In early 2002, the RFC Editor revised their website look and feel to one that would stay essentially unchanged for the next 13 years. While the site has been very light-weight in terms of size and features, technology and user expectations have moved on and it was time for the site to change.
I began my role as RFC Series Editor in 2012. I did quite a bit of research on the RFC Editor website prior to interviewing for and accepting the position, and was surprised at the outdated look of the site. Still, there were many other priorities to take up at the time: the community was vocal about the need to change the format of RFCs, the Style Guide needed to be brought up to date, the structure of the various functions within the RFC Editor had to be cleared up, and various other projects all demanded more immediate attention. Today, we are at a point where we expect more traffic coming to our website. When the new format project is completed, more traffic will land in the RFC Editor web space as people access the new HTML and PDF formats, and to quickly get a copy of the XML of an RFC to work on their next -bis draft. We wanted the site to be stable, easy to navigate, and more attractive to the community in time for that expected traffic.
The goal of the new website isn’t just an improved user experience, though that was the primary driver. A secondary, but important, goal was to improve the manageability of the site. All previous updates to the text content–and there have been several functionality additions over the years–were often done by manually creating an HTML file and copying it into place. Scripts have been added that automatically generate content as well, but overall, the old site was, to put it bluntly, clunky. The new site, based on a WordPress platform, is going to be significantly easier to update and maintain. I am looking forward to the easier management experience.
The inspiration for the new layout started with the IRTF website. They have a very clean and well organized site. Of course, they were also daring enough to expand into using color, which is still something we are very cautious about doing. Color perception is a tricky thing, and the RFC Editor is designed to be a conservative entity. We may well add color in the future, but the changes made so far are big enough that we decided to hold off on that for now.
The vendor that took on the work was AMS, home of the IETF Secretariat and the RFC Production Center and Publisher. Most of the work required was in integrating the old scripts into the WordPress framework, and in making sure that the file system structure and associated archives were complete. It was several months worth of effort, and I am very grateful to the team for all their hard work!
If you haven’t seen the new site, please take a look! Feedback is welcome – please post it to email@example.com (I will approve your post if you are not already a subscriber). If you have a bug report, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Flanagan, RFC Series Editor