Fedora, Fedora Design Team, Uncategorized, Websites

Fedora websites design status

While the Fedora Design team and Fedora Websites team along with the Fedora Board have been working towards a completely updated web presence for Fedora over the past couple of releases, I wanted to give a bit of a summary of what’s happened so far, provide you a bit of an update on our current status, and give you another avenue for providing feedback as well as solicit yet more feedback from you. :)

A little background on Fedora website design

A long time ago, but not so long ago, http://fedoraproject.org was a simple splash page with just a bunch of links. Later on, it redirected straight to the wiki. After a release or two bringing the entire wiki down (and halting contributors from getting work done!) because of high-demand on the website for downloading releases, a very simple, lightweight set of static pages was put together to help alleviate the problem. It is the base of that lightweight static page set that we have been using for quite some time these days.

After the initial launch of Fedora Community and its freshened-up template with the release of Fedora 11, the Fedora Project homepage appeared in severe need of some lovin’, and the Fedora Project Board at the time decided to approach me as a representative of the Fedora Design Team and Ricky Zhou as a representative of the Websites Team in order to request a new design. We met with the Board at their 30 July 2009 meeting, after which the Board followed up with formal requirements for both get.fedoraproject.org and a newspins.fedoraproject.org site. Paul Frields and I ended up having a brief brainstorming session on how to make the overall Fedora Project web presence a bit more contemporary and nice-looking that August, and I floated the idea by you all here on this blog:

A phased approach

Out of all the brainstorms and discussions that happened around this time period, we came up with a phased approach we are still roughly following today (with some expansion):

Allow me to give you a phase-by-phase summary of how it’s gone so far.

Phase I: spins.fedoraproject.org

Since the Board’s requirements necessitated a single download link, it was made a requirement that http://spins.fedoraproject.org was designed, created, and complete before http://get.fedoraproject.org was changed, to address concerns posed by Fedora spins owners. The site was meant to alleviate the effects on spins’ download numbers, and also to maintain and even improve the ease with which spins’ users could find information and downloads for the spins. The new Fedora spins portal was completed in November 2009 and launched with the release of Fedora 12.

The mockups, graphic sources, and other planning documents for the spins.fedoraproject.org / phase 1 of the website redesign project are available on the Fedora Project wiki: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Website_redesign_2009/Mockups/Spins.fpo. We worked very carefully with the spins owners at the time to develop graphics and content for the spins, and even coordinated an awesome effort from the Fedora Design team in producing over 100 graphics for many of the games in our Games spin.

How well did this design work? So far, we’ve updated it once to account for the new crop of spins released with Fedora 13 (including the new Design Suite, wee!!), and I really haven’t heard any negative feedback about it besides folks simply not knowing about it. So we probably need to continue advertising it and socializing it, maybe even ramping those efforts up a bit more.

Phase II: get.fedoraproject.org

After the release of Fedora 12, we got to work on planning a revamp of the oft-complained-about http://get.fedoraproject.org page, the main page used in order to download Fedora every release. The main goal of the redesign according to the Board was, “To more effectively promote a single instance of Fedora that satisfies the computing needs of the average person.” It also needed to “Provide a clear route to the new Spins hub” and “Provide clearer instructions and links to support options.” The page should be designed for:

Primary Users

  • People who are somewhat computer savvy, but may be new to Fedora and/or Linux and FOSS in general
  • People who are not sure what they need to do in order to try Fedora
  • People who may not understand how to create and use Live media

Secondary Users

  • People who don’t know where to find anything other than the default offering (i.e., is there something else available?)

Page is not designed for

  • People who are currently and comfortably using Fedora
  • People who have pre-specified needs for the Fedora they download
  • People who know where to find non-default offerings, and want to pick from an a la carte-style or other expanded sort of list

Now, if you know the Fedora users I do, the main tension here should have jumped off your screen and nipped you in the nose by now – we have folks who are particular about the desktop they run, the arches they need to run it on, the format in which they’d like it (live media vs. DVD vs. initrd vs. net boot vs. preupgrade vs. pxe vs. ad nauseum ;-) ), and the download method (http, ftp, bittorrent, postal mail paid, postal mail free media, etc. etc.). This is a very complex matrix, and directly conflicts with having a simple one-click download.

In order to figure out how to make this all happen and succeed, we had our work ahead of us. First, I did a little bit of research on how folks currently in the community download Fedora, running a survey on our planet. Note the survey doesn’t include any new users.

We learned three very important things via the survey:

  1. Amongst readers of this blog, the vast majority of users download Fedora when a new release comes out. The time between releases can be considered a much lower-traffic time period for downloads.
  2. By far, the most popular method of obtaining Fedora amongst blog readers is via the website, 46+15= 61% of users downloading directly from the website. The second and third most popular methods are bit torrent and pre upgrade, 19% and 18% respectively.
  3. The DVD and Live Media are by far the most popular formats to download Fedora in amongst readers of this blog.

Based on these results, it seemed to be that the Fedora website is the primary place folks seek to download Fedora, and the more familar/technical users do have a wide range of requirements as to which Fedora they’d like to download and how they’d like to download it. Their needs won’t be met by a single download button. So we decided to split get.fedoraproject.org out into two main sections:

  • The first section would be presented by default, and would be aimed at fulfilling the Board’s requirements.
  • The second section would be accessible by links on the default page, and would provide an ala carte experience for more particular Fedora downloaders.

Site maps, mockups, graphics, sources, and discussion can all be found at the wiki project page for the http://get.fedoraproject.org redesign project.

This redesign launched with Fedora 13’s release this past May. How well did it work? Well. :) There were some (ahem) torrential discussions following its launch, which I’ll detail in a follow-up blog post I’ll call the get.fpo postmortem. :)

Phase III: http://www.fedoraproject.org and fedoracommunity.org

So for Fedora 14’s release we’ve gotten even more ambitious, and we’re planning a new http://www.fedoraproject.org design and a new site, http://fedoracommunity.org. Here on this blog I’ve already filled you in on the fedoracommunity.org site background and current design work(thank you for all the comments and feedback so far!) I’m still working on the http://www.fedoraproject.org design with Sijis Aviles and the Fedora Design team – we had a big discussion on it at this week’s design team meeting. Pop into #fedora-websites or #fedora-design on freenode if you’d like to pitch in and get involved as we continue to work on it.

I’ll be doing a separate post on the new in-progress http://www.fedoraproject.org design very soon, so please look out for it! In the meantime, please feel welcome to read through the Fedora Design team discussion of the current mockups, browse through some of the raw mockups and their sources, review our list of prioritized user tasks for the site, and pop into #fedora-websites or #fedora-design to continue the discussion. :)

So there you have it

In summary, we’ve been following a 3-phase approach to the http://fedoraproject.org design process, and we’re currently working towards the third phase with our eye on F14’s release for the next launch.

About Máirín Duffy

Máirín is a principal interaction designer at Red Hat. She is passionate about software freedom and free & open source tools, particularly in the creative domain: her favorite application is Inkscape. You can read more from Máirín on her blog at blog.linuxgrrl.com.

Discussion

9 thoughts on “Fedora websites design status

  1. Great review on the changes of Fedora website. Thank you, Mairin.

    from FedoraCN community @lovenemesis

    Posted by Tommy He | July 21, 2010, 4:41 pm
  2. Hello! :-)

    I liked them all and mainly the Fedora Community one. It seems, to me, the most “modern” and clean and clear.
    I have just one doubt or curiosity: what did you use to make that pizza chart?

    Great work you’ve been doing. I’m just an enthusiast of Fedora.
    Bye, bye! :-)

    Posted by Benjamin Courthouse | July 21, 2010, 9:31 pm
    • Hi Benjamin!

      I used OpenOffice.org Calc on Fedora to create the pizza chart :) I’m pretty sure I used the Tango icon palette to color it with.

      Thanks for the compliments, they are quite appreciated :)

      ~m

      Posted by mairin | July 21, 2010, 10:38 pm
  3. Máirín, great work! :)

    I look forward to the Phase 3 – http://www.fedoraproject.org and fedoracommunity.org Well done. ;)

    Was interesting to see the regions and corresponding web sites listed. :)

    The community web sites will benefit from this design. I like it! :~D

    Posted by diamondramsey | July 21, 2010, 9:55 pm
  4. The survey was faulty. It would be a mistake to base website design decisions on it.

    I download torrents but I don’t “go straight to torrent.fedoraproject.org”. Instead I go to http://www.fedoraproject.org and click around until I find the link for for torrent.

    I expressed this also on May 27th:

    http://mairin.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/getting-fedora-survey-results/#comment-5730

    Posted by Allen Halsey | August 2, 2010, 10:23 pm
    • I tend to try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater! You don’t have to repeat your comment either :)

      Posted by mairin | August 2, 2010, 11:17 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: get.fedoraproject.org redesign post-mortem « Máirín Duffy - July 22, 2010

  2. Pingback: Second Fedora Design Bounty Ninja identified! « Máirín Duffy - July 23, 2010

  3. Pingback: fedoraproject.org front page redesign mockup #1 « Máirín Duffy - July 29, 2010

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