You may have noticed of late that some things about our site have changed! If we were an App on your computer or phone (which isn’t a bad way to think about it) this would be version 1.5 or thereabouts! The Buddhist Centre Online has been up and running in what we consider its basic form (version 1.0) for about 9 months, so it was time to take stock and continue our work at building on first versions of things. Here’s what we’ve been up to and a sense of what’s changed. Please get in touch with any feedback or questions you have - you can also let us know what you think in comments here.
Feedback We had several key areas of feedback when we took soundings earlier this year, and have been working to address the main concerns we picked up (all of which we shared and will be working to improve iteratively). It’s slower than we’d like with a very reduced budget overall this year but we’ve made some good progress. The five areas are:
Navigation, Usability, Content, Finding Information, Making Projects & Groups Simpler
We’ve gone live with our first set of changes in the last month, with some further exciting additions to come before the end of the year.
General design We’ve sharpened up areas of the visual design for higher contrast and reorganized and re-emphasized some of the elements (eg. removing backgrounds, moving sharing buttons). This is a work in progress and we’ve more to do, but the site should look and feel cleaner and a little sharper.
Easy-to-find content You’ll see that we now have three new curated spaces to help you get easy access to the best of the great flow of content that’s now moving through the site every week from around the world. You can access these from the home page and from the main Community home page, as well as via the new expandable sub-menu on every Project and Group.
Triratna News - Great, thoughtful reporting from our team on what’s happening around the Triratna Buddhist Community internationally.
Community Highlights - The best of what people in our community around the world post to the web about their own situations and Buddhist practice.
Triratna Features - All our headline stories and original Buddhist media content, including live, in-depth web coverage of major Triratna events.
Navigation/Usability/Making Projects and Groups simpler/Finding Information We got a lot of conflicting information about this but it’s clear that in developing the site we need to make sure things are as explicit as possible for users. Perhaps that’s what the Buddha meant by saying that explicit dharmas are better than implicit dharmas!
- Anyway, a first key change is that in tying together the three ‘top-down new content’ spaces (above), we’ve also re-emphasized the main ‘Community’ page (‘The Great Stream of Practice’) as the ‘root space’ for these areas of the site, as well as for those that are more to do with newly generated content that doesn’t come from the team (ie. from anyone else posting to the site - eg. you!).
So in tandem with this focussing on the ‘top-down’ spaces we curate, we’ve also re-thought and re-designed Projects and Groups. They now use a much simpler ‘breadcrumbs’ navigation system that makes the spaces easier to engage with and links them back at all times to the main Community space, so you can see at a glance what the relationship is and - most importantly - where you are on the site. We’ve also added a widget as part of this system (watch the video!) to let you quickly access the main Community menu at any time without having to go back there!
- You’ll also notice we’ve re-designed the content menus for Projects, Groups and Courses (under the big pictures), simplifying the initial menu and adding a nice ‘filter posts’ button that lets users sift through long feeds more obviously by content type. We’ve also changed the default landing page (depending on your membership or non-membership of a space) to mean the first information you see on any space is the most relevant to you as a particular user.
- We’ve also re-worked the ‘Projects & Groups’ area so it’s more intuitive and displays the information in a more immediately useful way, including a default listing of Projects & Groups you belong to (you can also still get to these via your account page as before).