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Organization of the ARRL.org web page menus

Jul 22nd 2011, 01:32

w1rfi

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Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Quote by AB2ZI
Just wanted to drop by and say hi to the new forums. BTW, where's the link on the main page? As with everything else on the "new" website it seems to be hidden or buried...

73, Kevin AB2ZI


Quote by KE7IBF
Yeah, I don't know why but it isn't a part of the "Main Menu" but rather on the line just below. I almost missed it myself.


Thanks for checking in. To help prevent the announcement "thread' from becoming cluttered, I manually moved your posts into a new thread here. That will actually make your posts easier to find, as a lot of hams won't look to the announcement for a discussion about the architecture of the ARRL web page menus.

Unfortunately, well, fortunately, there are more features available on the arrl.org site than can be put onto a single menu line. If we limited menus to only one line, then a lot of things that could be listed on a second line would have to left off the menu.

On all pages, the main architecture of the page is shown on the blue buttons near the top of the page (Home, On the Air, Licensing, etc). On the home page, right undeneath those major buttons is a list of commonly used pages. Forums is listed on the 2nd line of that additional menu. In addition, most of the major pages of the site has a menu on the left, to which a forums link has been added. I can't think of much more we could do with the forums page other than to provide a link to it from nearly every major page on the site.

THe URL is easy enough to remember, and I'd suggest you boomark the http://www.arrl.org/forum web page.

There may also be a glitch on the page, as I note that the announcement I created for the RFI Q&A page seems to have appeared on all of the technical forums. Please do bear with us as we shake out the bugs.

73,
Ed Hare, W1RFI
ARRL Lab
Jul 22nd 2011, 19:01

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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This is a great topic! Many people have expressed trouble finding things in the new web site. It's hard for anyone, myself included, to move from an established site (with all its imperfections) to a new one (despite all its benefits).

The basic problem is that ARRL as an organization and Amateur Radio itself are very complicated activities, so it's hard for any one "information design" to make access easy for each user and his or her particular interests. [The "your favorites" menu at the top of the page is a help for me. You do have to be logged in. Have you tried it? At least it helps you remember the good places you have found in the past.]

But this is the Technology Forum. Can we "techies" design a better site for technology purposes? Anyone who has access to a web hosting service can play this game. Set up a page with topics organized the way *you* think they should be and make links into the ARRL site -- if the subject is covered there. Presto! You have created an alternate ARRL technology web portal. Share with your friends and ARRL of course. Maybe your design could be adopted by the ARRL site.

73,
Martin Ewing, AA6E
ARRL Technical Advisor (and sometime web editor)
Jul 22nd 2011, 21:41

w1rfi

Super Moderator

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Hi, Martin,

Thanks for chiming in. Let me tell a tale that was very, well... telling for me. When the new ARRL.org site went live, I shared the pain, because I was having trouble finding the things I was looking for. What made it worse was that as first implemented, the ARRL search engine, well.. stunk (this is a "family channel...). Everything was different. I grumbled a lot (family channel again...)

The "old" ARRL web server is still running inside the ARRL HQ building only, so if we find we forgot to move something over to the new site, we can access the file more easily than trying to go to an old backup. One day, trying to find something on the new site, I gave up in frustration and went to the old site, where I used to go right to it.

I hadn't used the old site in a few months, and I'll be darned, I couldn't find it! I had plumb forgot where it was. The search engine hardware was moved to the new site, so the search engine on the old server doesn't work, so I had to try to navigate through all the menus and find it. I finally did, but the location was not quite where I expected. It then dawned on me -- part of the difficulties some where having with the new site is that it is different, and organized somewhat differently.

I say "part of" because there are still a few issues, some of which I am trying to fix as I can, on the technology pages, at least. One I can't fix is that when they created the new site, the way many web pages were generated is now dynamic and on the fly. Ditto with links, so for whatever reason, the directory heirarchy couldn't match the old server. This is a problem, as there are hundreds and hundreds of references in the older QSTs to the arrl.org site, and most of the URLs are busted.

When the pages were all moved over, they were moved over the hard way, because for reasons this non-web guy won't understand, the old HTMl would not work on the new site. The way the new site handles embedded pictures is not as useful to me as I would like, so one page at a time, I'm having some of these pages imported into Word, rearranged a bit and then exported into .pdf.

As interesting as the project you propose sounds, Martin, I'd really want to concentrate on content. Unfortunately, when we moved things over, we realized that due to the lack of an infinite amount of available staff time, some of the technology pages were not up to date, and somehow, on the new site, that is more evident to me as a user than the old. I'd much rather spend the time focused more on content and getting some newer articles available as .pdf links on the various technology pages.

One paradigm I'm trying to implement is to get more non-staff volunteers to maintain some of the pages, using the content-management system that is part of the arrl.org site. I already have a volunteer for the QRP page, although that page, too, is in need of some refreshing. We have a volunteer who put together the content of the AM operating page and the sounds of RFI is maintained by a volunteer off-site. I'd like to find more experts to help with the content, because in many areas, there are people much more talented than the Lab staff in their particular subjects.

To sum it up, what I had to do to make better upersonal use of the ARRL page is to first better understand the site navigation, with many of the site page jumps controlled by menus on the top or left of the screen, with some duplication on the bottom. The search engine is working better now, so if you are looking for a subject, try a few searches in the search box in the upper right. I get emails from time to time from someone who can't find a particular page and when I type in the word that best represents the subject, the desired page is usually right at the top, or very near it.

The site architecture and navigation are problably pretty fixed, but we can can work on the content, and note that the site is improving all the time.

There is a "having trouble" link at the bottom of nearly every page and when people find something wrong on a page, they can use that link to easily report it. I may pick up on some of the discussion that will take place on these forums, but I don't read every word of every post. These forums are going to be a great place to share ideas and to allow the ideas of others to help shape our own thoughts, but when all is said and done, your conclusions should be directly communicated to ARRL. I am wide open to ideas on how the Technology pages can be better organized, as long as those ideas can be made to fit within the existing site architecture and structure.

The having-trouble link is a good way to communicate on web content and function. For other communication, hams should make their views known to their ARRL Division Director .

See http://www.arrl.org/divisions

73, Ed Hare, W1RFI
ARRL Lab
Technology forum moderator
Jul 26th 2011, 21:46

KC7ZO

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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I always go looking for main topics that appeared on the main page a few days ago and find they have been replaced. We used to be able to scroll back through earlier posts, Now just limited to the latest headlines.

Danne Guthrie KC7ZO
Jul 26th 2011, 22:26

w1rfi

Super Moderator

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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At the bottom of the "Latest News" section the arrl.org home page is a link called "Read All." If you click it, you will have access to all of the news articles. There are not scroll arrows like the old site, but there is a list of pages 1-8, etc, that you can click on to see earlier articles. The ones on the site now go back to March 2008.

73, Ed Hare, W1RFI
ARRL Lab
Technical forums moderator
Jul 27th 2011, 12:49

N0NB

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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My gripe with the layout of the site is the lack of flow on screen particularly with wider screen monitors. I've noticed as the screen resolution gets wider, the blue borders on the screen edges get wider as well shoe-horning the content into a fixed width band. In some cases, contest results for one, I have found that increasing the font size in Firefox results in content disappearing into the righthand blue band.

This is poor practice, IMO, and violates Web authoring practices put forward by W3C. Unfortunately, this is the trend among commercial web sites and makes the Web a less friendly medium.
Jul 27th 2011, 13:18

W1RFIAdmin

Joined: Jul 25th 2011, 14:25
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Our Web Content Manager gets to see all of these posts, so I'll let the post stand without the need to comment. This is one time when a post here is certain to get to the right person within ARRL.

So I'll talk about other sites. I've also noticed that most commercial sites have so many things to load that it takes 10 seconds or so before the last ad and script and heaven knows what has finally loaded, even on broadband. When I am in a hotel, sharing a 1 Mb/s connection with dozens of other hotel guests, sites like that can be a bit frustrating.

Then, the site just has to keep moving and flashing and changing pictures just as I start to look at them.

The worst ones are sites that have to start playing music or talking to me the second I get to the page. I usually just hit the back button and try to remember not to go to that site again.

73,
Ed Hare, W1RFI
ARRL Lab
Technology forums moderator
Jul 27th 2011, 21:38

KC7ZO

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Thanks for the prompt replay Ed. That does help but I though 'read all' meant that, show all content. Not list all including the old content. Maybe that should be re-worded.
Jul 27th 2011, 22:20

w1rfi

Super Moderator

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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I do a lot of web searching and end up on a lot of web sites and if there's one thing I've learned, I have more than one thing left to learn. I usually click a lot of the buttons and links, just to see where it gets me.

Our web-content manager is seeing all the posts, scanning for bad words and other things to moderate, so she should pick up on the post. Again, that's probably the only staff person that will with certainty read every post here. For others, if you want a staffer, or ARRL official to know something, actually tell them! :-)

73, Ed

Jul 28th 2011, 19:36

ka9wgn

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Quote by N0NB
My gripe with the layout of the site is the lack of flow on screen particularly with wider screen monitors. I've noticed as the screen resolution gets wider, the blue borders on the screen edges get wider as well shoe-horning the content into a fixed width band. In some cases, contest results for one, I have found that increasing the font size in Firefox results in content disappearing into the righthand blue band.

This is poor practice, IMO, and violates Web authoring practices put forward by W3C. Unfortunately, this is the trend among commercial web sites and makes the Web a less friendly medium.

There is, unfortunately, a lot of software around to do web sites like this which has chosen to do the fixed size web layouts, because a free flow layout often does not play well with how many administrators want their site to appear. Many people still want control over the layout, but when doing it through some software like this, it's hard to do it and do it in free flow style at the same time. That doesn't mean it's right; it just means that's the "market" the web software developers have to deal with. They have to figure out how to satisfy the most people in their market, usually with the minimum of effort.

It's one thing to deal with a forum like this (where I do see wasted space to the left and right). It's another if the whole site is based on that software.

I don't know what is causing this. But while editing this reply (my first here), there is no cursor (should be a vertical bar) in the input text area. That makes it very hard to type since I can't see where I am. I suspect it is a stylesheet issue. But it looks like the software running this site is doing some kind of dynamic CSS, so addressing it could be very hard (may be a programming issue and not something the administrator can even fix).

Maybe we need an additional forum area just for issues with the web forum or maybe also the rest of the web site.
Jul 28th 2011, 22:21

N0NB

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Quote by ka9wgn
There is, unfortunately, a lot of software around to do web sites like this which has chosen to do the fixed size web layouts, because a free flow layout often does not play well with how many administrators want their site to appear. Many people still want control over the layout, but when doing it through some software like this, it's hard to do it and do it in free flow style at the same time. That doesn't mean it's right; it just means that's the "market" the web software developers have to deal with. They have to figure out how to satisfy the most people in their market, usually with the minimum of effort.


Yeah, I'm well aware that "designers" have taken over the Web, As I see it, the designers are given a mandate from PHB types to make it look like a magazine/newspaper, after all, we have the term "Web publishing" now. The result is a mess of rigid margins and impossibly small text (MS IE is the offender here due to it historically rendering sans in a much larger font so web authors size sans down and in every other browser it's far too small, hence why other browsers have options to increase font size).

I'm an OF on the Web so I recall the days when the worst offense was use of the tag on pages. Content was king and the occasional image seemed really cutting edge. No, I'm not advocating a return to that but it seems a sensible balance could be struck.

Because of the very nature of the web, browsers, and screen widths that vary from very narrow to wide screen enforcing page widths limits the audience who can view the site comfortably. Unlike a magazine, the available page width in terms of characters is completely unpredictable. Therefore it is the wise website owner who takes that into account and chooses the presentation with that in mind.

That said, I'm not blameless either as I have been updating a Wordpress blog on my personal site. I just checked and realize it also sets an absolute page width that shows borders on wider screens and causes horizontal scrolling on lower widths (a big no-no). I'll have to look at that to see how the theme can be customized properly.

Sigh...

Maybe we need an additional forum area just for issues with the web forum or maybe also the rest of the web site.


That is a very good suggestion.

One aspect I miss from the old site is having images within the text flow. The current layout of having the article text and then the picture gallery at the bottom of the page as separate media seems a bit of a step backward. It seems as though the images could be placed in the text flow as thumbnails and clicking one would bring up the javascript viewer with the ability to click to the next and previous images.

73, de Nate
http://www.n0nb.us
Jul 30th 2011, 11:45

KB0HAE

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Just a quick comment here. Using Firefox (its called Iceweasel in Debian GNU/Linux) is much better after installing the Addblock Plus and Noscript add-ons. At first it may seem a bit of a pain as you choose to allow or not allow scripts to run on your favorite pages. But its worth it not to see the obnoxious adds some sites have!
Aug 1st 2011, 17:11

N2IK

Joined: Apr 20th 2000, 00:00
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My big gripe with the new webpage continues to be the lack of space for content as opposed to frame, gutter and ads. when I open an article I expect to have space to read the article. As a member I pay to support the league and should be able to read the content relatively unpestered by frame and ads.
Aug 7th 2011, 02:56

ka9wgn

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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I'd like to see the arrl.org web site use real video (via WebM standards for managing it), instead of Flash (which is based on the web server loading software into the browser, an always unsafe idea which has been proven to be true many times by exploits in the Flash plugins over the years).

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