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BlenderNation Homepage Experiments


Maybe you've noticed that the large header graphic disappeared from the homepage? That's not an error - I've actually been playing around with the layout of my homepage this weekend.

I wanted to be able to put certain posts in the spotlight. For example, the release of Blender 2.76 RC1 is something that deserves some attention for a few days. But also outstanding designs, tutorials and add-ons sometimes deserve an extra 'boost'.

A while ago, I already played with the 'featured posts' block on the homepage. However, having both a large header graphic AND a large 'featured posts' section pushed the newest content WAY down - on my 13" Macbook it wasn't even visible anymore!

So for now, I've decided to remove the header graphic from the homepage and use the featured posts instead in order to free up some space. I'll check later to see how this affected the number of pageviews and comments.

The headers are of course still attached to all the individual posts!

What do you think? Does this make it easier for you to discover the best stories here on BlenderNation, or do you already read the site every day anyway? :)



About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. It is a great improvement. Really cool!
    I don't if it is supposed to be like that, but those little grey and orange rectangles do move a little bit up when I mouse over but they don't show anything. I guess it should show thumbnails?

    Great work Bart!

      • Looks nice!
        Though I noticed that pushing left/right while the change-animation is going will not work. It's a low priority but I feel like that should maybe be more responsive? For a second I wasn't sure whether it worked at all.
        Perhaps hovering over those buttons should just elevate the currently hovered-over button much more (rather than all of them a little bit) and at the same time reveal a thumbnail of the corresponding page, and pressing left and right should first elevate just the to-be-changed-to tab a little bit (about as much as they currently do on mouse-over) and then wait a tiny bit to await further input. Only then will it fade as it already does but right to the corresponding page.
        Not sure how much work that kind of thing would be or how computing intense for the client. It certainly works well enough as is already.

        • Thanks for the feedback! I'll see what I can do - this slider is a built-in feature of the theme that BlenderNation is based on, and I'm not sure yet how much I can customise it.

  2. As a web designer, I think that a web page is not a book page, the scrollwheel is our friend. as long as you see the menu, I see no need to try to show all content in the screen, more so with the variety of today's displays sizes and orientations. Someone's always see cropped content, just scroll down!

      • While that may be true, I'm worried that if the entire first screen is taken by a graphical header and featured posts, it's not dynamic enough anymore. Many BlenderNation readers visit the site several times a day and I'd like them to see new stories at first glance, too. So that was my dilemma..

    • Hi David, you're the only one with this complaint - it seems to be working fine for other users. I just tested in Firefox 40 on OSX and it works ok for me too. Sounds like an issue on your end - could you try in a private browsing window to disable all extensions etc?

  3. I have downloaded 2.76 rc and I dont see the option on my macbook. Also under preferences I do not have the option...anyone!?

  4. I am a daily visitor of BlenderNation. For me, the new system no improvement. It's more chaotic. But that's okay, I should spend less time on your site and work harder on my projects. :-)

      • Honestly, while this kind of option may seem like a great compatibility option for some, in general carrying around two very different styles seems like a bad idea. I mean the old style worked well so there probably won't be much to troubleshoot, but still, it's extra unnecessary complexity.

        • Thing is, I'm not convinced the old style worked well - as I mentioned I feel like important stories disappear too quickly. If you visit the site daily it's no problem, but if your visiting frequency is lower than that, you may miss out a lot.

          • All the more reason not to keep the baggage of two different styles around :)
            The only real reason to do such a thing would be fore A/B Testing but then you'd also have to randomly assign people one of the two styles and collect data about which one works better (for instance, where more people clicked on posts, where they stuck around for longer,...)
            If you aren't gonna do that, do not add "legacy access" to the old layout.

  5. I agree with MXD. As a twice-daily visitor to BlenderNation I would prefer the following simplified layout.

    * Blendernation logo placed over a static daily artwork bar.
    * Menu bar
    * Today's stories in the current 2 column arrangement, using a large tile for each story.
    * Previous days' stories, 3 columns wide (i.e. smaller tiles) and with many more rows so I can scroll down and down without having to go to a new page (and consequently lose my place).
    * Lose the categorized Art and Development sections - they're just confusing. Instead, in the 3-column section, simply highlight Blender program related items (new releases, plugins, sneak peak, etc.) using orange.

    I have never ever used the right hand third of the page (recent comments / featured posts), so that could go too.

    Basically, a simple page with many more tiles giving me direct access to many more stories - don't overdesign everything ;-)

      • I don't think that would happen. By having many more rows in the 3-column section, you'd be able to scroll down through masses of posts, with all the important Blender application items clearly highlighted. At the moment you have a 1 2 3... page selectors after just a few posts, and as soon as I click one of those I end up losing all visual reference and chronology to where I first saw a story. The home page is generally too 'busy', and I find my eye wandering all over the place in a bombardment of different sections.

        I think a more simple layout with many more posts immediately available would look much more slick.

      • Bart,
        My feeling is that you alleviate that issue when you added the Featured Posts ( in the side bar. There are 5 posts there now that stay around longer then anything else. So if somebody has not seen them, it is still easily accessible.

        However, for me I would not care about a big featured article on the homepage. After I read it once, I dont need 1/3 of the screen space letting me know the article is still there.

  6. As UI and UX designer I like that content first approach you have taken, its very popular and trendy at the moment. Though as its landing page, the logo of the site should be at the top of the page as it is the top of "hierarchy".

    I think one cool option would be making top bar 100% width and adding logo to left side, centering menu elements and adding login / profile options controls to right side. At the moment theres no login link anywhere easy accessible?

        • That looks pretty good! Would you suggest it always stays on the screen, or that it should scroll up along with the page?

          One thing I'm not sure about: the login link shouldn't disappear at smaller resolutions, wouldn't you think?

          • It should scroll up along the page, if it keeps its form as it would take too much vertical space from content. If you would want it to stick at the top you should make it "minimize" when scrolling down making it for example have 50% less height.

            I agree with login link, my suggestion of it and logo disappearing at smaller res was just to make the change easy to do. Obviously it should be visible on all the resolutions, same goes for the logo.

            One option ofc would be using mobile menu after all the cats, long and logo wont fit at the top. Or hiding ones that cant fit under additional MORE or whatever topcat

  7. Hi Bart,

    I think it's a good thing because I didn't even noticed and I naturaly swip the different article on this feature row.

    So for me it's a +1 for this new feature.

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