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I'm interested in hearing of examples of mathematical (or, at a pinch, scientific) websites with serious content where the design of the website actually makes it easy to read and absorb the material. To be absolutely clear, the mathematical content of the website should be on the website itself and not in an electronic article (so meta-sites that make it easy to find material, like MathSciNet or the arXiv, don't count).

Edit: I'm extending this to non-internet material. I want examples where the design of the document/website/whatever actually helped when reading the material.

As a little background, I know that LaTeX is meant to help us separate content from context and concentrate on each one in turn, but I often feel when reading an article that the author has concentrated solely on the content and left all of the context to TeX. This is most obvious with websites where there are some really well-designed websites to compare with, but holds as well with articles.

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Time to close this one. –  Andrew Stacey Jun 23 '10 at 18:10
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closed as no longer relevant by Andrew Stacey, Harry Gindi, Andy Putman, Charles Siegel, François G. Dorais Jun 23 '10 at 19:12

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5 Answers

I'm not sure the previous answers really address Andrew's question, which is about design and readability, not asking which sites have useful content.

Among math blogs, I find Terry Tao's to be the most well-organized and easy to look at.

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Can you expand on what particularly (from the design point of view) makes Terry Tao's blog "easy to look at"? –  Andrew Stacey Oct 28 '09 at 18:31
    
I haven't actually thought about it consciously before, but here are some things that I think help: * Colors: high-contrast text - black (not gray) text on a white background; very little in bright colors, which are distracting; and a color for links which is good from both points of view. * Layout: ample vertical space in paragraph breaks, centered displayed equations, centered and boxed theorems. * Fonts: I'm not someone with strong feelings about fonts in general, but I think the sans-serif font for most text is good, and the serif font for the theorems gives some nice added emphasis. –  Mark Meckes Oct 28 '09 at 19:51
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The Tricki has an innovative design. The basic format is similar to Wikipedia's, in that it's a wiki that displays math as images.

However, it uses a "hiding" idea in order to provide detail at various junctures during a text. This is intended to solve a common problem in mathematics texts: what level of detail should one provide? If you provide too little, your text is unreadable; if you provide too much, it clutters the main point.

The Tricki solves this problem by having sections of the text hidden, but which can be expanded to provide more detail. Thus, you can read the text and get the point, while still being able to confirm any details along the way. This seems like a very elegant solution to me.

The overall organization of every article is nice, too: it begins with a quick description and prerequisites. It continues with general discussion littered with many examples and formatting that emphasizes the main points.

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Hi, For french speaking readers, there's an example of discussion forum using latex2html to generate a nice display of mathematical forumlas:

http://www.les-mathematiques.net/phorum/addon.php?0,module=recent_messages

It is realized using the Phorum php framework ( www.phorum.org ), and is easily customizable (the addition of a latex2html module is part of this customization).

But I don't know if something similar exists for english speaking users.

Best regards,

Eric

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I was advised of something similar to the above site but in english (this site is just beginning though...): octagon.poly.edu/phorum/index.php –  Eric Chopin Oct 31 '09 at 11:36
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The best two sites I can think of for that one are Wolfram MathWorld and Wikipedia. Mathworld has a lot of good information on just about everything in mathematics. For as much as some people hate Wikipedia I find it has some of the best information in math and "hard" sciences.

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I'm not sure that MathWorld is well-designed. A lot of their articles seem to be just collections of random facts. –  Michael Lugo Oct 28 '09 at 14:41
    
The random fact aspect may be a legacy of MathWorld's origins as Eric Weisstein's Treasure Trove of Mathematics, when the whole site was in fact a collection of random facts. There is a number of serious mathematicians who diligently contribute to Wikipedia, and it shows in many of the articles. Recently, I have been unable find a topic in which MathWorld's treatment is better than Wikipedia's. –  S. Carnahan Oct 28 '09 at 17:20
    
This isn't the sort of answer that I was looking for. I'm specifically interested in design, not content. –  Andrew Stacey Oct 28 '09 at 18:31
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I stumbled across The EPINET project site once. It doesn't appear to be updated anymore, but it does have a lot of information on hyperbolic tilings and networks.

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