Sneak Peek of the New Web Site

Along with a new identity, we’re going to need a new web site.

The current web site has some problems, as I alluded to in an earlier post. For example, the existing design is too event-oriented, which means that original articles tends to be under-emphasized.

The new design is intended to better differentiate between types of content, and make sure that original articles get better visibility. A second goal is to integrate this blog into the organization’s web site so we have a channel for informal chat.

At right is a wireframe mockup of the new design. There’s no colour, no graphics; just blocks where various types of content will go. Click to embiggen.

Be sure to view the graphic at 100% to get an idea of how much of the page will be visible on screen at one time.

The main content section on the front page (the part that looks like Tetris) works like this: The content blocks are listed in reverse chronological order, except for events, which are always pinned to the #1 spot. So, once an event is published, it stays in the #1 spot until it expires, and then vanishes.

Feedback is vital. Be frank. Be brutal. If there are things that this design is missing, now’s the time to figure that out. It’s much harder to retrofit a major function onto an existing web site.

For example:

  • Would the current web site benefit more from an event calendar, rather than a list?
  • Should we promote social events differently from education events, or is an event an event?
  • Is the number of blocks for articles sufficient? If we have a social event and workshop simultaneously, the number of article blocks would drop to two.
  • If an event stays the #1 spot for weeks, it is understood that the other blocks may update during that time?
  • Should there be a call to action for contributors?

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Sneak Peek of the New Web Site

  1. Chris

    Would it be possible to give visitors some options for the podcast subscription? A straight-up RSS feed — a link to the XML page — would make life easier for the non-iTunes users. It’s a huge turnoff when I’m told which podcatcher to use.

    What’s the difference between a blog post and any other post to the site? Is there a specific reason why the blog gets a sidebar? I’m thinking the blog entries could be mixed in with the others, freeing up a third column for that section. Alternatively, the blog entries could be added to the main section, and the sidebar could be used for recent comments. That’s one feature of the STC-Montreal site that I’ve always found useful.

    By the way, is “peak” some sort of pun I’m not getting? 😉

    • ” It’s a huge turnoff when I’m told which podcatcher to use.”
      I agree with Chris. Vehemently! 🙂

      • Chris

        No one would find it acceptable if a landing page said, “For [browser name] only.” But for some reason, it’s OK to do it with podcatchers. Jeez!

        If it helps make the case for an RSS feed, a link to an iTunes page is only of use if you have iTunes on your computer. That means the link is completely useless on non-iOS smartphones and tablets.

      • Okay, guys. Point taken.

        In my own defense, I did always provide direct download links for each podcast.

  2. A dedicated RSS feed for the podcasts is an excellent idea. A feed for the job bank and the blog posts would also be useful. Good call.

    I do have a version of this design with the blog posts integrated into the feed. I’ll post it if you like. The reason for separating them is that events and articles have a journalistic tone (third person), while blog posts are more conversational (first person). But blending them would create a nine box grid, which would be more flexible, true. Perhaps a radically differ styling might be enough.

    I will see if there’s a place for recent comments in the lower half of the page. I wasn’t sure if the feature was all that useful — thanks for the feedback.

    And as for “peak”… I’ll blame that on having started the draft of the post on my iPad while on the bus. Yeah. That’s it. On the bus.

    • Chris

      The Recent Comments column was where I spotted Alan Houser’s name a few weeks ago. Without it, I may have missed his post altogether. Just saying.

      I can see someone blaming Apple for, well, just about anything, but public transit…? 😉

  3. Ev

    I’ll second what Chris says here about the ‘Recent Comments’ column. I like that option, and suggest that it be visible near the top somewhere. Glad to see you all sinking your teeth into RSS usability. Mobile device convenience should have some priority, too.

    • Chris

      A mobile version of the site would definitely be a plus. Pinching, zooming, and squinting on a smartphone can get real annoying real fast.

  4. Judyth Mermelstein

    Separating blog entries from the static pages seems like a good idea to me, especially given the difference in tone and purpose.
    So does respecting the user’s choice of software for podcasts and everything else.
    As a user rather than a designer, I’m inclined to suggest the old “degrade gracefully” wasn’t a bad policy. Columns requiring horizontal scrolling are a pain on a netbook; I can only imagine what it would be like on a 5″ cellphone screen, let alone a 3-1/2: one. Perhaps there needs to be a mobile version, too?

    • @Judith: There definitely needs to be a mobile version. It should be fairly straightforward, although I can’t guarantee it will be ready when the site first launches.

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