index page refresh/redesign

RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000Administrator, ClubPA admin
I would like to freshen up the main index page a bit.

I am not interested in revamping the entire forums or their color scheme.

I've run through several different ideas and come up with what design elements I want to include include in the new index design. The actual composition and colors of those elements is somewhat flexible and open to interpretation, however.

I know how impossible it is to design by committee, but I've felt pretty happy in the past with the process of gathering design ideas from forumers and then picking the parts I like.

So if you feel you have an eye for design / color, please feel free to chime in.


The screenshot below is a pretty rough cut. It shows the general elements I want to include:
+ a 2-column forum listing
+ a "latest threads" sidebar
+ penny-arcade artwork flanking the forum titles/descriptions.
+ A graphical indicator of how active the forum is

It also shows off a lot of my indecision in areas such as:
+ What colors should the "activity bar" be, and how should that info be made clear to new visitors?
+ How should the "latest threads" sidebar look?
+ use square images or round? drop shadow or not?
+ should some sort of box or background surround each forum title/description?
+ what page and text colors can I use and still be within the general PA pallet?


Feedback welcome, but understand that I get final decision-making power on everything and will not be swayed by efforts to convince me that "popular opinion" says I should do it "like so".

(spoilered for big)
newindex.gif

Ramius on
«13

Posts

  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited July 2007
    I'm looking at the activity bar and I can't answer either question of "Is it useful?" or "how do I read it?"

    I'd also say maybe make people use checkboxes for which subforums they should draw from for the "What's New" threads. Not knocking on SE++ or anything, but I think stuff like "Some Stupid Fucking Shit" or "you sonofabitch, i'm calling you out" would give the wrong idea about appropriate behavior in the on-topic areas... and while integrating and intermixing the subforums is good, I'd be leery about providing direct links to threads for newbies that completely bypass even seeing rules threads.

    What's with G&T and D&D being highlighted? I'd also move all the game and game related subforum stuff together instead of having them at the top and bottom. Like things should be grouped, ne?

    Aroduc on
  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    G&T and D&D look different just because I was experimenting with those. I posted my very rough-cut experimentation screenshot with several of my different experiments still included.

    The activity bar would show up next to every forum, not just G&T, and might be more obvious then because it would be longest for G&T, then SE++, then D&D, etc...

    Ramius on
  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited July 2007
    Ramius wrote: »
    G&T and D&D look different just because I was experimenting with those. I posted my very rough-cut experimentation screenshot with several of my different experiments still included.

    The activity bar would show up next to every forum, not just G&T, and might be more obvious then because it would be longest for G&T, then SE++, then D&D, etc...

    What does it mean? What does "lurk" measure? The average time spent browsing versus the average time spent posting? The number of users who visit and don't post per time period vs the number who do? Some formula relating hits to posts?

    And how do you expect people to use it?

    Aroduc on
  • Garlic BreadGarlic Bread Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I do not like that at all. I think it looks so much better the way it currently is

    but if you're going through with it, those images are way too big.

    Garlic Bread on
  • TubeTube Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    A point I'd make is that it'd make making new/temporary forums a headache.

    Tube on
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  • Munkus BeaverMunkus Beaver Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    A point I'd make is that it'd make making new/temporary forums a headache.

    Temp forums would go in Misc. or under the heading of an existing forum I think (a la MMO/E3 forums).

    Munkus Beaver on
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  • TubeTube Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    yeah but that'll look dumb, and people will only go to the forums with pretty pictures

    Tube on
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  • Just_Bri_ThanksJust_Bri_Thanks Seething with rage from a handbasket.Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    yeah but that'll look dumb, and people will only go to the forums with pretty pictures

    Perhaps make a permanent pretty picture button that says hot topics, and make the link point to whatever temporary subforum is the flavor of the week?

    Edit: I mean, you have room there for one more anyway.

    Just_Bri_Thanks on
    We are the skeletons in our closets.
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  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I like the pretties.

    I would prefer it if a last post subject and time was under the pretties. No need to go hunting through forums that haven't had a post since I went.

    Lewisham on
  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    Lewisham wrote: »
    I like the pretties.

    I would prefer it if a last post subject and time was under the pretties. No need to go hunting through forums that haven't had a post since I went.

    I will probably do a black-and-white or desaturated version of the picture to indicate "no unread posts". Not sure how that will work out for the WB.

    Ramius on
  • TubeTube Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    Honestly we'll cross the "people posting in the WB" bridge when we come to it.

    Tube on
    Hobnail wrote: »
    This forum has taken everything from me
    This hurts but I deserve it

  • OrikaeshigitaeOrikaeshigitae Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    people post in the WB all the time

    why i myself witnessed a post earlier today

    Orikaeshigitae on
  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    Aroduc wrote: »
    Ramius wrote: »
    G&T and D&D look different just because I was experimenting with those. I posted my very rough-cut experimentation screenshot with several of my different experiments still included.

    The activity bar would show up next to every forum, not just G&T, and might be more obvious then because it would be longest for G&T, then SE++, then D&D, etc...

    What does it mean? What does "lurk" measure? The average time spent browsing versus the average time spent posting? The number of users who visit and don't post per time period vs the number who do? Some formula relating hits to posts?

    And how do you expect people to use it?

    What I want is to give some sort of statistic which indicates how busy a particular forum is. What we have right now is the "[232 viewing]" tag. I'd like to convey that information graphically.

    Originally I had tried using sparklines, but that didn't work out.

    So my next option was a simple bar which would be, e.g. 244 pixels wide for 244 active users, 85 pixels wide for 85 active users. Then I decided I could probably calculate amongst those 244 active users, how many had posted in the last 15 minutes. If they haven't posted, they would be lurkers. This is meaningful info about a forum's "activity", I think. So I wanted to include it.

    Ramius on
  • Stupid Mr Whoopsie NameStupid Mr Whoopsie Name Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    people post in the WB all the time

    why i myself witnessed a post earlier today

    Haha he meant because the picture of Mr. Period is already in black and white you fruit loop =P

    Stupid Mr Whoopsie Name on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    yeah but that'll look dumb, and people will only go to the forums with pretty pictures

    I can certainly make a pretty-picture option for you in the admin panel.

    Ramius on
  • TubeTube Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    how pretty?

    Tube on
    Hobnail wrote: »
    This forum has taken everything from me
    This hurts but I deserve it

  • Munkus BeaverMunkus Beaver Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    You can cut the Mr. Period from this comic: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/11/03 where he is near some colored objects

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  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    It's interesting, but please, please, please, make the "graphical index" for wont of a better term collapsible so that those who don't want to see/use it can avoid it.

    EDIT: Wait, the regular index is gone in that mock up. A text only alternative is my suggestion then.

    Nice choice of pictures for the forums. Sword in eye socket and money in tophat are very appropriate for H/A and D&D. I do not dig the beveled grey box around the two forums at the top though.

    I presume the mod forum isn't going to be visible on the index to us plebians. Oh, and is there any reason why we need Chatlog and Archives as two separate forums? Just curious, I never visit either.

    Corvus on
    :so_raven:
  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    how pretty?

    You can use your hedgehog avatar as a forum picture if you'd like.

    Ramius on
  • TubeTube Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    Let it never be said that I am not a child that can be placated with shiny buttons.

    Tube on
    Hobnail wrote: »
    This forum has taken everything from me
    This hurts but I deserve it

  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited July 2007
    Ramius wrote: »
    Aroduc wrote: »
    Ramius wrote: »
    G&T and D&D look different just because I was experimenting with those. I posted my very rough-cut experimentation screenshot with several of my different experiments still included.

    The activity bar would show up next to every forum, not just G&T, and might be more obvious then because it would be longest for G&T, then SE++, then D&D, etc...

    What does it mean? What does "lurk" measure? The average time spent browsing versus the average time spent posting? The number of users who visit and don't post per time period vs the number who do? Some formula relating hits to posts?

    And how do you expect people to use it?

    What I want is to give some sort of statistic which indicates how busy a particular forum is. What we have right now is the "[232 viewing]" tag. I'd like to convey that information graphically.

    Originally I had tried using sparklines, but that didn't work out.

    So my next option was a simple bar which would be, e.g. 244 pixels wide for 244 active users, 85 pixels wide for 85 active users. Then I decided I could probably calculate amongst those 244 active users, how many had posted in the last 15 minutes. If they haven't posted, they would be lurkers. This is meaningful info about a forum's "activity", I think. So I wanted to include it.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but how is it particularly meaningful data to a normal user? I mean, it's kind of neat to poke at, but what would you see is the difference between the behavior of someone seeing something with a high lurk to post ratio versus a low?

    Aroduc on
  • Just_Bri_ThanksJust_Bri_Thanks Seething with rage from a handbasket.Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    Let it never be said that I am not a child that can be placated with shiny buttons.

    Double negative?

    Double negative.

    Just_Bri_Thanks on
    We are the skeletons in our closets.
    We are the monsters under our beds.
  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    Well, I could show only the "active posters", and ditch the lurkers altogether. But that deflates our traffic numbers a bit, making it seem like the forum is less popular than it is.

    I feel the current number is misleading, saying "244 active", when there might actually be only 100-130 active and 100-110 lurkers.

    Ramius on
  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited July 2007
    Ramius wrote: »
    Well, I could show only the "active posters", and ditch the lurkers altogether. But that deflates our traffic numbers a bit, making it seem like the forum is less popular than it is.

    I feel the current number is misleading, saying "244 active", when there might actually be only 100-130 active and 100-110 lurkers.

    You could just say nothing. :P

    Aroduc on
  • CymoroCymoro Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Please don't make it flashy, keep it simple. The forums work for me whenever I want to read them whenever I'm somewhere bored and I have my phone browser, not to mention other portable devices. Pretty pictures will ruin that for me.

    also, a little aside: did you read the suggestion I made in the subforum thread about making text links akin to SA? small, inobtrusive, and useful.

    Cymoro on
    i am perpetual, i make the country clean
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    Ugh. Nein!

    Rami, ask yourself why you're redesigning the front page. Is it in someway dysfunctional in it's current form? If so, what specifically doesn't work as well as you'd like? Does cluttering up the User Interface with big, only vaguely relevant pictures that serve no real function fix these problems?

    What I'm saying here is this isn't the 1700s anymore. Places do not need pictures for people to know what the place is, the plebs can read words just fine.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • korodullinkorodullin What. SCRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Aroduc wrote: »
    Ramius wrote: »
    Well, I could show only the "active posters", and ditch the lurkers altogether. But that deflates our traffic numbers a bit, making it seem like the forum is less popular than it is.

    I feel the current number is misleading, saying "244 active", when there might actually be only 100-130 active and 100-110 lurkers.

    You could just say nothing. :P

    Why do these little tiny things bother you so much?

    korodullin on
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  • BahamutZEROBahamutZERO Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I really dislike the look of the graphical icons next to the forums. Other than that it's not so bad.

    BahamutZERO on
    BahamutZERO.gif
  • anableanable Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Ugh. Nein!

    Rami, ask yourself why you're redesigning the front page. Is it in someway dysfunctional in it's current form? If so, what specifically doesn't work as well as you'd like? Does cluttering up the User Interface with big, only vaguely relevant pictures that serve no real function fix these problems?

    What I'm saying here is this isn't the 1700s anymore. Places do not need pictures for people to know what the place is, the plebs can read words just fine.

    I think the important message here is that things shouldn't be changed, just because. If there is a design flaw, one that perhaps even requires a vast overhaul, it should be addressed. I don't think there's much point in changing it for the sake of changing it.
    Unless this is a job security thing. :P

    anable on
  • RamiusRamius Joined: July 19, 2000 Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    hrm, this may be the last time I ask for feedback on this sort of thing.

    Ramius on
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    anable wrote: »
    Ugh. Nein!

    Rami, ask yourself why you're redesigning the front page. Is it in someway dysfunctional in it's current form? If so, what specifically doesn't work as well as you'd like? Does cluttering up the User Interface with big, only vaguely relevant pictures that serve no real function fix these problems?

    What I'm saying here is this isn't the 1700s anymore. Places do not need pictures for people to know what the place is, the plebs can read words just fine.
    I think the important message here is that things shouldn't be changed, just because. If there is a design flaw, one that perhaps even requires a vast overhaul, it should be addressed. I don't think there's much point in changing it for the sake of changing it.
    Unless this is a job security thing. :P
    It should be changed because Ramius' prototype design up there looks much nicer than our current one.

    I swear, you people are so fucking change-averse. You do realize that change is frequently a good thing, right? It's the reason presidents have term limits.

    Thanatos on
  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Moderator mod
    edited July 2007
    I like the concept going on here, but I feel the images are a little too large. Also, I like seeing the most recently posted-in thread per subforum and am not sure about having them all lumped together to the right, although I'm sure you can find a way to make it work (maybe have each thread tagged with the forum it is from). Also, I like the lurker/poster data readout idea. Some may see it as useless data, but let's be real here, we're geeks, we thrive on data, and this type of data is far from useless.

    Also Ramius, don't be discouraged about asking for feedback by a few people who are resistant to change. After all, people complained about changing things when it came to the MMO forum, too. Whenever you make changes, some people will complain, and if you don't ask for feedback beforehand, they'll just complain after the changes have been made.

    Moe Fwacky on
    E6LkoFK.png

  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited July 2007
    Thanatos wrote: »
    anable wrote: »
    Ugh. Nein!

    Rami, ask yourself why you're redesigning the front page. Is it in someway dysfunctional in it's current form? If so, what specifically doesn't work as well as you'd like? Does cluttering up the User Interface with big, only vaguely relevant pictures that serve no real function fix these problems?

    What I'm saying here is this isn't the 1700s anymore. Places do not need pictures for people to know what the place is, the plebs can read words just fine.
    I think the important message here is that things shouldn't be changed, just because. If there is a design flaw, one that perhaps even requires a vast overhaul, it should be addressed. I don't think there's much point in changing it for the sake of changing it.
    Unless this is a job security thing. :P
    It should be changed because Ramius' prototype design up there looks much nicer than our current one.

    I swear, you people are so fucking change-averse. You do realize that change is frequently a good thing, right? It's the reason presidents have term limits.

    Fine, Than. Have some concrete reasons why I prefer the way things are over the presented change.

    A 2 column scheme is a poor organizational choice because there's no difference between the two columns and furthermore, there's absolutely no rhyme or reason to how things are listed anyway.

    It's also less readable than an indented list since you're forced to look across images.

    You used to have (arguably) useful information next to the subforum listing the most recent post... now gone and replaced with the sidebar full of often misleading titles to god only knows which subforum... especially if/when multiple subforums have threads for the same thing (tech news in both G&T and D&D, game threads in SE++ and G&T, etc)

    Also gone, as near as I can tell, is the useful "mark this forum read" tool from the main index.

    There's too much white space. The icons feel grouped vertically because there's no space between them, but the associated text is totally dissociated.

    Aroduc on
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Why does how active a particular forum is need to be shown, anyway? How exactly would you expect that to affect the behavior of posters who would see that icon?

    jothki on
  • CymoroCymoro Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Ramius wrote: »
    hrm, this may be the last time I ask for feedback on this sort of thing.

    Does this mean suprise feature fridays? A new feature, every week.

    please don't just spring changes on us instead of asking for our input instead. that's not cool

    Cymoro on
    i am perpetual, i make the country clean
  • Just_Bri_ThanksJust_Bri_Thanks Seething with rage from a handbasket.Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    I think some people here are missing the point of the exercise.

    The question was not "Do I change or not change?". Change has already been decided.

    The questions was "How can I tweak this mock-up to look better?"

    Constructive feedback on that topic please?

    I think it looks kinda cool myself, but I am also in favor of accessibility. By accessibility, I don't mean those who are change adverse; but rather those with actual accessibility issues, like vision impairments and such. I don't see a reason why this new site style would cause any problems for the vision impaired, but I am not an expert on the topic.

    For those who just don't like the proposed changes, might I recomend some effort into making your own style sheets locally.

    Just_Bri_Thanks on
    We are the skeletons in our closets.
    We are the monsters under our beds.
  • -SPI--SPI- Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I think it's looking good, it seems much more new user friendly. But I'm still kinda confused by the forum activity indicator and what it means/what it's purpose is. Personally I'd prefer the "X users viewing" stat we currently have placed either where the activity indicator is on the mockup or in small font next to the forum title.

    Really though, what's up with the activity indicator? Sure, it's showing the ratio of posters/lurkers, but when? Looking at it on the mockup I don't feel like I'm getting any meaningful or useful information from it being there. Perhaps it's a thing that makes more sense in use, but currently I just don't get it. If you do keep it, you should really change the colors, it looks really gharish and awful.

    Anyway getting a little sidetracked, design elements. There seems to be a lack of the orange that would help tie it in with the PA scheme. I'm guessing the forum titles will be orange when you hover the mouse over them like the current setup.

    Currently the what's new section almost looks like it's a poll of some description. I'd suggest loosing the bullet points for a start, replace them with the little page icon presently on threads that takes you to the first new thread. Something like that to make it obvious that these are forum topics. They also look a little odd with the wrapping of the text, I think it would look much better if they either had enough room to show the full title on one line (unlikely unless the font was shrunk, which wouldn't really work very well) or if they simply cut off and had ellipses or something.

    I'd lean towards not having bevelled button backgrounds for the forum title/description. And just using square non dropshadowed icons, perhaps they could have a really thin border (which could also change from orange to grey or something to indicate new posts if the greying out doesn't work, although I like the idea of the artwork going greyscale to indicate that).

    Uh... I think that's all.

    -SPI- on
  • anableanable Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Thanatos wrote: »
    anable wrote: »
    Ugh. Nein!

    Rami, ask yourself why you're redesigning the front page. Is it in someway dysfunctional in it's current form? If so, what specifically doesn't work as well as you'd like? Does cluttering up the User Interface with big, only vaguely relevant pictures that serve no real function fix these problems?

    What I'm saying here is this isn't the 1700s anymore. Places do not need pictures for people to know what the place is, the plebs can read words just fine.
    I think the important message here is that things shouldn't be changed, just because. If there is a design flaw, one that perhaps even requires a vast overhaul, it should be addressed. I don't think there's much point in changing it for the sake of changing it.
    Unless this is a job security thing. :P
    It should be changed because Ramius' prototype design up there looks much nicer than our current one.

    I swear, you people are so fucking change-averse. You do realize that change is frequently a good thing, right? It's the reason presidents have term limits.

    For me (as I can't attest for others), this isn't an issue of being change-averse. It's a matter of functionality. If changes are implemented that enhance my ability to use the forum, I'm all about it. If changes are made because it's been a while since changes have been made, that's not constructive.

    New features include:
    1) Pictures - OK, these are neat. The fact that random pictures from PA strips coincide with forum names is amusing. Does it make me want to click and read any of that additional content? Not for me, but maybe for some.
    2) Lurker/Active indicator - Whether or not other people will immediately view and/or reply to my post doesn't really affect what I say. Maybe for some people, but not for me personally.
    3) What's New - This could be interesting. Perhaps a thread title on a forum that I normally don't view will catch my attention. Maybe a "Hot Thread" column as well that highlights some of the more active threads.

    anable on
  • -SPI--SPI- Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    painsexpv4.jpg
    There's an example of a couple of items. The "what's new" sidebar with a more forumy look (just imagine they have ellipses instead of a crude photoshop cut) The lower topics have the black divider line removed as well, which I think looks better.

    I tried out a couple of borders for the images to indicate activity, and they look better than I expected. Top 2 are 2 pixel borders, bottom 2 are 3 pixel borders.

    Tried out the current number of people viewing indicator, both next to the forum title and in the imaginary corner of the forums area on the page.

    -SPI- on
  • TubeTube Administrator, ClubPA admin
    edited July 2007
    ok, how about changing it so that the newest post is displayed underneath the forum avatar. That way no functionality is lost, and you can get rid of the slightly ugly sidebar

    Tube on
    Hobnail wrote: »
    This forum has taken everything from me
    This hurts but I deserve it

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