Shogun: Shogun website and UX redesign — $2,500
(NumFOCUS Sponsored Project)
The goal of this project to release a new website for Shogun. The current website design and user experience is confusing and fails at achieving the following:
- Targeting new users and enabling them to get quickly started.
- Having a unified experience across the full content, supporting easy navigation (for example, the most content heavy sections—like Examples or API docs—provide no breadcrumbs, and almost all the sections have different design, etc.)
- Specific sections lack basic functionality (like filtering down Examples), which is especially important for new users as well as experienced users who want to find an answer quickly.
- Some important information is unnecessarily hidden or not well communicated, like activity (current development, news) and point of contacts.
As our website is the first point of contact with our users we must do a better job welcoming new users and keeping our community members in the loop. In the last eight years we have changed our website three times: we went from using a complex CMS to an easy to maintain and update website architecture. During these changes we finally managed to come up with a small list of requirements for Shogun’s website:
- Easy to update: there’s absolutely no need for having a complex CMS for our needs. Namely, content based on text files, like Markdown, does a great job for us.
- Easy to navigate: users—both newcomers and advanced users—should find the content that they are looking for within two clicks. For example, how to install Shogun on their own system or how to start as a developer to extend Shogun.
The current state of website achieved (sort of) the first requirement, but not the second. In other words, although the content for “Getting started with Shogun” as well as “How to get started in developing Shogun” is all available on the website, we have experienced that it may not be the friendliest to navigate for quick answers. For example the latest development of the website, the (meta) examples (http://shogun.ml/examples/latest/index.html) is very useful for all the newcomers who’d like to use Shogun, but it is a totally separate module. Hence, once the user navigates herself to that part of the site, she completely “falls out” of the scope of the original website itself. The same could be told about the API section as well.
Although in the back-end we support versioning of the documentation (see http://shogun.ml/examples/6.0.0/index.html, http://shogun.ml/examples/6.1.3/index.html), currently this is not at all exposed via the website. In other words, users cannot switch between different versions of the library’s documentation, like in case of Scikit-learn (http://scikit-learn.org/dev/versions.html), Numpy (https://docs.scipy.org/doc), Python (https://docs.python.org/3/library/index.html) or any of the documentation hosted at readthedocs.io.
Furthermore, there is no direct link on the website to download either the source code or the pre-compiled packages. The “contact us” section is too cluttered at the moment, as well as not clear for the user what is our main point of contact (is it the mailing list? Is it stackoverflow?).
The output of this project is basically a full redesign and re-implementation of the Shogun’s website, based on the preliminary work provided by our designer. The new website should have a unified experience: it should show newcomers applications, the supported technologies, and algorithms, while still provide clear-cut knowledge for the more experienced.