New Site & Sitefinity Customizations

15 posts, 1 answers
  1. Shaun Peet
    Shaun Peet avatar
    571 posts
    Member since:
    Aug 2004

    Posted 06 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    The new site is (as we say in Canada) beauty, eh!

    So let's say that I own some Sitefinity licenses (which I do) and I like pretty much most of the customization work that you've done for the new telerik.com site.  Is there any chance you guys kept track of all the work you had to do to make your own site work well with Sitefinity and you'd like to pass that info on to us in the form of a blog series?  Sitefinity itself is a great product, and its documentation has come a long ways, but it's still tricky to get it to work as expected sometimes.  Personally, I'd like to see how you guys were able to take your existing forums and integrate them into Sitefinity - in particular I'd like to know if you're using any of the standard Sitefinity Forums controls for this.

    If you did build any custom controls for the pages on the telerik.com site, is there any chance you can make these available to your loyal SItefinity users to see how the "pros" took a real-world situation and made it work with Sitefinity?  That would be just super, particularly since alot of people will have been familiar with the old telerik site and would be very interested to know how you made the transfer to the new site.

    Again, the new layout is much better than before and kudos for the Q3 release in general.  It's been probably the smoothest release I've witnessed over the past 3 years.  Thanks

    Shaun
  2. PureCode
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    Jul 2006

    Posted 06 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    Really, you think this is beauty?

    I think it is a serious step BACK for Telerik.

    The old site was quick, easy to navigate, easy to use. This is.. well.. LARGE (look at the sheer size of some of the text, hell read a forum post, the text size is ridiculous), uses HIGHLY contrasting colors (almost black header, followed by a WHITE 'content area' which has LIGHT GRAY around it .. my LCD is burning in as i am typing this, avatar images can apparently be any size, since mine sticks WAY into the post, etc.

    No, i do not approve of this new design, and it has definitely lowered my interest in Sitefinity by a LOT, especially after you state that they actually had to customize a CMS at code level to get it to produce this 'LCD Screen Burner Inner' site.

    And don't get me started on 'smooth Q3 release', considering it broke practically our entire application (which was fairly easy to fix, but still shouldn't have to be done, but, i have to note that it seems Visual Studio 2008 Team System has a finger in that pie, so i am not going to blame Telerik entirely for that). The new SkinManager is probably the worst thing they EVER made considering my developers started calling it the "SkinBugger" (and the word 'bugger' is mine, the actual word is not exactly rated E for Everyone) five minutes after testing it.

    But, alas, what is one going to do right?

    Regards,

    Mike


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  4. Todd Anglin
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    Aug 2005

    Posted 06 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    Mike-

    Sorry to hear that you don't like the new site! As with any "re-design," there are always going to be those that like it and those that don't. Most important, obviously, is performance, and we're working quickly to optimize performance on our production servers to ensure your navigation and usage are as fast as the old site. The design I suppose is a personal preference, but I'm sure with time (I hope) you'll get used to it. If you take a look at other software company sites (such as Adobe), I think you'll see that the high-contrast skin is very popular these days with professional designers.

    In any event, please keep sending us your feedback and feel free to report any specific problems you run in to. I've already reported the avatar sizing issue and that should be addressed soon.

    Thanks-
    Todd
  5. PureCode
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    Posted 06 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    My business makes websites like this, for some ridiculously large customers (there is a reason i have airplanes as avatars).. high contrast is all fun and dandy (and Adobe is not a positive example...), but your new site is literally hurting my eyes. Design-wise, the site isn't bad at all, the only 'real issue' I have with the site itself (eg, content, not skin), is the sheer size of some of the text.

    Take, for example, the word 'Forums' (the 'F' alone is 18x26 pixels!!) above this reply box, and even the "Reply: New Site.." header in the white part underneath that, they are HUGE. So, now I am typing my reply, in a text size that is REALLY SMALL (a capital 'T' is 6x8 pixels), while the actual post is displayed in a font that looks almost TWICE as large (a capital 'T' is 9x10 pixels, doesn't sound like a large difference, but on the screen it literally looks like one is half the size of the other).

    The avatar issue is obvious as well i think, but that is the result of overlooking something no doubt (albeit that your functional and technical designs for the new site SHOULD have taken this into account so that your coders couldn't even remotely make such a simple mistake, this is what such (industry-standard) designs are for), not a biggie tho.

    High contrast is indeed 'in' right now, but black on white/light gray is EXTREMELY high contrast. There is a reason why i am typing this reply in a black font on a white background, it makes the text very readable, which is preferable, but empty wads of screen space that border such colors right next to each other just turns into 'my eeeyeeess' real quick. Be it that i have said that, the very fact that black borders directly on light gray, just looks ugly (as confirmed by my secretary, who is not a developer or designer). My developers do not like the 'look' of the site, but have little issues with the content of the site or the workings thereof (albeit that i did hear a few comments regarding things being harder to find), the font thing is pretty much unanimous amongst us here.

    All in all, the functionality is there, that is the most important thing of course. I just hope my eyes survive :)

    Regards,

    Mike

    PS: I should note that I do run very high resolutions on my monitors here, so the tiny font used in this reply box is especially tiny for me. On the other hand, looking at the site on a 1280x1024 LCD, makes that 'Forums' word EXTREMELY large to look at (relative to the actual size of the monitor (17 inch) that is).
  6. Kevin Babcock
    Kevin Babcock avatar
    189 posts
    Member since:
    Mar 2007

    Posted 06 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    Hi Mike,

    I am also sorry to hear that you do not like the layout of the new site. Usually big changes like this are either loved or hated by users and, as Todd said, you'll probably get used to it and start to enjoy it more when you learn your way around.

    I am curious to hear about your problems with the RadSkinManager. Can you give me specifics? How has it effected the project in which you are using it? I am sure we can be of some help if you are having difficulty with the control.

    Regards,
    Kevin Babcock
  7. PureCode
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    Posted 06 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    Refer to my first post in this thread for my issues:

    http://www.telerik.com/community/forums/aspnet-ajax/general-discussions/radskinmanager-fixed-from-beta.aspx

    I think the 'bottom-line' with the control is simply that it was designed the wrong way around (apart from the bugs stated in the post referred to above). Providing a global skin manager yet have local skin definition override it, is just wrong, 'global' always comes before 'local'. This 'reverse' design makes it almost inevitable that issues such as i describe in the post linked to start appearing, had it been designed with the right state of mind (eg, global overrides local, as it should) the majority of such issues would never have seen the light of day. Things like the ' Skin="" ' bug, would not have been there.

    This is not meant as an 'attack' on anyone at Telerik or Telerik itself of course, this is a common 'design mistake' made by untold amounts of developers. However, going in the correct direction with designing anything, often lessens the potential for 'stupid' mistakes to be made, makes certain bugs impossible from appearing, makes testing easier, etc. In this case SkinManager is a small thing, imagine an entire company nearly going bankrupt because of more than a decade of 'reverse designing' and their core business systems blowing up in their faces (an example of a project we're working on, fixing this entire company, from a to z).

    It has not affected any of our current projects, we are still in the process of recreating our framework, and while i definitely want said functionality in the framework, it is not in there just yet (and won't be in the form of SkinManager at this point in time, due to the issues i stated). We may still move to another product suite as your product suite has resulted in sometimes scary amounts of work to get certain things done (and the same goes for other product suites of course, it is hard to tell what impacts harder on a per-suite basis, something i have yet to figure out based on the feedback from my developers).

    Regards,

    Mike



  8. Answer
    Bob
    Admin
    Bob avatar
    2 posts

    Posted 07 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    Hi Shaun,

    We are still using the old forums. We just wrapped them in user controls in order to place them in Sitefinity and only did some minor improvements and reskinning.

    Sitefinity 4.0 will come with completely new Forums, based on GenericContent module, that will provide much richer set of features then the current one. Then we will transfer www.telerik.com forums to the new module.

    We are defiantly going to make a case study about the new site.

    Kind regards,
    Bob
    the Telerik team

    Check out Telerik Trainer, the state of the art learning tool for Telerik products.
  9. Shaun Peet
    Shaun Peet avatar
    571 posts
    Member since:
    Aug 2004

    Posted 07 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    Thanks for the info Bob, I look forward to the case study and I'm *really* looking forward to Sitefinity 4.0.  It's been alot less clunky since version 3.5, but I've still yet to get the forums module in 3.5 to work properly, which is a huge blow to my ego ;)

    Any ideas on the release dates for the case study, and, more importantly Sitefinity 4?  The roadmap on the Sitefinity site hasn't changed for a very long time and it's never mentioned any dates anyway.  Thanks,

    Shaun.

    PS: I'll throw a forum suggestion in here.  Any chance you can reverse-chronologically sort the posts when doing a reply?  Usually the person replying is doing so in reference to the previous post and if it's all the way down the page it gets annoying to scroll all the way down.
  10. MB
    MB avatar
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    Jan 2005

    Posted 09 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    @Mike

    I actually find the new presentation to be workable... but I admit, not really to my taste for a "technical" site. This has a bit too much of a "blog" and "graphics designer" and "marketing" feel to it for mine, and I guess I'm more attuned to the MSDN type of "cluttered-geek" style... where you don't really care what it looks like... just the facts 'mam.

    However, I couldn't do a good-looking design even if my life depended on it... I think I must be missing the "graphics" gene... so don't give any weight to that comment.

    I always struggle with how to size stuff, and have never come up with a satisfactory solution... size text with pixels and you have the age-old problem with unreadable content on a high-res screen and lego-blocks on a low-res screen... use points and you run into the mismatch of text vs. layout vs. image sizing... and things become nasty... and as for multiple style-sheet versions... UGH!

    This site is fine for me @ 1280x1024, but @ 1024x768 (still the most common screen size in use) it's certainly a bit on the "lego" side and this reply-page (for example) basically becomes all white just with a blue border for the editor... but all things considered, I think it's probably a reasonable trade-off, and given my earlier comment, I'm certainly not going to start throwing stones from my own little glass-house... LOL.

    -- MB.
  11. PureCode
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    Posted 09 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    @MB

    I think you pretty much hit one of the main 'issues' i have with the new site on the head there.

    Yeah, the site is very 'commercial' as compared to the more 'to the point' style of the old site.

    We're analysts, developers, etc. So, more or less tech heads.

    While i am no fan of MSDN and its layout, it is very 'to the point' and it is reasonably easy to get the info one wants.

    I guess i wonder why Telerik would go through the obviously huge effort to make their site more 'commercial', while they are in a market where their customers are on average, tech heads. I am also not sure if the current 'Lego' (good description) look is a good 'marketing tool' for Sitefinity, but, since i don't use that, i really can't comment on that.

    Fixed width, entirely fixed size websites take a LOT of work to design, our new framework utilizes pure math to calculate the positioning of the elements on the page, keeping things looking the same when the user resizes the font, or does other things that browsers let them do to screw up websites. Considering the amount of work (and overhead on large pages), we're still not sure if it is really something that is usable in a real-world application, as opposed to our test application.

    Since they changed the size of the font in the reply box to be a bit larger, it is better for me (running @ 2560x1600 right now..).

    1024x768 Is indeed one of the most common resolutions, but don't underestimate the amount of people running 800x600 out there either, however, why would Joe Average-End-User-Type visit a site like Teleriks? After all, most people here are tech heads, i expect tech heads to run at least 1280x1024 (the only resolution where one can code effectively in Visual Studio really), so that is in my mind not so much an issue.

    I am pretty much used to the site by now, even though i still feel it is too 'hard' to get to certain places, and the speed of the site is still quite slow on my end. For example, it would be awesome to be able to jump straight to the forums again from the main home page, instead of having to click on an obscure link somewhere on the bottom right, and the having to click another semi-obscure link at the top right of the next page.

    Regards,

    Mike
  12. MB
    MB avatar
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    Member since:
    Jan 2005

    Posted 10 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    On the issue of screen size, I think that I'd have to say the trend is currently more to SMALLER screens rather than larger... which is a bit counter-intuitive.

    Hand-Helds, Netbooks and Sub-notebooks are skewing the trends totally the opposite to expected, especially as wireless broadband is becoming more common place and people are using smaller portable devices.

    Where "Tech-heads" fit into that equation is hard to know... but I know a lot of techies who now use their mobiles to access websites during the day, and depend on that access for their jobs. It would be interesting to see how this site works on an iPhone... certainly at 800x600 it's not very happy... but perhaps it's not an issue for the market it addresses.

    I know that with my own sites I am seeing a LOT of access via hand-held devices (like iPhones) and small note/net-books and this is causing me to do some serious rethink of how I've been sizing things.

    Like I said before... I'm yet to find a solution that I'm happy with.
  13. bnye
    bnye avatar
    66 posts
    Member since:
    Sep 2005

    Posted 10 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    I absolutely love the new site. It is so easy to navigate. I just feel more comfortable finding what I need on the new Telerik site. I know thats not exactly a scientific explanation, but that was my impression.
  14. PureCode
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    Posted 10 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    @mb

    As a business we tend to roll websites with both 'normal' and 'mobile' versions, so if a user accesses via a smart phone, PDA or other such small screen device, they get the mobile website, otherwise the normal website. A website for mobile devices allows one to design specifically for that platform, while retaining (most of) the functionality of the normal website yet present it perfectly when it comes to sizing and positioning. It's worked pretty well for us so far even if it is a bit more work of course.

    Our new framework actually generates the mobile site based on the normal website, so design one, it creates the other automatically, it requires some tweaking once generated of course, but it is a lot less work this way.

    Regards,

    Mike
  15. MB
    MB avatar
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    Posted 10 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    @Mike (wish the forums were threaded).

    At the risk of digressing significantly from the original topic... how do you reliably determine "mobile" vs. "normal" ??

    I'm guessing not by browsercaps, as that's a bad joke (and doesn't return screen sizes, among other things) but do you parse the agent-strings yourself at the server or the client... or maintain your own browsercaps ?

    Personally, I've resorted to client-side detection and passing details by AJAX... really nasty, but meets my needs right now.  I would love to have a reliable server solution, but Cyscape clearly have no intentions of supporting anything other than their outrageously priced commercial product, and MS let this happen.

    -- MB.
  16. PureCode
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    Posted 11 Nov 2008 Link to this post

    @MB

    Apart from threaded, some sort of private messaging (as more or less standard in most forums) would be quite nice.

    We, more or less, parse user-agents and do a few custom developed things on the server to be 'mostly' reliable. Detection of screen size is the main issue with smart devices as far as that stuff goes, the user-agents do deliver most of the information one looks for, but not that one.

    The AJAX method you use is our 'last resort' method, if all else fails, the site will post back and give us the info. I wouldn't consider it a nasty method, as the user doesn't really see this happening, but it slows down the page loading significantly.

    Regarding that screen size issue in combination with the AJAX method, we found it most practical to send an image over, it is very small because it is a single color (white), and 99% of browsers will re-size the image to fit the screen (or browser area for that matter), and the resulting size of the image is what is posted back to the server.

    Our other methods are entirely server based, and depending on the smart device OS, we utilize features specific to that OS to get the info we need. Most of the time (i'd say, 90% to 95%) this works as intended, but does force us to code highly specific detection for each OS. I really do wish they had made such things a bit easier, but what are you going to do.

    While we may not have a 100% working solution, it works most of the time, which is good enough for me (for now, we're still researching other methods, and as long as we haven't run out of smart devices to test with (expensive joke, albeit that some companies happily supply us with their devices just to insure compatibility) we will be researching and testing).

    I am afraid there is no way to be 100% reliable in this regard though, mainly due to the differences between the devices and their OS'.

    If you want more in-depth information then i suggest we move this to e-mail, i have no issue with sharing information regarding our methods of detection, but i prefer to not go too in-depth on a public forum.

    Regards,

    Mike
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