Warrior Cats
 of the Forest



Website Navigability Survey Response

Posted by Ember on March 25, 2018 at 1:55 PM

Last week, River, Alien, and I sent out three surveys. The third survey, written by myself, regarded how members navigate the website, which features they use most frequently, and how these features can be improved. The questions about how frequently each feature is used helps me prioritize updates and know how to effectively deliver information to members. For instance, I now know that more members use the History Page than I expected, and thus I will be updating it more frequently. Most members read every Monthly Meow, which lets me know that announcing things in Monthly Meows is an effective way to spread information. This will be particularly important in the future, as I will continue to put in community building tips that I hope members will take to heart.

Generally speaking, the website was rated as easy to navigate, the rules were considered clear, and the features that members use most frequently is not drastically different from past surveys. However, there’s certainly room to improve, and I received a bunch of helpful suggestions and criticisms.

To begin with, there were a handful of concrete ideas that I plan on implementing in the near future. I will create a new section in the News Page for guides, similar to the current category for Monthly Meows, break up the History Page into more sections to better reflect the actual content, standardize the document names on the public records, and list landmark locations within their descriptions. There were also a handful of concrete suggestions that I plan on toying with on my dummy site, and if I can find a feasible and aesthetically pleasing way to implement them, I will. For instance, hyperlinking the various ranks on the clan pages and making a condensed calendar on the home page.

There were also a handful of ideas that I’d like to implement, but will require more member input or on-going community support. For instance, several members suggested that I link to the Plot Planning Pages directly on the Home Page. I think that it would be best if I created as section of “Quick Links” and included the link there, along with links to various other places around the website that can’t currently be easily accessed from the home page. My current tentative list is Plot Planning Pages, Relationship Planning Pages, Public Records, and Calendar. However, I’m not totally happy with this list and would like more input about what should be included. One member suggested that I expand the Ancestry Project to include all cat lineages, including those that aren’t currently attached to our current Moonstar line. In the past, I had a similar project (you can still find the trees in my album), but it proved to be too too infrequently used to justify the time commitment of updating it regularly. I’d love to see a new family tree project that includes all cats, but as with the Ancestry Project, it will have to be maintained by members. Finally, someone suggested adding more landmarks to the map. I agree that this would be a nice thing to have, but need suggestions for what these landmarks should be.

A handful of abstract suggestions also came up that I’d like to implement, but am uncertain of how to do so. In particular, many members complained that the guides are hard to find or that not enough emphasis is put on them. As is, I don’t know where else they should logically be put on the website or how I can bring more attention to them without cluttering the Help Page. As well, members reported having trouble finding the mentor-apprentice lists, but I’m uncertain of where it would be more logically located. If you have any ideas, please speak up. Lastly, a handful of people suggested that the clans be given different or more defined personalities. This is being discussed in the Clan Identity Response blog entry.

There were also a handful of suggestions that I’d like to implement, but can’t due to the limitations of hosting a website on Webs. Firstly, as much as I hate that this is the case, I don’t have any power to fix the various glitches we experience. I’m waiting them out with the rest of you. I also can’t make the Character Updates Page or News Page more easy to navigate, although the Public Records and new category for guides may help these two issues. For the time being, I also can’t add a search bar to the website. While this might be possible in the future, I don’t have the skill to build one and my programmer friend who thinks it might be possible doesn’t have the time. If any of you have some talent with programming and want to tackle this problem, please reach out. In the meantime, using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+F/Command+F is a great help when looking for specific features or characters on a page.

I received a few suggestions that I don't plan on implementing, for various reasons. I don’t see the utility of adding specific maps for each clan’s territory. It wouldn’t show the landmarks in any more detail, would consume storage, and further clutter the already-heavy map section. Similarly, I don’t plan on asking members to put shortened character descriptions before their main description. I don’t see what purpose this would serve, as the character descriptions are already only a paragraph in length, and some members are already complaining that the clan pages are cluttered. I also don’t plan on making any alterations to the character birth date system right now. I know that it’s a bit confusing and there will be some growing pains as members get accustomed to the system, so I’m going to give it a few months and see what members think then before considering making any changes. I also don’t plan on adding new rules to require members to have a certain number of their characters be clan-born, match their clan descriptions, or expand the rules to include details such as apprentices being unable to have kits, which are better left to guides. Lastly, I don’t plan on numbering the rules with the intent of telling members, for instance, “you broke rule #7.” While this idea initially struck me as useful, under further consideration I don’t think it would accomplish what I want and may come across as overly aggressive. As is, when correcting members I prefer to use the format, “Hey, [action] is against the rules because [reason]” which frames it as more of a conversation and is less likely to overly intimidate new members.

As is often the case- and which suggests that there are more features which should be made easier to find- there were also a handful of suggestions for features that already exist. There is already a Warrior Cat Terminology Guide linked to on the Help Page, as is there a WCF-specific dictionary. Also, there are already shortened clan descriptions on the Home Page.

Finally, a handful of suggestions clustered around the Plot Planning Page. A few members suggested that we move it back to the blog entries, which I don’t plan on doing for a few reasons. Firstly, since being moved to the Plot Planning Page, more members have participated in plot planning and its generally been more active. With the new system, we can also separate side plot planning and main plot planning; with the blog entries, all side plot planning was forced to happen through the home page chat box or through private messages. As well, the old News Plot Planning Pages blocked out other news entries, and member comments couldn’t include links, which relates to the next idea: more frequent polling. This was suggested in the past but never implemented, in part because blog entry comments can’t contain links. Adding in more polls would allow us to get a concrete idea how many members support an idea and allow members to give anonymous input, which might help with member participation, particularly among newer members who are generally nervous about participating in plot planning. Finally, someone suggested that more plot ideas be given actual dates, which may help member participation in plot by letting members know when to look out for certain plots, and empowering members who otherwise wouldn’t participate with starting events. This would put further constraints on planned events, though, or runs the risk of making the calendar so flexible that it loses its actual value.

Ultimately, here is the feedback that I'm looking for on potential new changes: Should there be a condensed calendar on the home page? Should the seasons be included and if so, how? What should be included in the potential "Quick Links" section? How interested are you in helping with an expanded Ancestry Project? Are you particularly interested in helping to organize this project long-term? Do you have any new landmark ideas? How can the guides be made easier to find? How can the mentor-apprentice page be made easier to find? Do you think there's a place for polling on the Plot Planning Threads? Should we put more defined dates on events? If you would prefer to share your responses/ideas anonymously, you can use the contact box on the help page to do so.

Note: if you're having trouble posting a response to this blog entry, message your response to me and I'll post it for you.

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Reply Ember
3:52 PM on March 31, 2018 
I think everything you outline and plan on doing sounds good- The birthdates is great because it frees up your time and makes members accountable for their character's ages, and helps compare characters in terms of age (Which would be more experienced, to be exact). I also appreciate things not being exactly outlined in the rules- the creative freedom allowed on this website helps foster involvement from members. We also do have many 'soft rules' that are frowned upon in general, such as the apprentices having kits rule, making certain character archetypes (brooding evil-to-be-evil cats, unconventional names . . .) that are broken, but nobody minds because they are broken infrequently and, when they are, are interesting and uniquely implemented.

I was the one who suggested the shortened character descriptions, but I think it was misinterpreted or I might be mis-remembering what exactly I wrote. I suggested making an abbreviated clans page where the cat descriptions are more like the books, where the cats are described physically with what a cat would first notice upon meeting them, or what would be common knowledge (such as kits and parentage), things that wouldn't change with time.

For example, "Featherstep - large gray tabby she-cat with white splotches and gray eyes" for a basic warrior, and, doing a few from the MoonClan (top of the page, to give an idea)

Stallionstar - tall tuxedo tom with one green eye and one brown

Tigerfield - harsh, broad-shouldered light ginger tabby she-cat with folded ears and intense amber eyes ; Mother to Tigerkit, Servalkit, Leopardkit, and Pumakit.

Twilightsniff - Small white she-cat with green eyes and distinctive black tail

Forestpaw - blind lilac-point siamese she-cat with blue eyes ; Daughter to Softlullaby

Silversnow - Quiet, sleek gray tabby she-cat with pale blue eyes ; Daughter to Honeyflame and Mossbranch

I know I take on lots of mini-projects, but I would be willing to spearhead this sort of project. It helps me because the long descriptions, I am unsure of what is common clan knowledge and could also be used to help with the ancestry project, which I would also be interested in helping with.

I personally love the plot planning forum the way it is- it helps me be active in steering the plot where I'd like to see it. I also think polling would be a great idea, as anonymous feedback can be a helpful tool to you, the owner, to see where the problems lie.

For your questions- I like the idea of a condensed, perhaps weekly calender on the homepage. I also think there could be a forum added for the history page- where members could submit what their characters have been up to within their respective clans. This would serve two purposes- one, it would help leaders know what's going on with their clan beyond the scope of reading every post (Which is impossible). Second, it would help you find things to add to the plot planning page, and sort of unveil smaller reasons that the plot pushed towards a certain outcome. (A specific example is Sandstar and Frecklemask's fight. The official reason for the attack on EclipseClan is because of Thundersong, but Frecklemask wants a rematch). This might also help relay a sense of clan knowledge and help members 'branch out' and comment on other character's actions. (I had no clue that Thundersong existed until this week, and her actions definitely effect clan life on a small scale), which would hep the clans seem more cohesive and more of a unit instead of multiple smaller groups of cats involved in their own plots and nothing more.

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts and the community's thoughts!
Reply Ember
1:41 AM on April 1, 2018 
Thanks for the feedback, Kam! I'll just address your points in order:
1. It's good to hear that you like the birth dates. As I said above, I know they're a little complicated and hard to get used to, but I think the long-term good that they do will be worth the rocky transition period.
2. Apprentices not having kits is actually an official rule, it isn't just frowned upon.
3. Ah, okay, I did misinterpret your idea for shortened character descriptions. The further explained idea makes more sense, but I'm still not sure if the ease of shortened descriptions outweighs the amount of time I'd need to spend updating what is essentially a second set of pages, or if that would only further confuse members who seem to already have trouble remembering what is on which pages.
4. Cool, I expect that the first plot planning poll will be within the next two week or so :)
5. So instead of a full calendar, something like "upcoming events"?
6. Like a history page feedback forum? Where members could post summaries of things they think are history-page worthy? That function is currently carried by PMs and the plot planning page, but I can see how it could be useful to separate it out. What do the rest of y'all think?

Unrelated to Kam's post-
Ideally we can come up with two or three more, but here are a few of my ideas for new landmarks:

Bear Cave- two large, mossy boulders resting against each other that create wide cave. While bears haven't inhabited the place for many moons, apprentices still dare each other to spend the night in the cave. Located in the loner territory east of MoonClan

The Twisting Falls: a waterfall in the southern portion of EarthClan and SunClan's territory. The river right before the falls becomes so narrow here that it can be easily lept over, but its also deep and fast-moving (I was thinking something like this, but narrower and faster-moving: austin.carpediem.cd/data/afisha/o/93/ae/93aeba368e.jpg)

Algae pool- a pool of slow moving water in EarthClan's territory. While there are many fish here, the water smells foul and many EarthClanners choose to avoid it.

Duck pond- an artificial pond in the park within EclipseClan. While there are often ducks and koi here, any EclipseClanner who tries to hunt in daylight is bound to catch two-leg attention.