Site redesign ideas
This is an answer to Susan's question about forums in the "Why can't we get along" site along with a lot more about the ideas behind it. First, the screenshot so I have something to talk about.
Missing is part of the header (nothing there other than the rest of the logo) and the footer which has a link for login, site map, ... . If your browser window is not really wide it will overlap the right sidebar. Sorry but I wanted the resolution. (For some reason only part of the attachment is showing up in the preview so maybe you won't see the whole thing I am talking about. Clearly, a feature of the software we want to replace.)
There is a lot to say/that I can say about this but I don't want to write a design specification in this post. Here are some important points (numbered in case you want to comment on a specific one):
- As you can see, I was last playing with this over a year ago. What sidetracked the move was the relative disaster of moving all the data.
- The basic design is such that the front page offers "news" (whatever that is) and some way to get to other parts of the site (such as blogs and forums).
- The left column has some important navigation links (and the random photo which doesn't really work yet). The Wiki+ box takes you to what are the "books" of the current site. That is, more authoritative tha a forum content.
- The Catalogues (spelled for Susan's benefit :-) OK, the software is from the UK.) are just ways to present information that fits in a database table rather than text-based storage (which is what the Wiki+ is).
- The right column has the Adsense ad (as we currently have), a tag cloud (that works well), and a search that really works. That is, the basic search (fill in the box and click) gives you snippets and links but clicking More options gives you a nice set of search options.
I wanted to explain the general feel of what I have been looking at here. There is a very long list of reasons why this software (ocPortal) is much better for doing what NL needs, many of them administrative. For example, it does a great job to detecting SPAM so we don't have to deal with it.
The site A42.com was done with this software. I haven't done much with the site but it has given me a great chance to see how ocPortal works at dealing with the administrative side. It's a big win over anything else I have ever worked with.
Note that most of the data out there is just filler. The exception is that I did quite a bit of work in the Wiki+ section with real data. To understand what the Wiki+ is/how it works, take a look at the Why?, Where? and How? sections of a42.
As always. comments welcome.