Dion Moult Seriously who ever reads this description.

The kde-www war: part 1

In my initial post, I talked about the wall of text. I described some of the symptoms of the wall of text, and proclaimed that kde.org is terrible. I listed some of the basics of cleaning up text, and gathered some information about the “why” of kde.org.

Unfortunately, KDE.org is representative of a very large and vibrant community, and although formatting and eyecandy insertions will come in good time, we have to first understand the site’s structure to make informed decisions before tidying up small details. KDE.org’s wall of text problem is not simply due to a few bad aesthetic choices, but instead a side-effect of a more fundamental problem in KDE-www’s structure.

When I defined the wall of text issue, I described the problem being boiling to the essence of what you’re trying to communicate to the audience, and how to present it. Thus let’s look at what we are trying to communicate to the KDE audience – of which there are essentially two parties:

The uninitiated potential KDE user

The new user is interested in the single question of “What is KDE?“. They will want to understand that KDE is a community, and that its product is KDE SC – of which is a multidimensional beast full of wonders both for end-users and developers. When this has been answered, we want to tell them “Why is KDE right for me?“, and finally when convinced, “How do I start?“.

New users have a very specific workflow, and so we should recognise this, tailor it to them, and remove any potential “sidetracking” factoids.

The existing KDE user

The existing KDE user knows what KDE is and is currently using it, but most importantly, the existing user IS KDE. The rebranding effort was not about changing KDE to KDE SC, but instead about separating product from people. Technically, open-source is simply a business model, but in reality, open-source is a philosophy constructed by people. KDE’s challenge is how to turn one of open-source’s most intangible qualities into an axiom for all users.

So let’s talk a bit about KDE instead of KDE: SC. It has a “magazine” of sorts, the Dot, which gives “official” news on the ongoing events in KDE. It has an active blogosphere by PlanetKDE, which is populated basically by the people behind KDE: SC, which report upcoming features, discussions about KDE-related topics, ongoing physical events, and ongoing virtual events. It has a micro-blogosphere, by buzz.kde, which highlights recent Flickr and Picasa activity, YouTube videos, Tweets, and Dents. KDE’s community also has the Forums, which acts both as discussions, support and brainstorm. There is a multitude of Wikis: Userbase, the by and for users, Techbase, the by and for developers, and Community, used to organise community activities. There is KDE e.V, which does awesome stuff which isn’t publicised enough, and a variety of groups in social networks such as Facebook and Linux.com. Freenode’s network has a collection of IRC channels where KDE enthusiasts hang out. There is a variety of regional communities which all hold their own KDE specific stuff, and an entire of network of community-contributed KDE resources through the OpenDesktop API, and various other KDE connections through the SocialDesktop.

For your convenience, I’ve bolded what is KDE in the above paragraph. KDE-www, being representative of KDE, must stress that this is what KDE is – firstly by presenting in a digestable form the amazing influx of activity from all of those sources, and secondly by making it easy for any KDE user, old or new, to find out where they belong, and how they can add to the community. If you look at KDE-www from this perspective, it’s not hard to come to the conclusion that KDE.org is terrible.

But where do we start?

Given such a complex problem, let’s start by mapping out the ideal routes for each user. Here’s the proposal:

When looking at the chart above, notice how we clearly separate KDE from KDE:SC. I would like to highlight that the two final goals for existing users are not mutually exclusive. You can both contribute to KDE:SC but at the same time contribute to KDE – as long as you communicate your activity.

Now that we have identified the ideal paths for our target audiences, we can start making informed decisions about restructuring KDE.org. But before I get to that in part 2, feel free to add your opinion.

P.S. There is some wrong terminology used when it comes to KDE:SC, it should be referred to as KDE Software, as SC is more of a technical term used to describe a specific subset of packages in KDE Software.


9 Comments

Links 27/11/2010: GNU/Linux HPC at University of Warwick, Unigine Targets GNU/Linux, Wine 1.3.8 Released | Techrights says: (27 November 2010)

[…] The kde-www war: part 1 In my initial post, I talked about the wall of text. I described some of the symptoms of the wall of text, and proclaimed that kde.org is terrible. I listed some of the basics of cleaning up text, and gathered some information about the “why” of kde.org. […]

Tsiolkovsky says: (27 November 2010)

What I miss the most on KDE websites is more connection to social networks/news sites. For example there is no small button for people to easily submit or vote submited Dot stories/announcements for sites like reddit, Digg and Facebook. I have a feeling that a lot of promotional opportunities are lost here as cool KDE stories don’t get more visible on these news sites. Other than that I like the direction you are thinking in this post. Keep it up!

Robert Kaiser says: (27 November 2010)

We had similar problem at Mozilla, as we’re an overly large community that even has multiple products on top of a lot of other activities. Our current approach to the problem of presenting a website is at http://www.mozilla.org/ – maybe that can help a bit as well. I’m sure we in the Mozilla website task force would be happy to give feedback to your ideas as well. :)

Dion Moult says: (27 November 2010)

@Tsiolkovsky: thanks :) I’ll add it to the notes, but there are some bigger issues we have to tackle before we get to that.

@Robert Kaiser: Great stuff – the mozilla site looks very clean and I’m sure a lot of thought and planning went behind each page. Hopefully we’ll be able to accomplish a similar feat!

hari says: (29 November 2010)

I’m looking forward to seeing the changes you propose at KDE.org. By the way, I like the way you visualize the flow of visitors in your diagrams and draw them into the appropriate interest areas.

Dion Moult says: (29 November 2010)

Yeah – presenting the flow is very important when understanding the “why” of the changes that are going to be made in the future. More to come soon!

thinkMoult - The kde-www war: part 2 says: (6 January 2011)

[…] the wall of text that is KDE.org. No solutions were presented, but symptoms were outlined. Then, in part 1, we discovered that the wall of text was partially a side effect of a deeper problem within KDE […]

thinkMoult - The kde-www war: part 4 says: (21 April 2011)

[…] identifies KDE.org as a wall of text with a pretty frame and explains why there is a problem. Part 1 sets conversion goals on our two target markets. Part 2 restructures the sitemap to make sense. […]

thinkMoult - What’s up with KDE.org & Hello GetKDE.org says: (8 November 2011)

[…] series. It talked about the current KDE.org design, and how to improve it. The series started with target audiences and conversion goals, picked apart and restructured the sitemap, revealed an initial design proposal with clear-cut […]

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