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An Open House for Affordable Modernism*

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Apr 02, 2012 03:26 AM
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"I'm looking for housing that is affordable, and modern. I know there must be innovative, well-designed housing out there. I just can't seem to find it!" —Tracey R., from the Dwell discussion board



 

 

Our love for modernist housing is being rekindled as many more people deliberately depart from traditional housing. People want homes that are distinguished by their openness and livability through the use of innovative design, materials and construction methods. And they want modern homes whose cost is comparable to more traditional housing available in their community.

Affordable modernism need not be an oxymoron! Small, entrepreneurial companies eager to address this emerging market are offering modern housing products. However, the market remains small, and it can be difficult for consumers to find housing that matches their desires. Similarly, it is hard for developers and others in the housing industry to evaluate consumer demand for modernist housing. There is no one best place to find them all online: modern housing designers or developments, consumers or communities.

LiveModern is a service that helps connect the public interested in modern housing to a range of providers, including architects, developers, builders, lenders, and realtors, among others. Our goal is to make modernism more accessible. LiveModern looks forward to a future in which modernist housing is widely available because it is affordable to a majority of home buyers, and it is easy to find in their community.

To realize our mission and vision, LiveModern will initially focus on three broad strategies:

  • conduct outreach to and education for consumers to introduce them to the options for modern housing, thereby demonstrating to producers the size of the market for affordable modernism;
  • develop a cooperative marketing infrastructure, including conducting market research about consumer demand, for producers of modernist housing; and
  • link LiveModern members to each other in geographically-defined markets, connecting modern home buyers to producers—designers, developers, contractors and realtors, among others.

All of these strategies will reinforce each other, thus continually expanding the market for producers as well as consumers. In the implementation of each of these strategies, LiveModern will exemplify the values that distinguish successful communities of interest in emerging markets: transparency, accountability, openness, fairness, cooperation and civility.

The principle benefit for consumers and producers alike is that they will be able to find each other through LiveModern. For example, a family interested in building a modern house will be able to more easily find an architect, a stock plan, or a prefab to suit their needs. As the LiveModern community grows and becomes more diverse, consumers with similar interests in a geographic market will be able to organize demand for a modernist housing development, while architects or manufacturers will be able to work with local developers to meet localized demand.

LiveModern is a community of consumers and producers of modern housing dedicated to this mission and vision, as well as strategies and values. Membership is free and open to anyone who is interested in modernist housing.

Welcome to our Open House, and help make our new community a place you'd want to live by joining the LiveModern community. Be sure to invite your friends and neighbors. Feel free link to this invitation in any appropriate forum. And click on the button below if you want to comment on our approach to making modernism affordable. (You must be a registered member of the LiveModern community to add a comment.)

* This statement was developed in July and August 2003 by participants in the National Modernist Housing Network discussion forum originally hosted by Dwell Magazine. LiveModern opened its doors on September 19, 2003. (Unfortunately, Dwell did not archive the original discussion.)


 

 

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 22, 2003 10:47 AM

The concern expressed on the Dwell board, when this thread was started, was that it was difficult for <i>LiveModern</i> to do two things at the same time: represent the LV Home *and* build a larger community. They seemed at odds with each other.

Despite the fact that everyone agrees that the development of a network is a good idea, no one on his/her own has the resources to build the larger community. It has to be piggy-backed onto something else. Some had thought it might be Dwell, but they it seems that they are not interested. I even went to the effort to talk to Allison, who did not comment on the considerable thread of comments on this topic that had accumulated on her board. They are too busy, rightly so, putting out a first class publication.

There are good reasons to start promotion of the network and promotion of the LV home at the same time. The LV Home will have some currency on the internet, primarily because of the investment I am making to ensure that the LV Home is very visible. The network, being housed on the same site as the site that will be receiving a lot of LV Home hits, will also acquire visibility.

I can contribute considerable time and a bit of money to the development of the network website <i>only</i> because I represent the LV Home. It's how I make my living. I won't make a killing, on fact I hope I do OK. While I can, I'll make a bit of free webspace available to any producer or consumer, for your home pages and directory listings (once we get that far). In the meantime, I am perfectly happy to help develop the community as a whole, because I owe my living to the emergence of what the new modernists have been building before me. It's called reciprocity, and I hope others will learn from the example and follow it.

Of course, there are a ton of immediate details to be worked out in building the network on <i>LiveModern</i>. These include, but are not limited to:

<ul><li>A discussion on what the proposed structure and function of the site is. Will it work to help us get to our goals? Again, I've proposed a first draft, and there is a lot of opportunity to design this together now.

<li>A strategy to include producers. Clearly, there need to be a lot of producers as part of the system, if only represented in the directories. How do we get their content, and permission to use their content?

<li>A strategy to promote the website (online and offline strategy). There have been lots of questions on this on the Dwell boards. But not very many answers. I think there are enough native networkers among us to come up with some pretty powerful strategies.

<li>What else? What are the big next questions that need to be answered?</li></ul>

I suggest that we start different threads on each of these topics. Some are doers, some are thinkers, there is a need for and room for both. I won't start the discussions: they will start, when needed, by someone that wants to lead. (It's easy, just click the "add comment" button!)

The bottom line for us to succeed is to move from thinking to doing, and building community all along the way.

Marshall

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 23, 2003 04:09 AM

<p>I'm going to comment here on recent posts in the <a href="http://interverse.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000229-2.html">Join Modernist House Net</a> thread on the Dwell boards. A few points on the posts from the past day that need clarification:</p>

<ul><li>The home page of <i>LiveModern</i> tries to strike a balance between community needs and a private need (my need to promote the LV Home). If I were doing only the latter, it would look quite different. Similarly, if I were doing only the former, it would look quite different. A balance needs to be struck if we are to get both off the ground together.

Related to this, the LV Home content on the home page can be lightened a bit, but only after the search engines take note of the page. For example, the sentence "LiveModern features the LV Home, a prefab house by Rocio Romero." is there specifically to be picked up by search engines. That's just a fact of how they work. But there is also another sentence above it that describes in a new way what the network wants to do. So, this is an example where both needs get met by doing it the way that I have. I've tried to balance this in the home page, and this can be adjusted after the search engines have done their work (maybe a month or two).

<li>Rocio Romero has no control over LiveModern, only her content that appears on LiveModern. LiveModern and Rocio Romero, LLC are totally seperate companies: I only represent products that she produces. Her sponsorship of the site is not financial, but in letting me use her content in full. Whatever we decide to do with the site is for us to decide, not Rocio. She thinks the site is a great idea, as a marketplace, as this was part of the pitch I made to be her rep. But it's all my not-too-deep pockets that the hosting expenses (and site development expenses, such as registering on the search engines) are coming out of.

<li>On making community content more visible, there are several links on the home page that can lead to all sorts of community content. When you are not logged in as a member, there are forums, news and resources tabs across the top of the page, all of which lead to community resources (once developed). In the navigation box (left column), there are folders for resources and forums, leading to the same places. The news box (right column) can have community content. and, of course, the links at the bottom of the body text, which is really a case statement for affordable modernism, not the LV Home, lead to community content. Again, it tries to strike a balance. To make producer content more visible (such as Greg's and Gary's pages) the directory structure in resources is designed to help members find those resources. The directories are not done: it is a proposed structure that I think will work well (especially when we have developed *searchable* directories). That makes all of those resources a maximum of two pages away from the home page (or almost any other page on the site), the mantra of good website design. And there are many more links to community resources from the home page than links to LV Home content. The last thing I'd want to see on the home page is the banner ads of every possible producer. *That's* the website I would flee from.</li></ul>

<p>Greg has the right idea: add content, follow developments, get more involved on the site. Christy also gets it: her home page list of links is being annotated, and now I'm figuring out how to make that list much more prominent on the site (like the resources page).</p>

GaryR50
GaryR50 says:
Sep 24, 2003 01:48 AM

Marshall, thanks for the clarifications as to how and in what sequence we will be balancing the content. Your need to promote the LV Home does depend upon top level search engine placement, and to that end, your approach is appropriate. Thanks, also, for clarifying Rocio's role in all this.

Once the needs of promoting the LV Home have been seen to, though, what specific measures will we take in balancing the content? My main concern is the lack of visibility of others who wish to promote their products and services. I realize, of course, that, per our earlier discussions, there is a paid level or tier of access, and that's all well and good, but could it be possible to have an intermediate level, between the free access that exists presently, and the paid sponsorship level? As to what one might receive at that intermediate level, I'm not sure, yet, nor am I sure whether it should be paid access or not, or, if paid, whether it would be at a lesser price. By the way, I don't believe I've seen anything, yet on pricing for full access. Has anything been worked out, yet, or does that need to follow from building site circulation, so that the rates can be appropriately set in relationship to the amount of traffic the site gets?

Gary

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 24, 2003 04:40 AM

Gary, in the meantime you should post a news items about your plans. Try to have at least one item in the right hand news bar at all times, until the flow of news moves so fast that this forces you to renew before you have news.

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 24, 2003 05:55 AM

Gary,

The primary means of balancing the content now is to add more content. Most of the LV Home content is done (although I hope the forum content will grow significantly in the next few months). Photographs and drawings will change in October, but that's about it. So, any other content that is added, from any other producer, will balance the site content overall.

Visibiity for other producers is built-in, at a certain *free* but minimal level, but only if they are listed. That visibility can then be as deep as possible. Each producer with an account can develop their own content in their home folder as deep as they want it to be. It's just an extra click to get to it.

As far as intermediate or full content levels, I have some ideas (the full range is what you see for the LV Home, and much of that functionality is determined by the website software LiveModern uses because it's relatively inexpensive and easy to implement), but they are meaningless without site visitors. No one will buy the services without lots of site visitors. So I think the emphasis now should be on promotion (thanks for your ideas, it deserves it's own thread) and on getting producers listed in the free directories. But I think it's also safe to say that when there is enough traffic, those producers that want to pay for better visibility than a free listing gets them will have that opportunity. That's a ways off though. Because LV Home sales will be paying the bills in the near-term, the LV Home gets that visibility first. With enough site traffic, that could change.

In the meantime, I'm certainly open to ideas about how to make producers (or consumers) that are actively building the community have more visibility in the community. For example, on the "Open House" page, you could sign it, with a link to your LiveModern home page. Or as an other example, Christy's modern links are a great community resource that should be promoted. I want to figure out a rational way of doing that (hopefully this week, now that they are all annotated).

Also, note that everthing that is done to promote the LV Home through this site also benefits the community, including you, at no cost to you (it's my cost). You acknowledge the need to promote the LV Home, but not that you are also benefiting from that because the community's content is associated on the same site. The sooner there is more content on the site, the sooner that content benefits from that association.

Marshall

GaryR50
GaryR50 says:
Sep 23, 2003 03:59 PM

Marshall, I was thinking we could contact the various architects and designers who participated in the Seattle Case Study Homes book. Their email addresses are listed in the back of the book. This would certainly get a few more producers interested. As for offline promotion, flyers or cards can be left at local dealers of modern furniture (I've used this technique to promote my own business, lately). The worst that can happen is they say no. People who buy modern furniture are prime prospects, as they are most likely to desire a modern house, as well. One of us could design a simple business card or post card with the Live Modern logo and the URL, etc. The file could then be distributed to each of us via email, for printing on our own desktop printers, saving time and money. I printed my own business cards in this way, on heavy card stock, and they are indistinguishable from professional printing.

Anyone who wants to can create and distribute flyers, postcards, etc. to likely prospects. It's your community, folks, and if you want it to grow and succeed, make a commitment to it. You can at least send out emails, which costs you nothing.

Gary

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 24, 2003 04:40 AM

Gary,

In response to your query on the Dwell board to edit site content, specifically your entry in the stock plan directory page, for now, I'll have to edit that content (see below for why, the short answer is that if I gave you editing control, then everyone else would have that control as well), which I am happy to do.

But let's first think about the Stock Plan directory page as a whole, from the point of view of customers, and for all stock planners. In essence, I think it should be up to stock planners about how they want to represent themselves. I can offer some suggestions (the page as it is is only a first draft for comment) but you all should decide.

For example, it might be better to have your company listed on this directory page, instead of your product(s), with a link from your directory entry on this page to your LiveModern home page (which in effect replaces the current product profile page, the current link). Then you can edit your home page however and whenever you like, as it will likely need to change much more rapidly than a company profile, to list your products, announce new products, whatever.

Also, if you include the name of the company in your directory entry, and any popular products, then both the directory entry and your home page will show up when someone searches for any of them (just as your content does now).

There could be five items in your directory entry:

1. a graphic (if you have a standard 1/4 banner ad, that would be great).

2. a link address (this could go to your LiveModern homepage, could be attached to graphic and to the "Details" link).

3. a title, usually your company name.

4. a short description, 25 words or less (approximately). The need to keep it short is so that it will be read by the customer and so that many companies can be listed on a single page.

5. a link to your email address.

Normally, I would recommend that we put all of this in a database, that could be edited by you (your entry only, when you are logged into your account). And someday we'll have to do that. But that's going to take some programing that I do not have the expertise to do. So it will cost money. I'm not averse to spending it, but I'd also like to have a good idea on how to proceed with a programmer (functional and technical specs), and the design that we all come up with will inform that specification. For now it's hand coding a production prototype.

Anyway, that's what I would recommend. But it's up to you all. How do you want to represent stock planners?

As you can probably tell, I think in systemic solutions, not one-off solutions. I hate doing things over and over again, just because I did not do some planning or thinking about the long-term effect of decisions made now. So the recommendations I make are with that in mind, so that solutions are extensible to lots of stock planners, to use just this example. And I really want the information flow for the consumer to be as easy as possible, and remain that way despite how many producers are represented.

I also recommend that the site should adopt a policy that a free listing in any directory is dependent on the company listed in the directory establishing within a month or so a reciprocal link from their site to our home page. This is absolutely the best way for LiveModern to be visible on the net, to the benefit of everybody on the site, and it is especially critical to get good placement on search engines. If this is agreeable as a site policy, then we'd need to develop a small graphic (1/4 banner) and some code to make it easy for webmasters on other sites add a link.

Marshall

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 24, 2003 04:52 AM

Marshall, I think the approach you have outlined is a good one. I think the Stock Plans directory should be a list of producers and not a sample of designs as it is now.

If Gary is agreeable to that then give us parameters for the graphic and we can implement it.

As far as link backs. I have not established a link page on my site yet but I plan to. I only intended to do a list of text links with descriptions and I am not sure how I feel about banner ads. I could certainly put a banner style graphic on my link page if you wish but I don't want to display banner ads on the pages of my site. I don't think that is what you had in mind.

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 24, 2003 05:00 AM

Greg,

Yes, I guess I should have been more careful in describing what I had in mind. I am just thinking of a small button, but using a standard web graphic size like a 1/4 banner ad (I forget the pixel size). Just some graphic identifier that over time people will positively recognize, assuming that it's in a bunch of different places, and clicking on it leads you all you've ever wanted!

Marshall

Senninha
Senninha says:
Sep 24, 2003 07:00 AM

It may behoove you to pick one of the standard internet ad sizes from the IAB:

http://www.iab.net/standards/adunits.asp

There is a lot of different sizes available and by standardizing you will be able to provide apples-to-apples metrics to future advertisers.

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 24, 2003 07:40 AM

Thanks, Sennina. I'm all for standards.

I think a 120 x 60 pixel button/image (Button 2 in IMU parlance) would be sufficient. No larger than 16k (and no animation). Being the smallest, I think it has a larger chance of actually being placed than others (screen real estate being the scarcest resource).

Does that work for others?

Marshall

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 24, 2003 07:42 AM

I just wanted to make it clear that the button I am talking about is a LiveModern button that could be placed on other sites pointing back to http://livemodern.com. Sorry if that was not clear before.

Marshall

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 24, 2003 10:33 AM

Oh, I did not see this before my other post. This works, its small but what the heck.

Greg

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 24, 2003 07:13 AM

Marshall, I am thinking I would host a graphic for the directory on my own web space and just provide an external url to you, this way I can update the graphic without having to trouble you to revise the directory.

As far as the size, just pick just pick a standard that works best for the layout of the directory page.

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 24, 2003 07:45 AM

Either way. I think it makes no difference to the site. As long as there is a reciprocal button/link.

Marshall

GaryR50
GaryR50 says:
Sep 24, 2003 05:06 AM

Yes, I agree with Greg; this would work fine, and is really more what I had in mind. Just let us know what size the graphic should be, etc. I do have a links page, now, so providing a link to LiveModern is fine with me; I had intended to do so, anyway, as soon as it went online officially. Just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Gary

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 24, 2003 07:51 AM

...to revise the Stock Plans page. If each of you can provide the 5 items that would comprise your directory entry, then I will take care of the coding. It's pretty simple.

As far as graphic size, we should standardize on a size (so that no one has an unfairly LARGE representation), but what is that size? A button for promiting a website is different from an image for representing a design. It could be the same size (we might standardize on 120 x 60, no animation, 16k size limit, see other thread), but it could also be something more appropriate for your needs. Suggestions?

Marshall

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 24, 2003 10:29 AM

How about something that approximates the size of a business card ad like you see in the back of a magazine. Or perhaps half that since we don't need to get any text on it because the listing covers the text. Is there a standard size that is close to that, a rectangle?

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 26, 2003 10:22 AM

Gary, Gregg and I worked on the Stock Plan page, and it's done. See the <a href="http://livemodern.com/resources/directories/stockplans/">page</a>. We're now conducting ourtreach to other stock planners to populate it. This is a simple example of how working together gets to solutions faster.

Thanks Greg and Gary for the input.

Marshall

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 26, 2003 04:45 PM

It looks good Marshall. It seems like the PreFab page needs the same treatment. It has samples of houses rather than a listing of manufacturers. What are you thinking of doing in this directory?

Rous
Rous says:
Sep 27, 2003 10:27 AM

When I click on "details" for Greg's entry on the stock plan page, the graphic (I am sure it has a name, but I don't knwo what it is" is way to wide and I have to scroll left and right to see it all. I am using Explorer. Gary's page does not have the same problem.

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 27, 2003 11:20 AM

Rous, sorry about that. I have attempted to put a facsimile of my web site's home page into the frame at LiveModern, and it is too wide. It is as wide as a whole web page in itself and it must be crowding the LiveModern columns out of the side of your screen.

I hope this is not a problem for others. I have a 1024x768 screen on my laptop which is small these days. When I bring up my home page it does push the right column of news off the side of the screen, but I can see all of my content without scrolling right.

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 29, 2003 02:55 AM

Greg,

The prefab directory could get the same kind of treatment. I'd want to work with some of those being represented to make the final determination. But I think the number of models for each producer will be relatively few, so it might make more sense to show the products.

In the meantime, Christy has volunteered to augment the current list, at least with producers serving the North American market.

Marshall

Gilbert
Gilbert says:
Sep 25, 2003 08:11 AM

"The home page of LiveModern tries to strike a balance between community needs and a private need (my need to promote the LV Home)." -- Marshall Meyer

Really? I'm a member of "the community" and I disagree. As I've mentioned in the original thread over on dwell, the layout of this site DOES NOT work for me. To re-iterate my observations:

If someone comes to this site through a search engine or other means, (e.g., he/she was not a part of the original thread which led to the development of this network), his/her first impression is that it's a commercial site devoted to the LV Home. I asked several colleages and friends to link to http://livemodern.com and report back to me on what the site was all about. They ALL responded that its a site for LV prefab homes. None of them got the idea that it's a network of folks interested in modernist homes in general and that there was other commercial content available as well as general discussions on modern/modernism buildings, designs, building, living.

Thus, I come back to my original point: If I'm looking specifically for the LV Home or pre-fab home information and happend upon this site, I'll stay to look around.

If I'm looking for other modernist home topics, other designs, builders, an architect or developer or anything BEYOND the LV Home or pre-fab homes, I'm probably not going to invest the time and energy to dig deeper.

My very first reaction still stands.... It's a site for the LV Home and since I'm not interested in the LV Home it doesn't apply to me. I'll move on to the next thing that came up on my search engine. I'll never find any of the other commercial content because it's buried so deeply and I have to JOIN to see any of IT.

My earlier comment was: move the mission statement which is currently buried deep in marshall's member folder to the front page. Show a couple of other modernist home structures on the front page. Have links or banners to other parts of the site dealing with other commercial interests and such -- which DO NOT require membership, AND PEOPLE WILL STICK AROUND LONGER. They may even join.... They may even find your (meaning everyone else except Marshall) content.

My last .02 cents on this topic.

I'll check back in a few days.... But, I suspect that my comments will fall on deaf ears and this site will still look like a place for LV homes and pre-fab homes rather than a network of people interested in modernist homes. At that point, I won't see any reason for continuing as a member. I found the dwell threads much more interesting and informative -- more of a communitiy where you could set up meetings locally, where like-minded people might even get together and pool their resources to build their own moderninst development.

Gilbert
pgg9350@comcast.net

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 25, 2003 04:10 PM

I think Gilbert is right in his first impressions. The first thing to greet you is not a general statement as you would expect from a network. I think it will be a problem if most people feel like Gilbert.

I find that I can access almost all the content on the site without logging in - in fact thats what I have been doing so far, and in fact its only when I got to post here I realize that I need to log in.

I think the conversations at Dwell are interesting, and I hope they continue to be. Its a reflection on the great topics raised in the magazine. All the same Dwell does not have the ability to create the resources we want to make out of a place like this. Discussions are just part of the equation.

Perhaps Marshalls interests are irreconcileible with the spirit of the community, perhaps not. I don't know, and I think it does not matter because this is free and here now it is the best opportunity to get this started whether it stays here or moves on in the long run. We started this effort at Dwell knowing it could not live there. I don't see why we can't take it a bit further here even if we discover it can't stay here either.

So in the meantime Marshall has stated that he is open to letting us shape it, within the limits he must control, but by all means make your request. State what you think must happen to resolve your apprehension, and we will see how much Marshall can give. The more we take hold here the more sway we will hold - if we are here in numbers Marshall won't want us to leave for greener pastures.

How can we make an impression of the community we are trying to build on the first page while having Marshall eat his cake too? We should see the Open House invite on the first page, or at least linked from a dominant headline, no?

Marshall
Marshall says:
Sep 26, 2003 06:04 AM

Gilbert,

While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, it would get more respect if it were based in fact.

* All content on LiveModern is accessible without joining except the member directory and the advanced search function. You only have to be a member to add content or use these funcitons. Also note that when you login, the page you are directed to does not mention the LV Home at all. Why would I do that if the the site is only devoted to the LV Home? I can certainly see where a link to the Open House page here would be useful here.

* The "open house" page is stored in my folder, but it can easily be moved (I'd have to change just a few links). I'm not sure what difference it make, practically, since it does not really matter where it is "burried" since almost no one is going to type in the URL. Nevertheless, it can have the url of http://livemodern.com/openhouse.

* If all your focus group was asked to comment on was the first page, then it was a self-fullfilling prophecy to come up with their conclusion. Given your generally negative attitude about the site, I doubt that you encouraged them to explore this thread, or specifically to help think about ways to solve both problems at once.

* There are lots of links on the home page that take you to non-LV Home/"other commercial interest" content. The fact that you have not found them is a problem (or another self-fulfilling prophecy). But the problem is *not* the fact that you cannot reach content from other commercial interests from the home page.

As far as the home page, I wouldn't recommend making it the "open house" page even if there were no dual function to the site. It's simply too much text. Instead, I can envision a page that has more prominent links to the open house page and the resources/news/forms links, where all the "other commercial interest" content is.

Finally, your position is explicit that the content of the home page is written in stone to address only my need. I've consistently said differently on this thread. What concrete and workable suggestions do you have that might address both needs? I'm open to engaging you in dialog, not diatribe. As I've clearly indicated in this thread, change is possible, but I've not heard anything from you that would indicated any compromise is possible. If that's your intent, then voting with your feet is fine. We'll continue to see each other on the Dwell boards which will continue to serve its useful purpose.

Marshall

Gilbert
Gilbert says:
Sep 26, 2003 11:45 AM

Marshall:

My responses to your most recent comments:

>> All content on LiveModern is accessible without joining except the member directory and the advanced search function.

It might be accessible, but it is very difficult to navigate and find content IF YOU ARE JUST BROWSING – not looking for very specific content or following a link from somewhere or someone else.

>> You only have to be a member to add content or use these funcitons. Also note that when you login, the page you are directed to does not mention the LV Home at all.

My point exactly. Why do I have to login to get to the heart of the non-LV specific list of content?

>>I can certainly see where a link to the Open House page here would be useful here. The "open house" page is stored in my folder, but it can easily be moved (I'd have to change just a few links). I'm not sure what difference it make, practically, since it does not really matter where it is "buried" since almost no one is going to type in the URL. Nevertheless, it can have the url of http://livemodern.com/openhouse.

Excellent idea! How about putting that link RIGHT UP FRONT ON THE HOME PAGE??? See below…

>> If all your focus group was asked to comment on was the first page, then it was a self-fullfilling prophecy to come up with their conclusion. Given your generally negative attitude about the site, I doubt that you encouraged them to explore this thread, or specifically to help think about ways to solve both problems at once.

I told several (eight to be exact) of my friends and colleagues that I’m interested in modernist living, art, housing, design and construction with and emphasis on affordability, sound construction, and energy efficiency. I told them that I was a member of a loosely knit group of like-minded folks who had teamed up on a forum to create a new web-site. I also told them that our intent was both community and commercial with the idea of linking a wide variety of people together who could advance the concepts which I outlined above. I then asked them to look at “our” website and let me know if what they thought. Here are some of their replies:

“I didn’t know you and K(…) were into pre-fab houses. I though you were planning on designing / building your own home using regular building materials and methods. You had mentioned a very modern though adobe like building.”

“I’m a little confused about this… Is K(….) designing pre-fab houses now?”

“I couldn’t find the ‘Open-house’ you told me about. Did you give me the right website (livemodern.com)?”

I encouraged a couple of people to look further -- NOT ONE FOUND THE OPEN HOUSE! Several gave up as soon as they saw the first page. I encouraged a couple of other to look further and asked them to find two other buliding designs or sites by architects on the web-site (since I knew there were others). One found the porch house. No one found the MHD page….

>> Finally, your position is explicit that the content of the home page is written in stone to address only my need. I've consistently said differently on this thread.

Why not change it then?

>> What concrete and workable suggestions do you have that might address both needs? Then why not change it?

I’ve made suggestions in my other comments here and on the dwell forum. But if you want concrete, here you go (text only). I would add other pictures besides the LV Home (how about the Porch House and one of Gary's MHD design?)


Making Modernism Affordable
LiveModern is building the online communities of interest—and the "on land" communities of place—for affordable modernist housing. This is an open community for consumers, architects, builders, developers, lenders and anyone else in modernist living, design, and building. Please visit our “Open House” discussion at http://www.LiveModern.com/openhouse.

Many members of LiveModern have commercial content on this site. Please feel free to browse our members’ pages.

Please join in our discussions in the forums. We have many forums ranging from general discussion to very specific information on topics such as design, how to finance a modern home, furniture, finding land, energy issues and many more….

Explore the website, and then become a member of the LiveModern community. Like a modernist home, LiveModern is a simple, free and open place. Once you join, you'll have access to more content personalized for you, and be able to add your own. And tell your friends and neighbors about LiveModern.

LiveModern features many types of modern housing including the LV Home, a pre-fab home by Rocio Romero. This is a prefab house, and because it is built using the most modern methods, construction costs are kept quite low. In fact, this high-quality modernist house costs only about $70 per square foot to build. Compare that to the US average of $90 per square foot to construct a traditional new house. Now you can get what you really want: a simple and open living space with an elegant modern design—all at an affordable price!





Gilbert

Gilbert
Gilbert says:
Sep 26, 2003 11:48 AM

BTW everyone...
I'm not sure why my replies end up with these funky text formats. I've certainly not done anything (knowingly) to do this...

PG Gilbert

lavardera
lavardera says:
Sep 26, 2003 12:46 PM

I do like Gilberts description of a front page, although I think it could be weighted evenly. I don't think the answer is to put the LV home at the bottom of an introduction right in the flow of the text. Don't you think a page could be graphically formatted to highlight these two ideas - A front door to the Community, And the promotion of the LV home. Two headlines. The LV home can make clear in big words that it is the primary site sponsor.

I'm less concerned then Gilbert about getting images of other products up there on the first page, and in fact I think that it is approprtiate and reasonable for the LV house to be alone as a visual on that first page. However I do think that the site could benfit from some other kind of image that would suggest modern housing - perhaps the black background in the head piece could give way to a subdued photo of a house, perhaps an abstract close up of the side of the LV house showing window frames and corrugated siding. I think that would reinforce the impression to visitors that they have arrived at the right place.

As far as getting around on the site, my experience has been contrary to what Gilbert says, and what Marshall says too. I find the entire site is accessible without logging in. I have used the search function without logging in, and even areas that appear to be blocked can be acessed by the alternative means of navigating. The only thing I have not been able to do is post.

Can an alternate layout for a front page be created and posted as a document that we can comment on? I don't know if Gilbert feels comfortable enough with HTML or the formatted text tools on the site to block one out, but I think he should give it a try. If Marshall is willing to do the same we could look at the two visions and see how they look and continue this civil discussion.

pbreit
pbreit says:
Nov 07, 2003 03:15 PM

A terrific site with similar objectives that might provide a good model for this site is Sitepoint. It has a section of content

pbreit
pbreit says:
Nov 07, 2003 03:17 PM

I had a tough time with the site and the mission. Perhaps everything could be simplified a bit. The "plone" content mgmt system seems a bit over-kill and doesn't lend it self to good organization. A well-executed site that I think might be a good model for this one is sitepoint.com. Similarly, it has three main sections: content, sales and forums. And it uses one of the good forum spftware, vbulletin, that I think is easier to use and leads to higher quality discussion than the current LW forums which seem to kill off discussions.

Marshall
Marshall says:
Nov 07, 2003 04:09 PM

pbreit,

Thanks for your comments on our site. The mission is very critical to what solutions are adopted here. If there is a direct relationship between what the mission proposes and the solution provides, then the solution is a good one. One foot before the other. (BTW, Plone is to FrontPage as E.B. White's "Elements of Style" is to an IBM Selectric.)

If you'd like to become involved in defining what the solution is, please tell me what the functionality is that you seek that supports the mission. I am up to my ears on potential solutions, they're a dime a dozen. But without a user requirement, and specifically one that supports an already agreed-upon mission, phpbb, vbulletin, whatever are all just tools that can be applied, but to what end? They all do a lot of the same thing, and more (bloatware) that we probably don't need.

For example, do either of them have built-in spatial referencing, i.e., relating discussions by geographic preferences that users control? I know our solution now does not, but I'm not about to move to another solution if it does not include this functionality, which my users have clearly indicated as a priority. And if it's not in any off-the-shelf solution (it's not, I've done the research), then the platform I have to look at next has to be able to accommodate that functionality. A commerical solution is not likely to do that until there is enough customer demand. It's much easier to use an open source solution because free code is also liberated. I'd rather hire a program to create a solution that we really can use rather than hack a commercial package at much greater expense. (Remember, sitepoint, as great a site as it is, is developed by developers for developers. I actually want to focus on modern housing as my passion.)

Again, what specific functionality do you want, that supports the mission? I'm looking for users to help define requirements that lead to solutions that advance the mission. Once that's done, we can start looking at solutions.

Marshall

Marshall
Marshall says:
Nov 10, 2003 02:06 AM

I've found a tool that might be a good replacement for Plone's default forum tool. It's called CMFBoard, and is designed to not only look and act like a more traditional web board, but also look like it's part of a Plone site as well as use its authentication scheme (you don't have to maintain two different accounts).

Check it out at <a href="http://www.cmfboard.org/forums">http://www.cmfboard.org/forums</a>.

You need to register (free, just like here) to get the full effect. I encourage you to do so, and to tell me what you like and don't like about this product. Also, let me know what is not in it that you would like to see. (It does not have geo-referencing of discussions, but it is open source so we probably can add it without too much expense).

Marshall

BTW, When you register, set your "look" in preferences to be "mozilla" and you will see how this solution might look on LiveModern.

lavardera
lavardera says:
Nov 10, 2003 02:31 AM

This looks very good Marshall. Two comments. At the second level - meaning after you have clicked into a forum and are presented with a list of threads, the column on the far right says who made the last post - it would be nice if you could have a link there to take you directly to the newest message. Within the threads I saw that it will put a persons picture on the left margin with their name - our pictures here are quite large. I don't know if it can automatically sample them down to a smaller photo, but it would be good if it could - the large images can squander a bit of screen space. I did not see an example of a multipage thread - I would be curious how it handled that so the thread pages did not get too long.

Marshall
Marshall says:
Nov 10, 2003 03:14 AM

Thanks, Greg, for taking a look. I'll pass these along to the team that is doing the work on this product.

Actually, this is exactly the right time to be making these suggestions. they are in version 1.2 of the product, and are *extremely* responsive to user input. So, if anyone has any additional comments, bring 'em on!

MArshall

Marshall
Marshall says:
Nov 12, 2003 07:10 AM

The guy behind CMFboard, the tool that we could use for LiveModern discussions, has accepted and implemented just about every suggestion I've made, including ones submitted by you all. If you have not done so yet, go to <a href="http://www.cmfboard.org/forums">http://www.cmfboard.org/forums</a>, and register as a member (just like you did here). Then try out the tools, and let me know what you think. What do they do that you like, don't like? What don't they do that you want them to?

Nikolay is the programmer, working by himself from Kazakstan (Central Asia), so getting used to the time zone difference is fun. But he's very responsive, and does great work. So let me know ASAP what you want him to do for us.

Marshall

pbreit
pbreit says:
Nov 10, 2003 10:01 AM

Yeah, that forum software seems better...more similar to commonly used forum software like vbulletin and phpbb.

admin
admin says:
Nov 10, 2003 11:22 AM

There are a few Plone tools out there that approximate the user interface of the forum "standards", such as ubb (Dwell uses), phpBB (fabprefab uses), jive forums (the cream of the crop, Fortune 500 users, and very expensive) and vBulletin ( a good, but proprietary, tool).

Only phpBB is open source (I think, at least it's free), a definite pre-requisite for further development of the tools we need. The problem with phpBB is that it is only a discussion tool (not integrated with a CMS, content management system, like Plone) and it is hard to make look and act like the user interface that you have already adopted (in any other CMS). Many web developers take the opposite approach that we have: they make their site look and act like phpBB (i.e., function follows form, i.e., does not work).

CMFBoard is the closest I have found, that works with Plone, to the standard functionality offered by the others.

I'm still very much interested in user requirements, because not every tool does everything we need, even CMFBoard. So, if you have any thoughts about what CMFBoard does or does not do well, or at all, let me know. We have good access to the developer to get your functionality, but we need to know what you want ASAP.

Marshall

lavardera
lavardera says:
Nov 10, 2003 01:48 PM

I did not see a link to sort the new posts since your last visit. This is a common function for the other message board software and its really useful when you want to check whats gone on since your last visit. In the best scenario it would be a the top of the message board listing.

 
 
 
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