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<Admin> <Admin> OA Website Redesign
#1
So, since this has come up in the discussion on updating V:FT, and since the group and the Board have been discussing this for a bit back on the Yahoo discussion lists, figured I'd set up this thread for discussion on an eventual OA website redesign.

Not sure when we'll be doing that exactly, but probably not too far in the future (As OA measures things). The Board would like to get some other items done first, such as the new book and a V:FT move to our Content Management System. But we can certainly start presenting and discussing ideas.

Going to copy the post on this from the V:FT thread to here just to keep things tidySmile
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#2
Transferring this over from the V:FT redesign thread to keep things tidy.

This is originally from Arik:

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
Adding the following from a Boardroom discussion:

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Just to offer a couple of 'real world' examples of websites that we might also take some cues from, here's the site of USAA:

https://www.usaa.com/inet/ent_logon/Logo...irect=true

which has both a cycling image feature (not sure how hard that is to code or how it would work on an ipad - I can also imagine something we just manually change out on a regular basis) and some pretty impressive mouse-over menus for the Products and Advice Center buttons.

Also this site:

https://www.khanacademy.org/

Which is pretty clean in layout. I can imagine images like Arik's being where they have the big purple background, with controls/search bar along the top and bottom and maybe more detailed stuff as you scroll down the page such as they have. Maybe windows into major areas of the site, like the interactive timeline (when we get that up), image galleries, etc. Perhaps have 'fast' controls at the top for experience users who just want to get to a particular spot in a hurry and the 'scroll down and explore' area for new folks who we want to give a taste of the setting and site. All done up in some suitably futuristic fashion of course.

Just to offer a couple of 'real world' examples of websites that we might also take some cues from, here's the site of USAA:

https://www.usaa.com/inet/ent_logon/Logo...irect=true

which has both a cycling image feature (not sure how hard that is to code or how it would work on an ipad - I can also imagine something we just manually change out on a regular basis) and some pretty impressive mouse-over menus for the Products and Advice Center buttons.

Also this site:

https://www.khanacademy.org/

Which is pretty clean in layout. I can imagine images like Arik's being where they have the big purple background, with controls/search bar along the top and bottom and maybe more detailed stuff as you scroll down the page such as they have. Maybe windows into major areas of the site, like the interactive timeline (when we get that up), image galleries, etc. Perhaps have 'fast' controls at the top for experience users who just want to get to a particular spot in a hurry and the 'scroll down and explore' area for new folks who we want to give a taste of the setting and site. All done up in some suitably futuristic fashion of course.

Just some thoughts,

Todd

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Expanding on this a bit - One of the issues I think the current website has is that although the entire project is about the OA setting/future only one button on the homepage actually takes you directly into that setting. Maybe 2.5 if we count the Books, Stories, and Art button and parts of the pages accessed via the Introduction button.

I would like to suggest that we tweak things a bit to draw the user into the setting as quickly and as much as possible. As mentioned re the second link above, perhaps have large image based links or frames or something below a large image that draw people in to specific parts of the site that we deem extra cool. Perhaps have a message on the bottom frame of the big top picture inviting people to explore the OA Universe (whether by scrolling down or clicking a link that jumps then down the page). Maybe have the top section of this be an intro into the EG with an image for each of the major buttons. For example for the History section have an image of an interactive timeline that links to that page which would also contain links to other History pages, for Galactography have an image of a star map that takes you to a page of the clickable maps, and so on.

Beyond the EG, maybe have a window into the OA News Net (not the active one we have now, but something like the windows you see online that let you move from one image or block of text to the next by clicking an arrow). Do something similar for a mini-art gallery that includes a link to the main gallery pages. Have a window that shows the cover to V:FT and/or an excerpt from a V:FT story. And so on.

For the main image on the top, have a "Quick Links" link that opens out a menu sort of like we see on the USAA site. This links to all the other parts of the OA site, including the EG, for those who just want to get there in a hurry. Plus a Search bar and maybe some other 'business related' links and the social media icons/linds of course.

What do folks think? What alternatives would people like to suggest?

Thoughts?

Todd
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#4
So, found myself thinking about the way we currently present information in the EG.

The EG is great if we want to lead a user to read all the way through a given article in a single block of text (sometimes quite a large block) and then go on to links to related articles or topics. But is this necessarily the best way to provide information, either from the standpoint of the user experience or the 'futuristic' look of the EG as a presumed future information source?

What I'm wondering is if we might want to look at a different layout for the design of the EG pages (or at least some pages), perhaps displaying links or information in a more left/right layout or something other than straight top to bottom. Not sure exactly what this would look like, but wondered what folks thought of the basic idea and what examples from other places on the web they might present.

So, thoughts?

Todd
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