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Good morning!

Over the past few weeks I've been consulting with Wikia about some updates to the WoWWiki main page and skin - we've been working on some ideas and I'd like to share our thoughts with you.


Mockup - please read the text to the left for an explanation!

The skin

I think it would be pretty cool if we could make the skin more "Warcrafty" and unique. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • To help us stand out from the crowd
  • To help visitors understand we are a wiki all about Warcraft
  • To look cooler!
  • Blizzard have requested it!

Additionally, when we sometimes run ads on WoWWiki's main page, you can lose the sense of it being WoWWiki. We obviously don't want that!

To the right is a mockup of these updates, as envisaged by JoePlay. I think he's done a great job - it's still recognisably WoWWiki, but it has a bit more flair and Warcraftiness. (I should note, over the past few weeks we've been working on making the Monaco skin much leaner and faster - this update should be launched this coming week).

Please note the reduced width is specific to the main page. All other pages are full width. Another example of such a reduced width main page can be found on Marvel Comics Database.

The main page

Over the past few months Wikia have been looking closely at SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and initial user experiences - that is, making it easier for users to find us on search engines, and then use the site when they arrive. That means stuff like making sure that what is shown on the main page is just the really important stuff to users.

One of the main approaches to this is simplifying and improving the main page. While I admittedly like the current main page (I did do a lot of the design work after all), it's overwhelming. There's a lot of duplicate and pointless links, and it covers essentially everything ever, lengthening load times and potentially confusing users.

The main change is that the five icons link to the individual portals we all know well, upon which very little would change apart from some minor changes to the sidebar (plus I plan to reduce the level of a lot of the bulleting on them, to reduce visual complexity). They would still keep the JS tabs, that functionality just wouldn't be present on the main page.

What now?

So, I want to hear from you! What's your opinion on the skin, and the main page? Are there areas you can identify for improvement, or changes that don't make sense? Please bear in mind Wikia and myself both have WoWWiki's best interests at heart. We want the wiki to become even bigger and better than it is already!

Thanks for reading! Kirkburn  talk  contr 15:22, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure what the numbers are with each of the sections...? Also, the top and bottom borders on the sidebar sections seems a bit overdone to me.--PcjWoWWiki admin (TDrop me a line!C58,926 contributions and counting) 15:44, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Also, what does it look like on lower resolutions? --PcjWoWWiki admin (TDrop me a line!C58,926 contributions and counting) 15:47, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
The main page always stays centred on the screen - it's designed for a minimum screen width of 1024, and looks fine at that size.
The section numbering is just a setting in my preferences. Normally they aren't numbered, I just like it that way as an editor.
Regarding the sidebar - how about if only the top edge of the windows had the interesting border? That might tone it down a little. Kirkburn  talk  contr 16:12, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
I'll have to see the changes to the sidebar to tell you, it might help. Also, I'll have to look at it on a computer with a higher resolution, but I think having the Lich King on one side and the "Dark Portal guardian" on the other might be too much "evil-type figure with sword pointing down" for me. --PcjWoWWiki admin (TDrop me a line!C58,926 contributions and counting) 16:17, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Ha, good point :) If anyone's got suggestions for good images we could use as background sources, I'd be very interested! Preferably images that can easily be slotted into this kind of design. Kirkburn  talk  contr 16:23, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Is it possible to share the url of the testwiki you're doing this on? CogHammer Ose talk/3721 18:06, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Not yet, but I'd copy the main page update to a test page over before any update, so as to ensure nothing looks odd. The skin is a bit more difficult to do, but could probably do a preview via an @import thing for user pages. Kirkburn  talk  contr 19:07, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree with pcj that the side boxes are a little over-done... maybe just the fancy design on the bottom of each box? If even that? The background idea is very nice, and to be honest I've been thinking about doing something similar as a result of the full-page ads we've run on occasion.
All in all, if we can get the load time of the main page down to something bearable (180KB of text just for Portal:Main, plus all of the CSS+JS+ads), I'm happy. Monaco has too much crap in text mode (but I've been bitching about that for a while), so hopefully the skin improvements will help there. --k_d3 00:12, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
A live version of the image linked with semi-broken width hackery (it doesn't get narrow enough... maybe a fixed-width div?) is now up at Portal:Main/dev. Go forth and play. --k_d3 01:35, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
The sidebar design, backgrounds, and portal buttons all make it look a bit... "flashy" (To put it nicely).--SWM2448 01:59, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Regarding Monaco being improved, check out this topic on the Central forum. Kirkburn  talk  contr 13:38, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
P:M/d has been updated again. You may need to do a hard refresh of MediaWiki:Common.css and MediaWiki:Monaco.css in order for the width-hackery to work properly. Play with the design/layout and such. The portal linking needs work, as it's not obvious what those five icons are for. I still need to find the Warcraft universe icon that's in the image, too. --k_d3 21:46, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

I dislike the amount of vertical space portal navigation takes up in that preview -- it just about displaces any actual content from the first browser window worth of any Portal. It seems to me that the point of the portal pages is to provide navigation to interesting content in their area, rather than to other portals -- the inter-portal navigation either needs to be shrunk down or moved somewhere below the actual content. -- foxlit (talk) 22:11, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

We are still rather keen on the portal images, because they are much more visually interesting links to readers than a list of links. Additionally, usefully, Google actually recognises them as links. I'm copying across more of the skin CSS now so the dev page looks more representative. Kirkburn  talk  contr 18:50, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
Also note, all links from the featured article would be removed, leaving only the main link to the article - to funnel people to the best articles, and reduce visual and link overload. Kirkburn  talk  contr 19:07, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
The thing is... what do the portal-link images mean to random google-user #85405850 who's seeing the front page for the first time? We need some method of identifying that the images aren't just there for the hell of it. --k_d3 04:56, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Is it me, or are the skin updates still not showing on the dev page? Regarding the portals, I somewhat agree, they may need a little something to say "click me for more!". Kirkburn  talk  contr 13:21, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Fixed the skinning issue! Check out Portal:Main/dev now. Kirkburn  talk  contr 17:36, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Btw, I'm going to go through making tweaks to the individual portals and sidebar atm, nothing too controversial. Kirkburn  talk  contr 17:44, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
The sidebar looks terrible with the Lich King right behind it and section tops and bottoms still need a lot of work. --PcjWoWWiki admin (TDrop me a line!C58,926 contributions and counting) 17:49, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

I've finished with my tweaks to content, which leaves the skin and switching to portal links on the main page. I'd love to have a "more unique" (yes, Grammar Nazis, I know) set of background images than the two currently on the dev page, but it's hard to source them. Anyone got suggestions? Kirkburn  talk  contr 18:42, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Update: I've made some tweaks to the sidebar on Portal:Main/dev - it now only shows the top bar. (Also, yes, there are image server cache issues. It's pissing me off.) Kirkburn  talk  contr 20:01, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Better, still need better graphics but it's getting better. --PcjWoWWiki admin (TDrop me a line!C58,926 contributions and counting) 20:09, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

I'd like to put the new skin and main page live later today or tomorrow. We can always change the floating images afterwards once we find better ones. Any objections or final changes to make? Kirkburn  talk  contr 17:41, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

Now that I've moved house, it's time to get this live! Edit: new main page is live, skin will go live whenever MediaWiki feels like it... Kirkburn  talk  contr 19:26, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Okay, now I noticed it had issues interacting with the JS tabs stuff - it just showed the main page on all tabs - unfortunately I'm not sure how to deal with that, so I've had to revert the pages to non JS versions for now. Kirkburn switches on the Batman-style pcj floodlight The main issue is that the main page is now a separate page to the others - the JS tabs should only appear on the individual portals, to switch between them. Kirkburn  talk  contr 21:25, 2 July 2009 (UTC) should probably have tested it more extensively, and probably talked to me before being stupid. Now it will have to wait for this weekend when I have time. --PcjWoWWiki admin (TDrop me a line!C58,926 contributions and counting) 00:07, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
Sorry - it's not an easy thing to test, and I don't know the way the JS works :( Kirkburn  talk  contr 11:15, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
OK, it should be fixed (and further JS optimizations in the cache pipe). Next time check with me beforehand instead of afterward if you don't want to fix it yourself. --PcjWoWWiki admin (TDrop me a line!C58,926 contributions and counting) 23:37, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
/me bear-hugs pcj. Thanks, and sorry again. Looks great, though :) Kirkburn  talk  contr 13:16, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I like the skin, looks real fancy. Inv misc orb 04Xavius, the Satyr Lord 13:45, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

WHoA, really awesome. I miss the old one, but I think I'll be fine after a few days. Good work, indeed. Anyway, couldn't anyone update a picture of the old style? Just to have it on our history and be able to see how things have developed.--Lon-ami (talk) 13:56, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
I've used the old wowwiki skin ever since I got the option to set it back. I dislike the Monaco layout (javascript required for the top level menu, for instance), and that seems to be the only option other than "old wowwiki". As I also browse without pictures often, I've got the other pet peeve of web sites that are utterly unuseful and unnavigable unless you turn pictures (and sometimes javascript) on. (Sites that show you zip unless you have Flash enabled are worse, though.) As long as a) the old wowwiki skin is available, and b) the "logged out" skin is navigable without images or javascript, I won't complain too much. --Eirik Ratcatcher (talk) 17:51, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

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