February 28, 2016
I have been working on changing the layout and appearance of the Main Page, including the addition of a couple new features. You can see the most recent version of my modifications by going here. Below, I will go into more detail about the most significant changes.
- Content links
The most immediately obvious change is the addition of the "Contents" buttons. These are twelve clickable buttons that link to various wiki Categories (except the Game Guides button, which links to the Game Guides Portal). My idea is that each of these categories will serve as "quasi-portals," each with their own customized layout to help direct traffic deeper into the wiki. The overall goal is to make navigating from the main page to specific articles easier and more intuitive, without forcing readers to rely on manually searching for the articles all the time.
- Rearranging items
I've moved some items around, so that "content"-related items are moved to the top of the page, and more "community"-related items are closer to the bottom - our social media widgets and the Chat box are exceptions to this design scheme, as it makes sense to bring those elements together. I plan to (but have not yet) eliminate the separate Forums module and incorporate it into the as-yet unfinished Community section on the bottom of the left column.
- Removed Featured Editor
I feel like this action, more than any other, deserves some explanation. My intent is not to discontinue Featured Editor, but simply to recognize that Featured Editor doesn't belong on the main page. The Main Page is the "front door" of the wiki; it's the most widely viewed page on the wiki and it's the landing point for readers looking for more information in the series. While it's important to highlight the great editors that make this wiki what it is, the simple fact is most readers aren't going to care much about the individual editors who contribute to the wiki, but are instead going to want to find the information they're looking for, or else find other highlighted features on the main page. I've established Featured Editor as a module on the Community Portal to ensure that it continues to be updated and participated in.
- Focus on Community Portal
A few months back, I overhauled the Community Portal. I would like to emphasize the use of the CP as a meeting-place for the wiki. As I mentioned in regards to moving Featured Editor, it just makes sense to have a place on the wiki that serves as the "front door" for readers, and that page is the Main Page. However, editors too should have a "front door" that they visit when they come online every day, and that location should be the Community Portal. To that end, I will be highlighting the C.P. in a brief section on the main page and encouraging users who may want to become active in the community to journey to that page.
- Changes to news blogs
I have started a move away from the exclusive use of blog posts to deliver news, especially game-related news. This is because we've had a hard time keeping up-to-date Game News blogs on the wiki. Since these blogs are displayed on the main page regardless of how outdated they are, it makes more sense to make a list of news headlines instead. This list will need to be manually updated, but on the positive side, we won't have to write Sims News Blogs for each and every headline we add, as we can easily link to SimsVIP, BeyondSims, or other Sims news sites for full stories. We can also write full news blogs as the need/desire arises, so that is still an option we have available. As for community news, in order to limit the age of blog posts on the main page, I've trimmed the news blog feed down to only the two most recent entries. Additionally, I've split Community and Game News into their respective groups, rather than keeping them together.
- Next Steps
I would like any and all feedback you have regarding the designs. I'm not quite ready to formally publish the revisions, so if there's something you feel should be changed, added, or removed, please let me know in a comment. Additionally, if you would like to assist me in anything that I have discussed, your help is very greatly appreciated! Specifically, I definitely need help in updating the categories that are linked to in the Content Buttons... again the idea is to create "portals" for each of those content areas, to make it easier to link to relevant subcategories and articles in each area. Finally, please let me know if you have any other ideas for ways to improve upon the design.