As you may already have surmised, the WorldChanging contributor retreat and board meeting is over, and we're spinning back up to normal posting activity. The meeting went very well, and you'll see some of the results of the discussions and brainstorming in the days and weeks to come. Although I can't spill the beans quite yet, I can say this: the next few months will be an exciting and very busy time at WorldChanging.
One more thing -- many of you have written to let us know what you think about the new site design, and while the responses are, on the whole, quite supportive, some of you have given us very useful feedback about usability. I just wanted to let you know that we're listening, and will be huddling together (virtually speaking) over the next week or so to see what we can and should do to make the new design all the better.
Glad to have you back! The online world needs you.
re usability: I'd love to see the next/previous post links back on the individual post headers. Tx.
Not that you asked, Jamais, but:
Right now the site strikes me as a massive, intimidating wall of text. There's very little to break it up -- almost no graphics, almost no white space. The eye is inclined just to bounce off it. There's no entry point.
I understand the goal of making the site light, and the goal of getting as much as possible visible above the fold. But I think you should trust your readers to find what they want. A little bit more in the way of navigation assistance, and a little less of everything-up-front would, I think, make the site friendlier to casual users.
Congrats on the successful pow-wow and good luck in coming months!
Here's another usability + design suggestion.
The search header could be replaced by a simpler input box and "search" button. Being able to select Category, Author, Month- all that would be in an "advanced search" page.
A simpler search is less intimidating for users, and it would help unclutter the page.
(Readers should feel free to use the comments here, and for Alex's post The WorldChanging Redesign, as homes for feedback on the site redesign work.)
I agree with Daniel, the search form should be simplifed a bit.
I disagree with Dave one point: There are plenty of relevent graphics and more don't need to be added just "break things up." I'm of the Tufts school when it comes to graphics: if it doesn't add to or magnify the text content, dump it.
I do agree with him that vertical scrolling is good but at the same time, I don't think this site is an intimidating wall of text. I like the newspaper-like feel that it has; I can jump around to different items in the columns.
However I do think the navigation could be simplified a bit.
For example, in simplifying navigation, all the links to staff bios should be shunted off the sidebar and moved to the "About Us" page. I never really thought a 'blogroll' was a good idea. Links to other sites should be handled on a separate page, preferably with one paragraph reviews explaining why you think these sites are imporant.
Try to avoid redundant navigation links. There should only be one link on each page that points to the home page, one link that points to the contact page, one link that points to the site map, etc. Always keep these links consistent in location and function on each page.
RSS/Atom links should be also removed; most modern feed tools support autodiscovery so, why trouble humans with links to XML that venerable browsers can't render properly?
Anyway, good to have you folks back!
As I said, we are listening to the comments about the site design, and will be sitting down very soon to look at what we can do to fix things that don't work as intended.
Just a note about the RSS links, however, because it plays into a larger issue: while most current version browsers support RSS autodiscovery, current version browsers are not our only traffic. We have quite a few readers who still use earlier versions of popular web browsers, whether out of habit, a desire not to break a functioning setup, or the use of older machines. But since non-browser RSS apps and sites like Bloglines and Livejournal can still work fine in these situations, keeping the links explicit is useful.