Plant Database forum: Updating the presentation on plant pages

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 30, 2017 9:21 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Our plants database is by far the most used part of Garden.org and it's also the most fun part. Green Grin!

We've had the same basic look for a long time and Trish and I have spent a lot of time discussing what we can do to make it better.

Take a look at this plant entry as an example: Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia 'Ebony Flame')

Notice how many elements are present. Plants in the database may have some or all of the following items:

Plant Data Details (this is often a long list and contains lots of white space)

Where to Buy information, as well as Plant Lists.

Extra names (botanical names, common names, synonyms, also sold as, etc)

Related Ideas and Articles

Related Threads

Previous "Plant of the Day" link

A QR code that links back to that page

List of Actions (Edit the plant, upload a photo, etc)

Photos of course

Landscape Photos that contain this plant

Performance Reports

Plant event logs

Comments

Conservation status

(and in the future, Plant Infoboxes like we have on the homepage for each custom database)

and maybe other stuff, too.

This gets messy and I've never been completely happy with how we're presenting it. I am working on a completely revamped look for our plants pages, and would love to get some feedback from people on where we are so far.

The biggest challenge is that not all plants will have all the above items. For example, some plants may have data details, but no conservation status and no "where to buy", etc. Some plants will have infobox text but very little data fields. Some plants have comments and photos, others have none. Making a design that looks good for all plants is actually incredibly challenging for me.

I'll post some more info soon on how to see what I've done so far.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 30, 2017 9:30 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

So, compare our current plant view for
Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia 'Ebony Flame')

Notice in the URL there it has a "/view/" part? Change that to "/nv/" and you can see that page with the new format. You can do this for any plant in the database.

So the new layout for that crepe myrtle is here: http://garden.org/plants/nv/54...

My main challenge is putting all the stuff in the order that makes the most sense, as well as minimizing white space.
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
May 30, 2017 9:49 AM CST
Oh my, I like the new page layout a lot! Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Greenhouse Sempervivums Bromeliad
Adeniums Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals Xeriscape Garden Art Plumerias
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plantmanager
May 30, 2017 9:58 AM CST
I do too, but hate seeing the smaller photos of the plant. It would be ok if we could click on one, enlarge it, and then arrow on to the next one.
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 30, 2017 10:03 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Arrowing over is one of those things I'm definitely looking into providing.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
May 30, 2017 10:31 AM CST
Just checked out the Daylily pages and I actually prefer the old page layout, mostly because the Thumbnail photos are much larger and I can see which ones I actually want to enlarge to look at. With the new small thumbnails I can't see enough detail to tell which ones I want to enlarge. There seems to be no way to just go quickly through them so each one has to be enlarged one at a time to see exactly what the photo is showing.
I do like the initial look better but not the functionality. I really like how the large white space is eliminated when the page first loads.
Also on my screen I have to scroll down to see when the plant was featured as plant of the day. I find that akward when trying to make out a list and having to scroll down for each plant when just looking for that quick single reference.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Plant Database Moderator Region: California Cottage Gardener Roses Irises Clematis
Garden Photography Keeper of Poultry Hummingbirder Bee Lover Butterflies Houseplants
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Calif_Sue
May 30, 2017 11:48 AM CST

Plants Admin

Nice layout but I too miss the larger thumbnails and the hover over image for the caption. And it now takes two clicks to get to the details including thumbs-up, star and acorn, that will limit members, maybe not all, but probably newer ones, from giving thumbs-up, unless you think that now should be of less importance compared to fitting things in better. Shrug!
Also, if I click on the tiny thumbnails to bring up the next larger one, if an entry has a lot of photos, by the time I get to the lowest ones, now I am scrolling up and down repeatedly to see the larger one.
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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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zuzu
May 30, 2017 2:06 PM CST

Plants Admin

I really, really dislike the new format. When we moved from Dave's Garden to Cubits, I immediately fell in love with the larger thumbnail photos and persuaded many former DG members to join Cubits solely on the strength of those larger photos. I was so happy when the thumbnails stayed large when we moved to ATP. Over the years the DG thumbnail photos have grown smaller and smaller, but ours have stayed the same size, adding greatly to the charm of our database and forum pages. I think it would be a shame to reduce their size now.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 30, 2017 2:28 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Good feedback.

I agree with the larger thumbs being a huge plus here. Back at DG I had them at 100px and here they are 250px. It's a huge difference.

Trying to make it look good, while presenting all the information we need to present, without completely cluttering the page, is going to be a challenge.

What if we only had the first, say, 5 images up top in the format they are in now (in the new format), with all the rest as 250x250 at the bottom like it currently is?
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Greenhouse Sempervivums Bromeliad
Adeniums Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals Xeriscape Garden Art Plumerias
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plantmanager
May 30, 2017 3:41 PM CST
That sounds like a good compromise, Dave. We could easily see the first 5 which should be the best 5, and then we can just click on the rest.
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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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zuzu
May 30, 2017 3:55 PM CST

Plants Admin

The problem is that the first 5 won't necessarily be the best 5. Some of the custom databases came over from Cubits, where there was no thumbs-up feature, and others date back to the early ATP days, when the feature was either absent or rarely used. There are many superb photos in the database with no thumbs-up whatsoever. Now the feature is being used by more and more people, so the top-rated 5 are likely to be the most recent 5 and could be a poor yardstick of comparative quality. Is a page 2 for large thumbnails of photos in excess of five an option, or is it precluded by space considerations?
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 30, 2017 4:04 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

A page 2 for larger thumbnails is certainly an option but that would also risk pushing potentially better photos even further away and out of sight.

There is a solution here, I'm just not yet sure what it is.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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zuzu
May 30, 2017 4:13 PM CST

Plants Admin

The mods and admins currently have the option to move one photo to the default thumbnail position, regardless of its rating. Could this be expanded to move the best and most representative five photos to page one?
Name: Rob Duval
Mason, New Hampshire (Zone 5b)
Region: New Hampshire Vegetable Grower Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tomato Heads
Annuals Hostas Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Spiders! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US
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robertduval14
May 30, 2017 4:38 PM CST

Plants Admin

One point I'd like to add... I notice the 'also sold as' name is listed at/near the bottom of the page. I feel this may lead some to think they are being sent to the wrong page at times if they don't scroll all the way down and see the name they were searching for.
Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
Daylilies Plant and/or Seed Trader Winter Sowing Hybridizer Peonies Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Organic Gardener Composter Container Gardener Spiders! Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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bxncbx
May 30, 2017 4:49 PM CST
I like the new layout mostly because you don't have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to add a plant to your list. When using a phone it can be a real hassle!

Slightly larger thumbnails would be nice though.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator
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Australis
May 30, 2017 5:46 PM CST

Plants Admin

I appreciate your efforts to try to improve the plant database pages, Dave, but I am not a fan of the new layout - it is far less efficient than the old when viewed on my system (haven't tried from a mobile device or my widescreen work PC yet). I'm viewing it on a desktop in Firefox, by the way, at 1280x1024.

  • Thumbnails are quite small (as has been mentioned above).

  • Clicking on a thumbnail to change to the another image results in the whole right-hand-side (RHS) moving up and down as the new image loads. The inconsistency of the image sizing makes it jump up and down a fair bit, too. My thought here would be to set a default minimum height (which should be respected by most modern browsers) or calculate what the maximum height of the attached images would be and fix the viewing pane size.

  • With that much plant data and the sellers, plant lists, "As sold As" and "Make Changes" boxes, two-thirds of the RHS is just blank space. Each of those boxes is also quite wide with a lot of space in them.

  • It's a lot more effort to get to the "Make Changes" box (now about two-thirds down the page). I make a lot of changes in the Orchids section and having the editing options at the top and bottom makes it so much easier. With the new design there would be a lot of scrolling involved.


Some additional thoughts regarding possible page layout changes:

  • Have you considered making the different boxes collapsible? i.e. an up/down arrow on the right-hand end of the header, which would collapse the box back just to the header line. You could have some set to collapsed as default (perhaps the plant events), as I suspect not every viewer will be interested in some fields and it would be a single click to show them all. A similar option could be used for the thumbnails (i.e. shows first row and then click "expand" to show them all).

  • Scrolling for boxes/panes, such as the thumbnail pane. In the new design, you could make the thumbnails larger and add scrolling to the pane (assuming the CSS cooperates for this, as I know it can be tricky).

  • Remove the larger image and just have a column of photo thumbnails that would open in the overlaid viewer (so skipping one step). This would allow a single click to see a larger version as well as access to thumbs up and the description, etc.


I'll let you know if I have any further thoughts and/or get a chance to test it on a different device.
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Image
dave
May 30, 2017 7:22 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

All great feedback, thank you all so much. I will digest this.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Image
dave
May 31, 2017 7:27 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

I updated the custom database homepages some time ago to have a look similar to this. It has the small thumbnails. I'm surprised that nobody had a negative reaction to those small thumbnails.

The Irises Database

Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator
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Australis
May 31, 2017 8:23 AM CST

Plants Admin

You didn't change the size of the newest photo thumbnails, though, which I suspect are the photos most people look at on the database homepages. Probably the search feature is the other most-used part of the database homepages.
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Dave
Southern wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Region: Wisconsin Peonies Bulbs Seed Starter Pollen collector Plant and/or Seed Trader
Hybridizer Daylilies Garden Photography Dog Lover Lilies Irises
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Nhra_20
May 31, 2017 8:49 AM CST
Is there a way that when the cursor hovers over a thumbnail, it brings up an expanded thumbnail without clicking? Then when you click on the thumbnail it brings up the bigger image? Though not sure how well that would work for mobile users.

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