ALTopedia’s new look is here!
March 31, 2021
I’m happy to announce that the site’s big redesign is finally here! Looking back at some of the old news posts, I found that I was talking about redesigning everything for almost the entire 3 years that the site has been around. I’d been hammering away on it for most of my free time for last few months, and now it’s finally ready to launch!
There are still some bugs to work out, especially for anyone who still has no choice but to use Internet Explorer. I’ll try to make sure that the site is usable in IE, even if it doesn’t look perfect. Some pages still haven’t had the new styling applied to them yet, but I tried to make sure that the most heavily visited pages work.
These are some of the goals and priorities I had in mind for the new layout:
Better fonts and readability. The new font should be clearer and smoother.
A wider color palette. The site still uses the same primary colors, but now there are specific hues for tags, activities, and users. I need to come up with a better color for textbooks. I’m hoping that the color will make it easier to navigate around all of the connected resources on the site.
Higher information density. The old layout used a pre-built UI system that prioritized mobile users, but about 80% of site traffic comes from desktop users. It’s still mobile-friendly but you should be able to see more information in one screen now. It also displays more information when you put your mouse over something relevant.
Better forms. One source of frustration for people who submitted activities was that it was hard to know when you entered something too long or too short. Now all of the forms have the maximum length built into them, so it will stop you if you’ve written something too long. Also, the tag chooser on the activity form should give a clearer idea of which tags you’ve chosen. Check it out!
Avatars. As the community grows and longer discussions happen in comment sections, I thought it would be nice to have some more user customization. Right now everyone has the same avatar since I made a space for it in the design but haven’t built the upload system in yet. My current plan is to have a default avatar (or maybe a set) and then allow paid supporters of the site to upload their own avatar if they want.
De-emphasizing activity scores. Scores still exist, and they make activities show up higher in search results, but I thought I’d experiment with making the score displays less prominent. I’ve always been a bit worried that if I give a lot of benefits to activities with high scores, people might try to game the system. Ideally, a wide variety of activities would benefit a lot of different teachers with different situations and teaching styles, and relative popularity shouldn’t be the only factor in finding something good to use. Let me know what you think about this one!
Future customizability. The pre-built UI system was always a handful to work with. It made a lot of default choices about how things were laid out and typeset. Now that everything is custom-built, I find that pages load even faster, and it’s a lot easier for me to say “okay, I need to add a section here” or “I’m going to completely change the way this page looks” without having to wrestle with a general UI framework that’s trying to accommodate a bunch of different use cases.
I didn’t have a chance to mention this before, but I’m happy to announce that Colin, who lives in Hokkaido, has been helping me out with different aspects of the site code this year. He hadn’t worked with Ruby on Rails before, but he picked up a bunch of the different technologies that the site uses very quickly. He built the handy tag selector on the tag search page and helped the new header at the top of the page look snazzier. He’s got some other cool stuff coming down the pipe, so keep an eye out for his contributions!
The school year is just about to start, and my goal is to make the site better and more useful than ever. Good luck with this year, and let me know what you think!