A bit of ranting about Ubuntu.com

Andreas Lloyd lloydinho at gmail.com
Tue Feb 7 15:05:18 GMT 2006

Sorry, this got to be rather longish. But it is well worth it! There's a 
treat at the end!

A central part of this discussion is the style and manner in which the 
website presents its information. As it is, I really like the way that 
it is relatively uncluttered compared to


which all have a very "corporate" feel with a lot of links pointing in 
all directions with too much information on the front page.

In comparison, Ubuntu has a very earthen, low-key community feel to it 
which is central to communicate the message that it _is_ different from 
its main competitors on the desktop scene. Keeping the amount of 
information on the front page low and easily understandable with clear 
links on where to go for further information.

As Dennis suggested, the tabs should be the focus of this linking. And 
I've developed his concept:
__________ _________________ _________ _____________ __________________
| Ubuntu | Support | Participate! | Community | Partners | Services |

I'll discuss these tabs individually (but not in order):

But, as others have pointed out, "Support" seems to be the 
near-universal category for Documentation, Help, Guides, Manuals, 
HOWTOs, what-have-you. It seems obvious to have Support link directly to 
user help and documentation that is the help.ubuntu.com page - which is 
basically where (I suppose) we want people to look first.

As it is, there're both a Support front page and a Support Options page 
as well as the "Free Support" and "Paid Support" pages. That is just 
confusing. It is perfectly possible to integrate the "Ubuntu 
Marketplace" and "Local Language Support" pages (or links) in Services 
and Support pages, respectively.

Instead of the current "Support" page with its numerous options (wiki or 
help or FAQ? Mailing list, Forums or IRC?) with little explanation, I 
think it is much better to take the "Free Technical Support" page [
http://www.ubuntu.com/support/supportoptions/freesupport] as the basis 
for a new section front page, as a lot of work is already done: It has 
decent descriptive links to the various modes of support (though still 
too many different kinds that aren't working together cf. the recent 
UDSF/Ubuntu Forums/DocumentationTeam Meeting). It even has link to the 
"Local Language Support" page, making the Support Options page even less 

As the integration of these various means of help proceeds, we might 
even consider calling the Wiki a "Knowledge base" to make it more 
appetizing for people with little geek sentiment (of course, thereby 
risking to alienate the geeks instead..).

Centralizing the free community help directly through the "Support" tab 
necessitates another main tab called "Services" which contains the 
Canonical, paid support and the Ubuntu Marketplace pages and links.

I don't know if that would make it sound like Ubuntu is selling  
commercial services, but it will make good sense to visitors who care 
little about who delivers the support services - as long as they're 
available. Of course, there should still be a link to the Services 
section from the Support section front page so as to make it clear to 
people that there is professional support to be had.

Dennis has made some excellent suggestions on how to develop the 
Community page. Still, since Ubuntu is so community-driven, I'm afraid 
that it is simply too big a category for just one tab. Since it is so 
central to Ubuntu to have contributors, it might well be necessary to 
have another tab called "Participate" (or maybe "Contribute!" or "Get 
Involved!") leading directly to the pimping descriptions of the teams 
and other good stuff that Dennis has suggested.
As far as I can see, most Open Source projects have a category called 
"Developers", but since Ubuntu spans wider than that (and that title 
isn't as intuitive as you'd hope), it would be good to have something 
similar as a tab on the front page.

That would in turn unclutter the Community page to some degree. On most 
webpages, having a category called "Community" signifies a forum of some 
sort - or at least some sort of contact with other users or fellow 
travellers. That means that the Fridge, the forums and PlanetUbuntu 
should be featured prominently there. When visitors click on the 
"Community" link, my guess is they want to see other people. Not stuff 
about governance. At least not at first glance. Of course, this may vary 
between geeks and non-geeks. But it seems to me that most geeks have 
already heard of Ubuntu, and are more forgiving about this sort of 
things than non-geeks are.

I don't know much about this. But I guess that this is where corporate 
people will be looking and not lot of others. So here it's allowed to 
put more information on the front page. I suppose there's a reason why 
corporate types have their pages look like this


And it is especially this page that must look officially corporate to 
some degree to convince the them. The marketing/sales pitch needs to be 
turned up on this one. I wouldn't know anything at all about _how_.

... being a new contributor, I wasn't sure where to put this until this 
discussion arose. Since most of these suggestions focus on simple 
relinking and copying/rewriting slight bits in some pages, I wasn't sure 
about how to go about adding it to Henrik's new wiki entry.

Oh, and the promised treat:

(shame on you who just scrolled to the bottom only to get at this ;-)): 
(and sorry if this should offend anybody - seminaked ladies are involved).

best regards,

Andreas Lloyd

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