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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:56 am 
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I don't know what other people think about this, but I was looking at our website today and - I'm really sorry but - I find the front page of it just totally overwhelming with information. Even as someone who knows the forest well and has a pretty good idea of what's going on, the myriad of different sized posters and textual information and random images and calendars is confusing.

Maybe it is all too late for this now and this is the style of website we have, but I don't understand aggregate feeds. I understand their use for (say) the events part of the website where it is constantly changing, but I always thought a homepage should be something visually lovely with obvious links, which are intuitive and easily navigated. Like maybe this which have been finding uncommonly pretty recently. Then when you go inside the links, THEN it becomes all informative and everchanging and full of words.

You know, kind of like how you wear fishnets and red lipstick to impress a boy and THEN once he's noticed you, overwhelm him with your devastating knowledge of Kierkegaard and Pavement's back catalogue.*

Anyway, I don't know how to do websites so feel free to disregard all this as you see fit.

*joke

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:32 pm 
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i think the main issue currently is that publishing the programme as a News item makes it look fugly. i think we should ask whoever does Events and Promotions to add Event items rather than just copy paste the text (and sometimes not even bothering to format it to make it more legible).

i'm not sure on some of your points though. "aggregate feeds" there are no feeds currently aggregated to the main page. i made an attempt to set this up a month or so ago, but had problems with the inbuilt way the site does it and got stuck while implementing a newer method.

but yeah, it's a desire to redesign the site properly which is why i'm going to advertise for someone with the requisite skills and time to do a good job.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:39 pm 
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i largely agree with janes points on this. over the years we've had five websites, none of them has ever been that great.

I think the main thing is that the site should be attractive and simple, with awesome pictures up front. currently it is dominated by fairly difficult to understand text and average images.

additionally, we now have separate and comprehensible sites for forest publishing, records and old hat books. It seems all that is needed is a really attractive and simple front page with links to these other sites and a couple of its own pages. if there is an events feed on the site it should either be a small box (as seen on some blog sites), or on a seperate page.

additionally as i understand it, things like wordpress and tumblr are very straight forward to use, and popular for both this and the clean layouts they generate..

i really feel we should consider switching to this kind of format. maybe find a suitable site and emulate it..

Chris xx

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:16 pm 
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I don't think I understand what aggregate feeds means, oops, I think I just wanted to use some web speak to I sounded clever. Now who's the fool?

Anyway, what I was talking about was the different reams of text/images that come up in columns on different subjects (eg, last week's events, current workshops, the cave is re-open, microfestivals, forest organisation, silverspoon, etc). I don't understand what the organisational structure of this information is and as such I find it overwhelming. I know this is the trend for website these days but actually I personally prefer a home page that is not constantly changing with information and news, but just looks awesome and links to the different places where things do change (events page/forpub page/records page/whatever). That way we could really put a lot of effort into it looking great and having really interesting text describing what forest is without the massive effort of having to change it every day to keep it relevant.

I believe the first thing people want to see if they are looking up the forest website is probably who/what we are and some cool images, and then if they want to know about events or workshops or how to volunteer, they want it to be obvious where to click to go and find that information. A news feed involves us trying to push onto the user of our website what we think they should be looking for, rather than showing them how to find it easily. And it takes a lot of constant effort to stay up-to-date.

I would like to help with any visual side of web things if you find someone who wants to do resign stuff.

ps: I like the word fugly
xxx

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:16 am 
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So i thought i'd check out tumblr as this is what dan meth uses (our friend in ny who is kinda a king of animation in the internet world). Turns out chombee had already set up a forest tumblr account a coupla years ago..! i mashed it... check it out:

http://forestcafe.tumblr.com/

this took me a couple of days, it is very easy to put up new content, whether it is text/video/picutres its so fucking easy. everything is easily organised using a cool tagging system.. i think it looks really clean and nice, and that is the way it will stay cos of the way tumblr works!

i have made websites before, and i am astounded by the ease of this.
the top picture on the front page is a slightly newer random mish mash, that way the first impression is always of some great looking picture..

the current site has been going for a couple of years, seems to be a mountain of work, requires specialist technical knowledge, and everyone seems to think it has various problems. i am impressed by the hard work the web crew have done, but i really think it would be smart to switch to this new site.. what dya reckon?


http://forestcafe.tumblr.com/

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:13 am 
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Looks nicer I think, but still big long front page. Any way to condense the front into something like Jane was speaking of?

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:29 am 
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An easy way to do what Jane is describing is to just make such a page as a simple HTML file. Host it on our server here at forest.org and make it the front page. Then, like Jane said, it would contain links to everything else including a link to Chris' tumblr site where people can go for the regularly updated info. The advantage of just writing this page in HTML is that you have no constraints at all, you can go crazy with your design skills and create whatever you want.

I think Jane's idea is quite good. It would mean that Chris could get rid of the list of links on the right-hand side of his tumblr site, cause those links would go on the static front page. The static page could link to the site for publishing, records, tk etc. and a few more links to short pages about what we are and what we do and how to get involved like Chris has on his tumblr right now, links to our google calendar and twitter (or identica) feed, plus a link to the tumblr site.
The tumblr site could focus on what it does best which is having dynamic content that we can update very quickly and easily.

I like the tumblr site and think it's a good idea. -1 for tumblr not being open source, and for most people on tumblr.com being a load of narcissistic hipsters and posers, but I do like the tumblr guys, they seem like a good independent outfit, and features-wise I think tumblr is the perfect thing for a forest blog. Wordpress.com would also suffice (and is free software) but tumblr has the edge on it for simplicity and for focusing on visual content: images, posters, photo galleries, audio and video, it makes all these very easy.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:49 am 
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i've changed updated the site so that it only displays 3 posts per page. it can be any number...

xx

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:55 pm 
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P.S. I think Chris did quite a good job on his tumblr site, especially the pages that are linked to in the sidebar: volunteer, meetings etc. These contain the necessary information but are still brief and each comes with a cool photo. Nice!

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:53 pm 
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i replied to chris's PM about this yesterday, so i'll just paste the text of that here, reply to other points mentioned in his post above, and add on a reply to his latest PM.

Quote:
Heyo Chris,

Thanks for the thoughts. As commented on in past and current BB discussions, the current format for our site leaves a lot to be desired and the layout is a large factor in this. As you note, a more streamlined format would be desirable, plus there are considerations to how easy it is to post items (which tbh isn't that hard currently, although the edges could be sanded down), as well as find them again in the future.

While services like tumblr are quick to setup, they don't scale when it comes to keeping things like content organisation sane, especially when there would be multiple users with varying mind/skillsets (the old Joomla site failed at this as its initial set-up conditions were less than favourable to self-organisation). Keeping our web services in-house, rather than using 3rd party companies, would be better as we would retain ultimate control over how the data is outputed.

I've been e-mailing with a number of respondents to the adverts I put up recently and meeting a few in the coming week, so I'm hoping that we can get our site changed to reflect recent thoughts on how to improve things fairly soon. A couple of worked with Drupal before, so I'm hoping we can unlock some of the fuller potential of the system as a whole.

milky.xx


chris wrote:
the current site has been going for a couple of years, seems to be a mountain of work, requires specialist technical knowledge, and everyone seems to think it has various problems. i am impressed by the hard work the web crew have done, but i really think it would be smart to switch to this new site.. what dya reckon?


i'm gonna call bullcrap on the "hard to use" argument (again!). posting news, events or images on the current site is not hard. a number of longer term Forest folk have, when i've sat down with them for 15 mins, said "so, what's the fuss actually about then?" or something similar, to which i have to shrug. i mean, have you (or anyone else who thinks there's an issue) ever had a bad experience trying to post or edit anything to the site?

dealing with the nuts and bolts does require knowledge of the software package that runs the site, Drupal, but when sites like whitehouse.gov, economist.com, ubuntu.com, pythonline.com, grammy.com, mtv.co.uk, warnerbrothersrecords.com, popsci.com, and many more use the same system, it's extremely unlikely that it's going to go away any time soon. it has at times been a mountain of work for me, certainly, but that's because i'm an audio geek playing around with websites. saying that, i've gotten it to a certain level and i can envision a multitude of improvements, either mentioned above or not, but i know where my programming limits lie. as in my BB posts about recruitment and in my PM reply though, i'm hoping to get some volunteers in to help with moving things forward.

my reply to Chris on the tumblr site; yes, i did look at it - my point about content organisation is that you're very limited with the both the methods and display formats that with tumblr. sure, you can replicate the archive page on our site, and adding a menu link is possible on the create/edit page for an item, but come two years time, you're going to be screwed for a) changing the format around with tumblr, or b) exporting all your data for reuse on another service/system.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:12 pm 
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Hi Milk,

I think you've got it backwards. A simple blog will scale perfectly well, no matter how many posts that you add it will still remain a simple blog. A more powerful site like Drupal, on the other hand, does not scale well for an organisation like the forest. The more you add, the more different people with different mindsets come along and add stuff, the more of a fearsome mess the site becomes. A simple blog fixes this problem. If you give a disorganised group of people like us the power to make a mess then a mess we will make.

I think we have a difference of opinion about both the technical and the design issues here. What I think the forest needs is a small, simple, limited website, that is both easy to add new content to and also easy for a visitor to read, navigate and comprehend. I'm thinking first of this vision of the end product, then reasoning from that to figure out how to implement it. In response you talk about having ultimate control in how our data is outputted and unlocking the fuller potential of the system as a whole. Ultimate power and potential is exactly the antithesis of what I think the forest needs in a website, and you seem to reason starting with the technical backend and then working to the end result. My question is, why does the forest need or desire a powerful content management system? We are not the white house or warner brothers.

The Drupal site is hard to use. No, I haven't tried posting to it. But I have tried to browse it. It's a labyrinth, the structure and form of which are not comprehensible to mere visitors. It is formidable and discouraging. Blogs are simple and people are familiar with them, they are comprehensible.

It's true the tumblr somewhat limits the display format but from my point of view this is a good thing. I don't think that in two years time we will want to change the format to something completely different that can't be achieved with tumblr. The blog as a format has been around for a very long time and is here to stay. I think it's the right format for the forest site and I don't expect to want to change it anytime soon.

You can actually backup a tumblr site in HTML and XML, so you could export all your data and then import it into another system. (Admittedly the tumblr backup app only works on OS X so far, like I said everyone on tumblr are posers.)

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:40 pm 
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Chris, I like your blurb about the Forest, but - aaargh!!! - I don't think we should advertise ourselves as chaotic! (Even if we are).


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:49 am 
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Quote:
I don't think we should advertise ourselves as chaotic!
agreed. (says Mr. Chaos himself!)

OK.. I think there could be a middle ground..

yeah, the Drupal site is a bit messy and long .. but I think this is a case of how it it used rather than the site itself. Yes, the Tumbler is shorter, neater and redder, and but there is no huge difference.

I think the key is in how the site managed and updated.

Chris, are you gonna take on the web admin role and make sure the site is up to date and vibrant?

Whoever does this (and I recon it should be a team) must come to consensus about what tools they use to get the info out there.

But whatever happens.. lets make it acsessable and friendly, and be friendly in the execution.. the website will evolve.. let it evolve into a friendly, happy beast!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:29 am 
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yo!

i think the forest website should be:

attractive
easy to navigate
easy to post to
and that this should happen soon!

i do not have confidence in the current site or in bringing a new team to move things forward.

a lot of us have good design and aesthetic sense, many of us are visual artists, this should be reflected in an inspiring and exciting website. i'd like to see this happen very soon, and am happy to be involved in this process. i believe this is a realistic and good solution.

nix:
i think this tumblr website is up to date and vibrant, and i'm happy to take on the role of "web admin" if it facilitates a transition to an awesome new site.

lynne:
chaos is your friend.

chombee:
i agree

milk:
i disagree. why make unnecessary work for so many people? when we could just be concentrating on having great content...

jane:
cool standalone front page is an option, stevie had a cool idea that this could be very simple, and a different web artist could design one every few months... im not so into sites with front pages, but im not closed to it.

other people:
whta are your thoughts?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:07 am 
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maybe it is time we sit down and have a web meet some day? I think there has become a real schism over the past while, in that there are a lot of people who have artistic vision they would like to see in the website but who feel there is no room for them as they have little or no understanding of how to programme the nuts-and-bolts side of things. I for one feel I couldn't go to a web meet the way the website is run at the moment and start discussing how I think they should make it look, because I'm not really in a position to make any changes, and we all know what bad form it is to show up to meetings but not be able to take any action on. Right?

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The more you add, the more different people with different mindsets come along and add stuff, the more of a fearsome mess the site becomes. A simple blog fixes this problem. If you give a disorganised group of people like us the power to make a mess then a mess we will make.


I think Sean is pretty sage sometimes.

As to telling the world we are chaotic, guys, it is fine. The police will dislike us because we keep guns and gnus in the forest and the council will dislike us because we sometimes pull our front windows out and dance on the street and sometimes you get invited to late night dance parties in chandelier shops where the front doors are open to the street and everyone is drinking booze and smoking fags indoors and you think, hmnnn, it's nice to have fun, it's good to not be scared. Let's not temper ourselves so much to please the assholes. Paranoia is boring. Kisses to the chaos.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:24 am 
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this is how easy it is to add content to the site:

http://forestcafe.tumblr.com/submit

no login, no password, anyone can submit (poseter, picture, video, etc..), then forest crew can post it up (with a single click)..

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:23 am 
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Yeah absolutely, for the first page to be obvious and reliable and constant, though colourful and dynamic. I'm imagining something like a grid structure with the same colour square for that topic always...or similar easily identifiable thingy. I relate to Jane's description, I have never read all of it and it is a lot of stimuli for one glance that works against absorption/clarity of understanding. Though I think those with ADD would like it.

Not techno enough for any other suggestions about anything else sorry :?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:25 pm 
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Quote:
A simple blog will scale perfectly well, no matter how many posts that you add it will still remain a simple blog.


the Drupal site does have a simple blog - that's what the left hand side of the main page is.

Quote:
A more powerful site like Drupal, on the other hand, does not scale well for an organisation like the forest. The more you add, the more different people with different mindsets come along and add stuff, the more of a fearsome mess the site becomes. ... If you give a disorganised group of people like us the power to make a mess then a mess we will make.


that's why, when designing the site, you only make it possible for people to post in the format that you want them to. it's like the difference between asking an open and closed question. each content type, news, event, image gallery, has a specific format. users can't fuck with it. the self-organisation comes from the information that folk enter. if you don't enter the correct event type, location, date, etc, you obviously don't care in the first place.

Quote:
Ultimate power and potential is exactly the antithesis of what I think the forest needs in a website


as above, you shouldn't confuse the potential power of Drupal with the possibility that it'll become chaotic.

Quote:
you seem to reason starting with the technical backend and then working to the end result


my initial reasoning was that there were/are multiple end results wanted from the website, and that Drupal could facilitate these.

Quote:
My question is, why does the forest need or desire a powerful content management system?


rolling your own site using a CMS allows complete aesthetic control over how everything is outputed, be it the same or different, and allows one to modify anything to your own requirements or desires.

Quote:
We are not the white house or warner brothers


we've only got our own friggin publishing house and record label! we are a eclectic community that contains varied individuals and visions. there was almost a Forest podcast, and part of the point of the Action Room workstations is that vollies can produce video via the Forest. by framing the Forest website in the restricted cookie-cutter flow of tumblr would nix the possibility for creative and productive extension within a system that's both lived in and where it's so easy to join the dots if you so require.

Quote:
The Drupal site is hard to use. No, I haven't tried posting to it. But I have tried to browse it. It's a labyrinth, the structure and form of which are not comprehensible to mere visitors. It is formidable and discouraging.


this can be changed. as discussed already, there have been some braw ideas to what can be rearranged, both on the front page and on others.

you analogise by saying it's a labyrinth - what specific clicks of the mouse make you feel like your in a maze? is there some weird loop or some such? i'd node that there have been a variety of edits and additions to pretty much every page over the last couple of years, so please review again and deconstruct what seems confusing.

Quote:
Blogs are simple and people are familiar with them, they are comprehensible. ... The blog as a format has been around for a very long time and is here to stay. I think it's the right format for the forest site and I don't expect to want to change it anytime soon.


if anyone wants to just post blo entries, whether it be to link to mentioned of the forest elsewhere, or to pimp an event more than it just being in the list on the right, or anything inbetween or outside, please ask and you will be able to do it!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:38 pm 
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milk wrote:
it's a desire to redesign the site properly which is why i'm going to advertise for someone with the requisite skills and time to do a good job.


whats the new design you have in mind?

and why are you so defensive of the current site it you acknowledge it needs to be redesigned?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:48 pm 
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chris wrote:
i do not have confidence in the current site or in bringing a new team to move things forward.


gie me a month or so and i'll get the Drupal site changed to iron out imperfections. it's not like the site hasn't changed in the last two years after suggestions, but i apologise for taking so long to get around to a root and branch redesign.

Quote:
a lot of us have good design and aesthetic sense, many of us are visual artists, this should be reflected in an inspiring and exciting website. i'd like to see this happen very soon, and am happy to be involved in this process. i believe this is a realistic and good solution.

...

cool standalone front page is an option, stevie had a cool idea that this could be very simple, and a different web artist could design one every few months... im not so into sites with front pages, but im not closed to it.


what i would ask is if interested parties could design a style and layout for the website. this is a standard method for web design and would be a great help for those with the appropriate skills. (i also have the older design from yourself which could be implemented).

there's nothing stopping it being exactly like the tumblr site. i'm not into undynamic landing pages either, but one of the original ideas was to have a number of bespoke Forest themes from various web desiners.

Quote:
i think this tumblr website is up to date and vibrant, and i'm happy to take on the role of "web admin" if it facilitates a transition to an awesome new site.


would you be up for posting stuff to the current site to get some content with character on it?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:02 pm 
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chris wrote:
whats the new design you have in mind?


a lighter colour. graphical blocks, larger than the ones that were added 6 months ago, to the front page for the various areas of the Forest (like wot Jane linked to). moving the upcoming event information to the event calendar page and reformatting it so there isn't ugly repetition of data. refactoring the About page so it's not so lengthy. these and other suggestions from this and other threads.

Quote:
and why are you so defensive of the current site it you acknowledge it needs to be redesigned?


giving up on Drupal because of the failings in the current theme and layout is throwing the baby out with the bath water. it can be redesigned without having to give up the things you can do with it, design or other wise, that you can with tumblr.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:03 pm 
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I like the idea of having a static front page that changes every now and then when different people submit different designs for it. It'd be sort of like treating the front page of our site like we treat the murals.

But if we did it I think it's important that be implemented as just a static HTML file. No drupal, or for that matter tumblr or anything else. The static page would link through to the drupal or tumblr site. The reason is that this means the design contributors are totally unconstrained. They only need knowledge of HTML & CSS (the fundamentals of the internet) or a geeky friend to help them with it. No special knowledge about the forest's site, Drupal or otherwise, would be needed. They wouldn't even need to get a username and password or get acquanted with our current web adminstrators, people could just make a page on their own computer and email it to us, then we could upload it to the server. I worry that putting any kind of forest CMS into this process would just be an obstruction.

But this question of the front page is separate from the question of what we should use for the rest of the site, drupal or tumblr or something else.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:48 pm 
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Drupal is a good system since it offers a lot of options. However, it's very technical and it requires a lot of time from Milk to get it to do things. This could be seen as a drawback, but if Milk's happy to put the effort in then maybe it's no problem.

The real problem is that Milk is being left to do everything himself, which means he is handling the whole aesthetic aspect as well. This should probably be in the hands of someone who is more specialised in aesthetic design, while Milk remains in charge of the nuts and bolts.

To avoid a complete (and unnecessary) rebuilding of the website two main things need to happen:

1. Someone needs to step up and do the design
2. Milk needs to surrender control of the look of the site and allow the designer to design it

Another thing that probably needs to happen is that a third person should take responsibility for site organisation and plan which bits should go where and which bits ought to be stripped out altogether, leading to a leaner, meaner site.

So really three people are needed for this and they each need to defer to each other's decisions.
1. Tech person - does it work?
2. Design person - does it look good?
3. Layout person - is it navigable?

No one person can sort the site out on their own. The question is: can it be done as a team effort?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:13 pm 
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An artistic and static (but regularly changing) front page would be good. It would take the pressure off the dynamic content having to look fancy.

All CMSs suck. I don't have a preference for either drupal or tumblr. If tumblr is simple, can't drupal be configured to be simple too? It would be a shame for Milk's and others hard work and expertise to be lost because of something that could be reconfigured to people's satisfaction.

Before we ditch the current set up, couldn't interested parties meet up and work out if drupal can accommodate the changes that people want to see? I can't believe that the systems are that different, although we have yet to discover the drawbacks to tumblr. It is worth trying to be cooperative before being competitive.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:10 am 
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If we had a variety of front page designs, it would be pretty easy to load one at random so the site would look different on different visits.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:38 am 
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Hey! It is good to see we are all caring about these things and up for discussion.

The ideas of a static front page and changing images are things that excite me. And what neil is saying about getting different people in to take care of different aspects is also good. We don't want to shut people out of being part of the design or layout because they can't get a full grasp of the technologies.

Swith, I'm not sure it's about being competitive but rather about trying to work out the kind of structure our website should have (as sean was saying, starting from the user perspective and working backwards). If this level of simplicity could be replicated in drupal, but with an invisible and complex back filing system that was only the concern of our own archiving and didn't affect the mechanics, then that could be something great.

Maybe it would be an idea to get a simple artistic front page we like over a simple tumbler structure in an interim until the mechanics of drupal get worked out into a bug-free pretty website that is the dream? Especially if milk has a new crew coming together. This way the new team could have enough time to develop things into something everyone agrees on and adores but we still have something we can agree on in the meantime? Especially if we could get relatively quickly a good front page and then there shouldn't be much major visual turnover between the two.

Though as I said before too, a meeting, friends? These things are best in person.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Quote:
Maybe it would be an idea to get a simple artistic front page we like over a simple tumbler structure in an interim until the mechanics of drupal get worked out into a bug-free pretty website that is the dream? Especially if milk has a new crew coming together. This way the new team could have enough time to develop things into something everyone agrees on and adores but we still have something we can agree on in the meantime? Especially if we could get relatively quickly a good front page and then there shouldn't be much major visual turnover between the two.


I think this is a very good idea.

I can understand why people are keen to keep working on this website when they've invested so much time in already, and maybe it is just a case of how it is used rather than the site itself, but I completely disagree with Nix when he says there is no big difference between the Drupal site and the Tumblr site. Aesthetically, the Tumblr site is much much better already, and as I understand it, it only took one day to get to the point it's at.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:07 pm 
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I don't much like the idea that we should all get together and try to work with drupal. I can see what you're trying to do, it's a compromise. But...

1. I just think it's nuts to do a lot of work, both design and technical, and to have Milk continuing to do a lot of technical work on drupal, and to get a third person to be in charge of site organisation and planning what to go where, and talk of spending a month working on this ... all to get drupal to do what tumblr is already doing for us after one day's work from Chris?

Three people!? One person can design and implement a decent website in one day. Chris has done so with tumblr. Give one person a couple of weeks and you can have a very good site. "No one person can sort the site out on their own" seems to apply only if we continue hosting our own Drupal instance.

I also think that a good website is the vision of one person, who must then design and implement that vision. If you have three different people doing different aspects of it the end result is likely to be a mess.

2. Maybe forest should respect programming and website design as art and treat it like we treat murals, tk gallery, etc.

If someone posted a new mural design on the bb, we may or may not accept it, but we wouldn't ask them to help with adding to and modifying the existing mural instead. You'd never see that artist again. This is how I feel about the website. Personally, if I was gonna work on a forest site at this point I would want to start from scratch. That applies to both the technical underpinnings and the visual design. I don't think it's good when someone creates a new website to not even consider it and to ask them to work with the old one instead. Milk, I also don't think it's good to ask people to send us designs mocked up in photoshop or whatever and then we'll implement them in drupal. That's like someone sending us a photoshop of a mural and us painting it for them. A mural designed by someone who can't paint and then painted by different people who can't design is probably gonna end up being a fudge.

So an alternative suggestion would be to consider Chris' site on its merits. Take a look at it. Here's my opinion:

* First impression is that it looks nice. It has a good, simple layout with the different elements clearly standing out and there is enough space between elements. It has good colours. It creates a much better first impressions than the expanse of black background and grey text.

* It contains the basic info that a visitor needs right there on the front page -- who we are, what we do, where we are, our phone number and address, easy to find easy to read.

* It has loads of good images and photos on it.

* It has links to the fringe theatre, records, publishing and tk sites right there will people will see them right away.

* It has several pages that explain in more detail about the forest, and these are all really good. The pages look nice, they are brightly coloured, each comes with an awesome image, there is enough text but not too much and it's well written, not too dry. Compare those to the equivalent pages on the drupal site right now.

* The site is feels about the right size.

I think the tumblr site could be better but I think it's a good start, I think we could be using it as it is right now.

But it may be that getting together and pushing on with drupal is the more amicable solution and I should stop being such a single-minded git about it. Anyway, there you have it.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:27 pm 
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Good debate. Have been thinking about this for some time and this seems to be the things we would like to see:

something that is visually pleasing + modern
something with less scrolling
something that is easy to use - for readers and writers of the website
something that will reflect the forest and what is happening here
something that will entice and titulate new visitors and get their juices flowing
something that will inform current users about what is going on
something that reflects the recent changes in forest + move to stand alone websites
something with element of blog/self archive

+++++++

Proposal: One amazing static front page which links to all the stand alone websites and to a new forest blog - which will take the strain of everyday news and events updating. For such a blog Tumblr seems to do this nicely.

+++++++

here's an idea for a static home page with no scrolling and once it’s done, no updating!

please look at this map for a possible new home page. please ignore all issues such as colours, fonts, size etc - this is merely a simple map.

this home page would have everything on one page - no scrolling - and looking as mighty beautiful and enticing as we could get it.

Attachment:
forestwebsite700.jpg


here are the different elements explained:

header
should be artistic and wonderful - drawing/illustration/photography whatever. could even rotate to reflect wealth of artists here... would not be hard to create 10+ different headers

Attachment:
forestwebsitedogs700.jpg


Attachment:
forestwebsiteband700.JPG


left side

3 minute video explaining + giving a taste of what happens at the forest. this would replace the "about" section which currently is a long batch of words.
why spend 20 minutes reading about the forest when you can get much more excited in 3 minutes watching a video.
the "forest in the city" video is probably the best one out there so far but maybe someone could make one specifically with this homepage in mind.
also i feel it is not necessary to try to tell all about everything - it is better to give people a taste and let them explore for themselves...

photograph mish mash - best of the best photo montage as we know and love. this could rotate while in the home page (we have all seen this done right?) and also the option of clicking to expand to full screen. flickr pops out to a really nice slide show effect so could use this or something like this…

bottom bar
connect to forest - buttons for facebook, identica, twitter or whatever.
also big button to contact - which goes to a contact form
finally, extra big button to go to bb forum

central zone
this is the key one.
someone to write one succinct and excellent line about the forest and its free events.
followed by big image/button to go to new forest blog... more about this later.

underneath - similar button to go to full forest calendar...

right hand section
big image-based buttons to got to each of the forest projects.
maybe 12? maybe more? maybe less?
i only had access to 2 project's images when i wrote this but i think it would look nice as images not words - you hover the mouse and words could come up too...

some will go to stand alone sites - TK, forpub, old hat books, forest records, forest fringe (maybe more in future?)
some will go to sub pages (possibly to the tumblr site) – would currently be cafe, shop, forest up, cave, volunteer info (maybe the guide?), workshops and links
'links' - i see this as links to everyone's blogs/websites - would be nice if this is image based in some way rather that just words...
and also links to other organisations and so on.

.........

so that's it. it would be much more image based - please use you imagination somewhat...
imagine the header as an image, and then a still from a video in the top left, a photograph underneath that or even slideshow, and icons/buttons along the bottom...
on the right hand side - 12 icons for the projects...
in the middle some words holding it all together and getting people to explore - especially to a new forest blog

dare i say it? maybe this homepage could be flash based? or keep it simple - either way it must be magnificent!
once this home page is done - it doesn't need to change or be updated too much, if at all. that would be the job of the blog itself.

.....

tumbr seems like a good direction to travel for this.
that archive thing sure is pretty and can handle it well. would be great to see it in 2 or 3 years full of everything that has gone on here...

i have used wordpress a lot myself and like it a lot but i can see tumblr has an advantage in that is more social and linked up to users and from what chris says - completely idiot-proof and easy... user-friendly
...

final point - forest is amazing, and 10 years old very soon - the website should reflect this as a lot of eyes are going to be looking this way in the not too distant future. Let's make something we can all be proud of!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:32 pm 
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This is the kind of thing I like. This with awesome images, this linking to the tumblr for events which could keep updating all the time all new content and would sort it all organised. Yes yes yes yes yes yes. Lovely.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:02 pm 
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That's awesome, Gareth.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:03 pm 
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P.S. I vote for keeping it simple, not flash-based, but do have a video and loads of images on it.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:27 pm 
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totally agree with chombee and also gaz. I've totally come around to the front page idea, i like the gaz broad suggestion, but i also like a slightly different idea, which stevie and me have been thinking on.. check this thought:

basically an ongoing front page design competition.. oh how i do love comptetions... people submit designs, and every two months (or whatever). we vote on them (no need for consensus on this). the design selected is then set as the front page for however long.. (obviously it needdnt be a competition at all, we can ask artists to make this page, and if we are lucky they may in the future ask us..)

the only design specifications need be that it is a certain size and links to:

listings+info (ie. the blog, events posters thing, tumblr, or whatever)
publishing site
records site
old hat site
tk site
theatre site

could be awesome!

if it as simple as only having about six links (and no further information), it gives a great deal of creative freedom, and the page could be drawings or whatever... it means the site can be simply fresh and exciting every few months.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:20 am 
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Yes yes yes yes to Gareth's front page plan. A big scrolly blog is a crap frontpage, whether it's drupal or tumblr or wordpress or whatever.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:40 pm 
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Yo and hey!

sounding good, i made this, its kinda fun please check it:

http://forestcafe.tumblr.com/front

i also adjusted the tumblr to reflect gareths organisation ideas, these things could be buttons, i just havent done it yet.

nice.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:47 pm 
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ie. this is a example simple front page...

http://forestcafe.tumblr.com/front

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:09 pm 
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I like! A bit arcane, maybe, for anyone who isn't web-savvy... you might consider making the labels visible all the time... but that could take away some of its charm. Should def increase the size of the hover area for theatre, as that's easy to miss.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:07 pm 
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very much like the idea of frontpage competition
"a competition to change the forest website from a dog's dinner to the cat's pyjamas"

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:46 pm 
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I like the skeletons page. I think it's fine just how it is, it's okay for a front page to be somewhat unclear about what it links to so long as it's unclear in a good way. I like Gareth's too if it can be brought to life, so I'm totally into the idea of having a collection of these. Give each one a few months and then replace with another one.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:40 pm 
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i do like the skeletons and Gareths idea is also just as good . good work !


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:15 am 
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Maybe skeletons for the main front page, and something like Gareth's for the listing & info link....?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:08 am 
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what sean said.

YEAH!

x

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:28 pm 
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Fab, thanks to all for the ideas and Gaz for the mockup idea for the front page - these are defo worth it for figuring out where folk are coming from with their ideas for the site layout and theme.

Myself, Chris and Joachim, a Forest Choir member who does Drupal development for his day job, met up on Wednesday to discuss options and possibilities. Joachim advised on how we can achieve the simplicity of posting and managing with the Tumblr site while leveraging Drupal's automation, event, workflow and group features.

We discussed a plan of action, both for the short, medium and long term.

Joachim and I are to meet this Saturday to implement a number of interim changes that have been mentioned in this thread regarding the internal navigation, some basic theme clean-ups and colour changes, and what information is presented on the front page including more prominent links to our other sites.

The next step will be to through a proper design process to get the site working super-slick and easy to use. This would take a few months in total. There will be a meeting shortly, probably in a couple of weeks so that all burritoholders concerned, including various Forest coordinators, those with design talent and a few other web design persons I've been in contact with recently who'd like to help out in some manner, can get involved in the process and we can come to a tête à tête consensus on various issues such as basic layout, a priority roadmap for what to work on, etc.

Longer term, there are a few possibilities, including making it easier for Forest groups to setup and manage their own space on the site - Joachim mentioned the Choir would be interested in this, as have other workshop coordinators to myself in the past.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:09 pm 
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Post meeting, with milk and joachim (a lovely power user!) I remain in favour of switching to tumblr.

Due to its great usability and simplicty, and also because the timescale mentioned to make drupal good was in the region 6 months.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:39 pm 
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Yeah, I remain in favour of tumblr (or equivalent, free software hosted blog service) and simple, hand-crafted HTML&CSS for front pages. Assimilating these ideas into drupal just seems to be a lot of time and effort, and I don't see drupal's additional features as a benefit. (simplicity and lots of powerful features are mutually exclusive). Best way for the drama group and anyone else to go would probably be wordpress.com, then ask forest to stick a link to them on our site (and stick a link to the forest site on theirs).

There is Jane's compromise: we switch to tumblr right now and then switch to drupal if and when it meets our requirements.

We may need to have a meeting to come to a decision on this.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:54 pm 
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Another possible compromise might be to set a deadline (I'd suggest 1st June, giving over 2.5 months) to work on Drupal. We'll look at it again in June and if it has the front pages idea and the simple nice-looking blog and pages then I'd probably be happy with it. After that you could take as long as you want to implement any further featurs that you propose. But I'd like to have a good site in place well before the festival, so come June I'd want to move away from Drupal at least in the interim if it wasn't up to scratch.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:21 pm 
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Just as a total side issue - It would be great if the Hall hire information was easy to see/get to as well!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:24 pm 
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I made a poll. Vote please, and let me know if there are any options I'm missing.

x

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:01 pm 
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You wouldn't get someone to paint a mural and then a week later paint over it because you'd decided you didn't like it.

Why do the same with a website?

Various people, especially Milk, have put loads of effort into the current site and it seems a bit pants to shit all over the hard work.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:49 pm 
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I don't think I'm gonna vote in the poll. I'm not sure how the results of the poll will help us, and forest doesn't make decisions by polls or by majority. The poll is useful in that it sets out a number of possible solutions though. It doesn't look like the two camps are going to see eye to eye on this so a compromise is going to be needed. I suggest we all get together in a meeting, which will need a good facilitator who is not firmly in either camp, and use the options from the poll as a starting point to come to a consensus.

Mike, I think this website has been around for much longer than a week (a couple of years, Chris said) and we do in fact regularly replace murals, galleries, front rooms etc. etc. regardless of how much work went into creating them. Both to keep the place looking fresh and to give more artists a chance to have their work shown. I understand your feelings on this, but I think that a lot of people have put a lot of work into it is not a good reason to keep the website around if it isn't meeting our needs.

But I think we can come to a compromise that will respect people's wishes not to throw the work away. Giving a deadline to get it better, or replacing it now but keeping it around and bringing it back when it's better, etc.

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