New Website - Please take a look

  • Kern

    Kern - 2014-02-03

    Hi everybody,

    I offered my minor web design skills to Peter and he let me design a new website and organise the content getting rid of deadlinks and adding new content.
    The website so far is currently being hosted on my own domain that shall eventually be a site for my work. Please check it out (only currently works correctly in full screen on laptops and most tablets as i have yet to make it responsive for mobile devices. Please let me know how it runs and what operating system and browser you are using. Please leave your feedback on anyways to improve the site plus let me know of any grammatical errors. Any likes or dislikes on the look. No matter how small the suggestion please get in touch. I have borrowed material heavily from the Friendly Skies forum so anyone who can post there.

    A few notes:

    • I may make the navigation bar have a dropdown for quicker navigation on the content heavier pages.
      -Unsure on the exact design of the logo.
      -The scripting and plugin tutorials currently dont lead anywhere due to not having worked out exactly how to include Peter's content yet. I personally was thinking of having each one as a pdf that can be viewed either in the browser which would also be avaliable as a download.
      -Any more artwork would be excellent.
      -Screenshots of anyone creating artwork would be useful as well.
      -More tutorials would be fantastic. Either video or text based. If text based please provide a plain document that i can then convert to a pdf.

    Thanks all and i look forward to hearing your views.

    Last edit: Kern 2014-02-13
  • Kevin D.

    Kevin D. - 2014-02-03

    I like the clean look. As you said, it doesn't work perfectly on mobile devices, but it's not bad on my phone. I like the direct links to tutorial videos. That has been an area with a lack of content recently. Just one year ago, AOI had almost no YouTube presence. Now there is a large array of videos and we need to advertise them.

    Good work!

    • Kern

      Kern - 2014-02-03

      Thanks Kevin. I will start making it responsive so it works in portrait mode on phones better.

      Last edit: Kern 2014-02-03
  • Harald G

    Harald G - 2014-02-03

    From a first glance it is much better than the current side.
    Will it attract "new customers"? Might be the question to ask.
    The headlines look simple and give access to all areas - so the website
    is as easy to navigate as AoI is to handle.
    While I like the Blender website I don´t think that would be a way for AoI.
    Simply as there are no daily news etc.

    What I would like to see is a changing picture - maybe those from the artists in the gallery. Since AoI can be used for animations a pure static website didn´t reflect these capabilities to well.


    • Kern

      Kern - 2014-02-03

      Thanks Harald.

      I was hoping it was at least more accessible as I enjoyed that about other open source websites such as transmission.

      I agree I really liked the blender website due to its news and all the content avaliable yet I didn't feel it would be correct. If more plugins, textures tv become avaliable then the website could be adapted in the future to include update news and a section for cataloging and easy download.

      That is something I think I should add to the revised version as it would make the website more interesting.

  • Luke S

    Luke S - 2014-02-03

    Nice clean look.
    Win 7, chrome 32.0.1700.102 m
    I do have a few thoughts, though:

    1. Presentation:
      • In your copy, you have some hyperlinked text, such as the links to documentation and version history in your intro paragraph. On my system, these style to the exact same color as the rest of the text. You can't see that they are links until you hover. I'm not sure if this is intentional, but to me this makes the links mostly useless. They need to be differentiated a bit, or perhaps don't have the links in the paragraph?
      • You have several... what seem to be Review snippets, but no citations or links to who said those nice things about this program.
    2. Content:
      • The first sentence I read is:

        Art of Illusion is a open source 3D modelling and rendering studio developed by Peter Eastman in the late 1990's.

      • I'd suggest that this is not the first thing that you want potential new users to see. If you haven't read to the end of the paragraph, you might get the impression that AOI is legacy - not up to date.
      • I see that you pulled some images for the gallery from friendlyskies, and that you used the artist's user names. Did you ask their permission first? I doubt any of the people on friendlyskies would give you any hassle about this, but it's something to keep in mind.
    • Kern

      Kern - 2014-02-04

      Thanks Luke. I will see if any css is overriding each other.

      Sources added.

      First Line rewritten.

      I have been trying to get active on the forum and spoke to a couple of community members but haven't got access to the forum yet. Need to chase that up.

      This is an updated post.

      Thanks Luke your comments have been really helpful.

      Last edit: Kern 2014-02-04
  • Kevin D.

    Kevin D. - 2014-02-04

    Luke made some good points. Although, I think it's easy to forget that the product is the design, not the content. I have experience in web design and it is common to use placeholder info. The designer is not really concerned with the actual content, just the type of content. That being said, this design IS publicly visible, so permissions could be an issue. But, like Luke said, I doubt any of the creators will really care. In fact, I was quite pleased to see one of my rendering under the Art Gallery section :)

    There is one thing I noticed:

    The images in the art gallery are all different sizes. It would look better if everything was of a uniform width. I also expected to be able to click on them and see larger versions.

    I looked at the source code and noticed that you don't seem to be using WordPress or anything like it. If you had to add a new menu item, could that be done globally? I guess it all comes down to the question of who will be the admin. I would love to see the website become more active, maybe featuring new community renderings, plugins or additions to the textures and material gallery. However, the more active the website is, the more we could use someone to assume the responsibility of keeping it updated.

    I would like to hear Peter's opinion on this subject.

  • Kern

    Kern - 2014-02-04

    Kevin I am partially concerned with the content as that was one of the tasks. I was more than happy to help add new content. It did make it tougher than regular web design but it has been fun researching all the internet resources for art of illusion.

    When I was using doing the art gallery I was mainly looking for my favourites. I have made it a uniform width bar one image. I shall include the larger images either today or tomorrow. I agree that more community renderings would be excellent. Harald mentioned a changing picture previously and that would fit in well with more up to date content.

    No currently purely html and css. I don't fully understand the question. Do you mean could you add a new menu item and it would immediately upload and change the website? Yes would be the answer but you are correct it depends who is updating the website.

    I would currently be happy to take on the responsibility of keeping the website updated if Peter allows this.

    Last edit: Kern 2014-02-04
  • Nik Trevallyn-Jones

    Hi Kern,

    Thanks for taking this on! :)
    I think it's great that you are putting in your time to give AOI a new face on the web.

    I have a few thoughts on what you have so far:

    1. I would like to see more 3D effects in the base pages - not just in the gallery. AOI is a 3D modelling and rendering tool, so I would like to see the site reflect that.

    1a. As well as, or perhaps instead of 3D effects, I would like to see more colour. AOI is very much about colour - materials, textures, images, etc.

    1. I realise that you are focusing on layout first, and content second, but I agree with others that the introductory paragraph should focus on what AOI is and what makes it different:

    2. intuitive interface

    3. low learning curve
    4. java (runs on multiple platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD, etc)
    5. extensible plugin architecture

    2a. I would also like to see the contributors section recognise the other code and resource contributors:

    Francois Guillet, Julian McDonald, Kevin Lynn, Troy, Luke J Sails, Pete Ihis, Guillermo Perez Farquharson, plus many more. In fact, I've also contributed myself. There is a larger list of contributors in the AOI README file, but to get a complete list, you would also need to browse the plugin repository and the forums, both on SourceForge, and on Friendly Skies.

    1. Sadly, it seems that the Art Of Illusion Wiki is no more.
      Is that going to come back, or do we need to start a new one?
      Is the new website a good opportunity to start a new Wiki?

    Once again Kern, thank you for taking the time to do this - it is really appreciated.


    • Kern

      Kern - 2014-02-04

      Thank you for all your advice Nik,

      I have rewrote the introduction taking into consideration your points.

      I have also included the other contributors. If you could let me know what each person did that would be great.

      I did mention briefly in my first post that i wish to replace the screenshots used on the first page with ones of actual work. I am looking for users to provide those. Plus i am working on adding a rolling image gallery on the homepage.
      I was considering using the geometry background for simply the container content and then adding a brighter border for around the outside so still keep a fairly clean look. I have not quite decided yet so will play around and see what looks good.

      That was the first link i realised was broken before i offered my services to rearrange the website. It would be a good idea as i feel it would a good place to catalogue any information such as tutorials etc. Hopefully all these changes will bring more people to the community.

      I am still working on the logo whether i can create improved version.

      Again thank you for your input. It really is helpful getting feedback.

      I am pleased to be helping and am enjoying using any web design skills i have learnt.


  • pencilart

    pencilart - 2014-02-04

    Hi Kern,
    I like your site so far. Works well with my Android phone. The AOI logo is nice. Can it be in color (the lines[strokes] only, not filling the shapes in)?
    For the screenshots of AOI in action, how about a few showing all the plugins installed (like the polymesh tool)? The ones you show only have the basic default ones.
    I would also like to see the polymesh editor screenshot.
    Maybe make some mention of having to install the plugins?
    You may also use some of my renders for the gallery if they are good enough.
    Many of them are here:
    I even have screenshots of my AOI works in progress.
    (I mostly use AOI to make furniture for another project, "SweetHome 3D").
    Also check my scraps section. I have uploaded a few more AOI WIP's

    Last edit: pencilart 2014-02-04
    • Kern

      Kern - 2014-02-05

      Hi Pencilart,

      I have been playing about with color i shall test out one on the live webpage.

      Pencil art if you could supply screenshots that do not have a watermark across i would be very appreciative and would use those. I would of course include your name in the contributors.

      I personally took those screenshots but will install more plugins and retake that particular screenshot.

      If you have the time at any point it would be excellent if you could write with screenshots or record all about your work.

      Last edit: Kern 2014-02-05
    • Kern

      Kern - 2014-02-05

      Err unsure how the double post happened

      Last edit: Kern 2014-02-05
  • pencilart

    pencilart - 2014-02-05

    Sent ya a message from your Sourceforge profile. I hope you get it.

  • Luke S

    Luke S - 2014-02-24

    Nosed around a little bit more, and found some things that I didn't know existed. Who knew that someone had written a book about AOI?

    I have a question. With effort being put into re-designing the website, will there be a space for documentation of plugins? (Only plugins available through the main repo, of course.) Or would this be better kept over on the AOISP site?

    • Kern

      Kern - 2014-02-24

      Hi Luke,

      I know i found quite a few items that i was surprised but pleased by.

      When designing the website i thought about this and i thought it made sense to contain all the plugins on the main website as simply is easier for new people. Anyone else have any views on this?

      Last edit: Kern 2014-02-24
  • Luke S

    Luke S - 2014-02-25

    @Kern: I've just visited the test site on mobile, and found something odd. Even though the content does re-size a bit, and gets re-layed out when I rotate my device, some stuff just still does not fit.

    • Headings seem to still run off the edge of the page.
    • The logo image does not center, but rather seems to have a set amount of page space that it is set off of the left margin.
    • Laying out to landscape mode flows the main text too wide.
    • Images don't get served as previews.

    On android 4.1.0, Chrome 32.0.1700.99

    Please take this as intended as constructive, as I really think that this design has possibilities.

    I just noticed that you are having trouble getting on friendlyskies. MarcC, who runs the site, needs to manually approve new accts. Send him an email.

    He just wants to make sure that you are a real person, not a robot.

    • Kern

      Kern - 2014-02-25

      Thanks Luke,

      I am really grateful for the feedback. Thanks Luke. Ill try and fix those over the next few days.

      Thanks Luke, Yeah i wanted to get on to ask the community there whether they mind their items being on the site plus just to show them the site.

      That is fair enough.

  • Peter Eastman

    Peter Eastman - 2014-02-25

    Who knew that someone had written a book about AOI?

    Really? I had no idea! Is there a link to it?



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