Talk:Proposed Front Page

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Revision as of 20:41, 10 September 2008 by Richardash1981 (talk | contribs) (my thoughts.)
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Current Discussion

Gale 8 September 2008:

Audacity ® is a free, award-winning  open source program for recording and editing sound. It runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.

  • Richard 10 September 2008 : It's certainly a big step forward. At a small detail level, can we make the three top level headings link to the associated categories so that the category pages are a bit more visible? I find they are often better ways to find things than a manual structure over the top. Given it's four screens tall for my browser, would trimming the developer box down be a good idea? I'm wondering if one of the three layers could disappear - maybe loose GSoC and Release notes, put planning next to documents so we only have three headings? It's no where near comprehensive, but we can't be. I notice two links to the same page in the reference docs section, so I would like to put a better intro under the Hacker's Guide, and steer developers through there initially. Once people get going search and categories are the main tools I think.
  • James 14:50, 8 September 2008 (PDT): This one is still too much like a wall of text by the time we get to Tutorials - though I appreciate not having more choices than we had. This also highlights (perhaps) a need to have a single Tutorials & Tips page that combines them both. If we don't know what the difference is between them, the casual visitor won't either, and it's not fair to expect them to peruse two different lists to find what they are looking for. (tempting to direct them into a section of the FAQ instead and deal with the issue just once). What do you think?
    • Gale: I would not completely agree about the "wall of text" (and think eight items looks better than seven), though placement does seem to affect it - put the tutorials on top and the rest looks somewhat more like a text wall than it did. I'm increasingly tempted to do it this way at the moment. If people have looked at the FAQ elsewhere already, having it on top might lead people to think it's different and waste time going there. One other layout possibility for Tips/Tutorials may be to have three columns and have the link to "all" at the bottom in its own column.
    • I think linking to the FAQ needs careful handling - users get confused between our different Wikis and sites, and for many, asking on the Forum is really the least painful solution if they can't see an immediate link that helps them on the page they're on - even if what they're asking is a standalone FAQ already.
    • I don't think "didn't find what I was looking for" at the bottom will be found often enough down there, and I'm not at all sure about the efficacy of that or the very similar Troubleshooter. I think you're half acknowledging the competing pressure for the front page to be a list, but moving the problem elsewhere (and I'm "lost in the maze" in those two experimental pages as they are now). All I can say is that my gut feeling right now is to either (a) have a line that says "Did you try our [FAQs]? Lost? Still need help? Ask on our [Forum]" or (b) just stick the FAQs link after the "Tips and Tutorials" link, and add some words by the Forum link. Either slightly breaks our nice design but I think that's our problem, not the users'. Believe me, some newbies do not know what a Forum does.
      • James: Can you show me how that (option (b)) would look in the panel above?
      • James: Absolutely, there are competing pressures. Rather than one big list on the front page, what I'm trying for is that some front page links do take you into lists, but the links in those lists are all "on topic", so instead of feeling lost-in-a-maze you can see you are getting closer.
        • Gale: I've moved link to FAQ to be after the link to all Tips and Tutorials (better I think to spell out "Frequently Asked Questions"). The FAQ link could also be its own bullet point. One advantage of this is that the FAQ is not really "documentation" - we don't call the FAQ documentation on our main site - and it raises the profile of the FAQ. Re: "links taking the user to lists", this suggests to me we should consider my idea of grouping the Tips and Tutorials and having links to those "group index" pages. People who wanted a direct link to the top six queries like LAME will have an extra click, but other queries for which we cannot give a direct link will have a more focussed list to look at rather than a large Tips and/or Tutorials page. Could we categorise the tips/tutorials like that? Don't know, but I think we should investigate.

          Additionally we could consider mirroring the FAQ on this Wiki and controlling any edits received like we discussed for Tutorials which are on both this and Manual Wiki. As well as getting user input into the FAQs, we don't confuse people by booting people off this Wiki so much. I'm assuming the FAQs on the main site will disappear with 1.4. Translation of the main site is already a mess, and we need a translation mechanism for Wiki anyway.

        • James: Gale said: "Could we categorise the tips/tutorials like that? Don't know, but I think we should investigate" Please do investigate. This is what we need.
        • Gale: OK I'll have a quick go, but let's suspend doing any more on things that categorisation may influence like your "Navigation" page until we get some feel if it's a viable idea.
        • James: The level of edits we get here, I don't see a problem hosting the FAQs here either, but instead of on the manual wiki not as well. Why do both? We'll soon spot sabotage, and unlike the manual we're not 'sort of keeping it all under wraps'. I don't think the FAQ actually ends up in the manual anyway - whereas at least some tutorials end up in Dominic's book. On the other hand, I don't see it as hugely confusing to send people back and forth between the two wikis. The two wikis are clearly closely linked. We don't need to move the FAQs to avoid confusion, only to make them more open to user edits.
        • Gale: The FAQs are currently exported in the 1.3 manual and are of course in the 1.2 manual. I see no reason they should not be - it must get a few more people to read them than otherwise. We are "sort of" keeping the FAQs in the Manual under wraps though, in so far as the FAQs on the main site explicitly avoid mentioning 1.3, and we need sometime to actually start adjusting the FAQs to take 1.3 into account. That would be true even if 1.4 had no GSoC features included. So should we still mirror on this Wiki? They could be clearly marked as FAQs for the Beta and for now, we could add "FAQs for [Stable] and [[Beta]] versions" under "About Audacity" on the Wiki Front Page. I think I would vote "yes". Not booting from one site to another is only a secondary benefit, but still is one IMO.
    • Gale: My guess is that twelve links in Tips and Tutorials would be needed to satisfy a high enough proportion of people to be useful; but given we want to try a new way of doing it, that's too many. Maybe there is some way to group the tips and tutorials so they form a small number of groups, like the FAQ groups, and link to the groups? ("Recording", "Working with Audacity Projects", "Exporting MP3 and other formats", "Editing, Effects and working with tracks"..)
    • Gale: I kind of agree asking user to click on individual pages for Tips and Tutorials isn't ideal, but combining even our own Tips and Tutorials on one page would not make an easy page to come to terms with unless radically categorised/arranged somehow. Also that would mean marginalising the off-site tutorials elsewhere, and I'm less keen to do that than you are. If those two objections can be overcome, I'm happy enough to have a combined page. Then we decide whether to keep the two Wiki categories, so the combined page is in both, or make Tips & Tutorials one category.
    • Generally, I think it would be good to hold off further development/throwing up new ideas or pages for the next few days and let what we have now gel a little.
  • Should we consider renaming pages which have very long names, e.g. Digitizing tapes and records?
    • Don't think it's that important, and against, it either means having a mess of redirects or making people search for the new page. What is of some issue is the links to sections in these pages in e-mails, where we have to give the full URL as it is. I think we should probably convert the header to HTML (or add a div), so we can give a short "id" link to the section of a page.

Past Discussion

James 12:02, 4 September 2008 (PDT) OK. I've taken on board your comments, Gale, thanks, and I think it's now a lot better than what I had to start with.

  • Four items is normally the maximum for one of the bulletted lists.
  • I would like to at some point revisit the main FAQs page so that people who visit there with a question which has a long answer in a tutorial still get to find it rapidly.
  • "Other audio software or services" could perhaps be a third item in the 'blue yonder' section?
  • To answer your question about what counts as 'important' based on hits.. I counted anything over 10,000 hits in spreadsheet page 2  in my 67.
    • Gale: Thanks, James for the improvements. I'd always thought two broad sections "Users" and "Developers" would improve things, but was never able to force all the links we had into them (and was reluctant to let them all go). I still think we're missing links to things like audio formats (OK there is a sort of route via Glossary but not obvious) and Digital audio basics and OS information.
      • James: If a user wants to know "What's an Ogg Vorbis?" I think they are better off Googling - and more likely to. Digital audio basics is currently a low quality page. It doesn't merit a link from the front page. Any other pages that have been dropped that ought to be on the front page?
        • Gale: One common theme among people having difficulty is that they do not search, on our pages or elsewhere. Look at the times we tell people "you could have searched and found that." Do you mean that Digital audio basics does not have enough articles, or you are concerned with the quality of the constituent articles? I'd now have to go back into history to see the dropped links, but there must be an easy way I think to find out that there is actually information on file formats and sample rates and "recommended" audio devices. Dropping the blurb that the Wiki has information about digital audio makes this problem worse. I don't want links to individual pages, but I don't think an Index link is enough (and we don't even have that in the body). If people assume we don't have this information, they won't look for it. Maybe a "Technical" column in "Audacity and Beyond" with two or three links?
        • James: The title Digital audio basics leads me to expect basic material about wavelength, frequency, sampling and midi vs wav. I've added a front page link to More about digital audio, and we can expand that page to have many more paragraphs.
        • Gale: Same problem I commented on in Talk:Digital Audio Recommended Articles - do we link to Wiki material when available? Seems the way we've written "Recommended Articles" now we're discounting our own Wiki articles in this category too strongly, and we ought to have a bullet point linking back to the category page. I don't think the user-contributed pages on Bit Depth and Sample Rates are that useful, but we do have them.
    • I think we're getting muddled by shoehorning "frequently visited links" into "Tutorials" when they are not all Tutorials. Should we combine the "Tutorials" and "Tips" category into "Tips and Tutorials"? Makes a large 50 item category, and I still think keep them separate. Generally, the tips are not getting their due weight I think - File Management Tips is very important but probably is not well named or should concentrate on "What is an Audacity Project".
      • James: This section is really answering the question "I'm trying to do XYZ with Audacity. How?" It's for the user who has an immediate problem/need and who isn't taking the time to read the entire manual. If some of these aren't tutorials or tips perhaps they should be recast in one or other format? Maybe the title should be "Help with..." and the end line should be "...more Tutorials and Tips"? To my mind, as I have said elsewhere, these are really articles to support an FAQ (link to articles for a FAQ). Perhaps we should split our FAQ so that one section on it is only about using Audacity - we have a lot of is-audacity-really-free type questions in our FAQ which aren't really the most frequently asked questions nowadays.
        • Gale: I'm fine with renaming to "Help with..." or (better) "Help and Troubleshooting" and the end line as "Other Tutorials and Tips". Something like Mixer Toolbar Issues isn't a "how to" but "why isn't it working" and has evolved so that its sections can be linked to when answering direct user questions. So it's correctly in the Troubleshooting category as it is now. I'm fine with the general concept of "Help with" Wiki articles being slanted as support material for FAQs. I can see two major needs now: a Windows section for Recording audio playing on the computer rather than having this dropped into different pages as now; (more vague) some kind of "Setting up Audacity" page. People often ask this as a "how to" when they find Audacity does not play or record out of the box. FAQs will change I think so that the main FAQ page will be a link to sections, not to individual questions, to encourage reading more FAQs in a section.
        • James How about a 'troubleshooting' section in the FAQ?
        • Gale: Richard suggested this too. My feeling though is that it cuts across sections too much, and most of the FAQs are about "trouble" anyway so the purpose is defeated. If people were not having trouble, almost no-one would look at the FAQs. I have not found the "Troubleshooting" concept all that helpful where I've come across it on web sites and combined with FAQs.
    • The "Tutorials" section wastes space. Whatever we do with it, why not have two columns? We could have a column for Tips and a column for Tutorials (easy to figure the four most needed in each). Or shoehorn disparate articles into it by calling it "Browse the Wiki" with a link to the "index of all pages" or "list of categories" at the end?
      • James: The extra space is very deliberate layout. Why not two columns with eight items in each? Or we could use the extra space to put the first paragraph of each page onto the front page so people get a better idea what is on each page? There are just too many pages and too much information competing for attention to put all of the 'good ones' on the front page. Our primary goal is navigation. Allow the visitor to find the information. What we're currently doing gives enough information to the first time visitor that the Tutorials section has many specific tips on using Audacity. The extra space allows us to (a) have long tutorial titles and (b) break the rule of at most four items per bulleted list (c) draws attention to this important category without using bright colours.
        • Gale: I'd stress again that Joe User's willingness to search and click around coherently in rushed/stressful situations is *much* less strong than you think, even with a page with few links like our main site. I still think the extra space is wasted and under-used (and looks poor IMO). You could keep the centred "Help and Troubleshooting" title but have two columns in that width with say 8-12 links, and maybe even save some vertical space. Using the title "Digitizing records and cassettes" would avoid wrap-around. A link to File Management Tips is critical. Centering of the header without any column titles would still draw attention (I understand what you are aiming at).
        • James Equally Joe User's willingness to read through 12 titles in one section may be less than you think. Heck, my willingness to read through 12 items in one section is not that great. The File Management Tips is a great page to direct people to from a forum or e-mail query. The problem is that it covers at least three different issues, and I certainly wouldn't know it from the title if I had one of the specific problems.
        • Gale: There has to be a balance. We don't have it right now, though the user comments I've had about finding Wiki content are more often positive than negative and are making me wary of committing the opposite sin. "You know lots of people have USB turntables, why not have a direct link instead of making me go all round the houses?" The correct solution I'd reckon to File Management Tips is probably to rename it to include "Project" somehow, not to remove it because the title is unspecific, nor to make a troubleshooting page on the Wiki linking to sections of it that is a pseudo-FAQ of its own competing with other Troubleshooting pages.

          Why not try your "Tutorials & Tips" Section with two columns of five bullet points each (no column title) just to see and then I can see too? If you're still heavily against, OK, but to me it looks very odd now (less so with "Developer News", because that looks less like it's tryihg to be a list). One idea I'm toying with is an item in the "Tutorials & Tips" such as "Can't find what you're looking for? Click here". I know we've argued about adsense in the Wiki search and whether the results page has ads, but the Wiki Search is not good, and I have a feeling we'd get more people searching with a link. It could go here, but then we have the possible Audacity2008 problem if Audacity is a keyword. Or maybe Buanzo knows a way to hack our own search results page?

        • James: Like so? Nope. Too crowded. Already six was pushing it IMNSHO. Remember that there are about 51 items that 'deserve' to be there!

Audacity ® is a free, award-winning  open source program for recording and editing sound. It runs on Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.

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Audacity User's Documentation

Reference Documentation

Tutorials & Tips

    • I'm wondering if this section should be above Documentation/Support/Resources/Participation? For those who do come from the FAQs/main site help or documentation pages, presenting a kind of summary of those two pages at the top may look a bit odd?
    • It's difficult to get the "Audacity and beyond" right without it looking like a miscellany. Yes "other audio software or services" could go there but IMHO a specific link to Other Specific Tasks is much more important than Built with Audacity (5 times as many hits).
      • James: Other Specific Tasks says too little about what is in it to be a good link title in itself. Besides - until you have the full list of all tutorials, you've no idea what the 'other tasks' might be. We can't have it on the front page unless we have all of the tutorials and tips on the front page. Better strategy is to guide people to the tutorials and tips page, where they might find a specific tutorial already.
        • Gale: The point is that Other Specific Tasks is not about Audacity directly, so users won't find relevant information about this in our Tips and Tutorials. Again, it's about making people aware of the breadth of content here as much as having specific links. "How to create drum tracks" is a pretty frequent question, and you can't do much in Audacity, so we should direct them to other software. The title can be fixed (it's currently "Software for specific tasks").
        • James: Does what I've done for now solve it?
          • Gale: Sure, fine for now. Thanks for that.
    • I didn't mean you had to entirely remove the section for "Audacity Documentation writers". A fair amount of that content did not yet exist (?) so it's not clear where it's headed, but I'm sure it might be worth a link somewhere, perhaps to its own category and possibly in the Developers section. I'm wondering about calling the main two sections of the front page "Audacity Users" and "Audacity Developers and Frequent Contributors"?
    • Not that important, but the flags will need to be on a coloured background - the ones with white don't look like flags. Normally they would go above everything (so against the light blue) but that makes it look too much as if they are actually a full site translation?
      • James: Also still to do is make the flags clickable. Unfortunately that means creating small versions of them as the resizing doesn't work with clickable images.
    • Re the Mixer Toolbar FAQ (as an example), I would agree we went too far in our efforts to avoid verbosity and many people either don't follow the Wiki link, or do, and panic. We should at least I think mention the specific Vista issue there. Perhaps I'll have a go at it. We'll have to accept there are more words. The FAQ about playing a track while recording a new one is quite long, but works well.
      • James: Different degrees of verbosity/concision are appropriate in different places. In a preference panel or navigation page words are at a premium. On a talk page... well we can chat and joke and so on... Users LOVE clear detailed instructions, provided they are not forced to read stuff that is irrelevant to them to find the stuff that is. So - if you're remodelling a page that discusses several issues (great), make sure that readers can skim down past stuff that isn't relevant to them.

Past Discussion


  • Interesting. Although what we have now is a bit cluttered I'm anxious that the high traffic tutorials like CD burning USB turntables, LAME should be findable on the page? Perhaps in a "Popular Tutorials" box?
    • James Yes, users need to be able to find those tutorials easily. I've been looking at that issue, and my current thinking is that these are frequently asked questions and are ones that one expects to find answers to in a FAQ. So my provisional thinking is that we should add the questions near the start of the FAQ (they are actually more frequently asked than 'what is Audacity') and for those the FAQ answers link to the tutorials. Then the FAQ becomes a first port of call for people with troubles?
    • There are 67 pages that based on popularity deserve to be mentioned on the front page, of which 51 are tutorials or tips. 67 is too many I think. Few people will scan them all. With the new layout a visitor with the Vista problem will (I hope) read the 16 titles in the user's documentation section and then click either on FAQs or Tutorials, leading them quickly to the right place. Maybe a box on the FAQ page with 'most popular questions' would help?
      • Gale: CD burning and LAME are already FAQs, and though I've pondered a USB turntable FAQ there are several different issues involved. That would make a complex FAQ which I think the verbosity police would object to. It would probably have to be *very* general, really just a link like the Mixer Toolbar FAQ. My feedback is that a significant % of users come to the Wiki without having seen the FAQs (maybe they chose one of the Wiki links on our SF documentation page instead of FAQ, or came to Wiki via the Forum). So at the moment I'm still figuring an explicit mention of say the six most popular issues on the Wiki front page is indispensable. What is your traffic level definition of "deserve to be mentioned"?
  • Don't think we can link to the Beta manual yet, though. Only a small minority of users are on Beta.
    • James Mmm. Maybe we make the change around the same time as releasing 1.4?
      • Gale: Or link to the 1.2 manual, or both manuals, but on the whole might be better to switch the page design much closer to 1.4. I don't want to switch as soon as a couple of weeks. I'm not 100% happy with the current page clutter, but what it evolved from (a list of many links) seems more "usual" on Wikis? Anyway, a few points (not exhaustive) on your experiment from my perspective:
      • Maybe we could go further with the trimming of Multinational. It's too large for the top of the page. Clickable images only (no text) which we can now do?
      • Maybe reinstate Index/Wiki Contents links in the Sidebar
      • I've not looked in detail at the links that have gone, but I can see things not specifically to do with Audacity are amongst them. These should IMO be reinstated if only as a single link to a page "Other audio software or services". Recommended sound devices would be an invaluable page for users if it could be maintained / added to.
      • "Core Documentation" too geeky a phrase
      • "Suggesting Features" is not really "Support" , probably "Get Involved", along with "How to help us"
      • Links to Tips have gone. I'm not completely comfortable with the Tips/Tutorials distinction which seems somewhat artificial/borderline to me, but it largely works. Needs thinking about. Still very unconvinced about splitting third-party tutorials away.
      • I expect that explanations of file formats (and the Saving/Export dilemma) should be better in the new manual, but to me are user-, not developer-oriented, so better in the user section. For example, consider the MP3 page when the troubleshooting content of Lame Installation is moved into it.
      • Fundamentally, the space given to "What's going on with Audacity" and especially "For Audacity Documentation Writers" seems out of all proportion to their importance. Partly a function of removing individual tips/tutorial links, but really gives the wrong impression. How many are going to understand the meaning of "Meta" as a category? I doubt we'll ever get lots of people writing major documentation for the Wiki - is it a function of traffic levels or fact of life? So this last section needs IMO pruning/widening its relevance, encouraging a larger amount of copy editing/link maintenance etc. So it needs e.g. a link to Audacity Wiki editing which of course sometime I need to finish overhauling.
  • Perhaps you can arrange Wiki access for ourselves with Dominic so easier to get at the CSS? I've been promised this for a long time but hasn't been done, and it's a trouble for Buanzo to keep bothering him. You can play with the CSS using Firebug if you don't already know that. Thanks.
    • James For me at the moment I have what I need. Wikimedia also supports user-css, which is used for user-specified 'skinning' and would provide another way to do this experiementally.
      • Gale: Will still need access eventually so can be tested properly with default skin.