Overnight, a Patch of Grass Grew....

Got an opinion on the new background on the Patch sites? I've been getting an earful from readers. Would love to hear your viewpoint, and will be happy to pass along your thoughts to those who make these general design decisions.

Notice the new background for the Walnut Creek Patch site? Of course you have! 

I've received scathing comments from readers about it:

--"Yuck!" it read in two readers'  e-mail subject lines. 

--"Nuke the green grass!!!  It is very distracting and takes away from the professional look of the Patch site.  What's next? Easter Eggs?"

--"Don't you have any say in this?"  

-- "It's offensive and incredibly classless and amateur."

--"It's distracting and annoying and cheapens the whole thing. Really. What news organization has that kind of crap behind it? From a reader's standpoint it is ugly and from a marketing standpoint it is offensive."

The grass is a nod to Patch's company logo, and according to our design team (which handles such decisions commonly for our 800-plus sites) the goal is to let individual Patch sites have backgrounds (photos, for example) unique to their towns.

Let us know what you think. What if it was of oak trees, or a background that incorporates Mount Diablo or the gazebo at Civic Park — some scene with a Walnut Creek theme?  

Or does any kind of background just make everything look too busy?

C'mon: Put on your art director hats and let me and other Walnut Creek Patch readers know, so that I can let the powers that be know..... 

Creek Diva March 30, 2011 at 09:48 PM
"It's offensive and incredibly classless and amateur." Oh Patch readers, you crack me up.
Paula Miller March 30, 2011 at 09:56 PM
The home page is already busy enough without adding 'seasonal' background. Kind of reminds me of those stupid advertising stickers that are plastered on the front page of the Times which always seem to be in the way of something I really wish to read. NO BACKGROUND is needed for us to get our news. I realize that I shouted but please let the powers that be know that your readers are NOT happy!!!
Donna Lynn Rhodes March 30, 2011 at 11:46 PM
I have to agree with the reader who said it was amateur. And I agree with Paula Miller who said that the front page is busy enough with out this background. I have quite an extensive marketing background and I have to tell you Martha, from a reader and from a Patch contributor, who ever thought up this idea must have been smoking this grass. :)
Molly March 30, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Not a fan of the grass!!
Trish March 31, 2011 at 12:30 AM
The border is so annoying. It's more difficult to read the text. My eyes keep wandering off to the grass.
Rena Segovia March 31, 2011 at 12:44 AM
WHAT DID YOU DO??? oh no do something quick..Do you know what it reminds me of this green stuff? that yucky stuff they blend into your jamba juice if you want it...blahhh I get what you were going for...a patch of grass yeah yeah whatever. Epic fail you can do better especially for a such a great read as Patch...
Donna Lynn Rhodes March 31, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Happy to report the annoying background does NOT show up on the iPhone mobile Patch site. I guess the grass truly is greener on the other side.
Gosia Fawcett March 31, 2011 at 03:32 AM
It really hurts my eyes...
Shirley March 31, 2011 at 04:57 AM
Who would even let their grass grow this high? I hope the people that suggested this background was kidding, but neglected to tell someone it was really just a joke. Please remove, or add some horses so they can chew the grass down. Shirley
One more time with feeling March 31, 2011 at 02:30 PM
"Cutting" the grass is easy enough... Adjust your internet browser so the edge of the browser window and the edge of the page content match up - no more grass. Using "full window" on the browser is unnecessary when the width of Patch content is contained only within the white space. Adjusting the browser window varies by browser (and computer operating system), but the three browsers I've tried so far all behave similarly. After making this simple adjustment, the only (Patch-background) grass you will see are narrow horizontal bars between "frames" on the page.
Paula Miller March 31, 2011 at 02:46 PM
Sheep do a closer job and leave less s--- behind.
Paula Miller March 31, 2011 at 02:48 PM
Come on Patch regulars...........express your disgust so Martha can go to the brain trust that inflicted this on us and hopefully we won't have to be so damned cheery when we try to read our daily news! Cute the grass, cut the grass, cut the grass........................
Catherine (Kate) Rauch March 31, 2011 at 03:11 PM
OMG, I thought the grass was related to advertising the movie Hop. I kept looking for the little x to click through and get back to a readable page. Way too distracting. Patch will lose readers with this I'm pretty sure. Gimmicky, and, like I said, distracting. I like my news pages as, well, news pages. Not floating in hyper close-up blades of overly-fertilized lawn.
Rena Segovia March 31, 2011 at 03:13 PM
@One more time with Feeling... HUH?????? you are giving me far more computer savvy then I have! @Paula That was great hahaha thank you for the giggle...
Michelle Block March 31, 2011 at 04:19 PM
After St. Patrick's Day, less green; well, maybe on Earth Day!
Dory Willer March 31, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Ouch on the eyes - and ahhh ahhhh ahhh chu! Not at all an invigorating feeling about spring. Green Mt. Diablo with wildflowers - now that's a scene!
Lise Codde March 31, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Have to agree. It really detracts from the great stories!
Katie Fries March 31, 2011 at 04:57 PM
I'm not a fan either. A background like this might be appropriate for a personal blog but not a news site. Also, the green is just really bright and distracting.
Donna Lynn Rhodes March 31, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Hey Martha: I'd say the votes are pretty unanimous that this (or any background) distracts from a news site. I say you forward this link to whomever came up with this insipid idea so they can 86 it!
Nick Culum March 31, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Have a photo collage made featuring all of WC's destinations, people, shops... Would make a cool screensaver.
Ann March 31, 2011 at 06:05 PM
There are already several clashing green tones on the page layout. On the header alone, the word "Patch" in the title is a different (and not complimentary) shade of green from the "Get the Patch Newsletter" button just below it. Then you move down onto page content and have similar, seemingly random choices for greens, blues, and bluish greens. While I do not come to WCPatch for the page aesthetics, the grass in the background image (1) makes the page load more slowly, (2) adds another layer of clashing color, (3) distracts from the content. Impressively violating three very important web design tenets in one swell foop.
Linda Ehrich March 31, 2011 at 10:08 PM
The backgound is very distracting. I would prefer a simpler page. The old one was just fine.
Jonathan Hawthorne March 31, 2011 at 10:56 PM
So many changes at Patch these days with regard to the look of the site. They changed the way the articles looked, and I thought that was annoying. But look at the grass! AHH!
Leah Hall April 01, 2011 at 06:54 AM
Re Patch's new look? Cool, but I wish it was of native grasses instead of the monoculture groomed variety.
Crystal April 01, 2011 at 07:09 AM
I'm not a huge fan of the grass background but to be completely honest I come to this site every day for its great local news coverage, not its design aesthetics. Paste whatever you want in the background -- as long as you keep up the good reporting then I'm a happy reader!
Martha Ross April 01, 2011 at 10:32 PM
Thanks, readers for letting us know what you think, and for your compliments about Patch's coverage.... Always trying to do better. And, I have forwarded your comments to the people in HQ.


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