Message from William:
This page is only about 15% complete: Please stand by.

I created this page as a general discussion-sub-page for our community's To-Do list, but more specifically for the discussion sub-topic of how to improve the effectiveness of the site's initial public pages. I intend to give feedback (and ideas) from the point of view of an absolutely new user: not just new to WikiSuite, but also new to Tiki, and new to ClearOS.
So, please don't get angry if I totally miss some point. Remember, if a retired senior programmer misses the point, then how many other site visitors will also miss that point.

[-] Preliminary Personal Notes

  • Question: Do WikiSuite members have personal pages? This might be a good idea to bring a sense of professionalism by having a standard page structure for board members and senior personnel, and maybe allow all members to describe their backgrounds, what they are working on, and why they like WikiSuite.
  • I am willing to help implement any of the following recommendations but, being as new as I am, I thought it might be better to discuss the tactical generalities first.
  • My assessment of the WikiSuite homepage is going to be rather harsh. Sorry! My hope is that greater growth and profits will overcome any hurt feelings. Remember, I wouldn't be volunteering my suggestions if I didn't already highly respect the work done so far.

[-] Comments On The Banner Module

To my eye the page & banner combination feels out of touch.
The Banner must have the look and feel of a professional organization.

[-] A Suggested New Banner:

  • MISSION should be: What We Are
  • FAQ (jargon) should be: What We Do
  • CONTACT should be: Who We Are
  • INSTALL should be: Free Downloads
    • The word "install" by itself generally means click on this to immediately start your download. The blue outline reinforces this conclusion. Most people won't even click on this link.
  • Needed: Support
    • This will become the money page.
  • Needed soon: Community

[-] Comments On The Landing Page Design (WikiSuite.org)

The suggested changes mentioned below have been implemented on page: Intro2

Our goal is to promote WikiSuite as the clear choice for people who want the most powerful collaborative software at the lowest possible cost and the least administrative effort.

Three points here:

  1. IMHO, the main landing page fails to communicate this clear choice.
  2. Notice, I didn't say "business software". Businesses may have the most money for temporarily hiring consultants but they also have IT staff to permanently replace those consultants. IOW, it might be a good idea to be clear that WikiSuite is an integrated collaborative software suite appropriate for any size or type of organization, even households. It seems one of the goals of ClearOS is to position itself as a low cost home server to compete with Network Attached Server (NAS) manufacturers like Synology, Netgear and Western Digital.
  3. To maximally promote WikiSuite, we want as many people as possible to try it out, and like what they see. To do this we must make the installation process appear simple, to the point of being "point and click". This perception of simplicity must start with the site's landing pages. These pages must never confound a site visitor with jargon or concepts they don't understand. When we accidentally do this, we send a message that we are inept at our own goals. How can a visitor believe we provide documentation and tools which require minimal administrative effort when these visitors don't even understand what we are saying on our first few pages. To remedy this, we must remind each other to never use jargon. If we have no choice, then each jargon word must be a link to a simple and clear definition along with good promotional statements. Similarly, each headline concept must be simple and followed by increasingly simple explanations which are understandable by the general public, while not considered demeaning to more knowledgeable individuals.

When I first visited WikiSuite.org I wanted to know:

  • What is WikiSuite? Is it a company name? or a product? or a service?
  • Oh, its software? What does it do? For whom?
    • Is it only meant for big servers or what?
    • What operating systems does it run on?
    • What do I need to know to install it and use it?
  • Who does it compete against, and why is it better?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What is WikiSuite's business model?
  • Who are the principles & what are their backgrounds?

After reading the pages I could tell the product being promoted was intended for fellow geeks who already were experts at each of the mentioned concepts. The real problem is that even after patiently visiting every page I didn't feel that all my questions had been answered. IMO, a lot of people who would otherwise be seriously interested in our product are going to leave our site shaking their heads thinking, "I really don't know what that was all about". The landing page absolutely must answer most of the above questions without even requiring the visitor to scroll down the page.

If there is a page design problem, and I think there is, might it possibly be due to differing opinions on the target audience?

  • Who is WikiSuite targeting? Is it not:
    1. Business professionals who are learning about possible collaborative tools their companies might use? ( 8%)
    2. Super-Users whose bosses have asked them to investigate the same. (20%)
    3. Regular people who are also trying to learn about these tools, and found this site. (70%)
    4. Experienced IT professionals. ( 2%)

In my opinion, our landing page is suffering from geek speak, and we are therefore likely to be losing some customers from groups 1 & 2, a whole bunch from 3, and even some from 4. The percentage numbers given are totally arbitrary, but I'm trying to convey the idea that our site may receive far more visits by valuable prospective customers who currently know almost nothing, than visits by experienced IT people. I am also suggesting the idea that businesses with experienced IT staff, who have absolutely no difficulty understanding our website, may not require our consultations as often as the, far more numerous, less experienced businesses and organizations. Let us not scare away those less experienced visitors.

Problems and possible fixes

When people visit a web page, there is a satisfaction threshold which must be met for them to remain on that page. They must immediately see clues that they are going in the right direction for their quest, or at least feel they may have discovered an interesting new quest. It is often helpful to ask random people to visit a site and give their impressions. Have we done that yet?

Problem: The page shows no generally understandable explanation of what WikiSuite is or does

  • Probably only 5% of the general public knows what "wiki" means. Possibly as few as 10% of experienced business professionals, and maybe even IT people, really know what a wiki can do. It is admittedly difficult to design a landing page which appeals to everyone, but I think we can do better. This first page needs text which immediately explains that:
    • Wikisuite is a selection of the finest free collaboration software integrated around the best wiki engine
    • The wiki engine allows groups of people to easily and colllaboratively create attractive documentation pages, and these pages can be either private to an organization or open to the public.
  • Very few people know what Open Source software is. Forget about FLOSS. To most visitors this is just meaningless jargon. Just say it is Free.
  • The next textual group fails to remedy the problem when it says, "WikiSuite™ is especially suited to knowledge-centric organizations". A person really needs to know what an object is before being told what it is useful for.

Problem: The primary image on the page feels broken

The main image is of the WikiSuite logo surrounded by eight objects that look like they should be hot-links, but they aren't. I bet 9 out of every 10 people who visit this page will move their pointers over those logos, and then be amazed that they don't do anything.
IMO, we really should activate these logos with both textual popups and links.

Problem: Functionality check list is not clear or rigorous

Many of the items on this check list will not be understood by the general public looking into collaborative tools. See my replacement list below.

Problem: Not clear why "Your data is priceless." module should go here.

The visitor is in the process of learning what WikiSuite is and does. The following section gives a fairly good list of functionalities. So why are "The Latest Updates" shown first? I recommend this module go at the bottom of the page.

[-] Content for Alternative Homepage

WikiSuite™ is a professionally managed integration of the best free online collaboration tools, designed for businesses and organizations of any size.

These tools have been created by the world's finest sofware designers, implemented and maintained by thousands of experienced Open Source programmers, and now for the first time, evaluated, packaged and documented by our business professionals, for your business professionals.

These tools are:

  • Each chosen as the best in their functional group.
  • Selectable and installable at the push of a button.
  • Easy to use, easy to maintain.
  • Extensible to any size organization from family server to global enterprise.
  • Highly integrated to share all your data.
  • Free to download and use forever.
  • Open Source means thousands of eyes looking for security flaws.
  • Push button control panels for administration.
  • Free of contracts or hidden fees.
  • Installable anywhere, at home, your backoffice, or in the Cloud.
  • Community managed free upgrades.
  • Paid consultation/support is available

A draft of the top of the Homepage has been constructed here.