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Please, report Look and Feel work and ideas

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peterb
Please, report Look and Feel work and ideas
bootsprojects
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Federated search response
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Here is the message I sent to Peter in response to his comments on the federated search. Further discussion is requested.

Thank you for this. It is exactly the kind of feedback that we need. It will be a great help in going forward.

Although I agree with most of what you say (perhaps all at some level), there are a few issues that require some further thought and discussion. Your well described goal of responding exactly to the user's need is admirable. There is an issue there with respect to time, however. The current differences in the presentation of results is directly related to providing a reasonably fast result. When Bharath first developed this facility, the response time was 1.5 minutes. That clearly was not acceptable. So, we made some compromises. The result is what you see. In approximately 10 seconds, you get some direct results and some pointers to other sites where a relevant search has been initiated. By the time you follow a link to the other site, the result has appeared and you get access to the search results you would have had if you had done the same search there. I agree that there is a lot that could be done to make the results much more convenient for the user. I think that it is worth exploring the things that you mention and trying to do most of them. Before we go far in that direction, though, what is the timing penalty that is acceptable to obtain these more desirable results? If we can prioritize the desirable results, then perhaps we can work on optimizing for those things. I suspect that we cannot do all that you suggest within a time that is acceptable to the users.

Can we pursue the prioritization? There are some things that can be done immediately -- formatting has already been discussed and changes are coming. More probably will be needed. Bharath does great work, but he is not a design expert and needs direction in that area. The other things are harder and require real thought about just what is most important and what timing penalty is acceptable to obtain it.

peterb
Feedback from Gregory Hislop
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I am reposting a relevant message from Gregory 
 
A.1 - Look and Feel  / Navigation / Organization
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I think our success at creating functionality has left us with a portal that is overwhelming for a user.  Even as a team member, it is not obvious to me what some areas of the portal are for, or how they relate to each other.  For example, I still don’t understand “forums” vs. “groups”.  I think we need to greatly simplify how we present ourselves to first time users and even regular visitors. 
 
Appropriate for the location of this meeting, I’ll point to Google itself as an example we should follow.  When I go to google.com, I get a very plain page that prominently features search.  There’s lots and lots of white space.  The search bar is front and centre along with the Google name / logo.  Everything else is available, but easy to ignore – even though that sidelined universe has gotten to be huge.  At the same time, if I want more, it’s all close at hand, mostly with single icon/keyword tags.  For more search: images, shopping, news, scholar, etc.  For other applications: docs, groups, talk, voice, etc. 
Now, our goal is to be a community, not a search engine, but I think the same hard discipline must apply to our design.
 
A.2 – User and Developer View
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Somewhat related to the item above, I think we should create a hard separation between the face we present to users vs. developers of the project.  Someone going to computingportal.org should only see the user face.  At present, pointers to development versions of features, information related to project management, etc. are showing up on the front page.  At a deeper level, we have many groups/forums created that related to project development, and that are unlikely to interest a user.  I think that just gets confusing and makes the site look like it’s not ready for production release. 
 
For this issue, I’ll point to open source projects as a possible model.  For someone interested in using an OSS product, say Open Office, the main site presents the user view.  Download is usually prominent, typically combined with feature highlights and other overview information.  At a deeper level, typical components include user documentation, user forums, sources of support, etc.  Separate from the user view is the developer view.  This includes access to the code base, feature request and bug database, technical documentation, developer forums and developer communication channels like IRC, etc.  The end user never needs to see any of the development face of the project.
 
Note that open source also provides a model for the few cross-over points between the user and developer view.  Typically the user view includes links for contributing to the project (helping develop), and for suggesting features and reporting bugs.

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