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The sad state of our websites.

As you might know, kde\’s webteam is working on a complete rewrite of KDE.org.
One of main objectives is very serious attention to our applications. We have world-class applications but they have very unfancy webpages. Our objective is to fix it.
So i wanted to look around and see how other web pages are doing. I opened homepages of all free (as in free speech) applications i could. then browsed them one by one and picked the best ones.
  • Free Software\’s barely have good websites.
  • The ones that do, mostly have financial support. (Sunbird, Aptana, Firefox, Songbird).
This slideshow contains screenshots of the best Free Software websites I could find:
So i wanted to see the situation in propertiary world. I looked for mac applications and opened up their web pages.
The following slideshow contains best mac application pages i found:

This is mostly sad. Our applications are not lacking quality wise. Its just that website is considered a \’promo\’ feature and hackers usually dont have the motivation and/or skills to improve it. 

Now, looking at most good looking pages, you can simply find a pattern. Specially on the Propertiary side.

  • They honor their icons. In most of them, their icon gets the most attention. As a matter of fact, the icon is the main branding feature. Thanks to Oxygen guru\’s, we have outstanding icons for our applications. Just take a look at Konqueror\’s icon. Or Digikams. I can stare at them for 5 minutes.
  • They avoid text. Visitors dont read paragraphs. They only read headlines. Thats a fact. Deal with it. Dont fsck the page describing your features.
  • They dont teach history. It doesnt matter whats the philosophy of your project. It doesnt matter if its a fork on another project. It doesnt matter if its a KDE project or a Gnome project. It doesnt matter \’who\’ developed it. At least, none of them are priorities for your front page.
  • They barely have news. And, as a matter of fact, news will probably make your website look bad and outdated. Because you cant keep them all updated. Gnome-Do\’s webpage looks good and it has a news section. Guess what! Last news is for 2009. Is Gnome-Do dead or deprecated? I dunno. Their last news item is 2 years old.
  • Screenshot rulez! You will never buy a car without knowing how it looks. Visitors wont install your application if they dont know how it looks.
  • Forget about other pages. For casual users, you mostly have a single chance of convincing her to install your app. Thats called front page. If she hits a big geeky wall of text, she wont go any further. She\’ll close the tab.
  • They all have a big Download/Buy button. Of course. But we dont. We cannot have that. Because we dont know user\’s distribution. Or whats the package name of eg Okular on that specific distro.
(Update: For some unknown reason, slideshows dont show up in KHTML.)