Hey, I'm always afraid of spam filters doing their dirty business, so let me know if you guys didn't get my two e-mails concerning the "Planet Muscle" exchange.
In the blog below, we were talking about the best banner for neo. Bill suggested that we use a combination of photos of vintage hardware (which we gratefully have in abundance), and images of ourselves. I'm going to ask those of us with artistic talent to begin thinking about some possible designs and eventually start coming up with drafts. I think at this point, it might be best just to send a bunch of photos and images to our artists and let them play around for awhile.
Everyone, please send some good images and photos that you'd like to see on the banner to e.bartonopoulos aT gmail.com. I'm not sure yet if we'll want to use our actual photos (perhaps p-shopped) or drawings, but try to send some very nice representative photos as well.
Okay. I've been working too long on this, so let me share my thoughts now (even though they are still a bit muddled). I'm trying to get my slowly growing knowledge of theme development organized. The key theme issues that we need to settle seem to be these:
Top Banner. This is clearly the top priority in designing our layout. You can see what I'm talking about here. Clearly, we want something at least as distinctive as the banners we had at the old AA. I like the idea of having buttons on or below the banner, as in this example. If we wanted to be clever, we might have a console (like the one at the old site) whose buttons would actually be alternate navigation buttons for the site.
We've been talking here about how to streamline the comment features. Part of this problem seems to stem from the nature of blogs vs. forums. We're accustomed to talking with each other in a forum environment, and this is a bit different. Forums are typically arranged in "threads," with a leading topic and a chain of responses. Blogs are a different creature. Instead of "threads," I find it more useful to think of "comments." What's the difference? Well, imagine hearing a speaker, then hearing people go up and making comments to him about his presentation. These comments may not be related to each other; they may be connected only in that they concern the same speech.
One thing that has been playing on my mind as I've been going to other Websites is that we must take great pains to make the look of the new Armchair Arcade as distinctive as possible. Blog/news sites are a dime a dozen and we must truly differentiate ourselves from them. Again, while the current Armchair Arcade is broken from a functionality standpoint, in its favor, to the outside world everything looks just about right as rain and it has a unique look that's not quite like anything else out there. We need something distinctive, bold and yes, still intuitive on Neo. I hope we all keep that in mind as we generate graphics and think about layout and content.
BTW, I put some feeds into the news aggreggator just to try it out. I'll make some categories so we can better organize them.
I spoke recently to Charlie Lowe, doc director for the Drupal Project, about customizing the look and layout of this site. There is a bit of confusion here because of upcoming Drupal developments. Apparently, 4.6 uses something called xtemplate engine, but the new version (4.7) will use PHPTemplate. Apparently, PHPTemplate is much more powerful and will let us do some pretty wild things, such as easily grab stuff out of the databases for use with the theme. I looked at some of these new templates, and they are definitely more visually impressive than the one we have now.
One cool thing I thought about would be creating a module that would show us all the high scores from those flash games. We could also use this tool for displaying the matrix.
Just was thinking about the current layout of the site and was thinking on how we could make it a bit easier to use. If we took the Recent Comments column and shifted it to the far right side, it would free up space for the Syndicate and Menu options to be on top of the left column.
The minimalism thus far of this new layout is quite nice, but coming to the main page and seeing a large list of the most recent comments is not the most inviting thing. A splash page might be nice-- I'm not talking about anything silly like having the AA mascot rap about the good old C64 days, but it would seem a bit more welcoming.
If it hasn't been made clear before, I'd like to reiterate and open for discussion my thinking around the current (old) Armchair Arcade Website. I don't think it makes sense to convert any of the old stuff over to the new, save for some of the advertising/partnership stuff. Otherwise, we should leave the old stuff there with a link-back, somewhat similar to what is on Neo now up top. There are simply waaay too many links from countless external sources to specific pages on the old site that we'd immediately lose if it were shut down. When the new site is activated, the old site will be "frozen" from anything new on it, but will still have a persistent banner on top that will point to this new site. Maybe after x number of years we can do a full cut-over, but I'd HATE for us to waste any energy on converting old stuff over that is perfectly fine and stable as-is. We really need to work on kicking ass on the now, new and here.
What will we use on the new Website for private AA admin discussions? Will the forums be appropriate for that, assuming we can hide them from everyone who is not part of AA? We also need a good place to store a master directory of user names and passwords for our various online stores and affiliations, since we have an open (financials) book policy here, which will not change.