If you've loaded the group's homepage here since August 20 7PM US Central, you might have noticed that the design of the group's homepage changed... drastically. One of the advantages to being a Super Group is the ability to choose different layouts to better suit the mass of content we are trying to convey on a single page. When I say "layout" in this context, I don't mean moving modules around. I mean switching between a few different column layouts we can put content in.
I'm not here to just babysit and do PR. I analyze the community and see where deficiencies exist and where we can improve. I've noticed a few trends happening and came up with a hypothesis for them. In general, there are inherent flaws in the UI design.
One of these trends is the gradual shift from a collaborative community to primarily a picture dump where members ingest content via their notifications. If you notice, there aren't that many long-term members posting in the comments. It's usually new artists looking for guidance, and they go unanswered. This tells me that reaching the comments section is too much of a workflow burden for people to do regularly.
Another trend I am seeing is the page scaring newbies away or making bad first impressions. Like it or not, this is the home of MLP SFM art. We do outreach at conventions via panels to garner interest in the art, and we direct them here. The submissions guidelines, while important (explained later), are daunting and seem heavy handed for people who don't know why. It takes up a lot of space on the homepage too. I moved them into their own journal and made a condensed welcome message explaining the importance in reading them.The Limitations of DA
As we are all (or most) aware, DA has not adapted well to modern internet standards, and simple workflow and UI design improvements for group admins have not been made. For example, you'd think it would be easy enough for them to implement a way for admins to correct where submissions go in the gallery folders during the approval process. We either have to reject and tell you where to submit or accept, manually leave admin interface, go to gallery folders, find where the submission is, and change from there. It's burdensome. 90-95% of our rejections are from incorrect folder selections when submitting art to the group.
In terms of UI, a default free group has one layout: Side navigation bar + 2 columns. Super group expands that to 2 side navigation bars + 1 large central, 2 columns with no side navigation, and a variation on the free group layout's top bar. DA uses modules that are stacked in columns, and some modules are incompatible in certain columns while others have to be at a certain position. The Comments section, for example, can only be at the bottom of a column. Margins for columns are non-adaptable, and Firefox cuts off text on the right side navigation bar where the scroll bar is. Tl;DR: DA makes designing a content-rich and efficient page difficult.SDLC and Where I Done Goofed
Despite setting up procedures for /any/ change to a group requiring the contributors to discuss/vote first, I managed to forget my own policy. It wouldn't be proper if I didn't own up to it. It sets a bad example. I had intended that policy to originally be for policy changes that affect the nature of the group, but I explained it as "any" to reduce confusion. I announced what I was going to do to about 38 people, but I didn't give them enough time to respond.
If it didn't cost me an additional $100+ a year, I'd setup a test group for intended changes. Usually, big changes to an application (think of websites as applications too) require a software development life cycle process to ensure minimal impact to customers when changes are made. Since that's not economical, I acted under the notion that I was testing what we could achieve before I presented it for final approval. This, ofcourse, means I had to change the production group.Your Thoughts on UI (new or old)
This group can only thrive if its members' opinions are considered. Given the limitations of the platform I described, what are ways we could make the group more appealing to newcomers and useful for members with organization of the page? Below is a series of screenshots of what I did last night. Please keep it on topic to UI. General feedback is better left in group comments or in notes to admins.