ChinesePod V3 Launched
We’ve been working on the new version of ChinesePod for so damn long… and it has finally launched. We are all breathing a sigh of relief.
I have to say (as an “unbiased” commentator)… the new ChinesePod is a huge improvement in a lot of ways.
One of the coolest new features is that each user has his own account and custom profile, and they can interact much more easily.
We’re still squashing bugs and updating content, but after you get used to it, this new version is much, much better than its predecessor.
Is there a way to download the audio files en masse, maybe via bittorrent or something?
So far I like it. It’s simpler, and it loads fairly quickly on my slow internet connection. Probably, the “community” integration is a good idea, and I don’t know why people are complaining that it’s “complex” in any way…. although I’m just a casual user, and I only really listen to the podcasts.
I don’t get it at all. Instead of having new lessons when I type ‘chinesepod.com’ into my server, I have to hunt through half a dozen pages.
Yes! maxiewawa said it exactly. The new interface involves way too much clicking and having to search for what you want. I wish it just opened with a list of the last 5 or 10 podcasts (which my RSS system does).
The “page of results” doesn’t display enough results, either. I’d at least like to have the option of displaying 100 per page, instead of just 10.
Is suggesting having an occasional easy Shanghainese lesson a completely ridiculous idea?
Overall, I’m excited about the new site. I especially like that 1. SIte navigation is more intuitive for new users. 2. The site is more focused and peripheral content no longer clutters its pages. 3. The photos on the comments make the comments sections much more enjoyable and easier to read.
I do, however, have the following concerns:
1. Though more intuitive for some users, the new navigations has some major frustrations: On the lesson pages, you should make the lesson levels into links to the archive pages. For example, when I’m on “Chinese Geography”, I should be able to click “Upper-Intermediate” in the left-hand corner and go to the “Upper-Intermediate” archive. Imagine, I were sent a link to the Chinese Geography page. It would take an average user a long time and great frustration to navigate back through the confusing home page to find the archives. There are numerous absent link opportunities like this I have noticed.
On a related note: “Explore” is an interesting word, but it does not tell the user where it will take him.
The awkward home page may confuse new users into believing they have to pay to hear any of the lessons beyond the one shown on the page. This page is frustrating. And, when I click to “Home” I’m brought here. Where are the links to the “Archives” and “New Lessons” from the lesson pages. Again, this frustrates users and diminishes ease of navigation.
While absense of images for the lesson titles makes the page design simpler, it also makes the design look less professional and more like a blog. I would continue to include the title images, but greatly decrease their pixel heights.
These are my immediate reactions, but I haven’t used the site extensively yet.
I second Jeff’s recommendation. It would be nice to have the old display system back, in which we could see the archives for fifty lessons of a given level at a time. It used to be that I could get all the upper intermediate ones at a glance, and all the advanced ones fit onto two pages. Now, navigation is more frustrating. With only 10 lessons on a page and no lesson numbers on them, it takes a lot more hunting to see where I last left off.
I’m not sure… we might set that up soon, after we’re 100% all the audio is perfect. (We’re still getting a report or two about “chipmunk” voices in the audio.)
It’s funny… we’re getting two very conflicting reactions:
I think the first reaction comes from users that were very used to the old navigation. Getting used to the new one will take some time. Some of us at the office didn’t like the new navigation at first, but after using it for several weeks while testing, we all started to detest the navigation of the old version.
That said, the new version will need some tweaks. It’s not perfect.
I have been very impressed with the innovative approach taken by Cpod…until now.
I guess it comes down to which type of user Cpod is aiming at.
I’m sure the new system is great for computer savvy types who design their own blogs and websites, and are used to spending hours on the computer every day anyway. They may enjoy the new features and be comfortable with the supposedly more sophistcated navigation and have the patience to spend time learning the new system.
But people like me, who just want to make use of the dialog mp3s and PDFs –without spending a lot of extra time searching through the myriad levels of the new system features– will get frustrated.
Call me stubborn, but the thing is, I don’t want or need any Study Schedules, Lesson Lists or Practice Plans, etc. I just want the audio on my mp3 player and the printed PDF in my backpack so I can go study in the coffee shop or the park. I don’t want to waste any more time than absolutely necessary in front of the computer. The old system was very fast and easy to use.
I suppose if Cpod actually had any real competitors, then making these kinds of changes would be even more surprising. However, as the only game in town, the Cpod staff apparently realize that they have the leisure and leeway to take these kinds of risks.
I like the dialog mp3s and PDFs, and I used to check every few days and download and study the new intermediate and upper-intermediate lessons.
The new PDFs are considerably less useful to me, as I am learning traditional characters. I can no longer cut and paste the text into a Word file and convert it to traditional characters. And so the dialogs are less useful than before, because I can’t read the new vocabulary.
It’s not my business, of course, but I admit that I am curious to know what methods and mechanisms the Cpod staff is using to measure public reaction to the new changes, or if they are even bothering to collect and analyse such data. Is there an easy way to know exactly how many people are actually finding their way to (and downloading) the mp3s and PDFs, for example?
Was this new system even tried out on a focus group on a trial basis?
It’s probably like going back and forth between the MacOS and Windows, the two worlds collide.
But V3 is sure not as pretty as OS-X, a bit more than tweaking will have to happen.
I think the different reactions comes from 2 different sets of users. The first set of users (who find things easier to use) are perhaps those users who see Chinesepod as the one-stop location for all their Chinese learning needs, and make extensive use of all the extra features that Chinesepod offers. For them, the website is an important tool in their Chinese learning arsenal.
The other set of users are the casual “drop by every now and then to see/download the latest podcasts” users. At least initially, these users aren’t interested in everything else Chinesepod has to offer, and come just for the podcasts, and maybe the transcripts.
The new design seems to be heavily designed around the first set of users, at the expense of the second set of users, for whom the new site is not intuitive or easy to navigate when compared to the old version.
I consider myself as a member of the second set of users, and have no real intention to ever make use of the other features of the site. My chinese learning comes from other areas, and I just like listening to the podcasts because they’re often interesting and informative.
Now, as a non-paying consumer of the podcasts, and as someone who will probably never subscribe, I can appreciate that I’m not your main target/focus and so the website is no longer designed around my needs, however I think something you should consider is that most of those that do subscribe were at one stage just casual listeners, and the new site is very unfriendly in this regard.
A quick use-case scenario to illustrate what I mean:
My typical usage of chinesepod was to visit every now and then to download any new and interesting advanced podcasts that had appeared since I last visited.
Steps involved for the old version:
*Type zh.chinesepod.com in the browser.
*Scroll down the page to see if there are any podcasts that look interesting.
*Download the ones I like.
*Maybe read some of the discussion happening about those podcasts.
All very simple and straightforward to do.
Now compare the usage scenario with the new site:
The first time I visit, the first impression I get is that if I want to get access to the podcasts I need to sign in or create an account. What gives me this impression is the big “get started” button, which seems to imply that before I can do anything I need to sign-in. Also the sample lesson right there seems to imply that I can listen to the sample here if I like, but if I want more I need to sign in.
I see the search box, but I’m not interested in searching for a particular topic, I just want to see the latest podcasts, and it’s not immediately apparent that clicking “levels” will take me to a list of all the podcasts. So, the next thing I do is click “learn more” to see if maybe there’s a way to see the podcasts without signing in. So, I’m now at “learn more” page and although I’m assured that registering is easy, I’m the kind of user that hates signing up for websites and will create a dummy account if the website forces me to, because all I want to do is have a browse around and see if the website has anything of interest to offer before deciding to commit (as an aside, feel free to delete the users abcd and abcde from the Chinesepod system, I won’t be using them anymore 🙂 ). Anyway, back to the “learn more” page. After scanning this page for a bit, there’s a tiny little link in the top corner to “explore”, ok, perhaps this is what I’m looking for, and it is, it takes me to a list of all the recent podcasts.
Granted, this situation is only going to happen once, and after exploring the entire site a bit more, I know I can now reach this page from the main page after clicking the “levels” link (this is not very intuitive though).
Even so, what used to take 1 step (typing zh.chinesepod.com into the browser), now takes 3 steps: Typing http://www.chinesepod.com, clicking levels, clicking advanced. Incidentally, performance-wise it has also gone from 1 page load to 3 page loads (also the loading time for each page – at least here in Beijing – seems far slower than it used to be).
Here is where the next difference arises. Previously, I could scroll down the page, read a brief introduction to each podcast and see a nice little picture. This would give me an indication of whether or not I’d find the podcast interesting enough to download.
Under the new system, I’ve got no indication except the title about whether or not I’ll find the podcast interesting. However the title isn’t always enough. For example, although I know the word 爵士 when I hear it, I’d never seen the 爵 character before and so I had no clue from the title as to what this podcast was going to be about (a v2 style picture and description would have immediately clued me in). The only way to find out more, is to click the link to see what it’s all about.
So what used to be a simple matter of:
*Reading the description,
*Downloading it if it was interesting.
Has now become a matter of:
*Clicking on each podcast’s link,
*Waiting for the new page to load,
*Reading the description,
*Downloading the podcast if it seems interesting,
*Clicking the back button (because there’s no other link on this screen to go back),
*Waiting for the page to load again,
*Repeating for the next podcasts.
Anyway, once again, what used to be a simple process, is now far more complicated and has the addition of two separate page loads (once to follow the link, and once to go back) for every podcast I want to look at.
Looking at this sample use case, it should be reasonably clear that for casual users, the new version is nowhere near as simple to use.
As i mentioned earlier, I realise that casual users/listeneres aren’t your main focus, however I’m sure this is how many people get their introduction to chinesepod so surely it’s still worth the effort to make this part is as simple and easy as possible. To me, it seems the cause of most complaints stems from the fact that you guys have ignored this use case (I say ignore, because I can’t see anyway that that the new design made it simpler or easier for these users).
Finally, my $0.02 on how to solve the problem 🙂
On the main page, under (or perhaps instead of) the search box, have (in much bigger letters) “Or browse by category” – and then have a separate link to each category. Preferably, zh.chinesepod.com would redirect specifically to the advanced page rather than the main page.
Then make the list of podcasts here the same/similar to the old version 2 site, with a picture, intro and download link for each one. Clicking the title of the post can then take users to discussion page for that podcast.
John, you should check out this comment on my blog. Even though I linked to Cpod in my post, this student couldn’t find the podcasts. He’s totally new to Cpod.
I’m with you Imron. I flit and flirt around so many sites that I’m not going to spend so much time in just one, even if I’m learning Chinese.
The first thing that struck me about Podcasting and CPod in particular was the simplicity; there are thousands of Chinese teaching sites out there with crappy mp3s which were ‘recorded live in 2004’ and ‘sign up here for lesson 2 onwards’. Here was a site that gave great lessons and had them easily accessible. I remember clicking on a google link and seing 10 lessons, recorded daily. Even if they weren’t all my level, I was impressed. I’d pop almost every single one onto my trusty e680i and listen through at least the first 2 minutes.
Now a new user sees a sign up page, and a single lesson when he/she types in chinesepod.com , as other users have pointed out. I don’t think they’ll be impressed, a shame as CPod is a pretty impressive accomplishment.
I’ve taken to directly loading http://chinesepod.com/learnchinese/Upper%20Intermediate/4 instead of the normal start page. This would be a fine solution, but would be better if:
1) Each page listed more lessons (not to repeat myself)
2) You could directly access the MP3s, transcripts, and discussion from the page.
3) Each lesson had a short description. Right now they say “topic” and “function” and then terms that look like meta-data. The meta-data is useful for searches but I don’t think is a very good description of each lesson.
4) The “Bookmark” button on the right seems a little goofy to me.
Anyway I don’t really care about look and feel. The new mascot looks just like the guy from my cingular cell phone bills, so what. I just wish browsing the site was faster. Honestly the best would be downloading a big file of mp3s and transcripts so I didn’t have to look at the website at all unless I had special questions. Maybe as a business Chinesepod doesn’t want these kind of users, I can understand that.
The only thing I like about the switch is that the pdfs don’t have traditional characters at the end anymore, printing out that half page bugged me. If it comes back it should be in a new pdf or at least on a new page. Also I’m glad Chinesepod doesn’t have that minute long intro with Chris Tucker anymore, man that was annoying!
The way it looks to me is that the new ChinesePod is geared towards paying customers, and that “I just want to download the newest lesson and be done with it” users are not as high a priority. I think Rian is the one doing the metrics, and this is what he had to say about it last December:
Exactly, and now they’re making people jump through more hoops to avoid signing up. People hate signing up for things, even if they’re free, and so will avoid it at all costs.
Ok Chinesepod is a business, I can understand that they want paying customers and not freeloaders, however, think of it like a Borders bookstore where you can go in, sit down, and happily read books for hours on end. The store encourages this, and even has chairs for sitting down, because by being open and inviting they’ll make more sales because they’ll have more people coming in and having a look. If you say to someone “only come in here if you’re going to buy something” then you’re going to scare a lot of potential customers away.
The impression I get is that Chinesepod has gone from the former style, to the latter style. Previously the main page was open, friendly, and inviting (and filled with stylish graphics to boot). It was saying “come in, have a browse, see if there’s anything you like, and by the way, we offer all these other services to help you learn Chinese, but you take your time, and if you want to, you can sign up”.
The new version, however seems to say “Sign up if you want anything useful. If you don’t want to sign up, go away”. Ok it doesn’t explicitly say this, but that’s the feeling I get. I understand Chinesepod owes me nothing. It’s a business, and they’re free to structure their business and offer their services as they feel fit. Anyway, that’s just my impressions, and I’d be interested in seeing a few months down the track whether the changes have had a positive or negative effect on the number of people subscribing.
Another I want to say regarding the listing of podcasts, is that how bland this listing looks (compared once again to previous version which oozed professionalism and class). I realise this has been done to increase loading speed, and while technically this might be true for this one page, in reality what has happened is that information I want to find has now been stripped away from this list and stuck behind a separate link for each podcast. The net result is that it takes me far longer to find the information I’m looking for.
Previously, the rest of the page would be loading while I was reading the intro for the top podcast, and by the time I finished reading that, the rest of the page would be loaded – meaning that I never really noticed the load time anyway. Now however, everytime I want to see what a podcast is about, I have to wait for that podcast’s page to load, when I finish reading, I have to wait for it to load back the original page, and then I have to wait again for it to load the next one, and so on and so forth. It takes much longer, and the flow of events is interrupted.
Anyway, I don’t mean to sound so negative. I think Chinesepod has done an amazing job with all the new features on offer, and I’m sure it’s going to be really valuable tool for many Chinese learners.
I didn’t mean for the start of my last comment to be so big, I just used the blockquote tag and there is no way of previewing beforehand what the result will be. Sorry.
Um, first of all I (Micah) don’t work for ChinesePod and I’m just quoting something out of context that may not even be relevant to the redesign.
Second, it’s probably more effective to leave this kind of feedback on the ChinesePod site itself. Just a hunch.
Micah, I realise you don’t work for Chinesepod, and I didn’t mean to seize upon what you quoted, unfortuately, for some reason, the section I quoted seems to have been enlarged to enormous proportions. I didn’t intend to quote like that, but for whatever reason it ended up huge, and it looks like I was really trying to emphasise this point (when all I wanted to do was just quote it).
I still think it’s a relevant quote though. I mean if the designers realised that people were going to extraordinary measures to avoid registering, it strikes me as strange that they would make this such a large part of the experience for the frontpage of the new site.
And you’re right, posting to Chinesepod itself probably would be more effective, and I’ve been doing that too.
Cpod could be doomed:
2.V3 is awkward cumbersome and has a “techy”, complexity for complexity sake feel to it (and I”me fairly savvy in these areas)
All very sad really………………………..
Wow, there are some serious overreactions going on. The new ChinesePod is way more sophisticated and opens up a slew of exciting possibilities. True, maybe we got a few things wrong, but changes will be made, and ChinesePod is only going to emerge stronger.
Frankly, I think it’s quite funny that people praised the “design” or “navigation” of the old site. People, the core of the old site was just a WordPress blog with a little make-up. Not exactly impressive or tailored to education. The new site is way more.
OK, so some content is no longer as easily accessible. We get that. Problems will be fixed, and we will move forward.
John, could you tell us about some more of these exciting possibilities? Maybe if we knew the way you use the site now, we wouldn’t miss the way we used to.
BTW, I like WordPress!
I agree: the old layout was more intuitive for the casual user. Do the mists magically clear if one completes the free registration? I know there must be good reasons for the change, so like Mark, I’m all ears. (or is it eyes?).
Not to pile on, but the new design reminds me of e-commerce sites back in 1996, where you would click around for 10 minutes and try to figure out how on God’s green earth you could actually order a product. I didn’t use the old site much (so I’m not really used to anything), but just as a casual observer, my first reaction to the new site was “Ok, how the hell do I get to the podcasts?” It looks like you are forced to sign-up for something when you don’t even know what it is (if you are a new visitor to the site). Very few people are going to start jumping through hoops as soon as they get to a new site (like filling out forms), even if you were giving away bags of gold.
John, I think the thing is, for many users, they don’t care if the site uses WordPress, as opposed to AJAX and Flash applets (and they possibly don’t even know or care about the difference). People weren’t coming to Chinesepod because of the underlying technology, and when they complain about the design, I think it refers more to the graphical design of the site and how the look and feel has lost some of it’s “uniqueness” and become corporatised. Actually anyone who has seen chinesepod’s sister site englishpod.com (now ondemand-english) would know that the chinesepod format wasn’t unique at all, and the owners were using the same format for other languages already. However the introduction of the new site along with the promotion of other language offerings, makes people think that the loss of the “chinese” feel was made in part to accommodate other languages.
As for navigation, previously, if you were only coming to the site for the podcasts + transcripts and then doing your learning offline, then there was no navigation needed. Type in the chinesepod address, and everything you needed was there. When people praise the old site’s navigation, I’m guessing most of these people were praising the complete lack of navigation needed to get what they wanted (that’s what I used to like about the old site).
With the new version, you have to navigate to find the things you want – not necessarily a bad thing, but just completely different from what some users were used to, and completely different from what their concept of chinesepod was.
Which leads in to what Prince Roy asked, I think the mists magically clear not so much after registration, but rather if you change your perception about what Chinesepod is offering.
It’s not just a producer of podcasts and transcripts, but rather is an online learning environment – the modern version of a textbook without any of the limitations imposed by a paper-bound book.
If your perception of Chinesepod is that of a production company (i.e. similar to say a tv/film production company that just produces content for you to consume), then I think you’ll find it difficult to accept the new layout as it is at the moment.
As John mentioned above, however, the new site is tailored towards education. If you change your perception and see Chinesepod as an educator, and a replacement for traditional classroom+textbook based learning, then the layout of the new site makes a lot more sense.
I don’t know anything about Chinesepod’s usage statistics, but given the all the comments on the Chinesepod site, it seems that there are/were a reasonable amount of people who saw Chinesepod only as a producer, and so there was a large disconnect when the new version was introduced
I was definately one of those who used to view chinespod like that, however after playing around with the new version for the last couple of days my ideas about what Chinesepod is, and what it offers has changed, and if nothing else, I’m at least intrigued by the possibilities it presents and implications it has for learning/education in general.
If the advanced lessons get around to having vocab definitions in Chinese, I might even be tempted to subscribe.
True, true. For me (an on-and-off basic member, currently on) there’s always a whole bunch of menu options, most of which prompt me to give them $240. Every time I try to find or do something new I have to click around for 5 minutes. I have to say it’s currently the worst designed website I’ve ever used.
The content is still good stuff though, which is the most important part.
Some of the options seem a little strange to me. Studying grammar or pronunciation off a web-site? I can’t imagine. Clicking on the links prompts the familiar request for $240…
Chinesepod has always been shitty software (please click through and read the link before you assume I’m just being insulting). I can accept that, and accept that it will get better.
The mistake I see is the general response that these complaints are getting from CPod: “you’re wrong, you’re overreacting, you’re shortsighted, this is good for you, trust us.” This is, for a company that makes “on your terms” part of their corporate mantra, a little surprising.
INNOVATING SIMPLICITY IS COMPLICATED – As an old-time, and always sitting at the bar, poster I find it fascinating that so many people that have never posted before (on Cpod) seem to now be posting about V3. This is a great moment to engage them.
I think it’s wrong to say that “Wow, there are some serious overreactions going on.” They are just honest reactions and exactly for that reason very valid for that person.
I believe that Cpod and it’s crew is trying to innovate, and their motivations are pretty pure. But let’s not forget that most revolutionary tools were masked by very simple front-ends.
How can you say that the “site was just a WordPress blog.” WordPress has probably been a HUGE factor in generating mass adoption of blogging. And the underlying code is not really THAT simple.
Think of the telephone, pick it up and phone. Nobody thinks about the telecom switches, international rate protocols, or the fascinating but complex arrangement of a speaker and microphone that can process two voices simulaneously. And of course there are the obvious examples of simplicity in email, Yahoo and Google’s sparse interface. But till this day, nobody knows Google’s algorithms.
V3 may indeed be pretty versatile, scaleable code which offers more functionality. But how has it’s interface engaged the masses?
It has caused a lot of people to “think and consider,” which means they are not “using”. Cpod should have internal metrics coming in, we posters are not necessarily a representative sample. YOU will know soon enough whether V3 increase your base. You can watch the trend lines.
You know better than us how it’s doing, you also know in your gut and based on teaching experience what works, stick with it…but don’t be afraid of V4 or disparage V2. 🙂
I definitely see the vision, but the vision focuses too much on becoming the be-all and end-all site for language learning. If CPod wants to provide that type of service, I have no problem with that, but it’s definitely not the type of service I and many others were looking for. I definitely don’t want to spend my nights glued to a computer. The problem is that CPod is now a sprawling beast of a website. The old site succeeded in providing quick summaries to new podcasts and one-click access to a blog. The new site doesn’t, and that’s causing a lot of frustration. I’m somewhat annoyed at the horrible layout, but I’m still able to access the content, just not as quickly. I’m sure there’s a way to build a website for both types of users (if V2 wasn’t already).
But the part of the vision that is really ugly to me is that the business side of things has become way too apparent. Praxis is being promoted to become a household name for language learning. The corporate cookie-cutter feel, the “A Praxis Language Company” logo at the bottom of each page, the lack of any Chinese style graphics, or anything fun like the Saturday Show, has really been my biggest turnoff of V3. Maybe mass-producing language material is the only way to make money. I’ve read that CPod is profitable, but I’ve done calculations that say it can’t be (yes I have no life). CPod was reaching cult status – I think that even a open site donation-based model would have been highly successful.
Anyways… great site/blog you have here.
It is amazing that a company whose mantra is “on your terms” will come out and say that we are overreacting.
I am relatively new user of Chinesepod and just recently signed up for an account as the transition to v3 was occuring. I was getting ready to make the leap from free to paying user, but now I am having second thoughts. Not only is the site more difficult to navigate, but it is has lost that warm feeling it had before.
I have listened to Ken talk about Chinesepod in a business sense and I see where v3 is coming from… but honestly, this is a big gamble because right now your users are mostly in the “personal improvement” category, as opposed to the “business use” or even less “academic users”.
In software and online business, barriers to entry are low to zero… My advice is to learn from Mark Zuckerburg and adapt quickly.
Todd / 夏安泰
I think any site that needs a ‘how do I use this’ tab is a mistake.
I know someone is going to counter with a “why are you posting this here, instead of at chinesepod.com?”. But the reason is not only because I can no longer figure out where or how to post this type of comment at the Cpod site, but also because I get the feeling (especially since V3) that by posting it here, it is much more likely to be actually read by someone in a position to follow up on it.
I think Cpod needs some kind of easily-acessible Chinese-English (or whatever western language) glossary to help students like me make better use of the materials offered by Cpod.
Example: Today I was listening to some of the advanced and high-intermediate mp3s. The hoists now and then paused to describe a certain word or phrase. I didn’t understand every single word of their conversation, but it sounded like, “Oh, this is a bla-bla phrase, used in this case as a bla-bla…” They were using Chinese words and phrases to describe how various phrases were being used, only I can’t understand WHAT they are explaineing. In other words, I hear these explanations being given, but I have no background reference (of terminaology) to help me understand WHAT is being explained.
What I would like to have as a reference is a glossary, in order to get more out of the spoken grammatical explanations accompanying the mp3s. As an example, I’d like to be clear on the Chinese translations for these English words, phrases, concepts:
recently-adopted transliteration of a foreign word or expression
abbreviations, as in 超級市場 –> 超市 (when a 4-word expression is shortened to a 2-word expression, using the 1st and 3rd word only, discarding the 2nd and 4th word; 1234 becomes 1?3?)
1st person/ 2nd person/ 3rd…
and of course: verb, noun, adj., adv. etc., etc.
If such a glossary exists, it would very much appreciate having a link.
I’m just a casual user of ChinesePod. It’s not my primary means of learning Chinese at all, and I haven’t visited the site for several months. I can’t actually remember what the old site looked like anymore. When I checked out the newly-redesigned site, I found that it took me only two clicks to reach the Intermediate lessons page. I think that’s pretty reasonable.
I can however, somewhat understand the complaints from other users who use the site more extensively. My suggestion: create a Firefox extension that provides a UI which is a little less friendly and more visually complex than the current home page but provides one-click access to various types of content. Or maybe just an extension that creates a little sidebar, with quick links to everything.
You could also try implementing it using Microsoft’s SilverLight (currently in alpha), then it would work in IE as well.
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