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Off topic: The History of ProZ
Thread poster: Claudia Alvis

Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 01:03
Member
Spanish
+ ...
Jun 12, 2009

I honestly don't remember what year I joined ProZ, but it was definitely back in the "old-design days". That old design still looked very nineties, but it was very nice and simple too. Much simpler. It actually was kind of exciting to see a new feature pop-up every once in a while because there weren't that many of them.

After 10 years, ProZ has become a point of reference for translators around the world, and with all the new services and features, logically, its design has evolved along with them. So I thought it would be fun to go back in time and see how ProZ used to look throughout the years.

The History of ProZ

Make sure to select Full-screen mode to see all the details.

Happy 10th anniversary ProZ!


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Screen resolution Jun 12, 2009

Claudia Alvis wrote:
So I thought it would be fun to go back in time and see how ProZ used to look throughout the years.


Nice. I think to get a better impression of what the site looked like, you should determine what was the most common screen resolution at the time of each version, and then show just how much you'd normally see in a full-screen browser. I tried to find such historical screen resolution information but couldn't find any.


 

Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 01:03
Member
Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I don't think that information is available. Jun 12, 2009

But I published the link with the original screenshots where the video is hosted.

Samuel Murray wrote:

Claudia Alvis wrote:
So I thought it would be fun to go back in time and see how ProZ used to look throughout the years.


Nice. I think to get a better impression of what the site looked like, you should determine what was the most common screen resolution at the time of each version, and then show just how much you'd normally see in a full-screen browser. I tried to find such historical screen resolution information but couldn't find any.


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:03
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Where are the links? Jun 12, 2009

There is a site which keeps records of IP-addresses and the code. But I have forgotten the address. Could somebody help?
Regards
Heinrich


 

Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 01:03
Member
Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Archive.org Jun 12, 2009

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

There is a site which keeps records of IP-addresses and the code. But I have forgotten the address. Could somebody help?
Regards
Heinrich


I don't know about that, but the link with the screenshots is web.archive.org/web/*/proz.com.


 

Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:03
English to Portuguese
Design of the site Jun 12, 2009

What stands out the most after watching the clip is how horrible the site's design has always been. It has come a long way since the beggining, sure, but there is still a much longer way to go.

Will Proz ever hire professional designers to revamp the site so that it's more enjoyable and easier to use? The motto of the site seems to be that translation is a craft and it's always best performed by the hands of a skilled professional. Yet, the whole visual identity of Proz.com can be considered amateur at best (just look at the logo, and then compare it with these to see what I'm talking about). In the so-called "web 2.0" era, it's really a shame that this otherwise great site looks like it was designed in 1997.

I don't want to sound like I'm throwing a fit here. I'm no professional designer myself, but I am an enthusiast of the subject. I genuinely feel that Proz could benefit a lot from a design overhaul. I remember having a lot of trouble coming to grips with the interface when I discovered proz less than a year ago, having to figure where stuff was, which were the most important sections, etc. I can definately imagine people getting frustrated with this and never visiting the site again.



[Edited at 2009-06-12 19:31 GMT]


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:03
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
No screenshots but the code Jun 13, 2009

Claudia Alvis wrote:

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

There is a site which keeps records of IP-addresses and the code. But I have forgotten the address. Could somebody help?
Regards
Heinrich


I don't know about that, but the link with the screenshots is web.archive.org/web/*/proz.com.


The web-archive of course does not collect screenshots but the codes of the pages. Screenshots would not work as html and take too much memory.

Cheers!
Heinrich


 

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:03
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
I like it Jun 13, 2009

Andreas Nieckele wrote:

What stands out the most after watching the clip is how horrible the site's design has always been. It has come a long way since the beggining, sure, but there is still a much longer way to go.

Will Proz ever hire professional designers to revamp the site so that it's more enjoyable and easier to use?


Well, actually I like the site’s design and its simplicity. And for me it's quite easy to use. But I guess, it depends what you are looking for.

regards, Ewa


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Comments to Andreas Jun 13, 2009

Andreas Nieckele wrote:
Will Proz ever hire professional designers to revamp the site so that it's more enjoyable and easier to use?


I find the site fairly easy to use. What do you regard as difficult on the site?

Yet, the whole visual identity of Proz.com can be considered amateur at best (just look at the logo, and then compare it with these to see what I'm talking about).


One of the key aspects of a logo is brand awareness. If you change your logo too often, you have to spend a lot of money on making people aware of the new logo each time. An established logo, even if it is a little dorky, is far more valuable than a new logo that might look nice today but might look outdated tomorrow.

I had a look at the logos on the page you mention, and few of them are good logos. They are well-designed, in the sense that they do not look amateurish, but are they any good? I look at the HopeSparks logo and think "hmm, British Petroleum". I look at the Subatomic logo and think "washing powder". And many of those logos only look good in very high resolution and in full colour.

In the so-called "web 2.0" era, it's really a shame that this otherwise great site looks like it was designed in 1997.


Web 2.0 refers to a type of site design for a type of site use. The ProZ.com site is not a Web 2.0 site because it does not contain Web 2.0 features.

I remember having a lot of trouble coming to grips with the interface when I discovered proz less than a year ago, having to figure where stuff was, which were the most important sections, etc.


One of the ways to evaluate a site's design is to set a number of items for new users to find, and then see how long it takes for them to find it. What items do you think would new users struggle to find on ProZ.com?


 

Samuel Hunt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:03
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
The site's design doesn't seem that horrible to me Jun 14, 2009

Andreas Nieckele wrote:

What stands out the most after watching the clip is how horrible the site's design has always been.


I'll admit right from the start that web design has never been my bag and that I may not be the best judge of aesthetics, but the Proz visual design has never struck me as being that amateurish or unappealing. Confusing, perhaps, with its myriad of options which sometimes take a while to figure out, but definitely not ugly.

But, as a non-web design oriented person, perhaps I lack imagination as to how the site could be done differently.


 

Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:03
English to Portuguese
site design Jun 15, 2009

One of the ways to evaluate a site's design is to set a number of items for new users to find, and then see how long it takes for them to find it. What items do you think would new users struggle to find on ProZ.com?


Confusing, perhaps, with its myriad of options which sometimes take a while to figure out, but definitely not ugly.


Well, actually I like the site’s design and its simplicity. And for me it's quite easy to use.


Exactly. For long time users accustomed with the site, the navigation is actually quite simple. But that's just because we already know where we want to go. Ask your friend who's never visited Proz.com before to sit in front of the computer, and say "Suppose you're a translator and you want to check an outsourcer's feedback record". Watch and count the minutes until he figures there's something called the "Blue Board", its purpose and where to find it. Upon landing on the first page of the site, the new user is presented with 14 different boxes (or 14 areas of information), all displaying the same colors, the same font sizes and colors. It's a lot of pollution, where should the new user look first? There's not a good hierarchy of information (what's more important, what's not as important). Suppose he finally figures out that the most important sections of the site can be found on the menu at the right top corner of the screen... he'll struggle again, because there are incredible 99 menu options available. This is not simple by any definition.

There are just too many pages on this site, too many sub-sub-sections, too many different places to access the same information. What's the "Home" menu all about? Couldn't all this information be included in the "About" section? There's a "Renew membership" and a "Corporate membership" option in the Home menu, plus a "Proz.com membership" option in the About menu. Couldn't all of this be grouped together in a single section containing all the information regarding memberships? What's all that stuff in the My Proz.com menu? There's yet another option for renewing membership there, but what's "my Files"? What's "my hosting?" what's "my wallet"? what's my text ads"? what's "my web mail"? Why are there two different feedback systems (LWA and WWA)? Are even long time users of the site aware of the differences between LWA and WWA? It's all a great mess.

Now, please take a look at these similar, online marketplace sort of sites (these are popular examples that popped into my head, I didn't perform a research on similar sites or anything):

http://www.elance.com/p/landing/provider.html
http://jobs.freelanceswitch.com/
http://jobsearch.monster.com/

You can immediately see that appropriate attention was given to the design and navigation of those sites. Ask the same friend from before to find information about an outsourcer on elance.com. I'll bet all my money that he'll find the information much faster in there because the architecture of information is well planned and the interface is easy to use and to navigate. There's no excess of information polluting the screen. Their front page is like "Here's the information you came in looking for. At the top and at the bottom you'll find links to the other 5 or so sections of the site". One could argue that Proz has tons of specialized features for translators, hence the abundance of options. I disagree: it could still offer all the same advanced features, but presented in a more simple and professional way. Currently Proz.com looks like Frankenstein - it started out simple, and 10 iterations later, there's lots of additions scattered all over the place.


Samuel Murray wrote:

Web 2.0 refers to a type of site design for a type of site use. The ProZ.com site is not a Web 2.0 site because it does not contain Web 2.0 features.


I'm not sure if there is an "official" definition of the web 2.0 concept, but I believe a lot of it has to do with user generated content and other types of social interactions generating the valuable contents of the site. Now think about KudoZ, the Blue Board, these forums, etc... I believe Proz has a great deal of "web 2.0" in it's blood. But anyway, this is a very abstract and subjective definition, and not the point. What I meant was that this web 2.0 era sparked a beautiful new generation of web design and usability, and it's a shame that proz's design is lagging so far behind, possibly holding back it's potential to revolutionize the translation industry even further.


One of the key aspects of a logo is brand awareness. If you change your logo too often, you have to spend a lot of money on making people aware of the new logo each time. An established logo, even if it is a little dorky, is far more valuable than a new logo that might look nice today but might look outdated tomorrow.


I agree with you completely: the logo is the last thing a company should mess around with. However, this doesn't mean that it should never be changed. I think that all the points I listed above indicate that Proz's visual identity and branding were never handled by professionals in this department, and thus could be significantly improved upon. I just feel that after 10 years and becoming what appears to be a lucrative business, perhaps it's about time to invest a few thousand dollars on a decent design agency and make ProZ.com image look professional indeed. The current logo shouts amateurism from 100 miles away.


 

Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:03
English to Czech
+ ...
Site design Jun 15, 2009

For long time users accustomed with the site, the navigation is actually quite simple. But that's just because we already know where we want to go.


I agree with everything you say, Andreas. My suggestion in the "Let's improve" megathread in 2006 was to redesign the site. I remember both the navigation and terminology was very confusing for me as a new user. None of it has changed, I just got used to it.

LinkedIn is another example of a good design.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My opinion (still offtopic) Jun 15, 2009

Andreas Nieckele wrote:
Ask your friend who's never visited Proz.com before to sit in front of the computer, and say "Suppose you're a translator and you want to check an outsourcer's feedback record". Watch and count the minutes until he figures there's something called the "Blue Board", its purpose and where to find it.


This is a potentially very good example. What would you do to ensure that people can easily find what they're looking for? Perhaps a site map that uses "normal" terms instead of fancy terms?

There's not a good hierarchy of information (what's more important, what's not as important). Suppose he finally figures out that the most important sections of the site can be found on the menu at the right top corner of the screen...


I think one has to assume a certain level of web browsing skill from a user. Most web sites have menus, and in many cases, the menu is at the top, and often one of the links is "Home" and one of the links is "About".

...he'll struggle again, because there are incredible 99 menu options available. This is not simple by any definition.


I see 8 items -- where do you get 99? Oh, you mean there are 99 in total? Yes, but if ProZ.com has 99 things to offer, how would you present them to the user? C'mon, let's get some suggestions here.

There's a "Renew membership" and a "Corporate membership" option in the Home menu, plus a "Proz.com membership" option in the About menu.


Are you sure? Under "Home" I see only "What's New", "Search", "Join ProZ.com", "Corporate Membership" and "Testimonials".

What's all that stuff in the My Proz.com menu? There's yet another option for renewing membership there, but what's "my Files"? What's "my hosting?" what's "my wallet"? what's my text ads"? what's "my web mail"? Why are there two different feedback systems (LWA and WWA)? Are even long time users of the site aware of the differences between LWA and WWA?


I don't see any of these things... are you sure you weren't logged in while you were taking down these things?

You can immediately see that appropriate attention was given to the design and navigation of those sites. Ask the same friend from before to find information about an outsourcer on elance.com. I'll bet all my money that he'll find the information much faster in there because the architecture of information is well planned and the interface is easy to use and to navigate.


I went to the Elance site. At the top of the site is a slogan "Get services. Provide services". Underneath it is a menu with "Hire", "Manage", "Pay", "Explore" and "Inbox". As a freelancer, I would not visit "Hire", and I would not visit the "Pay" item until I'm ready to sign up for Elance membership. I would assume that "Manage" is the link with which I can manage my account (when I open one with elance), and "Inbox" is obviously some kind of message system, which I won't use because I won't have any messages yet. This leaves "Explore".

So I mouse over the Explore link, and I see that there are four submenu items under Explore, namely "How it works" (which probably tells me how to sign up), "Blog" (which is likely a blog, and I'm not interested in reading someone else's rambling), "Elance University" (which is probably some training program) and "Trust and Safety" (which I assume is the sit's privacy policy). Not too many services avaialble on Elance, it seems...

Contrast this with the ProZ.com top-level menu items "Home", "KudoZ", "Jobs", "Directories", "Community", "Tools" and "About". Of all the ProZ.com items I as a newcomer would not know instinctively what they mean, is "KudoZ", but if I mouse over it, I see several options that tell me it's probably an ask-and-answer type of service.

The current logo shouts amateurism from 100 miles away.


That said, Elance doesn't even have a logo. (just kidding)


 

Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:03
Member
English
+ ...
BEWARE! Designers! Jun 15, 2009

Many websites should come with the warning above in my title to this reply. I visit many websites every day that are full of "bells and whistles", "singing and dancing" and clever "roll over" image changes, etc. If that is the kind of thing Andreas is asking for, then please, let me beg that we do not go down that road.

I come from Barcelona - the capital of "design" - The do¡minance of designers in the city leads to bars with chairs that look great, but that you cannot sit on!

Barcelona is a world where image triumphs... but it often triumphs over content... and even common sense.

There are several arguments I can think of that lead me to plead that we don't fiddle too much with what we already have (if it ain't broke.... etc).

Firstly, IMHO, the basic nature of the site, with little to distract the eye from the "meat" of each page is not a weakness, but one of the site's strengths.

Then there is the fact that I have surfed the site with a variety of browsers and largely found it consistent (Yechsplorer, Opera, Firefox, etc). The more you give a site over to designers, who are often used to working on a single platform ("This site works best with Browser X") - then you risk creating problems for people using other browsers.

Site designers should ensure universal consistency on any platform. I am fed up with opening a web page only to be told "Your broswer is not compatible with our site" - Well, tough luck, buddy, you just lost yourself a potential customer. I LIKE my browser and if you don't take me and my community into account that's your lookout.

That is a real danger with "modern looking" websites (which simply means adopted to the fleeting fashion that is "in" - now.

Then we must remember another thing. The more cluttered you get the site, the slower it takes to load. Now, I know that for many of us in the West using ADSL, that is not such a worry. However, this is an international site where users all over the world may not yet have broadband available. We should not do anything which would lead to there being two streams of Proz users - the zippy few and the sluggish many.

I agree with most of what Samuel has already said with regards the logo, etc. The other factor here is the site colour scheme. Love them or loathe them, there is no doubt when you see these colours that you are on ProZ.

I would urge caution before changing a winning combination or giving a facelift to a perfectly acceptable middle-aged face.

Cosmetic surgery can lead to horror stories - look no further than that lovely looking lad who used to front the Jackson Five... and the monster called Micheal Jackson that cosmetic surgery created. Let's not go there!icon_smile.gif


 

Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:03
English to Portuguese
Site design Jun 15, 2009

Samuel wrote:

What would you do to ensure that people can easily find what they're looking for? Perhaps a site map that uses "normal" terms instead of fancy terms?



but if ProZ.com has 99 things to offer, how would you present them to the user? C'mon, let's get some suggestions here.


Well, as I said, it takes a real professional in the area to come up with the best solutions to these problems. Having worked closely with some of them, and being a heavy internet user for many years, I can only identify the problems. But yes, using a more clear terminology would probably help a lot in specific cases like the Blue Board. In the footer KudoZ is mentioned like "translation help network", which may not be so catchy but is far more descriptive. Like I said, I'm not a pro, but I think that this site would be greatly improved if it went through a complete reorganization in it's information and navigation architecture. Perhaps there really aren't 99 different things to offer, perhaps many of them are just being mentioned more than once, or many others could be incorporated into other 4 or 5 "key" areas of the site or something like that. This site just feels too "scattered", far too many different pages and sections that feel "distant" from each other. Sometimes the navigation is horizontal at the top, sometimes it's vertical on the left. Your profile settings control just how your personal profile page looks (sort of like a "resume updater"). Other settings are scattered throughout the site, like preferences for kudoz notifications and forum messages, the highly obscure "my files" feature, etc. Why can't all of this be grouped together into a single, "central profile administration" area?


Anyway... like I said, I can only spot the problems. I know it could be better based on user experience alone - there are many sites out there packing as many features as Proz.com, but with a much better and enjoyable user experience.

What botters me is the hypocritical vibe I get from all of this. Everyone on Proz is outraged when faced with clients who like to cut corners and can't spot the "obvious differences" between the work of a pro and an amateur. Everyone feels comfortable getting on their high horses and screaming how true professionalism is what Proz is all about. Yet, the biggest representative of the translation industry as a whole shows plenty of amateurism and has obviously never received the kind of professional attention it requires. And why is that? Because it'll cost 2% of a year's revenue? Talk about cutting corners.


Are you sure? Under "Home" I see only "What's New", "Search", "Join ProZ.com", "Corporate Membership" and "Testimonials".


Think with me for a second. What's the real use of the home menu? Does it really need to be there, adding more unecessary pages and navigation options? "What's new" is information about Proz.com, so it could be in the "About" menu. Why do we need a "Search" option? Isn't there a much more convenient search box right next to the menu already? Couldn't "Join ProZ.com", "Corporate Membership" and "Testimonials" be grouped together in a single area about memberships? And for me there's yet another "Renew membership" option (maybe because mine is about to expire).

I don't see any of these things... are you sure you weren't logged in while you were taking down these things?


Yes, I was logged in. But why does it matter? There is still an excess of confusing and obscure options.


I went to the Elance site. At the top of the site is a slogan "Get services. Provide services". Underneath it is a menu with "Hire", "Manage", "Pay", "Explore" and "Inbox". As a freelancer, I would not visit "Hire", and I would not visit the "Pay" item until I'm ready to sign up for Elance membership. I would assume that "Manage" is the link with which I can manage my account (when I open one with elance), and "Inbox" is obviously some kind of message system, which I won't use because I won't have any messages yet. This leaves "Explore".

So I mouse over the Explore link, and I see that there are four submenu items under Explore, namely "How it works" (which probably tells me how to sign up), "Blog" (which is likely a blog, and I'm not interested in reading someone else's rambling), "Elance University" (which is probably some training program) and "Trust and Safety" (which I assume is the sit's privacy policy). Not too many services avaialble on Elance, it seems...


Well, did you see the massive search box right in the middle of the page which reads "Find Jobs" or "Find Experts"? And the subsequent massive box right underneath it containing a quick overlook of all the available projects? And did you notice that, appart from these two features, there is little else cluttering the screen? And there's also a pretty big "How Elance works" link right in the middle of the screen. If you start browsing elance, checking the projects and feedback records etc., you'll see that it features much more detailed information about projects and vendors/outsourcers than Proz.com, and at the same time feels much simpler to use, because all the action is contained within a few key areas.

And "Get services. Provide services" is not a slogan, it's how you toggle between visiting the site as a vendor or as an outsourcer.


Berni wrote:
Many websites should come with the warning above in my title to this reply. I visit many websites every day that are full of "bells and whistles", "singing and dancing" and clever "roll over" image changes, etc. If that is the kind of thing Andreas is asking for, then please, let me beg that we do not go down that road.


No, this is not what I'm asking for. In fact, if you read what I wrote, you'll notice that I advocate quite the opposite. I feel that proz.com has too many bells and whistles polluting the screen and confusing the new users. Out of the 99 options available in the main menu, how many do you actually use on a regular basis? In my opinion, Flickr has one of the most beautiful user interfaces around, and it's as minimalistic as it gets. And it's bautiful, obviously created by a very talented designer.


Firstly, IMHO, the basic nature of the site, with little to distract the eye from the "meat" of each page is not a weakness, but one of the site's strengths.


As I said before, your view is biased because you're used to Proz already. Just look at the mess in the front page. There are 14 different areas of information, all of them with the exact same look. Isn't this distracting to the eye? Do you really believe that a new user will easily find the "meat" of the site?


Then there is the fact that I have surfed the site with a variety of browsers and largely found it consistent (Yechsplorer, Opera, Firefox, etc). The more you give a site over to designers, who are often used to working on a single platform ("This site works best with Browser X") - then you risk creating problems for people using other browsers.

Site designers should ensure universal consistency on any platform. I am fed up with opening a web page only to be told "Your broswer is not compatible with our site" - Well, tough luck, buddy, you just lost yourself a potential customer. I LIKE my browser and if you don't take me and my community into account that's your lookout.

That is a real danger with "modern looking" websites (which simply means adopted to the fleeting fashion that is "in" - now.


Well, technically, the designers just design a mock up of the site in Photoshop, and then it's up to the coders to make it come alive and ensure consistency accross all browsers. Any professional and estabilished design agency will also have talented coders on board, and one of the very first QA measures is usually ensuring that the site works flawlessly on all browsers (believe me, I've been there). I don't know what pages you're referring to, but whoever designed and coded them was not a professional. If it's properly done, like the examples I mentioned in my other post, there is no "danger".

Then we must remember another thing. The more cluttered you get the site, the slower it takes to load. Now, I know that for many of us in the West using ADSL, that is not such a worry. However, this is an international site where users all over the world may not yet have broadband available. We should not do anything which would lead to there being two streams of Proz users - the zippy few and the sluggish many.


I don't know where you're getting this notion that "good design = lots of heavy graphics, animations, roll over images, sounds and movies". A good design is the total opposite of that. A good design is all about reducing the clutter, presenting only the most vital information in a simple, intuitive and elegant way. Which is the opposite of what can be said about Proz today.

[Edited at 2009-06-15 16:15 GMT]


 
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