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Last post Author Topic: DC Front Page  (Read 11232 times)

timns

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DC Front Page
« on: February 12, 2011, 01:13:00 PM »
I sent someone to DC yesterday. They were favourably impressed, which is nice, but they did mention (and I think it's a fair comment) that's it's kind to tricky to really get a good feel for what's available.

Is there anywhere you can find all the DC apps grouped in some logical way?

Second point was to make it more obvious that the forum is a big, big part of the DC experience.

Paul Keith

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2011, 02:13:18 PM »
http://www.donationc.../Software/index.html

DC's problem (and I'm using the word lightly) is not that the apps are disorganized but that the apps are rarely advertised and reviewed and are therefore harder to chance upon.

Take this blog article for example: http://www.freewareg...der-nany-2011-event/

No specific apps because most blog sites are afraid of posting/reviewing one or two small apps and then there's always the reverse - troll commentors.

The forum is already magnified in the blog. Again the issue is that people are expecting blogs or tech forums and not a CMS lay-out.

timns

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2011, 03:09:57 PM »
Yes I'm aware of that page, but looking at it through another's eyes, I do think it might be nice to have a layout where it's more obvious what this place has to offer - which is a rich bounty of both software and help/knowledge  :Thmbsup:

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2011, 03:13:06 PM »
We do need a front page face lift.  and i should probably give up on the blog because after several years of daily updating, im not sure anyone gives a damn about it.

I think the main confusion regarding DC is one that has no simple solution -- and that is that we simply do too many diverse things -- which goes against the trend of the internet for the last decade, which is to focus on single-purpose websites.  But I don't see us changing that any time soon.

However, I'd love to see some mock up ideas for how we might improve the front page, and the site organization in general.

One thing we COULD do is make the front page a kind of collection of lists/tables, like recent interesting forum threads, recent software updates, recent event updates, recent new coding snacks, etc.

rgdot

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2011, 03:28:14 PM »
Additional link and page that sorts software by type. The current software page which is by author and challenge (N.A.N.Y., etc.) is useful but having the other way adds another layer of usability.

EDIT:
Forgot to add: The Home page can be sort of reversed, perhaps the wider column can highlight DC releases and updates first and foremost instead of them being mainly in the left column
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 03:32:27 PM by rgdot »

Paul Keith

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2011, 04:20:40 PM »
I think the blog is kind of useful because it serves as a digest and I read up on it regularly. (Like I missed out on the Wordpress topic) It's just that it doesn't look like your traditional blog that's why no one pays much attention to it and to be honest - it's not as intuitive when on the main page. (You have to go to the blog link just to see a giant orange rss button for example)

Then there's the easy to ignore yellow sidebar which isn't very obvious in saying it's updating software.

This is more a suggestion than a mock-up but I think most of the forum issues can be solved by simply renaming the main page into the DonationCoder Forums. Also a sidebar that shows and explains one random app would be nice.

My main worry about sorting software though is that there's no easy way to do it and it could easily turn out like this:

http://www.portablefreeware.com/all.php

Things like PopUp Wisdom would be easily buried under that sort of structure.

Contrast this with how spacejock.com sorts this:

http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter.html

Unclear, vague and you have to know what the software's name is - on the other hand it works because you want to explore the site.

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2011, 12:39:55 PM »
I think it's decided: We are going to have a new front page!

And we might as well unveil it publicly on the first day of the scheduled fundraiser, March 1st.

So now we have to figure out just what it is we want on our front page -- keep the suggestions coming.

One ground rule:

We aren't ready to majorly redo all of the pages, so the rest of the pages on the site (see the links at the very top of the site) are going to stay unchanged, and we aren't going to be moving to a cms (yet).

So, any more thoughts?

Ath

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 02:01:21 PM »
I think it's decided: We are going to have a new front page!

Yay!

So, any more thoughts?

I'd vote for a group of top 5/top 10's, as suggested above, displaying newest forum messages, DC software updates, completed Coding Snacks, updated NANY entries, Blog posts, etc.

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2011, 02:09:28 PM »
Yeah i'm kind of thinking that way too.. though i think we want to try to avoid it being too cluttered.

Edvard

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2011, 05:50:23 PM »
The one thing that attracted and held me to the site way before I discovered the awesome forums  :-* was the Coding Snacks section.
This was something NOBODY else was offering at the time and NOBODY has matched since; therefore I think the Coding Snacks should be a highlight and gateway/introduction to the many other things DC has to offer.

While the blog has taken center stage since the last revamp, I don't think it needs to go away, because it too is very different from most site's idea of a blog.
Most blogs (like, ~99%) are just a posting of news links or short opinion pieces that folks join in and comment on, but DC's is more like an open invitation to eavesdrop on and even join in with a private conversation amongst a gathering of friends, which is another thing NOBODY else does.

So, IMHO, I think Coding Snacks and the Blog (as it is) are two things that should stay on the front page, but definitely MUCH more love needs to be shown to the Coding Snacks and Software sections.
I say keep the software update section, put Coding Snacks front and center, and downsize but don't eliminate the blog.

Double helping on the Humble part of that opinion... :-[

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 05:59:58 PM »
I think the idea of the front page as a set of "top 10" tables pointing to content on the site is appealing.  Like a table of 10 most recent coding snacks, 10 most recent mini reviews, 10 most recent big software updates, 10 most recent blog entries, 10 hottest forum topics, 10 most recent forum posts, etc.

The only concern is that it would be too chaotic..

timns

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2011, 06:10:22 PM »
Doesn't have to be top 10...

Top 5, or Of the week / Month

Top rated, Top voted... that feels more interactive too.

What would be nice is that more of DC's content gets an airing - I think that's important.

skwire

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2011, 06:34:27 PM »
The only concern is that it would be too chaotic..

And a TON of work to keep it up to date.  I'm just sayin'.  =]

40hz

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2011, 06:46:34 PM »
I think I'd like anything that didn't make it look so much like a Wordpress blog.

Because right now...it looks just like a blog.   :)

I also don't think the main landing page should be super big on dynamic items such as lists and tables. The homepage is really more needed for new visitors than it is for regulars. The regulars already know what's here and how to get to it.  With new visitors, it's more important (IMO) to have a predictable and fairly static navigational starting point. Ideally, it should give a quick intro to what the site is about, and provide an overview with clear links which invite the visitor to explore further. Think map rather than dashboard.

Once inside the front door, it can be as dynamic and interactive as deemed appropriate.  

Just my 2ยข

« Last Edit: February 13, 2011, 07:48:58 PM by 40hz »

Paul Keith

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2011, 08:53:14 PM »
Quote
I also don't think the main landing page should be super big on dynamic items such as lists and tables. The homepage is really more needed for new visitors than it is for regulars. The regulars already know what's here and how to get to it.  With new visitors, it's more important (IMO) to have a predictable and fairly static navigational starting point. Ideally, it should give a quick intro to what the site is about, and provide an overview with clear links which invite the visitor to explore further. Think map rather than dashboard.

+10 or as the web marketers say..."landing pages" not "homepages"

Since March is when Sandy Bridge gets re-released, I thought I'd go check out Intel's site:

Today is so Yesterday: http://www.intel.com/?en_AP_00

and then going to their "busy" pages they have tons of screenshots with things grouped together.

Wouldn't be a bad idea to start an organizational structure not from the perspective of a category but of a "suite". Maybe even start with pre-packaged zips like many of the AHK zips all grouped into one and then just later on provide single download files.

nudone

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2011, 03:02:59 AM »
The one thing that attracted and held me to the site way before I discovered the awesome forums  :-* was the Coding Snacks section.
This was something NOBODY else was offering at the time and NOBODY has matched since; therefore I think the Coding Snacks should be a highlight and gateway/introduction to the many other things DC has to offer.

While the blog has taken center stage since the last revamp, I don't think it needs to go away, because it too is very different from most site's idea of a blog.
Most blogs (like, ~99%) are just a posting of news links or short opinion pieces that folks join in and comment on, but DC's is more like an open invitation to eavesdrop on and even join in with a private conversation amongst a gathering of friends, which is another thing NOBODY else does.

So, IMHO, I think Coding Snacks and the Blog (as it is) are two things that should stay on the front page, but definitely MUCH more love needs to be shown to the Coding Snacks and Software sections.
I say keep the software update section, put Coding Snacks front and center, and downsize but don't eliminate the blog.

Double helping on the Humble part of that opinion... :-[

If that's how DC is perceived, and it sounds right to me, then Coding Snacks and Friendly forum sound like the things to focus on. If it's not obvious what DC is all about, or its main purpose, then you won't have improved anything.

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2011, 04:32:37 AM »
Ok so another option instead of having the front page show dynamic content like latest coding snacks and blog entries and news, would be for it to be simple more minimalist front page.

And then in recognition of the fact that our #1 "problem" is that we have a lot of different eclectic things going on, the front page could be more like a very friendly and non-overwhelming start page that would have links like:

"I am interested in seeing the latest new small utilities (Coding Snacks).."
"I am interested in participating in your online discussion forum.."
"I am interested in getting a license for one of your larger applications.."
"I am interested in learning more about the site.."
"I am a programmer interested in sharing my software.."

etc.

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2011, 07:07:03 AM »
Ok as so often happens with such things, my view is shifting dramatically from the idea of a front page with lots of dynamic content, tables of recent blog posts, software updates, etc., to the opposite side of the spectrum suggested by some people on this thread of having it be a simple clear starting point.

So it got me thinking, perhaps the first thing to really decide is, WHO is the home page for?

Is it for first time new visitors? Or is it for regular readers trying to find out what's new.

It seems to me one of the current problems with the home page is it's trying to be both.

  • I suggest that we make a decision that the home page is for NEW visitors.
  • And say that the forum is for regular visitors.
  • And maybe have a dedicated "what's new" page that people can monitor who dont read the forum but want to keep occasional tabs on what's new

Ok so *if* we decide to go with that idea, that front page is for new visitors, and if we accept that DC is hard to explain because we do a bunch of things, what if we make the home page sort of like a gentle place we can teach people what DC is?

This is kind of unusual, and just an idea, but follow me here...

What about a super minimalist clean page, with like a big question on it: "What is DonationCoder.com?"

And then have it act kind of like a slide show where it shows one statement with maybe a quote and some links, and then a button for "another" slide.  So it would always be showing one random "item" of information like..

  • "What is DonationCoder.com?  A place where people come to talk about software" (and then a link to forum section on general software)
  • "What is DonationCoder.com? A place where people can request new freeware software utilities coded while you wait" (and then a link to coding snacks list)
  • etc.

The problem I see with this is that it would be hard to tell "at a glance" all the things we do.. you'd have to "step through" the "slide show" one item at a time.

So maybe that's a non-starter.

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2011, 07:11:43 AM »
Ok as an alternative, what if the homepage was more like a really clean simple white page which was like a FAQ list, or maybe like an interactive "wizard" with just the questions listed in big text -- and when you click on one it expands to show the "answer" for that item.

And maybe present the list from the standpoint of the visitor.

So the list might be things like:

  • "I came here looking for info on a specific DonationCoder.com program -- can you help me locate it?"
  • "I came here to get a license key for a DonationCoder.com application"
  • "I want to browse,search, or participate in your discussion forum"
  • "I want to learn about how to request new freeware applications"
  • "I want to browse the newest freeware utilities released by coders on the site"
  • "I want to read about what kind of special events happen on DonationCoder.com"
  • "I want to add an RSS feed from this site"
  • "I want to sign up for the monthly mailing list"
  • "I want to learn how to make a donation"
  • "I want to read some software reviews"
  • "I want to see the latest updates on the site"
  • "I want to learn more about the history of the site"
  • "I heard you have a daily blog -- I'd like to read that"
  • "I want to make a suggestion/complaint about the site"
  • etc.

Each choice would expand dynamically on the page with a paragraph or two answer, and then links to appropriate areas on the site/forum.

The downside would be that it would have to be a fairly long list -- the upside would be that there would be very little else on the page to distract you, so it shouldn't be too overwhelming to look through the list of questions.  There would only ever be one answer visible at any given time -- the answer to the item you select to expand.

Maybe the items could be grouped into sections that would make it a little less overwhelming.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 07:18:22 AM by mouser, Reason: just updating list »

Paul Keith

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2011, 08:10:47 AM »
I don't know mouser. Personally I feel your on the right track but the whole quiz forms wouldn't really jive with me if this were my first time here.

Not only does it make me feel like an idiot but slideshows while cool can often defeat the point of a single idea and the way you're describing it - it feels like I need way more thinking compared to the current page.

cranioscopical

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2011, 08:51:51 AM »

And maybe present the list from the standpoint of the visitor.

So the list might be things like:

  • "I came here looking for info on a specific DonationCoder.com program -- can you help me locate it?"
  • "I came here to get a license key for a DonationCoder.com application"
  • "I want to browse,search, or participate in your discussion forum"
  • "I want to learn about how to request new freeware applications"
  • "I want to browse the newest freeware utilities released by coders on the site"
  • "I want to read about what kind of special events happen on DonationCoder.com"
  • "I want to add an RSS feed from this site"
  • "I want to sign up for the monthly mailing list"
  • "I want to learn how to make a donation"
  • "I want to read some software reviews"
  • "I want to see the latest updates on the site"
  • "I want to learn more about the history of the site"
  • "I heard you have a daily blog -- I'd like to read that"
  • "I want to make a suggestion/complaint about the site"
  • etc.

No, no, no, and no again!

IMHO

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2011, 09:01:10 AM »
Chris you really like the idea huh?  :huh:

Care to elaborate?

Is it just that the questions are not expressed in the form of puns?

nudone

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2011, 09:17:01 AM »
too many questions. first time visitors are going to glance over the page, which means it either needs to be very obvious what's going on or the information is presented in a layout they already understand - which probably isn't possible as you don't know which sites they are already familiar with.

how about this: whatever you do, why not try A/B testing between two completely different layouts. after 6 months (or whatever) drop the layout most people bounce away from.

mouser

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2011, 09:22:08 AM »
That would be the logical thing to do, but we've never been overly bound to logic here :)

Another way would be for people to submit front page mock ups and we can pick the one we like best.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 09:36:05 AM by mouser, Reason: corrected grammar »

cranioscopical

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Re: DC Front Page
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2011, 09:33:51 AM »
Chris you really like the idea huh?  :huh:

Care to elaborate?

Is it just that the questions are not expressed in the form of puns?

Methinks that punnet of questions overfloweth.
Too much like taking a test.


Quote
Another way would be for people can submit front page mock ups

Or, you could try adopting some intelligible form of the language...  ;)