[racket-dev] Revising Racket's home page

From: Eli Barzilay (eli at barzilay.org)
Date: Tue Aug 20 10:50:20 EDT 2013

I dislike the switch to something that looks less unique -- this feels
more like yet-another-site of a language.  I can't really put a finger
on what makes that, but I think that the big factor is the dark
header.  (I didn't like it when Matthew initially suggested it, but I
think it ended up being a good visual signature.)

Random comments:

* (I do like a redo in general, the comments below don't mean that I
  don't like a revision...)

* If this uses some JS trickery or sophisticated CSS hacks, then
  please consider the fact that the header needs to be inserted in
  very different contexts, like the blog header, directory listings,
  gnats, etc.

* Also, have a look at the page using some text browser.  I found this
  important not only for people who use such browsers (and they do
  exist), but also for similar users like screen readers and what web
  engines see on your page.  (It's also a quick way to catch
  title/alt-less images, which you have there...)

* An annoying bug with the header (possibly a browser bug (chrome on
  windows)): on a first scroll-down the header gets scrolled off to
  the top, and very quickly shows up again.  I see the same effect
  when I use down, page-down, or the mouse wheel, and only when
  scrolling away from the top.  (Looks like there's some JS code that
  kicks in when moving away from the top.)

* The navbar links don't look enough like navbar links.  (Personally,
  I like the background on mouse hover for that.)  Also, it looks
  wrong now without such an effect but where the empty space between
  the links is still clickable.

* The space between the Blog link and the Download button is too
  small.  Instead of fixing that, I'd prefer it if the download button
  is flushed to the right to make it stand out more.

* The "<" ">" navigations for the quick example are too emphasized --
  it would be better to have them about half way faded.  They're also
  too sharp -- I think that a "〈" "〉" brackets work better, or maybe
  arrows.  (But it's bad to rely on such unicode characters on
  windows, unless the google trickery takes care of it.)

* The floating div + darker page for the "?" thing is a nice touch,
  but such a darkening effect almost always comes with a
  click-outside-to-close-it thing instead of an explicit "x".

* The "noise" background should scroll up with the page, or probably
  just as well remove it since it doesn't fit the more sterile look.

* I'd like it if there was some visual separation between the code
  examples and the news -- some vertical bar between them, or a
  different bg or a frame around one/both.

* Wasn't one of the early points of revision to include a twitter
  widget?  Maybe in addition to a static set of news items.

* The "Racket is a wide..." paragraph is probably blockquoted or
  something similar, which makes it look mis-aligned with the title.

* I'd prefer it if "a programmable programming language" was
  uncapitalized, slightly smaller smaller, italicizedm, and with extra
  space before it instead of ":", so it looks more like a tag line
  rather than a very verbose page title.

* "but also provides dialects that support" reads bad -- specifically
  the "but" seems like an excuse.  Basically falling into the old trap
  of describing the language as a delta from lisp/scheme, rather than
  describing it on its own merit.  (I like the clojure equivalent: the
  first part talks about the language by itself, and only then is lisp

* The "Start Quickly", "News", etc headers look too-un-header-ish, too
  close to the text, resulting in a very verbosely crowded feeling.
  Some light background or an underline or anything that would make it
  more distinguished from the text would help that.

* The "Draw more pictures or build a web ..." paragraph seems out of
  place and possibly redundant.  With the tag-line and the new intro
  paragraph, it seems like a third piece of screen space dedicated to
  marketing.  Also, it's full of the kind of wiki-like links that in
  this context I don't think are useful.

* The "Go Further" header and "Documentation" headers seem badly
  aligned.  (It looks like the headers were positioned so that the
  "Start Quickly" is in a good place, and the others follow even
  through it doesn't fit there.)  I think that it's better if they're
  all very close to the left (or even flushed against it or going
  further left than the contents).  (This is in addition to making
  them more header-like.)

* These headers are also badly aligned vertically: see how "Go
  Further" is far from the text below, "Documentation" is closer, and
  "Learning" is even closer.

* "Go Further" is possibly redundant, given the sub-sub-headers that
  are already in the text.  Also, maybe there's no point in this whole
  part and just merge the relevant parts to the intro paragraph.

* "For getting started" -> "For beginners"?

* The red sub-sub-headers look too distracting, almost like links.  I
  think that they'd be better of without a color change and in bold

* I'm ambivalent in the same way Neil is about stuffing a whole bunch
  of pages into a single big page.  It's true that clicks cost, but
  scrolling cost too (both in terms of the needed user action and the
  crowded look of the page).  Maybe a good middle ground is to keep
  the sub-pages as before, and have only prominent parts (=> shorter
  bits) on the front page.

  Specifically, there are a lot of things in the community part that
  seem like they really don't fit a big front page thing (eg, the blog
  item, the emphasized "#racket", the link to freenode.net, the
  "browse the logs").  It seems that the whole community part (and
  possibly others, like the documentation section) could use a list of
  quick links: RacketCon, Blog, Twitter; Mailing Lists, IRC, People;

* "The freshest" doesn't read like "built from git head", IOW, it
  looks like a real release.

* Either the code pointer should go to git.racket-lang.org, or just
  kill the git server.  There is little point in investing efforts on
  maintaining a git server to save a few random people the tiny cost
  of a github account or to setup their own server -- especially when
  there's no sysadmin to manage it.

* The textbooks are a nice touch, but I think that some of the other
  good course-level material (coursera, brown lectures, etc) could be
  included.  Also, they do consume a lot of space, so I think that
  they're better at the end of the page (after a much-trimmed
  community part, assuming that the full page is still there)

* The middle sentence in the book descriptions seem redundant in all
  cases.  Also, the lack of periods look odd if it doesn't look like
  an <ol> list visually.

          ((lambda (x) (x x)) (lambda (x) (x x)))          Eli Barzilay:
                    http://barzilay.org/                   Maze is Life!

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