some changes…

You may have noticed some changes since yesterday…

1. Expandable and collapsible comments. In response to much demand, we now have expandable and collapsible comments. At the top of every comment section, you’ll see a link to collapse (or expand) all the replies on the page. You’ll also see the same option after each individual comment that has replies to it. So, if you see a comment that you find utterly uninteresting and it has 30 replies to it, you can simply click to collapse those replies and move on to the next comment thread, rather than having to scroll through them all.

2. New layout. We’ve gone down to two columns from three, which means that the main post area is wider and thus you don’t have to do as much scrolling.

3. Responsive theme. The new layout is a responsive theme, which means that it will automatically optimize when you’re viewing it on a phone. For instance, the text will fill the page width, so you won’t need to zoom in like you used to. (I do know some of you are wary of mobile versions, but give this one a shot and see what you think.)

4. Powered by Inc. Some big news on my end: Ask a Manager has partnered with Inc. They’re now providing the advertising here, and I’m really excited to be working with their awesome team.

As with any website change, we may find things that need to be tweaked in the next few days. Please let me know of anything you spot.

And huge thanks to Laura Moore of, who put a ton of work into making this happen and go so smoothly.

{ 133 comments… read them below }

  1. abankyteller*

    I absolutely love the responsive theme! The site wasn’t hard to read before but this is much better. The collapsing and expanding comments are great. I love that you didn’t change your avatar person. I also really hope you get some money from advertising because you provide a really valuable service here!

  2. Felicia*

    Is there a reason that emails are now required? I don’t mind (as I’ve provided it) but it’s sort of an unexpected and (I think?) unannounced requirement, which I felt weird about.

      1. Felicia*

        I know I didn’t need one yesterday! I needed one as of 8 am today. I’m not against the idea or mad about it (I used the email I use to sign up for store discounts and stuff), but I prefer to be warned. Not a fan of surprises :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s about to be turned off — sorry about that! I’d totally forgotten that we’d turned that on at the start of the project, which is when we’d had some commenting issues a couple of months ago. I no longer feel like it’s needed but had forgotten I’d asked Laura to do it in the new site!

      1. Felicia*

        I really didn’t mind, but I’m kind of glad that’s not a permanent/intentional thing :)

      2. Mimmy*

        I didn’t even notice it was required, but I’ve always had it there anyway. Since you’re the only one who can see people’s emails, I didn’t mind having it there. I was worried about spam bots, but you’d assured me in an Open Thread once that this wasn’t a likely issue.

      3. Elkay*

        Is there any setting that would allow “Notify me of follow-up” to just be for that comment thread?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          We tried it about a year ago and it was a horrible mess. But maybe with this new theme it might be different. I’ll check with Laura and see what she says. (Although it might be a project for down the road, as this might be all the money I want to put into site improvements for now.)

          1. Elkay*

            I’m just being greedy and lazy, I’m perfectly capable of using the find function in my browser to check things.

          2. LizNYC*

            I once checked off that box for an open discussion Friday (whoops) and ended up with 400 emails in my inbox over the course of two days.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh! No, I’ve had it for years but never promote it. I think no one knows it’s there!

          I’d actually been wondering if I should add more/better products, but then I talked with Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. (the awesome regular commenter), who handles that kind of stuff as part of her job and she told me it’s very hard to sell branded items like that, so now I’m not worrying about it.

          1. louise*

            Which is funny, because I’d totally buy something branded Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. Maybe it’s easier to sell a fictitious brand than a real one. :)

            1. Laura*

              I kind of think “corporate wear” for Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd., maybe the Chocolate Teapot Division, would be *awesome*. (By “corporate wear” I mean something that looks like those cheesy ‘you survived the project t-shirts’, but for WTL – complete with fictitious ‘logo’ even – not the type of fancy button-down company-branded shirts that sales wears.)

            2. Persephone Mulberry*

              I would love a Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. t-shirt. Talk about the ultimate inside joke. :D

          2. Relosa*

            I think you could sell shirts with dates and titles of the most insane/notorious/crazy letters. I know there are a few I’d buy!

          3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            I can’t tell you how much this thread is making me laugh.

            Being as I do this for a living, I can actually see the Wakeen Teapots Ltd corporate clothing line in my brain.

            Make it stop! :)

            (The serious note re AAM merch is the scale it would have to sell to be $$ worth the trouble. You need to use one of the print on demand people like Cafe Press, which puts you at $20 for a simple ceramic mug with shipping, and that includes only a couple dollars actually going to AAM Enterprises. You’d need 200 people willing to pay $20.00 for an AAM mug to make just $500 bucks. Better uses of Alison’s time like moar posts and moar columns.)

            1. JessB*

              I think you’d get 200 people easy! But I do agree that prioritising your efforts is important.

    1. BritCred*

      Strangely I don’t have that showing up on mine even after I’ve turned all my trackers and adblockers off on the site….

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        See the Books tab in the top navigation bar? If you click on that, it’s at the bottom of the page that comes up. (So it’s kind of hidden.)

  3. Gail L*

    Excellent! Big fan of the collapsible comments. Site looks nice.

    Oh, dang. Except there’s an ad for Inc covering up the button to enter this comment and no way to close the ad. Awkward!

    Okay. I changed the zoom on the browser and now I can actually post. Must be a browser fluke.

    1. Mimmy*

      Which browser are you using? I had the same issue on my browser–Safari on iMac–and once I changed the setting, the ad no longer covers the submit button.

        1. Mimmy*

          In the “View” tab, “Zoom Text Only” is checked by default, which just increases the font size of regular text, like in the posts and comments; I use this with just about every site. I’ve seen sites that look all out of whack when I zoom it really big.

          So, I unchecked “Zoom Text Only”, and it zooms the ENTIRE page as one. What’s weird is that when it’s set to zoom just the text, I have to scroll left and right to read it; when it’s set to zoom the entire page, the text wraps so that I can read it without scrolling left to right. You’d think it’d be the opposite.

          TL;DR – I unchecked “Zoom Text Only” in Safari :)

          1. smilingswan*

            Thanks for that info, I use Safari and I’ve been having all sorts of issues zooming in, especially on Facebook. This is so helpful!

    1. Elysian*

      Yeah!! I’ve gotten away from reading the open threads (just no time) and I feel like the collapsible comments will get be back to it.

    2. Grey*

      I’d like it better if they were all collapsed by default. I’d rather expand the ones I want to read rather then collapse all the ones I don’t.

      1. Grey*

        Never mind. I just found the “collapse all” link at the top. With that, the default doesn’t matter.

  4. Elizabeth West*

    I like it. I especially like that I don’t have to repeatedly click to expand but only if I want to collapse. That’s one thing I was worried about with this comment layout, but my fears have been assuaged. :D

  5. Mouse of Evil*

    Wow! Big changes just since yesterday. Many, many kudos to Laura. These are awesome and intelligent improvements, and they can be challenging to implement as seamlessly as this.

  6. moose*

    Hmm, I only see one column. Nothing on the right at all – the archives and such have disappeared from the home page.

    There’s a strange ad that is blocking my ability to hit the “Submit” button on this comment. Neither clicking on it nor reloading the page moves it away from hovering over the “Submit” button. Frustrating…how will I submit this comment???

    Okay, once I switched to Safari, I can see the site how it’s supposed to be. I was using Firefox for the above comments.

  7. JustS*

    Love the mobile version of the site!

    Just one question, I was looking for the Search function and see it on the bottom of the post, but not in the menu options. Is that something you want to consider adding to the menu?

  8. NylaW*

    Love it! It’s so much nicer to read on my phone now. Thank you for everything you do, Alison!

    1. Kelly O*

      I actually like it better on my screen – it’s wider so it makes the text a LOT easier to read (for me, at least.)

    2. Mints*

      Me too! This is exactly what I wanted when I kept asking for mobile. The same, just narrower. Perfect!

  9. Megan*

    De-lurking to say it looks great!! Can’t wait to read the open thread tonight with the new collapsible comment feature.

  10. JC*

    I think this is great! It was very easy to read on my phone during my commute this morning, and I bet I will love the collapsible comments during the open threads. I didn’t even think the old site was annoying on my phone until I saw how good it looked today!

  11. LPBB*

    I’m chiming in to say that I love the new changes! I especially love the collapsible comments and I think it will make open threads much more enjoyable and much easier to navigate.

  12. Mimmy*

    I was worried I wouldn’t like the changes, but I do! Thank you for putting in the expandable/collapsible comments capability!!

    The only thing that bugs me a bit is the wider post/comment field. Because of my vision impairment, I use the Zoom feature on my browser (Safari); with the old layout, I was able to get it to where everything filled the full width of my screen without having to scroll left to right.

    But this is small potatoes because the wider screen seems to work better for those on mobile devices (I’m primarily on my iMac desktop). This is something I’ll have to play around with myself :)

    Great job Alison and Laura!!

  13. Jubilance*

    This is great! I love the collapsible comments, this is make the open threads so much easier to read. Thanks for all the updates! Also congrats on the partnership with Inc – I’m a huge fan of the magazine.

  14. JessA*

    I love the new site changes. I checked the site late last night, early this morning and I noticed the collapsable comments and the wider main column right away. Kudos! The site looks great!

  15. Windchime*

    Echoing what others say–the changes look great. Very clean and tidy. I experimented with the expanding/collapsing and I really like the way it looks.

    I also have to compliment you and your team on the smooth transition. Another site I read has been doing some kind of transition and it’s been nothing but crashing and freezing for days. The transition of your site to the new format has been seamless.

  16. Laura*

    I loved the site before and was worried about what would change – I would have sworn it was Just Fine. And it was, but it’s even better now. Zooming on my phone never bothered me, but this is easier.

    The wider column is bugging me, but only because it’s new and doesn’t look “right” for this site yet. (I wanted to say it was ‘too wide’ to read comfortably, but then I went to my Dreamwidth page and realized I actually have the text _wider_ there when my browser is maximized…so no, this site is not ‘too wide’, I’m just used to how it was and need to adapt. LOL.)

    And I _ADORE_ the thread collapse. That is going to be so useful for open threads especially!

  17. CAA*

    Nice job overall. I have a couple of small suggestions:

    – In the right nav under Archives, the current month should default to expanded, same as the current year. I think it used to be that way, but today when I look at it, August 2014 is closed and I have to expand it to see recent posts.

    – When I look at the home page on a phone browser, it’s a long long way to scroll to the stuff that’s in the right hand column on my computer. You might consider adding an anchor in the menu to take people to that column. You can use CSS to make it appear only when the page is collapsed to phone width.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s a great idea about the menu anchor.

      For the archives, I actually changed it to what you’re seeing now because by the end of the month (hell, by the middle of the month), there are so many posts that the archive listing becomes huge … and you have to scroll waaaaayyyy down to see anything below it. I’m still going to add in a couple of new elements for Inc., one of which will go below the archives (with links to articles on their site) and I don’t want it to be totally buried at the bottom.

      But — if you want to advocate for it being much better to have the month’s posts all listed out there without having to click to open it, I’m open to hearing arguments for it!

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Personally, I am in favor of collapsed. I rarely use the archive nav, but I think with the current month opened it used to look really cluttered.

      2. CAA*

        Ah, I see. As a compromise, could we have a “10 most recent posts” section in the right nav that stays open? It’s useful for occasional visitors or for those of us who travel and are unable to read posts as you put them up. Sometimes I come in after a couple days away and there are several new posts, so I go to the top of the archives and use my middle mouse button to click on the links for the ones I want to read (I usually skip things like open threads and sponsored posts.) Middle mouse button opens each link in a new tab, so then I just read each tab, closing it when I’m done.

        It’s not that horrible to have to click on one extra triangle to expand a list, but I know I’m going to find something good in there, so I’ll definitely do it. If you want to draw in the new visitor and get them to read more, I think it’s helpful to have the actual post titles out there where they can catch someone’s eye.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yeah, I use the archive navigation too. Maybe have it collapsible as well? Default it to collapsed, but if we want to expand it, it will stay expanded?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I am thrilled to hear that! It’s rare to make changes to a site and have people not be grumpy about it, so this is very exciting for me as well!

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        I was prepared to be grumpy as I do not like collapsed comments, but I really like these changes. A+ all around!

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I was only grumpy yesterday, because as a west-coaster, it was down when I wanted it to be up. :)

        I really like the collapsible comments. I like being able to have them all expanded, so it looks like before, or collapsed. And now that I’ve seen it for a few minutes, I’ll probably preferred the collapsed after all.

  18. CAA*

    Oh, I just realized that my second suggestion is the same as the person above who asked for a search link in the top menu. That’s the first thing in the right column, so it is way at the bottom on a phone.

  19. Monodon monoceros*

    Just a minor suggestion (for desktop viewing anyway, haven’t looked at phone/tablet), because I am a nerd (and I’ve been dealing with this a lot lately at work), but since the column is wider the font size should be increased a little bit. This is because studies have shown that it’s easier for people to read a column when it contains about 60 characters, or about 15 words. With a wider layout, and only one column, if you increase the font a bit this will help this problem.

    Otherwise, it is great to have the collapsible comment threads!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I would be happy with a font size increase as well.

        All in all Alison and Laura, the site looks good, really good :) many thanks for the hard work and time put into it!

    1. Onymouse*

      Just to chime in and say I also agree. I usually have AAM at 150% zoom for easy reading, but the new layout pushes the text pretty close to the left edge of the window at that zoom level (Chrome on OS X, 13″ screen), which feels weird because most sites (including AAM on default zoom level) has more padding.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      I agree. I find it harder to read the posts now with the wider column. I don’t know how old the rest of the folks are agreeing to this comment, but I’m in my 20s and find it uncomfortable.

      1. Sarah*

        I use ctrl-“scroll wheel on the mouse” to adjust font size on the fly on a desktop. That works on most browsers and on both Windows and Mac. I just realized that I have no idea what the keyboard only version of that is.

        1. Onymouse*

          Ctrl(Windows)/Cmd(Mac) and the plus or minus keys (= works too for increasing – so no need to hold down shift)

        2. Windchime*

          I use “Control +” (or Command + on Mac) to make the font bigger. That increases it to a good size for the new wider column so my old-lady eyes can read it better. :)

        3. Monodon monoceros*

          I know people can fiddle with it, but I don’t think you should have to if it’s easy for the website to be set up for proper reading.

  20. AdminAnon*

    These changes are fantastic!! The collapsible comments are going to be so useful for open threads (and other posts, but I’m mostly excited about the open threads). Thanks, Alison and Laura!

    PS I would totally buy a Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. coffee mug (tea cup?) or something :)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ditto from me or tee-shirt. I live near two vacation spots and it would be fun to walk down the street wearing the shirt to see who comments.

  21. Kacie*

    I love the changes, thanks for working so hard on this! I do use the site a lot on mobile, so it’s such a nice change. The only problem I’m having is that a character or two here and there are getting cut off on the right-hand side of my mobile phone screen in the comments.

    1. Lauren*

      Agreed! I’m on Android and I lose 2-3 characters on the right of most comments. This remains true whether in portrait or landscape. Other than that, it’s so much easier to read!

  22. Sunshine*

    I tried to comment about this earlier today but I don’t think it stuck (completely user error, I’m sure)… but my display is cutting off on the right side of the screen. Only one character, and only on the longer lines of text, so it is still readable, but I thought I’d mention it.

    Looks great though! So much easier to read on my phone! Thank you!

  23. Lulubell*

    Thank you! The collapsible comments alone will greatly increase the amount of time I spend on this site!

  24. AnonyMOOSE*

    I like the new layout almost entirely, but I think the lines of text in the post are too long. I think it was easier to read the other way rather than having to track along a longer line. I get that I can shrink the screen and it will adjust, but I would rather the lines be shorter in the full screen desktop version.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Humor me and live with it for a week and see if you still feel the same at that point? I didn’t like it at first either but I got used to it pretty quickly. I think it might just be that it’s a change.

  25. Anonymous*

    Just love the changes. I send so many people to this site; now I can tell them it is mobile friendly.
    That is all :-)

  26. One of the Annes*

    The changes are great! I never realized what an AAM addict I was until the site was briefly unavailable and I found myself checking every 15 minutes to see whether it was back up : ) Thank you for the awesome blog, Alison.

  27. Eudora Wealthy*

    Good changes, Alison. And good comments. The only other thing I notice is that the HOT BOOKS link doesn’t work.

  28. Vancouver Reader*

    Love the new look! Laura did a great job and the responsive theme is fantastic! I could never get the font size quite right when I read it on my phone, so that is such a bonus for me.

  29. Not So NewReader*

    Thank you, Alison! And thanks to Laura and anyone else who worked on this. You made meaningful improvements that only enhance the site. This can be quite tricky- nice choices and good job all around.

  30. Formica Dinette*

    This is wonderful! Since we often get into extended conversations around here, expandable/collapsible comments are so useful. Likewise, many comments are substantial in length, so the wider main text area is great.

    Thanks, Alison and Laura!

  31. Nicole*

    I love the comment changes! I pulled up the site on my phone and it looks great and it will make it soooo much easier to read all the interesting stuff on Sundays without crazy scrolling, especially if I have to stop and come back later. Thanks for making this site even better than it already was! :)

  32. WorkingAsDesigned*

    Something interesting just happened to me with the expandable/collapsible comments in the open thread.

    I had clicked on the expand/collapse all replies so that they were collapsed. After I added a new post, all of the replies were re-expanded. This is quite likely user error – can anyone tell me what I might have done?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it’s because once the page refreshes, it reloads to its default state, which is everything expanded. Let me check and see if there are any other options for that.

      1. WorkingAsDesigned*

        Thanks, Alison! No worries if there’s aren’t other options – it’s easily changed back to “collapse all”. Just checking to see if it was my error. :-)

  33. Windchime*

    Hey Alison, I’ve noticed in the Open Thread that i have to click the “Submit” button twice in order to get my post to go through. It seems like I have to click it once to activate it, and another time to actually send the post through. I’m posting this here because the chances of you seeing it are better than in the Open Thread.

      1. Windchime*

        Safari 6.1.1 on a Mac. When I posted about this problem, I was able to get it to go with just one click. In the open thread it didn’t, but it totally could be user error so if I’m the only one mentioning it, maybe it’s not really an issue. I’ll see what happens when I hit submit on this one.

      2. Mimmy*

        I’m having some issues today.

        I too am noticing that I have to hit the “submit” button twice for a post to go through. Sometimes, I can’t tell if the post went through, so I hit it again, which then causes the system to tell me I have a duplicate comment. When I hit the browser “back” button, my comment isn’t there. Next time if it happens, I’ll refresh the page to see if the post comes up.

        I think I made that mistake this morning in the Free-For-All–I posted my post a second time thinking my first post didn’t go through. Sorry about that Alison!! Thanks for deleting the second one.

  34. Callie*

    looks great! thanks for all you do for this site. It’s one of my go-to stops on the internet every day.

  35. bkanon*

    I use a Samsung Android tablet with Firefox to view AAM on the go. Previously, I was able to doubletap on the content column and have it zoom to just that column. Now it no longer does that. I can’t doubletap to zoom, I can only pinch-zoom. That’s rather disappointing to me, as the pinch involves a lot of fine-tuning where the doubletap was a quick automatic fit. Is it possible for you to look into why that is happening? I think it’s related to this line in the code – meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width” – but I’m not 100% certain.

  36. Alex*

    I’m on an Android HTC One M8 and the mobile layout looks fantastic! I can still double tap zoom if needed, the collapsible comments work perfectly, it’s aces. Love it.

  37. Eclipse*

    The only thing I don’t like about the new ads is that I’m getting some with background music that I can’t turn off.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That shouldn’t be happening! If it happens again, would you send me a screenshot of the ad that’s displaying when it happens so we can track it down?

  38. Sloop*

    Alison, I know this is a few days late, but I am loving the new format! I’m a heavy mobile user and the mobile format is great. Kudos!

  39. the celt*

    I am really enjoying the new layout, and I think the wider column (and two instead of three) looks a lot cleaner. The collapsible comments are going to be a godsend for me being able to find out where I left of in comments the night before when I close out for the evening. Love it!

  40. Elkay*

    Loving the collapsing comments for the open threads, meant I felt I was able to participate despite being late in the day.

  41. Worker Bee*

    I am very late to the party! Just wanted to say thank you to Laura and Alison. The changes are great! Love the mobile version!!

Comments are closed.