[SciPy-User] Main Site Design Questions

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[SciPy-User] Main Site Design Questions

Christina Lee
As both people are realizing scipy.org needs a design overhaul and discussing doing so, I'd like to start a discussion clarifying aspects of SciPy that would drive design choices. 

These might seem like annoying and weird questions to someone used to a different type of thinking, but this is still problem-solving. The code itself gets more useful if there is a lower barrier to entry.

* How should the typical user feel about SciPy?  What gut-level impression should the website leave?  How do you feel about SciPy?
         For example: reliable, dependable, cutting-edge, fast, novel, exciting, ... These will influence aspects like colors, fonts, images, spacings, etc. 

* What is the most important thing for a user to do?
       Fairly certain the answer to this question is "Install".

* What is the most important thing for someone to learn about SciPy?
      Assume they know absolutely nothing and you have 10 seconds to catch their interest.  

* You have more than 10 seconds: Anything really cool about SciPy?  Done anything amazing with it? Any cool plots? 

* Do we have information about both the typical SciPy user, and the typical person visiting the website? If most people have barely touched Python the first time the come across SciPy.org, that changes presentation and wording.

Happy Sunday,
Christina Lee

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Re: Main Site Design Questions

ralfgommers


On Mon, May 20, 2019 at 4:13 AM Christina Lee <[hidden email]> wrote:
As both people are realizing scipy.org needs a design overhaul and discussing doing so, I'd like to start a discussion clarifying aspects of SciPy that would drive design choices. 

These might seem like annoying and weird questions to someone used to a different type of thinking, but this is still problem-solving. The code itself gets more useful if there is a lower barrier to entry.

Hi Christina, thanks for the questions - they're not weird and annoying (at least to me), I can see how answering them well can lead to a better design and information layout. You already triggered me to think about changing the scope of the site (last question).
 
* How should the typical user feel about SciPy?  What gut-level impression should the website leave?  How do you feel about SciPy?
         For example: reliable, dependable, cutting-edge, fast, novel, exciting, ... These will influence aspects like colors, fonts, images, spacings, etc. 

Reliably, dependable, fast: yes. Exciting: for parts of SciPy yes, I hope. Cutting-edge, novel: no. When new features are proposed for inclusion in SciPy, one of the things we look at is whether the feature will be widely applicable (>1 science domain) and that it's "proven" to some extent (by use, citations, etc.). If it's cutting-edge research, we encourage creating a new package for it or finding some other more suitable package.
 

* What is the most important thing for a user to do?
       Fairly certain the answer to this question is "Install".

Install, although that's a one-time (or few-times) action. Then use. Unlike NumPy, there's not a couple of key concepts to grasp. What would be good is for the user to understand what is in SciPy and how the package is laid out.


* What is the most important thing for someone to learn about SciPy?
      Assume they know absolutely nothing and you have 10 seconds to catch their interest.  

That's always hard:) I'd say that it's a "standard library" of high-quality fundamental numerical algorithms - whether they need statistics, linear algebra, special functions or optimizers, SciPy is the first thing they should look at.


* You have more than 10 seconds: Anything really cool about SciPy?  Done anything amazing with it? Any cool plots? 

The recent black hole image and the discovery of gravitational waves would be high on my list. Would be cool to get some high-impact examples from a broader range of fields, like biology, economics, engineering, etc.
 

* Do we have information about both the typical SciPy user, and the typical person visiting the website? If most people have barely touched Python the first time the come across SciPy.org, that changes presentation and wording.

I think slightly more advanced than "barely touched Python". NumPy, Jupyter and Matplotlib are probably things beginners would look at before SciPy. There's indeed still mostly scientists and engineers, and students in those fields. People who do not consider themselves programmers, and are just needing to get their task or experiment done.

Regarding the website, there's of course the complication that scipy.org is about the "SciPy ecosystem" and scipy.org/scipylib about "SciPy the library". And then there's SciPy the conference as well.

I actually think that today it would be an improvement to make the focus narrower. Disambiguate the name, point people to other places for the conference and ecosystem, and then focus on the library.

Cheers,
Ralf


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Re: Main Site Design Questions

Juan Nunez-Iglesias


On Mon, 20 May 2019, at 6:55 PM, Ralf Gommers wrote:
Regarding the website, there's of course the complication that scipy.org is about the "SciPy ecosystem" and scipy.org/scipylib about "SciPy the library". And then there's SciPy the conference as well.

I actually think that today it would be an improvement to make the focus narrower. Disambiguate the name, point people to other places for the conference and ecosystem, and then focus on the library.

On this I agree strongly: scipy.org should be about the scipy library, scipy.org/community (or similar) about the broader ecosystem. That matches the rest of the ecosystem (dask.org, scikit-image.org, numpy.org, matplotlib.org...). Anything else is confusing.

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Re: Main Site Design Questions

Thomas Kluyver-2
On Mon, 20 May 2019 at 10:21, Juan Nunez-Iglesias <[hidden email]> wrote:
On this I agree strongly: scipy.org should be about the scipy library, scipy.org/community (or similar) about the broader ecosystem. That matches the rest of the ecosystem (dask.org, scikit-image.org, numpy.org, matplotlib.org...). Anything else is confusing.

The confusion comes because the name SciPy is used for a much broader meaning, including conferences with SciPy in the name. None of the other names have this kind of broad use. I think the landing page probably needs to accommodate that somehow.

The current homepage is like it is because we pushed a few years ago to present a more unified front to the scientific Python world. This was before Anaconda took off, and Enthought's free offering at the time didn't even include pandas, so pushing the notion of a 'Scipy stack' of key packages seemed more important than it does today. My impression is that usage of 'SciPy' to refer to the ecosystem is on the decline as 'data' is more trendy. But I think you'll still have to deal with a significant fraction of people looking for 'SciPy' who are interested in the conferences or the ecosystem, not necessarily in the SciPy package itself.

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Re: Main Site Design Questions

Guillaume Gay
In reply to this post by Christina Lee

Hi,


I'll give it a shot,

Le 20/05/2019 à 04:12, Christina Lee a écrit :
As both people are realizing scipy.org needs a design overhaul and discussing doing so, I'd like to start a discussion clarifying aspects of SciPy that would drive design choices. 

These might seem like annoying and weird questions to someone used to a different type of thinking, but this is still problem-solving. The code itself gets more useful if there is a lower barrier to entry.

* How should the typical user feel about SciPy?  What gut-level impression should the website leave?  How do you feel about SciPy?
         For example: reliable, dependable, cutting-edge, fast, novel, exciting, ... These will influence aspects like colors, fonts, images, spacings, etc. 

reliable and dependable yes, I'll add rich or complete, a sense that what I would classically need for scientific computing will be provided here. Scipy is the _reference_ library. As pointing by Ralf, cutting edge no. Exciting yes, as in "Sam entering the Citadel library" exciting.


* What is the most important thing for a user to do?
       Fairly certain the answer to this question is "Install".

Find documentation (at least for me). Installing can go through other channels nowadays (anaconda in particular). I go through scipy.org to land on the docs 99 % of the time.


* What is the most important thing for someone to learn about SciPy?
      Assume they know absolutely nothing and you have 10 seconds to catch their interest.
You can do all the maths, in a coherent, integrated (& interoperable) framework
 

* You have more than 10 seconds: Anything really cool about SciPy?  Done anything amazing with it? Any cool plots?
As Ralf said, really cool physics. I saw a post about matplotlib being used in 13 % of papers on ArXiv, scipy must be used in a good fraction of those.

* Do we have information about both the typical SciPy user, and the typical person visiting the website? If most people have barely touched Python the first time the come across SciPy.org, that changes presentation and wording.

I think academy and applied research, so technical but not necessarily trained programmers.



Happy Sunday,
Christina Lee

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