research

Story archive usability questions: always fun!

Random question in re: story archive design for single-author archives. Um, which is a fancy way of saying "hey, that web site where I sling up all my stories".

With 74 stories to list, the index page begins to be long, and even the series list is long. Is this length still manageable? Do you want serieses broken out onto their own pages, or is keeping them on the index page with all the info in one place better? Do you browse for things you haven't read or instead want to zero in on a specific story?

If you wanted to, say, find all of my Giles/Jenny stories, how would you do so? Is it obvious or not?

I realize you're a bit of a skewed audience, since if you're commenting on this post you're more likely to be a regular reader. The experience of somebody who drops in and wants to find something interesting to read is different.

I need to find a new way to display information in the story header sections. It's absurd to have things like "Date:" there when that's self-explanatory. Some day, some day I will have a reasonable archive design! I have next week off, and I think one thing I'm going to do is write the web app portion of this project. Or at least start it. Right now you don't want to know what I do to inject new stories into the database. (Okay, it's not as bad as it might be: I edit yaml by hand.)
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I am NOT skewed! I'm...different. Oh. Um. A page for each series, with an appropriate tasty!pic for each page, I'd go for that.
In the cases where I have series banners, I show them at the top of each story in the series. And banners go on top of one-shot stories where I have those. (Actually, I don't think I have any. I have banners for Reconnection & Blackmail, and that's it. But if I did, that's where they'd go.)

I'm also leaning toward series summary info on the index, and detailed story listings on individual series pages. But a real index page, with everything listed in detail, might be useful too. Might just have both, and design a truly index-y index.
I would love summaries like that, if only because my memory for matching stories with titles is terrible and then I tend to lose the one I'm looking for.
I'll do a massive true index next, I think, just to see what it looks like, with all the meta-info about a story in one place. Tags, pairings, summary, title, series, all that jazz. It might be too much.
My site set up is by fandom and then by pairing, but since you're in mostly just one fandom, series would be good too.
I like how you have things set up. Seems easy to navigate and I don't think the index is too long to manage.
I shortened it anyway, but I'm glad you like it. I like looking at the bottom left corner a whole bunch :)
I find myself put off by your "story by series" list just under the BtVS heading. My eyes don't like it and don't follow it easily. This is not due to my usual blindness, rather it's an issue with the layout and those little brackety things around each name. In fact, I don't like the similar "talk back"/"more" stuff at the very beginning of the page either. I liked how you used to have your stories listed.

Basically, I want to come to a site, find what I'm looking for by category, and then have no weird background distracting me while I'm trying to read.
Wow. I just re-read my comment. Sorry. I didn't mean to sound harsh, cause there's a lot that I do love about your new website design. I just think that simple is sometimes better, you know? When a page looks too busy, it's more difficult to follow. At least for me.
Heh. It's funny, because I hated CNN's old web design. I could never find anything I was looking for.

I think that the horizontal list of stories that you have in brackets above the vertical list of the actual stories seems superfluous. The titles there are distracting and unnecessary, cause you have the stories just below. And, although I find your image on the left hand side of the page really nice on your lj page, I don't prefer it on your website. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's a right handed/left handed issue? I have no idea why that could have any bearing on it. Prolly just a personal quirk, and not something anyone else would even notice.

And, I realize I am completely rambling again, so I'll just stop now. I give this kind of crap way too much thought. Thank goodness I'm completely computer illiterate, or I'd be redesigning my journal page constantly.
I would suggest (based on how ficdom seems to function) that it would be a good idea to take the individual stories that comprise the series off the main index page and make each fic series it's own page. It does get too wieldy to have each smaller story listed on your main index.

I do think your pairing index & tags index are both very easy to find and use, and do what it is that most people want - to find the stories they want to read.

And as much as I adore story headers for the information they tell us, they are kind of evil too. I have faith though, someday you're going to come up with something that revolutionizes it all!
My first insight is: Header material that's appropriate on a multi-poster chaotic site like LJ is not appropriate on a single-author archive. The content, that is, the story, matters more. The solution is to omit most of it, and put the rest in a footer. Here's my reasoning.

The header material falls into two rough categories:
- discovery
- afterword

Items like pairing, warnings (aka advertisements), tags, summary, rating, and so on are tools the reader uses when deciding if she wants to read a story. Once the decision has been made ("yes, I want to read a teen-rated post-series story about a Giles/Spike romance"), they're irrelevant. The story text is what matters. So that material belongs in indexes, pages where the reader is browsing looking for something tasty.

That leaves notes, acknowledgments, awards and so on. These belong with the story, but are less important than the story. They should follow it as footer material, not header material, in a single-author archive.

How's that sound?
That actually sounds pretty damn perfect. That also means you could probably get away with reducing some of the header label information (esp. the word date *grin*) See, i knew all it was going to take was a little of your clear-thinking brainpower.

(oh, and thanks for pimping SOG on GilesNaughty, btw)
I don't think I've ever looked up stories on your archive before, so I figured I'd go look and see what I thought.

I LOVE the cloud for pairings, makes finding what you want really easy. As for the fandom page, I agree with whoever said it was hard to follow.

I think it would be much easier to follow if there was a simply link to the fandoms, then a link to the series and then have summaries and links to the different stories in the series. /two cents.

The trend in the opinions seems to be that the serieses should get pulled off onto their own pages, so that's what I have done!
Is there another way to have the series listed though? Maybe on the side like the "by fandom" list? I see that you have italicized them, but I'm trying to picture being new to ff and searching through this archive. First thing I'd do is get to your site, click on the "by pairing", hit B/G, then I'd start reading Blackmail, cause it's listed first. I would not immediately realize this is part of a larger story. Somehow this should be made more clear under the pairing section. Also, now when I hit return, it's not taking me back to the list of Buffy/Giles stories, it's taking me to the tags by pairing page. That would drive me bananas.

Oh, and the whole right side/left side issue I had earlier has disappeared now that the page is less cluttered.

Am I driving you crazy? Would you like me to stop?
Yay! Yeah, I do these things in stages. Regenerate the index, look at it, think about it, try something else out...
I didn't know of any, so I wrote my own. It's not really ready for public consumption, though. In particular, the way I get stories into the archive is not something non-geeks want to do. Every page in my archive gets regenerated by running a python command-line script, which is pretty cool, though. Eventually I'll write a web app interface to it.

If you feel adventurous, here's the source.