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Comments on beta.w3.org

From: Robin Berjon <robin.berjon@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 2009 10:33:43 -0400
Message-Id: <35D30976-EF27-429F-A1AA-2789C9EBCA50@gmail.com>
To: site-comments@w3.org
Hi,

here are my quick comments on the redesign. Overall, I find that the  
new design is clearer and more readable, but I think that it can use a  
few improvements.

My first concern is one of branding. It is hard to put my finger on  
it, but the new design lacks some life, something to make it special  
to W3C. Obviously I'm not asking to replace this with something heavy  
and invasive, but I'm afraid that the Spartan approach might have been  
slightly overdone here: it doesn't feel like any specific website, in  
fact it looks like the default style for a CMS. More importantly,  
nowhere does it say "World Wide Web Consortium" or "Leading the Web to  
its Full Potential". Just a little extra personal touch, possibly some  
light typographical enhancement could go a long way to breathe life  
into it.

The bottom of the front page feels like someone just dumped there the  
stuff they didn't know where to put. Switching from large left column  
and slim right column to the reverse is a bit confusing and breaks the  
reading logic. "Web for all", "Services and Software", "About", etc.  
could probably just go below "W3C by Region", leaving the bottom space  
to take the full width of the content area.

The standards overview pages are really good, I have hope that they'll  
help quell the endless flow of "where do I find that specification"  
questions. The primary comment I'd make is that it'd be clearer to  
have the list of technologies at the bottom of each box be a vertical  
list instead of a linear list. I find the current format hard to read.  
Oh, and I'm not sure that REX should be listed in there, it's dead in  
the water due to its PAG not going anywhere.

The current status pages are also good. I like that recommendations  
are called "standards" since only a few wonks care about the  
difference (and it's not such a great difference in the first place).  
In the summary table, when there is no draft for a given status I'd  
recommend writing "None at this time" instead of just leaving the cell  
empty  it's clearer.

I have a number of issues with the Recommendation redesign. Short  
story: recommendations are standalone documents, they don't need to be  
integrated into the site, please revert to the old style, or make less  
intrusive changes.

Trying to apply the same usage to different context is a classic  
design and usability mistake. Here it is made very obvious by the fact  
that it's very likely that one would want to read specs with the print  
style sheet but the rest of the site with the screen one, but you have  
to keep switching back and forth if you're using both.

I am fine with using our friends from Google for search on the site,  
but having their logo on standards send the wrong message  it really  
is hard to think that this is not, at least in part, a Google standard.

The blue top left corner label that reads "W3C Recommendation" (or  
other) is the brand and the imprimatur. You can't move it! That's.  
Just. Wrong. As you scroll down, it looks lost in the middle there.  
Please please please please please. Kill kittens if you must but don't  
break our pretty standards!

All that's above the fold is pretty much "do everything except read  
this specification". Again, that's a usage context error. When you go  
to a spec, you want to read it and that's it. I don't deny that some  
of the information there is useful, but I think it would be a lot more  
useful to just have a little non-intrusive link in the top corner  
called "more about this specification" that would show all this  
information.

Just listing editor names isn't the best thing either. Small companies  
are often happy to provide the editing manpower to edit because it  
means that they get a mention on the cover page, which is good  
promotion for them.

Also, a lot of specifications added their own CSS. This may be a bad  
idea and greater unification is desirable, but reformating those that  
have already been published is the wrong way to go about this as it  
actually breaks the format and intended readability. A review of the  
common ways in which the base CSS has been extended so that the same  
stuff can be made globally available going forward would be great, but  
backwards fixing is too problematic.

The Member home is much clearer and easier to navigate. I'm delighted  
to see the ghastly light blue background disappear, and I hope the  
Team is rewarded for its great work by having its ever ghastlier jaune  
poussin background removed. I think that the guide part will prove  
really useful, it would be nice if something similar were made for to  
the chairs' guide. On the member front page I have the similar  
difficulty reading the lists of actions for each subsection as I had  
on the standards overview page. I think it may be due to using commas  
of normal font weight to delimitate a list of bold items.

Are dated URIs going too with the new redesign? That would be a  
victory over pig-headedness well warranting a few beers :)

Summary: overall a really nice job, but please don't break our Recs!

-- 
Robin Berjon
   Robineko (http://robineko.com/)
Received on Monday, 6 April 2009 09:23:01 GMT

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