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thin - 2008-08-20 18:21:41 - In reply to message 10 from Manuel Lemos
"would this level of control be sufficient to allow designers to propose a new design for the site? If this is not yet it, what else you would like to control?"
I think you should just let designers start proposing a new look and feel as soon as possible. No new features just a more friendly design. You can decide what features you want to add and somewhere along the way the designers will probably put something in the mock ups that inspire someone to suggest a new feature.
Now here's the reason why I feel the appearance and usability are in such desperate need of a change.
I have never 'used' your site. It's unpleasant to use. I signed up back when I first got into php browsed a few packages downloaded one thing, probably posted something in the forum about how unattractive the site is and how unpleasant it is to browse compared to many other sites of similar size and I never looked at it again. My boss, coworkers, former coworkers and everyone I know personally who's tried php at some point have said the same thing. We obviously don't speak for any majority since you have thousands of regular visitors and paying members but I think you could increase your regular visitors by at least 30% just by having a nicer site.
New features are great but I think you need to start with having a home page that doesn't turn people away. Take the features you have now and make them as fast and friendly to use as possible.
And if possible, try to get rid of the mirror site selection thing. It's annoying. At least try to pick a mirror for the user automatically instead of interrupting them.
Manuel Lemos - 2008-08-21 05:17:51 - In reply to message 11 from thin
OK, I am working on the modelling of the theme design editor as we speak.
Providing the ability to let the users redesign the site was in the to do list for several years now because every month there is an user volunteering to propose a site redesign.
Other features got priority because they were important to keep the site financially viable. Finally it is now the turn to implement this feature. So please be patient while it is being worked on.
I understand your point of view, as you seem to not be a regular user. For users that come to the site for the first time, things may seem hard. However, once they get used they know where to find everything they want.
For instance, the mirror selection only shows up for non-logged users. Logged users are never redirected because they see personalized pages and mirrors only show static pages.
I may give up mirrors in the future because the fraction of traffic they handle is small and I reckon it is a bit annoying to the user, but I am not doing it now for two reasons:
1) Showing that the site is mirrored in over 50 places in the world helps showing that this is a reputed site.
2) Many mirror hosts are hosting companies hoping to attract more customers. Therefore, I will only give up mirrors then to not upset current mirror hosts that have helped the site to handle its traffic for many years.
The site will be offering a better alternative to promote PHP hosting businesses in the future. I will give up mirrors after that is launched.
thin - 2008-08-21 23:55:21 - In reply to message 12 from Manuel Lemos
I wasn't suggesting doing away with the mirrors. Just try to not interrupt the visitor with them. A slightly more attractive and informative mirror-selection form might help :)
Or maybe you just have them pick their country and then the script picks the mirror for them and every page hosted by the mirror has an advert for the host on it. *This page generously hosted by _PHPHostHeaven.com_*
Manuel Lemos - 2008-08-22 00:00:32 - In reply to message 13 from thin
I am not sure what do you mean by trying to not interrupt the visitor with mirrors.
The users are only redirected to mirrors on the second page they browse if they are not logged. Then the site gives them a chance for a few seconds to login and not go to the mirror selection.
The mirror selection exists because some mirrors are really not working, so the user must have the chance to pick a specific mirror instead of being pushed to a non-functional mirror.
Also, mirror sites always have shown banners by the mirror host on the right side.
Ejaz Ahmad - 2008-09-01 05:13:35 - In reply to message 15 from Manuel Lemos
Manuel you have done an excellent job for PHP community for years. I come on this site regularly not because of its design but its usefulness.
But I always gets frustrated due to its design. The website of this caliber should have a very good design. It was OK for 1999 but not now. One thing you need to keep in mind that people can find things from their cupboards even they are very ill-organized because they know them but new persons can't. Your website should be very easy to navigate.
I am not a designer so can't create a theme for you but I can see that many of the design basics have been ignored. e.g. Typography (more info http://ilovetypography.com/) , proper use of graphics, intuitive and elegant navigation, Use of colors e.t.c.
To get started the designers should be given a descent default theme. Then they can play with them.
I hope with new design your financial viability as well users reach would increase. Best of Luck
Manuel Lemos - 2008-09-02 00:58:40 - In reply to message 16 from Ejaz Ahmad
Ezaj, there seems to be a misunderstanding.
All the aspects that you criticize in the current design can be improved by proposing a new theme.
If I were to improve the current site theme I would not make a contest. The contest is precisely for people to propose better site designs according to the way they think it should be.
So, instead of just criticizing the current design, people can just show how it should be.
If you are not a designer and cannot propose a new design, that is OK, just wait until others propose new designs, so you can vote on the one you think it is the best.
Patrick Smallwood - 2008-09-02 17:18:45 - In reply to message 17 from Manuel Lemos
This is a joke, surely!
The template editor gives five 'blobs' (template elements) that are un-editable, and comprime 90% of the page. Then there are a handfull of div's. You aren't going to get a dramatically new usable design with that as a starting point.
You can't get away from the table madness that is going on here, you can't reduce clutter, nothing.
You really need to get much more aggressive if you want this to be a success. You need to be able to edit the whole page - no pixel off-limit. Once you have a working design, *then* you can work on how to template that into your current system.
As it is, changing a few div's and the color scheme isn't going to produce the change that people have been begging you for - for over FIVE YEARS.
Manuel Lemos - 2008-09-02 22:17:15 - In reply to message 18 from Patrick Smallwood
Patrick, there is not need to be harsh.
If you read the latest site blog post, this is just the initial beta release of the design editor. That means that only part of the planned functionality is implemented. If you have not read the blog post, you may want to read it here to understand the whole idea:
For now the editor only lets you edit the templates that define the page headers and footers and the main CSS file.
Editing the templates for the rest of the site pages is something that will be provided later as time permits. You need to be patient.
As for the main site template being made of "un-editable" blogs, as it was mentioned before, some parts of the pages are generated programmatically because they need to obey complex programming logic. If you need to change the way they appear, the site programming needs to be adjusted. Some things cannot even be changed.
So, instead of turning it all into editable HTML templates, which is not feasible, the alternative is to provide an user interface to configure options that can control the appearance of those page sections.
The question that remains from the beginning of this thread, is what designers would like to change if they could? Only after I have a good idea of what details are those, I will be able to provide options to control those page sections.
For instance the site navigation bar is generated programmatically. Some people may want to make it appear laid out vertically on the side. If that is the case, I can provide options to control that, but only after you tell what you would like to control, I will invest time to provide options to control things like that.
The bottom line is that people have to be patient and cooperating so they communicate what they would like to control in the site design. Just complaining about the way it is now, it will not help. You have to make constructive suggestions.
Patrick Smallwood - 2008-09-03 17:56:30 - In reply to message 19 from Manuel Lemos
"The bottom line is that people have to be patient and cooperating so they communicate what they would like to control in the site design. Just complaining about the way it is now, it will not help. You have to make constructive suggestions."
I've made several constructive suggestions. Both in this thread, and for years on other sites.
If you want a new design, everything - every pixel - needs to be editable.
The editor as it is right now lets you edit almost nothing beyond the color scheme, fonts, and padding.
Thats not going to create a new, usable design.
If there are sections that are programatically created (and the navigation system being one is surely a great example), you should focus on changing that.
Imagine doing paid web design work and being told "You can change EVERYTHING. Except the navigation bar. And the ads. And the content. And the commenting box. And the footer. Oh, and the header. But make it REALLY new!".
Thats not being harsh, thats being unreasonable - and its your request.
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