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alexjc

Request for Comments: AiGameDev.com

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Will you help me improve AiGameDev.com using the perfection game? It works like this: give the site a mark out of ten, and tell me what you like about it that deserved the score. Then tell me what I need to do to get full marks. (The 1-10 scale means that if you don't have any suggestions, then you have to rate the site 10 :-) Thanks!

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Hey Alex,

First off I really love the site. It looks really good, and has a lot of great content. If these criticisms are harsh, it's only out of love.

I would probably rate the site a 7 out of 10.

The biggest problem for me is it doesn't have the feel of an informational site. I think a couple things are causing this:

1) Too much dead space. For example, I would suggest just getting rid of the blank space on the left (although I will miss that little dude). There's also a lot of unused space in the black area on the right.

2) Font size is too big.

Basically, the ratio of information to space is very low. For comparison, check out the "main page" of the king of all informational sites, Wikipedia. In just a 1000x700 pixel area, they are able to fit: a logo, all the major navigation links, a search bar, an ad, a login button, links to different subjects, 200 words of a featured article, and 7 headlines for stories in the news. And it still looks organized.

I also find that I get lost around that site pretty quickly. It takes quite a few clicks (maybe too many) before I can reach the content that I want. Having some kind of indicator on each page of where I am (in relation to the rest of the site) might be nice. For example, here at GDnet, if I'm browsing the lounge, there's a little thing at the top that says "Home » Community » Forums » GDNet Lounge" .

The front page could be reorganized a bit. Most sites tend to put the latest news, or latest blog entries directly on the front page, which would be good.

Finally, I think a major improvement would be adding some forums. I noticed that you have a lot of places where users can leave comments (which is great), but no general-purpose forums. Internet users love forums. Specifically for anything AI-related, it seems like many hobbyists really love talking (ranting) about their new ideas for AI. So I think they would love having a space where they can do that. You don't necessarily have to read the ranting :)

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My initial impressions are exactly the same:

1. Too much space wasted, on the left bar particularly.
2. The font size is too big.

The content is great.

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Great, thanks for the feedback!


I think I must be getting too old for my 1280x display size. I tend to increase the size of the font by default! :-)

Anyway, I've reduced the line-height a lot and the font size a little, and it seems better already... I'll tweak the site more on a "normal" display.



I will have to think about the design of the overall template; it's a bit bigger job... Most blogs don't fill all the width (600-800 pixels) is common, so I never intended to fill the left side with content. Hmmm.


* What in particular bothers you about the empty-space?
* Is this a problem on the front page and/or article pages?


As for navigation, do you think those "bread crumbs" will do the trick or do you feel something else is missing?


Alex

P.S. A forum is on the way already; I'm just waiting to build up a bigger community to launch it...

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Quote:
Original post by alexjc
* What in particular bothers you about the empty-space?
* Is this a problem on the front page and/or article pages?


The main problem is that there is very little information on each screenful, so we have to do a lot of scrolling. If the font size were smaller, then we could read more with each screenful. If you like the whitespace on the left, what if you reduce the width of the black menu on the right?

Also, you can probably more aggressively monetize the site without much negative feedback. You have a lot of extra room which may not look too bad with, say, Google ads -- if they are cleverly placed.

Best of luck with the site!

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The site is not easy to navigate. For example I entered the article from rss feed, but couldn't find it from the "news" page later. It seems not all the articles represented on the "news" page. Home page completely useless - IMO news should be on the home page. Also not all sections represented on the sidebar - latest article have tag "tutorial" (BTW why ?) but there is no "tutorial" section on the sidebar. What if article should have several tags ?. It seems site need some design.

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Quote:
Original post by serg3d
The site is not easy to navigate. For example I entered the article from rss feed, but couldn't find it from the "news" page later. It seems not all the articles represented on the "news" page. Home page completely useless - IMO news should be on the home page. Also not all sections represented on the sidebar - latest article have tag "tutorial" (BTW why ?) but there is no "tutorial" section on the sidebar. What if article should have several tags ?. It seems site need some design.


So much for the perfection game :-)


I'm curious why you clicked on 'news' to find a blog article, and not 'blog' or 'articles' from the sidebar?

The news page is for "news on game AI from around the web" as it says at the top of the page; it's even on a separate domain. If this "news" link is so confusing, I will probably remove the link and only refer to it only on Saturdays in the roundup post... what do you think?

As for the front page, I will add the latest articles somewhere as pinacolada suggested, but probably no news...


Articles already have separate tags, which you can access from the tag cloud in the articles page, but these are not in the sidebar yet. You're right there; I will make sure all articles are tagged and put the 'best' tags in the sidebar...

Thanks,

Alex

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I figured if I read about the perfection game I might forget about the intent of your post, so please accept my critiques as-are and don't presume I used any template for it.

Im going to seperate my scores actualy here:

news.aigamedev.com 8/10
aigamedev.com 6/10

overall:
1. font size, as mentioned earlier, requires alot of scrolling. I have a high resolution monitor.. I shouldent have to scroll so much.

aigamedev.com
1. that guy.. what is his function? i wont miss him, really. IMHO he should be a static image that you can scroll right past, and in no way deserves his own vertical rule. this is web2.0, think FUNCTIONALITY FIRST. What purpose does it serve? Does it improve navigation of the site? (no) Does it help users find what they need? (no) Does it improve overall profit or marketability? (no). Utterly pointless, remove it.

2. White space, wayyy to much whitespace. Fixed width designs can be very nice, and you can do alot with them. But the guys vertical bar generates ALOT of unnecessary whitespace. Just float him in the content or something. He may be the cause of point 3

3. FLOW. The page has some difficulty with focus points which cause it to be rather difficult to navigate. The red and the orange causes your eyes to flow from the left hand side of the page to the navigation bar... but right past all the content. This problem isnt unique, but its amplified by the fact that there is NO content directly below the bold logo (which looks nice btw).

4. Even with all the whitespace, information is too jumbled. Lower the font size and overall whitespace, and increase the vertical seperation of the various content sections on the homepage.

5. Resolution. You give reasons for using a fixed with layout. But you cant use such a LARGE fixed width layout. _NEVER_ more then 750px horizontal unless your going with a flowing layout. Using the latest firefox (havent tested others) when I shrink the horizontal layout lower then like 1000, a horizontal scrollbar appears. there is rarely a good reason to have a horizontal scrolling website. Upon further inspection it appears to be increasing the width of the right hand menu... but I dont have the time to fully inspect your CSS. I would sudgest fixing that though.

My Recommendations:
Remove the guy and the whitespace completely. (you can leave the FAR left whitespace, but not the div the guy is sitting on). fix the layout into a relative div and put it somewhere since you want a fixed layout, your doing some weird things as-is.

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Thanks for taking the time PaulCesar.

For reference, which of your points apply to article pages, and which are about the front page?

Alex

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