A common complaint I’ve heard over the years is that the FIRST website is tremendously hard to navigate, especially for those unfamiliar with the site or laypeople trying to find out about the competitions.
What suggestions would you have to improve the site? Information, layout, organization, relevance - how would you change it?
Moving forward, let’s try to keep a “I would implement … " rather than " … inhales audibly.” Constructive comments are encouraged.
For example, I would prefer if the main “front” page simply had four sections: FRC, FTC, FLL, FIRST Overall; perhaps the screen could be in quadrants. That way we could easily go the general direction we would like without squinting to find the links or using obstructive drop-down menus.
A way to search for teams by number as well as location would be extremely helpful. (And how about having a way to search for FLL teams, at least by school/city, something like “There are 5 teams in (area/school)”? Numbers don’t work in FLL.)
One problem our team has had is that only one person on a team that is allowed to post official questions about rule clarification. This is the official site for such things and official rule clarification does require more care and thought, but the existing process can be a significant limitation at times. A team will often need more information on a rule where quick is more important than official status. Even if the process was quick, the coach who can post official requests for clarification is often not available. In that case a member usually goes the unofficial route on CD.
It seems like there needs to be some way on the site to get quick if unofficial advice and to do it in a way that does not require special status to make the ruling request. Without that I think some people may continue to avoid the official process.
Another thing that could help the FIRST site is to have a few main pages for the forums that have more on them. One for the main forum, and one for each sub group that are designed more to push information out and for you than to have you pull it in. When I log into CD and go to a main page I can see a list of recent activity, announcements, image galleries, etc. At a glance I can see what is happening in the world of FIRST. But if the go to the FIRST website I feel like I need to trudge through it and look for specific things.
The main pages that the public hits on are done very well and seem to work this way. But if you go to the forum section you feel like you are reading a dictionary.
How about if they had a new url like usfirstfrc.org that lead you straight to the FRC page because when I’m trying to explain to people how to navigate the website they have the hardest time understanding how to get from the home page to the FRC page.
I want to see a searchable map of all teams, organized by competition (FLL, FTC, FRC), on usfirst.org somewhere. It wouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world to do, and it could help people who are interested in helping teams find some in their area to work with.
I realize that this does not address the root of the problem, but it is much easier to tell email someone the specific link from frclinks. Once you figure out how the syntax works, it is far easier than using the actual FIRST website.
All the teams could register at their address on TIMS (I don’t think that’s required) then they could just import that data into points in a Google Maps application on their website. Right?
The fact that teams have been able to come up with better methods of finding other teams than the umbrella organization for the competition shows how capable the students and mentors are, but how apprehensive FIRST is.
People have different preferences of how much information they want, how they want it presented, and how they want to navigate through it. I think a simple no graphics approach would be a very good option. It would be great to access the site with a limited bandwidth connection or from a device with a limited screen. But I think there should also be other landing pad options offered as well, and at least one should be media rich.
Exactly what is done depends on the ultimate goal. Is the intent just to make some parts of FIRST site easier to navigate, or is it to make the site good enough that some or all of it ultimately replace CD?
The FIRST forums will do that, although I think that there are so many people that hang out here on Delphi that you’ll get about the same thing here. There are a number of people that know what they’re talking about that hang out in both places.
BTW, both sites are run via vBulletin, so many of the same things work. Both have “New Posts” searches that help you keep track of changed threads.
No criticism intended…the FIRST web site stinks. There are a lot of good recommendations here. One of the first tenets of web site design is, imo, to be consistent. Don’t change appearance on different pages. Fortunately, FIRST has done that for the most part. Unfortunately, the look is too complicated.
The “what events and teams are in my area” page is kind of a nightmare in that it doesn’t work how you want it to.
The top things I look for on the website are always convoluted and harder to find than they should be:
Regional information (who’s attending, when are regionals, etc)
Regional standings/match list/etc (Any time I find this page is by chance, I feel)
Regional Contact (currently the link is broken, but I remember several months ago that this was an annoying process)
What events/teams are in my area (this is not hard to find, but more so annoying to use. There are three scrolling bars on one page. I dislike nested scrolling bars for something that should be fairly intuitive such as this tool)
FIRST should take a group of people with basic computer knowledge and little to no FIRST website experience and give them a list of tasks to complete using their website and make changes based off their feedback. Tasks they should complete are things that a parent/sponsor/stranger would do:
Look up a regional
See the team list (will my child/team be there?)
Find regional rankings/awards (did my child competing in another state win anything?)
Find teams in their area
Find a local contact (I want to start a FXX team, who should I talk to)
Be able to find the mission of the different levels of FIRST
Be able to find game manuals