I thought I'd contact you first about this, since you've been one of the quickest administrators to respond in the past, and have contacted me more often than other admins. Feel free to pass this question on or invite any of the other admins to join in this discussion. I want to clarify that the changes I am talking about below are not being forced on the community. These are recommendations based on internal research and concepts of best practices for modern wikis. Anything here is open to discussion, and I encourage any feedback/input any of you might have about this topic.
Would you and the other admins be open to the possibility of some improvements to the this wiki's top navigation? I don't want to go ahead with any changes myself, without discussing it with you and possibly other admins first. I'm not sure if you've had the opportunity to read a recent staff blog on Fandom's community central that talks about best practices for navigation bars, but we could use some of those concepts mentioned in the blog to improve this wiki's means of helping visitors navigate to the most useful topics on the wiki.
The first two drop-downs in this wiki's top navigation (Plants and Zombies) are great, since they offer logical, nested links to a variety of game topics that wiki users are likely to be looking for. However, the next two drop-downs (General and Staff) don't actually offer much benefit to the majority of users visiting the wiki, and should probably be redesigned. The reasoning behind this (as mentioned in the best practices blog), is that 99.95% of wiki visitors are readers who are looking for game information. That is the primary use of any wiki's top navigation, as determined by testing and statistical analysis performed by Fandom's user experience research team. While it certainly isn't a bad thing to have the occasional link to a wiki's policies, when there are an overabundance of separate rule, policy, staff and other non-game-content links jammed into in a wiki's top navigation, it can frustrate visitors with unhelpful and confusing options, while the pages they’re actually looking for are nowhere in sight. This design is understandable; when the top navigation is built by an administrator, they frequently pay attention to certain parts of the wiki that other users don't care about and therefore want to include that content in the top navigation. An admin views those areas they often focus on as "probably" having higher importance. However, website traffic proves this isn't actually the case for visitors (ie. an admin can put the links up there, but nearly all visitors won't bother to click on them). The wiki's analytics also do not support the idea that policy and staff links are high-traffic pages. The purpose of putting links up in the top navigation is to make it easier for users to reach the content they are looking for, but if less than 1% of visitors are actually clicking on those links, it defeats the purpose of including them.
So with all of this being said, I would like to propose some consolidation/simplification of the wiki's navigation as a way of cutting back on unnecessary content being included in the navigation bar, and also some slight re-naming to make it easier for visitors to tell where the links lead at-a-glance.
Proposed example (feel free to suggest alternative layouts):
Consolidated General and Staff into a new, shorter drop-down menu titled Wiki Topics, for a more intuitive category name.
Removed links to some pages that are actually incomplete, are unused or not actively updated
Removed unnecessary/duplicate links to certain areas of the wiki (such as recent activity) which users can already access by clicking a button from any wiki page
Removed a number of links to various admin tools which that small group of users already have access to on their admin dashboard (99.95% of users don't need links to those tools)
Consolidated all of the various rules that were listed separately in the drop-down into a single link that leads to Category:Policy. From there, users can click on the specific policy they are looking for.
Consolidated all of the individual staff entries in the list into a single link where users can go to read about all of the wiki's staff members presented in a nice format. This will also help future-proof the wiki's navigation, as it won't need to be updated every time there is a minor staff change to the wiki.
I removed any content from the menu which appeared to be aimed specifically at the small administrator/moderator group (ie Staff crash course), since no one other than a very small group of users will ever need that. Whenever someone becomes a new administrator, they could simply be provided with a link to any pages which apply specifically to them.
Anyway, that's about it for now. All of these potential changes are open to discussion of course, so I'm curious to hear what you or other admins think about this proposal. You and the others on the staff team have more experience on this wiki than myself, so there may be some aspects I have overlooked. - Sitb(Message wall / Talk page) 12:17, October 20, 2019 (UTC)
It's been about two weeks since I put forward this proposal, so I'm curious:
Have you and the other administrators had the chance to discuss any of these potential improvements yet? - Sitb(Message wall / Talk page) 13:13, November 2, 2019 (UTC)
I messaged a few of the other administrators, and the only one to reply was ThisUserLikesOreo, who appears to be alright with the proposed changes to the wiki's navigation. You never mentioned yourself how you feel about the tweaks I've proposed, so I'm curious if you would be alright with the changes. Some of the other administrators I messaged about this have been active on the wiki since I messaged them, but they didn't respond to my messages. Shall we interpret their silence as indifference? - Sitb(Message wall / Talk page) 02:33, November 28, 2019 (UTC)
I'm going to go forward with the proposed changes above, based on the feedback I've received so far, with the exception of one change.
I received a response from another one of the wiki's administrators, Drek'TharSuperSword, who expressed the opinion that the links in the "staff" dropdown hold value for this wiki, rather than directing users to an all-inclusive single spot for admin-related inquiries. I don't personally agree with that assessment, but it is important to respect the wishes of this wiki's administrative team, so I have no problem leaving that separate menu up in the top navigation. I will simply report back to my Fandom superiors that this wiki has opted out of that improvement.
You should notice a change to the wiki's top navigation shortly. 🙂 - Sitb(Message wall / Talk page) 12:16, December 1, 2019 (UTC)