The Center for American Progress has redesigned their website, and it's far worse than what it was before. I don't usually comment on technical matters here, but there's a political angle: CAP is deeply linked into the Obama administration and they want to control policy. At the same time, they can't even put together a website that works.
1. Despite the new design and commenting system, their site still uses Wordpress. Beloved by many, WP is mainly just a blogging platform and not a full Content Management System ("CMS"). This site uses the Drupal CMS which has a much steeper learning curve than Wordpress but which is also much more powerful.
2. As the reader can plainly see, I have absolutely no design skills whatsoever. I can't even rise to the level of mixing blue and green. Yet, I know that their new design is horrible. There's no real left margin, the plain text of the posts is bold (if they want to bold some part of the text maybe there's a bold11 they can use), and so on. Then, of course, there's the Matt Yglesias avatar at the top that makes him look like he's hosting a 60s political talk show.
3. They've gotten rid of Disqus comments and replaced them with comments from Facebook. For all its faults, Disqus is at least not Facebook. It sometimes takes a few tries to login using Facebook (or using Yahoo via Facebook), when Disqus logs in right away. For instance, when I tried to comment on Mediaite using Facebook, I had to frequently refresh the page several times to get it to "take". Further, Facebook has a stringent set of nanny rules and basically wants to take over the web. And, CAP is tying themselves into Facebook rather than realizing that and opposing it (maybe this has something to do with it). I recently added some Facebook features to this site, but I would never move to Facebook comments because I have a fairly good idea of what they're after and I oppose it.
4. CAP has divided their content into various issues areas: economy, green, health, justice, lgbt, and security. Notice what very vital and important topic is missing? Yes, that's right. And, poor Andrea Nill appears to have been consigned to the security issue.
5. For all Facebook's faults, they try to enforce people using their own names. If CAP had required the use of a Facebook login to leave a comment, they could have cut down on the use of sockpuppets and cowards who hide behind pseudonyms to launch personal attacks such as I'm frequently subjected to on Yglesias' site. But, CAP didn't do that: they allow people to login and leave Facebook-based comments using Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL. That means that they haven't really done anything about such cowards, those cowards just need to get a throwaway Yahoo/Hotmail/AOL account.
There are other issues that I'd move to address if it were my site, but in order to tell CAP what those are they'll need to do me a favor: disclose the identities of some of those who stalk me at their site. That shouldn't be so difficult for them, now should it? I mean, even CAP has to oppose stalking, right?
Tue, 05/31/2011 - 16:59 · Importance: 2