Monday, July 1, 2013

The New APA Website...

...is up. Looks nice. Looks like an actual, professionally-produced website, and not* some piece of Geocities trash from 1996. Drop-down menus are clearly labeled and functional. Seems well-organized. I like the new logo.

It looks like I have let my membership lapse, and so I'm not able to get into the members-only section right now. Maybe somebody more responsible than me will let us know how it works.

It really does seem like the APA has gotten a lot better lately.

--Mr. Zero

*edited. shit.

14 comments:

Duncan Richter said...

"and NOT some piece of Geocities trash from 1996"?

I think that's what you mean.

Mr. Zero said...

Yes, that is what I meant. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Nice of you to link to it.../sarcasm.

Bearistotle said...

I think you need to reset your password for the new site, even if your membership is still valid.

Anonymous said...

Let's not go overboard. The new logo and website are improvements, but nowhere near quality professional design. Compare that with other educational sites in, e.g., http://www.whitewhale.net/portfolio/ .

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with 11:32. It's better, but still meh. It still looks like a website from the early 2000s designed out of a template. And the logo did nothing for me. But then again, my wife is a graphic designer, and I see high quality stuff all the time.

Anonymous said...

OMFG, I don't even know where to begin with the last two comments (11:32 & 11:58).

Y'all realize that this is the website for an academic professional organization, right? Not for a school recruiting students, not for some visionary charitable trust trying to gobble up funding, and not for a company that wants to sell you some shiny newfangled gadget. Any money that gets pumped into making the website look good is not going to be recouped. Plus, the sole purpose of the site is to direct members of the profession to pertinent nuggets of information, to each other, to conferences, etc. -- all in the tidiest and most efficient way possible. Granted, I'm not a graphic designer, but I'm guessing that if you're thinking about design in functional terms, that's gonna mean: more text, less pretty.

With that thought in mind, if you want to broach a fair comparison, look at the new APA website side-by-side with some other academic professional organization websites. Let's do that, shall we?
Here is the other APA.
Here is the AMS, of fabled job database fame.
Here is the MLA.
And here is the APSA.
Want to vomit yet?
And believe me, I can keep going.

Do we detect a pattern? Next to the examples of "professional quality design" cited in the post above, all of the academic organization websites above pretty much look like absolute shit. Why might that be? I can't say for certain, but I'm guessing it's because of (1) the lack of free piles of money to pay people to make them look good, and (2) the absence of any reasonable justification for giving a shit. In fact, FWIW, next to those examples of comparable function, I think the APA's new website looks pretty damn good. It's not perfect: the order of dropdown menus doesn't make any sense at all, for one (why is "About the APA" in the prime real estate furthest to the left of the page, when it contains almost no information of actual use or interest to anyone? that's a design flaw). But after umpteen years of organizational incompetence and visual embarrassment, I am elated just to have the opportunity to make nitpicks like that.

I don't know. Maybe I missed the point of the above parade-raining, but, look: this is where we were a week ago. Given that fact alone, imho there is one and only one appropriate response to the unveiling of the new website, and that is: "OMGthankyou."

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU Anon 2:00! I think what we can learn here (and from the majority of comments on philosophy blogs) is that you can never make the majority of philosophers happy. Complaining and nitpicking is too much fun, apparently.

Every one of your points is spot on. The site is great, the rebranding is great, it functions the way a modern website should, and the APA's look has finally escaped the "geocities trash" look.

If something isn't working ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY, make sure you check the Getting Started page and make sure the glitch isn't user error. http://www.apaonline.org/?page=getstarted

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with 2:00. The site is what I'd call a good blend of utility and simplicity. Since when did Occamist aesthetics become a downer? Surely we don't need the APA site to be the visual cornucopia of CNN's page!

Anonymous said...

Dear 2:00, I am 11:32

Two clarifications. First, I wrote the site was better, but meh. But I can live with meh.

What I was disappointed with was the logo. The logo does nothing for me. It doesn't convey anything, it monochrome in some places and two colors in others. I just don't get the logo. That's all.

To recap: I think the site IS better. The logo, not so much. It was that, and that alone, that I think more design could have been useful. It might have even been useful to show it to the membership before it became THE logo.

I wasn't trying to be rude or insensitive, and I think you took it that way. And I still agree with 11:32. Let's not go overboard...

Anonymous said...

I'm also voting with 2:00.

I really don't give a shit about most design features. The new page is functional, I can find the stuff I want to find, and it doesn't look like it was designed by a fourth grader.

Anonymous said...

@2:00

Design doesn't mean less text more graphics. In fact, the common wisdom in contemporary web design is that typography and CSS should do much of the work, with images sparingly used.

More importantly, design doesn't just mean graphic design. UX/UI design is as, if not more, crucial. So yes, ease-of-use is very much on designers' minds. Google around and see how much work Amazon's designers put into designing their menu. In this respect, the APA website is still rather lacking.

The biggest problem is that the design is mainly table-based rather than CSS-based.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tableless_web_design

(By the way, table-based design is about as ancient and antiquated as Geocities.)

The big problem generates a number of smaller problems.
1. In general, table designs are less usable.
2. In general, table designs are less accessible. This is especially important for a profession that does not have the best reputations for answering to its less abled members.
3. In general, table designs are less easy to maintain in the long run. With CSS, you can give a page a visual refresh without touching the content. Not so with tables.
4. Table designs cannot be made responsive. An important contemporary trend in modern web design is the adaptability to a wide range of screen sizes and devices. See http://alistapart.com/article/responsive-web-design ... Now, check the APA website on your smartphone. Having a website that is usable on a smartphone is useful for, e.g., allowing members to look up meeting programs on the run.

Please try to be less ignorant before dismissing valid criticisms. Yes, the APA website looks better on a first pass (to sighted people viewing it on a computer), but there are still a lot of problems underneath the surface.

I assume the APA actually paid for the web design. And given how ancient table-based layout is, I bet they could have found someone who charges a similar price who can do better. No, the website doesn't need to look spectacular. However, it'd be nice for it to not be outdated in the future, or now.

Anonymous said...

I like the logo: it's a phi, but by putting it in two colours and separating the left bit then you also get a nice "P" for philosophy, for those (presumably non-philosophers) visiting the website who don't know what a phi is or that it's a symbol for philosophy. It's cute.

Anonymous said...

Sorry this is off-topic. But is anyone else having trouble accessing Andrew Cullison's Philosophy Journals Survey?