Peter has disappeared for a well-deserved break. I can’t replace him. I can’t even see myself getting to the place from which I could see the path which would allow me to tell you something about music or audio which he hasn’t already covered at length and in depth. However, I can tell you plenty about the inner workings of the CDM sites. So I’d like to give you a bit of an update on where the site has been going, ask for your feedback on how you use the site, what you’d like to see from us in the future, and pave the way for Peter to talk about some cool new stuff we’ve been working on when he returns.

According to our Basecamp account it has been exactly 1 year since we first started working on the CDM redesign. You remember how CDM used to be don’t you? Internet Explorer users having to scroll down 2 pages before reaching the first content item? Great times! According to our stats only 41% of CDM readers are on IE. You know that it works in IE now, right? You can change back if you really want to…

Around 90% of our visitors are from the USA, followed by the UK, EU, Australia, Canada and Netherlands. Our biggest search terms include “garageband for windows”, “create digital music”, “ipod mixer”, “pro tools”, and “ableton”. This, and the CDM comments feed leads me to believe that this site’s biggest readers are savvy, bleeding edge digital tech gurus and base level newbies who have just learned to type, decided to call themselves DJ SHINY and hunt down an iDJ.

We’re more or less continually working on the site (ok, so we take a break occasionally to laugh at press releases from phone ringtone companies), but occasionally we get really excited and decide to do something big and cool. Last time that resulted in CreateDigitalMotion, which I’m rather proud of. More recently we’ve been working on some new features we hope you’ll like, but that was put together without any consultation from you, dearest reader, you might hate it. So I’d like to get a little feedback on what you’d like to see from the site. How do you use it? What would make coming here a more pleasant experience for you? Which bits of the site do you use/not use. Do you use RSS? Are you happy with Feedburner? Do you have trouble finding information outside of the blog chronology?

Actually, I’ll give you my current list of possible future tweaks and edits, then if there are any other burning desires happening we can work them out in the comments:

Search and Archives:

  • Live, AJAX-y search
  • Compact search results, fit more on the page
  • Enable search by multiple tags
  • Less cumbersome archives page(s)

Templates and Design:

  • Stronger top category navigation, more tags to choose from
  • CDM Mobile Template (Peter’s request, does anyone else browse the site via PDA, phone or DS?)

Comments and Community:

  • WYSIWIG editor for comments
  • RSS or Email subscription for particular comments threads
  • We’ve talked about CreateDigitalNoise member blogs. Would anyone use something like this? Do you already have enough neglected blogs, community sites and social networking experiments without us adding to the confusion?

There are also some things which I’ve considered mothballing. I don’t use them, but I’d like to check whether others do before I destroy your favourite part of the site. I’ve been thinking about removing Gravatars as they seem to add quite a chunk of loading time to individual entry pages and not many people seem to use them. I’m also a bit down on the inter-post navigation links. These took quite a bit of WordPress hacking to implement, but I’ve never touched them. Does anyone use them at all? Did you even know that they exist? Does anyone actually use buttons or scroll bars for navigation anymore?

What about Digg/ buttons? I personally feel that I’m quite capable of deciding whether to bookmark a site without being prompted, but they seem quite popular. Does this mean popular with site users or is it just webmasters who like them?

If there’s anything you feel I’ve missed out I’d love to hear about it. I’ll be leaving on a 3 week jaunt to Vietnam just as Peter returns, but it would be great to have a nice neat list of to do items ready for my return.

  • Don't use RSS. Just read the posts. Their great. Don't stop rocking.

  • Love your site… you missed out something… your site is even visited by me and my friends from the sunny island of Singapore!!! Great work 🙂

  • mr.AJAX

    love the site.

    i reckon a pageless page would be cool like livefilter

  • TheNullSet: Good to hear that some people are doing things the traditional way.

    SonicBrat: I'm happy to say that the site is visited by people from just about any country you care to name! Maybe I listed those top countries as a challenge to you to get more of your friends visiting the site 🙂

    mr.AJAX: I recon both of them would be great. I've noted them in the CDM basecamp for further examination when I return.

  • velocipede

    Hi, the site is great�one of my favorite blogs. I don't use the arrows or gravatars. I have two requests for the forums:

    1. Put the "view posts since last visit" link at the top of the page. I find this the easiest way to navigate forums that I visit on almost daily basis.

    2. Make it possible to open a topic in a new tab without also changing the Search page to that topic(Safari). Whenever I command-click a link, it opens the topic both in a new tab and changes the current page to that link. This makes visiting multiple topics more of a hassle.

    Otherwise, don't change much, please! It's great.

  • velocipede

    One more thing that might be cool. It would be nice to get (optional) email updates about blog comments as with the forums.


  • Email notification for comments was something I had in mind but forgot to note down, so thanks for reminding me Velo. Posts since last visit shouldn't be a problem, and the tab thing is super annoying, that should have been fixed ages ago!

  • For audio and music, your site is a must visit every day for me. I enjoy most the news on new gear, and also the great coverage of outrageous new videos. Can't say enough good things about your site!

  • ganjjjj

    The gravatars seem cool but I think more people would probably edit their profile stuff more in general if you put a link to your account info stuff on the main links thing on top. I never really even thought about it until now because I rarely use the forums. Your site pretty much kicks ass other than that though IMHO.

  • Ganjjjj: That brings up another issue, which I was leaving out but now it's been brought up:

    The wordpress team released 2 new cool 'wares which I've been interested in. WordPress Multi-user and bbPress. WordPressMU would allow the aforementioned CreateDigitalNoise community blogs (it's used for's hosted, blogspot-like sesrvice), and bbPress is a very small, light forum with good anti-spam measures, which I'm sure we'd all appreciate. The other advantage of these systems is that because they're all written by the same gang they should be very easy to integrate, so one login would give you access to the forum, member blogs (if they were to eventuate) and comments on CDM with profiles.

    Does that sound like fun to anyone else, or would you just prefer to read your news and get on with your day?

  • jm

    Personally, I exclusively read blogs with Google Reader now. I love it, and CDM has a wonderful feed just as it is… exactly how I like them.

    I would like to put my vote in for no digg or delicious buttons… especially if they would come through in the feed. They give me a bad vibe, like all those spam sites that have "Vote Now!" buttons, or even the spam adds that say "Punch The Monkey!" (besides the fact that I don't use them).

  • "Every musician I know reads CDM regularly" translates to "Don't fix it if it ain't broke." I think streamlining and refining of existing features is all you need.

    A WYSIWYG comment editor would be a great refinement, but a simple preview before posting button could work just as well.

  • asger

    I really like the site, but I find it to be a bit slow on the loading. Maybe if you limited the number of stories on the front page to 5 or something you would gain some loading speed.

    I'm on Macbook Pro, Safari, Cable (Denmark)

  • ronnie

    +1 for the RSS feeds. Like jm I use Google Reader which works great with the CDM feed.

    Personally I have no need for the comments in RSS. I like to keep an incentive to visit the website.

  • ronnie

    Btw, if you'd like to check if people use things like the inter-post navigation links you could simply add a small click script to those buttons for a week or so and you'll have the anwser.

  • Dan S

    I read CDM via rss (google reader) which as others have pointed out works great.

    The only thing I'm not too fond of is the headlines. They are to verbose and I feel they should be more to the point.

  • Rosco Picotrain

    I like the site. I never use the interpost navigation. I also find the front page quite slow to render — both in firefox and safari — maybe simplifying the page layout would help. The most annoying thing about the design is that to get to the older posts you click the "next" button and to get to more recent posts you click "previous". This is backwards! I guess "older" and "newer" would be better labels.

  • Thanks for the vote of confidence Vlad 😉 I personally believe that "if it ain't broke…" has never been the motto of innovative humans. We're definitely not going to add "features" for the sake of adding things, but we're not going to sit on our laurels either. Note that I'm actually considering deleting features which I've spent reasonably chunks of my time developing, because I think they may actually detract from the site due to added complexity or loading time.

    JM: one of the things we've been working on is a way to minimize the advertising which is already in place, so you'll never see any spanky monkeys on CDM! I feel similarly about digg buttons, but I'm also aware that I use the net in a very ideosyncratic way, so I'm keen to hear how other people work.

    Asger: I believe that the slow loading times are often due to gravatars (on individual pages) or embedded youtube videos. Sites which use the sIFR headlines (flash-based font replacement) are unfortunately more obvious when they load slowly because they wait until every image and embed on the page is loaded before replacing the text. If youtube is down (which happens surprisingly often for a company which is apparently worth multiple billions of dollars) this means the browser just sits waiting to finish loading, the flash doesn't replace and everything basically sucks 🙂

    Interesting to see people adopting google reader. It looks great to me but unfortunately it doesn't work with my browser of choice, Opera. If the feed works fine in Reader I'm happy though.

    Thanks for the comments guys, this is all useful and important for us.

  • First off I remember the original CDM, and the improvements were tremendous.

    I use NetNewsWire to subscribe. I use the main feedburner feed address for the regular updates, but I love how wordpress creates a feed for comments for a post, so please dont change that. I subscribe to a certain post for a little while then remove it.

    I vote YES for an ajaxy search.

    I vote NO on digg/delicious buttons.

    I'm impartial to gravatar, i'd dont use it but it only take a few seconds to put in the regular graphic.

    I never really used the up down arrow graphic. Didn't really know what they were for until this was pointed out by this post. but it is pretty cool.

    Also impartial on WYSIWYG, but a preview would be nice.

    Regardless of your future choices and if what i say matters or not. This site rules.

    Keep it up CDM crew. Also, props on CDMotion!

  • primusluta

    I have the RSS feed which usually gives the whole article with pics. I think the design is great but I don't come for the design, I come for the writing.

  • My google homepage CDM RSS feed is the first place my eyes go to when I sit down at work. The news coming out of CDM is most always entertaining.

  • ryan

    Didn't ever notice the 'Gravatars', although i follow the site via RSS now. also please don't put the Digg/ buttons on the feed, they crash my blackberry when i am browsing a feed that uses them.

  • velocipede

    I usually start in RSS and jump to the site for longer sites. RSS is a nice way to know that there is something new.

    I would like a user blog on this site. Sometimes I want to write something in more detail, like the Handsonic review, and think it might serve the community more here than on a lonely blog out in the ether of my own creation. It would be cool if you guy picked up the best user blog posts for the front page.

  • I view cdm in two main ways. Firstly I visit in a browser, and it's daily visit.

    But I also visit it via the google reader, and that works just lovely for quick news catchup.

    As far as CDM user blogs could go, maybe an alternative (and a way of keeping it fast moving and interesting for visitors) is to have a possible interface where users could blog stuff they're interested in and have it feed into the 1 blog. A real community weblog.

    Just a thought. Now I shall have some more wasabi peas and beer. (hot and in Australia)

  • First of all: CDM rocks!

    I vote yes for an ajax search.

    I vote no on digg/delicious buttons.

    I don't use Gravatars.

    I used the arrow button once, but then sticked to the standard scrolling.

    A preview for comments would be nice.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Thanks for all the kudos! It really helps keep us going when we hear nice things, truly.

    Streamlining and improving load time: hearing you loud and clear. We'll be diagnosing this and should come up with a solution.

    Meanwhile, I think a "punch the monkey" link on each post — for its own sake — might be just what we need. 😉

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