As mentioned in a previous thread, we've been playing with a new front page design that would be a considerable departure from our current customisable home pages.
It's now at a stage where I'm happy enough to let everyone have a look. A few things to bear in mind though.
1. This is the logged-out view only. Content would be slightly different when logged in linking you up with more familiar control panel type content. The basic design would be the same though.
2. It's buggy. I've only tested this in two browsers - Firefox and Chrome, so if things fall entirely apart in Internet Explorer, then that's not unexpected
Would really love anyone's feedback on this. Good or bad!
Here's the link: http://www.travellerspoint.com/index_new.cfm
I have FF 4 with a wide screen, and this page wastes so much space. I guess you have to design for multiple configurations, but there is so much white space on both sides! The content is quite interesting.
I hadn't looked at the front page for a long time, but on comparing the two I definitely prefer the new one; it's far neater and much more professional looking.
@Daawgon, I know, if you are on a very wide screen there is a bunch of whitespace (not more than the current design though I should clarify)... but like you say, we have to take other screen resolutions into consideration. This works for a clear majority of our current traffic, without us needing to resort to flexible layouts which can be quite challenging to work around for a site this size. I guess in a few years the site will be wider, but by then you will probably have an even wider screen too!
@bex, glad you like it!
What I like about it: A much bigger presence for visuals. Accommodation booking is right in the center, with a very strong photo (at least for the currently showing "Apartment in Friedrichshain, Berlin").
But overall, sorry, I'm not impressed.
The page as a whole seems to have lost all sense of cohesion, containing a mismash of styles and buttons. For example, buttons and links: Discounting the header and the footer, you have 1) undifferentiated links in the big photo slideshow (with grey background on hover), 2) big green "Join our community" with rounded corners and double border, 3) borderless grey "Login" and "Take our Tour" buttons (showing a different, gradient-less green on hover), 4) orange links under "Plan your journey", 5) different color green "Search" button under "Book your stay" with vague grey inset effect, 6) black arrowed "Check Availability" below that, 7) bold orange links under "Recently Featured Discussions", and 8) slightly less saturated orange link for username below that.
Headings (many sizes, inconsistent capitalization), lines and white-space in general seem to have similar inconsistencies. (Okay, I admit, I've been learning a lot from the visual designers on my current project; would never have noticed these things before. )
The space to the right of the photo slideshow looks very empty; I miss the "Whether planning a trip, on the road, or sharing travel experiences, this is where the journey begins." text and the silhouettes of travellers, which helped tie the blue header to the rest of the page.
Blocking google ads, the empty leaderboard_ad whitespace with double borders around it feels very weird.
The "In the press" block, though cool, really doesn't belong on the homepage. (I'm guessing the advertising blocks would look similar to that, though?)
The new homepage has much less of the feeling of a huge community with a wealth of available information and resources. 2 instead of 3 featured forum threads, 7 instead of 16 featured photos (admittedly much more present, but also running the risk of being ignored due to banner blindness / looking like a professionally created carousel rather than member-originated travel photography (maybe it was bad luck with that particular mix of featured photos, but only 2 or 3 of those 7 really give me the travel feeling)), only 1 instead of 3 recent reviews, the main forum page only gets a tiny link "Find answers in the travel forums" under "Plan your journey", the travel guide block has been demoted way to the bottom of the page, etc.
The "Map by Gelli", "Apartment in Friedrichshain, Berlin" and "Super styling blogs" overlays don't offer clickthrough options, but similar overlays in the main photo slideshow do.
The "red" photo of the photo slideshow made me expect that all photos would be color-selected; it was a disappointment when the other photos weren't, and the colors only came back in the overlay.
Thanks for the feedback Sander, much appreciated.
Some of these things were just not fixed yet because it's early on (links on the images for example)
I've made a few tweaks in response to your other comments.
1. I've ditched the rainbow colours for the slideshow. I did indeed originally think I'd want the colours to match the photos, but trying to keep that up on a weekly basis would be madness. I've changed it to be more consistent with the colouring of the buttons on the right.
2. Updated colours of buttons throughout to use the same green
3. Fixed capitalisation of headers to be consistent
I'll make an effort to limit the variations on colour in general!
Re: ad space, not sure what to suggest there. Don't block them? Actually, there's no ads showing in there for anyone at the moment. They are expected to be display ads, not Google ads.
Media quotes would only be shown in the non-logged in view. I agree there's no need once logged in, but think it can play an important part in building an image for potential new members.
I'll have a look through to see how we can add more of a community feel. There's a few things that come to mind we could fit in and increasing the number of featured threads / blogs is easily done of course.
In IE9, the big photos do not change and follow the sequence (I had to check in Opera to see if this was intended!). The first photo fades away to blank, and then just stays blank for a fair while until the original photo eventually appears again!
If you select "compatibility view" on IE9 the circles that indicate which photo is showing are squares - and the photo doesn't even try to change!
I think the block from "in the press" down (except for lower nav bar) is too much - as I was scrolling down I expected the section above to be the end of the page, but found there was more scrolling to do - which may get ignored as people don't like scrolling too much.
I also think the top part with the big photos could do with taking up less space, as it directs the eye away from what the site is about (which appears underneath that, possibly a scroll away underneath as well depending on screen resolution). All you notice is the big photos, which is nice - but doesn't indicate how many elements are within the site (i.e. it looks like the website could be just a collection of photos from different people).
@mojorob - At the moment, it's really not tested for IE, so bugs are to be expected there. First priority is to get the look right and then we'll work on making it work in IE
Thanks for the other comments - much appreciated!
Just two points which don't really come out at the moment in the design, but which are my understanding of how it was planned. The 'in the press' section would actually not always be 'in the press' Sometimes it would show a tip on a not often used part of Travellerspoint, or just another random snippet of information. It wouldn't rotate like the photos at the top, but rather be different on refreshes. We don't really have enough 'in the press' info to warrant that big of a block for it
On the top photos, it's actually featured content from different parts of the site, so sometimes a guide, some are blogs etc. Each with a photo from within the guide/blog etc. Perhaps we need to include some infromation when these rotate about what it represents in some way?
One idea we also had was to display 'current activity' somewhere above the fold (like in that bar right under the images). Of the variety "Sam I Am has just posted a photo" or "Isadora has just broken the forum" Hopefully that would go a long way into illustrating the site is a community with a lot of activity!
A lot of what has been posted are things we've also debated internally, so it's good to have that input, good or bad!
Uploaded a few more updates to this today.
1. I've reduced the size of the slideshow to allow the next section of content to show for more people without scrolling. That's been a pretty consistent criticism, so as much as I love having gigantic photos there, something had to happen.
2. Moved that press section right to the bottom of the page.
3. Put the latest 12 featured photos in the section where press mentions used to be.
4. Each image in the slideshow now has a badge on it saying "Featured Guide", "Featured Blog" or "Featured Photo" to help clarify what that's about
Other minor stuff which is probably too detailed, but suffice to say it's all been tidied a little, so a second look wouldn't hurt! And if you have anyone totally new to the site who might be interested in giving feedback, then it would be really awesome if you can get them to have a look