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Steve Moskowitz

Website Design...need your thoughts!!

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I am trying once again to get some better feedback from our members. We are continuing to work on a redesigned website. The purpose is to have a site that is marketable for our advertisers and for the club. Our site must grab the viewer's attention when they enter it and offer some excitement about our hobby and AACA. Yes, DF'ers, you still will have your forums and they will pretty much act like they do today. However, we need changes in our home page, navigation, etc. The following ideas, thought, plans are in the process today:

1. A site that navigates <span style="font-weight: bold">easily</span> from each page.

2. A home page that has a flash introduction (can be skipped, and an automatic skip after first time use) with "car music"

3. Home page that gives people the flavor of what we do in AACA from the Youth program, judging, shows, touring, etc.

4. Has a highly visible "button" for "urgent news"

5. graphically on the cutting edge, youthful, crisp and clean

This is your last chance for input and we really would appreciate it either privately or in this thread. Thanks

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Rather than all new posts going to the bottom, have each reply indent under the previous one. All new replies to the original post go right under the original with subsequet replies indented under each other. I am on another message board, it is done in that style and is much easier to follow people's replies as they stay in order.

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Steve, I would say right off the bat, that many of our own Regions have excellent home pages with music and graphics that would appeal to the public. Wayne

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First, I'll express my opinion about this. From my perspective, I doubt people are coming here to see a flashy, wizbang website that is loaded up with all the features that the latest technology and programming can deliver.

I suspect, and hope, they are coming here for great information about the club, the hobby, and help or info about old cars.

The AACA is not about websites, it's about old cars. Don't let the old cars get lost in the shuffle.

That said, here are some of my opinions.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> <span style="font-weight: bold">A site that navigates easily from each page.</span> </div></div> This is critical, it may be the MOST IMPORTANT part of the redesign. Essentially everything hangs on this aspect.

It doesn't matter how great the information on the site is if people can't quickly and easily find their way around.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> <span style="font-weight: bold"> A home page that has a flash introduction (can be skipped, and an automatic skip after first time use) with "car music"</span></div></div> I hope, for the sake of the AACA, that this idea will be dropped completely. Especially the flash part. If it is not dropped, at least make it OPTIONAL for the visitor. Optional doesn't mean the visitor can wait for the "skip" button to work. It means something more like.....

"Click here to see a great flash presentation" or

"Click here to hear some cool music"

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> <span style="font-weight: bold">..graphically on the cutting edge, youthful, crisp and clean </span></div></div> Graphics are great, when used properly. Overdone they can so dratically increase page load times that they essentially kill any usefulness a site might otherwise have.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><span style="font-weight: bold"> Has a highly visible "button" for "urgent news" </span></div></div> This is a great idea, I hope it is implmented well.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Also...</span>

Just as the site should to meet the needs of the existing membership, it should also be seen as a marketing tool aimed at potential members.

I'll leave it at that for now.

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Steve,

Make sure the web site is compatible with Firefox and Netscape. The present one is. However, with Firefox becoming more popular, we do not want the incompatibility problem to arise.

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Content is most important, lots of flash will not keep people coming back.

Start adding historical/restoration information. Overtime it will make the website a major resource to the hobby and will bring in new people.

Make sure every page has a unique and identifiable name. This is important for bookmarking and for search engines. Also add the proper search terms in the web page to get listed in searches. As content builds most new people will come in through search engines to some inner page. Make sure there is links on every page to get back to the Home page so if they come in through a search hit they can see what else we have.

Never put sound on a web site as a default startup. To many people sneak a little surfing in at work or like me, use a laptop in the living room while watching TV with my wife, the music is a distraction.

Only use frames where it helps navigation. Forcing the same information on every page through frames just wastes screen space.

Pages need to load fast or give a warning on the size if it isn't possible. I would bet many/most of the membership are still on dialup. To load fast you have to have properly created graphics, properly sized images and not a lot of java or flash things going on.

Running properly on all browsers and operating systems is a must. It isn't that hard. Just be careful if you use MS software not to use features that only run on Windows platform and stay away from the bleading edge features that are not supported in all browsers yet.

That's a start.

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Well, To be honest this is not the website a spend most of my time on. There is a less "fancy" website that gets at least four pages of threads per day. Music and colorfull graphics will not generate knowledge or the sharing of it. Maybe there are too many special club sections, and the AACA general info section gets viewed on the first visit and the viewer is off to the Buick or Oldsmobile Forums forever.

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Good point Bob. I've noticed in the past that the Buick/Olds/Classic sites are in their own little world. Nothing wrong with that, mine you, just interesting. Wayne

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I <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="font-weight: bold">HATE</span></span> cheesy web-page muzzak. I always wind up clicking on a site with some cell-phone sounding version of a Buddy Holly song just when the TV I have on or the cd I'm <span style="font-style: italic">actually</span> listening too gets to a good part. Please make it an offered link and not automatic. (p.s.--I'd like to reccommend Jan & Dean's <span style="font-style: italic">Antique '32 Studebaker Dictator Coupe</span> as an appropriate choice! --but only if we can use use the original recording.)

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> 3. Home page that gives people the flavor of what we do in AACA from the Youth program, judging, shows, touring, etc. </div></div>

A link on the title page to photo pages of varying events, especially if combined with a random "Photo of the Day" feature, would do this nicely. Being able to click on "The Founder's Tour" or "The National Fall Meet" and see a series of representative photos (without annotation) I think would work well. (Nearly all hot rod organizations have a feature just like this on their web pages!)

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Steve.....For my 2 cents worth. I would like to see any re-engineering of the site to look to improve navigability, reach all audiences ( young, old, curious, etc.) and to include a venue for paying commercial advertizers providing services and parts to the collector car market.

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Just my thoughts-- leave out the flashy stuff! If I want flashy graphics and canned music, I'll go to my local radio station website or to mtv.com or some crap like that. I come to the AACA website because I want to learn more about old cars, and see what people have to say about them! I presently do not own an antique car, but I hope to one day. By reading this website, and following the links to the various collector groups, and reading the forums, it has been extremely helpful for me to learn. The website as-is is fine; some of the improvements you mentioned would be nice, but please don't turn this website in to some modern, flashy/ techno-crammed monster. Me and my future as-yet-unnamed and not-yet-located 1930's Buick thank you! Have a great New Years weekend/ JF in Minnesota

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Steve,

Make sure the web site is compatible with Firefox and Netscape. The present one is. However, with Firefox becoming more popular, we do not want the incompatibility problem to arise. </div></div>

Hey , And Mac OS X Safari also!! I'm using also that one!! grin.gif

I'm studying as an engineet of internet technology at Turku Polytechnic..

I know, that there must be lots of stuff on AACA web pages. SITE MAP would be a good thing to ad, if there isnät one yet. You know, text based, withouth any graphics Just links to stuff on AACA pages, where you can find any sub categories etc etc.

I have a good example about FLASH -website. The starting page was made with flash, there you could choose the language you could use.

The web pages were aimed to people at range 40-70 years. Well. If you didn't have a FLASH player installed you couldn't get any info from those pages. So that was it, the most of the people couldn't open the pages.

Have you guys seen the PC game Driver 3's site?

http://www.atari.com/driv3r/

Well, that site is a NIGHTMARE for example. Check that out.

You have to also think does your members use lot's of 54KB modems or how popular ADSL/Cable is in the states(I don't know that one..) Well, I think you must have pro-web page-creator-guy/girl doing it so I believe he(she knows these things.

Hey, one thing that would be great to see is MEMBER CAR REVIEWS!!! It's ok that you could ad some photos on AACA website, but there's so much pics without any description at all.

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Thanks for all the input guys, keep it coming. It will help. We certainly do not want to cram a flash intro and music down our regular viewers throat! It will not happen. However, we do have a pretty cool "slide show" of AACA that would have the background of a great car song for <span style="font-weight: bold">first time</span> viewers. Our goal is to drive more people to our site via search engines and expose them to all we do in AACA. We will be very careful in our consideration of this feature. We want a great looking site, that is simple and easy to use. Tall order.

If anyone has a site that they particularly like, please let us know!

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Please remember that for people with dial-up connections, music REALLY slows the down load process. While not a problem for those with high speed (not available in all areas yet), the amount of time for a page to download with music on dial-up is forever & people with dial up will get disgusted & not bother viewing. IF you put any music on, please keep it extremely short. I have noticed that on Judy Edwards website for the Brass Nickel Region, that she has an area to click on to play music. This may be a better option if you go that route and you may want to ask her about any feedback she has received on her site.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> we do have a pretty cool "slide show" of AACA that would have the background of a great car song for first time viewers. </div></div>

First time viewers are <span style="font-weight: bold">the last people</span> you should <span style="font-weight: bold">force</span> this type of thing on. Especially if they happen to be using a dial-up connection.

If you insist on this type of thing, offer a prominent "See Our Slide Show" button, and <span style="font-weight: bold">let the viewer choose</span> whether or not they want to see it.

You don't get multiple chances to bring in viewers on the internet Steve. You usually get just one shot at it. And that chance lasts about 10 seconds. After that most surfers will be hitting the back button and looking for another website.

Flash and music will seriously dampen those chances.

Music is especially bad. Many people visit during working hours, the last thing they need is for music to start blaring out of the speakers as the boss walks by.

Again, make this fancy stuff an <span style="font-weight: bold">"Opt-in"</span> choice.... as opposed to an "Opt-out" choice.

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Ken, I'm not posting this particularily to you, but the only way you hear music is with the "sound" turned up^. I keep mine down. I'm hearing about driving people away with this music/background setup, but seriously, most newcomers finding us for the first might actually be younger people that grew up on this type of thing. I agree that there should probably be a "click here" to see the slide show, though.

As far as the site itself goes, there is a lot of pages here that people can't find and won't spend the time to find, that need to be better "brought to the front" with an index or table of contents. Wayne

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Wayne;

You can direct comments straight at me, I'm ok with that.. smile.gif I'm pretty opinionated on this stuff, and most stuff, and I'm real ok with folks disagreeing with me. smile.gif Up to a point I'll still say say what's on my mid smile.gif

Anyhow.........

Yes, a lot of the info on the current site is hard to find.

That alone doesn't warrant spending a ton of money on a new site.

How to get around a site and find the info can be updated and made clearer just by reworking the link structure. You might have to add some intermiedate pages to maximize the benefit of that restructuring but that's about it.

As far as the music or flash thing goes....

how many posts have we seen saying something like...

"Boy a cool flash entry page would be good!"

How many have we seen saying something....

"Where can I get a part for my old car?"

Or

"What kind of car is this"

or

"How many 1941 (pick a car) were made?"

Well, you get the point. My position is fairly clear.

The AACA is about old cars and the people who love them, it's not about the latest whiz bang internet technology.

I appreciate that the management wants to improve the site. I wish them well, but I have serious concerns about the path they seem to be taking.

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Lots of good comments. One thing to remember in web design is "just because you can" does not mean you should. Music and Flash animations fall into that category with me.

If I hit a site with music one of two thing happen about as fast as I can respond: 1) I turn off my speakers or 2) I exit the site.

I have seen some sites where Flash animations made the site work and were nice. However those sites were in the rare minority: Generally Flash animations are annoyances.

One point not covered by other responses: For your item 4 (Has a highly visible "button" for "urgent news"), consider the use of a RSS "news feed". This is an efficient and non-annoying way to get news out to a large number of people who are interested in the AACA (as evidenced by they fact that they would have pointed their news readers at the feed). The region I am belong to in the Plymouth Owners Club has this and I get notified when new events are posted or are changed. I don't even have to go to the web site to find out what is happening, that information is delivered to me.

Finally, on browser compatibility, other responses mention Firefox, Netscape and Safari. Testing for large numbers of browsers on various operating systems is a pain. It is much easier to verify that your pages are compatible with all standards compliant browsers by having the pages checked by the tools at http://www.w3c.org/ specifically the tools located at http://validator.w3.org/ and http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ (Hint: The current AACA web site fails to validate.)

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

Finally, on browser compatibility, other responses mention Firefox, Netscape and Safari. Testing for large numbers of browsers on various operating systems is a pain. It is much easier to verify that your pages are compatible with all standards compliant browsers by having the pages checked by the tools at http://www.w3c.org/ specifically the tools located at http://validator.w3.org/ and http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ (Hint: The current AACA web site fails to validate.) </div></div>

That's a good point. But how does that w3c etc handle when there's a lot's of PHP -code?

Like for example this discussionboard? I think these tools will work on very simple pages, but when thereäs LOT's of stuff, there's always something, or then these tools are not so "pro" ??

Let me know, I'm all ears!

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PHP is a "server side" programming language. What it generates to send to your browser is HTML (or XTML or XML). Sloppily written PHP code may generate sloppy HTML. But, in any case the stuff your browser sees is HTML.

Case in point, the Plymouth region's site I discussed earlier runs PHP accessing a mySql database but dishes out W3C compliant HTML.

The "back end" implementation technology should not matter. That is the whole point of standards and standards compliance: To make things work together.

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Ok I'll state my point then prove my point....

Hey the website is just fine.

Hey I can prove that right here and now. Spent new years eve and part of the new year working on the puter. I'm just worn down by so much work this week that put some hotdogs on the fire, grabbed my one flavored beer for the evening, and began to visit my half dozen or so favorite websites. The AACA website was stop number two so you're not doing too bad here...!

As to advertising, do what ever you can to make some green in this department, the advertisers will take you seriously when you tell them who your readership consists of.

Well my hot dogs and brown sugar are done, my comments are done... that wasn't too hard now was it smile.gif

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Dear Steve,How about some COLOR....I come here everyday but it needs some pizazz...NO music,NO flash intro,TOO much black,white,grey,it reminds me of Buffalo for 6 months of the year.I read the paper everyday and a little color really wakes up certain sections.diz laugh.gif

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">ply33, You're hired! grin.gif I'm so glad that there are some people in the world that understand the workings of a web site. smile.gif Wayne </div></div>

I work as a "software architect" (fancy term for senior programmer) at a "start up" in Silicon Valley. This means that I work entirely too many hours in a week. I am barely keeping my head above water as is and do not need additional tasks to keep me busy.

And, in any case, a programmer is not what is needed. A web designer is needed which is a different set of skills. A professional web designer may (and probably does) have a programming team working with them to handle the server side stuff. But you should not trust "us programmers" to design a good user interface.

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