Five-Minute Voyager v4.0
June 15, 2005
After three years of the highly successful Version 3 of 5MV, the time has finally come for a serious reorganization. Unlike the "creeping redesign" of v3.1, this is a genuinely new way of arranging and presenting our content. I've been working on this for a long time (and I'm not done yet -- more on that in a bit), and that gives me the right to get wordy about it, so here's the scoop. First of all....
I had quite a few reasons to redesign 5MV, but the simplest is this: for a site that's meant to compress things, we've gotten pretty damn big.
I haven't tried to measure how much content we have in a long time, but it's a lot. The Trek subsites have grown phenomenally, Sci-Fivers and Videogames are bursting at the seams, and we have so many extra features it's hard to even find some of them. The subsite system was a great idea, but on its own, it's no longer enough. Hence the hallmark of v4.0: our subsites are now organized into larger groups which I'm calling categories.
We currently have five categories -- Trek, TV, Movies, Videogames, and Features. Trek is what it sounds like. TV and Movies divide up the content from Sci-Fivers and make room for non-sci-fi material like The OC. The Videogames subsite has been promoted to category, and its minisites to subsites. Features is basically a miscellaneous section, covering This Just In, the Top 10 lists, Shakespeare, Cheese, and everything from the Features department in v3.1.
Each category has an index page and subsites. The index page is where material for that category goes if it doesn't belong in the subsites; for example, Minority Report isn't part of a series, so its fiver will be listed on the Movies index page. For ease of navigation, the categories and their subsites are linked on the front page of 5MV.
Speaking of subsites, you'll notice a few new ones. Babylon 5 is now a full-fledged subsite with Sa'ar Chasm as section head. (The subsite will have a proper launch later this summer.) The OC and Smallville now have full subsites headed by me and Derek respectively, though they'll be lower priorities than our main subsites (ENT in my case, DS9 in his). Our four biggest movie series -- Star Wars, LotR, Alien, and Back to the Future -- are subsites now. The former 5MVG minisites are now subsites, and there's a new one coming later in this fifth-anniversary event. And still more subsites are waiting in the wings.
Now, before you start writing me annoyed emails, I know not everything looks pretty yet. Let me explain....
The Continuing Mission
Version 4.0 is, unfortunately, a work in progress. I've already explained a bit about my personal situation this summer; for those who haven't heard, the gist of it is that I don't have as much time online as I'd like, and there's not really anything I can do about it. As a result, while I've been using my limited time better than usual lately (witness the fact that this anniversary is our fifth big event this month alone), it was just plain impossible for me to get 4.0 completely done in time for June 15.
So I've compromised. I've unveiled the structure of 4.0 today, as promised; now I need to fill in the gaps. This includes things like PHP-coding the new subsites, adjusting layouts in the existing ones, filling in like 50 million blurbs, and finishing the new graphics (more on that in a sec). I'm hoping to get a little of that done each day, but realistically, it'll probably be more like every other day. So each time I do something -- PHP-code a subsite, say -- I'll mention it in the day's newspost.
By the end of the summer, 4.0 should be completely done. It would have been nice to have it done in time for today, but it just wasn't possible -- so I'm not going to sweat it. This works too.
Now for possibly the most exciting element of 4.0....
I'm a pretty good image designer. My skills have been enough to keep 5MV looking good for five years, and I've been proud of that. But it's become more and more clear to me that while I'm competent, I have friends who are amazing. And so when one of them volunteered to help me with 5MV site work, I decided to swallow my pride and take him on.
His name is Dan Carlson, and you'll recognize it if you've been around here long. He runs a site which is one of 5MV's oldest friends: Star Trek Minutiae (formerly The Gigantic Collection thereof). And in fact, his work has already begun. If you visit 5MV on LJ, you'll notice that our usericons look like 5MV's current graphics, but more stylish. They're Dan's work. Picture the whole site looking like that. Yeah, I thought so.
Well, pretty soon you won't have to picture it, because the whole site will look like that. Dan and I are making steady progress on redesigning and sprucing up virtually every image on this site. However, since 4.0's launch date was so soon, I've had to make some substitutions. In some places I've kept the old images, in others I've used text, and in others (such as the new subsite banners) I've placed "filler" graphics -- thrown-together placeholders that'll do until the real graphics are ready. (SaRa, who's currently redesigning our LJ, whipped up the filler graphics for me, and I really appreciate it.)
Short version? The site may not look shiny now, but don't get used to it. Better things are coming very soon.
One last point about 4.0, and this one's guaranteed to be the most controversial....
Ever since Voyager ended, I've been wondering whether I should change our name. At the time, I ran a poll to see what the readers thought, and the consensus was that we shouldn't change it. I agreed. "Five-Minute Voyager" had recognition value by then, and VOY may not have been making new episodes, but people were still interested in it.
However, that was four years ago. And while it was a very difficult decision, we on staff have finally concluded that it's time for a new name. The recognition value is no longer enough to outweigh the fact that every time we link someone to the site, we have to explain, "It's not just Voyager...."
We needed a name that was more general, but one that would still be familiar to our readers. And fortunately, Kira came up with one pretty much right away.
The official name of this site is now FiveMinute.net.
Yep. Same as our URL. It sounds a bit funny at first, but it grows on you. It has several advantages, the biggest being that it was already our name in one sense. And no one can possibly forget our address now. (When was the last time you forgot where TheForce.net was?)
The one real drawback is that our acronym no longer works. We can't be 5MV anymore. And so, from this day forward, we shall be abbreviated as 5M. It's the root of all our subsite acronyms, so it makes sense ideologically, if you will.
And that's Version 4.0, folks. Do I want your comments? You're fraggin' right I want your comments. Hie thee to the forums!
Previous article: Tides of Prints (X/X/05)|
Five-Minute Voyager and subsites are © Colin Hayman.