As a newbie to the DaPo effort, here are my thoughts on why I find the site confusing.
- First off, the site is really meant to be more of an working group site, meaning it is geared towards participants already engaged with DaPo on some level. As such, the participants most likely have some domain expertise already in their particular areas. However, given the plethora of technology (see the acronym soup post) promoted by DaPo, it is unlikely that all participants are well versed in all of them. Just thinking out loud here but it may be better to design a site meant for general consumption without all the inner workings exposed but with clear links to the inner workings (and perhaps a warning sign LOL) should a user decide to venture further.
The other confusing part is that depending on where you click on the site, it can take you away to one of 3 other different sites and it’s not entirely obvious that you have left the main site:
- Google Groups – there are 6 separate groups here: Evangelism, Implementation, Policy, Steering, Technical, Public. These groups are where the in-depth discussions happen, first timers probably won’t find them useful.
- Skype public chatrooms (6 of them) – this actually launches Skype where you get to know people, pass on ideas, and ask questions. Like I said in a separate post, since the participants are worldwide, it can be tricky finding a good time / day when the rooms are active. The few times I checked it out, they were fairly quiet. This might be a hit and miss thing for first timers.
- Confluence Wiki – this is where decisions, results, and project updates get recorded. For the most part, the information is high level described in general terms. It’s too dry for me to read it sentence by sentence, so I just peruse various sections. By and large the contents are reminiscent of broad corporate charter statements that leave me with more questions than answers. The expression that came to my mind is “Where’s the beef?”, a phrase popularized by an old Wendy’s commercial. If you have never seen it, it’s worth a chuckle to check it out.
- This is a navigation usability problem, once you are directed to a different site, there is no top level navigation allowing you to go back to the home page or a different part of the site, I have to use the back button, often multiple times or simply re-entering the site’s URL.
- Another navigation usability confusion, since there is no top level header navigation menu, you click on links in the bottom middle and right of the home page to get to the various sections, atypical of most web site navigation.
To the DaPo founders, if you are reading this, my purpose is not to bash the site. I am simply sharing my experience hoping that it might help other first timers eager to learn about DaPo and perhaps food for thoughts for future site design changes.