Chris and I have made some major improvements to our book pages (e.g., Blood Music, The Magician’s Assistant).* The overall goal was to make them simpler and more user-friendly. We wanted to appeal more to first-time visitors, and to members uninterested in seeing excessive detail (eg., 100 alternate covers) on a book’s main page.
At the same time, we didn’t want to “take anything away,” or dampen the community’s characteristic lust for detail, gorgeous detail. So we arranged and rearranged, added pages and changed labels. On the whole response seems to be pretty positive. (Feel free to comment here or there.)
A second goal was to speed loading time, and here we know we’ve succeeded. Popular books are no longer sand-traps for unsuspecting visitors. Once we install our new web server**, things will take another big jump.
Some new features:
- We’ve added book descriptions, something we’ve always lacked. So far they’re all in English and all from Amazon. That will change, and members will be able to craft a community summary, free of promotional jib-jab.
- More stats can be seen at a glance, including popularity, recent adders and ratings.
- Instead of a square box, we now have an attractive “default cover” (example book). In the near future we hope to allow members to choose their default cover. As we’ve mentioned, we’ll have some sort of contest for these.
- The main cover is bigger. The top-six covers are shown on the right, with a link to see all covers. Covers there are larger.
- The conversations page looks and works better.
A couple things need work:
- We haven’t found a place for everything on the old work pages. This includes the “elsewhere on the web” section, which had Wikipedia links. We’ll get them on soon.
- The “members” page is missing a new “Connections: Who has it?” section. Also coming soon.
- *We have a “customization” page for works already built. It will allow you to determine what the “main page” has. (Don’t like tags? Junk ‘em.) We aren’t going to put customization out there until the feature set and labels have settled down.
The new book page was a necessary first step for some other cherished improvements—our wiki-like “Common Knowledge” feature, coming tonight or tomorrow night—and collections, which is next on the plate. Meanwhile, Casey is hard at work on better library-data parsing. It’s going to be a week or two more, but I can reveal one thing. Besides improved data quality and character handling, we’re going to at least triple the number of libraries around the world.
*We call them “work pages,” but not everyone knows that.
**It came today. Unfortunately, I was sleeping, so DHL will have to come back tomorrow.