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SDCompo Site Refresh Project

SDCompo Site Refresh Project

Postby cralias » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:42 am

Hello,

Some time ago there was a discussion of what keeps people coming (back) to SDCompo. Among other things there have been comments that site is looking more and more outdated. Sonicade has decided to act on that. I've offered to help out with that.

I'm currently less busy than Sonicade so I've taken a certain liberty to start this thread, hopefully to shape up the important things to have.

So please don't hesitate to recommend things you'd consider necessary. After all, it's the friendly community that defines SDC.


Here's some points to start with, too:

* What kinds of social media integration would be useful?
To simplify collaboration, sharing and feedback. From the top of my head - Facebook, Twitter & Google+ each have login API. There's some OpenID providers. But it's easy to overdo with it.

* Unification of forum account and compo profile.
I think this is essential.

* Would a separate mobile (light) version be necessary?
Current version doesn't use DHTML and doesn't require a lot of bandwidth, so it's ok. An updated look is very likely to change that.

* How the long mulled-over Achievements could be implemented?

* Sonicade has chosen Wordpress platform, likely for the "don't reinvent the wheel" reason. I'm not really in favor of that but it's not, by any means, a stepping stone. The refresh is in very early states.
Given that SDC has roots in the demoscene, I'd opt for more unique solution (like the current version is).

* Perhaps there's some artist here that could help SDC with graphics? Please, make a step forward then.
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Postby u4ic » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:29 pm

Being a wordpress / web developer, I can say that it is a great platform to move to, especially considering it is very easy to customize once you get the hang of things. Many plugins that would take care of just about any of your needs are freely available.
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Postby organic io » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:37 pm

Hey Cralias, thanks for taking the initiative!

As some of you may or may not know, Sonicade has decided to pass the torch of some of the admin tasks to ease his burden.

I've brainstormed some ideas as well. Although honestly I think the site design looks fine as it is. I won't go into too much of a rant here, but I think the reason it may look outdated to some people is due to planned obsolescence - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence. Can't a site look classic and still remain respected?

I think it may not require a complete overhaul, perhaps just minor revamps of the layout and color theme. Airmann has also volunteered to help with php coding stuff since he does this on a daily basis for his dayjob.

But ... Despite my view on it, I think if the majority think the site needs a redesign, then let's go ahead and do it! I've been wanting to start running polls directly on the main page news posts... So as soon as I/we get access to that, how about polling the public their feelings about the necessity of a site redesign? What do you think Cralias? I think polls on the main page will be more visible and useful since it seems a lot of people don't even come to the forums.

Re: Social media -- I think Soundcloud integration would be cool.. That seems to be "the" place to be right now as far as music sharing.

Re: Achievements, I'm not sure if they would truly be a benefit or not. I did some hard thinking about all this stuff a few weeks ago when Sonicade wrote me an email.
Here's my take on achievements - The reward of tracking is really for the actual creation of the music itself. Would achievements cheapen that? For example, instead of writing a song for the love of writing it, now you are writing because you are trying to get that "long saught after golden wrench medal" (or whatever) ???

I also am toying with the idea of prizes for the future (similar to how the KVR OSC compo does), but the concern is the same.... Does this detract from the core reason we are here?

Anyway, thanks again Cralias for your enthusiasm and willingness to help!

Keep the ideas coming folks!
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Postby cralias » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:08 pm

The point about planned obsolescence is true enough. Allright, I'll confess: my leaning towards a complete revamp thing is partly based on evil self-interest :twisted: Though late to the game, I'm looking to make web building my job. Therefore I have to gather experience, gather a collection of reusable code and sharpen practices. So I'd gladly take over and do as much as possible and beyond that while at the same time avoiding pressure from Pointy-Haired Bosses :)

Of course, it all depends on what the community eventually decides. A poll on the main page would be a very useful thing, indeed, if that's currently possible.

organic_io wrote:a lot of people don't even come to the forums

Which brings me straight to the itching desire to unify the forums and the main site in one. A new user comes and thinks "one place, but two registrations needed? Ok, <optional expletive>, I won't even bother".

organic_io wrote:Would achievements cheapen that?

Possibly yes, it's a tricky thing. I've come to think we're all - what's the word - mature - enough not to become achievement whores. I'm thinking more of an alternative way to present feedback. Like post count on the forums - serves no practical meaning but helps liven up the place., e.g., at Renoise Forums I keep being amused at the "Composes without wires...".

As for my view of Wordpress and like - isn't it akin to using a .NET framework to code a 64k demo? I honestly dislike all such middleware. I'm not strong with the Force but, nevertheless, I admire the demoscene, a subculture that takes pride in passionate creation of original art (art includes code). There's no profit train to catch here, so playing with Lego is not that necessary. Excuse me if I'm starting to sound like a judgemental luddite here :D
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Postby organic io » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:41 pm

cralias wrote:The point about planned obsolescence is true enough. Allright, I'll confess: my leaning towards a complete revamp thing is partly based on evil self-interest :twisted: Though late to the game, I'm looking to make web building my job. Therefore I have to gather experience, gather a collection of reusable code and sharpen practices. So I'd gladly take over and do as much as possible and beyond that while at the same time avoiding pressure from Pointy-Haired Bosses :)


Hey, I understand where you are coming from with that. And if you are ready, willing, and able to do it -- I don't see how it could hurt. It sounds like a win-win situation for both SDcompo and your portfolio.

cralias wrote:Of course, it all depends on what the community eventually decides. A poll on the main page would be a very useful thing, indeed, if that's currently possible.


Sonicade hasn't set me up on the php admin portal yet... But when he does I was gonna mess around with it to see if I could figure out how, and if I couldn't figure it out I'm sure Airmann could code something in.

cralias wrote:
organic_io wrote:a lot of people don't even come to the forums

Which brings me straight to the itching desire to unify the forums and the main site in one. A new user comes and thinks "one place, but two registrations needed? Ok, <optional expletive>, I won't even bother".


Very good point made here. At first I wasn't sure of the purpose behind unifying the two, but now I agree that this would be beneficial. Hopefully easier access to the forums would give the community a boost.

cralias wrote:
organic_io wrote:Would achievements cheapen that?

Possibly yes, it's a tricky thing. I've come to think we're all - what's the word - mature - enough not to become achievement whores. I'm thinking more of an alternative way to present feedback. Like post count on the forums - serves no practical meaning but helps liven up the place., e.g., at Renoise Forums I keep being amused at the "Composes without wires...".


I think you're probably right here... I was just trying to consider all possible ramifications.

cralias wrote:As for my view of Wordpress and like - isn't it akin to using a .NET framework to code a 64k demo? I honestly dislike all such middleware. I'm not strong with the Force but, nevertheless, I admire the demoscene, a subculture that takes pride in passionate creation of original art (art includes code). There's no profit train to catch here, so playing with Lego is not that necessary. Excuse me if I'm starting to sound like a judgemental luddite here :D


To be honest, I know very little about web design.. The last time I made a site of my own it was very basic and consisted of uploading raw html to the tripod.com ftp.
Sonicade hadn't mentioned Wordpress to me, but my understanding was that he was handing over everything. So if a site redesign is in the works, and you are going to be the primary designer of the new site, then I think it should be your decision how to do it. I can't see Sonicade having any problem with that as long as the new site functions in the end and continues the community. :D <-- Correct me if I'm wrong, Ken.
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Postby plusminus » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:42 pm

organic io wrote:Although honestly I think the site design looks fine as it is. I won't go into too much of a rant here, but I think the reason it may look outdated to some people is due to planned obsolescence - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence. Can't a site look classic and still remain respected?


I don't think planned obsolescence is quite the right thing to attribute, so much as just trends in web design. In general though I agree with you that the site looks good. I do think the forums look pretty ugly, and part of that is inherent from using phpBB. The whole thing is maybe starting to look a bit dated I guess, but on the other hand I'm really not a fan of many (any?) modern site revamps. (Why, Google? Why?)

Updating some of the technology is perhaps a more valid concern, IMHO. Things that have already been said like linking to SoundCloud accounts, linking forum and site profiles, etc. are all good to have. I don't know how much benefit there would be in connecting to all the social media sites; I don't really use them so my point of view is certainly biased.

Achievements etc. are also not a real draw for me. But then again they could be fun if they weren't zero-sum, as opposed to a trophy which only one person can hold at a time. Prizes are a whole other can of worms since it can encourage people to play just to win those prizes: strategic voting, attempts at cheating, etc. Admittedly I don't know at all how KVR does things and if it's an issue there.

Most importantly I think it's necessary to keep in mind what the goal of any change is (besides portfolio building, I mean :P). Presumably it's to get new visitors and help retain old ones, and anyone involved in planning or discussion should keep in mind that we're already here. (The reason I was absent for so long is because I just wasn't making any music for awhile, nothing to do with the site design, or not finding participation rewarding.) So there's a certain risk in asking the audience that already exists what the best plan is, and trying to guess at ways to capture a wider audience.
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Postby organic io » Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:14 pm

plusminus wrote:I don't know how much benefit there would be in connecting to all the social media sites; I don't really use them so my point of view is certainly biased.


Same here, I don't care at all about facebook/etc personally.

plusminus wrote:Most importantly I think it's necessary to keep in mind what the goal of any change is (besides portfolio building, I mean :P). Presumably it's to get new visitors and help retain old ones, and anyone involved in planning or discussion should keep in mind that we're already here. (The reason I was absent for so long is because I just wasn't making any music for awhile, nothing to do with the site design, or not finding participation rewarding.) So there's a certain risk in asking the audience that already exists what the best plan is, and trying to guess at ways to capture a wider audience.


Very good points made here.

With regards to expanding our audience, I've got some plans for that..

First is to change the rules to allow all tracker formats, regardless of whether there are very many users of some of the more obscure software. This change will probably go into effect within the next few rounds.
After that, it will allow me the opportunity to promote the compo in previously un-promoted communities. I'll also be more vigilant about promoting the compo on places like Renoise forums and demoscene sites, like Sonicade used to do back in the old days.

^ I think these changes alone will draw more participants ... So combined with site redesign and I think this compo will be alive for a long time to come :D
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Postby cralias » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:10 am

Well then. Do I have a green-light for this idea? So that later we don't end up with some conflicting things due to misinformation, assumptions and like. :wink:
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Postby organic io » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:41 am

Email sent to you Cralias. We'll work out the details there instead of flooding this forum :)



But, does anyone else have any ideas or suggestions for the site redesign?
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Postby organic io » Wed Nov 23, 2011 10:57 am

Hey Cralias, one idea I had recently...

The ability to run multiple compos simultaneously.

For example there can always be the main compo going, but then there could be a way to host smaller compos also through the site. These would probably be niche compos with more strict limitations, for example the chiptunes compos we have done a couple times through the forums --> http://forums.sdcompo.com/viewtopic.php?t=602

What do you think? Or anyone else for that matter? Is this a bad idea?

I don't want it to take focus away from the main compo, but I don't think it would if it was implemented right... I think of it more as another way to branch out and gain more interest from different crowds.

It could even take a more open source approach:
Individual users could host their own smaller compos ...? For example if someone comes up with a concept for a compo, they make their "sub compo" page and are granted editing and semi-admin functions over that section, to run it how they see fit. This would be done on a round by round basis, with possibly a limit to the number of sub compos that can be run at any given time. (One or two?) .. So that it doesn't get too fragmented. The rest of the concepts/submissions would wait in queue for their turn.

This could also allow SDcompo long timers to experiment with different ideas or approaches -- For example an mp3 compo where any software is allowed, not just trackers.

^ One way to envision this is of like how Unix shell accounts work... SDcompo main site and competition would be the root, but individual users could create their own "shell compos" which branch off from the main.

^ It probably wouldn't be a good idea to just allow any and every user to run their own though... Probably need to implement some kind of status check, similar to how people are always able to vote as long as they have entered 3 previous rounds. Either that or people interested in running "shell compos" would have to fill out a form/submission process.. Then their concept could be reviewed and either accepted or declined.

Of course, this is not a site design priority and I wouldn't want it to take your time away from making the main purpose of the site functional. but maybe something to consider? :D
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Postby cralias » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:19 pm

That's a very sound idea! I suppose we'll need get in touch with Mick Rippon on that to see about the webspace, though, as most rendered tracks get hosted on Loopproject.

I'll make changes in the model I'm doing.


That said, I'm a bit puzzled that this topic has not received the attention I'd like. It hasn't come unexpected but it's still slightly discouraging.


And then - I have a question on my part:
Some of members have their own webspace which is cool and all, faster and more convenient. But... there are older entries that have got their rendered tracks lost in the digital hell. Perhaps recommending to upload a copy to Loopproject as well would help to maintain them accessible over the years?
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Postby chunter » Sat Nov 26, 2011 3:22 pm

Some of the ideas mentioned happen in battleofthebits.org so I thought I'd give it a mention. If you visit and think that it looks absolutely bizarre, I will agree with you! Before the redesign it was even harder on the eyes, though all that is deliberate and a part of that community.

The ability to do side-competitions besides the main one would be nice, and could have helped us with certain things in the past. Integration with OpenID would help ease the barrier to entry. Aside from that, I prefer to keep my own graphics terse and let other people worry about visual appeal; I'm not very good at that sort of thing.

For negative examples, please do not copy the BOTB voting system. The categories are always deliberately confusing and the power of your vote is related to your experience level, a design meant to prevent newcomers from creating fake accounts to rig the vote. The (maybe) unintended side effect is that the elite players with high experience level can decide the smaller contests. The B00ns currency is meant to keep bots from flooding the message boards.
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Postby organic io » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:56 am

cralias wrote:That's a very sound idea! I suppose we'll need get in touch with Mick Rippon on that to see about the webspace, though, as most rendered tracks get hosted on Loopproject.

I'll make changes in the model I'm doing.


Good call. I'll email Mick soon and see if this would be OK.


cralias wrote:And then - I have a question on my part:
Some of members have their own webspace which is cool and all, faster and more convenient. But... there are older entries that have got their rendered tracks lost in the digital hell. Perhaps recommending to upload a copy to Loopproject as well would help to maintain them accessible over the years?


This is true, I've seen a lot of dead links lately.
I think it would be nearly impossible to contact all the past participants and convince them to put up more lasting links. Lots of people have only participated in a few rounds and may not be under the same email address, etc.

I think a better idea for preservation would be something like getting an account at the internet archive for storing all the SDcompo previous round info. A little while back I asked some questions to KVR OSC about how they use the internet archive for their round storage... They said after 50 rounds the archive is going to let them have more robust uploading features. So I figure since we're already 60+ rounds in, maybe if we plead appropriately to the archive, we can already get those features right away?

Then the other part of this is: If there are dead links, then the source files will need to be re-rendered and uploaded to the archive. I don't mind doing quite a bit of this myself. I already have a personal archive of mp3s from the first 10 rounds and most of the other rounds since then. I can re-render ones that I am missing, or maybe delegate the task of some rounds I am missing to others. The main challenge with re-rendering is probably with vst/plugin based rounds, making sure the song plays correctly.


chunter wrote: Integration with OpenID would help ease the barrier to entry.


I haven't heard of OpenID... Supporting it sounds like a good idea though. Cralias, is this something we can do?


chunter wrote:For negative examples, please do not copy the BOTB voting system.


Nah, we plan on keeping the voting system the same as it always has been :)


Cralias, did you see tenfour's topic about adding a "reputation" system to the site? Check it out and let us know your thoughts on it:

http://forums.sdcompo.com/viewtopic.php?p=5068#5068
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Postby cralias » Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:52 pm

organic io wrote:I haven't heard of OpenID... Supporting it sounds like a good idea though. Cralias, is this something we can do?

OpenID is a mechanism not unlike various social network logins, except that it does not belong to any single company in particular. Yes, absolutely.

organic io wrote:maybe if we plead appropriately to the archive, we can already get those features right away?

That would be a good solution! Could you as the new CEO (:D) see to it?

organic io wrote:I don't mind doing quite a bit of this myself. I already have a personal archive of mp3s from the first 10 rounds and most of the other rounds since then. I can re-render ones that I am missing, or maybe delegate the task of some rounds I am missing to others.

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Postby organic io » Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:02 pm

cralias wrote:
organic io wrote:maybe if we plead appropriately to the archive, we can already get those features right away?

That would be a good solution! Could you as the new CEO (:D) see to it?


Sure thing, Mr CWDO (Chief Web Design Officer) :D
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