Redesigning the introduction to minguo

Topics:
Project

Fred recently made some pertinent comments regarding the content of the front page:
http://en.minguo.info/blogs/fredgohlke/the_round_table#comment-1259

The very top of the front page links to the following article, which is indeed very un-inspiring:
http://en.minguo.info/node/27

The front page is going to evolve over time. The whole site is a work in progress. My problem is that I have a clear view in my mind about the site's potential, whilst new comers would more acutely perceive its current shortcomings. So Fred did well to step in and point out a flaw that was obvious to everybody but myself.

I really don't have much time to spend on this, but hopefully some quick changes will render the site more appealing.

Currently, I am making the current assumptions:

  • The front page remains a list of a selection of some of the best or most informative articles and polls, promoted to the front page.
  • One or two posts remain stickied at the top, just as they are currently. Those posts are the primary landing pages.
  • The primary landing pages would link to secondary landing pages, allowing new users to delve further into the site.
  • Both primary and secondary landing pages will be wiki pages. So they must be adequately developed.
  • There can only be 2, maximum 3 primary landing pages. Currently, I mean to keep the two that currently exist (top of front page). So those two pages would be our primary targets for improvement.

So the 'redesign' is currently limited in improving the content those sticky posts.

One way or another, we need to highlight (mostly in accordance to Fred's suggestions):

  1. A proper introduction to minguo, what it is, what it aims to be.
  2. The benefits of joining the site for like-minded people.
  3. The best content there exist at minguo today.
  4. The areas with the biggest potential.
  5. The currently active projects.
  6. The most active topics.

Keeping things numbered as above:

1) Introduction to minguo

There is a very, very, very old introduction here:
http://minguo.info/guided_tour
It does not do the job. I don't know what to do with the domain http://minguo.info/ . There is some quality traffic there, so the challenge is to bring people from minguo.info to en.minguo.info. That's a whole new set of landing pages to think about!
Also, I've started to describe some web site long term objectives here:
http://en.minguo.info/book/augustin

2) Benefits of joining

- own blog.
- own book: http://en.minguo.info/blogs/augustin/users_personal_books
- create polls and http://en.minguo.info/polling_station
- participate in minguo projects http://en.minguo.info/help/projects (secondary landing page to rewrite!).
- ...

3) Best content

The primary candidate here is Fred's book!
http://en.minguo.info/fred_gohlke

Feature some of our best ongoing polls. Update some old ones if necessary. (I've spent most of the week developing a new polling method: emocracy with a range 5 ~ -5, with a new interface).

Maybe also this:
http://en.minguo.info/wiki/les_miserables
A project I started a while ago, but that's dormant today.

4) Areas with biggest potential

I'd like to be able, soon, to add the community manifesto to the list of best content:
http://en.minguo.info/manifesto
But inspiring, it is currently not! :(
In my view, this is one of the areas with the best potential. One way or another, I'll get the project started again.

I am more and more seriously considering starting a new "Political Discourse" project.
The idea came by reading Fred's comments and primary concerns.
I think this is one area which has the biggest potential: people are fed up with politics. If we properly denounce and describe the common fallacies and shortcoming of the current political "debate", and if at the same time we show that things needn't be this way, then I think that many visitors will nod their heads in agreement, and be attracted to join.
If we work diligently on it, it has the potential of being of service to the society.

5) currently active projects

a- This Minguo Community project.
b- The Manifesto... soon to be reactivated.

and:
c- the new Political Discourse project (to be confirmed).

6) Most active topics

Properly develop the wiki pages on the topics that we have been actively discussing together: party politics, corruption, election methods, etc. Add a few issues that we have not discussed so much (yet) but where we'd certainly agree and that would appeal to visitors: environmental issues, human rights, poverty...

Design

I really don't have the time to make drastic changes to the design.
At most, I am considering adding a few custom block design that can be added to some of the aforementioned landing pages. I'll show you soon what I have in mind.

Conclusion

There is a lot to do, but we don't need to do everything at once.
Let's select one secondary landing page, work on it until it is presentable, and then feature it in a block in the primary landing page. Repeat the procedure with another secondary landing page, etc.

Let's keep the discussion below focussed on the work described above. If necessary, fork the discussion into another thread (blog entry).

Comments

Design: focus blocks

At the top of this page, you should see some tidy green blocks with a nice title:
http://en.minguo.info/taxonomy/term/645
I call them: "focus blocks". This is a quick sample of a design idea. It's a work in progress, but it gives the idea of what I'm after. Colours and other design elements will change.

The sticky post with the green blocks is also the home page of the Minguo Community project, the main project for all the members of this site. It will eventually become one of the 2 or 3 primary landing pages.

Thus, this page is the first target for improvement:
- I'll see to improve a little my design ideas (maybe have a selection of colours, instead of the current green).
- Some of the information on the page should be moved elsewhere.
- create new "focus blocks" to introduce the key aspects of the minguo community project.

Fred, you asked me several times what a wiki page was. Note that the project pages are wiki pages, and that you can edit them just as you can edit your personal content.

Testing new focus blocks

title

Some text here

title

Some text here
size-2 block

title

Some text here
size-1 block

title

Some text here
size-3 block

title

Some text here

title

Some text here

title

test

title

ousth

title

test

title

test
test
test
test
test
test
test

title

test
size-12 block

h6 title

test

title

text

title

text

title

text

Testing range of colors and sizes.
http://en.minguo.info/taxonomy/term/645
What do you think?

Election Methods project

I didn't receive any feedback on the suggestions above, so I have been brainstorming on my own. The last few days, I've been thinking hard on how to arrange all which deserves to be presented at the front page.

I finally decided to promote Election Methods project home page to the very top of the front page. I'll do it soon. The Election Methods project has always been, from the very, very beginning, at the heart of minguo. It is the reason it was created in the first place. And today, promoting better alternatives to our current electoral system is still the main purpose of the site. So, after much thoughts, what should have been obvious to me finally caught up with me! ;)

Basically, it means that the top block you can see here:
http://en.minguo.info/taxonomy/term/633
will soon be visible at the very top of the front page.

So, your help and feedback is welcome to improve the project's home page:
http://en.minguo.info/wiki/election_methods_project
Space of the home page is limited, so we may have to push some items down to below the fold, so that they are only visible when viewing the project's home page itself.

Please help me with the wording, the content, and the key information to present on the EM project page. It's a wiki page, so you don't need my permission to edit and improve it. Go for it! If unsure, you can still share your ideas here.

Once it's presentable enough, I'll replace the current top of the home page with the newly re-designed EM project page.
Later, we'll do the same with the other main minguo projects.

Your feedback

I'm quoting relevant parts of an email from Fred:

I went back to ...
http://en.minguo.info/wiki/election_methods_project
May I suggest these alternatives:

                  Election Methods Project

      A focused examination of Alternative Election Methods.

      [Bucklin] [STV] [Direct Democracy] [PR] [Condorcet]

(where the bracketed labels are links to discussions of those topics,
perhaps linked to a poll showing their relative acceptance.)

                     Practical Democracy

      Create a bottom-up political process built on reason
      rather than emotion, focused on careful examination
      of candidates before they are elected.

or

      Build a political process that lets everyone participate
      in the practice of examining and selecting the people's
      representatives in their government.

(Please avoid the word 'radical'. Practical Democracy is 'different',
even 'radically different', but the word 'radical' provokes thoughts of
violence. PD is anything but that.)

Those are good suggestions. The Election Methods project home page is a wiki page. It means that you can edit it. You are obviously the best judge on what to write about Practical Democracy. So, I won't edit anything regarding PD: I let you do it! Use whatever wording you feel is best, without taking an undue amount of space. Regarding space, the goal is for the blocks to have more or less the same height. Regarding the wording, you can change your mind any time and edit again, tweaking the wording as and when you see fit.

Regarding the other Election Methods: what you suggest is more or less the goal. But the content of minguo is lacking in many ways. The strategy is thus to highlight what already exists but still offer an overview of what we try to achieve.

Actually, as hinted above, there is a section of the "main" site http://minguo.info/ which covers very well some of the basic EM. It generates some traffic because many people have linked to it over the years. The problem is that the traffic there does not necessarily generate traffic here. I plan to import the whole section onto a new book here and automatically redirect the traffic there to the new location. You'll see it when it's done.

Using your suggestions as a starting point, the first focus block now reads:

Election Methods project

The flaws of Plurality Voting are well known. Alternative Election Method advocates get together and work together to promote better election methods.
We cover all the main alternatives:Approval Voting, Range Voting, Emocracy, ranked methods such as Condorcet, etc. etc.
We focus on research, policies, practical demonstrations, outreach and education.

The links will come later, when we have something interesting to link to. I am not completely happy with the above wording, but it gives an idea of the key information to convey. We also have to keep in mind the space restrictions.

Again, the page is a wiki page, so it can be improved and adjusted over the months and years as our projects grows and matures. Today and this week, I'll try to fish out some good examples of polls that we have, and add them to the "polls" focus block.

Tightened the lede

I've tightened the lede and main introductory block:

Election Methods project

The flaws of Plurality Voting are well known.
This project aims to cover all alternative Election Methods.
We focus on research, policies, practical demonstrations, outreach and education.

It's nearly ready to be promoted on the front page.

I have developed the main aims of the project in new focus blocks below the fold.

Front page!

Fred, I like your edits. The red box reads much better, too. Thanks a lot.
The project page is now promoted to the front page! Yeah! :)

Next, we shall focus on the second such primary landing page. I'm still thinking about which one it should be. There are 4 inter-related projects:
- Election Methods project.
- Policy project
- Political discourse project
- Community manifesto project.

We mentioned those earlier. The last three could be encompassed by a single project: "Policy and political discourse".
I tend towards keeping them separate, but have a single page on the front page that introduce each of them.

list of all the projects hosted at this site

The full list of projects is here:
http://en.minguo.info/help/projects
I'd welcome any help to improve that page. I plan to promote the top of this page to the front page, where it will replace the space currently occupied by the Community Manifesto project.
Thus, it will become the second of two primary landing pages, and should provide an inspiring overview of what minguo has to offer.
When the page is presentable enough, I'll promote it to the front page, just like I did for the Election Method Project.

Fred, together, we did a great on the EM project page. If it weren't for you, today it would still be the old, boring page. You feedback and edits will, as always, be invaluable.