Time for a VC&G Redesign?

November 16th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

Vintage Computing and Gaming LogoVintage Computing and Gaming has retained the same general site design, albeit with a few aesthetic changes, since it started in 2005. Do you think it’s time to change the layout of the site? Do you think I should add any features to the site to make it like more modern blogs?

For VC&G, my philosophy has long been, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And I defintely don’t think the site is broken. But perhaps it is time to modernize a few elements of the blog. The thing I’d like to add most is a tag-based post system. I think that would work better than post categories as they now stand.

The commenting system works pretty well for the number of comments we get, so I don’t think we need a complex comment rating or moderation system at the moment.

As for the current design, I like the fact that, because I haven’t added complex bells and whistles to the site’s software, VC&G is easy to view on older computers with slightly older browsers. It’s simple and it does the trick.

Let’s put it this way: do you think if I redesigned the site that more people would read VC&G? (Although statistically speaking, we have more readers than ever.) Is the design out of touch with a “modern” web audience? Your thoughts count, so let me know in the comments.

33 Responses to “Time for a VC&G Redesign?”

  1. PWP Says:

    It’s clean, it’s readable, it works. What’s not to like?

  2. Dave Says:

    Let me start by saying the site is great…content- and functionality-wise.

    The look? Not so much… I’d be up for the same site with prettier background images. 🙂

    (and I’m a graphic artist and fan of the site, so I’d work for free if you wanted me!)

  3. Batfan Says:

    I definitely think the site could use a new look. That will also give you an excuse to update your WordPress install 🙂 The version you’re using (I won’t say here, for security reasons) is really old and there have been numerous security patches since then.

  4. Justin Says:

    New features? Maybe a photos and video section; whenever you add a video or photo to an article, you can catalog it so we can look through ’em later.

    The look of the site can be updated without compromising the speed of the page load, but honestly, the page is easy to navigate as it is.

    Besides my Coleco ADAM blog, I have a boxing website that I used to update by myself using strictly HTML coding and some javascript: http://web.archive.org/web/20090209222513/http://boxing4free.com/ It was very dated looking. Broke down, spent money I didn’t really have, and had it revamped by a professional. Using Joomla! now.


  5. Pete Says:

    I’m with Dave, maybe some cosmetic touches, but overall the simplicity is ideal. I really don’t want any more flash heavy pages slowing my down, especially since I check my favorites every day and it’s easy to lose me if it takes more time to load the page than read the last post header that I may or may not have read the day before.

    On the other hand, Justin is on to something with sections. Maybe a simple header consisting of the most popular tags, and perhaps an archive timeline to select posts from long past.

  6. Adam Pickerill Says:

    I like it just fine. I wish that papercade link worked, would love to make some of those

  7. DNA Says:

    Technical/back-end fixes…ok. Design & layout changes? Two of the most popular publications of all time, National Geographic and Wall Street Journal, to my knowledge, rarely (if ever) underwent significant design alterations…merely for the sake of change.

    I think VC&G’s classic design aesthetic is just fine.

  8. Donn Says:

    I think it’s fine the way it is. Nothing about it stands out as not being a “modern” blog, IMO.

    I could see tags as being a bit more useful than the categories, I agree with you there. But the overall design is simple, easy and solid.

  9. Matt Says:

    I love the site as-is, it definitely has become a vintage design since you created it (in keeping with the site’s theme). Please don’t change it!

  10. Eagles409 Says:

    I like the simplistic layout and if you change it too much, people will just complain that they liked the old way better. Maybe just a freshening up and not a complete overhaul. It does look a little dated, but I think the overall layout is good. That’s my 2 cents.

  11. SirPaul Says:

    I think the page looks perfectly fine as-is. I’m worried that if you do a complete redesign, it will become too kludgy and complicated. Maybe some small changes would work, though.

  12. Geoff V. Says:

    I support whatever you would like to do(other than adding flash). Your current layout is simple and clean, a plus in my book.
    I like the new “popular features” section. Maybe add a random article too?

  13. Alexander Says:

    The only thing I would love to see added is a better old article archive.

    Otherwise? This site rules.

  14. Braybett Says:

    I’m fine with things as they are. I keep coming here, though can’t even remember why I started coming.

    But I would still keep coming if you changed things, so do as you will.

  15. Arimack Says:

    I hope all realize the irony of a retro gaming website asking if the look of the website is…well…retro.

    Banj as long you don’t make it harder to find the things we like on your site do whatever you want. We will still keep checking back in.

  16. Arimack Says:

    sorry for the fat fingers, Benj!

  17. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone. Keep them coming. I have already made a few minor changes — some you might not notice — and they will allow me to do more incremental updates to the site design in the future.

    I agree that this site could use a better way to browse post archives. Does anyone have any suggestions on how the site could do it better? Currently, there is a big list of months on the sidebar on the front page and there’s categories to select, but that’s it. I think post tags would help a lot.

    There’s mountains of great content buried in the site that people would probably like to read. We need a way to bring that back to the surface better.

  18. Anonymous Old Guy Says:

    I agree with

    – making the archives easier to read/browse/find things
    – making changes to the site to attract more readers, but maybe go less modern instead of more. I get a kick out of reading old IEEE papers that were written on typewriters and scanned in to their archives.
    – in general I hate facebook-like layouts: all the info is concentrated in a 4-inch wide swath in the middle even though every computer is widescreen now. I know, it’s for easy viewing on a phone, but it still sucks.


  19. crosscourt Says:

    Dont change a thing the site is great.

  20. Salzman Says:

    Leave it alone.

  21. KypFox Says:

    I think that any update should be very minor.
    This site does what I come here for, and excels at that (unlike, say Gawker).
    If the site seems a bit retro, then that’s only fitting given it’s nature.
    Now an update to bring it up to 1999 standards is another thing entirely…

  22. idisjunction Says:

    I say keep it more or less the way it is. It could just be me, but I don’t think people who are really interested in vintage computers are going to mind if you don’t have a whole bunch of new whizbang features. Pretty much all of the blogs, news articles and web comics I read have clean, simple layouts.

  23. mercatfat Says:

    The biggest thing you’re missing is frames, a midi, and clipart animated gifs. With those, you’d officially be “with the times,” i think.

  24. PS3D Says:

    I would say keep it. It’s simple, easy to load, and so forth. Want more people to read the site? Quit using it to advertise the slideshows you have on PC World and others. That’s my main beef with it. Good articles (SNES discoloration, old scans) I like, and you should stick with that.

  25. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks for your comments, PS3D. I didn’t know you felt so strongly about my slideshow links. How does everyone else feel about the entries I put up linking to my off-site articles and slideshows?

    I do it because I think it is relevant to the audience and because there wouldn’t be that much new on the site without it.

    I write full time for a living, so I haven’t had much time to write original articles for VC&G (which pays negative dollars to maintain) since 2007. I keep VC&G alive because I like the community, doing Retro Scan of the Week, and whatever else I can manage to put up here.

  26. Braybett Says:

    I wish there were more slideshows, I like most of them.

  27. jarson Says:

    I like the articles you write elsewhere, and I think PS3D is in the minority! Those other articles/slideshows you do are well researched and well written pieces I would not want to miss. Don’t change them!
    Other than that, don’t lose any of the comment threads in the previous articles, there are some real gems I’ve found in them, like ones where the historical figures contribute to the banter.

  28. nick Says:

    I miss Name Those Pixels that was always fun,as much as it kills me to say this,but maybe a twitter and facebook share link. other then that I love it

  29. nadnerb Says:

    slideshows are fine and ought to be posted. wordpress theme could use a refresh but NBD.

  30. Justin Says:

    I am all for linking off-site as long as those articles/slideshows pertain to vintage computing. They always do.

  31. Ant Says:

    Leave it alone if it works. If it is broken, then change it.

  32. Raggnatic Says:

    I like the site as is but I approve everything nick mentioned. A twitter account would be great too (in addition to the rss feed). Your site is great. Keep the good work.

  33. Kris Says:

    Keep it how it is, smooth, easy to use and bloat free.

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