New FrontPage Developer Portal ... Sort Of

During the past several months (about eighteen, to be exact!), we've been working to redesign the FrontPage Developer Portal on MSDN. If you've ever designed (or redesigned) a Web site, you understand the challenges that can arise. After several starts and stops, a great deal of research, and many discussions with stakeholders across Microsoft, I'm really excited to finally be taking the newly redesigned portal live.

This redesign encompasses some fairly large changes.

Portal Home Page

If you visited the FrontPage Developer Portal prior to our redesign, you may have used links on the portal home page to navigate through the other pages within the portal. We removed the links from the main part of the home page and inserted content from and links to other important information, such as FrontPage blogs and popular newsgroup posts.

Another major addition to the home page is the profile section. In the profile section, we'll introduce you to FrontPage product team members and MVPs. They are people who develop or support FrontPage. Some of the names may be familiar because you may have seen them in the newsgroups; others may be new to you because they generally work behind the scenes. However, all of them are important to FrontPage users as they work daily to build a better product.

Navigating the Portal

Because we removed the navigation links from the home page, you might be wondering how you can access the pages within the portal. To navigate the portal, you can use the right navigation bar. The right navigation was always there, but we’ve enhanced it to make it even more useful. It lives on each page in the portal, so you can always get to any page in the portal from any other page. This feature makes navigating the pages simple and easy.

Getting Started

The Getting Started page was one of the highest hit pages in our portal, so we redesigned it to really help you get started. It explains the three main pillars around which FrontPage 2003 was developed and provides links to help content, product information, developer articles, and other Web sites where you can find more information.

Technical Articles

The Technical Articles page previously listed all technical articles under two main headings: Web development and extending FrontPage. Now the articles are organized according to technologies, so if you want information relating to JavaScript, CSS, or VBA, you can easily find just the articles that you want without having to navigate a huge list of articles on every possible subject except the one in which you are most interested.

Information Center

In our research, we found that our customers often wanted information that didn't necessarily belong in an article. But if the information didn't belong in an article, where did it belong? Enter the Information Center. The Information Center comprises pages that explain various Web technologies that Web developers often use as well as tasks that they want to perform.

The Information Center is probably the area of the redesign about which I'm most excited. Each of the pages in the Information Center covers a major technology or a specific task. For example, if you want information on cascading style sheets, you can go to the CSS information page to find general information, a list of articles in the MSDN library, and other resources and Web sites that contain more information on CSS.

Initially, we included the Web technologies that are most common for our users: CSS, JavaScript, ASP, ASP.NET, and databases; and we included one major task: e-commerce. We plan to add additional pages in the future.

You can get to all the pages in the Information Center from the right navigation bar. In addition, there are links to many of the Information Center pages from the technical articles page.

How Can You Help?

We redesigned the FrontPage developer portal for you. We looked at which pages received the highest hits; we determined where you were going from the portal; and deduced (based on search and metrics) what information you wanted most.

You can help us by telling us how we're doing and what we can do to improve. We've added ratings to several of the portal pages to help you tell us what you think. As we receive actionable feedback, we'll make changes and continue to evolve the FrontPage developer portal.

We have one goal in mind: make the FrontPage developer portal the place you go to find information relevant to what you do—develop Web sites with FrontPage.