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Comments on usability issues of w.d.o

Dear List Members,

Let me share my comments on usability issues concerning the main

"Select a server near you" form

This label doesn't make clear, what's the purpose of this select form.
What servers is it about?  Maybe we should write "Select a website
mirror near you". Anyway, choosing a mirror site is an advanced user
operation, beginners might not understand its purpose. Furthermore, I
believe users who prefer mirrors to w.d.o choose mirror at most once in
a session or most likely, after knowing a mirror they use it permanently
and don't need to switch between them anymore. 

Therefore I think it's not the best solution to put it at the top of the
home page and _every_ sub page. We'd rather put it in a separate page,
and could add additional information on the location of the mirror
sites and on the quality of connection to them.

Menu at left

I find it quite long. The readers might be annoyed because they have to
scroll for the navigation. We could hide the sub-items on the main page
and show them only after visiting a main item, or create dynamic
menus with layering technique. 

The number of sub-items could be reduced. We should consider which pages
should be accessed with one click from the main page. What's important
to the users? (And not to the members of the project!) Do the users
really want to visit the Social Contract page and the Free Software page
quickly and directly from the main page? (The latter is linked in the
intro text anyway.)

The item "Mailing Lists" points to an introduction page, which is
important to the newcomers. But for people who already know usage and
regulations and want to browse the lists or manage their subscription
this page makes it more difficult. Moreover the item "Mailing List
Archives" is misleading, as it points to the general mailing lists page.
I would replace this two items with a "Mailing Lists" item which points
to lists.debian.org. 

"Miscellaneous" means not too much, so visitors really don't know,
what they'll find behind it. Here the sub-items would have a right to
exist but it would be a better solution to find their place, for
example under "About", "Ports/Architectures" (for Laptop page),
"Developers' Corner" (mirroring Debian).

"Weekly News" item under "News" can disturb users, who might think
they are the same, but the latter is a digest or something. We can
avoid the "Weekly News" item in the main page, because the News page
has a link to it and explains what is it.

Visit the Site Sponsor

If the mirror has no sponsor this link points to a completely empty
page. In this case the image shouldn't appear.


"The Debian search engine has been disabled for now. We're working on
it." Are we really?  This message has been shown almost for a year (why
is the Last Modified date 2002 in the footer?) It's a shame on us.
However, search with google is a viable solution. There's no need to
give the option for searching www, everybody searches www from google,
nobody does from d.w.o. I'd put a simple search entry field at the top
right corner of the pages (where everyone puts it), which works with
google.  The current entry field at the bottom of the navigation menu
has several problems: lacks a label and a submit button and doesn't



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