A New Direction for Matters of Grey

A couple months back we released a new update to the design of Matters of Grey. This update also came with a new focus. I wanted to take a few minutes to express why the changes and help you see the value that we saw in making them.

Changes in Design

The most immediately recognizable change is to the design. We had the same design previously for a few years and while it served us well for that time, we felt that it took away from the content, which to us, was the most important part of MoG.

No Ads

One of the most dramatic (and somewhat controversial) change was to remove ads from the site. Why did we remove them you ask? When we had originally added them, it was to help support the costs of running the site. In time, donations to the Star Wars Snowflakes brought in funds to help us take care of those costs. Also, I have never been a big fan of seeing ads on sites. We get why they are there, but we found another way to support MoG and it didn’t make sense to push the ads on to our supporters and readers.

Simplified Content

We also wanted to make the content more visible and be the focus of the experience when readers visit MoG. Removing the sidebar alone allowed us to increase the size of the content making it more prominent. We also increased the font size, making posts easier to read. We made the image at the top of posts a little larger to make a bit more of a statement. We didn’t want to go overboard as we have seen in other sites, but still wanted to create a little more drama. We also increased the size of images in general, from page images to thumbnails. We felt that larger images made things easier to see in some cases.

Responsive Design

We made the site fully responsive so that you can get a great experience on mobile just as you do on a desktop. Yes, this is a trend that most websites are taking nowadays, but for us it meant creating a better experience for readers. We have noticed a significant increase of mobile traffic to our site and wanted to make sure that we didn’t create two separate sites for the same content, one mobile and one desktop. We tested diligently to make sure that the mobile version had the same “content-driven” experience as the desktop site conveyed.

Changes in Content

Over time we have evolved our content from posting stuff we found interesting, to articles on how to effectively design stuff, to social media news. While it’s been a lot of fun writing such a diverse set of content, it felt like we had drifted off course and pulled our focus from what really made us get things started in the beginning.

More Valuable Content

The name Matters of Grey came from wanting to write about things that enriched minds. “Matters” came from the idea of things that matter, or topics. “Grey” is a reference to grey matter or your brain. The two ideas combined, means topics to inspire or engage your brain.

That being said, we wanted to get back to writing about things that really engage readers, and provide content that people find useful and valuable. Our focus was all over the place and seemed to be timely, but was old news in a short time which was starting to make us feel like a news aggregator or something like that. Which was stressful and didn’t seem that valuable at times.

Content We Are Passionate About

We talked at great length about the reasons that make us write and what kept coming up was we get excited about sharing content we are passionate about. As we discussed this idea more, we felt that if we focus on writing about topics in our areas of expertise and passion, we would pour more effort into it as well as make something more meaningful to us and readers. Ultimately making a win-win for everyone.

No Forum

This was another tough decision for us, removing the forum. We won’t say that it will be gone forever and will never return, but for now, it’s gone. The forum was really valuable, but really only for one topic which most of you probably know was Foursquare badges. With the death of badges, the idea didn’t make sense any more. Also, the forum became an almost full time job. We had close to a dozen moderators helping us out with things which was awesome, but very time demanding for all of us. It took a lot of focus off the things that we wanted to be doing and for something that was dead or dying.

Still Have Geek Content

We are still geeks at heart and love sharing fun and badass things that we come across that we want to share. We will keep peppering in stuff like this, but will likely happen less often.

In Conclusion

Hope this sheds some light as to why the changes happened. We spent many months working on this entire shift. We know some folks may not like the shift, and we are ok with that. At the end of the day, we want to be able to look at MoG as something we are proud of and something that we want to keep working on. The past 6 years have been a great learning experience and we are looking forward to what’s ahead of us in the next 6 years.

Thank you for your support and let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below.

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  2. One geek to another, I love the design of this site. You guys did a solid job of making something unique, responsive, and really beautiful to look at while still delivering content in a way that’s readable and easy to use. I wish you guys the best of luck in your future endeavors.

    How many guys work in your shop? And do you guys have a specialty or a specific area you want to work in? I was doing my usual Monday morning reading and stumbled on you guys in the comments of a social media marketing post.

    1. Thanks for the feedback and support Justin. We have a number of contributors, but it’s mainly Andy and myself for now. We are working on rolling out more content soon.