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The Big Bad News Dump is Gone - Frontpage getting an overhaul

Posted by Michael Tanczos, 18 October 2011 · 944 views

We're feverishly working towards completing the next iteration of our site. Our goal is to have it out this quarter. As mentioned in my previous staff entry, we are going to be doing a lot with this site to make GameDev.net a great place to share development information with your fellow members. That is really our goal, first and foremost. We all recognize that we as a community have a tremendous ability to help each other out.

"Recent News" is Gone

Earlier in the year we had this idea that switching our news over to aggregate news sources from across the web would result in better news for everyone. What really happened was that we were all inundated with an unfiltered stream of mostly garbage mixed in with a few gems here and there. To be honest, I could care less if Company X merges with Company Y or if they make a billion dollars in revenues this quarter.. and it seems as though many of you feel the same way.

What was also missing was that personal touch that we used to have when we did our own news dailies. We're taking steps toward an end goal where we can provide you with BOTH the personalized Gamedev.net news generated by our community as well as the news gems that are out there on the net. If we can cut down the posts that are available to just the ones that are worthwhile, then we've done our job.

So what's different?

At this point in time we are still using an aggregated feed from a number of news sources, but we have done a lot of work to help finding what is interesting and important. Earlier this year I implemented a duplicate story checker - which apparently is a lot more difficult than one might realize. What I came up with isn't perfect, but it did start to combine stories that cover a lot of the same stuff. This cut down on the noise quite a bit, but still left boring stories mixed in with the interesting ones.

Our realization was that in this day and age of Google News, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc it should be possible to take the subject of a story and analyze it across the web to figure out whether it is popular or not. That's when we made a major shift to the way that we weight news. If you notice, we don't exactly sort by the number of likes for a post - what we do sort by is a combination of different metrics that are contributed both by our spider researching a story on the internet as well as community interaction with the story. Even if you don't necessarily click "like" we do gain some information by the mere fact that you view a particular story or comment on it. When all is said and done, we use about a half dozen metrics to determine how we should sort top stories.

But we also had another problem. We had this "Most Recent Stories" view that was the unfiltered garbage feed that contained everything.. now that our system is actively using feedback throughout the web and from our community we could begin to easily sift the garbage stories from the good. So "Most Recent Stories" was replaced by a new view of the news: "Top Stories"

Top Stories

News can be viewed a number of ways, but each of those views involves viewing top news over a certain number of days. Well, if news is popular right out of the gate it meant that you could see the same story for a week straight at the top of the page of the 7 day view. Likewise, the 24 hour view just didn't provide good enough stories to be consistently used as our "default" view of the news.

The new "Top Stories" mixes some of the most popular new stories along with some stories that are standing the test of time and still continue to be popular across the web. That way if something major happens and you are away for a few days, you'll still see that news on our frontpage among all the hot new stories.. OR, if you check the frontpage for news daily you'll see a fresh variety of the best of what is out there in game development news.

So.. Frontpage overhaul?

We've finally settled on a design for the frontpage that you will see in the next iteration of the site.. and let me tell you, you're going to be very happy with it. We're cutting away just about everything that you would consider non-essential and providing you with only the most important information in an easy-to-digest format.

In the new frontpage you'll see in a nice tabbed format:
  • GDNet Community News - Our posts, Your Posts, Featured Developer Journals, Staff posts, etc
  • News from Around the Web - Our current "Top Stories" that you see on our homepage now
  • Member Activity - Some of the most recent contributions from our members
Attached Image

We will have a sidebar on the right - but with only four blocks: The GDNet spotlight, IOTD, Careers, and Events

That's it.. no scrolling to get to news.. it's going to all be there in a nice and compact format.. and it will be designed to load FAST.

That's all for now. We'll keep you posted as we make new developments. Let me know what you think regarding the evolution of the news and the direction we're heading! Take care everyone and keep helping one another! =)

That's it.. no scrolling to get to news.. it's going to all be there in a nice and compact format..

Let's also be clear here that this new front page is not just about News, it's about everything. You all may already know how the site has these empty portal pages lying around - well those will be gone too and the front page will be a portal page to all the main areas of the site
Sounds great.
Could you give the mobile a bit of work? When I try to access the user menu from any screen, its really hard to press buttons on it without my clicks being registered on a button right behind the menu.

Thanks :D
Yeah, the IPS software does great for everything BUT the parts of the site that use IP.Content (like the frontpage). I'm going to have to figure out how to work around this.

That's it.. no scrolling to get to news.. it's going to all be there in a nice and compact format.. and it will be designed to load FAST.

me likes fast :)

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