[Catalyst] Re: Catalyst site design drafts feedback thread

Robin Berjon robin at berjon.com
Thu Jun 12 10:56:11 BST 2008

On Jun 12, 2008, at  10:40, Simon Wilcox wrote:
> Kieren Diment wrote:
>> Subjectively speaking, I think that all the sites you mention  
>> above are horribly ugly with the exception of the rubyonrails one  
>> which is quite nice.   Mainly the other sites lose me in a  
>> technicolour yawn (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php? 
>> term=technicolor+yawn) of blocky colour.
> I rather liked the cakephp site. Strong bold colours give an  
> impression that it's a fun product.
> But I think that it depends on who you are appealing to. In the  
> case of the PHP sites you're largely looking to attract designer/ 
> developers so it is important that you "speak" their visual language.
> In the perl world you find that developers are far less concerned  
> with design aesthetics. cf. masonhq.com, maypole.perl.org and all  
> the perl community sites in general.

I think there's more to it than that: there's attracting (and  
reassuring) decision makers too. As a developer I don't really care  
if the site looks good or not, I'll just look at the documentation,  
at the features, and to see if there are active mailing list and IRC  
channel. But to someone not necessarily extremely technically fluent  
(but not PHB stupid either) who has to pick between several options  
it matters. Not that the decision might be based solely on that, but  
once you've been through your checklist (major language, Web  
libraries, AJAX, MVC, reusable components...) given the cost of an in- 
depth analysis looks matter. You might not pick the winning system  
based on looks, but if you intend to give several a spin you'll  
probably want to try the one with the "freshest" site a go first. And  
if that one happens to work, well what's the point in checking the  

Based on that approach, today, I'd go CakePHP.

As a general rule, the Perl community has been inordinately good over  
the past decade at hurting itself by not wanting to appeal to people  
outside those already in the gang. It's a shame.

> I don't think there's anything significantly wrong with the design  
> of the current site. The IA & content needs work but the design is  
> perfectly servicable.

Agreed, I vote to keep it :) Some tweaks I'd suggest:

  - the "Development" box isn't so much about development as it is a  
manifesto about KISS and DRY and TIMTOWTDI. This could be made  
clearer by calling it "Manifesto" and giving nice little headings or  
some boldness for the leading ideas. Perhaps also making it more  
  - by a similar token, "Deployment" isn't exactly what I'd call  
enticing. Perhaps just calling it "Universal Deployment" and moving  
the OS logos above the fold would be enough.
  - the quotes on the side could be made sexier with minimal effort,  
just a touch of design and perhaps some rotating. Proof-reading  
wouldn't hurt ("totaly rad").
  - the top links are wrong in two ways: they're not labelled right,  
and they don't stay when you move between pages. "Documentation"  
should stay in-site rather than link to CPAN. "Developer" is a bit  
useless by pointing to the SVN log (that's hardly a top-level link is  
it?) and "Community" is really about development; I'd call it  
"Development" or "Development Community", and if possible get that  
part of the site in the same template. "Download" should be a big  
prominent button, and it also shouldn't lead to CPAN: rather it  
should go to a page that explains how to obtain Catalyst, either as a  
direct download or through the CPAN shell. "Planet" is fine except  
that it doesn't use the same template as the index page (some of the  
details change) which feels unprofessional. The Advent Calendar is  
great, but it should also be in-style with the rest (and it should be  
easy to use it as a cookbook rather than as a day-by-day thing).

Personally, I'd do that first, then we can look at tweaking the  
design. Since presumably it would cause the site to be templated  
properly, designers could even get their designs tested in-situ,  
which is a lot easier than through screenshots.

Robin Berjon - http://berjon.com/
Fry: Things are different this time. Before she was demanding and
   possessive, but now she just wants me to do stuff and stay with her
   all the time.
             -- Futurama

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