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I posted about the site design in the chat-box on the side. I think I might have been a bit too critical there, but... has anyone thought of giving this site a design overhaul? There is tons of great content here, but the layout is impenetrable. There is so much going on on the front page that it can be hard to find anything. It is all very, very unintuitive.

It looks like a "portal" site circa 1999 before Google came along and shamed everyone into getting rid of that design trope.

Any thoughts of simplification to the site?

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The problem with this means of input, as with the sandbox, is that you have to write over other people's concepts to express your own. Is there a way to save previous versions?

I think need to decide on the main categories that we will use to organize our materials - like the dewey decimal system for EFL.

I'm not sure how to do this, but perhaps we could start with a free brainstorm -no criticizing of categories before we are done getting all the ideas down, and piggybacking is encouraged.

If we do it this way, David, we can gather/garner your knowledge of the site without the limitations inherent in one person doing all the thinking.

When we are done with the brainstorm, maybe the categories will be more clear to us.

I'll start:

grammar
games
powerpoints
slideshows
videos
art
music
geography
languages
teaching methods
classroom management
pronunciation exercises
cartoons
humor
best of
stories
karaoke

I guess we have to add to the list as a reply... once we wind down, I'll gather all the terms into one post, so it will be easier to see possible groupings... in fact, I think it should start as a new discussion so it is not buried in this one....
I added a discussion to the forum here. Here's hoping for prolific generation!
Since I'm not allowed, by my own rules, to discuss this idea in the actual brainstorming discussion :D ... and I'm not even sure if you can brainstorm effectively with others across time like this.... I thought I'd circumvent that rule and discuss the brainstorm here. Is that cheating?

Oh well. The whole brainstorm might lead nowhere. But I need to take everything out of the cupboards and look at it, just to see, as a whole, what we've got. If I don't I'm going to keep bumping up against this feeling of stumbling around in the dark each time I try to approach the idea of reorganization of the site.

It might end up me simply pulling everything I see out from the cupboards publicly instead of privately (if no one else sees the point of joining in!), but I don't see how harm can come from that?

In real life, you can end up with a big mess that no one cleans up (oh, do tell!) But here, no biggie, right?

I hope I don't poop out!
Ok, this is what I've got so far... a brainstorm list and possible nav bar categories (all preliminary!) It's in the attached doc.

I think one of the mistakes we make is trying to make all the nav bar categories "kind of even"... it leads us to force categories together that aren't intuitive. Instead, let's try to find the logical/natural divisions, and go from there. I think people can tolerate pages branching, as long as the structure makes sense to them- they're getting to where they wanted to go.

Who knows? It's a start.

PS These are "working" names for the nav bar categories... some are too wordy for final use.
Attachments:
Ellen,

I've been thinking a lot of this through. I'll have some options shortly. Right today, just working on the design, still a few things to change.

But I'm leaning towards categorizing by PLACE. Like Library / Staff Room / Lang. Lab / Playground / Office etc.. I think that might be intuitive. Still not sure...

But after this - we will still need a page where we bookmark member's excellent contributions and highlight them. I have to do a better job in the newsletter with this but we also need a better way...
I don't know if all the details will work out, but the idea of categorizing by place is endearing!

The important thing is not to force materials at the beginning stage into one category or another, but to see where the natural divisions are and work from there. Make sure it is an inductive process. Look at the whole set of data and see what groupings spring up, make conclusions from there.

The idea of having an EFL Classroom specific bookmarking system is intriguing, especially the idea of members bookmarking posts they read as they go along. Long term, it seems like a bookmarking system might be more sustainable than one or two people trying to update the materials in the library, so to speak.

For me, it really isn't about highlighting members contributions... that happens whenever someone uses (or is even amused/reads) what you have offered/created/mashed/posted. It is about keeping these materials available for future members (maybe even years down the line) to realistically be able to view and retrieve.

I don't think relying solely on individual names will be effective long term. I could be wrong on this- 'by author' is one way I remember materials in my own mind. It just seems like that system relies on specific members being personally remembered, and that's what I think will end up being inefficent.

At any rate, it would be nice to see the member-created materials fully integrated with the rest of the body of materials archived on EFL. That, to me, is giving true due and respect to those efforts : ).

How does the Library of Congress do it? :D Meaning this might be pie-in-the-sky given our resources. Maybe we (even just I) could start by collecting those member created materials that really catch my eye and dropping them into a folder that we can figure out what to do with later.

But there are obvious problems with that idea. It's not super effective; it is limited by being "curated" by a few, at most, individual perceptions; and it relies on the efforts of a few, at most, people having the time to do it... but a bookmarking system could address all of these limitations.

Of course, all this is just my... musings? meanderings? what do they call it when you have your own glitch?

I really like the idea of a bookmarking system for this. I think it might be an effective, good answer!
David, I've been trying to figure out why it is uncomfortable for me to read the main page. I've looked at similar designs of facebook and flickr to see what subtle differences there are, wrote a post, deleted it because I wasn't sure that was it... Then I noticed the font has been changed to a serif. Will you change it back to a sans serif, just for the reading text? It can be the same size, color, etc. Serif fonts are simply difficult to read on a computer screen (they are fine for titles, etc).

I really am uncomfortable- I won't be able to use the main page very much!
Ellen,

I thought I'd got that all the same! Didn't want to make too much of a difference to members (however few there are this slow time of year!). But yeah, you were right. Somehow the main font didnt change stayed Georgia not Arial. Now changed back.

I know what you are saying and will experiment with some new but still light background colors. I'll also ask for feedback in the forthcoming, simplified newsletter.

I also will experiment with a few shadings...believe it or not, this isn't pure white....

About member's materials and highlighting here. See the new magazine I made. Was trying to use this innovatively but failed. But I think I ll still keep it for members. It will update all sorts of stuff, like when a resource is posted or when I upload to mediafire etc... but won't work for the purposes I set out to do. But really neat and when they have a public version, will be handier for us. If you log into google with eflclassroom@gmail.com / teacher you can see the full private version from which this is made. This would be soooo handy for us but alas almost impossible to share. I'm still looking into it.

However, I'm leaning towards a less present forum on the main page. But an expanded one with categories and highlights on the forum page. That way, could highlight the forum/resource content more. I got to think through this but I think it would increase participation. Just have an rss latest of the forum on the main page and a portal to an expanded forum... One more option.
Thanks, David... the change to sans serif made a big difference- I can use the main page again!
Ellen,

I've been looking through Larry's list of Bookmarking sites (social). Any you'd think would work for highlighting our content???

On another note, I'm wondering about what you think about the colors of Firesidelearning? I don't have the heart to mention it to Connie (because I have been in those shoes!) that I just CAN"T read it for more than 10 seconds. My eyes are killed and everything runs together. Is it just me?
I think implementing a bookmarking system into EFL Classroom is inspired, David. Give me a chance to go through Larry's list to get my bearings, because I really am a novice at this one.

About Firesidelearning, oh, it was awful before the change to sans serif! I think I asked for that for a year! (I would have just gone in and changed it if I could have.) As for the colors, I have always found it warm and womb-like, to be honest! So I overlook the difficulties. But other people have complained, so it wouldn't be news to Connie :D I think she is very attached to the campfire metaphor, and that is one of my favorite things about her- nature girl : )) Try bumping up (zooming in) the view. Of course I can't do that, because I refuse to admit my eyes are aging! Vanity, suffering is thy name and glory!

On another note, I am getting used to our new look! At first I really missed the cushion of color, but it's ok now... I have my bearings. I have been tempted to sneak in the middle of the night and change it all to sans serif, but I think I'm doing ok... room to breathe.

And no one can accuse you of being out of date! (That was ruff!) I still say our old style will come back in vogue in a few years... just watch....
David, in the reorganization you're thinking about... are you thinking of ways to make the sharing forum's function, or distinction from the more general forum, more obvious, while still protecting it from getting many stray discussions?

I know it took me awhile to first see the sharing forum, and then get what the difference was. The last two requests in the chat box made me think of it again....

I don't have an idea of how to do this! Just asking if that's on your radar.... I haven't checked out the bookmarking programs yet... I kind of forgot til I got here again : )

I'll take a look now...

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