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Adrian last won the day on March 20 2013

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  1. Yeah, have been pondering a secondary nav bar too. Will ave to assess how much work is involved in some of these options. Money is extremely tight and though I have some time to work on this it's not loads and I'm not as good at this stuff as I used to be! Effectively we're information analysts trying to run a web site on a shoe string and people are surprised it has a few issues...
  2. Thanks for the comments. Not sure I've explained some of it particularly well. We do have real problems dealing with presenting the content to people coming at it with very different perspectives. For some it is a tool for internal people and they want the language and terminology to be right for them, which often means things that people outside the organisation, or even outside of a team/service don't understand it. Initially the content was all supposed to be split into topical areas. We had the People & Neighbourhoods, Health and Wellbeing, Education, Skills & Learning type headings all with relevant content within them, with the intention of individual pages living in as may topical areas as they needed to using symlinks in Modx. We've then added things like the Census section and had to add the 'Joint Strategic Needs Assessment' (which is what this current discussion sort of relates to and there's a lot of internal politics going where some people would like the whole site to be called the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment...) and a few other bits that don't fit in the existing topical sections or in the case of a Children & Young people 'page', providing an alternate perspective on accessing the same content (listing all content that relates to Children & Young People across the topical areas). The organisation of the whole site could probably do with reviewing but I doubt we'll be able to put the resources into doing that and we are under some pressure to at least sort out the Health and Wellbeing section. At the moment Health & Wellbeing is a top level category with some content pages and some sub-categories within it. The suggested alternative is Health & Wellbeing being a top level category, with 5 sub-categories (the names of which is till want to work on), each with a list of content pages. Which makes sense, it's just a case of tidying up that whole category. This might then be a template for how we handle other sections/categories. I guess the question was, should content pages appear in the left hand nav? At the moment they do, the suggestion is they don't (and just have categories/sub-categories listed there) and I'm not sure that would be great for the person reading the information. I think it would be frustrating to click through categories and sub-categories to find the info you want, then when you read/scanned one page, to find another on a similar topic you'd have to hit the back button, click the breadcrumb or click the sub-category heading again in the left hand nav. Unfortunately some of the sub-categories are going to be pretty large. Conditions & Disease is a very wide area, I did float the idea of another level of categorisation but there was strong opposition to that which may be right. It might not make sense to have Conditions and Disease as 2 separate categories within Health & Wellbeing either because there might be too big a grey area between the 2. Tagging is a wider option I've considered as a more dramatic way to manage the way content is organised and having it appear in multiple locations depending on the route a visitor takes. It's certainly a more major approach that is worth considering though I'm a bit concerned that with the way the structure has been lost on the site so far (I hadn't realised the H&WB section had gotten like that till recently myself) I'm not confident in the content editors ability to manage the tags. Search has been mentioned though as it works well and is therefore something to maybe make more prominent and let people completely bypass the structure so I'll look at that as well. about 20% of our traffic is from referrals and most of that is from 1 web site we also run and 1 website run by the organisation we are based in, so not a lot to go on there in all honesty. We do need to look more at our popular pages and internal search data but unfortunately we're still going to get this internal pressure to make these changes. There has been back and forth about some of this for 2 years with senior managers going above our heads to our senior managers wanting changes based on flawed information that would have no real effect and that we have repeatedly said no to with reasons.... This desire to better organise the content we have is fine and having realised how bad it's gotten myself is something I'm keen to do and even tried to get them to do a card sorting type exercise with post-it notes but they didn't really want to engage because they'd already come up with a spreadsheet... The function of the web site is the share data, information and intelligence about the people of the county to help the public sector plan how they deliver services better, give people the information they need to make informed decisions (members of the public, democratically elected councillors etc...) or to use as evidence in bids for money and as a side benefit potentially be useful to the private sector, giving them information that may help them carry out their business and therefore drive growth. As a result we're getting various voluntary and community sector organisations getting money from grants and things because they've used our data to support their bid, we're getting links from Wikipedia when people are using us as a reference for the population on town pages, senior managers are finally becoming more aware of the growing elderly population and some of the issues because we send out a monthly newsletter etc.... We tried running a survey a little while ago to get some opinions from people on the site (from people who get the newsletter) and we do try and find out what people use the site for but often we don't know and I don't really know how we're going to get that kind of info. A fairly large chunk of our traffic is from within our corporate network, which is of interest itself, but we then don't really know who is using it for what within what is a very large organisation. These suggestions are coming from people who partly fund us and are among our key audience (though they think they are THE key audience rather than one of a few...). I'm happy to do some work to organise the site with their input (but not necessarily exactly how they want) but I do not trust them one bit when it comes to ideas such as usability, so when they say they don't want the pages listed in the nav bar because it makes the page look long and ugly, I'm trying to consider the knock on effects of that because we have far to much change that occurs here because the grass is greener on the other side...
  3. I've just come out of a meeting where we discussed the organisation of content on our web site. It's something that's needed reviewing, a load of content has been added without too much pausing for breath to decide how to organise it. One of the points was that in some places we have very long lists of nav options so we're looking to cut that down a bit with some sub-categories. The web site is at http://www.somersetintelligence.org.uk/ and the particular section of interest is the Health & Wellbeing section. This is an informational content site run by the public sector. It's job is to publish all sorts of stats and intelligence/insight about the people of a specific geographic area (Somerset) for use within the public sector but also for members of the public, voluntary sector and potentially private business as well. We cover the usual demographic type information but have also expanded a lot with a variety of pages covering a multitude of health issues. At the moment if you go to the Health and Wellbeing page there is a very long list of pages within that section, some of which are parents to more pages as well. There is a suggestion to reorganise this long list into about 5 sub-categories and each sub-category would contain individual pages only, there would not be more sub-sub-categories below them. The question is, one of these 5 sub-categories is already likely to have a fairly long list of pages within it and the way we've traditionally set the web site up, all these pages would appear in the left hand nav. The suggestion is not to to do that and I'm pondering the usability impact of that. I'm open to the idea, my only concern is that when say someone has gone from the home page --> Health & Wellbeing --> Conditions & Diseases (terminology may change) --> Mental Health and read the content we have there about mental health issues, in order to even know what else is in the Conditions & Diseases sub-category they would need to go back up a level of navigation. This isn't like going from a list of products, looking at one individually and then going back to the list to find another one, it's hopefully, but not necessarily, consuming the content and then looking for more around the same idea. So if interested in Mental Health, there are also pages with information on autism for example. I've started pondering ideas like 'related pages' or a more functional footer with better signposting to other content (though then we're talking larger changes to the functionality of the web site) but wondering what people may think of the above from a usability perspective. TIA
  4. Adrian

    'fancy' Content Listing

    I migth see if I can get away with something as simple as this mockup The colours of the divs are randomly generated on page load and I could add a change of colour on hover. Still has issues trying to make the layout nice and finding you get text that doesn't fit well though....
  5. Adrian

    'fancy' Content Listing

    Thanks Glyn, yeah as the site has developed over the last couple of years organising the content has been a constant point I've scratched my head over. If we had a clear idea of what the end result should look like, that'd be great, but it has really been evolving organically. Initially it was going to be a site with a set of topics and content under those topical areas. There would be cases where some content is relevant to more than one topic and we've been using Modx's symlink content type to make 1 copy of the content appear in 2 areas. But now we're getting these different ways of organising content. Maybe as well having a section on health & wellbeing and a separate section on economy, you want a section on young people which cuts across all those topics and lists all the relevant health & welling information with economy information relating to young people.... A flat tagging structure would be another way to go about it but I struggle getting the other people who manage the site content to understand what they are doing at the moment (getting them to post pages of content rather than upload a PDF for example) without getting them to consider tagging taxonomies when they are adding stuff.... This is part of the problem here though. This JSNA page is one of these cross cutting things and can cover most of the other content on the site to the point of us having been asked to effectively change the name of the site before.... It means the only content actually contained within the JSNA section is the blurb about what it is and the summary document, everything else is just links off to more detailed content in relevant topics. We can manage that, it's not especially messy but it's maybe not terribly neat either. Regardless of the way the content is organised, if a load of stuff was tagged as being part of the JSNA section as well as whatever topical sections it belongs to, we'd still be looking at how to actually display it in a nicer way that isn't jsut the left hand nav bar and isn't just a fairly unstyled list of links in the page content. Although talking it through here I am coming to the conclusion that potentially the only thing that needs to change is adding some style!
  6. Adrian

    'fancy' Content Listing

    Hi Tam. You're right pretty much. This is a statutory thing they/we have to produce and they want to raise it's profile and make it more important. We've been trying to help then make it more accessible for a few years but it's been slow progress and they keep coming up with bad ideas that we then spend far too much time fighting against! Unfortunately they also provide us with a lot of funding so we have to bend over backwards to accommodate them while not giving in to their daft ideas..... Hence the call for some inspiration, design has always been my weak point and I think that's all it needs, something more interesting to look at than we have now but is basically just navigation to relevant pages. It's nearly 8 yrs since my web dev career ended now and I'm so far out of the loop I don't know what is feasible with things like jQuery and css3 that would help tart it up a bit and please everyone.
  7. Adrian

    'fancy' Content Listing

    Hi Kim 1. Technically it's a local government thing so should be accessible. Potentially viewable by anyone but primarily going to be public sector staff in various guises hopefully using it as part of planning how they deliver services. Bigger problem might be checking it works in IE7... 2. I think so, the categories are there to help organise a large amount of information so the the hierarchy should help refine what people are after, I'd just like to expose as much of it as is sensible to begin with rather than say hiding information within tabs or accordion type things. The rainbow/concentric circles thing actually does quite a good job of that, though it's pretty inefficient in it's use of space, I think we'd struggle fitting that kind of idea in the page and certain words/phrases could get very tricky to position. 3. Relatively, not expecting amazing pace, were only talking a bunch of text links and maybe a few smaller images though. 4. Yes, definitely, needs to work on mobile devices at a basic level but the site is not set up to work differently on mobiles compared to desktop browsers. Just needs to be usable with a touch screen. 5. Target users will be a variety of public sector workers from local doctors and their support staff to local government managers and relevant operational staff/managers and people commissioning new services. It might even be a simple case of some styling, half a dozen large links each with associated smaller links below/next to them, picking up some inspiration from metro style panels http://aozora.github.io/bootmetro/demo/hub.html
  8. Hello friendly Cre8asite folk! I've got a content based web site with a large amount of information on. Much of it interlinks and managing how everything fits together is somewhat tricky. It's improved a lot over the last couple of years but part of the 'problem' is that in cases we are publishing information on behalf of other people and get frequent requests to change things which we are often pushing back at because they can change the focus of the entire web site... Anyway, one group of people we work with on a particular document and associated information wants to give this project a more interesting landing page. http://bit.ly/1zTK7dd is the page we are looking at. It is a section of the web site where we publish a statutory document. Primarily we are publishing a 'summary' document outlining some of the main health & well being issues affecting people in the area and then links off to various pages in other parts of the site on specific topics, like diabetes or smoking for example. These other pages exist on the site in their own right, they might be of interest to people for a variety of reasons, the link from this statutory document is one such use, therefore they do not live under this 'JSNA'(the name of the statutory document), however they are relevant to it. This is one of the areas where navigation is difficult. Most of the content on the site is organised topically with some crossover topics appearing in more than one area of the site. Then we have things like this JSNA which cuts across different topics. We're being asked to make the main page of this JSNA section more interesting and help direct people to the relevant information in a nicer way. This image is what someone has produced and basically offered it up as a suggestion of something we could do. This would appear in the main body of the page and each word/phrase would link off to a relevant page. I've said I think this is far too onerous to produce and manage. The only way I can imagine doing it is to use a lot of absolute positioning for each piece of text which would be very fiddly. Making changes would be difficult and there might also be more of these to create and maintain. I think there are many ways this kind of information could be presented in a nicer, more stylish format without something as fiddly as this concentric circle thing, so, my question is, do people have some suggestions of web sites that either show off techniques that might be relevant or know of particular examples that look good and might suit something like this? In this case we are looking at 6 categories with a number of pages/links within each, but other areas might have more or less than 6 categories. They basically just want it to look better so I'm thinking we can use javascript/jquery to produce something that looks impressive but isn't a lot more than some relatively plain navigation that's easy to manage with some interactivity or something. I'm struggling a bit to find relevant things as it's sort of a navigation thing but when googling that gives me menu bars. One example I have seen that looks interesting so far is http://css-tricks.com/examples/InfoGrid/ I could imagine replacing superheroes with the categories and list pages under that. When clicked on a page could potentially show an intro to the page, or just a snippet of the pages content and a link to actually visit it. I'd like to avoid hiding any information first up, so I don't really want to make people click a category to see what pages are linked within in. It needs to look good and not need a designer to make that happen (I can code a bit but I'm a bit useless when it comes to 'design) It needs to be relatively easy to maintain with anything that doesn't require someone who knows about HTML/CSS/Javascript a bonus but that may be asking too much. The site is built on Modx so either needs to be something that can be installed on there or plain old html/css/javascript (already using jquery on the site) Thanks in advance, I'm looking for inspiration as much as anything
  9. I'll give a bit more detail, though it's not a project I'm actually involved in, they just wanted to find out how we went about developing a web site without the corporate IT dept getting involved! I said I'd see if I could come up with a few platforms that they may want to look in to. It basically for a partnership of agencies who have interest in emergency planning, so local government, police, fire, environment agency etc... They want a web site for use by the entire county, but each parish (about 330 of them) will have their own local information. Each parish will have information about local issues, where to go, who to contact etc... Some info will be publicly available, some will be restricted to logged in people and some of those logged in people will hvae the ability to update information. I don't think they want 'social networking' per se, people don't need profiles, I don't think they need to be able to 'like' content or have activity streams.... I don't think all the parishes need their own web site as such, just a straight forward url with a bunch of relatively static easily updated content about things like where to go and who to contact if there is a local flooding issue. I'm almost thinking a wiki with good user management could do it! Something like https://drupal.org/project/commons looks like it might also be useful. I do like Wordpress, but in a case like this you have to develop it away from it's original focus and I prefer a starting point closer to the end goal.
  10. Hi All, I've just been having a chat with some people about our website as they are looking to set something up themselves. They are thinking of quite a different sort of web site however, and sounds like it will be community driven. They've heard of Wordpress, and I told them we used Modx, but I'm not sure they would be good start points for what they want. The web site will represent a large geographic area but town and villages within that geographic area would have their own sections of the web site with information about that local area. Some information would be publicly accessible, but individual local areas could have people who can login and either access more detailed information, or post content themselves. We're talking 300+ individual areas that would be represented by this one web site, so management of things like users would need to be easy and potentially delegated to responsible people within each local area. I know there are more community minded CMSes out there but I've never used any so I'm not sure which, if any, are worth looking at. Anyone had some experiences with things and can either suggest one or more platforms? I know that with enough work, stuff like wordpress could do the job, but I'm interested to hear if there are more closely related platforms worth looking at. TIA
  11. From a user perspective, I've got a 4.3" Android phone and a 10.1" tablet that I use a LOT (used to think tablets were a solution to a problem that didn't exist, then I got one, and I probably use it more than my phone....), and the browsers do a pretty good job with a lot sites these days. You need to have some fairly quirky stuff for either one to fail to run a web site. And honestly, if I'm doing much browsing, I'm doing it on wifi, not on my mobile connection. I can't remember where I saw it (may even have been on the forums recently?!) but there was an article talking about the rises in mobile usage in the last year or 2 and how it's really picked up. But that actually, a lot of people are doing it at home on wifi. When i'm out and about I might look stuff up if I need to, but I know I'm going to get connection problems and don't expect much, or seek out a public wifi connection (becoming more common even where I live!). At times a 'mobile version' of a site is useful, but I often end up clicking on the 'full site' option. For some sites Apps are so much better, I use twitter and facebooks apps, not the web sites, we're looking at moving house and I would go as far to say that using the Rightmove app on my tablet is actually better than using the web site on my desktop PC! But obviously that is only useful for relevant kinds of sites. So in essence, depending on the site, the options can range from 'do nothing' to 'create and app for at least 2 platforms'
  12. It's annoying, I've been using Win7 at home for a while and it's been fine, Win8 seems to be part of the good OS --> bad OS -> good OS --> bad OS cycle... I figured that with IE10 having been out for nearly a year, and IE9 having been out for 2.5 years, that IE8 would be in minimal use now, except by businesses who are well behind the times like my work place! Though actually it seems IE9 and 10 won't run on XP and that's still pretty popular. Still loving this tool though! The graphs still work well enough which was the bigger reason for using it in the first place. They just released an updated version which has changed a few things and are apparently aiming for a version 2 later this year (just gone from 1.4 to 1.5) with a goal at some point for it to be as easy to install on a server as Wordpress (it certainly isn't right now!).
  13. Slight fly in the ointment today, it doesn't work wonderfully in IE8. Data tables particularly just don't display! Is IE8 really still around 20% of the market?! Screwing up my lovely content http://www.somersetintelligence.org.uk/unemployment-and-economic-activity-aug-2013/
  14. Every so often I go off hunting for good, easy to use tools to display graphs and charts in web pages. There are various interesting looking tools around, the Dojo toolkit, Google charts etc... but nothing I felt was quick and easy enough to use for a web site that might regularly publish graphs. Then, last week, while reading the Guardian Datablog I saw they had produced a graph using a service I'd not found before. Having done some testing since, I think it's fantastic! Datawrapper is an open source tool that you can either use through their web site or download and install on your own web server. You include the chart on the web page of your choice using iframes, but at this point that a compromise I'm willing to make for the other benefits. It's quite easy to prepare some basic data in a spreadsheet, paste it into the tool and go through the options to end up with something that looks good, didn't take long to produce and probably has a few little interactive features that you wouldn't get if you used an image of an Excel chart. It has it's limitations, you can't control the display as much as you would in something like Excel and there will probably be a number of datasets that it won't be appropriate for. But for some fairly simple, straightforward graphs it's great.