Your Feedback Needed on OCaml Home Page Wireframe!

Hello everyone,

I’m reaching out to ask for a few minutes of your time to review the wireframe designs for the OCaml Home, Industrial, and Academic pages.

After conducting user interviews with OCaml enthusiasts, we’ve gathered valuable insights on what information newcomers find most helpful when visiting the OCaml home.

As a result, we’ve been working on restructuring these three major pages to better cater to user needs.

(Please note that these wireframes primarily focus on navigation, layout, and content, rather than the User Interface (UI).)

Your feedback is crucial at this stage, so please feel free to leave comments directly on Figma, via email, or let’s schedule a quick call to discuss. Thank you for taking part in this review.

Figma Link: https://www.figma.com/file/eLNSdvayxqvvfBsRsdbJXN/OCaml-Home-Page?type=design&node-id=5%3A2500&mode=design&t=hHclskuVpoOzKP2u-1

Claire
UX/UI OCaml Designer

4 Likes

What exactly is this intended to improve over the current ocaml.org page?

Intentions behind the design changes are:

  1. give a clearer picture of what important landmarks there are on the site so people get a quick overview and understand the purpose of the different sections,
  2. make more obvious what OCaml’s most important aspects are, so that people can understand whether OCaml is suitable for what they need to do,
  3. make social proof for successful use of OCaml more visible (e.g. by pulling in testimonials from the industrial users page, listing OCaml events),
  4. make the OCaml compiler repository easier to find (a common request we hear),

We are also going to take the opportunity to make this page visually more impressive, with subtle animations (for people who have not set the prefers-reduced-motion option in their browsers). On this, we will check with you all to make sure the page feels right.

First off, I think the Figma wireframes are a good way to present this. How and what kind of feedback are you looking for?

  • Feedback by annotating the Figma design? Or here?
  • Conceptual feedback?
  • Copy editing?
  • Layout and design feedback?

It looks like this design makes the website much taller vertically (more scrolling). Dispersion of content makes it harder to form a conceptual model of the page.
I don’t see how it improves points 1 and 2.

I don’t see why these changes need such a complete redesign, and I don’t know which parts I should criticize, I see it as a rough sketch with many placeholders.

I find things like “More Than 51 Companies Trusting Us” [whom?] distasteful. It’s like a generic fishy website trying to sell something. The numbers (of companies, success stories, universities, upcoming events) don’t mean much and are nothing to brag about.

The diagonal layouts in sections are not visually impressive and just noisy.

A link to GitHub could appear in Install OCaml (as “Install from source” or something). A GitHub link also fits next to the “Install” and “About OCaml” buttons right at the beginning.

You could squeeze in Yaron’s quote under “Trusted by Industry Leader” on the current page.

These are wireframes, so at this time it is all about the overall placement/layout and concept.

Graphic design will be done after these are good.

Copy editing is very welcome. The text is the most important part of any landing page. We need to say clearly why people may want to use OCaml and what supporting arguments they can bring in order to convince others.

Many language sites have a tour section where key points of the language are quickly presented and illustrated.

See Tour of F# - .NET | Microsoft Learn

Perhaps such a page could have its equivalent on ocaml.org However, Why OCaml? already details key features and is quite complementary with the main page which presents the ecosystem.

2 Likes

Good point on the “Why OCaml?” page. The information from there needs to be lifted to the homepage.

Then, the “Why OCaml?” page can be retired or changed into a “The History of OCaml” page.

The page contains claims such as “OCaml empowers you to create mission-critical software with highest security- and safety-requirements” [superfluous dashes are a typo]. As researchers in programming languages, we are committed to providing objective and credible evaluations to the public. The academic and the commercial style are a bit at odd here, and I find the claim very bold.

Which led me to wonder, can you please tell us who is editorially responsible for the claims on the ocaml.org website, i.e. who takes responsibility for those claims?

5 Likes

By “we”, I assume you mean “you” here. Not everyone in this forum is a programming language researcher, although there are of course a higher than usual proportion here. But if you want to be precise, let’s be precise :slight_smile:

The governance of OCaml.org can be found here (and work backwards to the governance policy for more details).

But…rather than draining all the fun out of collaborative open source, it would be more constructive to suggest your improved wording rather than try to play a blame game of editorial precision. The maintainers would all be delighted to receive suggestions, and more suggestions help to strike the balance between a page that is understandable to the widest audience while remaining as precise as is practical.

2 Likes

Thanks Anil, but my question was indeed about who takes editorial responsibility for the claims in general (not just that particular one). Out of the many pages that I looked at, the governance one was not the most obvious one, and then I did not find that I had to go to the last item of that page. (And if I did, it would not have been obvious who is responsible for editing the website, “development and maintenance” could refer to non-editorial positions.) (Same for the draft that I initially looked at.)

Making more explicit who speaks would help bring more credibility to this web page, there are so many PR-generated web pages nowadays, and AI-generated ones where you cannot figure out who is talking to you… Another thought that I had was that OCaml is usually associated with INRIA and it is not clear from the web page that INRIA is not responsible for the claims.

As for rewording the claim in question, mission-critical, security and safety all have specific meanings to me, so I really not sure what the substance of the claim is, to begin with.

I also find that your answer consists in making assumptions about my intentions and accusing me “play[ing] a blame game”. I found your reply needlessly antagonizing when I am pointing out real issues.

1 Like

Both excellent suggestions! The OCaml.org website was announced as a community-driven effort (way back in 2011 for those interested), and your suggestion of being more explicit that it’s human written and crediting those doing that work is a good idea.

Likewise, perhaps a statement somewhere on the site that the opinions listed on this site are not affiliated with INRIA would be a wise move for the avoidance of doubt.

You didn’t point out the issues until the second reply. I encourage this followup style of spelling out your intentions and thought processes, and thank you for the suggestions.

1 Like

I was also making another point which I am not sure I got across right. I think crediting authors and editorial responsibility are two different things. It sounds to me from your reply that being community-driven is a way to say that editorial decision (and responsibility) is shared, but it is not clear to me that it works that way. Perhaps I am reading too much about ethics of computing these days but that’s really the question that crossed my mind when I read the page.

1 Like

A few points of feedback from me.

Can we put the OCaml standard library API documentation and the OCaml Manual as links in the top nav bar? I know this nav bar is busy but imho the API docs and the Manual are just that important.

The ‘Trusted by organizations’ section shows a set of logos of different companies, but unless these logos link to specific endorsements, they feel like we are just randomly putting in logos of famous companies on the page to look cool. To compare, look at Go’s landing page where each company logo is a hyperlinked card which actually takes you to an article describing how that company uses Go: https://go.dev/

The series of sections ‘Reliability’, ‘Productivity’, ‘Performance’ all have the same structure–a blurb, a list of points, and a code snippet. Yet they are laid out one after the other, taking up precious horizontal scrolling space. I wonder if these sections can all be compressed into a single section with multiple tabs or maybe with a carousel UI? That way the user can click to view the sections they are interested in, or keep scrolling down. And we save on horizontal space.

The ‘51 Companies’ section of endorsements thematically fits better with the ‘Trusted by organizations’ section and it seems like they should be together instead of separate and repeating similar information. Again we can look at the Go landing page, they have the endorsements in a carousel immediately below the company logos.

For the rest of the sections on the page (Community, Compiler, Platform Tools, Changelog, and various others), I feel like these don’t need to be on the landing page itself but would be fine on pages linked from there. What’s more important on the landing page imho is to answer the question ‘What can I do with OCaml?’ That is the question that I think most people will have, since they’re not familiar with it. We should try to answer this question by showcasing interesting projects like MirageOS, NetHSM, Haxe, Docker, Unison, and so on, preferably linking to articles describing how OCaml is used in these projects. (Tarides blog has a lot of these.)

Thanks for preparing these designs!

4 Likes

Hey, thanks for the great feedback everyone!

Taking into account not to make too bold claims - I do try to edit this to be in line with the value propositions of other popular languages (which I hope OCaml will be in a few years). OCaml doesn’t have to hide here, there’s some features of the language that are really well done and that still haven’t made it into more mainstream languages. Finding the exact language that describes things accurately is difficult, so always happy to have suggestions for improvements!