size initially, and at full-size there is no way to navigate through them that I could see. Navigation would be good, but just showing them at full-size initially would be even better. We're only reading one panel at that point, and almost any load time or navigation effort gets old fast.

2. "Top-rated" search should factor in number of reviews, so that a single 5-star review doesn't push something to the top. Seems like that's happening in a few places.

3. Comments are less prominent in the blog. Having them paginated and only accessible initially via a link is going to cut down on participation, and that's where the energy of the blog comes from. More like the old blog, please.

4. Having daily strips in color ROCKS, but the colors are certainly a bit harsh and unnatural. If you could get them to be more like the Sunday strips on the old site that would be dandy.

5. I've watched all the animations and was waiting with anticipation to hear Dogbert, since you said you liked that one particularly. I know this is hugely subjective, but I have to say that overall the voices are a big let-down. I'm spoiled from the cartoon, I know. But those were just so perfect that these pale in comparison. I actually thought Dogbert's was the worst, compared to the cartoon. Somehow everyone in the new strip sounds kind of dumb and one-dimensional, and in the cartoon most people sounded smart (even the boss in his own way) and there were layers of sarcasm, dismissal, resignation and superiority that could easily be distinguished. If the cartoon voice-acting was an A , I'd give the animations a C-.

6. I wish that you had a special feature where *you* picked out any mashups that you felt were as good or better than the original strip, and highlighted them along with the strip in the future. That would give us all something to strive for, and the simple fact is that with so many people trying, and with you giving us free advice on how to be funny all the time, we're bound to beat you once a week or so. Look at it this way: as long as you write the terms of service in your favor, you can end up getting all of the credit and money for work that *we* do. I think that's funny. Maybe even ironic.
Apr 22, 2008
Dear Scott, as a software development manager I feel your pain. But here is an EXTREMELY important fact. Beta's are for testing with a limited audience. Production is for the !$%*!$% Your IT folks imposed the Beta on everyone. Fact: Flash is slow, prone to java errors and generally ticks off the user group. Recommendation: Go back to the old site until your folks provide a viable proof of concept. With the new registered users of the Beta site, I am sure you can get some people to volunteer to review the Beta after the fixes are rolled out. Won't resolve the overall junk that Flash is, but it is a step in the right direction.
Apr 22, 2008
My account was deleted with the new website design.
Apr 22, 2008
My account was deleted with the nw website design.
Apr 22, 2008
Since you said that you are planning "to fix all of that in the next week or two", here is a non-exhaustive "to do" list (with some emotional reactions and streams of consciousness added for flavour) to make the site actually usable. I'm sure that visually-impaired people who use screen readers which rely on actual texts rather than on texts embedded in images would have few things to say as well.

There it goes:

1. A captcha or another humanity verification device are missing. The bots and the spammers are happy.
2. Do we really have to agree to receive account updates in order to register?
3. Where is the take-me-to-the-homepage clickable logo? I don't want to hunt down the Home link.
4. Why is the top banner not linked to the widget it advertises?
5. Where is the Search function? Hint: it should be close to the top of the page.
6. Oh, I finally found the Search function. A SEARCH BY buried in a narrow column in Strips. Good grief, who wrote "Date Strip Published"? Is this better than the humble "Publication dates"? And then we have a radio button and tiny icons? Should we click them? In which order? I'm confused.
7. Oh there is another SEARCH BY. In Mashups. Right under a dead-as-a-dead-corpse VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITES image. "Frame Text By"? What on Earth does that mean? Who wrote that text? The thing reads SEARCH BY Date Strip Published (missing search syntax in the box, oh, silly boy, you are not supposed to type when you place the cursor in a text field, the pop-up calendar will do that for you, and oh look, the whole page refreshes (!), finally, is it the fourth of January or the first of April (silly people who don't use the US date conventions), Frame Text By (Is it "by Roger the WanneBe Comic Wraighter" or by "marketing evil told you"?) icons, radio buttons...)
8. Mashup vs Punchline. Is there another kind of mashup than the punchline? If no, why do we have category A that contains only 1 element B? Why not call the whole thing Punchlines and then announce new items when they are rolled out? And everything is a mashup these days, so why use the trendy speak?
9. Saving strips to Favourites? Why is this limited to the official strips? What is the list to which I can send my favourite strips? Oh, it's in My Profile. I had to search afterwards, instead of having the info presented when I was, you know, doing it.
10. The links: Are there any? Yes. All over the place. Every item and image on the home page is a link. To where? No Alt text to tell me. No info on the actual URL in the browser's state bar when I hover over the clickable item. Can I copy the link to paste it in an email? Nope.
11. Ads, ads everywhere? Actually the things that look and behave like ads are pieces of actual content and navigation. Mr Nielsen castigates "Anything That Looks Like an Advertisement" in his Top 10 Web Design Mistakes. You've violated quite a few of his other recommendations and probably made a few new mistakes.
12. A bare bones version of the site is not the answer. You can make it colourful and pretty and usable.
Apr 22, 2008
The new design is far better than the old.
But... I really miss the navigation possibility when viewing a strip (e.g. goto next day, prev. day).
It's really a !$%*!$ to say watch the strips for a specific week.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 22, 2008
I love the way you turn criticism into a good thing. I know I would have been grumpy fast having to go through all these comments. You set a good example with that.

+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 21, 2008
I'm impressed with your self-restraint scott.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 21, 2008

The flash SUCKS
The color SUCKS
Having to register to tell you the new site sucks SUCKS
Apr 21, 2008
It is good that you are accepting the readers' input. But I would have to agree with Viper, as a Linux user for me the problem wasn't the new content. I like the new content. The problem is that I was told I wasn't allowed to use it because I am on Linux. Blocking people who aren't using a certain combination of operating system and browser seemed to be what was making most Linux users angry.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 21, 2008
Good for you Scott for "taking on board" all the comments (gotta love weasel speak). Glad to see that things will be better shortly. Keep up the good work, the mashups are the best part of the new site.
Apr 21, 2008
One other thing I've wanted since your original blog - the ability to view comments in order from oldest to newest. I can't figure out how to read the comments when they are sorted newest to oldest and have the various threads of conversation make sense.

I want to read the oldest first so I can follow threads of conversation, but that's nearly impossible to do without the awkward "how far do I scroll" dance - I go to the bottom and then scroll up to the top of the last comment to read it and then have to continue guessing how far to scroll/etc. - maybe there's an easier way to do this I haven't figured out.

Anyway, many commenting systems allow the user to read in ascending or descending date order and I would love to have that option on this site.

Sorry again if this isn't the right place to put comments like this.
Apr 21, 2008
Not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but can you add the thought balloon style to the mashups? I wanted to add a thought as the punchline but couldn't figure out how to do that.

BTW - I am having a lot of problems with the flash. I'm using Safari 3.0.4 on Mac OS X 10.5.2 and I often get into some mashup limbo where I can't access the control to punch it up (create my own last frame). I also always get the wrong comic when clicking on the top right comic thumbnails (I always get today's).

I also seem to have been logged out randomly at some point today, within a few hours of logging in (maybe there's a short timeout?)
Apr 21, 2008
The complaint wasn't just the Flash. It was also the fact that a part of your site says it requires Windows or Mac. That's what the majority of Linux users are upset with.
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