2.0 ReDesign

cwright's picture

A number of people have started complaining about the website, so I figured it'd be useful to start collecting ideas in one place to make redesigning this summer a bit easier.

Please jot down any thoughts and ideas (and definitely sketches) to make 2.0.

Current thoughts:

  • new logo stuff from yanomano
  • user-driven free-tagging for better grouping/dynamic threads
  • fewer places to put comments (so they're more consolidated)
  • splitting news and products

none of these are set in stone, just some working ideas to get the discussion started.

Some pseudo-goals:

  • some people want a sourceforge-like repository system
  • some people want flashy product pages, like most Mac software


  • is it ok to possibly lose [existing] comments for a while (or forever)? -- there's a lot of knowledge locked up in them, but they're barely organized.
  • are there any other goals we should consider when making the final, full design?
  • does anyone else feel like contributing to the design effort?

dwskau's picture

Comments are part of the reason I come here. I think a new organization method would be good. It could be that they should not be displayed on the same page as the patch posting but a link could open them. There could be a setting in user accounts to display comments by default or not.

Just format-wise nested posts can get very skinny. I suspect most of us have screens much wider than what the website is fixed at. It would be nice if the page took full advantage of screen real-estate.

I would be willing to help some with the design effort. My skills are mostly in the usability and aesthetic area as I just came out of an architectural education. I don't want to be responsible for too much content production but if anyone wants a "proofreader" I would be happy to help.

Being that this site is entirely about Quartz Composer, and the majority of people here have access to Safari on a Mac, would a quartz file in the logo or somewhere be acceptable? Normally I would be completely against something that is only displayed to some people and not others, but given the audience and subject here it might be appropriate. It would have to not suck CPU cycles and it would have to break down gracefully to an image or something so people using other browsers wouldn't miss content.

dwskau's picture
Site Features

One more thing. What does the point system for posting do? I could not find it explained anywhere. There may be something I was supposed to read and didn't. A page explaining some of the unique features the site has would be great.

cwright's picture

the point system isn't really for anything yet -- it helps us track the more active posters, and that's about it really.

we've kicked around some ideas with tying them to votes or credits or something, but there hasn't really been a good need for that (and people's votes count whether they post something or not).

[but yes, a description page would definitely be helpful]

[site width is now 80px wider - any noticeably gain? should I push it even farther?]

dwskau's picture
Fixed Width?

Is there a reason it is fixed width? The 80 px helped. This is just my opinion and I don't really know anything about web development, but would a percentage of the window width be best? Say 80%? Should see what other people think too. I am on a 17" PowerBook most of the time and I keep Safari full screen. A lot of people don't have that usage pattern.

cwright's picture

I think we've avoided variable width because the theme does weird stuff when made really thin. Any web developer worth his salt can work around this, but I'm not in that group (smokris probably is, but he's booked with other projects most of the time).

with a 17" PB, this page must waste close to half of your screen.. that should be criminal :(

franz's picture
points = t shirt ?

i was naively thinking that you would send me T-shirt after 200 points... ;(

as for the comments, please don't delete them forever. It's ok if they temporary disappear, but loosing them would be a terrible mistake (to my opinion) as they are valuable source of info.

cwright's picture

Send me your address, and we'll fire one your way. Please pick the size and color, and make sure to send some pictures of the shirt in action once you receive it. You have my address, so just e-mail me the details to keep you safe :)

As for the points -- good idea. You're the only non-kosada user who has passed 200. And the first non-kosada registered user ever. Impressive.

I'll do my best to not delete the comments forever. Thanks for the input.

mattgolsen's picture
The discussion system is a

The discussion system is a little frustrating for me. I end up missing posts with some really good information, and only sometimes catch them from comments made. So a threads or comments since I last logged in would be phenomenal.

A wiki would also be huge. I would love a beginners area, and maybe a definition section with more in depth explanations of some of the patches. Most of the information I have was from just picking apart compositions on, and from threads on here.

Speaking of, a repository would also be phenomenal. People come and go in communities, and I think this would give not only a more permanent foundation for learning, it would give us a bit more permanence and draw.

If you need any hosting, mirroring or back up, I've got oodles of space on Dreamhost I'm not doing anything with.

I'm not so sure if this particular idea would fit in with the site, but a QC news, maybe tutorial section would also be hot. That would probably fit more in wit hthe wiki stuff though. I find it very hard to find new things on QC, and only end up finding new things by trolling through delicious, or by looking at websites in signatures on the apple dev list.

cwright's picture
thanks matt

I end up missing lots of posts too -- on busy days when a flurry of discussion happens, small posts get lost in the clutter.

A wiki would be nice for part of the site, but definitely not a be-all-end-all. For tutorials/definitions/repository it would be super helpful though. I'll have to think about that. I don't want to completely duplicate, but maybe that's a direction we should start considering...

psonice's picture
Keeping old comments

I think loosing the old comments would be a huge loss. Temporary would be fine of course though.

Seeing as it's likely to be a huge job to get them to all fit into the new site structure, how about just archiving the current site but having it accessible (and searchable) from the new one? I suggest making it read-only though, or you might find people stick with what they know ;)

I have a suggestion for the points system too: let visitors post images (or embed .qtz files perhaps?) after they get x points. That would make the site much more usable, while keeping the spam out.

Count my vote for the wiki too - it could be really useful. Perhaps some collaboration with the one at (this could be a good thing in general perhaps?) as they have some good features, but a nearly-dead site.

Not sure what I can do to help with development here, but I'll think about it.

cwright's picture

What smokris and I discussed a bit was leaving the comments, but allowing users to "freetag" them (that is, associate words with the posts to help find them and their threads better) -- this would make searching a lot easier. We could then have some forum-type portions that would pull nodes that matched certain tags. something like that. not sure how realistic it is.

I love the point->image post idea. Not sure if qtz embedding is a good thing (since I've come across a bunch of non-malicious compositions that kill my browser because they're complex), but I'll consider it. maybe it'll require a higher point rating or something. Definitely a good use of the feature though :)

Thanks for the great ideas :) (both on this, and on everything else :)

cwright's picture
threads vs. comments

Right now, the comment system is rather like Slashdot -- typically just short quips, with indenting etc. True forum threads are more like Not sure exactly what sets them apart, except for comment hierarchy.

Perhaps we should have a distinction between comments (attached to releases or something) and threads (in the forums), where threads don't get indented, and there's some kind of automatic "quote this poster" thing to make replies coherent when necessary.

Is this overly complicating things?

dwskau's picture

Mac OS X Hints has a system where users rate a hint's usefulness. If a similar rating system were applied to comments, it could be used to help the more useful comments show higher on searches. If you didn't want it to become competitive, the rating does not have to be displayed. If competition didn't matter, it could factor into the point system somehow.

psonice's picture
I find sites with a big

I find sites with a big hierarchy easier to follow logically (because the reply always follows the comment), but hard to keep up with. New comments are always mixed into the page, and could appear anywhere, so if you're trying to follow the conversation it's much harder. I.e. if you read the page when the discussion is done, it's perfect, but trying to follow it 'as it happens' doesn't work too well.

Having the comments appear chronologically is much better during a discussion, but then you need quoting etc. and it's hard to follow just a certain thread of the conversation when you come back to it later.

I'm struggling to think of a compromise that wouldn't be worse than either unfortunately :/

Definitely mark 'unread posts' in some way if possible - maybe show the title in a different colour?

franz's picture
competition = not kewl

introducing competitivity into the comment system would be the total opposite of the knm spirit i suppose. please....... don't. For me the point system is more like a private joke (that eventually leads to some tshirts exchange...) and doesn't really reflect users commitment to knm website. On the other hand, i really like the custom-tagging idea... great one !

franz's picture
missing posts

i personnally don't miss posts anymore since i subscribed to the RSS feed. As for searching, since the whole knm site is in my (i subscribed on the early days, and i don't erase entries in the feed) i can simply use Spotlight to search for stuff. The only drawback is that the poster's name is not bundled into the RSS message. Adding this would also be a nice improvement. Thxx

cwright's picture

Once I separated the feed stuff from my inbox, I don't miss them anymore. But when it was in my inbox, I just touched them to mark them as read, because I'm obsessive-compulsive about not having unread messages in my inbox. When I'd forget to revisit them, I'd miss them until someone else replied...

I second the name in rss feed stuff (Apple Mail doesn't appear to export this info, even if it is there). Perhaps that's what signatures are for... ;)

cwright's picture

I'm all over the unread messages thing -- that'd help a lot. Chrono vs. Hierarchy doesn't really have a clear winner, and I don't think there's a good solution (people have been presenting mailing lists in both formats since the 1980's, perhaps earlier), and neither is obviously better. I think we'll have to have both, and apply them to different areas. Or maybe have a preference to display them as one or the other. No idea...

cwright's picture

competition has its merits, but I agree that here isn't really such a place (unless it's competing with Apple to have less lame patches ;).

I do like rating comments though -- there are times where I compose well-thought-out, informative posts, and times where I just fling something out there to let people know that I'm aware of what they said. separating those when searching would help a lot. I don't know that it should be related to the point system though (since it does have a historic inside-joke-fullness to it now, as you've said :). There are very talented people here who seldom, if ever, comment, and there are people just getting started who comment all the time -- thus points shouldn't be used as a qualification for anything important.

cwright's picture

Another thing that might improve usability would be a stronger separation between the various pieces -- forums, wiki (near-release), releases, technical information. Right now, they're all tossed together in a big, difficult-to-navigate mess. mradcliffe suggested something like "Discuss", "Download", "Develop", and "Doesn't Work" this morning -- it might be a little simple, but the idea could be helpful.

yanomano's picture

Managing success is super important... The buzz around QC is going very quickly now, I think.... The opened thread principle is very good, but it need a higher class forum level. What about a closed blog (with several levels : alpha/beta/release) but no comments. Then each news in the blog open a separated forum(or mailing list) thread for discussions (in a special category). But please gif smilies ...

cwright's picture
gif smilies

hmm... gif smilies were actually Next On The List ;) (just kidding -- I don't think they're ever going to be used here)

I've been thinking about having commentless release pages, with associated forum discussions (similar to I guess?) ... we'll see how the wiki experiment goes (not so hot right now....)

do you have any examples of "higher class forum levels" on existing sites, to pattern after?

yanomano's picture
Never seen langage !

Don't know if the "higher class forum levels" is the appropriate expression.... Sorry, you know that i'am learning english on dev sites...:) So sometimes I invent never seen langage... I wanted to say "add a supplementary level to arrange threads" ... But don't interpret it as "go and arrange your bedroom !"... ( Literal french traduction, don't know howyou say that in english...:)

yanomano's picture

I'am new to this... But it seems to be very well organized... Is it a drupal CMS ?

cwright's picture

ars is all home-grown -- it's been around since 2000 or so (when I was a little nerd:). it's a few different pieces, but they seem to tie together pretty well.

Specifically what I meant about that was how they have "Stories" on the front page, with a "Discuss" link at the end of the article. The Discuss link takes you to a forum where people talk about the article or whatever. There are threads on the forum without any article as well...

cwright's picture
mostly right

don't worry, it's mostly right :) (I try to be pretty versatile with language; I hope others would be the same if I was trying with theirs ;)

I was wondering if you had any sites that followed the pattern you mentioned, so I could see exactly what you meant (I think I know, but just to be sure). I don't use forums frequently, so I don't know what all they do in modern times.

yanomano's picture
Dense but clear !

Stories+discuss is a good way ! This site is very well designed in term of information hierarchy. Very dense but clear. Thanks for this link it seems very interesting for a very young jedi like me ...:)