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Channel-Ai Portal, Calendar

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How would you rate the design and functionality of the portal page?

Amazing! (why?)  
69%
 
Decent (how to make it amazing?)  
30%
 
Could be better (how can it be better?)  
0%
 

Total Votes : 13
eyn
Posted: May 29, 2007 11:38 am Reply with quote
羽ありたまご 羽ありたまご
Joined: 13 Apr 2005 Posts: 2094 Location: Canada


I just finished coding the portal page (took me about a week) and I guess it's time to make it public for everyone. If you are desperate to know how it looks like, feel free to go here to check it out. It is actually not so much of a portal but more like a dashboard that let you see the activities in different sections of Channel-Ai, providing a top view of the whole site on a single page. I hope this makes it easy for you guys to keep track of changes of Ch-Ai without checking pages by pages yourself, which I doubt many of you do. I also hope such a portal page will reduce the chances of you "missing out" on some topics and announcements. Sneeze

Everything on the portal page is powered by simple AJAX, which reduces the load time and make the portal page feel more responsive despite the huge amount of data processing required to spit out the output page. fyi, the portal page uses RSS and XML (last.fm API) as the data source of the portal page. Caching is used so there might be up to 30 minutes delay when it come to the "freshness" of the data.

The "magnify" icon beside each item title brings you directly to the related page, while clicking on the item title will expand the hidden content related to the title you just clicked. If you wished, middle-clicking the item title will open the related page in a new tab. Lastly, the "+" and "-" button gives capability of getting new items into the current page without complete refreshing.

Several of the feeds have special features, such as the blog which has an embedded mp3 player, gallery that shows you latest pictures uploaded, last.fm that shows both weekly top tracks and weekly top artists, and lastly the calendar that gives you a quick glance of upcoming events for our dearest Ai-chin. Wink

This brings me to the introduction of Channel-Ai Calendar, an idea I came up with while coding the portal page. The current calendar used is hosted at 30boxes, one of the most decent Web 2.0 calendar site I found (and trust me, I looked at all of them). I didn't pick Google Calendar because it will require you to log out of your default account before logging into the Channel-Ai one (if we do use G Cal). Anyway, you can log into 30boxes using this Channel-Ai account:


Feel free to add any new events that are not currently on the list, I really don't want to be the only one updating the calendar, so do log in and contribute new events! My plan is to have all TV performances, magazines, concerts, music awards etc. listed in the calendar. This should provide us insight into the busy life of Ai-chin and what we could expect from her for the next few days when looking at the convenient calendar. Tagging is used to categorize and assign colour to each event so use it when adding new events! Nod

When using the calendar located on the portal page, some events might have "***" appended on its title, this indicates that more than 1 events are found on that particular day and you should visit the full calendar page i.e. channel-ai.com/cal to see all the events. For these multiple events days, you could click on the day cell and it will bring you to the full calendar page.

This should sum up what you should know about the portal page. Have fun with it and give me feedbacks about what you feel about the portal page and what could be further improved. fyi, the calendar detects your forum timezone setting so it will show you the correct "today" no matter where you live. Noob

caffeinated, one of our dearest mod, designed the layout which I used as a basis while coding the page. She also gave lots of usability tips as she witness how the portal page are slowly constructed from scratch. Props to her and her awesome pre-launch feedback or what you see right now at the portal page could be 10x worse. Embarassed

P.S. I'm in the process of adding link to portal page onto the header of each forum style


Last edited by eyn on Oct 31, 2007 10:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
 
Rinoa
Posted: May 29, 2007 12:05 pm Reply with quote
クムリウタ クムリウタ
Joined: 14 Apr 2005 Posts: 2039 Location: Europe
Nice idea over there. I love the whole sleek and modernistic layout. I feel it's quite good for a portal, although I think the layout is a wee bit cluttered, especially at the top. The idea of putting Ai's new releases, events, etc at the top would be a good idea.
 
Celsius005
Posted: May 29, 2007 4:12 pm Reply with quote
Planetarium Planetarium
Joined: 23 May 2006 Posts: 685 Location: USA
It's a very convenient page, especially since you can monitor the most recent activity in both the forum and the community blog all at once. With many of the header links and the new addition of a Ch-Ai calendar, I'd say the Portal can easily substitute as a whole new index page for members and guests alike who are quick on their toes and would like to briefly view the latest news/posts.

Excellent work! Love
 
Aprilis.
Posted: May 29, 2007 5:14 pm Reply with quote
クムリウタ クムリウタ
Joined: 26 Aug 2005 Posts: 958 Location: Japan
Looking good, looking good! I especially like the quotes up at the top right corner. I agree with Rinoa; overall the layout is good but if you compare it with other ch-ai layouts (forum, blog, etc.) it just looks a little out of place.

Question about the last.fm at the bottom, who's tracklist is that?
 
eyn
Posted: May 29, 2007 6:53 pm Reply with quote
羽ありたまご 羽ありたまご
Joined: 13 Apr 2005 Posts: 2094 Location: Canada
Ree-chan, regarding the layout being cluttered, is there anything that could be done to make it less so? And by putting events etc. on top, do you mean moving the "Topics" and "Announcement" down and pull up "Calendar" and perhaps "News" to the top row?

I do know that the layout looks a little out of place compared to the forum and blog. The reason for that might be that other designs you've seen are all done by others not myself and I'm merely customizing an existing layout to the design I want to achieve. Portal, just like TV and Radio, are coded from scratch, there's more flexibility in a sense and perhaps making it looks different will convey the message that this is our own stuff! Tongue Overall, I guess the mock up design sent to me by caffeinated plays a huge part on the portal looking radically different from other Channel-Ai elements, e.g. the peachy colour scheme that has never been used elsewhere on Ch-Ai.

Also I decided to go with larger than normal font size, gradient, and AJAX as some of you have probably seen in some of the Web 2.0 websites. Personally I like this type of design and found them more user friendly and easy to read without looking ugly.

The whole portal page has semantic markup with proper classes so it is easy to apply "themes" if someone out there are interested in making one (I highly doubt though). If I have the time I can offer alternative themes for the portal page, though it will probably be a while before I have the passion to code a new CSS stylesheet. Embarassed

Oh and for the Last.fm chart at the bottom, it is the group chart (i.e. chart based on group member's weekly listening data) for Channel-Ai group at Last.fm. Funny how YUI's CHE.R.RY is the top tracks this week (not an Ai-chin's track Crying), I bet she's pretty popular among the group members.
 
Evil_tomba
Posted: May 29, 2007 10:12 pm Reply with quote
上塩タン焼680円 上塩タン焼680円
Joined: 18 May 2005 Posts: 357 Location: Toronto, Canada
ooo me likey
it reminds me of the google start page, the one where u can customize it and put in whatever u want (i think they are called widgets or sth)
i really like how it looks nice and neat and stuff
however, in the end, i don't really think it would be that useful cause whenever i visit the site (which hasnt been as often as before due to exams - DAMN U EXAMS!!), i usually open up any subtopic that is new so the portal won't be as useful
however, i still think it will make a nice addition to the site XD
 
Rinoa
Posted: May 30, 2007 12:31 am Reply with quote
クムリウタ クムリウタ
Joined: 14 Apr 2005 Posts: 2039 Location: Europe
eyn wrote:
Ree-chan, regarding the layout being cluttered, is there anything that could be done to make it less so? And by putting events etc. on top, do you mean moving the "Topics" and "Announcement" down and pull up "Calendar" and perhaps "News" to the top row?

I think the top part should be more "clean" for a lack of a better word so when one accesses to the portal they are not overwhelmed by the amount of information at first glance. Instead of announcements and topics, I think bringing up the latest Ai news/photos would be a good idea in the top. Also putting the latest release at the side would be a great idea to keep the fans up to date. The calendar is okay at the bottom since it works well with the last.fm. chart. Then maybe posting the "announcement" and "topics" after the news.
 
Jester
Posted: May 31, 2007 4:06 pm Reply with quote
フレンジャー フレンジャー
Joined: 27 Feb 2006 Posts: 844 Location: Canada
I like it but I don't know if I'm going to replace my "Channel-Ai" button for a "Channel-Ai Portal" button just yet. The simplistic design and low-key colours make it a hit in my books but it doesn't seem to "jive" well with the forum, blog, and gallery all that well. I'm trying to think of an easy way to bring them all together, something to unify them, but I can't really get past the idea of making them have the same scheme.

Other then that the only thing that looks a bit off is the font size, but that's remedied with firefox pretty easily; I think two decreases in size from the standard is the nicest because it prevents bump downs in the names of things under the "News" and "Posts" header; every topic sits on a single line which is just something that I prefer.

I'm excited to see the calender showing some upcoming events for the members. It's a good idea since a lot people seem to have just missed out on the karaoke contest when it came to participating and judging, which is a shame.

One last thing, the quotes are a really nice touch. I'm a quote guy myself.

There's room for improvement but it's a very solid start. Keep up the good work! Smile
 
.::carlito::.
Posted: Jun 08, 2007 9:14 pm Reply with quote
クラゲ, 流れ星 クラゲ, 流れ星
Joined: 14 Oct 2006 Posts: 3609 Location: Melbourne, Australia
Great start for a portal page! It's very clean like you are eyn! Laughing I reckon it was good to put the announcement on top even though we don't get much big events! It's a very standard layout, I like it! Boogie
 
Rokit
Posted: Jun 11, 2007 3:44 pm Reply with quote
大好きだよ。 大好きだよ。
Joined: 08 Oct 2005 Posts: 217 Location: California
I like the idea of having many things on one page, and it has been a recent idea for my Nami fansite. It helps visitors easily identify certain sections from the various pages you offer at Channel Ai.

My complaint would be that the overall style is too bland and boring. Maybe adding more colors and style to it would make it more attractive. =p Maybe you could have each certain mini section on that page (news, announcements, gallery) in a separate box, kinda like this:

http://demo.rockettheme.com/feb06_green/

That's not a portal at all but just an example of having each thing float in it's own box. Ionno if it makes sense, but hopefully it does. Smile
 
mon
Posted: Jun 13, 2007 12:01 pm Reply with quote
大好きだよ。 大好きだよ。
Joined: 01 Feb 2007 Posts: 230 Location: In my chair
Its a great idea, I like the option of clicking on the topic and immediately being able to look into the post, without having to load the forum page again. Provides a "quick view" to the most recent post which I find very useful. I also like the calender idea, which basically rids members of the trouble to look all over the forums for important dates to note. The colours on the header is really nice too, but as I scroll down, somehow I feel it becomes a bit dull.

I too, feel the "clutter-ness" of text, but I think it might be because of the arrangement of things. So, I took some screens, and rearranged them a bit. (Just a rough rearrangment)

And also maybe add some colours to the text? like the thumbnails, heading, etc. Might help in brightening up a little, though Im not sure how it'll turn out. Shifty Just my 2 cents. Wink

edit: I noticed the quotes on the top right arent showing up for me!! Surprised
 
cherrydreamer00
Posted: Jun 14, 2007 2:37 am Reply with quote
Happy Days Happy Days
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 Posts: 113 Location: Phillipines
well, for me simplicity is beauty and this is one of those... Smile it could still get better but it is totally awesome!!! the calendar and other features is also a nice addition. when will the beta phase start? Smile
 
Evil_tomba
Posted: Jun 14, 2007 10:21 pm Reply with quote
上塩タン焼680円 上塩タン焼680円
Joined: 18 May 2005 Posts: 357 Location: Toronto, Canada
ooooooooooooooo mon, i actually really like that arrangement, even more than the actual one now (no offense eyn)
 
Aprilis.
Posted: Jun 15, 2007 4:05 pm Reply with quote
クムリウタ クムリウタ
Joined: 26 Aug 2005 Posts: 958 Location: Japan
I find mon's arrangement more appealing too. I think this is because the calendar and gallery stuff is move up, so people don't see all text at first glance.

But I do get why eyn had it arranged like he did. The 'News' should be pretty self explanatory, since it helps us keep updated with Ai. The 'Post" represent the forum and if you think about it, that's what ch-ai is really all about. It started off as a simple forum where people come and share their love of Ai. It was only later when we added on other things like the gallery and blog. And this brings me to the next 2 sections; 'Announcement' and 'Topics'. Again, these 2 are related to the forum and relates to the true purpose of our community.

Then we have 'Blog' and 'Gallery'. Here's my take at this section: these 2 things is what helps us get expose on the internet. The gallery draws in people who are looking for Ai pictures. And the blog drops in not only Ai fans, but a variety of people because the blog covers a wide variety of Japanese entertainment related topics.

Finally, 'last.fm' and 'calendar'. Honestly, I find the music chart pretty random. But at the same time, it does make the portal page that much more interesting and not just a "news" page. The calendar is kind of an overlap of the 'news' section. The differences is, it lays everything out very nicely and makes the page more appealing. Kind of like a trick to get people to scroll all the way down to the page, instead of just looking at the first few sections.
 
eyn
Posted: Jun 16, 2007 1:43 pm Reply with quote
羽ありたまご 羽ありたまご
Joined: 13 Apr 2005 Posts: 2094 Location: Canada
Rokit, it is possible to make them into "boxes" as you suggest, all it needs is just another stylesheet that styles elements differently. I'll look into the possibility of switching styles via cookie locally stored on user's computer, shouldn't be hard to implement but it will take a lot of effort to code a new stylesheet. Designing always takes the most amount of time to make sure things flow nicely and colours blend well with each other.

And mon, thanks for taking the time to give me feedbacks about the portal page. I like your arrangement of items too, and the reason why it looks the way it is right now is pretty much explained in details by Aprilis in her post above. I think having the pictures/calendar on top does make the page looks more appealing, I'll probably experiment with a layout similar to the one you suggested and you guys can give further feedbacks about how well the new arrangement of section works. Wink

And the quotes will not be shown in IE because it is hard to have your divs vertically centered in IE. No

Keep your suggestion coming on what you would like to see in the portal page just so it can be more useful for your daily Channel-Ai browsing. Giggle

btw, I'm very glad to see some users other than myself adding magazine release date to Channel-Ai Calendar. Please keep contributing as it serves as an archives of dates relating to Ai-chin and can prove to be extremely useful in the long run. Feel free to add events that has happened in the past too, such as her TV performances, single releases in the past few years.

---

Kinda unrelated but here's a "toy" I coded which gives you an overview of the popularity of themes across the forum. You can also find out how many users has a minimum post of X by using the input box. Tell me if you find it interesting. Tongue
 
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