Content Revamp Part 2: Categories and Forums
This new menu is another one of the big departures we're making from the original site design, which has through the years always remained pretty much the same in terms of navigating the website. (For some comparison, check out the gallery of past page versions at the bottom of our About Us page) In this new version, we've divvied up the site into 3 main categories: Technical, Creative and Business. You can click on any of the category headers to get a page listing all the forums in that category or jump straight to a specific forum by using the drop-down list. Given how important our forums are, we're making it much easier for you to access them directly.
Another big change we've made is to map our resource categories directly to our forums. You can see this right now if you visit the full category listing of the Articles & Resources section. The heirarchy of resources is much, much flatter than what we originally had. The main reason we couldn't broadly categorize articles in the old site is because it made it harder for people to search for specific topics - with all our categories people had the ability to drill down to a specific subset of articles numbering a dozen or so rather than search through a few dozen or hundred labeled "DirectX".
Now, with the IPS software moving towards supporting tagging of content, we have the option to broadly categorize resources and rely on tags to help people find specific topics within these categories. We've long looked towards tags as a solution to getting our content better organized and accessible and are excited to finally be able to begin putting them to use.
The forums themselves are also getting reorganized a bit. Often times in the Comments, Suggestions and Ideas forum people will request new forums be created around certain topics and our usual response is to say that we need a substantial amount of traffic about these topics cluttering up a forum before we feel the need to branch it out to a separate forum. Well, the reverse is also true - if a forum stops receiving a decent amount of traffic and posting we're going to shut it down and merge it back into a forum that carries discussion along similar lines. The reason for this is simple - forums thrive when lots of people are participating in the discussion. It's great that we may have a separate forum for people to go to discuss isometric programming, for example, but it's not so great when only a couple of people are actually visiting the forum to weigh in on what's being posted there. It would be much better to just post the topic in the Game Programming forum where a lot more people will see it and respond to it.
So with this in mind we'll be closing, renaming, shuffling and merging some forums. Here's the full list:
"Isometric Land" will be merged into "Game Programming"
"Software Engineering" will be merged into "General Programming"
"Java Development" will be merged into "General Programming" (Topics prefixed with [java])
".NET" will be merged into "General Programming" (Topics prefixed with [.net])
"Hardware discussion" will be removed
"Consoles, PDAs and Cell phones" will be renamed to "Mobile Development"
"Gamedev: The comic / Gamedev: Humour Portal" will be merged into "The Lounge"
"Alternate Game Libraries" and "Scripting Languages and Mods" will be combined to form a new "APIs and Tools" forum
"Web Development" will be merged into "General Programming"
"Everything Unix" will be merged into "General Programming"
“GDNet Marketplace” will be merged into "Comments, Suggestions and Ideas"
“Article Proposals and Requests” will be removed
"Breaking Into the Games Industry" will be renamed to "Breaking In" or something similar (shorter)
"The Business and Law of Game Development" will be renamed to "Business and Law"
And since we are trimming down the forums we decided to also add one: "Production and Management" - which has been requested for some time and is being created also for the purpose of categorizing certain articles which would otherwise end up in "Business and Law".
Coming Up Next...
A lot to take in on the forum-side of things I know. We're hoping streamlining the forums and condensing traffic amongst them will lead to better discussions overall. After a time we may discover the need to break out some new forums - but we'll continue to handle this on a case-by-case basis as they arise.
So next up I'll go into more detail about a feature I mentioned briefly in this entry - tagging.