Over the last three days we've been steadily rolling out a new Tuts+ theme across all 8 sites. The new design is a refinement more than a big change, with lots of little improvements in usability and more suited to big screens. Read on to learn more about the redesign and lots of news about Plus!
1 The Plus Project
As you may know we have some pretty big plans for these Tuts+ sites. While today they are humble little tutorial blogs, we've thought for some time that it would be cool to build an entire platform for education. We're going to call that platform Plus. You'll know Plus content as our premium content, but no longer.
Our premium content is now 'Premium' (go figure!) and Plus is the brand for the educational platform we're building, which, just like Psdtuts+, will be completely free for the most part.
With Tuts+ well established now, we've finally begun work on the project! We've acquired the domain Plus.org which will be the home of the new platform (yay for our first four letter domain!) We've also brought over our resident code genius Ryan Allen (who built our ActiveDen platform all by himself back in 2006) to team up with Tuts+ developer extraordinaire Fred Wu and kick ass front-end guru Derek Herman. And Skellie and I have been busy spec'ing out the plans for the new site, and it's pretty, damn cool if I do say so myself!
Right now the Tuts+ sites are fairly passive, but we'd like to get the whole community involved in writing, teaching, answering questions and generally learning. The new Plus.org platform promises to incorporate all that plus some nifty ideas we've taken from gaming to come together into a social education platform.
It's going to take a long time and we're going to roll it all out in pieces over the next 2 years. We're super excited about it all, and I hope I'll have more updates in the coming months!
2 Creative Sessions and Mobiletuts+
While Plus.org will take a long time, we do have some new goodies coming much sooner including Creative Sessions which is being built now, and also Mobiletuts+ which will be all about mobile development!
3 Server Update
About a week and a half ago we had some major problems with our servers. I'm happy to say that we've now completely resolved these issues by moving hosts and reengineering our hosting setup completely from scratch. The new setup is much quicker and has a much greater capacity for growth, so fingers crossed, that will be the last server outage for a long time to come!
4 The Redesign
The new theme has a few neat features you may want to check out including:
While Tuts+ has always been known for intermediate to advanced level content, we've been thinking it'd be good to separate out tutorials and articles better suited to people just getting started. So we've created the Basix tag for quick browsing. You'll find it in the top menu, and expect to see more Basix content soon as we beef up our library of novice-friendly content.
Easy access to Videos, Tips and Premium Posts
We've also started tagging videos, tips and Premium membership posts so that along with Basix content you can quickly find what you're after. We're generally going to be working to clean up our category/tagging across the network in the coming months to get it more standardized.
Tutorial Details on Posts
We're also going to start standardizing all tutorials to have a "Tutorial Details" section at the top with difficulty and other pertinent details. Eventually we'll get all the archives updated ... but with over 2000 tutorials, that will take a while!
Bigger, more readable content area
Latest Creattica content for inspiration
We've also started porting over the latest Creattica content into our sidebars. There's actually a redesign of Creattica coming in the next few weeks and we'll be expanding the gallery to cover even more types of inspiration. The new sidebar widget will give even more exposure to those talented creatives on Creattica!
General UI Improvements
Most of the improvements on the new design are small, subtle improvements such as a reduction in the number of clicks needed to browse categories, a clearer search field, faster loading pages and generally cleaner, more optimized code.
One change that we have also made is to remove the community link feed. Over the years this was a great way to get exposure to community links, but unfortunately was also home to a lot of spam. So with this iteration we've left it behind.
Also at the moment sites with Flickr groups don't have it showing, but don't worry that'll be back. There's just a problem with our Flickr plugin at the moment!!
There are still some more tweaks to do to the new design and a lot of post formatting to do to get our archives matching up with the new theme. But for all intents and purposes the new theme is now alive and well! Enjoy!