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04-05-2012, 19:01   #31
Dav
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Well, here's the real crux of the arguement - we're not entirely sure that it does work for everyone. One of the biggest issues we have is that a huge number of people say "I'd sign up only I can't figure out where anything is on your site" or "I find things on your site via Google, but don't know how to navigate around" which means that clearly our layout and organisation of things isn't working. Now, the layout is a much bigger issue and we're putting a lot of work into that at the moment in the office between our design team and the new UI/UX person we've hired (he starts in about 3 weeks).

I submit, for general review, admiration, scorn or ridicule (pick what you think fits), what I have in mind for the front page and a new menu - this of course hasn't been approved by anyone else in the office - this was just me spending 15 minutes with Balsamiq (really great little tool if you're ever in the need to do rough sketches of things). PLEASE don't take this as some sort of official plan for a re-design, this is just what I think based on some of what we've been talking about here and some of what we've kiced around in the office in order to help us develop the ideas further.



To explain what I'm thinking for the menu -

Boards.ie - replicate some of what the Beta Menu does - links to Thread/Post of the Day, FAQ, etc Doubles as a return to the home page link too.

<member page> - I'd like to change the way User CP works and make it easier to understand and so this would be the link. If you're not logged in you'll see a great big "SIGN UP" link instead.

My Forums - self explanitory, could be replaced with a "Log in" if you're not logged in - sits nicely beside the "Sign Up" if that's the case.

Talk To - this is, we hope, going to become our main source of revenue for the site. It makes a lot of sense to separate it and take it out from general discussion.

Topics - hover over and it shows our current categories - mouse down over a category and it shows maybe the top 5/10 forums and a "show all forums in this category" link.

Region - I think the Regional forums work slightly differently to "Topical" forums anyway in that you're talkinga bout a range of things local to the area, so again, it makes sense to split it out from the main "Topics"

Search - this would be a general search with "smart" features like Mr Presentable has mentioned above.

I've put a "topic cloud" under the logo - quick access to stuff that's popular for anyone who's not looking for anything in particular.

Announcements - I'm sure many of you have seen this style of box on other sites (quite a lot of Blogs have them in particular) that cycles through a list of current "whatevers" that the site wants you to see, so I like the idea of using something like that for the current Announcements we do on the front page each week.

The rest is unchanged really - the ads on the right and the listings of latest posts etc as they currently appear.

Do you think that something loosely based on this will work? I don't need to hear "you need to move that more to the left" or stuff like that, this is a quick prototype design to see if the changes to the menu and organisation of categories makes sense. Our new UI/UX person as well as the design team here in the office may just laugh when they see it and dazzle us with a far better suggestion
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04-05-2012, 20:08   #32
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Unless I'm missing something really badly here, but this suggested design seems to completely obscure the structure of the forums. A cloud will be easily swamped by flavour of the month things, meaning busy forums like soccer or AH will have a monopoly on it.

Pushing users towards the use of My Forums also seems to wall them in more, and reduce visiblity of other forums.
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04-05-2012, 22:49   #33
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Why wouldn't the Beta skin layout work?
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05-05-2012, 13:00   #34
Mr. Presentable
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spear View Post
A cloud will be easily swamped by flavour of the month things, meaning busy forums like soccer or AH will have a monopoly on it.

.
I agree with this, and suggest the cloud be randomised so the links are different every refresh and do not necessarily reflect what is popular/being viewed now.
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07-05-2012, 18:13   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spear View Post
Unless I'm missing something really badly here, but this suggested design seems to completely obscure the structure of the forums. A cloud will be easily swamped by flavour of the month things, meaning busy forums like soccer or AH will have a monopoly on it.

Pushing users towards the use of My Forums also seems to wall them in more, and reduce visiblity of other forums.
I might have a solution to this.

Have it so that every section has a place on the front page. Have the main forum then sub forum last posted in then thread title,poster,date.
E.G.
Sport....Soccer....Liverpool Megathread(5000)....ken....07/05/12
rec....After Hours....In Supermarkets(46)....filmbuffboy....7/05/12

This way every section gets a spot on the front page.

Last edited by ken; 07-05-2012 at 18:15.
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16-05-2012, 15:47   #36
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I wanted to add another little updated piece on this. Having had a chat with Paddy about Menus and so on, to illustrate a point, I made an addition to the sketch above:


I'm proposing that you need to click through to see a category (with the X most popular forums showing - the organisation of that can be looked at later if it's a runner). I've also removed Hosted and Sys for a couple of reasons. Hosted forums are either private or extremely quiet. Any that are in the hosted and active will get slotted into the main site and any that are dead will be culled. Sys will probably be trimmed too (Awards and Events, both of which I have modded for years before I became an employee here are very obviously dead) and I think it makes a lot more sense to take things like Feedback, Helpdesk, Newbies, DRP etc out of the "topics" area anyway and present them more clearly as a part of how Boards.ie operates.

The lads have actually written a very clever "smart search" which when you start typing into it displays Forums, Members and the link to bring you to search results. This is what Mr Presentable was hinting at a couple of posts above and it's quite neat and tidy I think.


There are a couple of other points to make. We're not sure that the menu should be the primary means of navigation, but more a means of discovery and that you "navigate" with My Forums/Threads. Couple that with the smart search auto populating with Forums first, this should certainly help with the navigation.

As before, I would stress that none of these ideas are concrete or set in stone, they're just my thoughts based on the many discussions we've had here in the office and personal experience - please feel free to make very different suggested solutions
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16-05-2012, 16:08   #37
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I'm still concerned that this obfuscates too much of the structure. The users current forum is downplayed. Could the smart box at least maintain an option to show the full listing? All these smart options often do little except get in the way.
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16-05-2012, 16:32   #38
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I don't really follow what you mean I'm afraid.
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16-05-2012, 16:37   #39
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I don't really follow what you mean I'm afraid.
I'll try and add a diagram when I get home.
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16-05-2012, 18:38   #40
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Perhaps best I leave out the diagrams as I recall there's a very good reason I didn't do anything art related in uni, and MS Paint is not my friend.

I'll try and explain anyway.

For the the mockup pic, there's nothing to indicate your current position within the forum structure. While there are there are the menus at the top they're essentially "noise" on the fringe. And I'm sure like many others have done, I've learned to tune out from anything that's noise on a webpage. Certainly in their current incarnation, the size of the text for them hasn't increased with the size of monitors, making them even easier to ignore. What I'd like to see is an indicator, ideally positioned on the upper left, but below the boards.ie logo, using fairly large text to clearly state "You're currently in -> Rec -> After Hours." The arrows between each subsection should be expandable menus with the contents of each cat/forum/sub forums listed. So in effect hybridising the top menus, and the current position/level indicator that exists. This would reduce complexity, reduce fringe noise, and still maintain all functionality.

The current position indicator is a small enough line of text, which only allows you to make jumps backwards/higher in the structure.

The text for these should be large enough to be unmissable, and ideally scalable to accommodate the future increases in screen real estate.

So overall this would make the users current forum unrelenting clear at a glance, and still maintain quick navigation.

I've seen far too many new users who can happily understand concepts such as meta data, but can't/won't take stock of what forum there in, possibly because they too have learned to tune out the peripheral noise.


For the same reason I see no value in the tag cloud. It's just more noise, unlikely to be of value to either experienced or new users, and will be statistically swamped by the busy forums of AH, soccer, politics etc and won't reflect the diversity that boards.ie accommodates.

All of this is fairly subjective, but hopefully I've seen enough of the web by now to have learned what works.
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17-05-2012, 00:14   #41
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What about having a prominent link on the Front page to a full list of forums?

You could have a tab saying 'Forum list' or 'A-Z of forums' and then a link to something like this page http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/index.php or similar

It would give people a starting point to identify and explore exactly what gets discussed around here. I think it is difficult to find a complete forum list at the moment, this would be more useful than a cloud of 'trending' topics. Just a thought.
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17-05-2012, 10:47   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spear View Post
For the the mockup pic, there's nothing to indicate your current position within the forum structure.
Ah, I can summarise your post with this and say that's a mock up of what the front page of the site might look like, not a forum. I have so many crazy ideas as to what we might do with a forum, I'll wait till I can at least talk it over with the new Product Manager and the tech team before kicking off discussion of some wild and wacky features

Everything else you said is absolutely spot on though, people tell us they have no idea where they are or how they got there and so making bigger and obvious breadcrumbs and a header of the name of the forum or something like that is definitely on the cards.

Skid:
The only real problem I'd have with listing all the forums in one place is that there are about 900 of them and that's not a very useful means to present so much information. But there are neater ways and means to present that amount of data - I'll have a think about that.

The Topics Cloud Tag idea - well we can always look at puting a weighting system in place that will down play the extremely active topics so they don't crowd out the other areas of interest - just throwing that out there as an idea.
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15-06-2012, 00:36   #43
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I'd like to chime in here with what may or may not be a relevant issue, not long agoI was a noob, I found that the thingy at the top of the page was fairly easy to understand and navigate, OK I see what peope are saying about grouping things togethere instead of alphabetical order and I can see how that would make sense. My issue is with the Boards Mobile site, there are no categories there so nothing makes any sense and its an utter pain in the hole sometimes to switch between forums. its fine if I want After hours but Zombie Survival involves far too much scrolling.

also I like on the main site that if I click on the category it gives me all the forums and the latest post in each, that can be really interesting as sometimes a thread catches my eye and I find myself discovering a whole new forum which can be brilliant.

can something like that be incorporated into the mobile site, even if its just the popup type menus you see on other sites
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23-08-2012, 15:19   #44
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I'm guessing that whoever does all the programming and stuff is too busy to be reading this thread, but is there any news on a remodel/redesign of the mobile site
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07-11-2012, 10:22   #45
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My input.

I think I suggested this a long while back but anyway.

If I click on Television for example in the drop down; it doesn't bring me to the television forum. Imo it should and then there should be the other tv fora at the top.

TiL that Games does exactly that! lol. My bad

Use the subbed menu they cry! How about no.

Also - game related - add Halo under the Xbox forum as a link; same as GT5 for PS3 and other console specific games. I think they should be linked somehow from the console forum.

Last edited by kaimera; 07-11-2012 at 12:10.
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