How would you like the new nargs.org web site to look?

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McGregorUS
McGregorUS's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-12-18

Drop-down menus have a great role but whenever I have a choice I use the main icons on a page to navigate around. Like most people I don't go usually go looking in the menu if I have a really obvious straightforward choice.

I don't have any way of counting (unfortunately) how many people get to the Rock Garden Quarterly page on the website using the menu bar at the top of the page rather than the banner with the icon and the big friendly message but I would think most people use that once they find it.

And that is the point --- we use unfamiliar websites differently to familiar ones. When we start out we are exploring - we need different ways to find things. Once we are familiar with a website (or a computer application for that matter) we want to get to things in a really simple way - the iPhone and iPad are examples - there are whole sets of things hidden away but the most of the stuff (apps and functions) is immediately accessible from the icons on the screen which takes you to the appropriate area or app. Dropdown menus do have a place, and they have to function well and not be too sensitive and so on like Jan and others were highlighting, but I'm getting used to being able to find things much more directly and I'm sure lots of other people are the same.

Malcolm McGregor
Global Moderator/NARGS Editor
East Yorkshire, UK

Daniel Dillon
Title: Guest
Joined: 2012-09-28

Some good points Malcolm. It turns out that different people locate information differently. Some like menus, some like links in a summarized list, others like using search. Bookmarks are another popular way to get directly to your frequently targeted page. Here is a good page found googling "how do people navigate within a web site". http://www.onextrapixel.com/2009/07/09/12-navigation-options-that-help-users-navigate-through-your-website-effectively/

In the new site, we will have detailed stats that will show which links are used most and include counts of page views.

Daniel Dillon (artist) & Esther Wrightman (gardener)
St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

McGregor wrote:

A site which does carry a lot of information and options on its home page

http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Sadly Malcolm,  speaking as a (part-time) BBC  employee, it may look good from the front page, but it is seriously dysfunctional otherwise-  and I get the complaints to prove it!

Adding another comment:  a cost  of 30 thousand dollars?  How can that possibly be cost effective, even if it pulls in lots of new members,  it is still a massive expense for the current level of membership?

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

McGregorUS
McGregorUS's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-12-18

I agree with the functionality behind the front page of the BBC website - it can be a real problem. It was the design aspects of that (and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website) that I was recommending.

Malcolm McGregor
Global Moderator/NARGS Editor
East Yorkshire, UK

Daniel Dillon
Title: Guest
Joined: 2012-09-28

IMYoung wrote:

a cost  of 30 thousand dollars?  How can that possibly be cost effective?

Good question.
Some things to consider:

Does your organization need a web site? List the reasons why or why not.
For your type of organization, and considering your annual budget, what is an appropriate Internet budget?
What do you risk by keeping your current web site? (some concepts: server security risks, supportability vs. obsolescence, cost to manage content, public relations [large topic], membership retention/growth, etc.)
What is your short term Internet strategy?
What is your long term Internet strategy?
Does your web site play a role in your membership retention/growth strategy?
How long should your web site last before being declared obsolete?
Who should be adding content to your web site? (a "webmaster" or any subset of members of the organization?)
Does your organization need a static HTML web site or a dynamic site built with a Content Management System using server-side scripting and a database?
What is a good value for your web site if it is built upon a Content Management System?
What is an appropriate yearly cost for maintaining your web site?
How much should be budgeted for web site graphic design? (# of hours x the going rate)
Should the web site be maintained in-house or by a service provider at a cost?
That should get you started. This is by no means a conclusive list so feel free to add to it. When brainstorming, more is better.

Daniel Dillon (artist) & Esther Wrightman (gardener)
St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Peter George
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-03

Cost effective is usually defined as "Economical in terms of the goods or services received for the money spent." We made the original decision to develop a website because NARGS absolutely had to have a web presence. Several years later we decided that we needed to upgrade the website, for all the obvious reasons, and we did. The 'redesign' was budgeted very modestly, and we got what we paid for. Now, several years later, we are moving ahead to create a website that not only is an incremental improvement on the one we have today, but a complete remake. This is a decision of great consequence for our organization, because right or wrong, we have concluded that without a web presence that not only satisfies the needs and desires of our current membership, but one which meets the needs and desires of the next generation of NARGS members, we will diminish and become a footnote in the history of rock gardening. We'd rather not take that road, but prefer to lead the way, and there is no way other than technological sophistication that will get us there.
The cost is relatively high, but when you amortize the $34,000 over 5 years, which is the probable life expectancy of this particular incarnation, it's not that huge an investment. So from our perspective, 'cost effective' is a concept which has guided our approach, but has not dictated our approach.
In simple terms, we are about to bring this organization into the 21st century, and although some of us are quite content with what we've got, we won't be here forever. And the gardeners in their 20s and 30s don't do things the old fashioned way, but rather, will depend to an extraordinary degree on  technology to addend their lives and their experiences. We better be up to the job of being one of the apps they choose, not one they ignore. We cannot guarantee success, but we can (at least this time) guarantee that we're doing this the right way, spending enough to get the job done properly.

Peter George, Petersham, MA (north central MA, close to the NH/VT borders), zones 5b and 6 around the property.

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Another approach, and perhaps more hopeful than possible to realise, is to bring together some of the great knowledge and varied skills of the Alpine Gardening Societies, to make and distribute 'Natural History' programmes on plants and landscapes. Given that a fundamental part of the Societies is a strong environmental perception, and this will also be a deep concern of many younger people, gardeners or not, a better sense of this as a strong principle behind the way we garden (in a general way) must have to come with time. The extraordinary beauty of natural landscapes, and the history of how people have explored these, are ripe subjects for such programmes.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Booker
Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

I wholeheartedly endorse Tim's stated opinion (as seen immediately above), that nothing will influence potential members more than beautifully designed and crafted DVD's/videos featuring alpine plants in their natural landscapes, commentary led tours featuring the rock gardens of members/botanical institutions around the globe and instructional programmes that feature the masters of our hobby demonstrating their craft in their own illustrious domains.
Other subjects spring immediately to mind; plant explorers past and present; allied plant groups (cacti, conifers, ferns, bulbs, etc, etc.); artistic developments in the rock gardening world; innovative ideas from the Czech, Dutch, Scandinavian and Belgian growers; the Show scene in the UK ... the list is endless.
There are doyens in each of our respective countries (and Societies) who have the gravitas, enthusiasm, charisma, knowledge and aptitude to commentate on and extol the virtues of each of these themes and the finished articles could be used by alpine groups across the world at their meetings, as publicity at gardening events and as educational give-aways to schools, uni's and horticultural establishments.
There are already some excellent examples on YouTube from members who are exploring the use of video in the natural places of the world (David Sellars for one) and, with planning, finance and society input these pioneering works could be expanded into works of national interest.
I realise that this discussion has scooted off on a tangent from the intended theme of this topic, but I hope it can inspire replies and interest in equal measure.

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Daniel Dillon
Title: Guest
Joined: 2012-09-28

Tim and Cliff have offered great ideas that I am sure many of us would love to see pursued. Self-publication of these projects can be accommodated by the new web site with relative ease, whether monetized or not. If any of us has an idea of information that should be shared with anyone or everyone, whether a video, or a lecture or a database of reference material, we will have a repository, the new web site, where this "content" can reside and be presented in a logical way. We will need only to propose our ideas to the Web Site Content Editor, Malcolm McGregor, to initiate their incorporation to the web site.

The feature of our new web site that will have the most impact on its success is content. The more quality content, the better. Design, or "theming" as I refer to it, is secondary and must support the content effectively. My concern at the moment is that the Web Development Team learn from the membership what ideas they might have regarding theming, as this needs to be implemented early in the web site development process. It can indeed be modified later on, but we need a starting point.

With that in mind, are there any comments on how to accommodate our proposed growing list of new content? Complete subsection for that content type complete with landing page? Placement on the page? Colours? Isolation from other content? Promoted on front page? All ideas are welcome, and sooner is better than later.

Daniel Dillon (artist) & Esther Wrightman (gardener)
St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Sellars
Sellars's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-29

I agree with Daniel - content is the most important aspect. So the website should be set up to encourage contributions from NARGS members, to tap into our distributed expertise.  One idea would be to have regional sections with members contributing with local information on events, places to visit, hikes, gardens etc.  With a Content Management System any member should be able to contribute.  This type of information could be in A Members Only area to reinforce the website as one of the benefits of NARGS membership.

On the issue of cost effectiveness, the Alpine Garden Club of British Columbia recently took the plunge to upgrade our website with a Content Management System. For Tim and Cliff we even included a video on the Home page!

http://www.agc-bc.ca/home

NARGS is 10 times the size of our British Columbia club (in terms of membership numbers) and an expenditure of $30,000 does not seem out of line given what we were prepared to pay. I see this type of cost as an investment in infrastructure. An infrastructure investment, whether a bridge, a port or an upgraded website, lasts a long time ( much longer than 5 years)  and if built with quality materials, will need only minor costs for future maintenance.  There has to be reasons for rock gardeners to belong to NARGS and an effective website which can act as a "meeting place'  for the far-flung NARGS membership, can go a long way to providing some glue for the organization.

David Sellars
From the Wet Coast of British Columbia, Canada

Feature your favourite hikes at:
www.mountainflora.ca
MountainFlora videos:
http://www.youtube.com/user/MountainFlora

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