[Design] Banners on the Front Page

Harry Wood mail at harrywood.co.uk
Fri Mar 22 14:06:14 UTC 2013

I need to kick off a public discussion to do with banners appearing on the OpenStreetMap Front Page. It's a discussion we've had within the Communications Working Group back in October last year, and which was escalated the Management Team, but there isn't really a good reason to have the discussion in private, though perhaps these groups will need to vote or otherwise decide on a final policy.

Perhaps this (very quiet) mailing list is a good place to discuss it, because it's a principally an issue of design aesthetics and the use of screen real-estate on the OpenStreetMap front page. It would be wonderful if this 'design' list became a place where some bunch of people somehow devise a solution to the eternal problem of the front page design. I don't want to get into that just now. Working on the assumption that we'll be sticking with our current design for a while...

...we have a strip down the left, and this screen real-estate is valuable space. Here more than anywhere users are eyeballing the graphics, text, and user interface elements we choose to put there. We have in the past chosen to put graphical banner ads promoting State Of The Map conferences and some other events, in the run up to these events.

We need to decide when to do this, for which events, how big the banners should be.

Usually the banners are enthusiastically designed by people running the events, so it's a question of when and what banners are "allowed" onto the front page by the sysops. TomH is in charge of this bit, but I think he would prefer be in charge of just deploying things guided by a clear policy. So that's what we need to formulate.

There is a history to this discussion.

SOTM.EU in Vienna requested a banner. This was eventually rejected, because the annual foundation conference was also approaching. A clash of demands on the banner screenspace and more fundamentally, a clash of interests in which event to promote. There was some indecision and to-and-fro'ing from the board. A clear policy would've been good.

As mentioned CWG discussed it back in October. Buried in the minutes here:
I think that was kicked off by a request from TomH for a policy, because he was asked to put the SOTM PDX banner on there. We didn't decide on anything in time, but there was a feeling (my feeling in particular) that the green banner had been a bit too obtrusive. It was on the front page for too long, and was too big, particularly given that SOTM PDX was a smaller event than the annual conference. ...but it is a matter of opinion and a matter of design.

In an attempt to lay down a clear policy. CWG's recommendation was that we only have banners for the official annual foundation event. Part of the reasoning too, was that we need to nip in the bud any trend towards a situation where there is constant rolling programme of banners on the homepage without any quiet time in between. But in discussion with Management Team a number of people felt that was too strict, and the we should give over the screenspace for regional events on occasions

Straight off the back of that, in fact *while* we were discussing, SOTM Scotland wanted a banner. They ended up with a smaller more understated banner, and placed there only for a few days in the run up to the event. I think that may point the way to a more balanced policy.

Today the organisers of SOTM US have presented a design for a banner for this years event, requesting that it be posted on there immediately today, to help with their promotions three months in advance of the conference.

As mentioned on there, I feel quite strongly that we shouldn't be slapping a large graphically intense banner ad on the OpenStreetMap front page three months ahead of this regional event.  If we follow CWG's initial recommendation, there'd be no banners for SOTMUS on there. A simple and straightforward policy, but maybe too strict.


Harry Wood
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