Feedback on proposed changes
Thanks for your efforts to improve the Clerks portal page. It appears that you are proposing two different kinds of changes: formatting and content. Those two sets of changes have very little to do with each other, so I'll respond to them separately.
- Compaction: I've long felt that all the portal pages on the LDSTech Wiki are far too spacey, which makes it almost certain that users have to scroll to see their options. That makes the portal a more awkward user experience than is necessary. So I like the more compact format you are proposing. A couple of my suggestions for content will make it even more compact. I prefer the 4-column format to the 2-column format.
- Color: The current portal uses a color for the background of section headings that fits within the color scheme of LDSTech, as opposed to the straight gray color used in this proposal. Unless there's a really good reason for changing this, I'd propose that we stick with the current color.
- Wikitext: The proposal uses a much simpler table than the current portal, which is a mess of HTML, styling, and wikitext. I like the simpler approach. However, the way the tables are organized creates needless maintenance problems. The organization of the wikitext doesn't correspond to the organization of the content. So if you want to add or remove an entry in one section, you'll have to make multiple changes in table rows just to shift items up and down. That's a big step backwards from the current wikitext, which is organized with topics grouped together.
- Styling: Once we decide on a look, we should create CSS styles (and/or uses templates) to format the text. Repeating specific colors and other styles over and over again creates unnecessary maintenance headaches.
- Consistency: Note that the Clerks portal page is part of the larger LDSTech wiki. Although I like many of the proposed changes, I don't want to create yet another look for a portal page within the wiki. So we need to consider how these changes would fit for other portal pages (see the Portals category for a list). These all need some work to make them consistent, but adding yet another look without giving other portals the same look is a bad direction overall.
- Overall look: I know that this is not the final proposal for the look. But it certainly could be more visually appealing, while still retaining the benefits of compactness.
- Overview: Many of the proposed topics start with "Overview of..."; that seems to be a waste of space and words. If there is a topic for ward clerks, title the entry "Ward clerks" -- that is shorter and is a much better user experience, since the user's eye doesn't have to scan past those two words to get to the unique part of the title. I'd say the same for "Introduction to...."
- Membership/Statistical: Combining these two areas seems like an artificial combination. It seems to imply the creation of new articles and second-level pages simply because of this arbitrary combination. I would prefer to keep these sections separate.
- Second level: In general, I don't like the second level. It just makes you navigate through one more page to get to what you want, or even to see if what you want is in that area. It also creates maintenance challenges, with many additional wiki pages required simply for navigation. With the more compact formatting, we should be able to put more links on the portal, not fewer. I would prefer to have all portal links go to a real article (or a category page), not just another navigation page.
- Links: As I mentioned in the previous section, having more article links will help the portal fulfill its mission of easing access to articles in these various topic areas. There needs to be much more discussion about the specific articles that are included, but that's a topic for another day.
- Consistency: Each portal page has its own unique needs, but again, we need to consider how portal pages work on LDSTech, not just the Clerks portal in isolation. In particular, the issue of second-level pages for portals is one that should be decided for all portal pages.
In general, I think discussion of proposed pages should take place here on the wiki, not by email. For the wiki to flourish, we need to get more people involved in the process, and having such discussions out in the open is more likely to achieve that goal. It also gives us a historical record. -- Aebrown 12:46, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Redoing some proposed changes
I'd like to explain how I responded to each point to see if I was able to make improvements.
- Compactness: I kept the 4-column style and tried to make some modifications. The use of lists makes it less compact, but I couldn't think of a neater way to present the material.
- Color: Last time I just threw in some random color just to get the page out. I've changed the color to match the LDSTech color (I think).
- Wikitext: I changed the table back to XHTML.
- Styling: Agreed.
- Consistency: The two main ways the proposed changes diverge from the other portals is a lack of box around the outside and switching from a two-column, multi-row layout to a one-row, multi-column layout. Unfortunately, it seems that compactness and consistency are (currently) somewhat exclusive. I opt for the compactness (although I'm sure there's some way to compromise, but I haven't put much emphasis on it yet).
- Overall look: Yes, the visually appealing aspect still needs improvement. I figure that can be worked on after the structure is decided.
- Overview: I made the article titles shorter.
- Membership/Statistical: I initially combined them because there is no MLS standard calling for a statistical clerk (only finance and membership), so I stuck statistics with membership. But I have separated them again.
- Second level: The idea of the second level was to provide a better view of the relevant articles without having to use the Category page. I initially thought of this because there's not much connecting a lot of similar articles except random links in the text. I wanted to provide some way to put each article heading close to other similar articles.
If the second level portal won't work, how about a sidebar with a list of relevant articles? I've made an example. By visiting the main page, User:dwsmith2/page2, the donations link is active, which leads to User:Dwsmith2/page4, which is the current article and a sidebar with relevant lists. (I'm working on getting the TOC to the right place.) The top list contains links to the main articles from the portal page category, while the bottom list contains all articles on donations. Hopefully this will make locating articles easier.
- Links: Okay.
- Consistency: What if we swtich to the sidebars mentioned above? Can that be done just in the clerks wiki?
Discussing things on the wiki sounds great. This is my first real wiki editing project, so I'm learning where and how to coordinate things. Having the historical records also is a good idea.
Dwsmith2 00:16, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
Glad to see this discussion
I'm glad to see this discussion about portal page design. I could ask Tom DeForest, the interaction designer for LDSTech, to come up with something. I think many of your points are well-thought and helpful. I definitely want to avoid the convoluted jumble of code we're currently using for these pages. Maybe we could just copy something that wikipedia does. --Tom Johnson 20:48, 23 April 2012 (UTC)