Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Big Changes Coming to Gamequarium!
Gamequarium has grown to more than 1000 pages. Because of the sheer number of pages, the changes will take place, a section at a time, over the next few months. All pages will be redesigned and in place by the start of the 2007-2008 school year. Your patience is appreciated during the redesign process. Below is a summary of what will stay the same and what will change as well as the rationale behind my thinking.
First, the changes:
- A totally new look!
Rationale and explanation: Teachers seem to generally dislike the watery background and the yellow text stating that it is “hard on the eyes.” I have heard this for years, but I have resisted changing because students generally seem to love those elements. My goal is to find a happy medium between what the teachers need and what the students want, all while keeping the underwater theme. The new design has brighter colors and easy-to-read text areas. The watery background is being eliminated, but an underwater theme will remain on the main portal pages.
- Improved organization and more navigation options!
Rationale and explanation: Some felt that pages or content are hard to find with the current navigation system. Others experienced information overload when viewing the home page. To address these issues, the home page will link to each main section. These sections will link to subject area pages and subject area pages will link to topic-specific pages. Each page will contain a search box so that navigation by keyword searching is always available. For those who currently like the home page, an improved, alphabetized site index will be linked from each page. The site index will also provide information such as section location, grade level, and the number of pages for each topic.
- Less scrolling!
Rationale and explanation: Some survey respondents felt that many pages required too much scrolling. Gamequarium users are “clickers” rather than “scrollers”! My goal is to keep page length to no more than 2 screens.
- A ratings system!
Rationale and explanation: Teachers reported spending too much time searching through links looking for the highest quality activities. Each topic will have a “top picks” section clearly labeled. “Top picks” will be designated based on a combination of criteria including educational value, interactivity, and learning enjoyment.
- New topic pages!
Rationale and explanation: There was an abundance of requests for additional topics. After all existing pages are updated and redesigned, I will begin to create pages for the requested topics.
- A back up site!
Rationale and explanation: My current hosting company has recently had its servers hijacked by hackers on several occasions making Gamequarium unavailable for a period ranging from hours to a few days. Many survey respondents reported that they were lost without Gamequarium! Others reported slow loading pages due to high traffic at peak periods of the day. To address both of these problems, a back up site, with identical content, will be placed at http://gamequarium.org. I will not launch the back up site until the redesign is complete.
- New training videos and materials!
Rationale and explanation: Staff development folks requested more materials to help introduce Gamequarium to the teachers they train and to share the benefits of using Gamequarium with administration. Teachers requested more materials to introduce the site to parents. I will be producing videos to meet each of these needs. The current PowerPoint and printable materials will be updated to reflect the changes to the site.
- A Gamequarium Store!
Rationale and explanation: I am frequently asked to make apparel and other items bearing the Gamequarium logo available for purchase. I will soon be launching the Gamequarium Store for this purpose. A large portion of the proceeds will be used to fund the Gamequarium Education Foundation. More to come regarding the foundation!
What will remain the same?
- Gamequarium will remain a free resource!
Rationale and explanation: It is my gift to the children and teachers of the world.
- All URLs (addresses) to individual pages will remain the same!
Rationale and explanation: Many teacher reported bookmarks, shortcuts, webpage links, etc. to specific sections or pages of Gamequarium. To prevent lost pages, broken links, and annoying redirects, every page will maintain its current url.
- Some sections will remain unchanged at this time!
Rationale and explanation: There are only 24 hours in a day! At this time the design of Readquarium, Gamequarium Junior, and Searchquarium will remain the same. I will continue to update these sections as time permits.
Your continued feedback is appreciated. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Happy teaching and learning!