Autism Hub Updates

9 Jul

I’ve introduced a few changes to the Hub over the last few days.

Firstly, the whole site has had a substantial redesign. This has (I hope) made things a bit easier on the eye, a bit easier to read the content you’re interested in and generally behave better across a wider range of devices.

There’s still some ongoing backend work which needs to be completed before I start accepting potential new members and there’s a few more front end tweaks to get slotted in to make users lives even easier but these won’t require any substantial aesthetic alterations or any downtime at all.

Secondly, I’ve introduced a range of t-shirts that you can buy via the Hub. Its a very small range at the moment but I’ll be designing and adding more over time.

The reasons I’ve done this is mainly due to the unexpected success and popularity of the Hub. It took me very much by surprise how quickly it took off and the long and short of it is that the Hub needs to start paying for itself fairly quickly.

There are several ways I could’ve gone about getting revenue but I despise adverts on sites (or – even worse – in RSS feeds) and I ‘m very much against the idea of paid-for content in this context so this seemed the best solution – the buyer gets something and I get a cut to go towards the cost of running the site.

I’ve no idea how (un)successful this idea might be as I’ve never done anything like this before but if I do make any money beyond the requirements of the site to sustain itself then I’ll be donating the excess to pro-neurodiversity websites and projects at the end of each year.

Lastly, I’ve just set up a new part of the Hub which is free for anyone to use.

It’s called the ‘autisticus’ and it works in exactly the same way as del.icio.us – it allows you to save interesting stories and blog entries to a central location.

All you need to do is head to the autisticus site, create an account and then add pages/stories/blog entries you want to bookmark. You can tag entries in exactly the same way as del.icio.us and there’s even a draggable bookmark shortcut for your browser. Over time, as more entries get added and tagged, there’ll be a big resource of searchable tags and entries to read and research at your leisure. You cn even add any existing del.icio.us entries you may already have.

So, go join up and start adding entries!

19 Responses to “Autism Hub Updates”

  1. andrea July 9, 2006 at 16:50 #

    (Ack! Change! :: momentary visual confusion :: )
    Okay, updated my mental map. Now, let’s evaluate what’s here.

    Icons distinguishing author status are good. Clever move, that.

    Your first try at sort by icon then subsort by date made it too hard to find the second set of icons & new posts. Your second try at sort by date without icon sort resolved the first problem, but lost some of the initial rationale for sorting them …

    The roster of Autism Hub members is no longer there, and I really miss it! If I want to check someone’s blog and they’ve not posted in the last day or two, it’s damnably hard to find it. There should be some method of showing who the Hub contributors are.

    The Autism Hub descriptor block has great attitude, but typographically speaking it lacks sufficient foreground-background contrast, which makes it difficult to read. You don’t want that bit of text to be obnoxious and overpower the links, but for it to be worth your effort to encode and the readers’ effort to read, it must be assertive and not fade into the background.

    I think pink is an odd color choice — makes it look like you’re selling fashion dolls or fairy cakes (cupcakes). The Autism Hub logo is green, so why change everything to pink alla sudden? Then the logo is replaced with the raspberry-colored stacked-chevron thing instead; what’s with that? You’re losing the “brand identification” initiated with the green and the cogwheel logo. (Not fond of the phrase ‘brand identification”, but it’s the general concept.)

    My impression for having the Hub site was to connect various blog voices at a central station, to create a resource nexus for member bloggers and readers. I can understand dropping the ‘cogwheel’ because members are not mere identical cogs in the system, but surely there’s some other graphical way of portraying the connecting-hub / blogger-nexus concept?

    The real problem with the color change is that you have tone-on-tone by using shade on tint, and that reduces legibility.

    Actually, the small font size reduces legibility more, and when I use my command+ to increase font size to a non-squinting level then the formatting gets all screwy, even when the screen size is maximized. (I’m on mac using Firefox).

    May I suggest a layout tweak for your consideration? Put the listings into different blocks: a short-wide headline block at the top for the Autism Hub name/logo and descriptor and for linking to any Hub news, and below that a left-hand column for autistic hub member posts, a center column for other-member posts, and the right-hand column for the Hub roster. Splitting the membership types into two colums will make it easier for readers to both find the newest posts and to quickly grasp the significance of the different icons.

    Finally, I want to thank you for everything you’re doing on this steadily-mushrooming project! I know that doing all this behind-the-scenes organisation and formatting invariably takes a lot more work than one would reasonably expect it to, and that this is something you do in your nearly-theoretical spare time. (Nothing ‘exceeds’ like success, or some such thing.) The Hub is a fantastic idea, and I appreciate all the work that you do to make it happen.

    andrea

  2. andrea July 9, 2006 at 16:51 #

    P.S.

    Q.: What is del.icio.us?
    Q.: What is an RSS feed?
    Q.: What is an OPML?

    andrea

  3. Kev July 9, 2006 at 18:40 #

    Wow – great comments Andrea, thanks for the feedback :o)

    I’ll tackle your questions in reverse order…

    OPML – an OPML file is basically a downloadable file RSS links set up ready to import into a feedreader. Think of it as a starter kit.

    RSS – an RSS feed is basically a way of accessing the content of a blog without having to actually visit the site in question. You read the RSS feed via a feedreader.

    So for example, Bloglines is a free online feedreader. I also note you use Firefox? Sage is a free Firefox extension for reading feeds.

    So you might set up a Bloglines acct or install Sage. Your next step would be to download the Hub OPML file from the Hub site. After that you could import the OPML file into your feedreader and hey presto you’re ready to access all the Hub member feeds in one place :o)

    del.icio.us is a web application (a website that performs tasks). The jobs this app performs is that of a social bookmarking system. People create free accounts and then as they read an intresting story via their feedreader or visit to a news site then they can add those stories/entries to their del.icio.us account.

    Where the power of del.icio.us comes in is its ability to ‘tag’ entries and have those tags be searchable. You associate any sort of tag that you feel best describes the entry you are adding. So this blog entry I might tag ‘autism hub, autism, left brain right brain, leitch, design, updates, blog’ – as you can see multiple tags are allowed.

    As more and more users sign up and more and more entries get tagged and added a very powerful aspect comes into play – by searching for a particular tag you get to see *all* entries tagged with the tag you’re looking for so you can find new information you might never have found otherwise.

    Now, as for the redesign…

    The roster will be making a return :o)

    The descriptor block I want to be visible but I don’t want it to be *the* most noticeable thing – that should be the feeds.

    Pink – I’ve got a thing for pink ;o) an old version of this site was very pink. I like the fact it makes it warn and approachable. The read and green were a little too stark.

    The legibility of colours is interesting. I tested the contrast and it falls into an acceptable range but if enough people don’t like it I’m happy to contrast more. Same goes for font-size.

  4. Sharon July 9, 2006 at 19:45 #

    Thanks for all the work to keep this going and looking so good.

    I thought perhaps you’d lost the red and green as it looked so much like the Italian flag and you didn’t want to be partisan tonight πŸ˜‰

  5. Kev July 9, 2006 at 19:51 #

    lol!

    I’m a Zidane fan, so…’allez francais’!

  6. Sharon July 9, 2006 at 22:25 #

    In that case, oops!

  7. Kev July 9, 2006 at 22:39 #

    :o(

  8. Amanda July 10, 2006 at 04:19 #

    For reference, Kev, I can at this point see the shirts, and nothing else in the way of graphics. (You probably know this already.)

  9. Kev July 10, 2006 at 06:27 #

    Yeah….I’m still trying to decide on the best way of handling this but I’ll get there ;o)

  10. Ms Clark July 10, 2006 at 08:06 #

    I miss the “hub” logo. I like the idea of a wheel or something. I would like to see a little more contrast in the descriptor block, too. Maybe if there was a tiny bit more gray it would look less like a boutique, but I’m not bothered by the current level of pink. I’d like to see the member icons be about 10% bigger and *maybe* a bit more contrast in them, now that you have the black t-shirts on there you might want some more dark to balance them?

    Would you consider adding a tiny PayPal button along with the t-shirts sales? Some people would rather give you the equivalent of the profit from a t-shirt (or more) and skip buying the t-shirt. Though the t-shirts are cool.

  11. Joseph July 10, 2006 at 22:36 #

    A version of AutisticBFH’s T-Shirt might be nice.

  12. Wade Rankin July 10, 2006 at 23:42 #

    Hey, I’ll trade you a couple of stickers for a t-shirt.

  13. andrea July 11, 2006 at 02:06 #

    I have a CafePress shop with similarly like-minded stuff; if you want to link to it, I’ll donate all the profits to the Hub!

    http://www.cafepress.com/starbirdcreates

    andrea

  14. Dad Of Cameron July 11, 2006 at 06:37 #

    Let it never be said that Wade Rankin may not indeed have a sense of humor. πŸ™‚ Got two tens for a five? J/K wade.

  15. Kev July 11, 2006 at 07:12 #

    Andrea that’s really good of you but lets see how this goes first – I don’t want to dry up your income ;o)

    Wade – Sold! You after some dusters or something? ;o)

  16. Kev July 11, 2006 at 07:15 #

    Ms Clarke – Ah yes, the logo…the reason I ditched the ‘gear’ motif was that it wouldn’t scale very well. Past a certain size it looked like some kind of medieval torture device!

  17. Ms Clark July 11, 2006 at 08:24 #

    “medieval torture device” aaaah, not unlike listening to an autistic go on and on and on and on about his or her collection of 10th century Chinese bronzes or train schedules or minutiae about classic Star Trek episodes. πŸ™‚

    A circle with a dot in the middle is the alchemical symbol for gold, a pedantic and wise autistic told me, or maybe it was _David of Kathleen_. That symbol is on the Autistic Underground t-shirts etc at a certain other cafepress shop (they are sold at cost) http://www.cafepress.com/oddizmautistry.35082404 .

    Autistic Underground “AU” looks like “Au” the periodic table of elements designation for gold. The circle with the dot looks like a wheel and wheels spin, and so are excellent to watch. _Underground_ is an underground reference to trains and you can see some train tracks there at the bottom of the logo. Maybe the autism hub could have a train or train switching yard as it’s logo? πŸ™‚

    I suggest you try a circle with a dot in the middle, minus the teeth. πŸ™‚ Feel free to ignore this suggestion.

  18. Sharon July 13, 2006 at 19:00 #

    Ooh! I like the train themed logo idea. It would be very relevant to us.
    Then you’d have to make sure and sell the T-shirts in children’s sizes!

  19. Kev July 14, 2006 at 15:48 #

    OK, I’ve added in the ability to switch the layout of the posts as individuals erquire it and also to switch to a ‘directory view’ like in the old design.

    I still need to decide on the best way to meet Amanda’s needs (getting a bit more tricky than i thought) and I promise to re-examine the logo ;o)

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