Basic thoughts on redesign

Mat Colton mat.colton at
Wed Nov 13 04:24:51 UTC 2002

Hi all!
Since I joined this list about a month ago I've been watching the discussion 
about the redesign of It has been a wild discussion but somehow 
nothing really get's settled. :P
It seems to me that it's a bad idea to have ppl do layouts/designs without 
knowing what kind of content is supposed to be on the page. Sebastian, Jason, 
Neil and all the others have spent a lot of their time trying to get up nice 
drafts to fit all needs. But what are the needs? So here's my idea on the 
basics of

Disclaimer: The following is all IMHO. I am a nobody. But a great one. :P

*Requirements *
The site should be 1)very easy to use, 2)standards compliant,3)accessible and 
4)look great in modern browsers.
1. With easy to use I mean a clear layout and a intuative navigation. More 
about my thoughts on navigation later on.
2. XHTML/CSS, nothing more, nothing less. JS is fine for me as long as it 
isn't required.
3. Make the site template as accessible as possible. For one thing we should 
check what really makes sense, what's really required to get around 
fast. More about my thoughts on naviation and the general header later on.
4. Let it shine on modern day browsers! But let any browser get the content. 
There are ways to let NS4/IE4 get some CSS, but not all, so a basic layout 
should work well.

*My thoughts on navigation*
Most of the drafts show a variaty of links, to me it seems in the 
purpose of getting you everywhere with one click. In the first moment this 
seems to be a nice idea. But actually, due to the amount of links on the page 
it does take a while until you find what you're looking for. And it doesn't 
take you everywhere in a click. That can't be done due to the size of the KDE 
project and the different visitors wishes. 
So now I allready hear you yelling "Do you really want all the links of the 
page?" at me. 
As I wrote earlier, due to the amount of links on the page it does take a 
while until you find what you're looking for (if it's on the page) and in 
many cases the link won't get you there in one click anyway. So only offer a 
couple of simple links that lead to pages with an extensive overview 
including short descriptions to each entry. A lot of large companies use this 
kind of navigation, it's tested and easy to use. This way we solve a lot of 
other problems as well. More on that later on. So my first idea:
The links in the examples are mostly grouped. IMO it would be a good idea to  
get real good labels for the groups and make a global navigation out of it. 
I'll take modified-4 from Sebastion as an example . He has the following groups in 
Inform, Download, Develop, Communicate, Explore and Related Links.
IMO "Communicate" can go into "Inform" and "Explore" can go into "Related 
Links". I like the rest of the labels and categories. 
So, we need the banner, it shows us which site we're on. :) Then the 
navigation, so far consisting of:
Inform  |  Download  |  Develop  |  Related  Links
Is there anything missing in the navigation bar? Yes, two things: "Sitemap", 
and "Website Settings". "Website Settings" should go into the navigation, but 
since it is something different than the basic KDE links, it must be somewhat  
separated from the basic KDE links. 
Up to now I haven't said much about the design. I won't do that in this post. 
:)  Until now I've only said that the header must include the banner and the 
navigation I described above. 
On we go...

*My thoughts on the general header*
I'll stick to Sebastians last draft. It has the following content:
- Path to current page
- Time/Date
- Language selection
- Color sheme selection	
- Mirrors link
Since we have a link to "Website Settings" in the headers we don't need the 
color sheme selector (I am assuming the user can set the color sheme in 
"Website Settings"). 
Language selection should stay in the header, but with "Choose your Language" 
as the default option instead of " International" to save space. More 
on that later. The path to the current content should be at the beginning of 
the content, not of the page IMO. 
I can't really see the sense of the Mirrors link, isn't that the same as  
"Choose your Language"? 
I see no reason for diplaying the time. 
So now we're done with the header? No! Something is missing: Search. 
Sebastions search field functionality is quite nice IMO. It should go into 
the header as well. 
The header now has the following content:
- Site banner
- Navigation including "Website Settings"
- Language/Mirror selection
- Search
That isn't all too much, what do you think? I think that's great:
- It is very likely that it will fit on any screen from 800x600 without 
overlapping problems with large fonts
- It leaves enough air for the design to live, not so crowded, easy to 
- We have only a few global links on every page, so we can actually use 
accesskeys for global navigation. If we choose them wisely the other KDE 
related sites using the new design will be able to use the same accesskeys 
and navigation labels, promoting the "KDE Experience" in every aspect.
- it will not have a complicated structure (which does not exclude fancy 
design!!!) so it is most likely to be usable a wide field of browsers without 
having to make a big fuss.

*My thoughts on the content*
The main content area below the header should include the path to the current 
document, the content and the local navigation. On the front page we 
can use the local navigation area for something else, I favour 

*My thoughts on the footer*
The footer should contain legal information only. 

So much for my thoughts on the content on These are rather basic 
thoughts, that's why we should settle them first. Otherwise the draft 
designers are more or less wasting their precious time. 

That takes us back to the time plan. I agree with Sebastian that there is no 
use in a pressed time shedule. KDE 4 isn't in sight, we're in the mid of the 
3 series and can't make it for KDE 3.1. So why hurry? After all, it's 
supposed to work and be enjoyed for the next couple of years.

I was really tired as I started writing this and by now I'm half asleep, so 
I'll end your reading torture and thank you for paying attention.

My last propadanda paragraph goes to stress my opinion on the global 
navigation. I really think we're best off keeping it as easy as possible. By 
keeping the extensive content overviews on separate pages they're much easier 
to maintain and use. Please give it a thought.

Cheers to all!
Very much looking forward to your comments,

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