ASP.NET website redesign beta: What's changed, why, and how you can make it better
We're happy to announce the beta release of something we've been quietly working on for a while now: a redesign for the ASP.NET website (http://asp.net). You can browse directly to it at http://beta.asp.net, or if you're on the http://asp.net site you can click on the "Try the NEW beta site" link in the header.
Goal: Make it easier to find useful information
Scott Hanselman listed some of the goals of this new design in his post:
- A newer Information Architecture (IA) that scales with different types of content. Trying to get you somewhere useful quickly.
- Content organized into relevant topic areas (Overview, Videos, Tutorials, etc.) to make information easier to find and to learn a technology.
- Improved on boarding experience – Developers new to ASP.NET should find it easier to get started and download what they need.
- Important Samples and Tutorials are positioned prominently in the structure of the site so that they are easier to find.
- Textual Tutorials are as important as videos - We've heard people want text tutorials more than videos, so we're finding balance between these two kind of content.
- Improved Social Integration – Community info, pulling from Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
- A less cluttered user experience to get you where you need to go in fewer clicks.
- Open Source and Samples - We're looking for new ways to showcase great open source projects and excellent samples.
The main point is in trying to make it easier for you to find useful content. ASP.NET's capabilities have grown quite a bit over the years, and there's a ton of content spanning technologies (ASP.NET Web Forms, ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web Pages), skill levels (getting started through advanced), content types (reference material, tutorials, blogs).
While it's tempting to focus on the home page, the goal is more apparent when you drill into the content. For instance, if you're looking for information about Models in ASP.NET MVC, the existing site has historically made you play hide and seek a bit. We've recently been working to provide some structure around the content, as you can see in the Learning Resources section on http://asp.net/mvc.
The new beta.asp.net site goes a lot farther, elevating that content outline structure more directly into the site:
There was a time, not all that long ago, when adding a new "page" to the site required adding a new page to the site. As in, adding any content required development and deployment. In May 2010, I posted about a site redesign which started the work of trying to better organize and surface content, but as we weren't fully on a content management system then it wasn't as possible to really reorganize content as much as we wanted. Now that the content's managed by a content management system, we can not only create and manage content more quickly, we can move it around.
A fresher design
I'm happy to see a much cleaner, clearer, and more modern design. As I just mentioned, we last updated the site 17 months ago. For a comparison, here are side-by-side shots of the home page comparing the previous, current, and beta designs.
And here's how the ASP.NET MVC content has evolved over time (screenshots showing more drilldown with each release).
I've always wished we did a better job of surfacing our community content, and I'm very happy with the progress on http://beta.asp.net/community. I'm going with the tiny screenshot here since there's a lot of content, but I love how this shows:
- Daily Spotlight
- Article of the Day
- Community Blogs
- Microsoft Blogs
- Forum highlights
- New Wiki Articles
- Community Samples
- Control Gallery updates
Okay, I told you what we hoped to accomplish. How's we do? This is a beta, and we're honestly, earnestly seeking your feedback.
The best way to give your feedback (much better than a blog comment!) is to post your feedback on the dedicated UserVoice forum for the ASP.NET website.