[Tails-dev] Making our website cuter, friendlier and more engaging

intrigeri intrigeri at boum.org
Fri Apr 11 20:55:55 CEST 2014


Hi,

the somewhat heated debates we've had internally about the logo
contest have made me think quite a bit. It might even be that, as
a result, I dared changing my mind on some topics. Crazy.

I'm sorry if what follows is just stating the obvious for you. Still,
in the context of Tails, it might be that it helps make it happen, if
*I* make it clear that I'm in favor of a process that goes in
this direction.

Let me set up the stage: our new logo, our old website
======================================================

We still haven't been able to publicly announce the winner of our logo
contest, but let me leak a bit of information I'll need to make my
point: to me, our new logo feels lean, serious, with a pinch of
friendliness on top (a bit too much for my personal taste, but read
on). IMO, all this makes it a very good logo. But I strongly doubt
we'll hear "oooh, it's sooooo kawaii!" anytime soon about it.

Again, to me, our website feels lean and serious, but not sad.
It doesn't feel particularly friendly, and it is definitely not cute.
Note that I'm talking here about the global message that is conveyed
by e.g. our homepage, that is both about the content and the way
it's presented.

Why I'm a terrible judge when it comes to how things should look like
=====================================================================

I'm part of those who can easily argue that it's a feature to avoid
distracting visitors with calls to emotions that may tend to hide the
"useful" information. I'm one of those who can easily visit GitHub
a few times a week for years, and still have no idea of what their
(excellent) logo looks like. If modern websites worked fine in
"standard CSS, no JavaScript" mode, then I would be browsing the web
this way. My favorite colors for graphics design are black, and white.
Hey, if you want to believe I'm not a boring guy, then you'd better
look elsewhere than in this area.

Let me put it simply: I don't think we should optimize our
communication primarily for people like me.

What I'd like to see (but will *not* do myself)
===============================================

Of course, considering the context provided above, all what follows
shall be taken with a pinch of salt, criticized, and entirely
revisited by people who are either experts in the design field, or
more easily affected than me by this kawaii thingie, or both.

* I'd like someone who visits our website for the first time to feel
  welcome and, perhaps more importantly: personally engaged.

* I'd like to have enough cute-ish graphical hints on the homepage to
  make the people who're into this kind of things more comfortable.

  Don't worry, people like me probably won't consciously notice these
  hints, as long as we're not displaying kitten fullscreen. Oh, but
  even if we don't notice it, it might help making us more comfortable
  too ;)

* I acknowledge that any implementation of the above requires to leave
  more room for calls to emotions, personalized messages, examples...
  and thus less room for cold, hard, general facts. (As a side note,
  I guess that reorganizing the important info we'll drop, so that it
  is still easily discoverable, will be a challenge, but oh well, some
  people are just good at this kind of refactoring :)

* All this probably calls for revamping our homepage, and perhaps even
  (as suggested by Tchou) for creating different landing pages, aimed
  at different audiences (e.g. first-time visitor, existing user,
  potential contributor, you name it).

What can you do?
================

Interested?

* I'd love to know what various people think of this. If you feel
  comfortable replying to me privately, but not on the list, then by
  all means, please, do. If you just want to tell me that this email
  is too long, no need to, I'm aware of it.

* Get in touch with the two web experts who have either started
  working on the website recently, or were seriously thinking about
  it: tchou at riseup.net, u at 451f.org

* Look at how the new Tor website team proceeds: they've listed
  personas and written the user stories that go with it.

* Make sure you include in the process, *at some point*, the one who
  knows best the structure of our website, and why it's organized this
  way. Avoid overwhelming him too early, and don't expect him to take
  a leading role in this process. That's sajolida at pimienta.org.

* As usual when contributing to Tails, start with the smallest
  iteration possible, learn to work with the rest of the project, get
  something small done *and actually applied on the live website*.
  Then the greater plans can come!

* Read https://tails.boum.org/contribute/how/website/ and
  https://tails.boum.org/contribute/how/graphics/, to make sure you
  get the basics.

Enjoy :)

Cheers,
-- 
  intrigeri
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