New book - 'Building a Better World in Your Backyard' - on Kickstarter (sponsored friend)
This process can be improved by making Help:Creating a page as clear as possible. There are options to prefill a page with text, but if we want users to search before creating, it becomes a multi-step process, and we're likely to lose users through confusion, frustration and distraction before they get there. Options:
- Just let them create the page without emphasizing the search. If they've come to the "creating a page" guide, and have a title in mind, they've probably already done a search. (If we improve the search - as our tech intern team hopefully will in mid 2011 - then users will also be a bit more likely to find pages they want, avoiding duplication.) If they do choose an existing title, then the existing page will appear in the edit box, which is not a bad outcome.
Possible technical tools:
- Wikia has a Special:CreatePage. If we could have this with pre-fill options, that could be great. (Task)
http://www.checkmycolours.com - quick web check for visibility for those with sight problems. (Doesn't take account of size of elements/text though.)
Color of text vs background should be 500 apart (as measured in the rainbow circle thing). This is measured by checkmycolours.com.
How does it look in a screen reader? (Get one that shows a text version of what the screen reader would normally read out.)
This section is an old proposal, which may still have good ideas. Possibly a project proposal for which we could seek funding?
Usability for Virtual Service Learning
Appropedia is a wiki that uses wiki markup for formatting of pages. The current coding is very limited and thus forces students to understand wiki markup in depth to be able to make major contributions. This represents an additional barrier to learning because of this difficulty of use the software. This project will overcome some of these limitations by providing coding to do the following:
- Develop a complex and variable 'create this page template' feature. Currently the create this page in Appropedia allows only very simplistic formatting. In order to facilitate the organization of different types of engineering service learning projects the create this page option must be able to use multiple templates (e.g. a template for an engineering design project of a simple device will be much different from a project based around engineering systems optimization). This type of functionality has been developed for other wikis, so it is technically feasible, but the code needs to be adapted for Appropedia.
- The editing feature for these pages once started will be improved to handle:
- more complex referencing (to assist students in citing the peer reviewed literature),
- translation of pasted text to wiki markup (to reduce time to input a project),
- and making a more intuitive interface for editing by breaking the page up into sections.
- This interface will enable students to easily add images, audio, video, or other attachments to their projects automatically during the creation process, rather than through the current process, which demands a relatively advanced knowledge of wikimarkup and navigating between many pages.
- Templates will be developed to assist students document their engineering design and implementation work for sustainable development with appropriate fields that can eventually be input into a field searchable database being developed by Catalytic Communities and Enabling Innovation. Templates will include:
- Appropriate technology (a device)
- Community Solution (see Catalytic Communities)
- A project
- An organization
- A new user
- A course
Some features that are best dealt with using the Uniwiki extensions, so that may be the first step. It may make sense to add other modest changes for the best synergy. Suggestions:
- A modified "related changes" function to allow monitoring a section. The idea is to register when a page is added or dropped from a category, on top of what it does now (i.e. show recent changes to articles currently linked from a page, e.g. all pages now in a certain category).
- Semantic MediaWiki for better and more flexible control over content.
- Modifications/extensions to make citations and other academic features easier to use.
- Modifications/extensions to make multimedia easier to use.
- improved group identity (class or organization). Show a different navbar according to where the visitor is from?
- improved tools for academics - what do they need?
- the tab that links to the talk page should say "talk", not "discussion", to make it the same as the actual namespace, for better clarity.
- Provide Ubiquitous Access that Reaches Across the Digital Divide.
- Provide cell phone text message support (key for the developing world).
- Make it easier for contributors; e.g. expand forums, which are less intimidating than wiki pages.
- Add functionality for scoring and ranking content contributions.
- Provide cross-login between Appropedia wiki and Appropedia forums,
- Add partner cross-login so that other NGOs can share their content easily at Appropedia.org.
- Develop an 'auto-linking' tool to link related articles on Appropedia to improve usability.
- map searching (e.g. browse and search "appropedia space" via OpenStreetMap, google maps, or google earth) - how hard is this going to be?