Author Topic: Front End Site Redesign - Consultation, PLEASE send thoughts!  (Read 658 times)

Jubal

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Front End Site Redesign - Consultation, PLEASE send thoughts!
« on: November 11, 2017, 02:39:14 PM »
OK, it's time I got round to this I guess. We have all the tabs like "Mods & Games", "Tabletop Games", etc up at the top, one of which leads to a relevant forum and the others of which mostly lead to really out of date pages.

I'm concerned about trying to just make a bunch of up to date pages for everything, because I think they'll just get out of date again, without an extra staff member to manage content which is a long way off at the moment. We could make some of them redirect to parts of the forum, but I'm not sure there'd be much point, or we could just remove most of those links, though that might make the site look rather sparse. I'm not sure - basically it's a question of how we put some sort of front-end site together that best channels people into the real content (which is mostly on the forum).

Thoughts very much appreciated!
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Glaurung

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Re: Front End Site Redesign - Consultation, PLEASE send thoughts!
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2017, 11:47:09 AM »
OK, thoughts sent.

Oh, wait, your telepathy isn't working today? (sigh) OK, I'll do that fiddly brain - fingers - keyboard thing then...



I think there are three questions here:
1. What content areas do we want to have directly linked on the front page?
2. How do we set those links up so that they are as low-maintenance as possible?
3. What do we do with the front page layout / UI to make those links more prominent?

1. Content areas
I'm not sure about this, but I think as a minimum they include:
- the top-level forum
- the Articles section
- game-dev activities (roughly Exilian Projects in the forum)
- other creative activities (roughly The Street of the Clerisy)
- any other external links for Exilian content (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Mastodon, etc.)

2. Maintenance
I agree about trying to avoid specific pages for content areas where we can, because they will require maintenance effort. This would imply that links to forum sections are the way to go, but this would require the forum to be structured appropriately, and I'm not sure it is at the moment. In particular, I'm not sure we can provide a link to a section like Exilian Projects. Could we get PHP/SQL to generate a suitable page of links from the forum structure?

3. Front page layout
At the moment, it feels to me as if the menu is rather swamped by the other page elements - particularly the announcements, which occupy about 2/3 of the screen area, and in a larger font too. As a minimum, I would go for reducing the Announcements screen area and font size somewhat, and emphasizing the menu more. On the same principle, I suggest taking the Welcome message out of the right-hand narrow column, and putting it in a larger font in the main column, perhaps immediately under the logo. It might also be worth reviewing what we do with the Latest Posts and Links boxes in the right-hand column.

Jubal

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Re: Front End Site Redesign - Consultation, PLEASE send thoughts!
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2017, 12:44:20 PM »
I guess the difficult with content areas beyond articles and news (aka the dev areas and creative areas) is that it's very hard to turn them into a feed or do much to make it easier for people to find that content than they would find if they simply scrolled down the forum index - at least, without specific front-end pages which are hell to keep updated :( I could do some kind of automated feeds similar to the front page, but I'm not sure how effective or useful that would be for people - not all threads are anything like of equal interest to people.

Should we have an "about" page as well? I feel like that might be useful.

I agree on the FP layout, but I'd like to try and sort the other pages first just on a "do one thing at a time" principle.
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Glaurung

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Re: Front End Site Redesign - Consultation, PLEASE send thoughts!
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2017, 02:56:42 PM »
Should we have an "about" page as well? I feel like that might be useful.
Yes, agreed.

I agree on the FP layout, but I'd like to try and sort the other pages first just on a "do one thing at a time" principle.
Yes, that makes sense. If you'd like some help, I'm happy to contribute what I can, though I suspect I might be learning PHP as I go.

I guess the difficult with content areas beyond articles and news (aka the dev areas and creative areas) is that it's very hard to turn them into a feed or do much to make it easier for people to find that content than they would find if they simply scrolled down the forum index - at least, without specific front-end pages which are hell to keep updated :( I could do some kind of automated feeds similar to the front page, but I'm not sure how effective or useful that would be for people - not all threads are anything like of equal interest to people.
I was thinking more of a tool (SQL?) that could read the relevant forum database table to construct a list of boards in a single section, say Exilian Projects, and then present that list, perhaps with some introductory text (from another PHP file?) as a page that we could put on the front page menu. I've no idea whether this is at all feasible with the software we have, but it would mean that the pages are created automatically from whatever the current forum structure is. I know we're already reading individual posts from the database to get the front-page announcements, the Articles page, and the contents of the Library page, so I would hope we can get to other bits of the database too.

To take the Exilian Projects example further, the constructed page could perhaps look something like this:

Exilian Projects

The Exilian Projects area is where we discuss creative activities related to game development, and individual developers present their games.

Creative and Project Hub - The River Docks
Tabletop Design - The Senet House
Computer Game Development - The Indie Alley
Mods, Maps & Game Add-Ons - The Bazaar


Jubal

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Re: Front End Site Redesign - Consultation, PLEASE send thoughts!
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2017, 04:35:00 PM »
I guess - I think that basic a level of thing would be do-able (if we were just linking to the overall top level subforums even a static page would be fine), I just I suppose I'm not sure how helpful a short list of links like that would really be to people looking for particular content... We could probably keep up one page for community & clerisy and one page for projects, and use the forum for content-managing them by making them general posts of crucial links? I think mainly I really want more feedback from more potential site users, though goodness knows how to get that.
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