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Thread: Help us test revised MWO web design

  1. #11
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    The new site looks great, but as Brad pointed out, ADA compliance is a must. Looks like you're already thinking along those lines, though. Good for you.
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  2. #12
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    im up for all new things so thanks for asking the users things about it .its nice that you want to know what we think


    brad go ahead and speak whats on your mind dont hold nothing back

    its nice you know all about this stuff to help out thanks
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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
    im up for all new things so thanks for asking the users things about it .its nice that you want to know what we think


    brad go ahead and speak whats on your mind dont hold nothing back

    its nice you know all about this stuff to help out thanks
    When asked my opinion, I give it. And I too like being asked. They can do what they wish with the feedback. But, it is sure nice that they listen.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
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  4. #14
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    it is nice you know what they are talking about and it is good you can help
    i am a Summit Club member
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  5. #15
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    I have to agree with Brad on the over use of red. If you are going for 508 and Accessibility compliance you need more contrast. Even the a:hover color gets lost on my screen.

    Brad, 1024x768 is consider the industry standard as the lowest common denominator. Even the cheapest computers these days ship with displays that can got to higher resolutions.

    There are a couple tables in the layout that you can replace with CSS rules. However if you keep the tables you need to label them properly as "For layout only" or use TH and SCOPE tags.

    Glad to see CSS used for the majority of the layout!

    Personally, I can't stand scrolling boxes within a layout. Please do not subscribe to the very old rules that you need to try and fit everything on the first screen. Users know how to use the scroll bar and very often will 'explore' the page before making a decision of what to click on. If the old rule still held up, the web sites of most major papers, CNN, ESPN would fail.

    In my opinion, most of the content in your center column doesn't change. Give the continually changing comment (Obs Comments) more real estate, move the current conditions box to the upper right. Show visitors there's reason to come back to the home page as their starting point for each visit. Possibly bring some video content to the homepage. I love the videos up on YouTube of the observers 'playing' in the winter.

    Of course, having done web design/dev and usability studies for many years, having some jerk come in and tell you what to change after you've done all the work is somewhat annoying. So, I really do appreciate all the work that's been done by the folks that did this. Job well done!
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  6. #16
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    BlueDog,

    Is 1024x768 still the standard from an ADA perspective? I would think as one enlarges the font or changes the screen resolution the layout should flow to fit. Maybe that is just my personal preference and no one else cares.

    I agree on scrolling boxes. That was the one thing on the cell phone that did not work well at all. We need to think more about smaller devices. The idea of getting in a car to drive to an ATM to do a transfer of funds is an old concept. Pretty soon people will realize that for many folks finding a computer and a browser is a old concept too.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
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    Something that flows well onto an iPhone or similar device seems essential today. That doesn't necessarily mean you need a "mobile" version, but that would be cool.

    Visually, I think the reds look great. ADA compliant or not, red is the color scheme for MWO, I'm not sure how you get around not using it if they have committed so much to the new design. Also, MWO is not a public service website, nobody has to view it to survive. Can't the accessibility functions built into Windows compensate for most of these problems?
    Last edited by Bill O; 08-24-2008 at 10:24 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad View Post
    BlueDog,

    Is 1024x768 still the standard from an ADA perspective? I would think as one enlarges the font or changes the screen resolution the layout should flow to fit. Maybe that is just my personal preference and no one else cares.

    I agree on scrolling boxes. That was the one thing on the cell phone that did not work well at all. We need to think more about smaller devices. The idea of getting in a car to drive to an ATM to do a transfer of funds is an old concept. Pretty soon people will realize that for many folks finding a computer and a browser is a old concept too.
    AFAIK, ADA does not specify a screen resolution. I follow the industry standards fairly closely and have to build my stuff 508 compliant as well. (My last three sites were www.fema.gov, www.tsa.gov and www.dhs.gov)

    From conferences I've been to, and the way I prefer to build my layouts is what I call "jello" containers. We've all seen the fixed width sites and the fluid ones that expand to fill the browser (ugh, worst thing you can do). In order for type to be scalable you need to set them in your CSS using EM or % (EM being the most preferred method.) Well, if you layout your block level DIVs using EM instead of pixels, then when you scale your browser to make the type larger, the layout will get larger as well. The downside is yes, you will make the layout wider than the screen and have to scroll left to right if you make everything large enough. But if you build the layout to try and avoid this you'll still have to build down to 640x480 and that's not reasonable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill O View Post
    Something that flows well onto an iPhone or similar device seems essential today. That doesn't necessarily mean you need a "mobile" version, but that would be cool.

    Visually, I think the reds look great. ADA compliant or not, red is the color scheme for MWO, I'm not sure how you get around not using it if they have committed so much to the new design. Also, MWO is not a public service website, nobody has to view it to survive. Can't the accessibility functions built into Windows compensate for most of these problems?
    As far as the iPhone is concerned, it has a REAL browser and you don't need to do anything specific, the site will display. As far as "smart phones" go, this is where the magic of building a standards based, syntactically correct CSS site really shines, as you simply need to build a mobile.css file. In the page header when you link to the css and specify type="mobile" any mobile browser will use that style sheet instead of the one that regular browsers use.

    You can also specify a totally different style sheet for when a user prints a page on the site. You can hide certain DIVs (like the navigation since that's no use on paper and will cause the printer to use more sheets to print a long story), reveal others, user a B&W logo versus a color one, etc.

    True the site doesn't HAVE to be 508/ADA compliant, but its a nice to have sort of thing and its fairly easy to build the site to be compliant, and you never know who will complain. Case in point of a web surfer that found Target Stores site not 508 compliant and then decided to sue on discrimination. While it only shows that you can cue anyone for anything in this country, they clearly have the budget to build it right.

    As far as the red navigation goes, the links down the left side get lost visually. Since you are using the drop down menus across the top, the wider layout gives more room for another menu or two. If it was me, I'd look at the possibility of utilizing that a bit more and not even having to have a left nav column. This will free up tons of real estate and give you room to focus on the important stuff.... the content. If you are set on keeping the left nav, I would suggest using the same styling as the main nav bar, solid red background and white text. This provides plenty of visual contrast to meet compliance, plus its a visual queue to the user that these similar elements are your tools to navigate the site.
    Summit Club Member
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  9. #19
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    Great comments from everyone. Thank you very much.

    So here's why we're making the design changes... The Obs is very, very fortunate to have extremely loyal web visitors. We draw as many as 46,000 people to the site each day to check the webcams, current conditions, observer comments and these forums. For a non-profit of our size, those numbers are extraordinary, especially since, in comparison, we have a total of 4,000 +/- paying members.

    However, we have not done much of anything over the years (minus a webcam membership drive here and there) to harness that energy and work to convert those visitors into members and donors. We don't know who they are, where they live or how important the Observatory is to their everyday lives.

    This fall, we'll be integrating new online fundraising software into the mix. The software is provided by a company called Convio and is used by a number of non-profits across the country. It will give us a number of things, including e-marketing capabilities, efficiencies in how we process transactions, highly streamlined events/programs reservations and new ways to speak to prospective members. For the visitor, it will provide new ways to share the Obs with others, several new ways to give and a more seamless overall donor experience.

    In order to better encourage folks to give, we opted to widen the pixel dimensions of the site and add that new nav bar to the left. That is where we will have all the "calls to action." Once the new software is up and running, you will see additional options like "send an e-card" or "join our email list." It's our attempt to be a bit more active in encouraging people to support this fantastic cause.

    We will soon be able to send regular e-newsletters to those who opt to receive them. These will include MWO news, weather tidbits, profiles, mountain stories, exclusive goodies and, of course, direct pleas for support. (I also envision "extreme weather alerts," sent when things are going to get especially crazy on the summit...)

    Admittedly, this may be a jolt for some of you. Our website has always been rich in information, while being quite passive in how we market ourselves. This is just our way of taking a small step towards being more upfront that this is a cause worthy of widespread support.

    In the marketing world, you need to "fish where the fish are." For the Obs, our greatest opportunity for much needed income growth is through the generosity of the passionate, loyal web visitors who use this service each and every day. They already love the Observatory, now we'll be trying a little harder to nudge them towards membership and charitable giving.

    Here's why it's very, very important. If just 2% of our web visitors become MWO members through these efforts, that will be enough annual income to fund a full-time staff position, buy new tracks for the snowtractor, cover all summit food costs or even pay our annual utilities at the summit. If 10% become members, our entire summit payroll is covered. That's the stakes we're dealing with here.

    Sorry for my marathon post... I just re-read it and it's a long one! But I hope this gives you some insight as to what we're looking to accomplish. Forums people are definitely more plugged into the Obs than the rest of our web visitors, so I enjoy keeping you especially informed. And I also take your feedback to heart, so please keep it coming.

    All the best,
    Scot
    MWO Exec. Dir.

  10. #20
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    Scot,

    Thanks for the wonderful post and additional background. At 12:16AM you are supposed to be sleeping though.

    Working to leverage the web site to reach out to the non-member web visitors better is a great strategy. The new software sounds very interesting and it will be great to see it unfold. When we finished STP08 we very quickly heard about the plans for the STP09 web site which would include a lot more information and capability. Plus, you heard us and are providing it earlier. Now we find out the main web site is being transformed into a more powerful tool. This is one thing I like about the organization - it is not satisfied with what it is doing today. It is always striving to improve and do better.

    Keep it up - keep using the forum to keep us informed - and thanks for letting us voice our opinions and listening to us.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
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