Re: needs major improvement

On Sat, 2004-07-17 at 18:44 +0100, Martin Alderson wrote:
> I've just spent some time looking at and how it could be 
> improved.

Thanks for you attention.  My comments are in line.  I really appreciate
your efforts, though some of my comments below may seem

> 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.

This is an often asked question.  What we need is a set of use cases/
stories that detail that tasks Web users (gnome users, developers,
members, business, etc.) must accomplish while visiting  That
will provide the plan for content and organization.

> 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.

A quick review of the threads on this list will show that far too much
time is spent critiquing and tweaking the design.  Let's focus on what
users need, and how we can help them find it.

> 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.

Revision will be accepted for review.  

> 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.

I think you are making assumptions about the audience.  While I will not
defend the global nav to the death, it exists to help users locate the
site that that has the information desired.  The point is that the
majority of GNOME users, and even some developers do not know what the
foundation is, but business users need to find it.

> 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'.

Are you sure it is two categories?

> 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.

Do you have a usability study to back your assertion up.

> 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.

In deed we do want a better way for developers to contribute, though to
be clear, the only designer that needs to contribute is the one that
sets the site style.  I believe alternative publishing tools are under
review.  I've observed that the Make-based page generation system
confuses many pure Web developers.  But version control is a reality in
all Web sites that have multiple contributors, professional and amature
alike.  Seriously!  I've had to introduce many new Web developers to
CVS, but that is a valuable skill, because it *is* commonly used, gnome.
org is not an exception, it is the norm.

> 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.

I think you are extrapolating one page to the whole site.  Sites, and
sections of the sites, are ultimately the responsibility of individuals
and teams.  I'm sure everyone agrees that a simpler means of editing
content would spur contributions.  But once the design is set, and
content added, little needs to change.  A library of documents is the
only thing that really needs to be easy for contributors.

That said, does need more love.  It needs a tight plan that
developers can grasp what tasks they can contribute to.  

__C U R T I S  C.  H O V E Y____________________
sinzui cox net
Guilty of stealing everything I am.

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