For Problems Or Broken Things With The Recent BuddyPress.Org Redesign
@apeatling – I like that “Latest Post” View on Support Forums is back! I would suggest some small refinements related to UX. It happend very often that i get sidetracked by the User/Group-Avatars and the “Post Meta-Infos” when scanning through the “Latest Post” – Index. I mada a small mockup where i removed the Avatars (i really like them, but found it alot easier to scan the index without avatars) and moved the meta-infos to the group-column. You can find the mockup here -> http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/4174/bildschirmfoto20100427u.png (The old view is visible on the bottom of the image)
I’m not so sure about the redesign.
The overal feeling is that it’s unfocused in terms of ui elements, colors and typography.
To be more hands on, compare this mockup and screenshot:
Mockup. You get the picture in no time. Clean, solid.
Screenshot. To many disparate elements, low contrast, a bit blurry impression.
I’m certainly not an ui expert, but my intention is constructive criticism.
@gezan – I agree 100% – the plugin page looks very solid. The other is a bit ‘meh’.
@apeatling Really really would like to have the link to “Threads you’ve started or commented in” as in the old forums index layout. It’s extremely hard at the moment (doubly so without being able to favorite forums threads) to keep track of discussions you’ve started or participated in.
Also, as I moaned about before, I’m very much in agreement with the low-contrast color scheme being hard on the eyes.
Also, also, thanks for the new standard most-recently-bumped view of forum threads, @apeatling.
Enhancements I’d suggest would be
1) a link to the last post in the thread (easy to do, I know)
2) pagination in the most-recently-bumped view to see older bumped threads (or maybe a dropdown to select number of threads shown, but that would break the standard navigation paradigm being used, so probably suboptimal). Things move fast, and even visiting several times a day, stuff I want to track gets bumped off the front page, and is then very hard indeed to find, because I (and I assume other people) find it hard to remember in many cases which Group a thread was posted to (and threads are often posted in the ‘wrong’ Group, which makes it even harder).
Question: why is this thread yellow in the Forum index?
@stwc – because it’s a sticky. eg. http://buddypress.org/community/groups/requests-feedback/forum/
Would be nice if the site admin could set super stickies.
Ah, thanks. I thought it might be something like that. Well, if you can secretly hack Andy’s templates, you could always set ( bp_has_forum_topics( bp_ajax_querystring( ‘forums’ ) . ‘&no_stickies=’ ) ) in forums-loop to get stickies sticky there, too…
[DJPaul just helped me figure that out!]
Yeah, but then you’d have an influx of stickies from across all the group forums! (Imagine 20+ stickies in the main forum directory!)
There’s a thing in bbPress called the super sticky (look it up!). I haven’t digged through the BP forum code to see if such code exists, but I could see this being useful.
Right, right, I forgot that there’re User-created groups here, too. D’oh.
Not sure if anyone else noticed (sorry, I haven’t gone through the 5 previous pages of this thread) but the “Load More” link/button on the activity page only loads a second page worth of status updates. If you hit “Load More” a second time, it reloads the same set of updates.
It took me a while to think about this.
I mostly like it, but the ‘faded’ quality of the colors is weirding me out.
- Text in the forums is a little … small. Compare it to wordpress.org and notice how their text is a little darker and larger. That is much easier to read for the majority of people, I’d think.
- The blue for links should be darker
- The grey for alternate posts is a great background color. Don’t change.
- The TEXT in the post-reply form is too light.
- The text in the Post Reply button is similarly too light.
The other thought I have is hard to quantify, but I’m going to say it anyway. Something about the GROUPS makes it feel like a hobby site, rather than a serious ‘business’ site (yeah, I said it). I’m not sure if it’s the rounded corners missing, or the general paleness of the site, but something feels off. Casual.
Yeah, that were crap feedback. Sorry.
(Oh and the fact that HTML isn’t working? Like I put LI and UL in this post and it’s borked? Is frustrating.)
I’m not going to make any friends in here anyway, so I’ll say what others won’t: Andy Peatling is a PHP programmer, not an (interface) designer. This redesign is cluttered, hard to use. I see groups, forums, topics, community, support. I have no clue what’s what. Automattic should focus on core functionality (member management, security, privacy, spam, etc.), take out redundancies (less is more), separate script from layout as much as possible and leave design to theme developers.
How about people’s names missing (like the comment 2 above this). I’m guessing they are users that have been around a while before you were required to add some profile field?
@peterverkooijen: Try telling your opinion without personal attacks and being harsh. That’s just counter productive, for you, the thread and everything else.
One part that I find confusing is that it’s not intuitive where to post. For example, I see posts about specific plugins in the community activity section (posted there only), in forums (where plugins are discussed both in “Creating and Extending” and in “Third Party Components and Plugins”), and in the activity section of that plugin’s page.
Seems a bit disjointed…which is fine for this site because we’ll all take the time to learn the quirks.
But on our own sites, I can see casual members being confused. An example: I have several members who continually write blog posts in the activity stream, thinking that they are blog posts! In other words, if it’s too confusing for a 2nd grader to figure out quickly, then it’s not going to be user-friendly for most of the public.
“Try telling your opinion without personal attacks”
It’s not a personal attack, just an attempt to inject some realism. Andy Peatling is obviously a brilliant PHP programmer, but he is the only one Automattic pays to work on Buddypress. So Buddypress is like his solo project. Usually software is a collaboration between business requirements, programmers, interaction designers, graphic designers, copy writers, marketing, project manager, etc. See also semi-competitors of BP like SocialEngine. In Buddypress the priorities seem out of whack.
“About | Examples | Download” would work MUCH better for the top of this page. (you’d even be able to get rid of those ugly underlines … clearly looks like that UI isn’t working).
It may be what, who, where, but in the end standards work better..
ALSO, one of the tabs should be “FORUM”, since either community or support could work for that.. it confusing as to where to find it.
Peter I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are 3 Core Developers working on BuddyPress and a huge bunch of other developers spending time on improving it.. This thread is about the redesign so why you need to bring up all this b.s is beyond my ability to comprehend.
About the redesign:
I’m trying my best to get used to it, I feel kinda lost.. It feels “wrong” to me, and I can’t put my finger on it.. While the old site/forum was simple, it gave me a quick overview of what happened when I was gone, and now I’m constantly getting the feeling that I’m missing something.. Like there’s stuff happening elsewhere (in the Activity stream etc) which I’m missing..
My suggestion would be use the power of the activity stream, and the group forums and make a layout were you split them in half.. The activity stream on the left, and the recent forum topics on the right.. this way you’ll get an complete overview of what happening from the “Community” section..
I’ve said this before. The site wide activity stream is almost useless. Too much happens to really follow it properly. I’ve pretty much removed it from my BP sites and focus on profiles with forum activity.
Yeah, I’m very much in agreement with Modemlooper on the sitewide Activity stream, here and in general. Focussing on it as a hub of activity is the wrong paradigm, because it moves too fast for anything but the smallest communities. One excellent solution is rich’s plugin that brings activity stream replies to forum posts inline to the post itself — I use that on the site I’m building now, to try and keep conversation from being fractured.
Different users use sites in different ways, of course, and the Activity stream is certainly one user story that shouldn’t be ignored. But, as I’ve said so many times before over the past almost-a-year, forums, in one sense or another, have a sense of permanency for users, a ‘virtual place’ they can return to, and I believe should be the anchor of a site like this and many others, where the ongoing stream of activity and making-friends for superfans and power users is less important than information being discoverable and discussion interactions being aggregated rather than just fading away. I am growing more disenchanted with the apparent lack of attention being paid to what I believe for many is essential for a successful community site — a featureful forum setup that is the steady beating heart of the swirl of activity.
Yes, I know the bbPress option is suboptimal as a solution, but it’s what we have to work with, and it can’t be ignored or passed off to bbpress.org, because we’re not running bbPress, we’re running an interface free, bbPress-plugin-incompatible fork of it, in essence if not reality, and I really do believe that more attention needs to be paid to the limitations of it as a component of BP and ways to make it work for community-building and user satisfaction.
Anyway, back to Activity. On true social network sites (whatever that means, exactly), it makes some sense that things are ephemeral, that interactions disappear beneath the fold, because, hey, it’s all about interacting with people, socially.
But the focus of this site (and most sites I might consider building with BP) is not just making friends and having a grand old social time. It’s sharing information, asking questions, discussing solutions, offering and asking for assistance, and it’s important that the interface those interactions be structured discoverable for people who are going to have the same questions in future as BP adoption grows, and the toolset for creating them be rich, both from the administration and user-facing perspectives.
How many times do we see the same questions being asked, basic or otherwise? To answer my own question, a lot. That’s just human nature in part, certainly, but it’s also, I think, because the tools we have for using these forums are vestigial, and people just don’t have the information they need at their fingertips. User confusion and frustration will kill a community faster than goatse images. We’re all so used to using this app that I think we lose sight of just how daunting it is for new users. The site I’m building for an existing community on a different platform has taught me that, very quickly.
Not a comprehensive list, but just stuff that comes immediately to mind: things like the lack of a link in the overall forums directory view to the last post in a thread, thread pagination links, or the username of the thread starter, like the inability suddenly to post code, like the lack of pagination to get to older threads in the forums directory (which leads to a ‘uh, now where do I go to see older threads’ reaction, in me, at least, a question to which I still don’t know an answer that doesn’t involve an awful lot of clicks and blind alleys), like the fact that a and a:visited elements are styled the same, like the eyestrainy new design, like conversation being fractured between activity stream and forum posts, like the loss of the ability to favorite threads to bookmark them for later and a place to easily survey and keep up with the threads we’ve started or commented in, well, it’s death by a thousand cuts at the moment.
Don’t take this as just moaning, though. I don’t mean to insult anyone, and I know how much my feelings are hurt when my own users level harsh criticism of my design decisions. I love BP, I think @apeatling and everyone else involved in building and supporting BP, ‘officially’ or not, are doing a great job, and I see nothing but further successes. But I think BP itself, as it stands, without thinking a little bit (OK, a lot) more about how actual users use it, is a poor match for this site, so far. It wasn’t that great in the old design, but it’s orders of magnitudes more confusing and difficult to use now, even for someone like me who’s been nipples-deep in BP for many months.
OK, I’ve typed enough. I’m going back to work on my Stylish Firefox extension stylesheet for this site so that the low-contrast doesn’t give me headaches any more.
Also, yes, I know ‘get back on your porch, grandpa — forums are so 1998.’
Fair enough — but that way of structuring conversation on the web is everywhere for a good reason. It works, and people intuitively understand it. You can’t force people into new interaction paradigms, you have to design interpenetrating ways of letting them interact, and let them choose for themselves the way they do it. As designers, I believe we must give users reasonable choices. We also have to respect the data — the kind of information a site presents informs the way it should be presented. Forum must follow function.
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