Posted on20 February 2012 11:27 AM GMT

Affino Focus - Less is More

Affino
On the Left you can see the new System Settings which replaces the Site Settings on the right.

Affino as a platform has been growing for the past 15 years, and although we’ve removed a couple of outlying elements such as the Food management system, on the whole we’ve just been adding layers of new functionality.

 

For the first time we’re doing a major re-focusing of Affino. The big goals we have for 2012 mean that we need great focus to achieve them. Some elements such as migrating from Flash to HTML / CSS means that we have to identify which Flash components we’re going to remove and which we’ll be upgrading. Other elements have been superseded such as the TV elements which are now mostly replaced by video on demand, these should simply be removed.


We’ve also identified functional elements throughout Affino which whilst they were beneficial in certain contexts were causing issues for the majority of users, many of these have now been removed.

The final category is functionality which is simply not being used by Affino sites, and so it makes no sense to develop it further. We’re going to be upgrading every single management interface over the course of the year to make each one more dynamic and touch-friendly, there’s no point in doing so for these underused elements, so they’re being removed.

 

The big wins from removing all the redundant and marginal functionality are that Affino is now even faster, more usable and easier to learn. It also means that we can have a greater focus on the elements that Affino users use day in and day out.

 

The Kill List

 

To address these legacy issues and speed up the development of Affino moving forward we’ve drawn up the Kill List. The following have all been removed from Affino in the upcoming release:

A to Z

 

The A to Z presented all the content indexed on the site in an A to Z directory and was part of a great Taxonomy project we developed for West Lancs County Council. At the time it was the most advanced local government system in the UK. We’ve removed the legacy Taxonomy management which means that the A to Z has to be removed. Since we no longer focus on government sites, this was not being used by any Affino site in any case.

 

Affiliate Commerce

 

Affiliate Commerce was originally developed for the BBC / UKTV and was a great method for presenting affiliate promotions alongside content. We developed it originally for UKTV Food and presented direct ecommerce links to Oddbins, B & Q, Amazon and many more. It just hasn’t been used much by anyone else.

 

It is possible to replicate much of this using a combination of content imports, Topics and content highlights.

 

Affiliate Stores

 

Affiliate Stores was the means of embedding stores in 3rd party sites. This was never very satisfying and only worked in iframes which have been phased out in HTML5. We see the future for syndicating stores through Webservice Integration and the upcoming JSON API.

 

Browse Settings

 

Browse settings allowed configuration of the paging bars. It had limited utility as it was only set once on the whole Affino instance (no Zone granularity). It’s becoming redundant as we migrate to dynamic lists without paging.

 

Campaign Analysis Settings

 

This was a single setting profile, the setting has simply been moved to Log Settings.

 

Cloud Profile

 

Originally we had a plan to roll out tag Clouds throughout Affino. The fashion passed, and instead Tag Clouds have been rolled out into Blog and Article Highlights. The Profile was not being used and was effectively redundant.

 

Commissions

 

We were going to roll out Commissions on an ecommerce project, but then the funding didn’t happen and the functionality was left incomplete. Since then there has been no demand.

 

Contact Settings

 

Profile removed and the setting moved to User Profile.

 

Design Elements

 

We have rationalised many of the Design Elements and removed a number of little used highlights elements as well as all the now-redundant elements. Many of the remaining elements have been renamed to make them more obvious.

 

eServices / eService Workflows

 

eServices were advanced service workflows originally developed for a client which was bought by UBM, they were further developed for RARIK (The Iceland State Electricity Company). The eServices functionality was never ideal and required a major reworking to be scalable. When coupled with a complete lack of demand for this functionality and it was an easy decision to remove.

 

Flash Feature Scroller DE

 

We’re removing or replacing all Flash elements this year, we already have the new HTML-based Feature Scroller DE in place.

 

Forum List Serve

 

The Forum List Serve was great when it worked, unfortunately it was never reliable as it relied on emails being reliable, which they aren’t. This was a tough decision to remove, but this will be replaced by the mobile API / web in the future in any case.

 

Image Settings

 

This was a low-level server setting and is now simply a config file setting. It didn’t make any sense to have it as a user-based setting.

 

Main Menus

 

We had three Menu variations: CSS, Flash and Classic Main Menus. The Flash menus are little used and being phased out, the Classic menus have been 100% replaced by the far superior CSS menus.

 

Media Photo Key

 

This was developed for professional librarians at RARIK, unfortunately was never used. It’s great to remove it so we no longer have to explain it to anyone.

 

Mobile v1

 

The remaining elements of the original mobile web app are all being removed. The client was a super-light weight web client showcasing the latest news and site content. It is being replaced by the complete Mobile v2 platform and the Mobile API for Apps.

 

My Control Settings

 

The Affino Control Centre used to be skinnable, we used to have WYSIWYG options, and much more. All redundant now so no need for these any more.

 

My Store

 

We developed the My Store concept for a government empowerment project for Sheffield Independent Film. It would have been a great platform if it had been used, but the funding went sideways. We’ve replaced much of the functionality with the more powerful Store Management.

 

Newsletter Subscriber Export

 

It made little sense to keep this since we can now manage Newsletter Subscribers through the main User Management. Incorporated in User Export.

 

Security Rights (selected)

 

A review of the Security Rights and how they are being used showed that many were in practice redundant. Most sites have either just one or an integrated group working on community management. This and similar observations have allowed us to remove dozes of rights which had little real-world application. We have consolidated a number of rights into others, and renamed yet more to make this a complete overhaul of the security classifications.

 

Security Settings

 

This was a Control screen which was rather well hidden and didn’t fit into any of the site setup workflows. We have moved the relevant settings to Log Settings and User Profiles.

 

Showcase

 

Showcase was developed for creating Flash sites on Affino. We’re removing all Flash elements this year, and where appropriate replacing them. Showcases are not being used so are simply being removed.

 

Username

 

This is one of the most ’legacy’ of elements in Affino. Originally users had Usernames and Passwords, it quickly became apparent that users simply don’t remember their usernames. Best practice evolved to a combination of email plus password instead, which is not only more memorable but has the twin benefits of added validation and improved marketing. Removing Username was one of the biggest challenges as it affected 5,600 code templates.

 

TV

 

We have removed all the legacy broadcast TV elements and EPG (Electronic Programming Guide). This was the hardest decision we made. The original development was done for BBC / UKTV, with follows up developments for numerous companies. The reality is that online video has evolved over the years and is now all about video on demand (VOD). It means that much as we’re going to miss the TV functionality, our attention is on the upcoming HTML5 video on demand platform.

 

Weekly Planner

 

The Weekly Planner was a great way to randomise the content presentation on the site by surfacing content form the broader content catalogue. It was originally developed for UKTV Style and worked brilliantly. In practice content is now surfaced differently and our content highlights elements for recommendations, top reads, topical context, highlights etc. effectively replace the weekly planner. Removing it simplifies Affino’s core article listing code considerably and likewise improves the performance.

 

Future Focus

 

To see what we’ll be working on now that we’ve removed all the above see our Affino 2012 Priorities.

Markus
Posted by Markus
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