11/23/13 523 W, 2 I - + 7 - 9 Adventures in Web Design and Organizing Raleigh's Fire History

How's that web page working out? The one that's a single-page, big bucket of something? Maybe it's a storefront, for the public to learn everything and then some about your product or service. Maybe it's a private site on your company's network, that serves as a central "hub" of information. Maybe it's a personal page about a personal interest, say... the history of firefighting in Raleigh.

Below are current and future versions of my Raleigh Fire Department history site . Changes are a-coming, but first let's answer a question. Why is this "my" page and not a Raleigh Fire Museum page? Because the content hasn't been moved there yet. That's planned. Timeframe is between now and whenever.

That said, how's that history page working out for you, Mike? Pretty good for my needs. I'm able to quickly and easy find stuff... most of the time. Okay, truth be told, it can take a few extra seconds. Sometimes, I have to think about "under what section does that link live?"

Wait a minute. If my page is occasionally confusing to me, the guy that built the thing, how the heck are regular users going to fare? (Yes, we're even talking about levels of fiber consumption here.) And right there, my friends, is problem number one with web design. This is what happens when a web site is based on what the content creator thinks, instead of the content consumer.

I recently came across the San Francisco FD fire museum site, and was impressed with the left-side navigation. The links are organized by topic and listed mostly alphabetically. That's a better approach than my site, which is organized by document (or content) type. Worse, the categories aren't listed in alphabetical order. Thus my latest project, to reorganize my page to behave more like their page.

Here's the new version of my Raleigh FD history page, shown below beside the current version. The links are organized by topic, and exclusively alphabetically. Most of the content lives on legeros.com, but a few pieces are elsewhere. The thing's about ninety-five percent finished. Some of the link labels might get tweak. Ditto for some of the topic categories. What do you think? Click to access each:

What's next? The new page will replace the old page. Then planning (or procrastination) will start for the next version. That iteration will involve landing pages for each topic. Thus a page for Apparatus, and a page for Buildings, etc. The links will be moved to their respective topical (not tropical) landing page. The main page, shown above, will become smaller. Alas, you'll have to browse deeper, to see everything's that's on the site. (The big list o' links will become a site map, on a separate page that's linked from the main page. Got that?)

Unless I change my mind, of course.

Eventually, we'll move the whole thing to the raleighfiremuseum.org. That's the ideal gateway to all things about the history of the Raleigh Fire Department.

See what you think. Post or send comments.

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