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Poster: ARossi Date: Apr 22, 2015 3:03pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

Hi Gerry,

Thank you for taking the time to look at the new site, and for all the great stuff you've added to the collections here.

I run the Collections team at IA, and the project to build the new site.

You are absolutely correct - the new site doesn't do a good enough job displaying the items you mention. There are a lot of items in the archive that have multiple types of media in them, and most of them display badly on both versions of the site. It's great that you found a workaround to make two players available on the "classic" site.

Making a more versatile media space for items on the new site is high on our list of priorities. But we can't just solve your particular problem - we have to solve the problem for all types of media in all types of combinations. That's not an easy interface design or technical problem to solve. But we do hear you, and we do intend to make improvements in the coming months.

I'd also like to address your broader question about soliciting and accepting input. I've been working with the archive since our very first service release in 2001 (the original Wayback Machine), and I helped build a lot of the active collections and communities here. I assure you, we did not make these decisions in a bubble. We did many user interviews to generate ideas, several rounds of user testing, gathered feedback on the prototype from quite a few power users - there are thousands of them! - across the collections, and since we made the beta public we have received (and read) well over 15,000 feedback emails.

The site has gone through several rounds of changes in the last 6 months, all based on feedback we got from users. And every time we make a change we read the emails, look at the forums, and examine the site stats to make sure that the majority of our users are seeing a positive benefit from those changes.

I hope you will continue to check back with the new version of the site as it progresses, and thank you for all your contributions.


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Poster: bstepno Date: Apr 27, 2015 2:08pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

No hate here... I've been browsing around the new format for the first time today, discovering new things, and appreciating all the redesign effort that's going on. I'm a basic-HTML, CSS & WordPress guy and can't imagine the complexity of dealing with so many media formats, sometimes on a combined page like that Petula Clark one. However, I wish many pages had an obvious way to switch to a text-only alternative. For example, it's charming that folks have created amateur "CD Cover" graphics to go with audio files, but they are a tremendous waste of screen real-estate when browsing. I assume that there is (or will be) a simplified version somewhere, especially for visually-disabled folks searching for audio books, old time radio shows, etc. But how do you get at it? The simple alphabetical list of the old format someone illustrated here ( had its points. (Oops. When I first posted this I hadn't found the Collection/Title menu, so now I see the alphabet is still alive... but the cover graphics and page-scroll reloads still take a while. A "hide graphics" button would be lovely.) Meanwhile, the full text search and keyword lists are still very helpful, if a bit inconsistent. I haven't been an uploader of content, so I'm not familiar with that interface, but is there a way to facilitate cross-linking? Example: the Old-Time Radio Research Group, whose uploads I use constantly, posts both a "certified collection" page for a radio series with downloadable zip files and a "singles" page for the same series, so that people can stream or download individual MP3s. But there is not always a cross-link between those two pages and they do not appear together in brute-force search results or index pages, except for the title list. Perhaps the linkage issue a limitation of the tools used, or just a need for someone to come in and do some editing. I would be willing to help, but I'd need to know where to start learning and, as the Ghostbusters put it, "Who you gonna call?" Regards and best wishes, Bob Stepno retired pro and prof of journalism, media studies and Web production
This post was modified by bstepno on 2015-04-27 21:04:08
This post was modified by bstepno on 2015-04-27 21:08:02

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Poster: Mr Cranky Date: Apr 27, 2015 4:07pm
Forum: texts Subject: Concerned about this new format

As I have suggested in previous posts, everyone should spend the time and watch the full video below. It requires a few minutes but answers many questions. It is also useful to follow the links and understand the driving forces behind things.

On the positive side, there have been several excellent user submitted work-arounds. My thanks to those of you who post them.

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Poster: garthus1 Date: Apr 22, 2015 10:43pm
Forum: texts Subject: Re: Hate this new format

Do Customers Really Know What They Want?


This will only be an abbreviated response. Actually, I have written something much more comprehensive but it is not completed as of yet. I have owned businesses for most of my life and I think that I have a good understanding of the customer or user perspective. I have also been involved in Academia for over 20 years; this (academia) was not a good experience. If they were the types of 'power users' which you interviewed, than I am not surprised that the interface works and looks the way that it does. The hallmark of academia is impracticality, know-it-all-ism, and definitely not the desire to produce optimal results. Education today functions in the 21st century using 18th century pedagogy (with some wonderful exceptions ... but not enough). They are the last people that I would ask for such advice. The content that I have put up on the Archive was done with spare time stolen from sleep and with a desire to produce the best items possible. No government or state funding here nor deep pockets-donors, so I was forced to innovate and be creative (even with my time). In the future the intention on my part is to have at least two full-time workers putting up content so I can transfer my physical collection to the Archive.. I really think that significant improvements could be made in the site concerning how items are placed into the Archive. If it were not for the collection pages I would have put up my own Archive for these items and I think that at least a 30% savings in wasted time could have been achieved … but I saw no reason to try to duplicate what the Archive is doing so I am willing to tolerate the time-wasting. However if I had to use the newer interface to upload items, that would have been too much wasted time. As I get older I become increasing less tolerant of wasting time and people who design systems that waste my time. If I can save 1/10 of a second of someone’s time on my website, I will do it even at some cost to myself. It seems to me that too many web-site developers often only make one's experience more wasteful as they create so-called improvements in sites.

In closing … users in many cases do not really know what is better and often are impressed with what they believe or think looks better. This is why such surveys all must be taken with a grain-of-salt. I can show you what works better with bench-marking and I assure you that many of these so-called improvements have only increased the time it takes to upload and create items. Yes, we must be sensitive to what customers or users think they want … but we must also strive to make things work better and not waste people's time … this is what is called Optimization; and this is what actually drives Progress, Innovation, and System Usability.

Thank you,

Gerry 23 April 2015