Website Improvement Ideas

James Frazer james.frazer at
Thu Apr 10 14:42:42 PDT 2008

A post was made on the DragonFlyBSD Digest which had some questions 
regarding the userfriendlyness of the DragonFly website.

After some consideration I decided to do a quick re-arrangement & mockup 
to try and make a better homepage (of course it can be said many 
underlying pages could use some adjustments as well).

A demo can be found here:
(note the menu links don't go anywhere)

I am posting this to try and encourage some feedback/discussion as I 
think some valuable improvements can be made.  I would also like to copy 
and paste an explanation (of the choices I made) that I had written in 
an email to Justin:


The main theme of my changes have been along the lines of:
1.  cutting out redundant or unnecessary material
2.  combining similar items under one menu link
3.  putting the most important things first
4.  moving things to the wiki (which itself might need a reorganization)
As you can see in the mockup (assuming that evil CSS renders
properly), is that the focus is heavily on simplicity:  I'm trying to
get the signal to noise ratio in favour of the signal.... The design
could probably use a bit more pizzazz, but it's more important right
now to have sane functionality.
Okay I just want to summarise what would happen to existing content:

1.  History and Team are combined and renamed About as they seem to go
together, as the history page was rather short anyway -- certainly
undeserving of a link unto itself.
2.  The Goals page is moved to the top as I think it's somewhat
important to newcomers who want a more detailed idea than the About
page provides
3.  The Mascot & Images pages seemed without major value to me.  I
figure they can either be nuked, or any important info on them can be
moved to the wiki.
4.  The Download page has been promoted to a slot closer to the top.
Something should be said about the page itself:  If I was someone
wanting to download DragonFly I'd have to do a lot of reading before
finding a useful download link on that page... this page could use
some tweaking.
5.  Bugs is combined with the page on the security officer PGP key as
it seems that they go together, and the security page was too short to
get a top-level link by itself.
Now I will pause and point out that the first four menu items the
visiter will see are:  About, Goals, Download, Bugs <-- which it seems
to have a logical flow to it and puts all the most important things
6.  It dawned on me that the Mail, News, and Archives links were
somewhat of a holy trinity, and surely far too insanely complicated
for any mere mortal to decipher... these all point to different ways
of accessing the same information -- right?   Well I would put them
all under the same page "Mail & Lists"
7.  The Release link was removed as I think it can be quite easily
confused with Download -- Furthermore it exists on the main content
area and probably always will.  However, I recognize the difference
between "Download" and "Release" and think the only sane solution is
to:  a)  have Release give information about the new release, but:  b)
 link to a redesigned Download page that will in itself require some
kind of sanity check so that it's actually possible to find something
to download.
8.  Wiki was renamed to Documentation, and it's my opinion that's
where the documentation should go.  In the past I've observed
(exaggeration alert) a tendency to have 16 different versions of the
same information available in 12 different places...  This is too
cluttered and becomes a maintenance nightmare.
9.  I'm not sure what can be done with the Donations page -- does
anyone actually donate?  I think I'd shove it onto the wiki... with a
link from the About page that can lead to the wiki entry.
10.  The diary can be moved to the wiki -- I don't feel it's important
enough to be on the main page for two reasons:  1.  it's rarely
updated -- the last update was 8 months ago;  and 2.  Most of the
recent (and relevant) information is also on the Release page.
11.  Digest is moved from status to Community as it seemed more
fitting there, and since Bugs was already moved this allows for the
Status section to go away.
12.  CVSWeb & Man Pages are put under a utilities menu

13.  The remainder of the Documents items can be shoved into the
hopefully-well-organized wiki, apart from Goals which was already
moved to the top.
And that concludes my longwinded explanation on what I think might be
a good starting point.

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