First of all; It is an impressive site. I mean that positively, but also somewhat negatively. The front page contains a lot of information. Different aspects of the universe that make perfect sense to people in the know. To me, a newcomer, they make no sense at all. There is information from inside the setting presented as news, but also real news. There is art, music, snippets of text. It is very overwhelming in it's massive complexity.
Second there is the menu. While it gives a basic idea of where to navigate, the real treats don't appear there, but rather in the secondary menu, which can't always be accessed (like in the shop for example).
Now, I reckon the goal is to draw more people in, get them to add to the content already present. If I was not already involved and I came upon this site first time, good chance that I would simply opt out. There is no easy way in. You are either in, or you are out. Or so it feels.
This is in no way meant to critisize the extensive amount of work that went into the project already. The content, the setting, everything is awesome and clearly shows how much dedication this project has seen over the past years.
However, if the goal is to get more people involved, something might have to be done. The front page could be less cluttered. Cleaner and welcoming. There should be clear steps outlined there on how to get involved, tutorial style, for each branch of art. I would opt to move the secondary menu (with the knowledgebase links and everything) into the main menu so it doesn't clutter the main page and is available everywhere.
It might also be good to consider a different theme/color scheme. Purple on black is fun for a short while, but not really when you plan to spend a good time reading.
Then; Like I mentioned in another post; consider simplifying the uploading of content for users. People don't want to go through 5 steps to upload their content.
Lastly; I am not sure how you plan to approach the publishing aspect of it, but if stories and other media are readily available to read on a website, what will urge people to buy them ultimately?
I hope this is received as it was meant; as helpful.
As the top "slider" was set for registered user there is an assumption that those registered will have gone through a slightly different "first contact" journey than the one you've experienced. I've just set the slider to a "first-comer" one so you can see what I mean. Let me know if the slider content feels more natural and inviting and makes it clear the levels of engagement people can opt to get involved with.
We've discussed in this week's team meeting whether the subsequent content should be moved or not and it certainly split the room. There's a sense that that information is located in the right space and that we might just have to do some further testing to see whether it's a generic issue needing to be addressed or whether instead it serves a certain filter function.
The colour scheme I think is the only one where it's been NWP's corporate colours for a long-time for this particular project and is appropriate for the sci-fi setting and I wouldn't look to change it at this stage of the project.
Navigation: The shop and the community site run on different CMS so it's proven impossible to offer the same consistent navigation options between the two, but hopefully before the final version goes live they will at least refer to each other so that you can always go back and forth without the navigational flow being disrupted. With regards to the secondary treats, I think the only "sub-sections" is the Knowledge Base ones, did you mean any others?
I agree with you on contextualising the menu options for uploading content. We'll see what can be done with the designers. The site will be complemented with about 10-20 tutorial videos before we launch which will also go further in explaining how publishing content, etc. works. Some of the steps are necessary simply for the CMS to work properly, but I think this is definitely something we'll be working to simplify over the different versions of the site.
I think the way we intended to approach the final point you've raised is that the final edited version will be available on the shop... what we could even do, (worth discussing), is determining that when a storyline is declared final and published, that that storyline no longer appears in the WIP area, but is exclusively available from the shop? It's probably also a case of making sure that once ready, we market the finished product and not the one here on the community site.
Apologies for the delay in responding to this! Mental note set to keep a closer eye on these!
for the Support Team