You know, I actually liked our classic interface, but feelings from others were mixed on it (both positive and negative). I think at the end of the day, it was an efficient interface to use, but it was also very 'in your face' and really not very pretty. The interface also suffered greatly from a 'bolted-on' effect - it was never really designed, and as ocPortal gained new features through the version 2 releases, it lost its ability to be able to organise them in a user-friendly way. We did completely redesign the linking for the 2.0 and 2.5 releases, but its days were definitely numbered.
Enough with the old - and on to the new!
With version 3, we've taken our old Administration zone and completely redesigned it from scratch. With our old version, all of the links were scattered across various menus, and you essentially needed to know where something was to find it.
In version 3, we've now moved all of ocPortal's features into appropriate sections, each represented with their own icon - making administering a website much more enjoyable.
For the purposes of this announcment, we're breaking this up into seven sections:
Table of contents
Zone navigationZones may now be navigated by a menu at the top of the website. Of course, visitors will only see zones to which they have access.
This simple menu makes site navigation far more user-friendly.
Zone revampThe ocPortal zone organisation has changed considerably. The main changes are:
- The word 'Centre' (e.g. the 'Admin Centre') has now just been replaced with the word 'Zone' (e.g. the 'Admin Zone'). It's such an obvious thing to do in hindsight, as it instantly gives the user a feeling for what a zone is.
- The 'Members Only' zone is now simply named 'Site'
- The 'Root' zone is now simply named 'Welcome'
- All content management functionality has been taken from the old 'Members Only' and 'Admin Centre' zones and moved into a totally new 'Content Management' zone - this provides a high-quality separation between staff/submitter roles
CategorisationAll of the features for both the Admin and CMS zones are now split into a number of carefully considered sections, each represented with an icon. This simplifes each page, and makes navigation far easier.
BreadcrumbsThere is now a universal 'breadcrumbs' system in ocPortal. Breadcrumbs are those little horizontal sequences of back-links that form a part of the navigation.
Many areas of ocPortal already used breadcrumbs, but now they are consistently displayed and far more widespread. For example, after making a backup, the breadcrumbs lead back to the main backup interface.
Icon representationAs can be seen in the image, our new menu system is now completely icon driven. Virtually every one of ocPortal's 100+ features is now represneted with it's own unique icon, helping to illustrate the purpose of each feature.
Inline documentationThere is now a helper panel in both the Admin and CMS zones. On a given page, the helper panel will show details about where you currently, and about the capiblities available to you. When you hover your mouse over an icon, the helper panel changes to display extensive details about what that icon does. I personally think this is a fantastic improvement - there are very few CMS systems that are able to make it so easy to learn how to get things done.
Footer iconsThere are a series of little icons at the bottom of each ocPortal screen (as with the zone links, they are dependant upon permissions). These icons allow quick access to key things such as:
- the site map
- the Help Wizard
- an administration menu. This serves as a way of going directly to any admin or CMS function from anywhere on your website (including the forum). This is generally the most efficent method of getting somewhere, since the primary administration navigation now requires a few more clicks
There are several features in ocPortal which have been, to date, top-secret. The reason is that we have developed a number of features which are nearly revolutionary in terms of CMS managment. One of these features is actually represented by it's icon in this screenshot, though we will be unable to confirm anything until our scheduled press release of it.
With that said, we will be revealing one of them tomorrow.