Myrmecos

Help redesign myrmecos.net

Myrmecos.net is 5 years old. It has grown from a few dozen photographs to about 4,000, and in recent years 1,500 people visit the site every day. In spite of the site’s high profile, myrmecos has not changed in any fundamental way since it first went online in 2003 (archived versions are accessible here). The pages are simple 1990′s technology, hand-written in html. There are no underlying databases, just scores of flat files stored in folders. If you do any web design you can imagine what a pain in the behind it is to manage a static site with thousands of individual html files.

It is time for an overhaul.

The Web 2.0 reincarnation of myrmecos will be built around a database, and it will be done professionally. Beyond that we have not yet settled on any details. To make the best of the redesign, I want the new version to incorporate suggestions from users of the site, so I’m especially keen to get feedback from you, the reader.

If you are a user of myrmecos.net, I would really, really appreciate hearing about what features you’d like in the new site. We are working from a blank slate, so we should be able to implement almost anything. Here are some possibilities:

  • Menu navigation
  • Slide show gallery views
  • Dynamic page generation from keywords
  • Comments
  • RSS feeds
  • Automated image licensing
  • A shopping cart/store
  • More direct interaction or data sharing with antweb, antbase, and other biodiversity sites
  • New color schemes/artistic designs
  • Any of your ideas that might make myrmecos easier to use

If you have database or web design experience I would also like to hear from you. I have been in contact with several programmers/designers over the last few months, but I’ve not yet finalized a contract with anyone for the job. If this project appeals to you, or if you just have relevant words of advice, drop me a line.

Comments

  1. #1 Tom @ Ohio Nature
    April 28, 2008

    Alex- Thanks a bunch for the ant ID and explaining the ant behavior I photographed in my back yard here in Columbus!

    Tom @ Ohio Nature

  2. #2 rangrang
    April 29, 2008

    My wishlist is the slideshow feature. Other features noticeable by me that could be improved are artistic design and navigation. Don’t ask me how, though.

    Data linking would seem to overlap other websites (eol, tol, discover life) and complicate the appearance.

    Maybe you could add thumbnails to each category links to be more attractive than just words.

    I’d prefer guestbook than comments on each pics. RSS feed seems nice.

  3. #3 Mom
    April 30, 2008

    How about access to an online glossary for the uninitiated like me, one of your most faithful readers? :-)

  4. #4 Joe
    April 30, 2008

    Glossary to include pronounciation guide if possible. Also, how about a featured picture for the day (or week)?

  5. #5 myrmecos
    May 1, 2008

    Thanks for your input! It sounds like I’ll need to add a glossary. That hadn’t occurred to me before.

  6. #6 Benoit
    May 1, 2008

    I think that some kind of list of species found by country/state cold be helpful at two points. First, they could be useful for people that are just curious to know what species they have around their home, or that they can encounter during a travel. You could go even a little bit farther by developing some kind of field guides (more or less simplified). The second interest is more for biologist interested in distribution/biogeography of species. Any list of species present in a specific area is always interesting, especially if you can have access to it via internet.

    For the glossary, I think it is always good. I have mine in French, which could maybe give you idea of what to do and not to do. The translation in English is in progress, but it is better to have more than not enough.

    http://www4.ncsu.edu/~bsguenar/Glossary.htm

    Good luck.

    I’m looking forward to see the result.

  7. #7 Travis
    May 2, 2008

    If it ain’t broke… :)

  8. #8 dreampoolcom
    May 19, 2008

    I think as many thumbnails as possible to help visual navigation.

    Also, the database software itself might determine many of the design choices. Have you decided which software you’ll use?