Our redesign is up

We thank Ben Brophy and also the Mercatus Center. We may be doing some ongoing tweaks, so please bear with us. Sometimes things have to change to continue to look the same.


On my antiquated Nexus tablet, one third of the screen is taken up by a blank vertical bar on the left side. Not sure why a redesign was needed.

Your privacy policy statement in the title bar is as comprehensible as Facebooks.

I see the privacy statement was taken down. It was funny...the privacy statement, for those who did not see it, was the traditional Lorem epsom language you get in Adobe fill in the blank products.

Well, it tells you that someone reads the posts so that they can quickly adjust the site. Someone is keeping late hours.

I don't like it. Is this really what the market demanded?

The changes from a few minutes ago are a step in the right direction!

I still don’t like it ...

I thought the old design with all the information on the one page was great; the new one is quite jarring.

In fact the best thing was the side bar on the right hand side, with the list of the last ~10 postings and the list of blogs. Both are now on different pages, much harder to see

Given our left-to-right culture, I also find that having the side bar on the right-hand side and the important content on the left-hand side was more logical and felt less cluttered.

I'll be the good friend who tells you the unpleasant truth: this redesign sucks big time.

I am from the future. This does not last long.

Surprising and somewhat disorienting. But I suppose that soon, I will get used to the new design and like it.

On mobile, the longer posts are quite difficult to read. And I have good eyes. Most other sites either use a bigger font or use less horizontal space. Or both.

On Desktop, the sidebar is visually overpowering, it's really difficult to ignore. Is that the intent? Overall cooler looking design but more difficult to focus on the text

Yep. Maybe I just need to get used to it but first impression, not good.

@Ki On mobile, the longer posts are quite difficult to read
Just wait patently for the Marginal REVOLUTION app.

Just kidding about the MR app, however Dr. Cowen's site looks good in Chrome on Ubuntu MATE.

This design is a disaster! Very disappointed.

The old design wasn't broken, but it did look dated. I think the redesign does a great job making the site look up to date, without fundamentally changing anything.

I will join the commenters here saying they don't like the redesign, but I don't agree that the old design was dated. This is a text-based blog. It doesn't need to do anything more than present the text clearly and cleanly, so the old design would have worked indefinitely. In fact, one of the reasons I gravitated to this blog was the simple format, as I have a rather old model of smartphone. But I'm commenting from my desktop and it still doesn't look good.

Well done!

The redesign is much, much better on an iPad than the old design. The old design had an effective font size of about 7.

Do not like that the email and author have been reversed.

I like the top. The most useful information is easily accessible.

The rest is fine

Privacy policy statement - just part of the template, one assumes.

So, it seems as if the respond function may be javascript related, along with positioning.

Definitely - well, capturing all the key strokes requires js, though that was likely not the primary reason.

everything is huge. I had to zoom out to 75% just so things were somewhat legible. This is on 1920x1080.

Fancy. I like the minimalist design, although the big increase in text size is not so welcome - it makes it more work to read comments.

go back to the old one. already had the perfect density and design. always liked it for how simple it was.

The larger text is much harder to read and all jumbles together. Also for me in chrome on a macbook, the links are all a very light neon blue that makes them extremely hard to read

Exactly. It looks horrible, and it's hard to read. At least make the links a much darker blue.

Yes I also agree the links need to be a darker shade of blue.

Still a few kinks in the links - somebody really needs to just scroll a mouse and look at addresses. Generally, you don't even need a product manager to handle that chore, though it is kind of surprising that no one could be bothered to actually check links.

And really, it might be appropriate to give a hat tip to the person apparently in charge of such things - 'Benjamin Brophy is the Director of Digital Strategy for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.'

Looks good on my phone

Overall, looks okay on mobile, where the left sidebar is missing. But on desktop where the sidebar is prominent, my eye naturally scans down the left margin of the page so I'd rather see the posts down the left side and the sidebar on the right.
On both desktop and mobile, the light blue hyperlinks are too light--hard to read. I liked the previous, possibly antiquated practice of underlining links

The links point was interesting - so as a test, here is a wikipedia link that was not recognized as a link when posted before (without javascript, though that should be meaningless in this context) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastian_Mallaby

So, let's see if this recognized as a link - marginalrevolution.com

Dilly, dilly on the "light blue"...very hard to read against the white space/background. Also there seems to be a kind of faintness (for lack of a better term) to the black font.

Someone more cynical than myself might suggest that removing the functionality that allows one to click on links posted on comments is a fine way to keep discussions here from drifting too far into the factual, and remove the need to keep tweaking the filtering functions.

But considering both my previous web experience, and working at GMU, no, this seems about as competent a transition as one would actually expect. After all, it appears that no one even bothered to mouse over every front page link before the site went active, which the sort of thing that really is not that difficult to do, but actually requires someone to pay attention.

Shut up

Nah - this is easily the most fun I have had in the last 4 hours. Though actually, it is kind of a disappointment. I had installed the latest version of uMatrix a couple of weeks ago just to explore this brave new world, and what happened? Apparently, nothing much beyond a template switch.

A switch with a fair amount of kinks that anyone spending a massive 15 minutes of time would have discovered.

My hobbies are not shared by many people, obviously.

Too wide on desktop, legible text should only be ~80 characters across. Look at NYT, New Yorker, etc.

Agree something seems "off" on desktop (1920x1080) here. It could be the text is too wide as mention above. I'd add, the left gap/margin between the left bar and the text/comments seems too wide, and the right margin seems to small. It does feel more difficult to read vs. the previous site, but maybe I'm not used to it yet. I don't use a phone, so can't comment there. Hope this helps.

It looks fine

Can I have the secret menu back please?

I liked the old one much, much better. Simple and timeless.

First google finance... Now MR.

Too much white space around the comments on both mobile and desktop. I'll spend more time scrolling than reading. Though maybe I should read less comments...

1. My first reaction was confusion: did I enter the wrong URL? No; this is MR.

2 .Next came alarm: where is Tyler, is he ever coming back, and who is trying to take over? What will I do without Tyler??

3. Then some relief: OK, actually the design looks pretty much the same,

4. Finally laughter: this reaction is the exact same reason I voted Trump

Anyway, congratulations. It looks pretty good

Much easier to read on iPad

First thought was "it's broken". We really should be in control of text size.


I would recommend you read "The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior" by Shlomo Benartzi, which uses behavioral econ in designing and formatting layout for websites. It's used in graduate marketing classes, and computer science classes which focus on web design and web metrics.

I appreciate the new design especially the new font. Was it designed with me in mind? I didn't know Cowen and Tabarrok cared so much. Thanks.

It is easier on these old eyes; which missed the change in "Add Comment" placing Email first . . . [sigh]

Make it stop!!!!

A net plus for me. I almost didn't comment at all. I can roll with most things, but so many negative Nellies above ..

The neon blue is jarring and a little hard to read on my laptop. Agree with some others that the prior design was fine, but it's a matter of taste I guess.

The simplicity of the old site was a positive.

I like it aesthetically, but I'm finding it harder to read, both on laptop and smart phone.

It'd be interesting to do a poll on the site re-design among conservatives and liberals separately.

Are conservatives likelier to bat for the old design and liberals for change?

Heh. "Openness to new experiences" is supposed to be a psychological root of liberalism.

If so, it means conservatism and liberalism have no essence except capriche.

MR with a redesign in 2018. Is nothing sacred?

reddit style commenting threads are way better.

The voting and the flexible re-ordering of the comments.

Makes multi comments still readable.

I am pretty sure most readers ignore the comments in the current format, simply because its a huge mess of 100 comments and you have no order of any kind. Going to read 100 comments? no thanks.

Comment redesign was the one thing I would have voted for.

With that said, I have gotten so much free value out of the site, I'm not going to complain. Just keep blogging!

No no no no no to Reddit style comments. The "votes = visibility" mechanic rewards comments that [i] say something that everyone already agrees with and enjoys agreeing with, and [ii] are extremely short, ~12 words, [iii] use mass-accessible humor that generates a communal nod reflex and is seldom funny, [iv] contain no content that you couldn't have written yourself.

The "votes = visibility" system is absurd and horrible in equilibrium. The goal becomes to maximize clicks per user-second. It doesn't matter if anyone *tries* to target this; these are the comments that will win. I am certain of the awfulness and pointlessness of the reddit system by imagining it implemented in any similar local-scale real world setting. There would be strangers anonymously voting on what I say, and these opinion would determines whether I can effectively communicate with yet other strangers.

Finally, the marginal MR commentator seems about right to me already; in that case, we should not change the cost of commenting, e.g. by making it easier to do so.

Good points. Especially on the filtering aspect. where easier commenting might encourage useless comments.

Still, I'd like better commenting structure.

Your comments assume superficial voting commentators and voters.
I am not sure. Maybe there are many value influenced voters here.

On my laptop screen, using a variety of browsers, the text font is gray, not black, which makes it much more difficult to read.

Heads up: the link in the left-hand navigation bar, "Tyler Cowen's Personal Web Page" points to Alex's bio, https://ppe.gmu.edu/people/atabarro.

Yep, that is one of the more obvious mistakes - what is so amusing is that Prof. Tabarrok has two different links to two different resumes. Anyone want to guess which one will win out? (My guess is quite predictable.)

Even more amusing is that you would expect one of the site owners to at least check such a fundamental thing before going live. Though these days, Prof. Cowen seems to be having a lot of Conversations, so such a hands off approach is understandable.

Yep, the one I expected, because there are apparently more important things to lead your GMU page with than your position at GMU.

Though oddly, instead of going to Prof. Cowen's personal web page, it goes to his Mason one. But then 'Welcome to the author website of Professor Tyler Cowen' might be something other than a personal web page, even if the address is precisely in the format that one would expect for a personal web page on a personal domain.

have i lost your wonderful list of other links (they used to be in the left hand column. i'm still looking for them. i miss them.

never mind. i just found them....ouch!

Mobile seems better, in desktop the first reaction was “it’s broken”, second was “did i land on a fake MR?”

One of the reasons I liked the old design was it's simplicity. Just well written text. Fast to load, easy to navigate.

Speaking of mobile, on the old site I could increase the size by zooming in. This site is way too large on mobile, with no option of zooming out. It borders on being too tedious to use on mobile, as at most 3 or 4 comments can be seen without scrolling. Left sidebar also monopolizes too much space on mobile.

This looks good on both my laptop and smartphone. Others keep saying the old design was simple, but I don't find the new one any more complex. My only suggestions are to keep the "respond" link as close as possible to the comment that is being responded to and to limit column width to about 90 characters.

A few things to look at for the mobile phone breakpoint:

- The comments' usernames seem to be displayed with `line-height : 1`, but the timestamps seem to have `line-height : 2`, which is jarring. I'd recommend squishing in the time stamps for consistency.

- Top level comments have more left padding than right padding; unbalanced and leaves too much whitespace imo. Consider giving even horizontal padding.

- Several places with just a little too much vertical padding throughout (or possibly the result of line-height + a short font family that bakes in whitespace into the glyphs?)

- For post titles, a large font + bold is overwhelming, especially compared to the lighter weight text below. I often see non-designer developers do this out of bad WYSIWYG editor habits (make something bold to show it's a heading in MS Word, right?). Consider either making post titles smaller and still bold, or the same size and lighter weight (try 300). Reserve large + bold for the highest level heading (I.e. the blog name / logo)

Love the redesign overall; definitely on the right track!

(PS: looking at this on my phone without access to dev tools; could be other things causing the same issues, but you get the point)

...and give us markdown in the comments please :)

I'm using Safari 11.0.3 on Mac OS 10.13.3. It looks good, although I would love if you could add more of a "right margin" (whitespace on the right side between the text and the edge of the window). I think it would make for easier reading.

Desktop critique: Old design had posts in the middle of the page (due to 2 sidebars). New design has posts (visually) shifted to the right. A bit off-putting.

I am surprised the green in the site is a different green than that used in the MR university logo. Too much whitespace in the comments. I mostly read by RSS feed in NewsBlur, so matters little to me, but clicked through to see the design.

To reinforce what others are saying, the text is a bit big on desktop and it's a bit too wide as well. I had to adjust zoom to 75%. I'll still visit the site, but it's a little annoying to have to zoom out every time. Having the sidebar on the left but not the right makes it so the text is very off center in the screen. It's not terrible, but it's not a great Windows desktop experience and not nearly as good as it used to be.

The light blue is impossible for me. I can't see it.

Nobody is going to mention how not complacent this is?

Not sure I like it, but at least it's logically consistent.

I find readability to be fine for long posts on laptop or phone. However readability of the "assorted links" are much worse. The contrast between light blue and white with a thin font is far too low. With long, MR-style links, the black non-linked text stands out more than the highlighted links, which is the opposite of what is needed/desired.

I find the new design disappointingly difficult to scan. The new font, Open Sans, has wider letters compared to the previous one. This makes for too much white space. There is not enough contrast between the background and the body text (especially with hyperlinks); the page looks faded now. The use of serif font for block quotations is also regrettable.

Prefer the old one. Distinctly don't like the new look. Harder to read on my desktop.

To refine my earlier comment: On an iPhone the light blue is very hard for me to see and the black type has a very thin structure that doesn't seem to stand out very well either. Given the suboptimal viewing conditions that often prevail on a cell phone the new setup is frustrating for me. Granted my vision is not what it used to be.

On a lap top the dark type looks wide and the elements are still thin, but it's more legible for me. The light blue is also better on the laptop for some reason but would not be my choice. I too prefer to zoom out on the laptop view.

It's not your fault, but this redesign apparently stops the kill-file Greasemonkey script from working, meaning I have to see all the terrible commenters again.

Ha ha. How about having a voting system to help us sort through the comments? wpDiscuz seems very good at this.

Prefer the old design - not even close. Please just integrate new functionality on old design / color scheme.

At least change the colors: the green and blues clash - please make it stop!!

Not good. Too much space wasted.

We will get used to it, but perhaps not like it. In general I dislike modern web-sites. I disliked old ones too, but in different ways. And over the last few years they have got worse. MR is joining the trend -- though it is far behind in the race to badness.

I agree with those who don't like it, mainly because the text size is tooTrump size (= Huuge). (Designed for smart phones, obviously, but I don't use one so it's hard to read and I'll spend less time here as a result). Go back to the old design.

Way too much whitespace, just as with the redesign of Google News.

I love your new look. It's fresh.

The respond link for the top-level comment should be beneath the top-level comment, not below all of the nested comments.

Overall I like it but maybe the blue colour of the hyperlinks is too pale. They need a bit more contrast. Links might be hard to read if visually impaired.

OK, since I do usability testing for a living, I'm not going to complain that the old version was better. It's mostly change aversion. The old design was too visually noisy and hard on mobile.

+ larger and looser font
+ Getting the social buttons out of the way of my cursor
+ more whitespace around titles and authors
+ Better structure of side content.
+ Top nav probably helps for those poor fools who aren't here for the blog

- link color doesn't have enough contrast. Darker! The official link blue is pretty good, actually.
- dropping the left bar makes sense, but now the text runs uncomfortably close to the edge of the screen. And too wide to read comfortably.
- Does the print button need to be next to the comments button? How often are the print links clicked on this site? Bet 80% are accidents.

Oh, and...

- visited link color not different from new link color

And did you really lose the Markets in Everything category!?

This is...disappointing. There was a classic, vintage feel to the previous design. Now it looks like the website of a Silicon Valley startup. That is not the ethos I get when I read your work, nor is it the one I want to get.

For readability, perhaps this is good for mobile, but for desktop, please consider switching back to the old.

This is like the San Diego Padres uniform of website redesigns -- from not much to start with to puzzlingly why bother, with no doubt anoher mediocre tweak upcoming

This comment box is only three lines tall. Is this a signal that we shouldn't write that much? This comment uses over half the space available.

All this and I still don't have an "edit comment" button! :(

If I skinny-up my desktop browser to less than 768 pixels wide, the sidebar disappears and comments shrink in size. Somehow I can get more content on my page with a smaller window. Checkmate atheists!

I strongly dislike the radical reduction in size of the comment box. It makes it impossible to see and reflect on longer comments, which will likely encourage people to post even more short one-liners and many fewer long well-considered responses. For instance even in these few sentences, my first words have already scrolled off the top of the box so I have to scroll up and down to review. Not good.

Can we have HTTPs please?

When are you releasing an iPhone app?

With the old design, I used to be able to read a particular post, then click a link to the next post and so on until I caught up to the current post or decided to stop. That doesn't work anymore.

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