Stan website needs your help!

Dear Stan users,

As our community grows, Stan website screams for a redesign. With dedicated funding for this project, we need your help! If you have experience of building static website, this is your moment to shine! Please talk to us by email (board@mc-stan.org) or PM @SGB.

Thank you,
Yi Zhang on behalf of SGB

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What is the goal of the redesign and how will you measure if it’s successful? Is the goal fundamentally to make it look better or to have it be more usable? For example, people like the look of the big swoopy titles, but they’re terrible for usability because they consume way too much vertical space.

Is the goal to make user onboarding easier, dev onboarding easier, split the sites for devs and users, split the site out by interface, or what? That is, is there a set of tasks that we think users are going to have and are we trying to make those easier? I think that’s the right way to proceed. Everyone always points at clean sites for much simpler projects as a design goal, but that’s never made sense to me. We have to help people navigate a dozen different packages in half a dozen different languages. I don’t think it makes sense to have a big button saying “Install Stan” on our home page, but that’s what everyone keeps asking for. I also don’t think it will serve us well having R code but not Python code on the home page.

How are decisions going to be made for the redesign? The goal for the last redesign, which was led by @andrewgelman, was to reduce the number of tabs. I think that’s a questionable design goal in isolation. All else being equal, fewer tabs are better, but all else isn’t equal here. I objected as hard as I could to the last redesign, which I think made things much much harder to find. Given there was no clear responsibility for who was in charge, I stepped back rather than getting into an edit war.

I don’t know how to quantify “success” and that’s why we need professional help. To me the goal would be to make it more accessible to first timers and things easier to find for others.

I’d like to see most is to make onboarding easier, such as a hello-world model and demos (like https://numpy.org/ or https://www.pymc.io/ ). I don’t have a good sense of how to help users navigate packages, but I agree we need that.

This is going to be an effort led by SGB. I can see it’ll take quite a few iterations coordinating with web designer, key opinion leaders, and the community.

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