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Earlier this month, on August the first to  be more exact, MTV celebrated its 25th anniversary. In fact it is  now almost 30 years old, since it was originally conceived as a two-way  interactive cable TV system called Qube, with a main concept of specialised  niche channels. It was only after 4 years that MTV (and somewhat later Nickelodeon)  really appeared. Whereas in the early days MTV showed a lot of commercials with  some video clips around them, it now airs a lot of commercials with docusoaps. The  only time that I (try to) look at it is to see a wrecked car that wouldn’t pass  the Belgian MOT test, being transformed in to a tawdry vehicle that still  wouldn’t pass the Belgian MOT.         

         

However there does seem to be a public for it and it would appear to be an  inspiration for musicians. Mark Knofler wrote a song called ‘Money for nothing’  scrounging ‘I want my MTV’, which was the slogan the broadcasting company used  to try to convince the cable providers to add the network to their channel  supply. This line was both ‘written’ and sung by Sting, according to some  parodying his own song called “Don’t stand so close to me”. Apparently  inspiration was lacking when it came to writing things down.

         

Speaking of inspiration, I’ve been wondering  for a while which muse –no I’m not talking about the new SAP GUIs – ate into  the SDN design time, and for how long, in order for them to have come up with  their new choice of colours. I thought that I had maybe stumbled across the  answer when I visited the Europa Park in Germany on holiday. One of the attractions there  is called the Silver  Star, a mega roller coaster, with the McLaren-Mercedes F1 team as its theme.  I’m not into motor sports, so while I was queuing I was surprised to see that  SAP was one of the partners of this team. So I thought that maybe the design  team had been inspired by the colouring of these F1 bolides. The problem is  that – as the name of the attraction indicates – the main colour is silver (OK,  it’s a type of grey) and the secondary colour is black.           

         

So where did they come up with the idea for  these colours? The SAP site or the SDN newsletter maybe?              Yes, but while it is true that they use the  grey and blue combination over there, it’s certainly not that kind of  combination. And they do make use of other colours in order to liven things up.  Let’s just come straight out with it and say that the current colours used at  the SDN home page are dull and not very attractive. It’s even worse than when I  reported in an earlier From the Grumpy Old Man: The style council that the SDN site lacked a real CI/CD (Corporate Identity, Corporate  Design).  There is still nothing in the  design that makes the site and its subparts stand out from the riff-raff, or  design-wise have more value than a template made up of one page of an SME/SMB. It  has been claimed that the SDN community claims to be vibrant. Why isn’t this  reflected in the design of their beloved site?

         

There is also another issue with the new  design. The home page currently consists – with some exceptions – simply of hyperlinks  to other parts of the site. It has a small number  of graphics and very limited text. I wonder  why it was done like that? Was it to improve speed? If graphics are cleverly  designed, they don’t make that much difference bandwidth wise, certainly not  when things are cached. It’s not as if changes occur every hour. The same  comment could be made about the surrounding text or rather the lack of it. Some  people claim that “less is more”. However in this case it just isn’t true. It’s  not exactly a piece of cake to find where things have been put. I’ll give an  example – old values like the SDN TV have gone. I challenge you to find the homepage of SDN TV within the current design. Even multiple attempts with the SDN search  engine don’t return the desired page. It is in fact “hidden” behind the eLearning  menu.

         

Coming back to inspiration, the last  contribution was on December 22nd 2005, after which nothing seems to  have happened to be conserved for the descendants, which is a pity. I’m sure  that a lot of interesting SAP events have happened which might be interesting  enough for the SDN community. I guess one relies too much on the input from the  community itself, which might be an idle hope. Not everybody has the resources  (certainly material wise) to produce a qualitative contribution. Maybe the SDN  content managers should crank things up again.

         

To conclude, the new layout reminds me of  the so called portals of earlier days: totally lacking in inspiration, dull,  boring and adding no value whatsoever to the content that it is linking to. Maybe  I’m an exception and that the majority actually wants things this way –after  all, MTV has already been around for 25 years – but I think the SDN community  deserves – and apparently The key difference between SAP and Oracle –  more. 

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  1. Community User
    I just sent off film footage to be digitized and uploaded to the SDN TV, an interview with 3 people in Walldorf who had a huge hand in BSP and where BSP is going.

    “Future of BSP” – coming soon to SDN TV

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  2. Anton Wenzelhuemer
    For me design is very much a matter of taste. Personally I prefer ‘ascetic design’ on sites I visite for informational purposes rather then for entertainment. It is often so, that I ‘leave’ pages once they start to have flash trash and hovering ads or info blocks on their main page. This is not so much because of bandwidth issues (I fortunately do neither have them on my job nor at home) but because of an impression that the owners shift their priorities from content to appearance.
    So for me an informational site should have a decent CD/CI but put their focus on functional issues like a top navigational structure search capabilities, personalization features, etc..
    With respect to latter issues I think SDN is doing a very good job, muuuuch better than the service market place people. The navigational structure of the service marketplace as well as the search (or find) capabilities of it are nightmare IMHO.

    I’d ask the SDN team to put more effort into overcoming functional shortcomings, e.g. the frequent ‘loss of authentication’ information as well as functional enhancments, e.g. in authoring capabilities (both forum and blogs).

    Concerning the demand for more video footages I think it is also very much a matter of taste. I personally appreciate live streams of talks or lectures but I do not understand the popularity of video training courses. To me latter transport information very much slower than a well written tutorial or article. The content is not really searchable or indexable. So, I wouldn’t need it but I know they are popular and if there is someone who has to money to produce it, it doesn’t hurt me.

    my 2 tasteful cents,
    anton

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    1. Eddy De Clercq Post author
      Hi,

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Indeed, de gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum. But even sites like Slashdot (http://slashdot.org/) have more “design” than SDN.

      And yes, as mentioned in an earlier Grumpy (From the Grumpy Old Man: The style council)
      the authentication mechanism could be better.

      Video search is possible though. blinkx.tv (http://tv.blinkx.com/) is an example how things can be done. Google, Altavista, Yahoo!, Searchforvideo, etc. have simular features.

      Eddy

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