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Feedback wanted on the NCDD Resource Center

Hi, everyone! I wanted to get some feedback from NCDDers and site visitors about the new main page of the Resource Center, and the navigation options in the sidebar.

Screenshot of the NCDD Resource CenterThe NCDD Resource Center, at www.ncdd.org/rc, connects visitors with over 2,500 resources:  dialogue guides, evaluation tools, videos, books, articles, case studies, organizations, graphic recorders, handouts, charts, and more.

We’ve been doing a lot of work in recent months to make the Resource Center as user-friendly as possible. Run on WordPress software, the Resource Center features the new NCDD site design, which I think is easier on the eyes and more navigable. And we’ve been adding sidebar widgets to help visitors find the resources they need more quickly. Links at the very top of the sidebar take you to a new site map Andy created which lists ALL categories and tags (and yes, we’re still tagging older resources and could use help with that!), and to a blog-style page that features the most recently-added resources.  My favorite thing in the sidebar is the “I’m looking for” widget which allows you to cross-search within a category in a tag (“manuals & guides” plus “great for public managers,” for example).

Just in the past week or so, we’ve added a new home page for the Resource Center.  Rather than just featuring the most recently added resources, we now provide a kind of mini-guide to the Resource Center. We list the titles and excerpts for the newest resources (linkable to the full resources), point out some of the best resources in our Beginner’s Guide, and feature some of the most popular categories and tags.

Please do me a huge favor and take a few minutes to look over the landing page and sidebar and experiment a bit, and let me know what you think by adding a comment below!  Is there too much info on the main page, or do you wish something else was there?  What do you like? What do you find lacking? What are your ideas for livening things up or simplifying the text? And what might you need to help us get the word out about this great resource clearinghouse?  All feedback and ideas are welcome!

Sandy Heierbacher is the director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). She co-founded NCDD in 2002 with her husband Andy Fluke. Sandy has an M.A. in International Management from SIT Graduate Institute. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. Lucas Cioffi says:

    It’s amazing just how many fantastic resources there already are! I wonder if it would be useful to have a place where people can suggest ideas for additional resources that have not yet been created.

  2. We have our “Submit a Resource” form at http://ncdd.org/rc/add — is that what you meant, Lucas? That’s another thing I’d like to promote more. People can add a new resource direct to the blog as a draft post. We link to it in the Resource Center sidebar under “Get Involved.”

  3. Josephine Cooper says:

    Sandy.

    I love the new NCDD page. There is so much there that the main reason that I didn’t comment is that I haven’t really had time to adequately explore the many resources. I especially appreciate the beginners items. I’m not a beginner beginner, as I have a masters in conflict resolution. However, I am certainly a beginner compared to a lot of the professional that communicate regularly within NCDD. I recently received a resource through one of the group e-mails from Good Group Decisions, Inc. This resource provided many Practical Tips for me that are brief and basic enough for regular folks. I am going to be able to share them in a group that I am facilitating at our senior housing complex and I think they will provide positive options for improving communication within the group and for our members to use as outreach within our senior living community.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Josephine! I love those Good Group Decisions tips, too. Craig Freshley puts those out, and I asked him to be an NCDD blogger so he can share some of them on the blog when they’re particularly relevant to D&D. He’s posted 5 or 6 of them so far. Are you suggesting NCDD produce more short & sweet resources that can be shared easily with broader audiences?

  4. The new page is easy to navigate and I appreciate how quickly I can move around and look at so many great resources. Thanks.

  5. Sandy,

    You guys have done a fabulous job with the continuing development of the NCDD web presence. The resource center is so deep and user-friendly. I have pointed our town manager to it in the past and will continue to use it and send others who need this kind of support. Great work!

    Vicky

  6. Sam Kaner says:

    Sandy

    Thanks for encouraging me / us to explore the Resource Center. It’s truly impressive and valuable.

    As requested one feedback-type comment: If we have items to contribute, it’s not obvious how to pass those along. Perhaps it is spelled out but in a quick look-over I didn’t spot that instruction.

    That’s a small item though. The vastly more important comment is how valuable this will be, for so many uses, going forward.
    — Sam

    • Thanks so much for taking a look and sharing your impressions, Sam! Just so you know, on the sidebar on every page in the Resource Center there’s a box titled “Get Involved” — the first link in that box is “Submit a new or missing resource.” That link sends people to a form that allows them to compose a resource listing that gets created as a draft post (we just need to go in and activate links and approve the post).

      People seem to be missing this link (you’re only one of about 6 who made this suggestion). I can move that box higher up in the sidebar. Any other suggestions for making this more prominent (while keeping things as simple as possible)?

  7. Here’s some feedback from Charlotte Denny Henley:

    I really like the new main page and sidebar….. the headings are easy and suitable for those searching…. I like the sidebar which easily helps me to find stuff more quickly. The whole page feels orderly and intuitive.

  8. Here’s some feedback from Jeffrey Abelson:

    I think it’s fabulous, Sandy, both the content and the organization.

    The only comment I have is this. For people who are active in the field, the site is a blessing, a top notch tool for the trade, and easy to navigate.

    But for people who are new to D&D, I feel they might be overwhelmed by the volume of information available. I know your priority is to serve the professionals in the field. But with the Beginners Guide in the sidebar, you’re obviously trying to help newbies as well. As such, maybe on the Home Page, in the Resources column, you might add a “If this is your first visit — or — if you’re new to D&D — START HERE.

    Like I said, I know it’s not NCDD’s purpose to educate beginners. But a boy can hope! Because it would answer some of the questions I’ve been asking everyone — which is — if I am successful in stimulating a lot of new public demand for D&D as a result of the new video projects I hope to launch in the coming months, how will that demand be met? Where will we send people who want to learn what this work is all about? And how easy will it be for them to get answers without getting lost in an ocean of information?

    I was planning on including a link directly to your Resource page, but it would be great if there were a Beginner’s cue on the home page as well.

    Then all I’d have to figure out is where to send people when they want professional help forming a deliberative group in their community. But first things first.

    • I really appreciate this feedback, Jeffrey! A few people have suggested that we provide more prominent guidance for beginners to D&D. I want to make sure that you and others saw that on the main page of the Resource Center, we list the 4 latest-added resources and then feature the Beginner’s Guide and list some of the great resources included in that guide.

      Did you not notice this, or is it just not prominent enough? Is it too far down the page? I like the idea of starting with the latest resources since that is the thing that always changes.

      Also in the sidebar, under “Great Places to Start,” the first link is “Beginner’s Guide.”

      Maybe there needs to be more a a visual cue, like a brightly-colored image with the words “Beginners start here!” What do you think would help, Jeffrey?

  9. Feedback from Iwanka Kultschyckyj:

    Sweeeet Resource Center! I would like a thicker pixel count on the fonts in some spots for a bit more purple feel.

  10. Feedback from Juli Fellows:

    I LOVE the new look and feel of this page! Clean, nice illustrations, very easy to navigate. I will use the text you recommend for sharing this page in my handout. I did have one issue. The links on the bottom of the page, such as “assessment tools” and “best tools”, etc. didn’t work and led me to a “whoops” page. [Note: I fixed these links thanks to this alert from Juli!]

    Otherwise it’s FABULOUS! Congratulations to you, Andy and anyone else who worked on this. It’s such a challenge to build a portal to such an immense array of diverse resources. Nice work!

  11. dee wernette says:

    I’m new to NCDD, although I’ve been involved in related activities/areas for much of my career. I’ve done some evaluation research in the past, and so was/am interested in exploring what had been done in that area for D&D. I found that clicking on the title of the resource sometimes brings me to a site where I can download the resource (e.g. http://www.sfcg.org/programmes/ilr/ilt_manualpage.html), sometimes just gives a contact link for finding/getting more information (e.g. Hawo’s dinner party), and sometimes does zip – which leaves one wondering where one can get a copy of the resource (e.g. Adapting systemic consultation practice to public discourse: An analysis of a public conflict episode Posted by Andy Fluke | December 24th, 2008). It might be nice to A) be able to screen the resource links, so that one can only come up with those where the resource is readily available for reading/viewing/downloading, and B) provide instructions on how to proceed where the resource description otherwise provides zip. (Obviously, if this already exists and I just haven’t found it, my bad! Or maybe this needs to be highlighted in bold? :-))

    There are clearly LOTS of resources here, which can be overwhelming as noted earlier/above. Not sure how one can address/respond to that? In any case, thanks to all who put this together! cheers, dee

    • Thanks for this thoughtful comment, Dee! One of the things that’s challenging about keeping a resource database online is that links change ALL THE TIME. People change how their websites are organized, they move or remove documents, they shut down websites altogether.

      What we try to do is to always link to the organization’s main website, and also include a link to the specific resource we’re referencing. In the past, we’ve often put documents on the NCDD site in case people do move or remove their files, but honestly we just don’t have the staff time to keep doing that, so sometimes people will need to search on an organization’s website and try to find the document themselves.

      We try hard to always provide links; if a resource is listed in the Resource Center that doesn’t provide a link to a document or an organization, that means we could not find the resource online but we felt it was important enough to our field to list it for reference. I think we provide links for 90% or more of the resources.

      I like your ideas of enabling people to screen links and providing instructions on how to proceed when there’s no link. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how we can make the first idea happen with WordPress without having someone go through all 2500 resource listings (which we just don’t have staff time for). And for the second idea, I think we do that when we spot those resources, and we could really use help from community members in identifying those resources without links and then finding those documents online so we can add the proper links. You may not have time to help with something like that, but if you are interested, please let me know and we can touch base on how best to proceed.

      Thanks, Dee!

  12. I couldn’t remember if I updated this comment thread or not, but in response to people’s feedback about the usefulness and usability of the main page of the Resource Center, I went in and moved the text for beginner’s to the top of the page, and put the list of latest resources under that. I hope people like that change!

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