First, I'll cut to the chase and say what I do like.
I do like how the news, features and columns now appear on the lower half of the screen. I really enjoy the idea of having a sneak peek at the columns on the page to, with the read more button there.
I also like the concept behind the big slider on top. If we are able to have all the content slideshow on the top at a set speed or at our own pace as we click through, we can pick out the content that most interests us quickly.
Also, while others have commented on how the forums tab has moved I don't have an issue with that. Content is on the main bar, the forums are still really accessible. No problem there at all.
Now for my criticisms and unfortunately I do have several.
A complaint you may have already heard about is the sheer size of the slider on the main page. It is just kind of awkwardly large in my opinion. While I like it better than the old news slider, I do think if it was reduced in size by at least a third it would look sleeker and neater.
My second complaint about the main page is probably another you have had fielded before: the decision to move the "Thing about stuff" box with the latest forum posts box. This box was one of my most used features and a number of my friends have also commented on how they don't like it swapped to the bottom. I think if new users see there is a vibrant forum community (and that it is prominently displayed on the front page like it was prior to the update), they'll be more inclined to join it.
My second last criticism about the new front page is that custom backgrounds don't appear on it anymore.
As you know, I did work on that signatures background and I always liked being greeted by it whenever I hit my homepage button. Now I just get the default black and blue gradients.
Now for my most irrelevant comment: I don't really like the white "Escapist" header on the top as much as the traditional blue one. Perhaps an option to toggle between this shiny white one and the blue one could be implemented? I just don't like it aesthetically although others have said they do.
Now, just two comments about the site in general. Since the update I've noticed two things on other pages that I think would be worth fixing.
First of all the changing of the user corner box thing on the right most corner of all the screens.
I absolutely loved the recent comments function and I often used the friends/groups tabs directly from the page that way. While having that box on the main page is not the greatest idea (in terms of the space it takes up), I don't see why it has to be shrunk for every page users use. I just think taking away the feature I loved most about the new layout back when the original layout change occurred is unfortunate.
Now for my last comment and it does come back to the custom backgrounds. Now I may be only noticing this because I made a background but the page has somehow changed since the update. It's somehow wider?
I followed the template given when making the signatures background and in order to put names as closely as possible to the page (to cram more names in) I went right to the border as outlined by the template. Now it seems to be breaching that line as you can see by comparing where the 'site' page ends with the motto of the moment and where it seems to go wider a little lower on.
While this may seem like a minor complaint it does cut out one user, Rednog, out of the background completely as he requested having his name horizontally put beside the page. It also cuts off parts of names. As this has only come about because of the update I thought I'd point it out.
Now I bring all this up not because I feel my background must work with the site (or the site must work with my background) but because I love this site too much to stay silent about it. I do appreciate the staffs efforts to constantly improve the main page and I know this update came about due to listening to us. I just wanted my voice heard.
Thanks for your time.
PM sent to two staff members.