Author Topic: Improvements to the website?  (Read 15767 times)

fordneagles

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Improvements to the website?
« on: July 19, 2011, 04:21:06 PM »
Hello, this is my first visit to the website and forum, and I've just joined. I know there's a thread on feedback already, but some of the posts are a couple of years old and I think fresh eyes can't hurt.

Btw, the only reason I searched for a site like this is because I stumbled across the YouTube videos of one 'J.D.', of Tying It All Together fame. (JD, you're awesome and I love your book, very very good ;D)

*Please* tell me the website is 'under construction' or something. I don't mean to be rude here, but the site is actually pretty boring. The home page has a list of important people (fine), what the IGKT does (fine), then an *extract* of the objectives that's a mile long... You realise you can pretty much sum it up with the words 'we teach people about knots', right?

I noticed a link on the left called IGKT Library. I thought 'Yes! That's what I'm looking for'. I want to learn about knots and knotting, that's why I'm here at all. Imagine my disappointment when I opened it to find a paragraph that basically said 'We have all the books/info/knowledge, but we're not going to share it with anyone'. That's not a library. That's an archive. Not even that, it's a vault. What's the point in all that knowledge if you're not going to share it with anyone?

Why isn't there an e-newsletter that can be signed up for? I'm Down Under, and trust me when I say an e-newsletter is going to get to me a heck of a lot quicker than ink on a finely processed tree. I reckon you'll get a lot more interest that way, too.

Better descriptions are needed for the things in the catalogue. Yes the front cover is pretty but it doesn't give much idea as to what the book is going to have in it. You don't go into a bookstore and buy a book without flicking through it first. I'm not saying put the whole book in the catalogue, but a brief description will go a long way.




I think what you guys in the Guild do is awesome, don't get me wrong. You're all very talented people with a lot of knowledge, it's just that the website doesn't seem to reflect that. It needs to do more than just sit on the interwebs. There's nothing to draw people in, to make and keep them interested. There's a rule to creating websites that says: A visitor will decide within 8 seconds whether they will stay or leave the site. Personally, I don't think there's anything on the homepage that would cause someone to explore further, and that's a shame, because I think the site has MASSIVE potential, it just needs someone to do something more with it.

alpineer

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 06:09:21 PM »
I think the site has MASSIVE potential, it just needs someone to do something more with it.

Congratulations fordneagles, you're hired!

alpineer

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2011, 06:28:27 PM »
Apologies to you fordneagles if my previous post appeared flippant. Thank You for taking the time to post your comments. I do hope someone will respond to the issues you cited who is far more qualified than myself. I do understand your intent which is  100% constructive.

Cheers,
alpineer

alpineer

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 07:45:34 PM »
My IGKT bookmark takes me straight to the forum. 

Mine also from Day One.

In all seriousness, there's enough in fordneagles words to suggest that he he might have some services to offer a receptive administration.

alpineer 

KnotMe

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2011, 06:42:28 PM »
Don't really see the point in being flippant.  He is right.  The 'homepage' is grossly embarrassing.  I wince when ever I see it, so i avoid it entirely. 
The IGKT site is really all about the forum.  The rest is bunk.  It should just be stripped down leaving the useful stuff. 
This is not about fashion or aesthetics, its about content.  Kick@ss content forgives all manner of design sins.

The homepage (NOBODY even uses 'homepages' these days.  It's like calling yourself a webmaster or something.  Very 1995.) makes me cringe.  My IGKT bookmark takes me straight to the forum. 
My site is still a home page.  It proves to the online world that I am older than dirt.   8)

The homepage concept is still valid even if you call it "main site landing page" or whatever.

    Home: pointless link.  Everybody knows to click on the logo at the top right on nearly every webpage to get to the home page.  (Which btw doesn't work here.)
Consistency is key.  The link is not pointless.  It might be redundant if the logo went back to the homepage, but it doesn't.  8)

  Search:  The forum already has a search bar, and the forum is where you'll find anything you're searching for.  And this search function is terrible anyway.
Search is not the problem.  Content is the problem.  You want there to be enough content to search.  That said the search here sucks as you mentioned.  I don't remember what I was looking for, but I remember I had to use the site map to find it.  Lots of good search engines out there including using Google to search internally to your site.

    Annual Plan: a whole page dedicated to TWO LINKS TO PDF FILES.  Really??
Personally, I'm against links to files like PDF, RTF or DOCs when it doesn't take long to make a nice HTML page for people (and the end document isn't a book or at least a magzine), but I totally relate to not having the time to dot all the i's and such for a volunteer work project...

    Goods for Sale: another whole page for a pdf file catalogue of stuff for sale.  WTF SERIOUSLY?  Just link to an eBay shop.  Keep things current!
See about WRT PDF.  Also see above about volunteer work.  Have you researched online retail?  If the guild wants to work it by getting people to call and stuffing envelopes, then that's their right.  Why should eBay get a cut?  Why should they fuss with a shop.  It's not like they're offering a spectacular number of products.  It's a guild, not a mall.  That said, they should make it easy for people.  Less than an hour's work even if they were bootstrapping themselves technically should produce a clickable form that would allow easy ordering of products for the consumer with a nicely formatted email for the supply secretary.

    Publications: keep this, I suppose.  You really should have a link to Knotting Matters more up front than this.
Putting Knotting Matters online is a whole big kettle of worms you may not have been around to witness.  8)

    IGKT Library: this is pretty pointless.  useful if you're the one in a million person who plans to visit your library and wants to know what's available, but otherwise an absolutely waste of website space.
Completely untrue.  Even a list of books is useful for a researcher.  The whole point of putting stuff online that that one in a million people finds useful is so that of the almost 7billion people in the world right now, 7000 of them can enjoy what you're offering.  That said, those books exist and are theoretically for my reference, as a member, if ever I get to England.  Other geographically distributed guilds mail books to their members.  I'd love to see that happen with us.  The borrower bears the cost of postage.  For books not covered by copyright, they should be scanned and shared outright.  For books while they're current, perhaps an extra mailing copy could be purchased.  For books that are too rare... well, grey legal area that should be researched.  But making a digital copy for backup would be an excellent idea.  I recently had a flood and while none of my knot book collection was affected, I'm seriously thinking of scanning my irreplaceables for posterity and, y'know, reference.   Plus the guild can afford to take the long view and eventually those books will fall into the public domain and they'll have digital copies to share.

    Knot Gallery: This is embarrassing.  Should I carbon date this page?  Just link to a Flickr account, have the public submit their knotwork to it.  Get PEOPLE involved.
Or issue regular guild challenges and put the best from the forums into the Gallery.

    Links: For starters don't have a 'links' page.  Very dated.  Otherwise, there's a lot of good content here that should, AGAIN, be more up front.  Not hidden away.
    This Site:  Again, DATED.  Have an About Us link.  That's all you need.
Consider using a CMS engine for the site and giving more trusted members administrative powers...
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 06:43:38 PM by KnotMe »

KnotMe

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2011, 08:22:37 AM »
It's not so much a forum as a 'say something and have a bunch of old guys tell you why you're wrong.'
King Korgan: Old guy.
Carol: Woman.
King Korgan: Woman, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Carol: I'm 43.
King Korgan: What?
Carol: I'm 43. I'm not old.
King Korgan: I did say sorry about the "old guy", but from behind you looked...
Carol: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior.
King Korgan: Well I am king.
Carol: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.

This Monty Python quote was modified for your amusement.  8)

aknotter

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2011, 06:50:30 PM »
Another thing I have noticed - those that complain the loudest have volunteered nothing but criticism.   Haven't seen any offers to actually WORK on the perceived problems.
Jimmy R Williams - IGKTPAB Secretary/Treasurer
Site: IGKTPAB.ORG Email: IGKTPAB@GMAIL.COM
Event Pix: PICASAWEB.GOOGLE.COM/IGKTPAB

knot4u

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2011, 07:25:10 PM »
There are some good suggestions here.  However, nothing will change.  Don't stress.  Go for a hike or workout or something.

knot4u

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2011, 07:39:17 PM »
Another thing I have noticed - those that complain the loudest have volunteered nothing but criticism.   Haven't seen any offers to actually WORK on the perceived problems.

Is that your only criticism?  Maybe you could volunteer to do something about it.

Huh?  I will not be volunteering because, like I said, nothing will change.  I'd prefer to spend my extra time reading a novel, playing the piano, playing with my kid, or doing a thousand other things.  This is site is good enough for me.  I get my knot questions answered.

KnotMe

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2011, 01:36:52 AM »
Another thing I have noticed - those that complain the loudest have volunteered nothing but criticism.   Haven't seen any offers to actually WORK on the perceived problems.
Do we want change?  Let's change things!  How can we change the website?  Well, we can't, except the forum where it is set up for general interactivity, the rest of the website is for the WebAdmin to change.  Unless we change that.  No disrespect or criticism at all meant to Glenys.  You wouldn't mind a little help if the framework is properly setup to manage it, right?

Options:
1) replace the WebAdmin with an energetic volunteer web developer type with no family or social life so there's time to handle all the input from the guild (does this person exist?)
2) replace the WebAdmin with a professional maintenance company/team (probably not in the budget)
3) supplement the WebAdmin with a CMS (content management system, a system set up to take input from any number of authorized users) and a team of volunteers so that she is not alone to handle all change requests, and there are backstops if her spare time disappears.

Questions for the Council:
1) do you want to authorize everything that goes on the main site or are you comfortable with a web content sub-committee speaking for the Guild?
2) would you be comfortable with the general public contributing content wiki-style?
3) is this forum discussion enough to get the ball rolling or does a decision like this require a vote at an official meeting?
4) Hey!  Or is WebAdmin sole arbitrator of web content?  I was looking at the Council/Trustee/Officials roles and in my mind the logical thing would be some combination of Magazine Editor, Publicity, and WebAdmin unless the committee feels like appointing a New Media Official...
5) is there a CMS back there or is it all hand coded/ftp?

KnotMe

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Re: Improvements to the website design
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2011, 03:16:21 AM »
Previous post about process, this one is about content.  Trying to start a conversation, not trying to be all authoritative and order people around, even tho I know I sound all bossy.   8)

Home: Linking back to the page you're on unless it's to a label on a different part of the same page is bad form.  Korgan's right.  Remove the home link from the side menu and have the logo link back to the home page.

Search: Replace the search link with a search box.  I usually look for the search box to the far right in or right under the masthead.  At the very bottom of the menu is not a bad choice either for places where might commonly find the search box.  Also the search engine here could use updating or replacing.

Annual Plan: Please HTMLize at least the current plan.

Goods for Sale: The catalogue is only 4 pages...  Please HTMLize this.  Also making the order form interactive with CGI form processing should be pretty straightforward.
Link out to members who sell knot related products.

Branches: Branch write-ups inconsistent.  eg. not all branches have a listing on the main page although they do seem to be on the contact page.  Let's blame that on the branches themselves and ask each one to provide a write up for the main guild site.

Diary: Several aspects at work here, let's take them point by point.

* Local Branch Meetings: information here appears to be incomplete.  assuming that all branches have regular meetings even if they are not monthly, complete the information.  assuming that the information is complete: separate out the ones with regular meetings from the irregular ones.  put all meetings on the guild calendar.

* Knotting Events: put all events on the guild calendar and auto generate a list for a one month window.

* Guild Group Calendar: there's no information here that I could find.  throw open data entry to all guild members.

* Event Reports: make less work for WebAdmin.  Point this to a forum thread for event reports

Publications: publications seems to be the wrong name for this.  publicity leaflet and guild logo belong together as promotional material.
I think the knot charts (I paid for my copies!!  8) and pan chang should go under the guild library (free content to go with the list of books)  Knotting Matters can be highlighted with it's own menu entry along with a few sample articles.

IGKT Library: HTMLize the information here.  plus I'd like to see the guild undertake a project of doing writeups and reviews of each publication.  even index the contents (eg. list of knots covered if there are instructions).  How hard should we be flogging the interlibrary loan people for that tantalizingly titled book?  8)

Beginners: Expand this.  This should be the "taste of crack" as it were.  The free offering that shows what we have to offer new members.  How-tos, informational articles, learning program suggestions.  How to get involved directions.
Link out to further information here.  Start with members who have how-to/informational sites.  Or to the forums where information of this sort is collected and collated.

Knot Gallery: More here that I thought.  Needs better indexing or something.  Not sure how to better display what's here.  "knots around the world" requires 2 click thrus to get to content and then, why is that different from member work?  i guess because some is purchased vs actual member work.  so say that.
Start with a count of entries under a particular category (eg.  tell people before they click that there are 30 entries under the knot board category).
Link out to member sites with galleries or into the forum.  if the forum is too free form, have a vetted thread where particularly good general forum entries are reposted and link out from the main site gallery page there.

Links: References vs Links?  Again, leverage the forum or install a member only wiki to help manage all the info that's out there.

This Site: Odd.  I'd put this in the footer and call it something else.  Colophon?  8)
 
In Memoriam: A little macabre but still important.  They're called books.  Put them under library?


OK, let's think about this one more time:
The front page is pretty much an about us already but...  the president and such is there twice.  Start with context: "who is the guild", let the Council be listed just once further down the page.
Link to the annual plan beneath the extract of objectives, remove from main navigation menu.

Membership: Start with benefits!  Ask for money later!  8)  Link to Knotting Matters information from the membership benefits area.  Move the Gift Aid stuff to the bottom of the page.  Add a sub navigation menu to the page.  Link to Branch info from here somewhere.

Goods for Sale: just call it "Shop" or supplies?

Branches: see above

Diary:  Call "Calendar"?

Publications: split into Promotional Materials which should go under a Member Resources area, and Library

IGKT Library: see above

IGKT Forum: some title text for each menu item would probably be a good thing.

Beginners: see above

Knot Gallery: see above.  having a rotating randomly selected image from the gallery appearing in the sidebar is always fun.

Links: references?
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 03:21:43 AM by KnotMe »

Sweeney

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2011, 07:53:26 AM »
I don't have time right now to make detailed remarks but the following may help. The Guild runs its website through an independent webmistress to whom we pay a monthly fee to administer the site. Adding PDF documents means that the secretary (for example) can provide content as a file which only has to be uploaded - the expertise to run the website either does not exist or (far more likely) no-one will volunteer to do it (and that is not a criticism of Glenys of Webadmin - see her post recently). In my  2 years as secretary I tried very hard to improve our administration (eg we now accept PayPal which took around 8 hours of work because we are a charity and not a 'normal' trader) but devoting time to improve the website (which does badly need it) was not going to happen. Whether someone will take these justified criticisms and suggestions on board is a good question to which I think I know the answer unfortunately.

Barry
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 07:54:54 AM by Sweeney »

aknotter

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2011, 05:56:01 PM »
@korgan - I do volunteer in my own back yard.  Look at our website, igktpab.org, and follow the link to the picassa albums.  We are quite active in our branch.  We have presented knot tying instructions to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Coast Guard Auxiliary (meetings & events), all by invitation.  Members of our branch do many hours of volunteer work on some of the local Tall Ships and we participate (again, by invitation) in Tall Ships Festivals.  And on every occasion, we spread the word about the IGKT!  OK, I'll get off my soapbox now.
Jimmy R Williams - IGKTPAB Secretary/Treasurer
Site: IGKTPAB.ORG Email: IGKTPAB@GMAIL.COM
Event Pix: PICASAWEB.GOOGLE.COM/IGKTPAB

Sweeney

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2011, 06:26:47 PM »
What's the monthly fee? 

This is not shown separately in the accounts but from memory was about ?800 - ?900 per year.

Barry

KnotMe

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Re: Improvements to the website?
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2011, 06:52:43 PM »
The Guild runs its website through an independent webmistress to whom we pay a monthly fee to administer the site.
Ah, interesting.  If I recall correctly, Glenys had been posting to the forum as a member for quite a while before becoming WebAdmin.  Hence I assumed the position was volunteer.

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Adding PDF documents means that the secretary (for example) can provide content as a file which only has to be uploaded
I'm familiar with clients who do this.  Depending on the software you are using, it should be relatively easy to export as HTML vs PDF.  Word processor HTML is horrible and at least twice as big (file size wise) as it needs to be, but at least doesn't require extra plug-ins or downloading as such.

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the expertise to run the website either does not exist
That's highly unlikely.  8)  Brian the KnotHead has technical chops, although probably very busy.  Pineapple knot Dan seems to have it going on.  I respectfully submit that I am technically capable.  There are no doubt others.

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(far more likely) no-one will volunteer to do it
It's quite a job for one person (to make all the changes the guild might want), and a very big volunteer job.  But, with the proper site preparation, it wouldn't be too onerous for a team of volunteers to maintain.

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In my  2 years as secretary I tried very hard to improve our administration
We appreciate that.  PayPal is good.  8)

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Whether someone will take these justified criticisms and suggestions on board is a good question to which I think I know the answer unfortunately.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this statement.