Site future: Brainstorming phase

#1
stryder Offline
So I've been mulling this over a while, I'm considering updating the site however there is a lot to consider and while I can try to piece things together the way I think they fit, I was considering that perhaps some feedback might be more use in regards to the future of the sites design.
  • What works? (which fast action menu links, do we need more or less images, should we have an image uploaded with a thread that can then identify the thread etc)
  • What doesn't work? (What parts of the site don't you use? What could we do without?)
  • What colourscape should the next iteration be? (It's been predominantly blue for 6 years)
  • What technologies should be integrated? (Personally I don't like the idea of integrating too much third-party outsourcing as it leads to databreach's I have no control over, does it need to be accessible by phone/tablet etc.  Are there things that added would be of use, like integrating news feeds etc.)
  • Are there any preferences to software?  (I would prefer to create something bespoken, however it would take time for me to reach such a goal so we are left with out of the box software that can be altered to fit)

Currently the simplest changes that can be made is some theme/skin changes to try to bring the site inline with current HTML and CSS specifications, however there is still limitations due to the age of the software (it's entire design is over 10 years old and things are done differently now.)

In any event I welcome some feedback, as if I'm going to put the hours in to reshaping the site I want to make sure it's something that's appreciated and not something that upsets those that currently frequent here.
Below I've added a bunch of subsequent posts  attempting to look at certain parts of the site, some of my considerations are included but thoughts on each would be greatly appreciated...


To-Do's (I'll try to do these when possible):
Bug?: Fix Read-Unread for Subscriptions
Fix: Added Link to Mark Forums read at bottom of index
Feature: Blacklist uninteresting threads in Todays Posts/threads
Feature/JS: Add "Indent" button to editor.
Feature/JS: Add "Auto" parsing for Video. 
Feature/Themes: Dark on Light, Light on Dark and Light on Red (For CC)
Feature/Page: Recent Post/Threads (there are a couple of already implemented version but might need a custom one)
Bug: Clipped Title of recent threads should be Full title. (If clipping occurs it should be done in CSS not by the forum software)
Fix: Italic should be more readable and less awkward on the eyes.  Fixed to one of the Monotype families. (required a core file change)
Feature: Section under new members showing how to use BB code. Added Help Link to top right.
Feature:Strikethrough ([s]) is by default red, adding another colour for your text will change it to that text colour with a red strikethrough.
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#2
stryder Offline
Recent Activity (The Portal). 

Do we use it?  how I mean is do we prefer a full page of the most recently started threads written in full (or at the very least a sizeable portion) or would just a bunch of links with dates work?  (I prefer seeing the article, as to be honest you get to see more of what is going on than a link will tell you) 

While I prefer seeing the articles for new threads, what of new posts?  seeing a whole new post would seem disjointed considering that if I don't know what the threads about then the post would have no relevance.  So it makes sense to keep that as just an array of links.

How much information needs to be attached to each entry though?  Obviously the time it was posted has some use (And the state as if it's locked or old etc)
Do we need the number of replies and views seen? (Is such metrics important?)
Should the usernames that identify the posts link to their profile? or should another navigation method like a search be used should you need to interact with the user? (I mention this because the current build has so many excess links that we might not even use in the long run)
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#3
stryder Offline
The main index

Currently I've been working on a new version of the main index, however there is still a lot to be done.  It's under the theme "Deepblue" if you have access to try it, however it's not complete, it is just the entry page.  Theres still a lot of other pages and elements that have to be adjusted.

Heres an image of the current consideration:

   

Theres 4 areas of consideration, the first three are actually linked to site naviation more than the index page (they would be present across the whole site)
  • (1) To be a little quirky I'm currently looking at showing your user avatar to you when you are logged in, so you can visually know when you are logged in and which account (if you happen to sport more than one, albeit something frowned on) This simple version just places an opacity layered version of your avatar over the site logo. I am considering about an animation sequence using the logo (turning that square into a cube that animates revolving from one face side to the other based upon actions like "Loading" or "logging in". That can be done in HTML5, however it's a detail rather than a function, so it's something I'll work on last)

    Alternatively I can attach the avatar to the screen itself, so should you move up or down your avatar stay put. (There is the potential in the forums themselves to do the same with a poster element on the opposite side of the screen, where on scrolling up or down when the thread is brought into focus the information for the posters is then populated.)
    The problem with getting over zealous with the technical wizardry of making something look nice from one perspective however does likely mean it wouldn't work on all platforms (not something I would of cared for back in the day). So again it's something mulled over but likely won't come into practice just to aid in making the site a little more friendly to mobiles etc.

    The avatar could be turned into a link. Would it make more sense to send it to the users profile (which just has readonly data) or their actual User Control panel? If the latter, it can mean removing the links for the control panels.

  • (2) When you first log into the site, there's an array of menu links that can short cut you to a variety of things. The problem is that most of them are probably not used that often. I mean Buddylist can be accessed through your user control panel (UserCP). So a cleaned down version is just your username and a link to the Private messages with the number of unviewed next to it, and of course the log out button. The question here is where should the username link to? again should it be profile or userCP, Would you prefer to navigate via userCP to get to your PM's or use a link? (As it's possible to state you have new mail, heck even that message could have the quick link... perhaps action messages should contain quick links)

  • (3) Recent activity (is self explanatory), Search allows for site related searches and lastly the member list tends to show members that are either posters I know of or people that have contributed thus far (0 posters tend to be kept off it) While logged in it appears this way, when logged out both the memberlist and the search are removed (mostly due to spiders) Not much likely needs attending here, however it's something to consider.

  • (4) The forum view (The bit actually attached to the index). In this version the usage of TABLES has been removed and replaced with CSS elements. This allows the boxes to resize based upon screen size and if the screen gets too small it will even place them into a single column. It's a little different in that sense and I removed things like the profile links from the last posters username. The fontsizes are little awkward since they are suppose to be responsive (they change size based upon screen size) that means in some instances they will seem huge (unless overridden by your browser). So theres still some work to be done there.

    You'll also notice that the subforum thread number and posts are removed. While the metrics can be interesting, they were for the most part just clutter, however that's my opinion but there is always the option of having a statistics version of the page with all that added metric data so as to not spoil the "Feng shui".
Colouration again could do with some work, it's still a prototype so the colours could change to be more inline with each other or completely change due to being a new theme (which I'll then have to rename)

So what can be done here?
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#4
stryder Offline
Forum Statistics

You usually see these at the bottom of the page of forums and it identifies:
The total number of posts and threads.
The total number of registered members.
A list of the most recent registered members
The record for the most "users" online (their number and when)

Again it's statistics/metrics, while it can be interesting does it make sense to have it available all the time or would it be better to have it's own statistics page cover that information. (The question then would be where to stick the link for the page.)
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#5
stryder Offline
Whos Online

This can be handy to see who is browsing the board, however it will only show those that haven't choose to hide themselves. The question here would be is it placed in the right place, could it be done with it's own page with other statistic information (I mean in each of these instances like Statistics and Whos online, they already have their own page it's just about where a link should be present instead of the visible data)
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#6
stryder Offline
Subforum themes
Currently the site has just been one default theme but it is possible to have themes per subforum. This means for instance we could have Astronautics sporting one or other high resolution launch shot in the background (and of course a darker colouration to match) which having other subforums sport something of their own genre. The level of detail to each theme however would only apply to the Subforums thread list and possible the post view from within that subforum.
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#7
Syne Offline
Recent Activity - Never use it. My main link to the site is set to my subscriptions ( https://www.scivillage.com/usercp.php?ac...scriptions ), where I can click on the arrows to see new posts in each thread. I do wish old subscriptions wouldn't keep showing as unread though, with no way to batch mark as read. Having checked my subscriptions, I then check View Today's Posts ( https://www.scivillage.com/search.php?action=getdaily ) for any new topics I might be interested in. And I like to mark all threads I'm not interested in as read, so I've made a bookmark to set all threads as read, by removing the forum ID ("&fid=***") from the subforum Mark this forum read link. It might be nice if there was a native "mark whole forum as read" link, but since I made my own, it's not necessary (as long as that's still possible in any new forum software).

The main index - I'd prefer the existing list of forums over columns.

I don't really care about themes, as long as it's not a dark theme with light text, which is always hard on the eyes when switching between black text references. And as long as all links, to control panel, inbox, etc., are easy enough to find, I'm not concerned where they end up either.

It would be nice to have a button for indent. And if we had a video embed that automatically parsed the video type (source), maybe some here would be more apt to use it...if it worked as much like posting an image as possible.
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#8
C C Offline
(Jul 31, 2020 02:07 PM)stryder Wrote: [...] [*]What colourscape should the next iteration be? (It's been predominantly blue for 6 years)


Whatever the default background/text color theme is, there should be an optional setting for members (when signed in) for it to switch automatically to one of two opposite extremes (dark background with white text or light background with black text) -- whichever one reduces strain on the eyes for the particular individual.

The current one is actually kind of in the middle (since the "blue" background is neither very bright nor very dark). If that "neutral" intensity of a theme is maintained as a default, there should still be the other two options, because some people may have a little trouble discerning either dark text or light text well on a middle-range background.

Fantasy-wise, my own (extreme end) personal preference would be a very dark red color of #330000 (hexadecimal) for the background color with white text (#FFFFFF max or #F0F0F0 minimal). But I'm sure that would be a nightmare for another group of humans, which just emphasizes the need for some personal customization (even if very limited in options -- like white-background with black-text and black-background with white-text).
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#9
Syne Offline
White background is usually too bright for anyone and usually makes the site look pretty low-rent.
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#10
C C Offline
(Jul 31, 2020 02:17 PM)stryder Wrote: Recent Activity (The Portal). 

Do we use it?  how I mean is do we prefer a full page of the most recently started threads written in full (or at the very least a sizeable portion) or would just a bunch of links with dates work?  (I prefer seeing the article, as to be honest you get to see more of what is going on than a link will tell you) 


Regardless, I definitely want some kind of "recent activity" column or page because I don't subscribe to anything (seems like I tried such once either here or elsewhere and all the updates/alerts or whatever drove me crazy). The recent posts/threads links should be made more prominent as in not having to scroll down to the bottom of a page (that could be just the way my browser renders things, though.)

Quote:How much information needs to be attached to each entry though?  Obviously the time it was posted has some use (And the state as if it's locked or old etc)
Do we need the number of replies and views seen? (Is such metrics important?)
Should the usernames that identify the posts link to their profile? or should another navigation method like a search be used should you need to interact with the user? (I mention this because the current build has so many excess links that we might not even use in the long run)


I'd be happy if the entire title of a thread was displayed that received a new response, minus it being snipped off. Again, though, that might be an eccentricity of my browser -- I don't know what others are seeing.
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