Make the Explore page more engaging
There are a number of issues with the Explore page, but I think at a fundamental level it just doesn't feel very engaging. Layout and navigation issues aside, I think a lot of this comes down to a series of issues with the page's content:
1. It feels stale
The content doesn't update frequently or predictably enough.
- The banners always show a random subset of the same 20 or so apps we have banners for (hardcoded in Software). This means after a few weeks/months there's nothing new to see there anymore.
- The "Editor's Picks" section also seems to always show a random subset of some hardcoded list that doesn't get updated over time. It seems to not include apps from the "Editor's Choice" list on Flathub, so I'm assuming this is hardcoded by Fedora? Also, quite a few of the apps featured here are not very high quality.
- The only non-stale part of the page is "Recent Releases"
2. Low-quality content
Looking at other app stores, a crucial part of making an app store feel engaging is the quality of the content. This includes content by app developers, such as app icons, screenshots, and metadata (e.g. app summaries, descriptions, etc), as well as editorial content (UI illustrations/artwork, articles about featured apps, app collections).
In this regard, we have a number of problems currently:
- Many of the apps available in both distro repos and Flathub have low-quality icons, screenshots, etc.
- Apps that do have good icons etc. are drowned out by bad ones
- We don't have any editorial content other than app banners, (many of which have low contrast or don't look great) and Editor's Picks (which seem to be a single hardcoded list)
3. Visual design
In addition to the stale and often bad content, the layout also doesn't always do a great job at presenting it:
- The content column can grow way too wide horizontally, making the layout fall apart (see GNOME/gnome-software!416 (closed))
- Single rows of apps with a title make the page feel divided too often horizontally
- Too many categories, with complicated labels and uninviting visuals
- The star ratings on app cards are very prominent, yet usually useless
1. Fixing Staleness
- All apps featured on the Explore page should be dynamic, i.e. change over time. No hardcoded lists that live in Software.
- Single source of truth for all editorial content, including banners, Editor's Choice, and more (probably Flathub)
2. Fixing Bad Content
- Don't show apps with bad content on the Explore page (including the Recent Releases list). I guess we'd have to add a metadata flag that opts apps in/out of this?
- Work with upstream app developers to ensure high quality content as part of the app submission process
- Improve banners to ensure good contrast and look great at any size
3. Fixing UI Visuals
- Use HdyColumn to keep a sane maximum width (GNOME/gnome-software!416 (closed))
- Have 2 rows of apps per group (GNOME/gnome-software#891)
- "Show more" buttons for all groups (GNOME/gnome-software#892)
- Drop star ratings from app cards
- Rethink categories (possibly have fewer top level ones, like macOS), and make the button visuals more engaging
Related to #3