About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

61 comments:

  1. 1

    Apparently Tim is getting older, and rather than getting glasses for himself, he’s made what everyone reads bigger! The text reminds me of the Dick and Jane books from 1st grade. ;-)

    Edit: Look at the size of the “1” to the right of my name. That is huge.

    Going to another thread it really is hard to read what people write when it’s so large.

    Also, the recent posts don’t show up when you’re in the other thread, so you have to go back to the main page. I want to downgrade my vote.

  2. 2
    boater says:

    Hate to be a buzzkill but the header image is massive on mobile devices. The content doesn’t show unless you scroll down.

  3. 3
    Blurtman says:

    Like Dave Reichert’s re-election campaign committee, it is way too white.

    Proportionality is out of kilter.

    Borders, please.

    Hiring a Molly addicted website designer may not have been the best idea.

  4. 4
    The Tim says:

    Thanks for the feedback!

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1 – I was wondering if the font was a little too big. The default font size for this theme was even bigger, but I already shrank it. I might shrink it down a bit more. And I could add recent comments back to the sidebar on individual post pages if people prefer it that way.

    RE: boater @ 2 – Hmm. I tested it on my phone and didn’t think it was too big but I could definitely shrink the header a tad.

    RE: Blurtman @ 3 – Hmm, my wife suggested borders too. I kind of prefer the “flat” look, but I’ll see if I can come up with something that looks good. I don’t get the “Molly addicted” reference.

  5. 5

    RE: The Tim @ 4 – Wow, I’d hate to have seen the default! This seems better now, but still a bit big. Maybe others like it though.

    One other thing. Maybe it’s just the lack of side recent comments, but I don’t recall the homepage link area of the top being so small before. For the black box area, only the text “Seattle Bubble” takes you to the home page. Is there some reason it can’t be the entire black box, or better yet the entire picture?

    And how about using the redesign as an opportunity to kill off the health care and politics threads? We’re two days from an election and neither has been used for months.

  6. 6
    pfft says:

    new look=awesome.

  7. 7
    boater says:

    RE: The Tim @ 4
    I have a galaxy s3. The header including the menu /Facebook link etc takes up about 75% of my screen.

    All I see on an article without scrolling is the title. Its not unusable but it’s not terribly useful either.

  8. 8
    RandomNumber says:

    The two biggest issues for me are: Everything is way too big and bright – I feel like I need to stand back from my computer and squint to comfortably read it. The other is that there seems to be less usable information than previously on the front page, with the main images being presented out of context and clipped by the titles, as well as the missing info on comments.

  9. 9
    The Tim says:

    By RandomNumber @ 8:

    the missing info on comments.

    What do you mean “missing info on comments”?

  10. 10
    boater says:

    RE: The Tim @ 9 – he might be referring to how the date and number of comments run together so close you can almost miss the comments part if you’re not looking close.

    Fired up the site on my pc. Looks good there.

  11. 11
    m-s says:

    Kind of feels like its yelling at me. Also, the pink pony’s eye looks a little demonic. Halloween hangover, maybe, or…

  12. 12
    Erik says:

    Much improved, but I agree with Kary that you need to decrease the font size. Now we need to work on comment quality including my comments recently.

  13. 13
    The Kraken says:

    RE: boater @ 10

    Yup. Thanks for pointing out the new location; I was commenting to state my despair at its absence. It certainly doesn’t stand out in its current location.

    Overall, it looks quite fancy.

  14. 14
    The Tim says:

    RE: The Kraken @ 13 – Is it better floated off to the right by itself, like it is now?

  15. 15
    QA Guy says:

    I voted “mostly awful”.

    What I liked:
    * Gradient blue bars on vote polls
    * Slightly larger plain text size makes it easier to read

    What I didn’t like:
    * Too many different CSS text and spacing styles on the page. Discussion thread comments text uses Times New Roman, which is not hugely popular now.
    * Message post count is too large. Message start and end is harder to see on a plain white background
    * The pony pic is too large. Tim, think about this: approx. 33% of pixel “acreage” space goes for what is essentially just a logo and doesn’t provide any use for customers other than ‘wow’ when seen first time.
    * “News categories” section on homepage. Vertical pacing could be greatly reduced
    * News column on a homepage takes only takes about 45% of screen width on my 1920×1080 resolution monitor. Giant white margins on both sides of the text look awkward.

  16. 16
    redmondjp says:

    So, do I have to scroll all the way down until I find the daily open thread now? And maybe my browser is too old, as I can’t even see the option to vote now!

  17. 17
    The Tim says:

    RE: QA Guy @ 15 – Thanks for the detailed feedback.

    RE: redmondjp @ 16 – The sidebar should only show up at the bottom of the content if you’re viewing the site in a relatively narrow window (the cutoff is around 1,160 pixels wide). And you can’t see the option to vote in the poll? Nothing’s changed about polls except the font and button styles…

  18. 18
    RandomNumber says:

    RE: The Tim @ 14 – I found it right away when I loaded up the site just now, so I’d say yes.

  19. 19
    Jonness says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 1:

    Apparently Tim is getting older, and rather than getting glasses for himself, he’s made what everyone reads bigger! The text reminds me of the Dick and Jane books from 1st grade. ;-)

    Edit: Look at the size of the “1” to the right of my name. That is huge.

    Going to another thread it really is hard to read what people write when it’s so large.

    Apparently Kary has an extremely old computer and is years behind the curve in technology. These days, you either pinch your screen or your touchpad to make the screen size whatever suits you.

    The new look and feel is great Tim. But you have to be young enough to welcome change in order to appreciate it. Those with old hardwired brains hate change and will not welcome your handwork with open arms.

  20. 20
    Jonness says:

    Just kidding Kary. Even with Tim’s adjustments, the numbers seem out of proportion with the text (as you pointed out).

    But now that I think about it, Erik is old before his time (OK Erik, I’m kidding about that to).

    Overall, the new look is a nice change though. I was getting bored with the prior look and feel.

  21. 21
    Rumpole says:

    I don’t mind the new format, but I can’t get past the large size; it feels like the page is screaming at me.

  22. 22

    By Jonness @ 20:

    Just kidding Kary. Even with Tim’s adjustments, the numbers seem out of proportion with the text (as you pointed out).

    Not to mention few desktops have touchscreens. But I probably shouldn’t mention how old my desktop is, although given the age of my truck it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise. But add a SSD to an older desktop and you have a reasonably fast computer.

    Tim, the recent comments don’t show up at all on the Android Chrome browser. Even selecting “request desktop site” doesn’t change that.

  23. 23
    The Tim says:

    All righty, I shrank all the fonts a bit more and also changed all the fonts to match the sans-serif font that was being used for some of the non-headline stuff. Looks better, I think. Later today I’ll see if I can shrink the header a bit more and still have it look decent.

  24. 24
    The Tim says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 22 – The whole sidebar shows up underneath the posts when your browser window is narrow (like on a phone). Scroll to the bottom of the page…

  25. 25

    RE: The Tim @ 24 – Nope, not seeing it at the bottom either (but in any case I usually use my browser with the phone orientated sideways, and even if they were at the bottom, with that only appearing on the main page that would be a lot of scrolling down!).

  26. 26
    The Tim says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 25 – Hmm, here’s what I see in Chrome on my Android phone when I scroll to the bottom of the posts. “Open Threads” doesn’t show up just under the “Load more posts” button for you?

  27. 27
    No Name Guy says:

    Please, just go back to the old format.

    New is not necessarily better.

    Thank you.

  28. 28
    redmondjp says:

    By The Tim @ 17:

    RE: QA Guy @ 15 – Thanks for the detailed feedback.

    RE: redmondjp @ 16 – The sidebar should only show up at the bottom of the content if you’re viewing the site in a relatively narrow window (the cutoff is around 1,160 pixels wide). And you can’t see the option to vote in the poll? Nothing’s changed about polls except the font and button styles…

    Using IE 8 at both home and work – no sidebar at either place, but at least at work, the actual voting graphics do show up. At work, I’m locked-in to IE 8 so for all of those with “get with the times” comments, talk to Mordac in DC. And I’ve tried scaling down and still, no sidebar. The graphics at the top stay there full width and everything else shrinks down to a narrow column. I tend to stop viewing sites when they change to a format that I can’t use.

    Also, I can only read the “POST COMMENT” and “PREVIEW” text in the buttons at the bottom when I hover over them – there is virtually no contrast between them any longer.

  29. 29
    The Tim says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 28 – Hmm, IE8, huh? I’ll see what I can do but I can’t make any promises about fully supporting a five-and-a-half-year-old browser that’s only being used by ~2.5% of Seattle Bubble visitors.

  30. 30

    By No Name Guy @ 27:

    Please, just go back to the old format.

    New is not necessarily better.

    Thank you.

    I think I discovered the improvement! Recommended Products! ;-)

    Maybe that existed before and I just didn’t notice it, or maybe it gets past AdBlock now, but it’s new to me. Love the “One Knob Microwave.” Old-school. Perfect Xmas gift for older parents.

  31. 31

    By The Tim @ 23:

    All righty, I shrank all the fonts a bit more and also changed all the fonts to match the sans-serif font that was being used for some of the non-headline stuff.

    This font might be the same one Trulia uses. It looks odd in the Windows Chrome browser. For example, the word “Trulia” has the last three letters in bold, and the letters which are not in bold are sort of fuzzy. It’s fine in IE. (And I’m not the only one who has that issue–others have complained on Trulia.)

  32. 32
    The Tim says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 30:

    I think I discovered the improvement! Recommended Products! ;-)

    I added that on Thursday or Friday, and rolled out the new design Saturday night. I’m also going to add a page to hold an index of them with links to reviews as I write them, like the Toro blower review.

    Love the “One Knob Microwave.” Old-school. Perfect Xmas gift for older parents.

    Modern microwave user interface “design” sucks. That post from my personal site is sort of a review of that one-knob Sharp microwave.

  33. 33

    Can you move the bar below the banner to above, and then have it remain at the top of the browser window as you scroll down? See Geekwire.com for an example.

    That would make it easier to get back to your homepage.

  34. 34
    redmondjp says:

    By The Tim @ 29:

    RE: redmondjp @ 28 – Hmm, IE8, huh? I’ll see what I can do but I can’t make any promises about fully supporting a five-and-a-half-year-old browser that’s only being used by ~2.5% of Seattle Bubble visitors.

    Using that logic, our local municipalities are wasting millions of dollars installing wheelchair ramps at every intersection.

  35. 35
    The Tim says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 34 – If someone were wheelchair-bound due to a personal choice or a Luddite corporate policy and they could technically just get up and walk at any time, then yes absolutely. ;)

  36. 36
    HappyRenter says:

    Not just the font, also stuff like pictures and buttons, like “Post comment” and “Preview” are too big. In its current state, the website is much more difficult to browse and read as in the previous format because it is more difficult to get an overview of where is what. Probably less of a problem for expert SeattleBubble readers but might be more confusing to newbies.

  37. 37

    By The Tim @ 35:

    – If someone were wheelchair-bound due to a personal choice or a Luddite corporate policy and they could technically just get up and walk at any time, then yes absolutely. ;)

    By Chris Christie: – I think you should lock those IE8 viewers out of SB entirely. They’re more likely to be infected, and should be quarantined from the rest of us.

  38. 38
    RandomNumber says:

    The font now feels too small, while the rest of the website continues to feel too big and garish. I continue to feel the the format change is not for the better. I don’t come here for the graphic design, nor was I getting bored with it; I come for the information. The old layout didn’t detract from the content, but this new one unfortunately does.

  39. 39
    UrbanDweller says:

    Of course it’s your blog, but the new layout is terrible. As RandomNumber has stated, I come here for the data. You do that very well. Don’t mess with success. Please bring back the old format. Why was the change in layout even necessary?

  40. 40
    The Tim says:

    By UrbanDweller @ 39:

    Why was the change in layout even necessary?

    The old layout was difficult to read and use on mobile/tablet devices. A few years ago less than 10 percent of the traffic to Seattle Bubble was from mobile/tablet devices. Now that number is up around 30 percent.

    I couldn’t ignore the poor usability of the site on mobile any more, and I wanted something cleaner, so I found a new theme and modified it to fit my needs.

  41. 41
    Macro Investor says:

    Tim — Please, just get rid of the whole pink pony picture. It’s like a tattoo — they seem cool at first but look stupid after seeing it the third time.

    There should be navigation right at the top of the page. You don’t want to scroll all the way down a long page to find various features listed at the bottom. And that list becomes longer and more tedious to scroll as more comments are added. It seems really sloppy to just chunk that all at the bottom of your content.

    Sorry to be harsh, but that’s really just UI design 101.

  42. 42
    Joe M says:

    The Seattle Bubble billboard at the top is too prominent. That unicorn is cute and the house gives a message but now you can’t see any of it to speak of so why even have it at all?

    I see all the stupid logo buttons for pins and emails and sexting and all the other stuff that losers do, but I can’t see a button to comment. I guess you have to read the article? Come on.

    I don’t like it when you have to hit a link to see the article. You’re rewarding occasional visitors who need to see what the current offerings are over regulars who would like to read the latest entry in place if possible.

    The comments themselves look good and the general cleanliness is probably necessary.

  43. 43
    Macro Investor says:

    Also, on firefox the poll does not work. Even with noscript, adblock and ghostery disabled. Yeah, I have a lot of security issues.

    Edit — I just noticed you got rid of your dog picture and user icons. That was part of the Sea bubble charm.

  44. 44
    Macro Investor says:

    By Joe M @ 42:

    I see all the stupid logo buttons for pins and emails and sexting and all the other stuff that losers do, but I can’t see a button to comment.

    Priceless.

  45. 45

    RE: The Tim @ 40 – I would disagree that the old layout was difficult to use/read on mobile devices. As Jonness notes above, with mobile devices you can adjust your view easily. Even on my relatively small Samsung S4 I almost always ask for the desktop site if a site has a mobile version.

    I think you might be misinterpreting the data. You see increased mobile usage and think there’s a problem! If there was a problem, you probably wouldn’t have been seeing increased mobile usage. ;-)

  46. 46
    ChrisM says:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 43 – I’m running PaleMoon w/ NoScript, AdBlock and RequestPolicy (which I prefer to Ghostery) and the poll works for me.

    In NoScript I allow wp, gravatar, linkedin and seattlebubble, everything else is blocked.

    In RequestPolicy I permit fonts.googleapis.com, wp.com, gravatar.com and gstatic.com

    HTH…

  47. 47
    Sally says:

    I highly dislike the new format, A lot. Was much easier to navigate and read in the original format. A good idea that was executed poorly.

  48. 48
    The Tim says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 33:

    Can you move the bar below the banner to above, and then have it remain at the top of the browser window as you scroll down? See Geekwire.com for an example.

    That would make it easier to get back to your homepage.

    Good idea. Rolled out Version 1 of this improvement this morning.

  49. 49
    Blurtman says:

    Needless to say, it is a good idea to gain input from your readers on the new format. Judged by the results so far, the new look is not popular, but I imagine it is but one stop on the road to perfection.

  50. 50
    The Tim says:

    By Blurtman @ 49:

    Judged by the results so far, the new look is not popular…

    Look at the feedback from virtually any major website redesign. Facebook, Flickr, Twitter… you name it. It’s always the same story, regardless of how great the new design is: Feedback is overwhelmingly negative.

    People don’t like change. I get it.

    The feedback that includes actionable things like “the font is too big” or “you should pin the nav bar to the top” is useful. Feedback that essentially boils down to “I don’t like it” just tells me that you’re normal, and like most people, you don’t like change.

    P.S. – These comments weren’t directed specifically at Blurtman, but were just a response to the general reactions in this thread.

    Thanks again to those who are giving the specific, actionable feedback.

  51. 51
    Blurtman says:

    RE: The Tim @ 50 – Looks good on an iPhone 5S, and I guess I can see what you used so much white.

  52. 52
    Attorney says:

    You should change the fonts so that the post titles are larger or in different fonts than the titles for the charts/tables. It is difficult to tell at a glance where one post ends and another begins. (Using Chrome)

  53. 53
    The Tim says:

    RE: Attorney @ 52 – I see what you mean. I’ll see if I can come up with a good solution to that.

  54. 54

    By The Tim @ 48:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 33:

    Can you move the bar below the banner to above, and then have it remain at the top of the browser window as you scroll down? See Geekwire.com for an example.

    That would make it easier to get back to your homepage.

    Good idea. Rolled out Version 1 of this improvement this morning.

    Thanks, I wish I had noticed it a minute ago. As it was to get here from another thread I had to either hit back twice, then click this thread, or go all the way to the top of the page, and then click home and then hit this thread.

    [Edit: I probably didn’t notice because the home page itself isn’t changed, and doesn’t need to be.]

    And BTW, on the change scale I’m not one who hates change, but I’m also not one who likes change for the sake of change. It drives me nuts when a software review says the interface looks dated, but on the other hand I had no issues at all with Win8.

  55. 55

    Tim, my idea about the bar on top is a mess when used on a mobile device, at least the Chrome Android browser on smaller devices. If you use the phone in landscape orientation, it takes up almost the entire screen! On my S4 there’s maybe 1/8th of an inch of content at the bottom. It has something to do with font size because the bar will take up three rows (sometimes).

  56. 56
    RandomNumber says:

    By The Tim @ 50:

    Look at the feedback from virtually any major website redesign. Facebook, Flickr, Twitter… you name it. It’s always the same story, regardless of how great the new design is: Feedback is overwhelmingly negative.

    People don’t like change. I get it.

    The feedback that includes actionable things like “the font is too big” or “you should pin the nav bar to the top” is useful. Feedback that essentially boils down to “I don’t like it” just tells me that you’re normal, and like most people, you don’t like change.

    It sounds like you are implying that an overwhelmingly negative response can’t be taken to mean anything. Would an overwhelming positive response mean something?

    Are you willing to at least consider the possibility that the new design is objectively bad? How much negative feedback would it take to convince you that, despite any tweaks you might make, you’ve headed off in the wrong direction?

    Change isn’t automatically good because just because it’s change.

    IF I STARTED WRITING IN ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME WOULD IT BE BETTER BECAUSE I HAVEN’T DONE IT BEFORE? SHOULD I IGNORE PEOPLE WHO ASK ME TO STOP AND GO BACK TO REGULAR CASING? MAYBe I COULd JUSt CHANGe It A LITTLe ANd THAt WOULd FIx It?

    I am not trying to be offensive, merely to make a point. Ultimately you get to decide Tim, it’s your site. I’m mostly a lurker here, and will likely continue to visit, primarily because your content is top-notch, and I’m grateful you put it out there. But I feel the site is replacing readability with empty garishness, and that’s a shame.

  57. 57
    ggrraahhaamm says:

    From a usability standpoint, I preferred in the old layout where most of the content (charts, pictures, etc) were on the main page so you could read most of the content without clicking through to an article. It seemed like you had set it up so we only needed to click through for comments or extremely long articles, which worked well.

    Visually, I don’t mind the new layout. It doesn’t seem as tight as the old layout, but it’s not so ugly it would keep me away from the site. A couple specific issues I’m noticing though are the huge white space between the content and the add column, and that if you narrow the window, the whole ad column disappears.

  58. 58
    whatsmyname says:

    By The Tim @ 50:

    Look at the feedback from virtually any major website redesign. Facebook, Flickr, Twitter… you name it. It’s always the same story, regardless of how great the new design is: Feedback is overwhelmingly negative.

    How does one determine the greatness of a new design if the feedback is overwhelmingly negative?

    People don’t like change. I get it.

    So what is it that you are trying to deliver?

  59. 59
    The Tim says:

    By whatsmyname @ 58:

    So what is it that you are trying to deliver?

    I stated that up above at comment # 40. The old site was not mobile friendly and as more people are reading this site (and every site online) from mobile devices, I wanted to switch to something that worked well across a variety of devices, desktop / phone / tablet. I am and will continue to be measuring a variety of usage statistics to see if the new design performs better or worse than the old design, and will continue to make changes as necessary.

  60. 60

    Tim, have you tried using the Chrome browser to look at the current font? I know it’s not just my machine that has the issue with the font, but I don’t know that it’s every machine using Chrome browser, but it’s very annoying due to the reasons stated above. The text is non-uniform and fuzzy.

  61. 61
    The Tim says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 60 – I use Chrome almost exclusively. Haven’t noticed any issues with the font. Can you provide a screenshot? Here’s what it looks like to me: http://i.imgur.com/JRRM2O6.png

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