[maemo-users] Better planet layout through Greasemonkey/Stylish

From: Quim Gil quim.gil at nokia.com
Date: Fri May 11 22:49:10 EEST 2007
Let's see if we get to a common agreement. Sorry for the long email but
at least those interested will know why we did what we did.

On Fri, 2007-05-11 at 19:29 +0100, ext Neil MacLeod wrote:

> Thanks for that... I'm sorry to say that I too find the new design
>  thoroughly unusable.

Usability is not tied to fixed or flexible width, you can find examples
of good and bad practices with both modalities. Obviously our current
implementation has serious problems specially in areas like the Planet,
agreed. This doesn't mean that fixed width is necessarily wrong. For
instance Andrew, who is suggesting an alternative layout for the Planet
uses fixed width in his blog, like many bloggers do.

We decided to go for fixed width for some reasons:

- Better control of the presentation having in mind the tablet users.

- Better readability (if well applied) compared to long lines of text.

- For some reason it was very complicated to make all browsers work well
with the flexible width, while the fixed one solved the most troublesome

- Many cool websites widely used and loved use it i.e. http://flickr.com
and they find ways to put lot of elements. Also in the developer space
we realized that websites people recommended had in fact fixed width. My
favorite: http://www.ruby-lang.org/en/

- Tuomas liked, me too, others didn't. The original theme was done for
flexible width and this caused extra trouble to the Midgard guys since
our decision was late. The pages weren't looking any better with wide
screens, I have to say.

> Quite honestly, Planet now looks ridiculous in Firefox on a 1280x1024
>  screen, with the content area taking up a fraction of the available
>  space with lines wrapping as often as 4 words per line.

Agreed. However, reading a planet at that width is not a great
alternative and example of readability either. Read Planet Ubuntu at
that width. Many Planet readers are use to that but, really, I think
something better can be done. For some reason newspapers and magazines
have columns and etc (old basic usability stuff).

The problem is not the fixed width, which is more or less the same that
i.e. http://www.maemopeople.org/ and the average Wordpress blog, so to
say. The problem is how we deal with the content area: hackergotchis,
fonts, navigation bar and some code wrong that creates unnecessary extra
white space. 

We are working fixing this. This morning we were saying that the use
case could be a window of YouTube, which is one of the biggest regular
artifacts in blog posts.

One option is to get rid of the hackergotchis, or the navigation,
letting the content with the usual width in blogs. Hackergotchis are
cool (when they have pictures). The navigation is not essential. If we
have to drop something this will be the victim. Let's see. Oskari has as
priority number 1 fixing the (troublesome anyway) navigation and the
Planet layout. Give him some days.

> Separately, I also find the new Maemo navigation confusing and/or
>  broken. 

Web structure is not completed. As many times happens in
migrations/revamps, new tools bite new content and new structure each
other in a loop that can be endless. We cut the loop agreeing that we
would release first the tools & design in order to attack next the

I was supposed to fix the structure this week, in reality I have spent
most of my web time dealing with bugs. An emergency content guy is being
interviewed in order to start helping *now*. Our awaited documentation
manager won't start until June. We are busy as usual, etc.

Organizing content and navigations items is easy, so let's discuss.

> Why aren't Wiki and Bugzilla given permanent links
>  in the right hand nav? They're extremely important aspects of the
>  Maemo site and should be upfront and center.

"Upfront and center" is where they are located in the frontpage. If you
are in a rush and you already know these tools they are there. If not we
will locate visible links from the Development and Support (this is how
Community will be renamed, since the whole maemo is community) default

We want to provide a context for those users that don't even know that
there is a wiki or a bugzilla. And for those that don't know what a wiki
or a bugzilla are, but they want to read tips&tricks and complain about
something that doesn't work.

This is why the wiki will be under Support and will be focused to the
community exchanging all the info that is not part of the official
documentation. The wiki will be also linked from Development >
Documentation ("If you are looking for more check...".

This is also why bugzilla will have several entry points and hopefully
customized simple forms not to discourage anybody. Entry points include
Development and Support, also the Roadmap to suggest new features.


> "Style over usability" - I couldn't have said it better myself. :(

Time pressure over quality, I would say.

> By the way, if anyone is interested there is a poll on the ITT forum
>  which should enable the maemo.org designers to determine how well the
>  new design is being received:

Funny. Let me just remind though that the development of the website has
been done totally in the open at
https://garage.maemo.org/projects/maemo2midgard/ . If we would have get
all this feedback before now all we would be doing other things,
probably. We did get feedback and lots of help (thanks!) but for some
reason we failed gathering all the opinions that now are raising.

We keep listening you and trying to do our best. Bug reports,
alternative proposals, patches... all that.

Quim Gil - http://maemo.org

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