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I’ve been revisiting the idea of how to use the main content area of the wiki homepage.
While the current link lists are direct to particular topic pages, the sections themselves are redundant with the sections you access via the main nav in the left column. Indeed, the link list outputs in the two locations are done via wiki templates, which in itself is a good thing if you’re going to be redundant like that. Yet one could still argue it’s not the best use of the main page. We could let the individual section pages (e.g., Orientation), stand on their own — accessible via the left nav — and use the main content area of the homepage for other things that benefit Txp and the wiki as much as they do documentation users.
What other things? Good question. And that’s why I’m bringing it up. Whatever the content is, it must be relatively easy to maintain once it’s there (so no “News” type things), but it should not be totally automated (so no feed streams). I’m guessing some content items might be relatively static, others a little less so.
Some ideas I’ve been kicking around are:
Once we figured out what content might be good to put there, if at all, then we can think of a snappier way of presenting it. Something magazine-ish or newspaper layout-ish. I.e., text/image content in a custom grid of some sort but white space being the rule (not boxes with borders).
Another place to advertise the Textpattern book, might be in the footer, replacing the “Hand tooled” graphic which isn’t really communicating anything relevant.
That’s the general idea. Any other thoughts on content at this point?
That’s a great idea. I like all your suggestions so far. That’d make a big difference to the overall first impression and the general experience. I always visit the front page first: bookmarks? who needs ‘em!
The ‘bits that need attention’ idea is a fab way of advertising what needs editorial help and, I’m willing to wager, will garner more assistance than something over-the-top like that awful, self-smug, in-yer-face banner “A personal appeal from Jimmy Wales” on the Wikipedia site *shudder*
One other thing that might be a nice alteration: currently the register / new account link is on the front page, but as you browse around it’s lost. Could that be moved up to the ‘Please Log In’ bar and shown only to those people who aren’t logged in as a permanent reminder that editorial stardom is only a click (and a small wait!) away? Not sure how to do that or I’d consider making the change myself. EDIT: except I see that when you click the ‘Please Log In’ link, you see a line on the next screen that says “if you don’t have an account then register for one” so maybe this isn’t necessary after all.
Can’t think of any other content offhand that would be good to showcase but I’ll keep this ticking away in the back of my mind and see if anything pops forward.
Last edited by Bloke (2010-12-11 14:31:17)
I’m in complete agreement. The current use of the main content tries to do too much, and as a result fails to do much of anything. You should not have to scroll on a home page. Off the top of my head, organize it into three blocks:
…currently the register / new account link is on the front page, but as you browse around it’s lost. Could that be moved up to the ‘Please Log In’ bar and shown only to those people who aren’t logged in as a permanent reminder that editorial stardom is only a click (and a small wait!) away? Not sure how to do that or I’d consider making the change myself.
Actually, I had originally thought about putting that very link on the “help document it” part of the tagline at top, and make that part of the tagline a slight darker shade to emphasize it a bit…maybe put some CSS3 shadowing on it for a hover or something.
But when I tried, the link wouldn’t show up. Maybe that’s because you can’t use a link in a
blockquote (though there’s no
p element there either, so that could be the difference, but that would still be strange).
As for making it disappear for folks logged in. I wouldn’t know how to mess about with that, but if it was in the tagline, maybe that’s not an issue anyway.
On a related note, I noticed that the WordPress Plugins site has done something kind of clever…they put the login form into the identity bar as part of the log in / log out functions, thereby doing away with the extra click to an actual login page. That’s kind of cool, and if the New Accounts page were linked to from the tagline as described (always there), we could feasibly do something like that, maybe?
put the login form into the identity bar as part of the log in / log out functions
Funny you should mention that. I was toying with that idea for txp.org the other day. Got sidetracked by something else but I intend to do it that way now we have space in the header for it. If you can squeeze it into the layout then I don’t see why we can’t save a click on the wiki too.
Last edited by Bloke (2010-12-11 15:15:04)
Thanks…I’m in favor of the change too.
You should not have to scroll on a home page. Off the top of my head, organize it into three [audience type] blocks…
I’m not concerned about scrolling (page height). That’s putting design considerations before content needs. If we get the content right and the result is a page that scrolls a bit, that’s okay with me.
Organizing the content by audience is a valid consideration, but I don’t really see where there would be a “new users” in the content items I listed so far. I think by it’s nature a docs wiki is geared for new users first and foremost…it goes without saying. All user docs should be edited with that baseline user in mind, unless where it’s specifically for community use or whatever.
Maybe a better way is to just prioritize the position of individual content items by their immediate importance. For example, we need help with something in the wiki, it gets a higher position on the page. The book ad is a book ad no matter what…it goes lower. That sort of thing.
That’s a great idea. I like all your suggestions so far. That’d make a big difference to the overall first impression and the general experience.
Just echoing, nothing to add :)
EDIT: except I see that when you click the ‘Please Log In’ link, you see a line on the next screen that says “if you don’t have an account then register for one”
Maybe just change the link text to “Log in or register”?
I’m not concerned about scrolling (page height). That’s putting design considerations before content needs.
Arguable. The home page really has no content needs per se. It is essentially a navigation element, wherein information design and user-experience design are paramount.
Truthfully, I’m baffled by your entire response there, Jeff, but maybe we better leave it at that since we both seem to think a change, regardless, is a step in the right direction. :)
maybe we better leave it at that
Obviously I was unclear so I’d rather not leave it at that. :)
I’m using content in a restricted sense, what I see as the usual meaning of that term when discussing web pages. In that sense, the current TextBook home page contains no content at all. I think this is about right, although it is carried too far — it’s not at all clear that TextBook is a documentation site for Txp. It appears to be about a product called TextBook.
Anyway, the main purpose of the home page is to direct users toward the content they need. I think the best way to do this is to present just enough information to allow users to quickly see what’s available and to help them narrow the search, by directing them to the appropriate sub-indexes. I think the current approach tries to do too much. I think it would be better to have a brief blurb describing the purpose of the site, then simply list links to the major site sections with short descriptions of each section.