needs major improvement

I've just spent some time looking at and how it could be improved.

It is a pretty sad affair as of now, with no focus on any elements of the site and really bad design and usability practices on the site. I wish I had time to write a full essay about this but sadly, I don't, so a quick list and some ideas for improvement will have to do for now.

The main problem is focus and audience. Currently, the site has very, very little focus on anything and instead has 5 things, each very unrelated.

First, Audience - who is it? I don't know. It doesn't say on here and has a big bold underlined 'user' link which I'd expect to take me to the users page with nice, easy to understand stuff on it. But alas, I get sent to the home-page again? What is going on here - as a user I'd expect that clicking the big 'user' link would take me a different page than the current one. I then have to assume that the current home-page is designed for users and therefore this is a end user page. I hope this is a mistake.

Second, these stupid banner style 'ads' that are way too big. What on earth is GUDEC? (I know, but most of your end users will not!) "See you next year", again, what is this meant to mean? Does this mean GNOME is over until next year? I'm really getting confused now.

We then come to another problem that is badly thought through - GNOME is not a descriptive name to those who don't know already what it is. The 'what is GNOME' box is therefore vitally important. It's good that it's there at all but, the content is not up to scratch at all. 'GNOME is a Unix and Linux desktop suite and development platform'. What is the point of this? The vast proportion of people who knows what Unix and Linux will already know what GNOME is. Therefore, this needs to be much better phrased. Something like 'Gnome is a free, open and stable desktop suite'. Also, the next bit makes no sense - 'here'.. what does this mean? The homepage, or the 'what is GNOME' box? Again, very confusing and badly worded.

Below this there is the GNOME news - THIS NEEDS SEPARATED OFF!, and preferably split into a different page with just links of headlines. Currently this is way too in-depth for the site. The GNOME Foundation needs also put somewhere else, not on the homepage. Homepage's are designed to welcome new users and usher them to the right place on the site, or maybe grab someone's attention. Currently, does none of this. Again, the foundation needs placed somewhere else because if I am a new user I am not going to donate straight away at seeing the home-page. I may do later, but certainly not now.

The top level links are also disastrously bad. They need split into two categories, 'user' and 'developer' and then provide links to each of them. User could be things like 'About GNOME', 'Download', 'Features' etc and Developer things like 'Report a bug', 'CVS' and 'Help contribute'.

The font is also a size too big for the homepage. Not a big issue but severely stops you putting more on the home-page.

Another problem is how you edit the homepage, which I think is way too hard. Designers are not good at programmer style CVS commands, and programmers are not good at design. Simple as that, in general, please don't make designers use CVS. They won't like it at all. A few designers will learn to live with it and use it, but think of the talent you may of lost if you did have a good system - not sure what that is exactly, but it's something that doesn't require setting environment variables.

So to conclude, 3 things that need implemented in the new site. Focus - target one issue - say GNOME 2.6. Put a nice screenshot with a 'top 3' new features. Provide information with plenty of easy to read and understand lists of features and ideas on how to use the software. Then put sections below that for news and other issues. Audience. Have developer hidden away better. Get rid of the jargon that is obviously developer only.

The third thing is get a better design process going so people can contribute easier. If people had to fill out 25 pages of IRS forms to donate charity, people would not donate. This is what you are doing at the moment using CVS for changes. Provide a simple .zip file which has all the pages in and then work out a way for people to send their new pages back. This would make it insanely easier, and lead to homepage that is not such a bad representation of a great piece of software.


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