Each heading (in bold) will be a link with the full list of references, faqs, and articles, for that section. A brief description of the section and its contents on the home page....
Jerry Muelver I reformatted a bit, just to remove the wiki-inserted parts, so the page will show in final format, with these comments at the bottom. did you see the discussions on Moe Page reformatting at http://allmyfaqs.net/faq.pl?Talk_to_Me/Archive_Chat_3 ?
Marj Tiefert Er, no, I hadn't. To me, Archive means dead, closed. Maybe it should be simply Page 3, and would it be possible to auto-generate sort of a table of contents or guide??? Do I ask too much??? Anyway, I found myself agreeing a lot with Stephanie. First-time users and regulars really do have different needs, which may best be met by different entrance pages.
Jerry Muelver Yeah, that's why she created First Time Visitor. Newbies usually get dumped on a specific page through a newsgroup or Google reference, then click on a HomePage link if they are adventurous. They need immediate illumination at that point. Regulars tend to use RecentChanges or the search function to find what they need. (1) Your categorizations are interesting (I especially like General), but I'm not sure they are common enough. (2) Open two browsers, and compare HomePage and Home redo side-by-side. Think like a newbie looking for help. (3) Actually, the best thing to do would be to give a flock of newbies a specific task or two (find info on x), and turn one group loose on HomePage and one on Home redo, then monitor their success.
Marj Tiefert (1) Right, some are not common enough, but that's because a lot of people think that technique is everything and/or that just getting the website out there is everything. I'd like to encourage them to realize that there's more to making a good website than technique and getting it out there. (2) Just did - and I really like the more open design with lots of white space better than the densely crowded words and links. I'd rather not have to read everything - just the headings, then go down the tree that looks promising. If my categories aren't right for one reason or another, they can be changed of course! And even people who aren't newbies need a FAQ occasionally for some things they don't do very often, or just for new ideas. (3) Home redo would lose now, since it doesn't have many links!
Jerry Muelver You make good points, but they support a different purpose. Getting people to think about more than technique, and using white space for a less-constipated look, are worthy goals in an instructional or recreational setting, but this is a reference and info-access GUI. Think of the density of a typical dictionary or encyclopedia, compared to the design and flow of writing textbook or coffee-table book on Mammals of the Americas.
Your sensitivity to packaging issues (probably derived from your DTP experience -- I've been a FrameMaker and Interleaf consultant/maven for 15 years) makes the brute-force layout of wiki-generated pages seem angular and abrasive. But look at the useability issues! A wiki page is editable with minimum markup skills, revisable with no DTP program training, linkable just by mention, and accessible both by hierarchical trace and by search. Wiki users expect to see links that are also the names of pages, rather than aliases, and like their external links to be URLs, so the pages can be printed or copied for reference with all data readable.
I make my tutorials and web-based instructional programs very different from my reference works. To me, the first step in any interface design is to decide what you want the user to do with the interface, rather what you want the user to feel about its packaging. Yes, style and design are important, maybe even critically important in some settings, but the must deliberately support the eliciting of specific actions, rather than compete with the user's expectations.
Jerry Muelver That's always a fruitful approach. It's also an endless struggle. We started with everything in a jumble in the [HTML Master List]? and have come quite long way towards rational granularity since then. The process of breaking complex wiki pages down into constituent topics and relinking the new structure is called refactoring. We still have quite a few pages that need refactoring, so we can get on to the backlog and work all that stuff in... to make room for some 250 newsgroup messages that I've marked for their pithy helpfulness. Coming up with useful, accessible groupings and hierarchies for all the hodge-podge FAQs will help a lot.
Bodidily IMHO, the current Home Redo page is to long. If I was a newbie strugling with a HTML related problem, I'd want an answer fast. That means not reading through pages and pages of links to find what I want, when most of those links wouldn't be what I wanted. I like the categories the Home Redo is in at the moment. Why not try having just the categories as links, with a short description as to whats in that section, and then maybe sub-categories for major subjects, and the reference of FAQ's inside each category in more of a 'tree' fashion?
Marj Tiefert -- Nice! - I like what you did. Anybody else?
Bodidily -- Thanks! I didn't have time to do all the links etc. but you get the general idea!
Jerry Muelver I like it, too. The existing underlying structure needs some adjustment and realignment, though, to accommodate a functional as opposed to topical hierarchy. Think, "Newbie, coming for first time..."
Marj Tiefert Yup! And your going into major-refactoring mode (as suggested by RecentChanges recently, anyway) is why I've gone into lurk mode wrt the Home redo