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11. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 7y

Thanks guys, keep the feedback coming! Will post revisions with alternate versions as solutions come to mind :)

12. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 7y

The five icons are a bit big/tall, taking up a bit too much space. What's the pagefold you guys set, 600px?

13. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 7y

I agree with Bex about the "sleekness' of the new page design. It is less cluttered in appearance than the present one.

I also agree with both Bex and Hien about the new logo - he's not very interesting. Road sign style figures seem to be trendy so I can see the appeal. He just looks like he should be surrounded by yellow with "Beware of Backpackers" written underneath. I also don't care for the font I'm sure both things would grow on me after awhile.

Last, I agree again with Hien about the top icons seeming a bit too large and taking up space but I like the way they are laid out.

I definitely like the map and the rest of the design.

14. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 7y

Some initial thoughts:

I like the new guy for the possibilities he offers; I'm guessing you're planning on letting him return throughout the site as an activity indicator? You could even go the dopplr way with him, and give everyone a personally colored guy as a very cheap and lightweight 'avatar' (subtly changing over time as your personal activity on the site changes). Still, for all the good I see in him, he's certainly a whole lot less personable than the current logo. I don't think you should ditch that guy altogether. (Remember that people have him on luggage tags, PDFs of their blogs and so on.) Maybe you could keep a super-sized version of him (complete with yin-yang) at 20% opacity in the background or something? (Vaguely similar to how the Mozilla head will show up on the new mozilla.org, if less bold.)

What I strangely enough find myself missing most in the new design is having the main content hemmed in with the dark blue background. The new way is awfully white - even though of course that's great for being able to expand content of pages in width to 100% where it makes sense to.

I don't like the green. Or maybe the yellow. Or perhaps the lighter blue in the header? Either way, the top section of the screenshot looks unappealing. Too... sterile.

Also, the images used for the "[Action] It" sections need homogenization; now it's just a mish-mash of styles, sometimes reflective, sometimes not, sometimes looking at the content straight on, sometimes from a side, sometimes ... etc.

If the guide is going to get a submenu flyover thing, you could probably give the same to the accommodation section. And hell, also to the forums... But I don't think you should actually do any of that; hovering menus still suck. Instead, how about making those links act more like tabs when you're in that section, and putting a second bar with the subsections below it, which will be physically tied to the selected "tab"? (*frowns* Hrm, but that probably won't work due to constrained width. Bleh. So then I'd still ponder ditching the submenu for the guide, too. You can put "new article", "my watchlist" and such in some static place in the header of each guide article for logged in users, and everything else people can just go back to the main page of the guide for.)

Are you ditching the entire concept of customizable front-page layouts? Or is this mockup only for non-logged in users? (Though the top section should of course always remain, given how many members have no idea that we have blogs and photo upload and such.) I assume message center links and such would replace the "welcome stranger" text?

Will there be any content below "Where are you headed?" when first arriving on the page? A random location from the top x most popular, or...?

What percentage of members have uploaded a photo of themselves and specified a city? I'm thinking only showing me photos in the "Members" section (no membername or anything) won't scale to all that many cities. (Also, ideally you're going to want to start that members list with people who've signed up as travel helper and have been recently active, since those are the people who'd actually be relevant to the searcher, rather than the ones which have uploaded a photo. (Unless of course we're going to turn this site into a dating site or myspace clone after all?)) ;)

[ Edit: Edited on 01-May-2009, at 05:37 by Sander ]

15. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 7y

All excellent feedback guys. I see the logo is going to get some resistance if it is to change this drastically. And I can't say I'm surprised (although my initial offline feedback was only positive which gave me hope ;))

Let me try to explain the problems we're trying to overcome.

1. The current logo does not scale. It works well at the size it's at and doesn't do too badly at larger sizes, but it absolutely falls apart at small sizes - we regularly scramble to find ways to work around that. For instance, the favicon (that icon that shows in your address bar) has been made to just say TP. With a better logo, it could be the logo.
2. The current logo implies that we're only for backpackers. Although it's true that independent travellers are our focus, I think restricting ourselves to the backpacker market is narrowing. And truthful or not, I'm pretty sure a lot of people form a judgement of our community based on their first glimpse of that logo. And I *know* plenty of our members would not consider themselves backpackers - our surveys reveal enough to know that.
3. One of our main goals with a redesign is to create more width on the page. Hence the navigational move to the top. But we don't really like pushing our content too far down the page. So, to try and fit our current logo in to that area would require a very large navigation area. As already explained, the logo does not shrink down nicely.

One further plus I find with the "stick figure" approach is that it is genderless. And that's another thing I'm quite keen on. And this particular one still reminds me of the current guy.

We may very well still get this logo designed a bit more professionally (it's a stock icon, so not exactly unique). And I really am keen to create an effect where the guy actually starts walking when you hover over it. It would be totally pointless, but it sure would make hovering over it fun

I'm not sure if any of that logic will change your opinions, but there it is. The BIG downside to all of this is that we are of course quite fond of the logo that we've had in place for 7 years (albeit in different forms). Another possibility may be to just get him restyled a bit to hopefully fix some of the issues. That's far from out of the question.

Now, in answering the other questions.

Quoting joffre

I like the "Map it" - "Discuss it" - "Book it" section, but feel it needs to be tweaked

Quoting Sander

Also, the images used for the "[Action] It" sections need homogenization

Quoting Isadora

I agree again with Hien about the top icons seeming a bit too large

You know what, after a few hours of being apart from the design, I agree. And Janelle also told me it needed a lot of work - I do respect her opinion a lot :) So more or less everyone agrees that needs work. It was also kind of the area we got stuck on to be honest!

I think 5 is too much there actually. 3 is the magic number and we probably need to pare it back. Since "discuss it" and "picture it" can both be lumped into "share it" pretty easily, I'm thinking that the logical 3 would be "Map" "Share" and "Book". The graphics surrounding them do need to be more uniform. I'm not sure that they are too large, but maybe the fact that there are too many make it feel cluttered and therefore too dominating.

And I'm also reconsidering the text in that area. One important thing I want to address on the front page is the lack of a sense of community. This revamp helps solve that further down the page (by showing members, etc.) but doesn't do a huge amount to help that at the top. Some prominent choice words could do the trick. The other thing that is already in place there to do that is the "Activity" bar showing current things going on. That will hopefully also create a sense of stuff happening an immediate insight into how other people are using the site.

Quoting Sander

Are you ditching the entire concept of customizable front-page layouts? Or is this mockup only for non-logged in users?

No, we're not. This is only for non-logged in members. What we will probably do though is cull and simplify the options available for customization to remove some duplication and make the options a bit clearer. But that still needs to be thought through in more detail. I know there are quite a few people who use the custom setups and would have a hard time parting from the front page they are used to.

Quoting Sander

If the guide is going to get a submenu flyover thing, you could probably give the same to the accommodation section. And hell, also to the forums... But I don't think you should actually do any of that; hovering menus still suck.[quote]

I actually think they're becoming rather accepted. They're on such major sites now (Flickr, Facebook, Digg, etc..), that they really do feel like they have reached the point where they are not only acceptable, but what people actually expect.

[quote=Sander]Will there be any content below "Where are you headed?" when first arriving on the page? A random location from the top x most popular, or...?

Yes, our current thought is to have a daily featured location based on a calendar set in advance. Roughly focusing on places with special events on those days or similar things. We toyed with making it match the user's location, but think this might be overly presumptious and not necessarily always deliver enough content to be enticing.

Quoting Sander

What I strangely enough find myself missing most in the new design is having the main content hemmed in with the dark blue background

Forgot to mention this in my post - this is the other *major* change and the reason is indeed to be able to break out and use 100% width occasionally. I can definitely see how this would be missed though as it does set the character of the page.

Quoting Sander

I assume message center links and such would replace the "welcome stranger" text?

Yes, absolutely.

Quoting Hien

What's the pagefold you guys set, 600px?

To be honest, I don't usually specifically bother checking exact pixels to the fold :) I have a pretty rough idea in my head how much is acceptable and figured the top part is well within it (looking exactly, it's 500px to the bottom of the big search bar, which to me is the essential above the fold content. Having some extra stuff coming through above the fold is always good, because it encourages the user to scroll to see what it is.

I'm going to upload a slightly revised version in a sec. I'll keep both up though, so we can compare the changes.

16. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 7y

Ok, rev 2 is here

Changes:

  • Drastically different at top; ditched "book it, share it" etc.. (creates some other issues maybe, but we'll need to find another solution for that). Added community driven text (can do with editing, let me know if you think of anything better). Removed green bar background (but kept activity just above search box). Currently no "login" or "signup" link there either, which will need to come back. Too late here now, and I'm off to bed in a sec.
  • Alternate logo - still the stick figure, but with a circle that is more reminiscent of the current logo.

That illustration I used is taken straight from our tour page - we had an illustrator create that for us. Not sure if it is perfect for the front page, but it sure fills up a hole nicely And I really do like its feel.

17. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 7y

Quoting Peter

  • Alternate logo - still the stick figure, but with a circle that is more reminiscent of the current logo.

That illustration I used is taken straight from our tour page - we had an illustrator create that for us. Not sure if it is perfect for the front page, but it sure fills up a hole nicely And I really do like its feel.

Personally, the alternate logo is better just for the reason you stated, Peter. For us dyed-in-the-wool current logo lovers, the circle is comfortingly familiar. And, having him move just for fun's sake could take away some of the pain of losing the old logo.

I'm lovin' the illustration! Granted, it's not small either but does fill the space without looking like version one. That space on version one just felt uninviting - too much white and text size too large. (I really like the VW Microbus headin' down the highway. Reminds me of my misspent youth boppin' around Colorado in Microbus.)

Can't say I'm keen on the red heart though, either. Both Kris and I were looking at the page and discussing it. He felt it was a bit too saccharin and I tend to agree. It reminds me of those bumper stickers with "I (heart) my poodle" or "I (heart) my honor roll student". (It's a small thing but it's glaring at me.)

18. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3711 posts) 7y

I'd echo Isa's comments - the revised logo is much better but I'm also not too keen on the heart- it doesn't seem to fit in with the image of the site at all.

19. Posted by TLWH (Travel Guru 516 posts) 7y

Just checked my mail and saw this thread has been reactivated :)

Here's my feedback on the new look.

I like the layout, graphics etc from an all over perspective. Looks modern and neat. But ... with that comes a generic look that so many sites have these days. And part of that comes from the stickman

Will have to side with the folks giving the stickman a bit of a poke.

To me he looks nondescript. Nothing special if you know what I mean. Whereas the TP logo now, at least tells you where you are. Never been a fan of it, too boy scouty. But I would stick to that sort of "guy/gal" rather than a plain stick figure.

Hope this helps, look forward to seeing the whole deal.

Edit: BTW does the photo loader pop up box thing for inserting photos in a post come in under design?! Or is it a separate thing?

[ Edit: Edited on 01-May-2009, at 21:47 by TLWH ]

20. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 7y

Over-all looks good, a few thoughts on it though.

1) With the "Where are you headed" search, is there also a need to have the search box at the top of the home page? Potentially confusing to a newcomer, and it's unclear if there's a difference between the 2 search boxes.

2) I notice you have "Members in ..." (this case Melbourne). For privacy reasons, will there be an opt-out for people who don't want to appear like this on the main page? Same goes for the "Current activity" in rev 2. Or better still, an opt-in - this could be brought to current members attention in the monthly newsletter and/or online message so people could opt-in before the new design goes live.

3) Following this example of using Melbourne, I notice there are reviews for a couple of hostels that would come up. How are these chosen? Is it at random? I think it should be somehow indicated in smaller text, otherwise it could look like TP recommends the displayed hostels, and is a form of advertising - 200 properties listed in Melbourne, but only 2 recommended kind of thing!

4) Something I've mentioned before about localisation - with the Accommodation search option, the default currency should ideally be the currency used in that country. So searching for Melbourne, the default currency in the accommodation search should be AUD, and not USD.

5) I like the idea behind the logo change, but not so keen on the font used - this is just a personal thing though!

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