Before We Start...
The new search engine isn't that hard to use! I promise.
It has some rough edges, but what newcomer doesn't?
If you read this entire page, you will see:
- Ten memes (what's a meme?)
- Snippets from hate mail about the new search engine
- A request for you to think about some things before we start a survey. When was the last time someone actively sought out your alcoholic opinion? Can you even remember? (I can't.)
- And the most interesting thing of all: insights into the mind of a web programmer
Many of you have had a difficult time with the new search engine.
The following tips are for you. They should help you get through the "break-in" phase, and they will start you thinking about some key issues when we solicit feedback.
This first one, Tip #0, is really a "meta" tip for those of you who really don't like change, who would rather just use the old site you were accustomed to.
I get it. In general, I dislike two things:
- The way things are
In this particular case, my dislike for the old search engine was greater than my dislike of change. The old search engine was okay in 2008, but technologically, it was unacceptable in 2016.
I should know it was ready for the boneyard - I built it. Anyway, the board agreed and said I could develop a new site for COGF. Which I did. And so we say... goodbye to the old site.
Here are some tips based on the most common complaints we've received so far. See if they help you.
Seriously. 95% of the complaints we have received are specifically answered on the help page.
Finding answers in something that has been written for your benefit... I've heard of that somewhere.
People not reading what has been written for their benefit, and then getting angry that things "aren't working": I've heard of that, too.
Please. Read the help page. It's right here.
Swipe!!! The site is not broken, multiple meetings are there! You just have to swipe the meeting search results left or right. This is also specifically answered on the help page.
Swipe!!! We're saying it twice because "It says there are 25 meetings, but only 1 shows up" is overwhelmingly. The. Biggest. Complaint. Ever. In the history of. The entire. World.
Try to understand pagination. The "Goto page" dropdown and the First, Prev, Next, and Last links? All of them have to do with pagination.
Pagination can be confusing. Here's an example of how it works:
- How many meetings do you want to appear after you click "Go"? 10 or 25?
- Let's say you picked 25.
Now let's say you performed a search that came back with 105 meetings.
- Page 1 has meetings 1-25
- Page 2 has meetings 26-50
- Page 3 has meetings 51-75
- Page 4 has meetings 76-100
- Page 5 has meetings 101-105
- The "First" link will always take you to Page 1.
- "Prev" means go to the previous page, wherever you are. For example, if you are on Page 3, clicking "Prev" will take you to Page 2.
- "Next" means go to the next page, wherever you are. For example, if you are on Page 3, it will take you to Page 4.
- "Last" means go to the last page - in the example above, Page 5.
- The "Goto page" dropdown? That's just a shortcut!
Thankfully, you don't have to do the math for any of this! The website keeps track of where you are and where you can go.
If the pagination links aren't clickable, you can't go there, either because you're already on that page, or it's mathematically impossible (if you're on Page 5 of our example, there can't be a Page 6).
Use filters. Do you prefer open or closed meetings? Like men's or women's meetings? Need babysitting?
Try using filters to reduce the number of results. That means less swiping through meetings you don't want to see.
Each filter you activate will reduce the number of meetings returned.
Try a different search type. If you know the name of the meeting you're searching for, try the "Name" search. Just enter a few letters of the meeting name.
Or do the city search: enter the first few letters of the city, then choose the city from the dropdown.
Let's everyone just calm down. I've been surprised by the emails sent to me and to COGF over the past few weeks.
I'm not talking about the constructive criticism, or even the basic gripe or complaint. Those emails are always welcome, and we have received a few. No name-calling, no venting, just, "Here's what I don't like."
What I'm talking about are the F bombs, being told the site is a "piece of sh*t," "garbage," "useless," "awful," "horrible," it "f***ing sucks," etc.
You may find that an acceptable way to talk to your sponsor, to your sponsees, or to people at your home group, but don't talk to me or to the people at Central Office like that.
Also, it's tiresome to hear the same complaints over and over about things which are not broken, especially when:
- Those things are addressed in the help page, and
- This website behaves like millions of responsive websites all over the internet
We're going to put out a survey soon. Central Office, the board, and I want feedback from you. We want to make the search engine better. We want to hear what works for you, and what doesn't.
The next two tips aren't really "tips," they're things to think about when we ask you about them in our feedback surveys.
Think about dealing with map markers. When the old search engine first came out, the biggest complaints were:
- The map markers covered other map markers
- There was no way to turn the markers on or off
It wasn't great.
I thought the best way to remedy the problem in the new site, especially for phones with tiny real estate, was to allow users to add markers to the map only for the meetings they wanted to see.
How do you add a meeting marker to the map? Click or tap the meeting name once.
Now, however, some people have said they don't like starting with a blank map.
Which do you prefer? Automatically add the markers? Keep it the new way? Think about it, we'll get back to you.
Think about scrolling versus swiping.
In Tip #7, you got a small taste of the fascinating world of web development:
What are the problems web developers and designers try to solve? What are the trade-offs when they make a decision?
You don't care. Unless I'm working on it, I don't care, either. We just want to get what we're looking for and move on.
Unfortunately, we can't blow past this. One of the problems we have to talk about - and you have to think about - is scrolling versus swiping.
There's a lot of information to condense down into small real estate. A few people have said they don't want to swipe 20 times to see all the meetings.
But... guess what people complained about when smartphones came out? They had to do too much scrolling on the old site. Back and forth between the list and the map, and everything was so scrunched up and small.
If you have a decent-sized set of meetings, you're going to have to scroll or swipe. There's no way around it. Which is less painful? Again, think about it. We'll get back to you.
Thanks, and we'll talk soon.