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Today is the Day!

We launched our first journal three years ago, but the design of all of our sites has changed very little since then. So, it’s high time we gave all of our web sites a facelift – and today is the day that we reveal our makeover to the world.

Although everyone here at PLoS played a part in the redesign, the principal designer and general star of the project was Margaret Shear.

Her initial goals were to improve usability and to optimize the user experience of our sites. For the technically minded among you, bringing the look and feel of PLoS journal web sites up to contemporary web design standards involved completely regenerating both the HTML structure and the CSS markup to follow web standards. Which is, as you can imagine, a huge undertaking.

In Margaret’s own words “…it is essential that the journal sites support the web-only nature of our publications, taking their stylistic references from contemporary web design rather than traditional scientific publishing. Also, a more edgy feel reinforces PLoS’s mission to break from convention.”

Margaret goes on to explain that “while each site will be individually branded, they will appear as members of the larger PLoS family and be constructed upon the same basic visual elements. The opportunities for users to interact with our sites will be harmonized across the entire PLoS family, creating a fluid and consistent browsing experience."

The newly designed journal sites feature improved organization and enhanced navigation to help you more easily find content that’s relevant to your interests. The sites also contain links for you to send in your comments and questions – we want to know what you think. These redesigns are just another step in the evolution of PLoS publications.

At PLoS, we are trying to engage our community of users as much as we can in order to best meet its needs. And on that topic, remember that the launch of our biggest web community project – PLoS ONE (BETA) – is only a matter of weeks away.

  1. The redesign looks amazing and works well too. There are some artifacts in Safari 2.0.4 especially with the menus (i.e. Home, Browse Articles, About, etc.) but it works in Firefox 2.0 and other browsers just fine.

    I also wanted to take the time and express that you guys are doing an awesome job and are a real inspiration to me and accelerating O.A. in anthropology. I love reading the papers with genetic and genomic analysis on human evolution and wish one day that there will be more paleoanthropology, archaeology, etc. focus. Perhaps one day you may diversify out there… the American Anthropological Association sure isn’t!

    Keep up the great work.


  2. I really like the new look. Congratulations.
    I would offer some suggestions for future changes. The first would be to inform the readers that the paper has some Reader Responses directly on the manuscript page. The easiest way would to put the number of responses next to the link to “Read Other Responses”. The other change would be to add a link to blogs commenting on this manuscript under the section “Explore”. Alternatively these could be included in the section of user responses via trackback pings. Also, maybe the journals could highlight particular interesting user responses in the main webpage as a reward to drive further user participation.

  3. Thanks for pointing out the missing field from the drop-down list. We’re catching a few other bugs that slipped through the cracks and we’ll resolve the issues this week.

  4. Much needed re-vamp of the site! Overall it looks good, but unfortunately there are still some bugs. For instance some features don’t display correctly when using Safari.


  5. Much needed re-vamp of the site! Overall it looks good, but unfortunately there are still some bugs. For instance some features don’t display correctly when using Safari.


  6. Thank you all for your kind remarks. As Rich mentioned, there are a few glitches that we have spotted and the are working on correcting. We appriciate your patience. That being said, if you continue to have problems or would like to give us additional feedback, please don’t hesitate to post a note to this blog post.

  7. Hi,
    The new webpage looks nice, but the older one was not bad either. This new design takes about 15 seconds to load in Firefox. However, rendering of subsequent returns to the webpage has a much smaller delay.
    It would be nice to reduce the initial delay which is quite long.

  8. The new design looks great. I like everything EXCEPT for the drop down menus, which, unlike the rest of the page, is very annoying. Sometimes it takes two or three times to correctly click the desired link and very often I end up clicking the wrong link. There aren’t many items in these menus so why can’t they just be available directly on the page?

  9. Throughout the web underlined text signals hyperlinks. The PlosONE home page uses underlines to indicate that a sentence was omitted from the text but can be recovered by mousing over the underlined text. This difference makes the PlosONE home page annoying.

    Since the essence of the popups is identical to a footnote, consider using footnote conventions, such as a double dagger‡ or circled plus⊕ to indicate additional information.

    Or have the popup link to a page. Then the popup is a preview, a summary of a whole page, a useful role.

  10. AAAAAAACK! This redesign does not work for me. The heading is jumbled. There is little information, unlike the old design, which showed “most viewed” and current issue contents. I will certainly use this much less than in the past.

  11. Hi,
    I have a paper out in this month’s plos biology. I have tried to have a look at it from several computers. But the change in design of the web page is preventing me. I can no longer even read most of the pages. It took me quite a while on this page to find where I could send a message — I could tell people had written comments, so that there was a way, but the text to send a message is so small, and in light blue, that I can scarcely read it. I have probably been to thousands of websites in the last few years, I have never seen a website so hard to read. What is going on — PLoS biology is supposed to be “easy access”! Have you not looked at this site on multiple machines? DO I need a Mac? I am using windows XP.
    It would surprise me if a visitor to the site had to “work” to be able to read the pages, but this is what I have to do, (and still have not figured out how), so I imagine that there must be others.
    Rather ironically, I can’t read the text in the “preview comment” box

  12. As a visual scientist, I a compelled to say that the new layout on the main page does not look good and is not very functional:

    1) Generally, the website draws too much attention to irrelevant details and does not faciliate the focusing of attention on important information. Key examples are the ‘Welcome to our makeover!’ and ‘Reuse’ buttons near the top right. This information is not the primary material to which attention should be drawn, in my opinion

    2) The text font (Lucida grande) and the lack of judiscious bolding also does nothing to draw attention to important information.

    3) I think the Cover Image should be more prominent, placed nearer the top of the page. This will immediately draw the reader’s attention to the most important information. In my opinion, the ‘Recent recent’ and ‘Most viewed’ tabs should not be placed higher than the Current Issue image and caption. Associating image icons with these articles (as done with the ‘Editors’ Picks’ section below) would also help the look of the site.

    A quick look at the Nature Neuroscience website might help to see what I mean.

  13. Hi,

    I think you may have violated one of the most important rules of webdesign: the most important stuff should be before-the-fold. I would echo the comments that say that the cover should have much more prominence.

    It seems like you guys are going to use the top part for banner ads so I guess you can’t move the whole page up. However, may I suggest doing away with the blue background behind “PLoS journal X” and replacing it with the cover image? So that the background changes with the cover image?

    Also, I would remove those three boxes on the right that have the open-access symbols, etc on them.

    It’s great that you guys are embracing Web 2.0 but you have to remember that people are expecting to see research and hence research articles should have the most prominence…not random blog-bites.

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