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

From: Neil MacLeod gmane at nmacleod.com
Date: Fri May 11 23:20:42 EEST 2007
Quim Gil wrote:

> 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.

OK I take your point - fixed width is not necessarily bad. But unnecessarily narrow fixed width *is* very bad, particularly when articles are wrapping lines at 5, 6 or 7 word intervals when there is acres of space to the left and right.

> 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).

I have been taught in the past that English is most readable when lines are wrapped at an average of 10-13 words per line. An average of eight words per line would still be readable, but the current Maemo Planet design is not so readable. I agree that a flexible width design can result in too many words per line, but since this is somewhat under my control I would prefer that to an artificially constrained layout where I am constantly flicking my eyes left-right-down every half-dozen words or so.

> 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. 

Hopefully if you aim for a content area that wraps lines with at least 8 words per line on average (though 10 would be preferable) it will be substantially more readable. maemopeople.org for instance, wraps at around 11 words per line on average.

> 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.

The navigation definately needs a rethink, both in presentation (look) and architecture. If the vertical nav is retained, use a smaller font however a multi-level horizontal nav may be better as it would free up the right hand column which is mostly wasted space unless content can be designed to flow into the right hand column below the nav.

hackergotchis I can't say I care for them - given a choice, drop em.

> Web structure is not completed.

Understood, sorry for jumping the gun :)

> "Upfront and center" is where they are located in the frontpage.

Perhaps it's just me, but the section of the front page that contains the Bugzilla and Wiki links is just plain odd. It's detached from the main navigation and seems unnecessary and redundant. The links present in this section could/should be in the main navigation, freeing up space in the front page and making it easier to navigate to common pages such as Wiki/Bugzilla from anywhere within the site.

Dedicated links to common pages should be present in the main navigation, and not present only in a disjointed section of the frontpage.

> 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.
Context is good, but it's not making it obvious. Perhaps it's because these areas of the site had dedicated sections in the old site that they now they seem to be more peripheral.

> 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.
More entry points the better! :)

> 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.
Indeed, it is a shame as you guys have all put in a tremendous amount of work and it's not nice for it to be picked apart now. I'm as responsible for that as anyone here, and you have my apologies for not commenting on this prior to launch and realising the flaws of the current design.

However if the majority of the ITT forum readership prefer the current look & feel, you've done a good job! :)

More information about the maemo-users mailing list