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Skins & home page design Oct 2009

With the move to Wikia there are several Monaco skin colors along with the Monobook skin. I've done some editing to the MediaWiki:Monaco-toolbox and MediaWiki:Monaco-sidebar (may need to clear history and refresh to see them). With these changes, the Monaco skin has pretty much all the same links, menus, and tools that were previously found on's sidebar and drop down menu. This will hopefully help make the site easier for those not signed in, as Monaco is the default.

On the topic of skins - is it possible to change the default to Monobook, so the site would look more familiar to those not logged in? And if it is possible, do we want even want to make this change, or should we embrace and expand on the Monaco skin?

A related topic - the home page. I think that we should consider a serious overhaul of the layout. The major changes I would like to see would be to move AC News & Wiki News to somewhere on the homepage, where they would get much more attention. I'd also consider merging the two into 'news'. I also think we could make some major revisions to the whole topic section, especially since the monaco sidebar menu can cover much of it.

At the very least, the welcome and Getting Started sections should probably be edited or rewritten. And I think we could try changing the style of the boxes - from their current rounded edges to something more resembling our recent template changes.

--An Adventurer 17:37, September 25, 2009 (UTC)

Nice work with the menus on the sidebars.--Tlosk  talk  contr 22:47, September 30, 2009 (UTC)

See: User:An Adventurer/Sandbox for a more clear example of my idea for updating the home page.

--An Adventurer 18:02, September 25, 2009 (UTC)

I have added some more detail to my sandbox linked above. It's not by any means a final design though. I have designed this with the thought that by default, visitors will be in the new monaco skin and will thus be using the sidebar, which I added a lot to. And hopefully we can get the drop-down menu added back to the monobook skin, and that drop down menu can mirror the links and levels of the monaco sidebar menu.

I'd like to hear some people's thoughts on the proposed design. I greatly reduced the number of main topics displayed. Are there any topics I removed that you think absolutely need to be there? Are there any topics that were never listed but you thought should be there?

I left out links to current/previous/all patches from topics for now, mostly because I couldn't think of good icons to use. I think that there should definitely be a link to the current patch on the main page, but I am not sure we need the previous and all patches links there with them already contained on the sidebar menu.

I included Game Mechanics as a topic. My thought is that this page could be greatly expanded on, and that the current General Information page would be merged into it.

I left out the Leveling Guide link as a main topic, but I figured that it would be linked to on New Player Guide, Returning Player Guide, Game Mechanics, and Level Costs, all of which are linked to on the main page, so it didn't need it's own link.

I also cut out the whole welcome/getting started sections. I placed a short welcome blurb at the top with links to other pages, as seen on many wikis such as wikipedia. I figured that we could go into more detail on the Asheron's Call Community Wiki:Introduction page and if necessary, create a Getting Started page. And we could add more general information about the wiki at Asheron's Call Community Wiki:About.

--An Adventurer 21:50, September 27, 2009 (UTC)

Lot of great stuff there, I can't reply in detail yet but I wanted to make a quick post to comment on a few things. The dynamicpagelists are extremely resource intensive and so we won't be able to use them (it's possible to use them in a limited fashion, but it's not really worth it). It isn't possible to set monobook as the default, though I did specify the color scheme default so at least people won't have the dark scheme when they first come to the site. Also I'd suggest making a long term mockup that we can work on and improve over a few weeks and leave the main page as is until most people have made the transition and signed in at least once. We can put a link on the main page though to the mockup to invite broader feedback and suggestions. The issue with the drop downs in monobook is an extension that's installed that messes up the formatting, I have a request in to remove it so anytime now I should be able to turn that back on (although it's still a little borked in IE, I need to figure out how to fix that also).--Tlosk  talk  contr 00:59, September 30, 2009 (UTC)

I've put together a page at Asheron's Call Community Wiki --An Adventurer 19:10, October 7, 2009 (UTC)

I have gone ahead an modified the main page.

  • I have left the topics the same until there is some discussion on them.

  • The whole welcome/getting started section was removed. It was mostly out of date, and hadn't really been modified since the wiki was created. The relevant info was moved to Asheron's Call Community Wiki:Introduction.

  • There is now a news section on the main page. I will work more to streamline our whole news section. The old links in the monobook skin sidebar should be removed, but I don't know how to edit that part.

--An Adventurer 16:44, October 13, 2009 (UTC)

Awesome work on everything, it looks great. I've been visiting some of the other wikis for ideas and am testing some things out but was trying to finish a map generator first and get some lingering issues from the move resolved. I was also thinking we could make a central hub for navigation where we basically link to almost everything so we can both expand on what is currently on the mainpage and also have a onestop place for people trying to find something (and also expose the nooks and crannies that can be difficult to find if you don't already know they exist). Also I will have a new wiki style forum set up in the next day or two and I'll backfill it with the existing content from here (I may possibly be able to restore our original forum content as well if I can get it running locally). --Tlosk  talk  contr 15:47, October 14, 2009 (UTC)

To: Tlosk
I have a suggestion for the central hub. The article Asheron's Call. Until I created the page for the home page updates, it didn't exist on the wiki. Right now it is just a stub, but I was thinking that it would be a great place to have links to lots of various content. Currently, Asheron's Call is linked to on the home page in the welcome statement, and it is on the monaco-sidebar with the alias Game Info (one of the first tier topics) so it will be easy to access. And it is probably the broadest topic article, since it can cover all things of AC1 and AC2. --An Adventurer 18:19, October 14, 2009 (UTC)

I agree that would be the best place for it. --Tlosk  talk  contr 17:17, October 15, 2009 (UTC)

I have made some more changes to Asheron's Call Community Wiki, the test page for updating the homepage. The topics and help are no longer side by side, I updated the help links to match the changes I just made on the homepage, and I expanded the topics.

Some thoughts I had:

Should there be a new 5th column for crafting? If so, what 5 links should it contain? OR should I remove level costs, place plugins under the first column, and place crafting in the 2nd?

Are there any other changes that should be made, or links you think need to be included?

--An Adventurer 15:17, November 4, 2009 (UTC)

I added a scroll box for the news so it'll have a fixed size while still having ready access to the content. Since the main page is accessible from every page via the upper left logo, after some thought I'd like to keep the exhaustive topic list so I moved it to the bottom.

I went through the page hits from the old location and I think we should change the Quests link at the top to Quests by Patch (keep labeled as Quests) since that's where most people go, and will save them a click (and the rest are still available via the header links, and it's now pretty complete also). A fifth colmn would be good, maybe Tinkering, Gearcrafting, Cooking, Spell Research, and Augmentations. Whatever you decide.

Everything else looks great. You should move it to the main page when you're done. --Tlosk  talk  contr 00:36, November 5, 2009 (UTC)

The page design is pretty much ready to be implemented, however I'd like to have the main topics expanded on a bit before adding it.

  • Asheron's Call - this is to be the most broad topic article, with links to at least the main branches of the wiki. Right now it has pretty much no text and few links.
  • NPCs - the NPC index was one of the first things added to the wiki, but never expanded on. It should be removed. NPCs should probably just redirect to category:NPC, unless someone wants to really work on the article.
  • Items - I'd like to replace all the icons there with the transparent BG icons like the main topics on the front page will have, which includes renaming them.
  • Locations - Fairly old article, could use some improvement.

I also think I will be replacing Level Costs with Crafting, and not add another column with various crafting links.

Specific Topics section - part of my reason for redesigning the main topics and monaco skin side menus was to cut down on the topics that need to be listed on the main page. While I think it'll be fine to have this section with more topics, I'd like to remove the links that already exist above it in the main topics and help sections.

--An Adventurer 18:43, November 5, 2009 (UTC)

I agree we should shift NPCs to the category and we can put a little material there to help bore down. With the complete links at the bottom it's easy to just hit the End key and zoom right there for fast navigation for those that use Monobook.

I also added an alias parameter to the {{Icon}} template so if we're just using an icon as a link it's possible to use an existing icon and direct it where we want. I will experiment with some layer blends to see if the icons look better (less jaggy).--Tlosk  talk  contr 02:26, November 6, 2009 (UTC)

I've removed the more topics section.

I expanded on the monaco-sidebar menu, and when I removed all links from the "more topics" section that were not already in the main topics or side bar, there was virtually nothing left.

I can add a 5th column for lore or crafting, but I don't think I'd add both or it will get pretty crowded. I'd lean more towards adding a column for crafting, since creating icons will be much easier.

--An Adventurer 21:30, November 10, 2009 (UTC)

The sidebar isn't available to those using monobook. Also those links aren't treated the same for search engine optimization, so the complete list of topics section should be restored, thanks. --Tlosk  talk  contr 02:54, November 13, 2009 (UTC)

Could you elaborate on "those links aren't treated the same for search engine optimization"? Do you mean the links in the side bar, or the newly created topics section?

I've restored the topics at the bottom, but I still think we should at least remove the unnecessary repeated links (from the main topics area) and/or organize them better. --An Adventurer 20:36, November 13, 2009 (UTC)

Search engine optimization, specifically cross linking, bumps up position in search results by offsite search engines which makes things easier to find for people using them to find AC content on the wiki.

I'll be adding a link anchor to this section so the repetition isn't redundant (for those that will be going directly to it rather than then top then scroll down). I'll add some more organization as well. --Tlosk  talk  contr 01:33, November 14, 2009 (UTC)

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