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Complete data overload

Sunday, 15 April 2007 news personal

So I recently started getting raging clues about a possible redesign. As I explained in a 9rules Notes thread the other day, designs are made out of two mandates: aesthetic design (how it all looks) and functional design (how it feels and works).

I’ve got conflicting ideas rattling around in my head at the moment. I want a clean crisp design, cutting back on the bloat that I’ve currently got but at the same time, I want to add more data to the mix, chucking in tag-lines and extracts. I’ve got to remove something before I can add any more or the design will just burst at the seems and there’ll just be a load of website-intestines on the screen.

So what have I got at the moment? Here’s a little list I cobbled together. It’s by no means comprehensive but it should give you a rough idea on how much I think is too much to be trying to display. Items marked with a * are contextual (they only show up on relevant pages).

  1. Main Navigation — representing the main sections of the site.

    • Home
    • Articles
    • Blog
    • Forums
    • Projects
  2. Sub Navigation — covering the meta information about the site, comprehensive lists of site content, etc

    • Archives
    • Tags
    • Advertise
    • About
    • Contact
  3. Page Tools — things that occur on every page, without fail

    • Search box
    • RSS Subscriptions
    • Membership tools
    • Advertising blocks
    • Information in the footer
  4. Content Tools — info that describes or contributes to posts on the site

    • Calendar * (only in the blog)
    • Related Posts
    • Multiple pages * (only on articles with more than one page)
    • Tag cloud * (only blog)
    • Popular in section *
    • Popular in type *
    • Biography * (only under articles)
    • Comments (including the reply-box)
    • Trackbacks
    • Article metadata:
      • Post data
      • Author
      • Edit count
      • Last edit date
      • Applied tags

It’s in Content Tools where heads are going to roll. That’s where the new features are going, so it only makes sense to clean things up there.

The problem is most of those serve a function. I thought about just kicking out all the cross-linking tools (like related posts, popular lists, tag clouds and even the calendar)… But they all help people that come in and read something to read other posts. I want people to stay here and read around! If I make them go back up levels to do this, they’re just going to bugger off back to google/digg/etc.

Should I kick comments off to their own page? They already have one but that only gets displayed for people who don’t have AJAX available and there are more than 10 comments, or so.

So given these considerations, what would you kill off? What from those lists do you think holds the least value to the reader?

If you know other sites that deal with amount of data or more in a method that you think is particularly well done, please link them in.

Time for a painkiller… All this thinking is doing my head in.