Site redesign

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Site re-design

A re-design of the riscos.info site is currently underway. The discussion originated on Jymbob's discussion page, and is included below in its entirety. Please continue the discussion here, rather than on his user page.

Design discussion

Please leave comments about site re-design below.

I'll get back to you.

Well Jymbob, it is February 2008 now. I am not sure whether ro-connect and ro-future are in anyway competitors to ro-info. I am sorry to say that ro-info appears to be moribund, judging by those "last modified" dates. It could well be that the depressing appearance of the site is partly to blame (I am using NetSurf as default browser). The font is rather mean and small, text straggles off to the right. What is needed is for users to be able to edit their own css files. Designing a one-style-for-all system is hopelessly fascist. For those whom css daunts, providing a selection of default files, which users could then personalize and play with, would be appropriate. The current style, which I have seen on many wikis, I do not like - it looks mean, somehow. I guess it comes down to how flexible the off-the-peg wiki is. GavinW

To answer your questions as best I can: "RISC OS Connect does not seek to replace various other on-line efforts such as riscos.info and RISC OS Open." from their website. I haven't personally come across ro-future (and googling doesn't seem to help), so couldn't comment.

What ro-info could do with regarding updates is someone to collate useful information. At the moment, it's something of a mish-mash of software reviews, hardware information and technical pages about the GCC project. I've a feeling the front page is a large part of the issue with this, but I can't personally work out what it should look like. I'd agree the front page is rather uninspiring.

Regarding CSS files, please understand that I don't have access to the ftp for riscos.info so I have no way to edit any CSS files used on the site. I'd tend to agree that several different CSS files should be optional. However, I was planning on improving the look of the default site first. I have so far received no suggestions about how the site should look. If you have any ideas I'd be more than happy to hear them and try to implement them.

I often view the site in Netsurf with no real issues.

I can't see any easy way of providing an editable CSS file for each user, but someone with more experience of how a MediaWiki is put together might know of something.

Might I suggest you try out some of the different styles listed in your preferences? you can just add "&useskin=cologneblue" to the end of a URL for a quick view of one of the other options.

If you could send me a screenshot of what you mean by "The font is rather mean and small, text straggles off to the right" I'll see if I can suggest a solution. jymbob@ntlworld.com will get to me fairly quickly. Jymbob 14:56, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Front page

I do think the front page in particular is getting very flabby. I may have a go at some other front page designs that cut out some of the cruft. Simon Smith 15:40, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

My 2p ;)

I don't agree that riscos.info has got overtaken. I think it's chugging along nicely! I do agree that the front page has always been a bit busy - for instance the news section really shouldn't have whole separate headings for each item, each month etc.

I don't have access to the ftp for riscos.info [...] 
I have so far received no suggestions about how the site should look. 

I recommend raising this on the riscos.info mailing list - I dread having a "discussion" on this wiki page! It's also more likely to get interest from people with the privileges to actually make changes. As for layout suggestions, I can't help there, having very few creative skills.

One personal request I'd have regarding CSS is more distinction between the different levels of heading. THe page I put together for DeskLib looks nicely structured in the contents bit, but when you're actually reading the page it's very hard to see the difference between the different levels of heading.

Oh, another thing - I'd like to change the links on the left hand side - adding a (within-site) search box and removing the unused "Current Events" link, for instance - something else to discuss on the mailing list.
Adamr 19:48, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

CSS

It seems you can access CSS at MediaWiki:Common.css and MediaWiki:Monobook.css and user-specific CSS at something like User:Caliston/monobook.css. Monobook is the default skin - you can choose the skin for your login at Special:Preferences. So we could either change the global default to something else or hack the Monobook stylesheet. wikidev.net has more, and at the bottom links to a Gallery of user styles. I've just been playing but I can't make any of this change any styles, nor can I find a sysadmin option in Special:Specialpages - so maybe it's something Peter has to enable in the PHP. Caliston 00:12, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Discussion

see http://www.riscos.info/pipermail/gcc/2008-February/004217.html

--Pnaulls 16:59, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

I've sketched out a sample page: Main1 and added some thoughts to the mailing list thread.
Adamr 12:52, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

I'm just adding a wireframe layout as Main2 as an alternative suggestion. I don't think the colour scheme is the problem, it's the clutter. General rule of page design; allocate screen area in proportion to importance. - and for a Wiki it's fair to allocate space according to the number of articles on a given area. My original mockup was done in Draw in a few minutes as you'd expect. A4 page, grid lock on, 1cm grid, Homerton 14pt text, line width 1. It's easy to move things around and create your own layout from this sort of setup. Simon Smith 18:21, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

Changes

I've brought in some of Adam's ideas as a starting point, since that was pretty easy. Simon has good points, but that's going to take some more time. If nothing else, I've lost some of the wasted white space. Simon, want to try further with an actual wiki page and see how you go? --Pnaulls 19:02, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Well, that's not really the point of a wireframe. I'd prefer to have a couple of different wireframe designs from me or others, and some comments on what people consider the main priorities for the site. Does anyone have any more radical ideas than my rather trivial layout changes? Wireframes are quick and easy to create and manipulate and they allow one to bandy about ideas without getting mired in minutiae or distracted by the page content. Simon Smith 19:35, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Hmm, I'm not sure how much discussion will be practical to have on this page. In terms of Main2, I think you're right to have only two columns and the overall layout looks fine to me. I am keen (as per [[1]]) to think about the content as well as the layout of the page. Simon, did you have any comments on Main1?
Adamr 11:59, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Progress

Please see here.

Main2a

This is a suggestion for a new front page layout for riscos.info

Please note that the only non-wiki markup involved is the google stuff, lifted off the front page.

Also, the news, projects and articles pages are the linked pages from the front, so any updates to those will also show here. For reference, these are displayed as a two column table with a nested table in the righthand column with two rows.

I think if we can reduce the link soup a little in these sections to make them more manageable, this could look quite nice. I've already had an attempt at trimming the News section down to more recent news only. Also please see the Emulation of RISC OS link page for a method of reducing total number of links on the front page in the Projects section.

Not sure if the recent news section should be another external, or perhaps some kind of clever system whereby it only shows the top news item from the other section if that's possible? I'd be quite happy to lose the News section at the bottom right if it helped, potentially replacing it with just a link to Older news.

As always, thoughts are appreciated. Jymbob 13:46, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Main1a

OK, here's my shot at what I promised on the mailing list. Thoughts welcome.

Oh, and Jymbob - why does the text in the news infobox come out so small?
Adamr 23:28, 31 March 2008 (BST)


Thoughts: Why bother having a header for each section then a "This page" link in the first paragraph? Just make the headers into links. This also avoids using "This page" as a link, which is generally frowned upon in content styling.

I like the format of the news box. Much tidier than mine!

I think the User column is generally OK, apart from the headers not being links, and therefore the content ends up a bit wordy for someone who already knows what they're looking for.

This goes double for the Developer column. I think each section needs to be a link to a page with more info and project links, keeping the bare minimum of text on the front page. Something along the lines of:


 ==RISC OS Programming==
 This site provides many resources for programmers on RISC OS:
 The C FAQ contains information for C programmers.
 The programming conventions page contains general hints and tips on RISC OS programming.
 The scripting page holds an overview of scripting languages on RISC OS. 


Also as a general comment, we need to standardise on how to write the name of this site. Is it "riscos.info", "RISCOS.INFO", "RISCOS.info", "Riscos.info" or "The riscos.info Wiki"?

Thanks for putting into practice the comments about changing the flow of the front page. I deliberately used the content in pace on the original front page in Main2a which is why the lower part looks so messy. The reason behind that is that I felt the front page could be tidied up as a separate task to making a pretty layout for it.

The text is small because there's a font-size: 90% in the newsbox template. It can be removed if you like. I felt news didn't need to be as large as normal page text, and it keeps the box small. Jymbob 12:49, 1 April 2008 (BST)

Thanks for the comments Jymbob - I agree with pretty much all of them. I'll have a think about it all when I've got some spare time. See also: http://www.riscos.info/pipermail/gcc/2008-March/004297.html
Adamr 13:38, 1 April 2008 (BST)

Having done a bit more work tidying up some sections, I think this page is coming along nicely. The fact that I'm working on this version rather than Main2a which I made speaks for itself, I feel! A few sections need a little work still:

  • RISC OS Information - Not sure what it should link to. Possibly the FAQ? Also the wording needs redoing.
  • riscos.info Applications - I'm not entirely sure what this section is for. Adam?
  • Autobuilder ports - Should probably link to riscos.info/packages, except that's an external link.
  • RISC OS Programming - needs a little info about programming. Any offers?

Quick links: I think most, if not all of these are now easily locatable within the main sections on the page. I'm for removing it altogether. Thoughts?

Main blurb - I think this could be better worded. I might have a go later. I'm also aware that the front page has an adsense box on it that should probably be reinstated if possible.

I'm for making this the new front page as soon as is reasonably possible. With that in mind, can anyone think of anything that needs to be on the front page that currently isn't on here?

Also how would everyone feel about referring to the site itself as riscos.info i.e. lower case, but always italicised? Jymbob 14:05, 9 April 2008 (BST)

My Comments

I hate to burst your bubble, and I apologise for coming late into this, but to be honest, it looks kind of ugly. The present front page is plain, but it's an improvement over the even older one. The nested news box does not work, with blues causing eye confusion over the existing grey background. The "Quick links" and "List of project" links do not work either - they're just a list of words that happen to be hyperlinks.

There's inconsistency in the way things are linked - there's the obvious broken links with the garish red over the cyan and some headlines are linked and some are not.

Sorry, but I can't put up anything that looks like this on the front page. It's just too sloppy. :-(

--Pnaulls 18:29, 9 April 2008 (BST)

Hi Peter. I wasn't suggesting it was ready for the front page yet, just that I think as an overall design it has the most merit of th ecurrent options. As I said above, I don't think the quick links are needed at all. I hadn't really noticed the "List of project" ones, but yes, as these are all listed on the source repositories page, I think they could probably go too.

My aim has been to have each section header as a link to the most pressing info, with a brief description underneath. I was mainly gauging people's responses to how it looks so far, and as to what they feel needs to stay, or could go. At present there's still quite a bit of duplication (RiscPkg is linked to twice, as are Cretin, RPCEmu), but I hope the sections I've had a go at are clear enough that someone more qualified could attempt some of the rest, or at least suggest where space could be saved (eg: could some sections be combined?).

As regards blueness, I followed Adam's lead and stuck with it, but all such things are negotiable. I'm wondering if the Newsbox should simply be another part of a table so it looks something like

---------------
|Welcome  |News|
|         |    |
----------------
|Users | Devs  |
|      |       |
----------------

...which wouldn't be hard to implements at all.

Sorry if it looked like I was suggesting this was ready. I was merely postulating that it might become ready to be considered as a new front page layout in the near future.Jymbob 18:40, 11 April 2008 (BST)

Hi, I've just been catching up a bit. Some quick comments:

  • Colour: The colour scheme I used on my original page was picked quickly out of the air and I'm sure others could make a better one. Once it's designed I think it should be applied to the stylesheets for the whole wiki. Clearly it's not good enough yet, since Peter refers above to a "grey background" but there's no grey in the design.
  • Quick links etc: There is a trade-off between quick navigation from the front page and a clean/nice looking design - I'm not sure how to square that circle (for instance quick access to the SVN repositories is useful for me, but maybe no-one else - though Peter mentioned it on the mailing list). I personally think that Main1 is already a big improvement over the current front page which is really just a glorified but incomplete index of the site. (One way forward maybe is to actually make the front page a clear, grouped/formatted, index page??)
  • "Applications" section - I think I was trying to find a place to include Firefox which is surely one of the most important things on riscos.info.


Adamr 21:45, 13 April 2008 (BST)

User Style Sheets

In my original note to Jymbob what I had in mind was not the provision of stylesheets on the wiki's host but on the users' own machines. That is to say, the inclusion of a link tag with href="file:///<ro_info$style>" on each page of the wiki so that each user simply sets the system variable ro_info$style (or whatever else you think would be an appropriate name) so that his or her style gets picked up. Would this work? Simple trials with NetSurf (r7730) and my own website suggest that they do. I do not claim that this is a universally applicable method of making this wiki more customizable but at least for most RISC OS users would it not be a convenient and secure strategem?
GavinW 11:37, 14 June 2009 (BST)

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