Welcome to our community

Be a part of something great, join today!

Feedback on page layout of forum

  • Thread starter
  • Admin
  • #1

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,029
Hi all,

Not trying to get multiple threads going with similar posts, but I want to isolate this topic and really dig in. I think overall the look of XF is great and we’ve kept our previous theme intact while updating a lot. Nothing is perfect but we’ve tried hard and I’m happy with it. Many other sites do so little customization beyond a couple of color changes. MHB has a lot of big and small items that are really custom.

In terms of how the forum appears to a new user and to experienced ones, I’m not sure if the layout now is best. We reordered the forums and consolidated some, but it still has the same flow. You log in and see a list of places to go. There is a button to make a new thread at the top but this isn’t the most obvious.

So what do you all think? What is good? What is bad? What would make using MHB easier for anyone and avoid confusion? This is different than “what color should this button be?”. It’s a design question. You could have real impact here if you chime in. :)

I will wait for someone to hopefully post and if nothing then I’ll share my thoughts.
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
Layout and design have always been a very weak area for me. I designed a custom theme for an IPS board I help admin (not a math site) for St. Patrick's day this year, thought it was good, and the best comment I got on it was that it was "hot garbage." I did it to take some of the burden off the owner, and he said it looked good, and that his community never likes anything ever. I'm like the husband when asked about the color of the drapes for the living room. I'm clueless.

When I look at some of our competing sites (all of which are running XF now) it is as plain as the nose of my face that we have put far more effort into our appearance than the others combined. To the forum savvy, it becomes apparent rather quickly, that there is a lack of ongoing and frequent administration at the other sites. Y'all are likely tired of hearing me say it, but that's what drew me in here was the fact that there were admins present daily, listening to users and taking suggestions to heart and making them happen. That appealed greatly to me as a prospective helper, but probably doesn't really matter to the student looking for a place to ask a question and get timely help.

However, I think we are doing well in that regard too. We have a logical layout, on a mobile friendly (responsive) platform and to me it all looks good. I would now be proud to share a link to MHB with anyone, even those on mobile devices. But, it's hard for me to look at MHB with the fresh eyes of a young student. I don't do social media, and so I'm really out of touch with current design trends.

I really don't have anything useful to suggest, but I hope others do and I can promise you I will be glad to help make any changes happen. That's really all I have to offer on the matter.

Jameson, I assume you are the one who added the widget to the bottom of the home page...I like it, and it has the added benefit of refreshing every 60 seconds or so, which causes things like pending notifications to show up, even if you opt out of the push notifications. Make everything more dynamic. (Yes)
 

topsquark

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Aug 30, 2012
1,120
I think things look just fine. The only thing I might suggest is to fill in that big gap of the chalkboard at the very top with something. But, then, I'm not much of an aesthetic either. (Though I disagree with Mark on one thing.. I think MHF could use a new color palette. MHB's is just fine.)

-Dan
 
  • Thread starter
  • Admin
  • #4

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,029
I think things look just fine. The only thing I might suggest is to fill in that big gap of the chalkboard at the very top with something. But, then, I'm not much of an aesthetic either. (Though I disagree with Mark on one thing.. I think MHF could use a new color palette. MHB's is just fine.)

-Dan
Thank you Dan!

So again just to be clear though I do appreciate style feedback but this is geared to usability. It’s weird to think about for most who don’t run websites but you know a bad site when you are on one. The best case would be a new user knows how to do everything they need to without any scrolling or much thinking. It would just make sense. Right now I’m too far in to ever look at a forum like a newbie. :)
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
I think things look just fine. The only thing I might suggest is to fill in that big gap of the chalkboard at the very top with something. But, then, I'm not much of an aesthetic either. (Though I disagree with Mark on one thing.. I think MHF could use a new color palette. MHB's is just fine.)

-Dan
Hey Dan,

I didn't pay attention to where this thread was posted and assumed it was in the staff forum. I would never have named other sites for comparison publicly. That was careless and sloppy, and just plain bad form. My apologies for that. :oops:
 

topsquark

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Aug 30, 2012
1,120
So long as Jameson is okay with it then I'm fine. Heck, I even responded. No, I have no problem discussing things that aren't directly promoting or demoting any of the sites.

-Dan
 

anemone

MHB POTW Director
Staff member
Feb 14, 2012
3,588
You log in and see a list of places to go. There is a button to make a new thread at the top but this isn’t the most obvious.
I agree that the button to make a new thread at the top is not obvious. The only suggestion that I have (at the moment) is to add that button to each page, if that is double.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Admin
  • #8

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,029
I agree that the button to make a new thread at the top is not obvious. The only suggestion that I have (at the moment) is to add that button to each page, if that is double.
I love this idea! Agree the New Post button is not very obvious right now and it's not everywhere. Changing these should not be hard.
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
I love this idea! Agree the New Post button is not very obvious right now and it's not everywhere. Changing these should not be hard.
I have just completed a template edit on my local dev site that puts the "Post Thread" button on all pages (except where it already exists) and added CSS to make this button a more noticeable color. Here's a screenshot from within a thread:

mhb_postnewthreadeverywhere.png

In addition to, or instead of this, we could add a link to the "Forums" tab for posting a new thread too.
 

anemone

MHB POTW Director
Staff member
Feb 14, 2012
3,588
Thanks Mark for converting our words to action and then to the product!

But as I can see the "Post thread" logo now has a different color (and size?) than the one in the homepage...personally, I see consistency is a virtue and like it more if the "Post thread" logo stays the same size and color as the one in the homepage throughout the pages. My 2¢ . :)
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
The size is the same I think (I didn't do anything to alter that). The different color was just a suggestion for addressing the issue of it not standing out. I am open to other suggestions for making it stand out more.

I have taken the manual template edit and turned it into an addon to dynamically modify the relevant template, to avoid hacking our templates too much. (Yes)
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
I just noticed over at TAZ, they have a large "Post new thread' at the top of the sidebar:

taz_postnewthread.png

Borrowing on this idea, we could perhaps also do this (just on the home page) using an HTML widget:

mhb_pnthread.png
 

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,029
I'm fine with mentioning other sites if it's mostly to use for examples. We all know the sites that target the same niche MHB does, so no need to state the obvious for its own sake. I want MHB to be different than those in many ways, and tweaking the XF layout is one of many ways we are doing so.

I bet there is a name for this type of test but basically I believe a 10 year old should be able to log in here and know how to make a thread without any real thought. The less that is true, the harder we are to connect with. I think a lot of forum admins assume the normal layout is best because they know it so well. Why though?
 

anemone

MHB POTW Director
Staff member
Feb 14, 2012
3,588
I just noticed over at TAZ, they have a large "Post new thread' at the top of the sidebar:

View attachment 10290

Borrowing on this idea, we could perhaps also do this (just on the home page) using an HTML widget:

View attachment 10292
I like it!

On the same note, do we want to use the word "thread"? Can we replace it with something more simple and straightforward, like, "Post your question"?
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
I like it!

On the same note, do we want to use the word "thread"? Can we replace it with something more simple and straightforward, like, "Post your question"?
How's that?
 

anemone

MHB POTW Director
Staff member
Feb 14, 2012
3,588
How's that?
Because students (especially those who are new to the forum) might not familiar with the word "thread"...:)

I saw the new "Post Your Question" button on the homepage, and I really like the icon!
 
Last edited:

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
Because students (especially those who are new to the forum) might not familiar with the word "thread"...:)
When I asked "How's that?" I meant how do you like my implementation of your suggestion. :D
 

anemone

MHB POTW Director
Staff member
Feb 14, 2012
3,588
When I asked "How's that?" I meant how do you like my implementation of your suggestion. :D
LOL! A true case of communication breakdown! (Tmi)
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
I think we are showing too many threads per page within the forums. The default is 20, which I agree is two low, but we have it set at 100 which is too high, in my opinion. I would go with 40 or 50, personally.
 

anemone

MHB POTW Director
Staff member
Feb 14, 2012
3,588
I think we are showing too many threads per page within the forums. The default is 20, which I agree is two low, but we have it set at 100 which is too high, in my opinion. I would go with 40 or 50, personally.
I agree. Perhaps we can go with the middle...50 threads per page within the forums.
 

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,029
I personally think these details matter little to new users as much as they do to daily ones. If you join MHB you want help with your problem usually and will focus on that. The rest of the site might as well be invisible. My take on it. Point is this is an interesting topic to tweak, but ultimately I think will not affect much in terms of experience, but I could be wrong. It's so hard to view a site like a new user once you've worked on it for years. 😃
 

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,029
I think things look just fine. The only thing I might suggest is to fill in that big gap of the chalkboard at the very top with something. But, then, I'm not much of an aesthetic either. (Though I disagree with Mark on one thing.. I think MHF could use a new color palette. MHB's is just fine.)

-Dan
Hey Dan!

Curious if you like the default XF layout and think that not changing it is fine? You help out at another site a lot. If you had unlimited money and some amazing developers would you try to change the appearance?
 

topsquark

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Aug 30, 2012
1,120
Hey Dan!

Curious if you like the default XF layout and think that not changing it is fine? You help out at another site a lot. If you had unlimited money and some amazing developers would you try to change the appearance?
I think it's pretty nice. I was admittedly a bit against it after I saw it at MHF (the first site where I first came across the XF system) but I've gotten used to it. As long as its consistent and relatively intuitive I'm pretty much okay with anything. For my part (I don't do the programming parts) I think it works just as well as the previous format. I presume that there are good reasons to scrap the old system for the update to the new system otherwise so many sites wouldn't be doing it.

If I were Bill Gates? I would suggest a LaTeX editor (something like CodeCogs) that would give members a palette of symbols if they don't know the codes. A sketch program like Paint (or hopefully better) would be nice as well. Since so many members here use W|A to check their work perhaps a symbolic calculator or something like that.

-Dan
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,734
If I were Bill Gates? I would suggest a LaTeX editor (something like CodeCogs) that would give members a palette of symbols if they don't know the codes...Since so many members here use W|A to check their work perhaps a symbolic calculator or something like that.
We had something like that on vB, and I hope to eventually code something similar for XF. :)
 

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,029
The navigation tabs are pretty basic right now in terms of using the XF default settings. Each tab has more subtabs as well. I think these would benefit from some tweaking but not sure what is most useful. If anyone has comments or suggestions, I'd appreciate any suggestions. Since it's so flexible and easy to change, not worried about trying something new and changing later if consensus is negative.