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Simplifying the "onboard" flow for IndieWeb.org

Like a lot of people, when I first learned about the IndieWeb, I got excited. I'd heard that they wanted people to link up their personal websites as if the web were one big social network. It was summed up nicely in the first line of this article I found on indieweb.org's why page.

Suppose you could write in your personal blog and have a summary of your post show up on popular social-media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook – and then have responses on those sites show up as comments in your blog? Dan Gillmor
That sounded like a cool idea, but when I poked around indieweb.org, I found it was surprisingly difficult to understand exactly how to make my website work like that. There was a lot of other content that didn't seem to relate to that idea.

Now that I've figured out how to do that, I think I see two issues. First, it's hard to communicate a simple onboarding flow because "indieweb" conveys a bunch of meanings. Second, we're mostly technical type people so maybe a wee bit on the verbose side (note, I'm writing a blog post for this so I'm obviously guilty of point 2 too).

I wanted to try to define an efficient way to frame the "simple IndieWeb introduction" that could convey all those meanings briefly enough to sit on the intro page of the site, and help people navigate to where they need to be based on their different preconceived notions. Note that all this is heavily derived from my interpretation as a newcomer, and I could be totally off base. But if I don't do this now, then by the time I try to fix it, I'll already have forgotten what it was like to get started anyway.

The two audience problem

As I see it, there are at least 2 big threads that lead people to the IndieWeb: the concept of hosting your own website, and the tools for social communication outside of a silo. This leads to there being two audiences and two CTAs.

  • Audience 1. people who are inside silos -> CTA 1. you should make your own website
  • Audience 2. people who have their own site -> CTA 2. here's how to connect to the indieweb

From my perspective, the current indieweb.org landing page leans heavily towards Audience 1. I think both are valuable, but I wonder what fraction of people hearing about IndieWeb and visiting the homepage in 2020 are most interested in using the tools to connect.

I'd like to propose a sketch of what the homepage would look like with the 2 audience construction.

Proposed changes

Abbreviating the upfront Why, move rest below the fold

Currently the majority of the front matter is a long sell. I think that can be punchier. Shorten it to two bullets.

  • Q: What is the indieweb? A: Something close to what's already below "The IndieWeb is a community of individual personal websites, connected ..." but maybe shortened a bit.
  • Q: Why is it a good idea/important? A: Turn the 3 bullets into a single sentence and add a link to "Learn more."

The learn more can just jump down to the three expanded points further down the page.

Fill "Join the IndieWeb" with 2 CTAs

This could probably just contain 2 big call to action buttons/links.

  • 1. Want to learn how to build your personal website? Get Started.
  • 2. Want to use indieweb tools to connect your site to others? Learn more.
Leave the rest of the front page stuff in tact below

The rest of the content looks good and is quick and easy to scroll over to get a sense of the community.

Relocate the additional "why" content on Getting Started pages

The front matter on the Getting Started page all feels like reiteration of the Why. Might be no big deal, but it might lead to a little bit of cognitive overload having to move past it again. Best to relegate that to the Why page linked from the main?

Leave the rest of getting started as is for Audience 1

The current getting started page is ideal for people trying to build their first page.

Expand the very last part into it's own Getting Started page for Audience 2

I need more time to think about all the things that should go in this flow. But I'm just sketching here. Probably start by saying something like there are X hundred ways to connect with the IndieWeb. Then maybe rehash the content on indiewebify.me but in a format that's closer to a modern walkthrough. Make sure there is a high level overview of how microformats and webmentions are going to work included rather than just the list of steps. Many people have done really great examples of this now, so it would seem reasonable to reuse one of those (with permission) right on the wiki.

This is just the start of the work, but I wanted to get some feedback on these ideas before moving forward. Don't want to work too long down the wrong rabbit hole.

Thanks