A new website for the LMS

November 15, 2010

New LMS website goes live (in beta)!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexandre Borovik @ 16:09

In a beta version at http://lmath-website.staging.premierithosting.com/

Please post you comments here!

September 17, 2010

Incremental online publication of the LMS newsletter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexandre Borovik @ 10:17
From this week the LMS are doing incremental publishing of the Newsletter which means that items are put up once the copy has been checked and rights issues sorted, rather than waiting to the end of the month.
Please have a look at:
(there is a link from the LMS front page).

May 22, 2010

Susan Hezlet, Publisher

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexandre Borovik @ 12:22

Thanks to Tim for his comments which raise a question and it would be helpful for me to see some suggestions in answer from readers i.e. when looking at a general learned society website, what do you expect to see to guide you to the online article submission system? Would it be it a button named ‘authors’, or ‘journals’ or ‘online article submission’?

Further information: separate to this discussion on web page design, during the next year we will have an entirely new online submission and manuscript tracking pages for authors, editors, advisers and referees of our journals. Usage data from the current LMS website shows that most of the traffic is to and from the publications pages, so it’s important for us to get the paths right and all suggestions are welcome.

[converted from a comment]

Timothy Gowers: something glaringly obvious

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexandre Borovik @ 12:18

I can remember noticing inadequacies in the old website, but am having trouble remembering precisely what they were. One, however, was that it was not properly maintained. For example, many people must have gone to the website to find the latest news about the LMS/IMA merger. If they did, they would often have found pages that had not been updated for months. Are there plans to remedy this, or are people secretly hoping that the site will magically update itself? (I’m sure the answer is the former, but I thought I’d at least check.)

Looking to the future, I imagine that a high proportion of people who visit the LMS website do so to obtain information about the LMS journals. I have memories of this being somewhat inconvenient. I remember reading online somewhere an excellent article about web design, which said that a golden rule is not to force your readers to click too many times. I can’t yet find an example where that rule is violated — I’ll keep searching.

I do see that on the journals main page it is not easy to find a link to the LMS main home page. (It exists, but it is, rather weirdly, the penultimate in a list of links at the top of the page and doesn’t stand out. I’m sure the new website will have a sensible design in this respect — it should *always* be easy to get back to the main page.)

Ah — I’ve found something that’s a bit what I was talking about. If you go to the main home page in search of information about submitting a paper to the LMS, it takes a while before you realize that you are interested in the link entitled “Publications”, and then you have to follow another (not very prominent) link to “Journals”. Perhaps then you realize that you should have clicked on “Paper submissions”. It’s all fine if you’ve used it recently ten times already — not if you are using it for the first time for a while.

In general, the list of links on the front page is oddly arbitrary. One would expect the links down the left-hand side to be more prominent.

I’ll stop here, since most of what I am saying is glaringly obvious.

[converted from a comment]

May 14, 2010

June Barrow-Green: Digitised History

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexandre Borovik @ 04:23

As the Society’s Librarian I am delighted that the website is going to be renewed and, as a member of the working group, pleased to be part of the process. Among the many things that the new website will offer is the opportunity not only to display newly digitised material relating to the Society’s long and distinguished history (such as the Council Minute Books dating back to 1865 and catalogues of the Society’s book collections) but also the facility to find and use that material. It is also my hope that the website will be a showcase for the most important papers published by the Society (e.g. Alan Turing’s paper on computable numbers of 1937) since this will not only help to reinforce the national significance of the Society but will also encourage authors to submit their work to the Society’s journals. Any ideas for pages relating to the Library and/or Archives or suggestions for ‘showcase’ papers would be most welcome.

[converted from a comment]

May 13, 2010

LMS website

Filed under: Uncategorized — Peter Cameron @ 11:24

This is a cross posting from my blog – Peter Cameron.

The London Mathematical Society is redesigning its website. Sasha Borovik has set up a blog inviting suggestions. Everyone is encouraged to visit and make comments!

It seems to me that there are four issues that have to be thought about before the detailed design work is done:

  1. How transparent should the LMS be? Should more of its internal workings be displayed to members?
  2. At present the site is directed towards LMS members. Should it be made more outward-looking? If so, what groups of people should be addressed, and what material should be provided for them?
  3. How should the balance be struck between easy navigation around and off the site and reliance on search engines to find information?
  4. The most important issue of all is maintenance. What systems should be put in place to make sure that this is done and to ease the workload on the people doing it?

Let me say a few things about each in turn.

1. Last year’s events suggest that a significant part of the LMS membership would like to see more openness in the running of the organisation. I hope that the natural wish to put that business behind us does not mean that we pass up the opportunity to become more open. But that is a matter of policy, not website design. I recently told the story of trying to discover what had happened to the Forder lectureship and who the current lecturer was. The LMS website did not come out of this test well. Also, as a correspondent to the blog pointed out, the LMS gives grants for various mathematical activities; you are just supposed to know that to find details you should look under “Programme Committee”.

2. What kinds of people might be addressed? As well as members, there are prospective members (benefits of membership, how to join); professionals in nearby areas (statisticians, physicists, computer scientists, etc.); members of other mathematical societies, or more generally, established mathematicians who are not members of the LMS; students or those thinking of becoming mathematicians; members of the general public with an interest in mathematics; policymakers needing information about the strengths and needs of mathematics. And probably others. We should also think, under this heading, of how to provide this information. As well as a traditional web page, should we be considering blogs, wikis, newsgroups, etc.?

3. At one time a popular item on web pages (both personal and institutional) was a list of useful web links. This feature has become much less common, since it is often quicker to Google the required site than to navigate to the “links” section of an existing page. But the problem is that you have to know what to Google! For example, it is easy for me to Google “New Zealand Mathematical Society”. But a foreigner looking for mathematical societies in Britain may not realise that she may be interested in the London Mathematical Society, the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, the Royal Statistical Society, …

4. No doubt the LMS should opt for a content management system like Drupal. Dinosaurs like me prefer to write HTML code (to one used to TeX, HTML is dead easy), but office staff for whom this is one job among many probably prefer something more WYSIWYG (I dread to say it). There also has to be a clear list of who is responsible for what content, and who takes over where necessary. This is needed both for the organisation itself, and for outsiders (e.g. LMS members) requesting that information be added to a web page.

I’d like to end with a little more about navigation links versus search engines.

One model of the growth of the web graph in the early days of its study worked like this. Take a random existing vertex; clone it (that is, construct a new vertex with the same neighbours); then randomly change a few links. Once it was very common for new web pages to be produced by copying and editing an existing page. But things are different now. Most web pages are ephemeral (produced by computers in response to external requests); and even in permanent pages, style and content have become separated.

On the LMS webpage blog, I suggested putting links to a a few institutions related to the LMS, such as the IMA and the European Mathematical Society. This has now been done. The purpose was so that we could see what others do, and borrow good practice (along the lines of the web graph model, perhaps!). Another correspondent said that having these links on the LMS page would not be necessary since search engines would find them easily. But this is a different issue. In any case, why not have links for people who prefer them?

May 12, 2010

And now for something completely different

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexandre Borovik @ 07:28

As an experiment, I decided to collect some links showing mathematicians’ other interests and activities, or just reflecting on their personality — you can find some links under Something completely different on  the sidebar. I think the new LMS website should exhibit some number of links of this type (maybe randomly selected on-the-fly from a larger links farm), with the aim to present a human face of the mathematical community.

Please contribute your suggestions!

Robert Marsh: Consider the various potential users

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexandre Borovik @ 05:27

One thing that could be considered is the various potential users: eg members of the society, potential members, and general visitors interested in the society. The general welcome page might have subpages for each type of visitor containing the most useful information for them.

It might make sense to organise membership renewals through the site (if this could save the society money, for example).

Up to date information on the society’s activities: grants awarded, visitors funded, conferences, and so on is very useful. A list of books published by/through the society would be great (or could be a link to publishers’ pages, perhaps making it easy to get the LMS discount).

It’s vital that updating it is easy and there are no problems with permissions for those updating it. Some systems seem to involve complex overlays of html and take a long time to edit and then get replaced a few years’ later leaving many useless pages that have to be rewritten. Using direct html has some advantages!

Comment by Robert Marsh [converted to a post]

May 11, 2010

Penny Davies: Some things I’d look for in a new site

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alexandre Borovik @ 18:36

I agree that the website needs to be re-done – the current site isn’t easy to navigate or update. Some things I’d look for in a new site are:

  1. It should be logically organised and easy to navigate, and I’d recommend testing out any potential logical structures on members who aren’t experts in the way the LMS is structured (i.e. not just on members of Council or staff) – the site needs to be accessible to everyone, and not just to those who know that most grants are disbursed by the Programme Committee and labelled by scheme number. It must be disabled-accessible – there are presumably standards for this.
  2. Pages should be able to be edited by the people (staff and officers) who are responsible for them. This is necessary (but not sufficient) for pages to be kept up to date. A wiki-based structure is good for this: those who need it can be given write permission for particular pages. The sites www.smstc.ac.uk and www.ems.ac.uk with which I’ve been involved both work this way (the EMS pages are based on a newer model, and there are more levels of permissions possible, but things have probably moved on since). The pages must be easy to edit for non-experts (wikis are good for this). Any associated databases must be easy for staff to edit and maintain.
  3. It might be best to build a new site up from a skeleton as others have suggested – start with what’s essential, but have the possibility to extend to new things. Launch the site when the essential stuff is covered.
  4. There are pages of committee and Council membership now, but I don’t remember seeing any similar lists of staff. This would be useful – as would photos to go along with the names (of staff and cttee members).
  5. I wouldn’t find a blog useful, and I’m dubious as to the worth of duplicating info that is available elsewhere, unless the LMS site is going to become *the* place to look for it. E.g. I wouldn’t make competing with jobs.ac.uk a priority (although a commercial site, it’s pretty cheap and everyone uses it).
  6. Secure electronic voting would be useful.

The LMS web site working group

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen Huggett @ 08:49

Thank you very much, Sasha, for setting up this blog.

LMS Council has given our working group (of which I am the Chair) the task of completely redesigning and extending the LMS web site. The criterion is simple: the new site must be excellent in every way! Even though we are all, I believe, aching for it to happen as soon as possible, this excellence must not be compromised.

Our group has already had its first meeting, which was very successful. We discussed the users, the uses, and the technical requirements of the new site, and agreed that we would spend the next two months on the process of preparing a detailed tender and identifying a suitable company (or, possibly, group of mathematicians) to do the job.

The development of the new site will almost certainly be in two phases, with the top level pages coming first, and some of the more subtle and complicated functionality coming later.

Discussion is extremely welcome, and I hope this blog will be able to help us work towards a really amazing new web site. We will try to take all views expressed here into account, but we do not promise to, especially if they are mutually contradictory!

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