I'm going to have to register my complete and utter hatred of the new look. There seems to be a lot of "you're just not used to it yet" going around, which frankly (as far as I'm concerned) is crap. I'm a virtually certified change addict, and I hate this change. I'm the kind of person who rearranges all of my desktop icons and start menu shortcuts on a weekly basis. I refactor my projects recreationally, the way most people smoke or drink. Change is not a problem. Changing to s**t, however, is a problem, and we seem to have been afflicted by it. Powerfully.
Complaint 1: Drunk clowns and paint cans
Bright colors... cheezy blue-and-silver "theme"... icons that seem to have been taken into a back alley and violated repeatedly by the same sick freak that did the artwork for Windows XP... this thing has all the hallmarks of a weekend website project mucked together by some two-bit hack in his basement. I know that's not really the case, but it sure as heck feels like it.
I've always liked GDNet because it seemed like more than that - like something a bunch of dedicated, serious people got together, and really turned into something great. Now I feel like I'm posting on some mass-market cheapass spam repository. I've read the rationale from Khawk; frankly I don't buy it. Remembering things better because of colors? I'd think more about the validity of that concept, but my BS-o-meter is already overheating, and I'd hate to risk a meltdown.
Bottom line: silver and blue is the most overdone, pathetic cliche in the world of web theming. Period. I like sites with character and atmosphere. Now we have this godawful sterile, "professional" (oh freaking please), we're-scared-of-being-different conformist reek. It reminds me of corporate suits who crap their pants whenever anyone so much as thinks about challenging the status quo. I want to come here and be reminded of midnight coding marathons, of hackers striving in their lairs to push the frontiers of gaming... I don't want to be reminded of suits, ties, sport coats, and power lunches.
Complaint 2: #%!@ dropdown menus
I don't know why it is that "web designers" get so hot and bothered over dropdown menus. I f***ing hate them. HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE. They are stupid, pointless, and reek of whiz-bang fad-ism. They also inhibit my browsing style. I like to shift+click a lot of links and browse in multiple windows; dropdown, scripted menus preclude this in most cases. It's fairly rare in my experience for anyone to implement dropdown menus in a manner that handles this nicely. GDNet has now joined the ranks of Those Who Done It Wrong.
The usual excuse I hear for this pablum is that it "conserves vertical space." Dammit, people, scrollbars are your friends. This change didn't even do much for space; there's maybe 20 pixels saved over the old layout, at the expense of easy accessibility, and at the expense of having an efficient-looking layout. Every graphics designer in the world is crying over this right now.
Dropdowns are also "mystery meat navigation." This is BAD. Why is GDNet Gathering under Community and Jourals under Members? That's arbitrary, counter-intuitive, and just plain poor. The goofy column names from the old layout were excusable because the column names didn't obscure the content (links); the names didn't convey any useful information, so they could be ignored. Now, they both fail to convey useful information, and they both conceal the useful information while making it harder to access.
Please, guys, go buy some books on doing good web design (and good content design in general) and learn some things. Hiding your links under menus is NOT COOL, no matter how hip, trendy, and 21st century it makes you feel. Warm fad fuzzies do not compensate for a botched user experience.
Complaint 3: Bandwaggoning
This looks like every other forum engine out there now. That's not a good thing. I liked the GDNet forums because they were unique, different, self-made; they didn't stink of cookie-cutter freebie engines that someone downloaded and installed (without changing the theme) to run their Ub3r Aw3s0m3 INT4RW3BN3T SIT3.
More than anything else, this change feels like a bureaucratic conformalist wank. My honest impression is that someone in upper management can't get it up unless the product looks just like the competition, and God himself forbid that we show any gumption in being different. The problem is, I know that's not how GDNet works, and so I'm left confused as to how this horrible mistake was allowed to happen in the first place.
This is a different kind of site from any other, with different kinds of people and different content. Looking different was part of the old site's attitude, part of the experience. It said that we're here, we're not owned by billion-dollar media congolmerates, and we've got enough testicular fortitude to not have to copy everyone else's cliche designs.
Sure, a lot of people disliked the old look, and a lot of people so far seem to like the new look. So let's have some options here - and no, the www2 hack does not count, especially since it doesn't work.