Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Sean Duhame, Creative Director at gamerDNA and known as Alphadoque in the gamerDNA community.
We’ve done a lot of work at gamerDNA since its launch almost a year ago. We’ve added a ton of product features, over 60, some massive… and some not so massive. We added these features alongside an already fully developed Web site, gamerDNA’s former incarnation GuildCafe.com. The site simply… grew!
We’ve also learned a lot in this past year. Much of that learning has come from the feedback of our members and visitors, not only by direct contact but also by site usage data we check to measure how much you really care about a feature or particular part of the site. We talk a lot about this feedback in the halls, lunch room, board table, desks and chat clients at gamerDNA. All this feedback, wide and varied, lead us to ask ourselves one simple question. The teams answers to this one question were simply all over the place. It was a sober moment… but most moments worth-while are. Oh… the question? We’ll get there
If there’s one thing I can say about this crew is that when a question is posed there’s no length to which we won’t go to answer it. For example, I’ll never forget Trapper and Antares drawing graphs on the white board to support their ideas concerning ethical utilitarianism (yes, I am serious). So when we couldn’t get to the bottom of "the question" many long discussions ensued. Let me just say this, there’s a lot of passion at this company!
For guidance we turned to what we’ve learned about gamerDNA.com since its launch again relying on our members and visitors to show us the light. When we juxtaposed that knowledge against the site (as it was only a few days ago) we realized gamerDNA.com just wasn’t playing to its strengths. It wasn’t telling its story. It was over-complicated and tried to be too many things and needed to be simplified. There’s still a bit of that going on but we feel we’ve moved in a direction, first with the site navigation and the (logged-out) home page, that helps solve those problems.
John Maeda’s "Laws of Simplicity" state, "The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction." Reduction is a difficult process when it comes to the things you love but we’ve done our best to be pragmatic and give meaning to the reduction we’ve chosen. There’s no greater example of this reduction than our new site navigation. We realize it’s an enormous change for our members and visitors. We appreciate that change can be a less than fun process but it’s our belief that these choices will make for a much more valuable, fun and usable experience.
SITE NAVIGATION BREAK-DOWN
I wanted to first share our "NOW" location so I can give you the entire picture. It hasn’t launched yet (slated for delivery Tuesday, May 5th) but please feel free to take a look at the screenshot to get an idea of what it will offer. This page supports a few things we learned from our members – that real-time feeds around games, game content and conversation as well as the ability to have a broad view into the activity of the community is very desirable amongst our members. We’ve put a lot of focus on the real-time nature of this page as well as the conversational aspect of the system. We’re very excited to launch this and we’ll be looking into how well it’s received by our members and visitors.
GAMES & PLAYERS
I’ve bundled these together because simply put, there is no gamerDNA without the two. It’s why we’re here and we’re pretty sure it’s why you’re here too.
The Games and Players navigation have consistent use patterns. Top level links will bring you to powerful directories for each. Future vision for Games and Players are a landing page for each that bubble up high-level, interesting, timely content.
Within the drop-down menu we track your last 5 visited locations for each, both Games and Players, and add them to the menu. We did this because we learned that members often go back to the same game and member pages within lengthy blocks of time. There are numerous use-cases that support this choice. We really believe you’ll find this pretty useful.
As Web users we find the type-ahead function to be unbelievably useful. Quick, easy, helpful. If you have a game or player in mind, typing in the first few letters for either will deliver you the closest matches in less than a second. Again, we found a lot of use cases that this feature supported. We all find we’re using it a lot already.
What a simple question. Like I said, we all came up with different answers. We’re now doing our best to rally around one. Development continues but we want to deliver improvements as they come because in the face of a little confusion we feel you deserve the enhancements as they’re completed. Changes our coming fast and we’re pretty sure you’ll be happy with what’s to come.
Lastly, some of our members have wondered quite a bit as to why our forums section was moved outside of our main site navigation and into the footer. Let it be said, we adore our members who use the gamerDNA.com forums. This was a very difficult decision, one we spoke of at length. Please read Community manager Sam Houston’s post for more on this choice.
Creative Director, gamerDNA
of Warcraft Death Knight Players choose Blood Elf or Human as their Race.
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