Change is in the air...
After reaching the ripe old age of 18 months Connect is due for a refresh. In the next few weeks we will begin rolling out a completely redesigned community website. We’ve come a long way since the original Connect site launched in March 2009. In that 18 month period we’ve basically doubled in size and are can now boast more than:
- 3.5 Million monthly page views
- 190,000 registered members
- 500,000 discussions, articles, and comments
For this redesign we carefully analyzed traffic patterns on the site, conducted in depth focus groups, and consulted several celebrity astrologers. We are very excited about what we came up with. Here’s a sneak peek of what we wanted to improve and how we are doing it:
SIMPLIFY AND IMPROVE NAVIGATION:
In our focus group studies it was clear that the relationship between “Communities” (Backup, Security, etc) and the content types under them (articles, forums, etc) were not well understood. We completely redesigned the navigation element to make it clear that you first navigate to a community, then find the content you are looking for. Here’s a peek at what the new nav menu looks like:
MAKE IT CLEAR WHERE YOU ARE:
You’ll notice that the navigation menu doubles as a map of where you are in the site. And you can use it to quickly jump between levels in the site. For example here’s what the nav menu will look like when you are viewing the Virtualzilla blog:
HELP YOU FIND THINGS:
Connect has more than half a million pieces of content today and is growing by more than 160,000 items every year. Finding the exact piece of knowledge you are looking for can be tricky. Our ingenious developers came up with a search filter that follows you around the site. For example, if you are currently browsing security forums and initiate a search we automatically apply a filter that only shows forum discussions in the security community. You can, of course, remove this filter before or after your search. Here’s what the new search bar looks like:
SIMPLIFY THE INTERFACE:
There is a lot going on with Connect. We decided to remove the extraneous “fluff” surrounding the technical content you really care about. You’ll notice immediately that the new design is much cleaner than the current site. We hope this helps you focus on the content. It will also improve the performance of the site.
We get a lot of questions about how to use Connect from new users. We added a nifty “Help” menu that can be accessed at any time. In that menu are short videos showing users how to do various tasks on Connect.
Shortly we will be translating the Connect interface into multiple languages (beginning with German, French and then Spanish). This new design accommodates various word lengths in different languages.
CHANGE IN BROWSER SUPPORT
Supporting these fancy new features will require that we no longer support IE6. IE6 has had a good run of almost a decade, but it is no longer capable of keeping up with the latest web technologies. You can still view pages using IE6 using the new theme, but navigation will be much more difficult. Our logs show that less than 5% of users on Connect use IE6. Hopefully you aren't one of them...
As always we are very interested in your feedback on the redesign. Change can always be a bit unsettling and I have no doubt that after we roll this out we’ll need to make some adjustments based on your feedback.
As I mentioned above, we will be rolling the new theme out in phases. Trusted Advisors and members of the Connect Advisory Board will be the first to see the changes. If you would like to have the theme enabled for your account, just drop us a note in the comments below and we’ll add you to the list to be one of the first to preview the new theme.
We anticipate that these changes will be live for all users by early September.