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User Trex
Date 8/5/2009 9:57 am
Views 10600
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Trex

I wanted to comment on the "difficult to use" topic in the recent "Jquery" thread, but since I'm not touching on Jquery itself, I thought it might be good to start a new thread on this topic. In terms of usability of the new site, please allow me to point out a few personal observations:

I too miss the ability to see and search all the forums in one place. If you're not sure which forum is the one to search or to post to, you now have to click through all the major sections of the site to see what's available. And if you know you read something in a forum before but you can't recall which one, you don't have a way to search all forums. The next best option is to search the entire site, which means wading through a lot of non-forum results.

(Also, the general forum page where all these forums used to be gathered, http://www.webgui.org/forums now is not only missing former content, but the forum feed on the right appears to have been overlooked in the transition and still shows colors for the various forums, even though the feed only lists the Et Cetera posts.)

The wiki is a similar situation, made more confusing by the fact that there's little indication that there are multiple disconnected wikis. Right after the new design was released, I had multiple cases where I knew a wiki page existed, but couldn't find it -- I thought maybe in the transition, something broke and pages were sometimes unavailable, perhaps while being edited. It took me a while to realize that the wikis were now separated by topic and that where you were when you clicked the "wiki" link in the menu was very important. (The install wiki home page doesn't have a descriptive title like the other wikis do, making it harder for someone starting out there to realize the wiki's scope is limited.)

When searching for a wiki page on a general topic that you know you've seen before, if you're forced to go out to the whole-site search menu you must wade through a lot of non-wiki responses. Take for example "wre installation". Do a site-wide search on that and you come up with the WebGUI Installation TOC page as the first result...which has a bunch of links that no longer work since the wiki was broken up. The "Wre Installation" wiki page does not show up until page 3 of the results (even though the page title is an exact match to the search phrase you entered).

So, some specific suggestions:

1. Return the all-forums page, which you should be able to achieve without moving the forums from their new locations using shortcuts or proxies.

2. On the forum search pages, have both "search this forum" and "search all forums" options, which should be easy enough to do with the search-by-class option.

3. Update each forum search page so that the title shows the scope of what the search will cover. Right now, each search page only shows the title "search", and because neither the horizontal or vertical menus indicate where you are in the site, the ONLY way to tell where you are is the URL that your browser displays.

4. For the wiki home pages, clarify that the search is "search this wiki", and add a second "search all wikis" field.

5. It would be nice to have an all-wikis page to show users what the possible wiki categories/topics are. This would not only help users find the information they need, but also will probably help prevent people from adding wiki pages in the wrong place due to them not knowing when there is a more appropriate place to post their knowledge.

Regarding the new design of the site itself, I'll stay away from arguing aesthetics, but I will say that I think the new design is a nice improvement over the previous one.



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susanb

I posted a bug regarding the wiki issue some time ago at http://www.webgui.org/use/bugs/tracker/10585 . Your suggestion of a "search all wikis" field would definitely help. If you want to submit RFEs for this, I'd be happy to donate karma.

Susan B



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knowmad

Trex,

Thanks for taking the time to document what I believe are issues that many webgui.org users are finding. I concur with your comments & suggestions.

I've posted karma to the RFE that Susan referenced and would be happy to add further karma to the other usability issues that you've brought up.

I rely on email subscription for reading the forums and hardly use the wiki these days due to the inability to find information that used to be easily contained in one place. I wonder if Plain Black has seen a change in usage of the forums or wikis since launching the new format.

 

William

----
Knowmad Technologies
http://www.knowmad.com



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JT
This is not really the appropriate list for this discussion, or  
perhaps all the forums are the appropriate one. But since it was  
brought up here, I guess we'll leave it here.

We're talking about it internally, but I'd also like to hear about any  
ideas you guys have as well.

Personally I thought that the old site's navigation was absolutely  
perfect. You could get pretty much anywhere in one click. But there  
were constant complaints from people saying that it was bad, wrong,  
uninviting, couldn't find anything, not how it should be done, etc. In  
fact, I even got into a fairly heated discussion about it at the WUC  
last year with Koen and some others. To be honest, that's how it's  
been since day one. No matter how we design the site and navigation,  
people complain about how it's organized.

I'm unwilling to debate aesthetics. Honestly I could care less if one  
person hates this design or that because aesthetics are a very  
personal matter. I liked the way the old site looked, I like the way  
this one looks, and I probably would like it if someone else came up  
with a new design. Who cares what I like? It's not about me or you or  
any one person. We ran a poll on the aesthetics of the site and the  
vast majority said they liked it. That's good enough for me.

However, I do very much care whether people can find the information  
they are looking for. At the WUC last year Koen and others made it  
very clear that the WebGUI.org site should be divided up by subject  
matter. Perhaps I/we took that a bit too far in that we divided up the  
wiki and forums by subject matter as well (and planned to do the  
Bazaar and WebGUI.tv too). And we have in production right now (not  
launched) a community dashboard which will replace the front page when  
you are logged in which would allow you to get the forums and latest  
wiki entries etc from the sections you care about.

I also know that I've talked to several people in the community, and  
at least one person on my own staff who thinks that the new site is  
much better to navigate than the old site. I also know we showed off  
the new site design and navigation to everyone for several months  
before we unleashed it on the site. We got pretty much all positive  
comments. However, seeing screen shots and actually having to use the  
thing are certainly two different things.

Finally, while we discuss this try to frame the discussion away from  
you hate it because you don't like change. Change happens, get over  
it. Please argue about the merits of how you'd go about finding  
things. And also keep in mind, that the site ultimately must be  
navigable by people who have never seen it before.

So with that, I leave it to you, our community. Tell us what you think  
needs to be done and we'll do our best to assimilate that and throw a  
plan back at you. Then we can put up a poll about it and put it to a  
vote.





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koen

However, I do very much care whether people can find the information they are looking for. At the WUC last year Koen and others made it  very clear that the WebGUI.org site should be divided up by subject matter.

 

Indeed so, for the first time user that is much clearer. And I do think the new way of organising the site is much, much better now.

 

Perhaps I/we took that a bit too far in that we divided up the   wiki and forums by subject matter as well (and planned to do the Bazaar and WebGUI.tv too).

 

I have not thought that for one moment. It has been split up in a very clear and well defined way.

 

And we have in production right now (not launched) a community dashboard which will replace the front page when you are logged in which would allow you to get the forums and latest  wiki entries etc from the sections you care about.

 

Fantastic! That could solve this rfe, and this rfe, and this rfe, and perhaps this rfe and even this rfe.

What I'm trying to say here is that while the experience has improved for the new users, it still has to go a long way for the experienced and frequent users.

I have just reread my initial comments to the 'what would you like in a new design thread. I must say, a lot of my comments have been taken into account. Thank you for that.

My number one request:

  • provide a complete (and hopfully customisable) dashboard that shows latest comments to the git repositories, forums, rfe's and bugs as well as the staff blog and tbb.

What I would still like (more) is:

  • better search options like, 'search all wiki pages' and 'search all forums'
  • a less colourfull more sophisticated style, more boring if you like or more business like.
  • a less crowded landing page there is still way to much to see there.

And to a lesser extent:

  • make the style 'a bit' adjustable to the user, for example add a switch to the stylesheet that allows you to turn off that clockwork or whatever it is
  • put a large screenshot of WebGUI in admin mode on the front page next to these two buttons and link it to a page that just has 50 thumbnails of WebGUI in one page that shows off a lot of the interface of WebGUI, like the features page, but with less info and a bit bigger thumbnails.
  • I would make the various 'sections' even more recognisable by using a different colorset.

 

Finally, while we discuss this try to frame the discussion away from you hate it because you don't like change. Change happens, get over it.

 

I like change, give me more of it! Innocent

 

Please argue about the merits of how you'd go about finding things. And also keep in mind, that the site ultimately must be navigable by people who have never seen it before.

Indeed so. I think I have done so above.


So with that, I leave it to you, our community. Tell us what you think needs to be done and we'll do our best to assimilate that and throw a plan back at you. Then we can put up a poll about it and put it to a vote.

 

That would be quite a lot of polls. I would just like to remind you that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Wink

Koen de Jonge - ProcoliX
http://www.procolix.com
Hosting - WebGUI - Virtualization



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knowmad

JT,

Thanks for the thoughtful response to a sticky subject. I think what we're discussing is usability, not aesthetics. We're not a usability company but perhaps there are some members in the commuity who could provide ways for the community to do a usability study of the site.

As for suggestions, I think Trex hit the high spots for me. Looking forward to more discussion around this topic as it affects not just the webgui.org site but all sites being developed in WebGUI.

 

William

----
Knowmad Technologies
http://www.knowmad.com



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JT
> As for suggestions, I think Trex hit the high spots for me. Looking  
> forward to more discussion around this topic as it affects not just  
> the webgui.org site but all sites being developed in WebGUI.
>

How could the organization of the navigation on webgui.org affect all  
WebGUI sites being developed. That doesn't make much sense to me.  
Could you explain further?


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knowmad


How could the organization of the navigation on webgui.org affect all WebGUI sites being developed. That doesn't make much sense to me. Could you explain further?

 

JT,

It's been awhile since I wrote that response and upon reflection think I may have been flourishing a bit. Nonetheless, I think the navigation of webgui.org comes down to a usability issue. As such, it impacts sites being developed in WebGUI as it sets an example and tone of how to structure navigation.

Your comments at the WUC that you're adding more ways to access the content was good to hear. It will be an example of how to overlay the two navigational themes that Trex laid out in his post on 8/8 -- navigation by function or by usage.

I know this is bringing up an old topic but it's still just as important and I wanted to point out that Plainblack is open to ways to improve webgui.org.

 

William

----
Knowmad Technologies
http://www.knowmad.com



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Trex

JT, I did consider moving this post to another forum, but since it was a continuation of another post in this forum, I wanted to keep it here so that people who read the JQuery post wouldn't miss it. Fortunately, my decision hasn't generated serious complaints and the post has generated some good discussion.

It seems that the overall issue is the challenge of deciding on a hierarchy that best gets users to the information they need. It's something that we have long heated discussions over at the place I work every time a new site design gets started. You can divide the site structure and navigation into functional topics or user groups, but generally not both. For WebGUI.org, the previous site was organized first around what users might want to do on the website (discuss, document, download, etc.), and then within these categories you might find further content divisions based on what you want to do with WebGUI itself (design, develop, administer, etc.). With the new website, this approach is reversed, focusing first on what you want to do with WebGUI, and then dividing into the tools that help do that job. Putting myself in the position of someone just learning about WebGUI for the first time, I can see how the new navigation would be great for them. Or, for people who have a job that covers a specific subset of WebGUI (like template design), this navigation system is good at helping them focus on the topic of interest to them.

However, for those of us who were used to the everything-in-one-place wiki, or who wear many hats on the job (I fall into both these categories), the new organization makes the site more challenging for us to use than the old one did. The fact that content is broken out into disconnected units means that you have to search in multiple places if you're not sure which category your question falls within. In fact, your question may span multiple categories, so it has no truly proper "home".

If you're trying to look up information in this latter category, your options are to either run multiple searches or use the site-wide search. Neither of these options is very efficient (especially the site-wide search). If you know you're looking for something wiki-related or forum-related, it would be much handier to have the option to search all wikis/forums.

So, at Susan B's suggestion, I've set up a RFE to which people can contribute karma, and I've seeded it with a bit of my own to start things off. Hopefully it will gain support, especially since I believe implementing the changes means simply utilizing capaiblities already present in WebGUI, and won't require any changes to the current navigation or structure.



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knowmad

So, at Susan B's suggestion, I've set up a RFE to which people can contribute karma,

Trex,

Nice response. Can you provide a link to the RFE you added?

 

William

----
Knowmad Technologies
http://www.knowmad.com



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