ILCA-NA website feedback

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by SFBayLaser, Nov 23, 2006.

  1. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    In another thread we had the following:

    Over the next few months we will be adding some new features to the Laser Class website, doing a little re-arranging, etc. If there are things that people think would make the website better, more useful, draw more traffic, etc., now is a great time to be letting us know!

    Maybe a good way to start is to ask three questions:

    1) What do you like best about the site?

    2) What do you dislike the most about the site?

    3) If you could add one new feature, what would it be?

    However, please don't feel constrained to these questions if you feel more passionately... You can respond here or send to me directly.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback!
     
  2. pez

    pez Member

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    I hope these comments are taken in the constructive spirit in which they are intended....

    I do not like the site. These is considerably more information on this site than the ILCA-NA site.

    The front page is very cluttered, the photo gallery is the same as any batch of laser photos... a bunch of uncaptioned shots without any context of time or what is going on.

    You mentioned in another post that the laserSailor is prepared as a pdf file, but I cannot find where there are back issues on the site, seems like an obvious purpose of an ILCA-NA website.

    The interface to becoming a member of the ILCA is klunky and strange. There is no obvious motive or coherent argument put forth for why a laser sailor would want to join the laser class.

    Structure of sanctioned regattas is not detailed... i.e. how will a new laser sailor know that each district has a championship, each region has a championship... and how do such regattas relate to North Amercan events or worlds events.

    I would venture to guess also that 50% of the posts in the laserForum are directed at rigging and or boat repair. Yet there is very little information on the ILCA-NA website for either topic.

    I dont mean this the wrong way, but what goal is the ILCA-NA website trying to achieve? Anyone can have a web site, but having a web presence is a different thing entirely.

    Again, dont get me wrong, I'm just a guy with a boat that wants to be able to find information about how to have the most fun with it. I joined the laser class to participate in the D18 regatta. I could see nop other motivation for doing so, and nothing on the ILCA-NA website is convincing me of any other reason.

    Cheers, I know that maintaining a website is a monumental amount of work, often done on a volunteer basis. However most of that work should be directed first at the website's content and not the website's features.

    The LaserForum is (for me) the most definitive site for my hobby. I used the ILCA-NA site to fill out the form in order to join the class.

    IMHO, the laser class organization strikes me as an organization that has the attitude that it is a priveledge for me to belong. That paradigm needs reversed if the class is to survive. Why do I have to go to someone's personal website to discuss the intricate details of laser rigging?

    IMHO, I should be able to go to the ILCA-NA website, plug in my current membership number and see a hundred different ways to 'legally' rig a laser. I should be able to see advice from good sailors about how they negotiate the upwind leg of a race course, how they manage starting a race, how they execute the jibe around the windward mark... none of this information iis available in ILCA-NA

    I'm obviously misunderstanding what membership in the class is actually for; aside from a LaserSailor magazine and the feel-good notion that I have done something "that is good for the class."
     
  3. Georg W.F.

    Georg W.F. Member

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    I agree with Pez on everything mentioned.
    I think the new website was launched last year with a lot of excitement and then nothing was added to it. The calender is very strange. It is divided by regions (I do know my own region # but that is it, while I would be willing to travel to other regions). It is also divided by importance (I do not care about points). Just list what is happening by date.
    Of course we still miss Dr. Laser. Maybe the guy was a bit of a nuthead, but he surely did a great job in maintaining the site and adding all kinds of relevant and helpful information. I think it was nearly a full-time jobe to do that, and it is hard to find another nuthead.
    So indeed, more info on maintenance and rigging as well as sailing techniques (think dr. laser, why can't we use the website? can someone negotiate this with the doc.). Of course we know how to get access to some of the files, but this should be on the NA laser website and should be updated!
    Oh, and as Pez requested, please do not take these comments in the wrong way. It is great that people want to put some efforts into this.
    OK, I will stop now.
    Georg
     
  4. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Regarding the DrLaser site - that was in no way part of the official NA Class site -

    I would like to see more interviews with the winners (or any of the top 5)of the big events - get them to tell what they did to prepare, how they executed their game plan, what worked, what didn't etc... Pics and a quick explanation of why they rig the way they do

    I agree the navigation on the site could be clearer/easier - it's takes a bit of effort to find what you are looking for. When it takes too long, people just give up and go elsewhere.
     
  5. Crooked Beat

    Crooked Beat Member

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    Have you considered Joomla (http://www.joomla.org/) as a CMS to allow a few people to help out with the site?
     
  6. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Ok, I like that people are taking the time to offer suggestions (thanks to those that have taken the time already!) and there are already several good ones. Some comments in the hope that we don't digress too much:

    1) We are using Mambo which is effectively equivalent to Joomla.

    2) We do have "old" issues of TLS available on the site. They must be two or more issues old, click on the "The Laser Sailor" button in the left column.

    3) We have several categories of events and to try to make it "easy" for people to find the category they want we have the ability to break them out by District, by District Championship, by Major events, by Masters events, by International events, etc. District Championships, Major events, Masters events and, I think, International events will also show on the front page (and I should also add that events can be assigned to more than one category so you enter it once and it will appear as "major" and "district 7", etc.). Having said all this, the default view for the calendar is to display all events for the current month in chronological order (see, for example, December's listing). You should be able to get to the current month's listing by either clicking on "See all Upcoming Events" in the "Upcoming Events" box on the front page or by clicking on the "Calendar" button (not a submenu) on the top navigation bar from any page).

    4) We purposely did not incorporate a forum into the ILCA-NA website because it would compete directly with Bradley's TLF. It seems far better to utilize his resource (and let him do all the work of keeping it clean of spam!).

    5) Especially when we get www.laser.org back (which is looking sooner than later finally), traffic through the ILCA-NA site is not really the main issue. Rather, the problem to address in the next month is ease of use and functionality.

    So far the responders have made several very useful suggestions to work on (as well as a couple that I'm not sure what to do about). Keep them coming but, remember, it works best if they are solid suggestions that we can actually implement rather then general "I don't like it" types of statements.
     
  7. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    I'll repeat what I've stated in the past. I don't particularly care for the Google ads. Yeah, I know they bring in a little money. Regardless, I think they are distracting and keep the website from having a professional look.
     
  8. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    when Laser.org becomes available again I hope we plan to keep nalaser.org as an automatic redirect.

    Further.

    We could have sailing.biz and laser.biz as neither is being used. My two cents? it is worth the price to grab both

    and for those looking for regattas?? regatta.org is available

    If web presence is our goal. Is this important? I dunno..Just asking.
     
  9. Crooked Beat

    Crooked Beat Member

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    I think Mambo is very quickly becoming a distant 2nd to Joomla in the CMS war. After the split between the two camps (Mambo and Joomla), most have migrated to Joomla. My 2 cents.
     
  10. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Right now both www.nalaser.org AND www.lasersailor.org take you to the ILCA-NA website. In addition, when Ken Taylor completes the work on the online membership database, we will also have www.ilcana.org.

    When we get www.laser.org back we will not drop any of the above.

    So... I think we have this pretty well covered...
     
  11. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    We went Mambo after the split but before Joomla became visible on the radar screen.

    Right now we are at Mambo 4.5.4 sp3 which is the latest stable release and which is still virtually identical the latest Joomla stable release. If it were warranted we could change to Joomla at this point fairly easily.

    However... I watch the activity at both Mambo and Joomla and as near as I can tell which is "better" is really more politics than science at this point.

    When we start thinking about upgrading to the next release (where the two CMS will definitely become different) then we can ask which is "better" and make a switch if we have to.

    Anyway... this is sort of off the main topic a bit...
     
  12. Georg W.F.

    Georg W.F. Member

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    Maybe it is just me, but I think that perhaps the race calender is a bit too sophisticated. It takes me for ever to figure out the right view. In other words, it has too many options. Simplify the calender, that is what I think.

    49208: Yes, of course, Drlaser was never a part of the website, but the point is that we miss all the information that was formerly found on this website. A lot of questions on this forum, as was pointed out above, concern rigging, maintenance, and trimming. We miss the resources that DrLaser is providing and I think a class website should provide such information.
    That having been said, the Laser class has one of the most communicative groups of sailors that I know off. Look at any other sailing forum and you will be very disappointed.
    Georg
     
  13. jon

    jon Member

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    Anyone mention that the site is very slow? Click the links, takes a while to do anything.
     
  14. pugwash

    pugwash Member

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    The ICLA site could have a nice beginners section that points newcomers towards resources that are avaliable - TLF for example.

    There is an attempt at this with the few isolated guides eg the buyers guide but it is incomplete and moribund - also the speed issue is a real problem especially when combined with the non-intuitive navigation.

    An authoritative rigging guide with pictures would be great.

    A good web presence could be one of the reasons to pay up and join ICLA-NA - I just joined, but if asked could not explain what value I get from the fee!

    The good news is that you are looking for feedback - well done!
     
  15. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Member

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    I notice that the "Ads by Google" space on the left of the page on the ICLA-NA website is currently carrying an ad for Intensity Sails.

    Are we OK with using the official class website to promote the sales of illegal sails?
     
  16. pez

    pez Member

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    I dont get it... Nothing I have ever seen on the Intensity website has characterized their sails as anything other than what they are. A cheaper alternative to class legal sails, and sails that are not legal for racing. I dont see that the intensity folks have ever tried to hide that fact.

    Now they are throwing advertising dollars toward the class itself by advertising on the website. What exactly is the problem?
     
  17. sorosz

    sorosz Member

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    Until you guys brought up the issue of the ads, I can't say I ever actually focused on them enough to even notice them. Now I can't help it. Curse you! ;-) Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that until we have every Laser sailor a member of the Class we probably need advertising revenue.

    But getting back to more the original intent of the post, how can we improve the website and make it a tool to improve membership:


    After reading these posts I went and took a look at the site and I did manage to find a rationale for joining the class at: http://www.nalaser.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=230&Itemid=149 But this is under "Home Questions? Starting Out Why should I join the Laser Class if I don't want to race? " instead of under the Membership page at http://www.nalaser.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=64 And the first point listed for Why to join the Class is "It is simply the right thing to do." I'm not sure that's the best place for this or the most compelling argument to be made (but I'm at a loss at how to do it better). It can be hard to create value in people's minds and get them to join because there is the opportunity for some people to take advantage of the benefits of the class without contributing as long as there are enough of us who are contributing to keeping the thing going. . .

    So are there changes to the website that can increase the value of the membership enough to get more of those people to join up?

    I don’t care if the website uses Joomla or Mambla or whatever since it’s all Geek to me; I just care about whether it works and has info I want.

    Some of the points mentioned previously are dependent on the membership contributing content so things like photos with captions, regatta write ups, and tips are dependent on someone actually doing something and sending it in. So in that sense the website is only as good as we make it.

    The prominent mention of the Laser Forum is a good synergy that goes a long way to helping with this. I too, miss the info on the old Dr. Laser site so if something similar was to be recreated it would complement the Forum and the Class website nicely.

    Why does The Laser Sailor need to be 2 issues old before it gets posted? Would having the current issue online immediately be an added benefit for the class members? It should be technically easy since it’s already in a PDF file to go to the printer. Maybe make the most current issue password protected for class members only?

    I like the calendar, well the Grid. I wish the grids would have the year actually on it though because at this time of year when we're transitioning between this year's and next year's grid sometimes it's not too clear which is which. As for the rest of the calendar I sometimes find it more complicated than I'm willing to deal with but I don't have any good suggestions on how to improve it (but I do like being able to pull up just my district when I want).

    Would adding more content that is only accessible to class members help? It might but if people don’t know about or value what is there in the member only area then it’s not much of an incentive. . .

    On to brainstorming ideas, would having a MySpace/Facebook type Laser Class Member profile be of value to class members? Maybe members could use it to find out who sails a given sail number and where else they sail and post Laser related info about ourselves so we're not just anonymous sail numbers. . .
     
  18. stick

    stick Member

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    hey, was the ILCA website hijacked again. it keeps redirecting to some manufacturing website.

    is this just me? at 5:45pm central time Dec 20 ??

    please check it out
     
  19. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    No, the domain names we have active have not been hijacked.

    Among the coming changes is to put the membership database online in a secure fashion. To do so we contracted with a guy who is doing similar work for US Sailing and, every day, more and more other sailing organizations. Since that part of it will be hosted on his server it made sense to then move the entire website over as well. That process started yesterday and today the domain names are being switched over.

    You should be able to access the North American Class website through:

    www.nalaser.org
    www.lasersailor.org
    www.ilcana.org

    and we will get www.laser.org back soon (it is at the ICANN dispute resolution stage now but, of course, don't expect anything until after Christmas).

    This move is nothing against Bradley or TLF. On the contrary, Bradley has always been great to us, been more help than anyone can imagine or I could ever give him credit for. I really like to think that the North American site and TLF are companion sites and hope we continue to be able to work together closely. However, it just didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to pay to host half the site in one place and the other half in another.

    We are working on further upgrades with the suggestions of this thread fully in mind.

    ok, nose back to grindstone...
     

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