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<Admin> <Admin> Voices: Future Tense - Move and Redesign
#1
Hello all,

After much consideration, the OAUP has decided to move V:FT into our Content Management System (thus making it much easier to put together and publish in a timely manner) and do a bit of redesigning in terms of the look of the publication. Which is where all of you come in.

We would like to solicit suggestions and ideas for what a 'new and improved' Voices might look like, what new things it might incorporate, and whatever other good ideas people might have around this.

To get things started I've pasted a post from the Boardroom that includes some ideas and examples from other online publications of things we might do with V:FT. Please feel free to suggest additional ideas or provide additional examples in this thread.:

*************

At the most basic, we could use a variant of the page the latest issue is displayed on here:

http://www.orionsarm.com/page/445

But change the 'topper' so that it is something V:FT specific. Probably also change the name from Orion's Arm Universe Project to Voices:Future Tense, although I'd like to have an OA logo on the page somewhere, probably as part of the topper. Perhaps clicking the logo could take you to the OA main page? I'd also suggest not having all the links down the left hand side, or maybe having a new set of links that are relevant to V:FT, such as a link to 'back issues' , a link to OA if we don't want to link thru the logo or only thru the logo, and other links to things we think might be V:FT relevant.

One notion: Perhaps we could set things up so the back issues are displayed in some sort of 'gallery' format similar to what we do with artwork or the thumb banners we use elsewhere on the site? That way, the cover of each issue could be displayed as the entry point to that issue.

I'm thinking the actual story reading pages and such could essentially all fit in the same style sheet page, much like has been done here for this issue (but with the new style template of course).

As far as the 'look' of the topper and such, my first thought would be to reach out to Ari Kohorn and ask him if he could create something for us. I'm betting he'd be happy to.

Going in a totally different direction, might we want to try for something like this:

http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/

No idea how easy/hard it would be to make something like this work in the CMS. That is probably a Trond question. But figured I'd throw it out there, both on general principles and as a consideration when we ultimately do the site redesign.

Just to give some additional food for thought, here are links to a number of other online SF mags:

http://www.strangehorizons.com/

http://www.darkermatter.com/

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/

http://www.apex-magazine.com/

http://www.kasmamagazine.com/index.htm

http://dailysciencefiction.com/

************

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or ideas you'd like to share.

Todd

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#2
Music 
There have been a number of thoughts and comments recently from the moderators and community earlier this year about the OA homepage- mostly that it could use a bit of improvement. It's a minor thing, but would be nice to change when the time comes.

Personally, I'd like to make the homepage a more visual, and to take advantage of the imagery that could be displayed to show off the universe.

My current problems with the homepage include:
-The image in the back is blocked by all of the text. If there's going to be an image on the homepage, it should be shown off, not hidden.
-an image of a planet is a fairly generic choice for a site like this, or any science fiction universe. What makes OA special is the posthumans, transapients, known net, and ringworlds- so that's what should be in an image on the homepage.
-there's a lot of black space around the content on the homepage, so that could be filled.
-the font colors are a too bit bright and 90's-style website for my taste. But you may disagree..
-all that text on the bottom advertising books would be nice to clean up or move to a more appropriate place.

Possible Improvements:
-would it be cool to have Encyclopedia Galactica updates on the homepage?
-multiple images as background on the homepage- slideshow style every few minutes, or when you hover over one of the headings? (an image of the known net is the background when you hover over the "discussion groups; image of cool world when hovering over the "Encyclopedia Galactica)
-although I'm using movie and video game websites as inspiration, I understand that this site is a hobby worldbuilding site and therefore has very different wants/ needs than a professional entertainment site.
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#3
I would not recommend using the orion's arm site background for the voices/ future tense, mainly because it does not give enough space to the writing and images that would be shown in it- I think the old voices OA did a decent job in this respect.
http://www.voicesoa.net/

I also think the overall design isn't too attractive- especially the grey background.
http://www.orionsarm.com/page/445
I'm willing to give suggestions. I understand, however, that a task like that won't happen for a long while.

The improvements that could be made
-better background and more imagery. Yes, I will help with this.
If you want me to actually design a layout, that's possible. I'm not great at coding though.
-if there can be a submit stories button to the side, that'd be good.
"One notion: Perhaps we could set things up so the back issues are displayed in some sort of 'gallery' format similar to what we do with artwork or the thumb banners we use elsewhere on the site? That way, the cover of each issue could be displayed as the entry point to that issue."
agreed. or in list format off to the side.
"I'm thinking the actual story reading pages and such could essentially all fit in the same style sheet page, much like has been done here for this issue (but with the new style template of course). "

agreed

I think strange horizons
http://www.strangehorizons.com/
has a nice, straightforward layout.
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#4
(06-10-2013, 01:20 PM)Dfleymmes1134 Wrote: I would not recommend using the orion's arm site background for the voices/ future tense, mainly because it does not give enough space to the writing and images that would be shown in it- I think the old voices OA did a decent job in this respect.
http://www.voicesoa.net/

Based on what Trond has told us, we have a fair bit of latitude in what the new design can look like.

(06-10-2013, 01:20 PM)Dfleymmes1134 Wrote: I also think the overall design isn't too attractive- especially the grey background.
http://www.orionsarm.com/page/445
I'm willing to give suggestions. I understand, however, that a task like that won't happen for a long while.

The grey background is intended to be less harsh on the eyes than a pure white background. For our longer EGs (and the sheer number of them) it works rather well. That said, we've used a white background for V:FT and could probably do so again if that is determined to work betterSmile

Suggests are certainly welcome! And the Board is currently looking to get a V:FT redo done fairly quickly if we can. So it might happen rather soon.

(06-10-2013, 01:20 PM)Dfleymmes1134 Wrote: The improvements that could be made
-better background and more imagery. Yes, I will help with this.
If you want me to actually design a layout, that's possible. I'm not great at coding though.
-if there can be a submit stories button to the side, that'd be good.
"One notion: Perhaps we could set things up so the back issues are displayed in some sort of 'gallery' format similar to what we do with artwork or the thumb banners we use elsewhere on the site? That way, the cover of each issue could be displayed as the entry point to that issue."
agreed. or in list format off to the side.
"I'm thinking the actual story reading pages and such could essentially all fit in the same style sheet page, much like has been done here for this issue (but with the new style template of course). "

agreed

Trond has indicated that he can handle any coding that needs doing. He is mainly looking for sketches and ultimately a finalized set of images that can be incorporated into the new ezine. So mainly if we can develop a design, he can take it from there, both coding and setting up links and such.

(06-10-2013, 01:20 PM)Dfleymmes1134 Wrote: I think strange horizons
http://www.strangehorizons.com/
has a nice, straightforward layout.

I like something like this for listing out back issues, but would like to do something more image intensive for a splash page and/or the 'current issue'. Or maybe make the current issue cover bigger with the back issues as thumbs running down the page?

Todd
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#5
Looking at the various ezine examples listed, I rather like the general design of Kasma Science Fiction:

http://www.kasmamagazine.com/index.htm

Specifically the banner of links across the top. They seem to change their background image since what's there now isn't what was there the first time.

Perhaps we could have something like a 'splash page' with a large OA-esque background image and the cover image of the current issue on the front. Then have the nav bar on the top let people access past issues via a page like what is used by Strange Horizons? Alternatively, we could have the main page be entirely an OA type image with the nav bar on the top letting people access the current issue, past issues, and whatever else we decide they need to access. In either design the nav bar would have buttons/links to the rest of the mag/past issues/the OA site/whatever.

This sort of thing could be quite distinct in itself but also obviously related to what the redesigned OA homepage might end up looking like.

Thoughts?

Todd
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#6
So I'm working through a few possibilities of the Voices/ Future tense interface and I'm wondering what everyone thinks about adding any of the other stories or art to this mix, whether that be just a link up top to this page, or integrating them more fully alongside the OA novels that have and will come out.

http://www.orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-m...es-and-art

Or the current stories and art could be completely separate as they are now.

also, how hard is it to add a search function specifically for authors or specific stories?
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#7
Here's my redesign for Voices/ Future Tense. Let me know what you think, or have questions if anything is unclear.
Criticisms are welcome..



if you can't see that, look here

http://www.flickr.com/photos/91306189@N0...otostream/


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#8
Great stuff! Overall I like lots. I have a couple minor tweak suggestions and need to give some more thought to the issue of integrating the story/art pages into V:FT.

Will post these when I'm on a faster interface. On an iPad in Alaska ATM and both the keyboard and the connection are kind of slow.

Todd
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#9
Ok, on a faster interface now.

I'd suggest changing the "OA Novellas" header to "Books & E-Books" since a novella is a specific type of story (determined by word count) and OA has books and e-books of various lengths, both shorter and longer than novella length.

Re including or folding in the other OA stories and artwork. Many of the stories on our current pages are actually in past issues of V:FT. As part of the ezine redesign we can fold the past issues into the CMS and have them just accessible via the V:FT back issues section as you've shown it in the images here.

For those stories that aren't part of V:FT already and for the art galleries, I'm thinking we could fold the non-V:FT into a special 'issue' of the ezine that is accessed via the 'Past Issues' page in the new design (we wouldn't call it an issue or actually put it out as one, but it would be reached the same way as a past issue). Then put a link along the top to 'OA Artwork' (up where you have the links to OA Universe and OA Forums). In the short term this would link to the 'Stories and Art' page and in the longer term to a page to get to the art galleries and the movie pages in the redesigned website.

How does this sound?

ToddSmile
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#10
[Image: Voices-OA-net-4-383178519]

(07-05-2013, 09:57 AM)Drashner1 Wrote: I'd suggest changing the "OA Novellas" header to "Books & E-Books"
-agreed

... and have them just accessible via the V:FT back issues section as you've shown it in the images here.
-agreed

For those stories that aren't part of V:FT already and for the art galleries, I'm thinking we could fold the non-V:FT into a special 'issue' of the ezine that is accessed via the 'Past Issues' page in the new design (we wouldn't call it an issue or actually put it out as one, but it would be reached the same way as a past issue). Then put a link along the top to 'OA Artwork' (up where you have the links to OA Universe and OA Forums). In the short term this would link to the 'Stories and Art' page and in the longer term to a page to get to the art galleries and the movie pages in the redesigned website.

-agreed

ToddSmile


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