Keep This Design? Go Back to the Old One? - Forum.
  Poll Question : Should we keep the old layout or go with this new style?  (Poll is closed)

Total: 5

eutychus
2020-05-20T19:35:28Z
Before I start the process of investigating what's causing the problem with the message board, I would like your input.

It would be easier for me to just start over and use the type of layout you see here (menu on top and a wider view screen.) However, we've had the old version (left hand menu and a less wide screen) for so long, I don't know if people have become attached to it. For my money, I could go either way. It would be easier for me to start fresh instead of trying to untangle whatever is causing the problems. But please let me know how you feel, if you have any opinions one way or another.

Please note that this does not refer to the color scheme. I'm still working on a way to create your own. This is just referring to the basic layout itself.

Thanks!
PopKorn Kat
2020-05-20T20:57:21Z
This new layout is a lot more mobile-friendly. I’m all for basing our forum look off this basic design!
Zachary
2020-05-21T03:07:50Z
I don't mind moving the IAD logo and menus to the top of the page (this would improve compatibility with lower screen resolutions anyway), but as for the forum design/style: if you are able to restore the old style, please, please, do so. As primarily a desktop user, the new style is awful. It is typical of run-of-the-mill, abusive "modern" web design, being designed specifically with mobile devices in mind (and flipping the bird at those of us using traditional computers), and displaying the detestable influence of typical "modern" styling.

As is typical, it wastes considerable amounts of screen space, hiding information and functions that was formerly displayed directly away in menus or tooltips (which simply diminishes usability in a desktop environment), and assuming users who use an OS DPI setting of, say, the traditional 96 DPI really meant to select 120 DPI or more instead (the font sizes on thread pages and reply forms aren't so bad, but those on forum index pages are ridiculous). Guess what? If I have it set to 96 DPI, that's what I want. The font sizes should be determined by the DPI setting only, rather than assuming that someone's DPI setting is unreasonably low for their physical screen size and compensating with an unreasonably high point size. Similarly, the layout should not assume that a 1024- or 1280-pixel-wide screen is a mobile device. If someone's mobile device (or computer with a high-resolution monitor, for that matter) reports an unreasonably low DPI setting for its screen size, that's not others' problem.

The icons are typical examples of flat-ass "modern" design, which sacrifices usability for the sake of being "sleek" and "modern". Shading and colors help delineate different parts of images and UIs, but the trend these days is to deliberately eschew this for the sake of being "modern". They are also implemented as font characters, and render poorly on desktop screens with traditional DPI settings, even with sub-pixel antialiasing enabled. Supporting "emoji" only instead of traditional image-based smileys is another fail, as "emoji", being Unicode characters, suffer from the same poor rendering as the icons. I'm not against allowing "emoji" to be used, but they should not replace traditional smileys.

At least the new forum doesn't seem to be as slow as a snail in molasses, as is all too typical with "modern" websites (due to lazy-ass developers using as much JavaScript, and especially JavaScript frameworks, as possible, lest they have to spend the time to actually write good, efficient code and use better-performing simple HTML and CSS where possible).

In summary, the new style would be acceptable as a user-selectable "mobile" style, but it should not be the only option. The old style was overall very good, providing mostly great usability in a desktop environment, while also providing a decent mobile version used by default on mobile browsers. I'm in favor of a site being reasonably usable on a mobile device, but it should not come at the expense of usability on a computer. As someone who uses a smartphone to browse from time to time, I have no reservation saying that smartphones provide an objectively inferior experience for browsing and especially typing. Those who ignorantly think that "hunting and pecking" on a virtual "keyboard" and holding their arms up to tap and "swipe" their fat greasy fingers on a touchscreen is somehow an advancement over using a real keyboard and precise pointing device should *not* be catered to; if one or the other device has to suffer concessions, it should be the mobile device.
PopKorn Kat
2020-05-21T03:46:31Z
I’m going to offer some more feedback on the design as someone who uses a desktop computer, a tablet (iPad Pro), and a smartphone (iPhone) that is used when I have neither of the other devices on hand.

As of late, I have taken to using a Firefox extension entitled “Dark Reader” to browse the web. The site’s appearance with that on is the old forum’s biggest failing, in my opinion – the script simply inverts the colors on the webpage, and some are just not pleasant to look at. Furthermore, the color combinations clashed with each other, resulting in a style that, while perfectly functional on both desktop and mobile devices, was, again, not the most pleasing to the eyes.

I agree with Zachary that the font-size for topic titles on the forum index is too large. I’d recommend toning it down a couple of notches.

Most importantly, I feel that post-tinkering tools (edit, move, delete) should be more readily visible. I don’t associate the “...” symbol with “tools”. I don’t want to accidentally break anything while trying to, say, delete an off-topic post.

More protips may be offered as I get more cushy with this new layout.
WaltWiz1901
2020-05-21T04:00:46Z
Originally Posted by: Zachary 

I don't mind moving the IAD logo and menus to the top of the page (this would improve compatibility with lower screen resolutions anyway), but as for the forum design/style: if you are able to restore the old style, please, please, do so. As primarily a desktop user, the new style is awful. It is typical of run-of-the-mill, abusive "modern" web design, being designed specifically with mobile devices in mind (and flipping the bird at those of us using traditional computers), and displaying the detestable influence of typical "modern" styling.

As is typical, it wastes considerable amounts of screen space, hiding information and functions that was formerly displayed directly away in menus or tooltips (which simply diminishes usability in a desktop environment), and assuming users who use an OS DPI setting of, say, the traditional 96 DPI really meant to select 120 DPI or more instead (the font sizes on thread pages and reply forms aren't so bad, but those on forum index pages are ridiculous). Guess what? If I have it set to 96 DPI, that's what I want. The font sizes should be determined by the DPI setting only, rather than assuming that someone's DPI setting is unreasonably low for their physical screen size and compensating with an unreasonably high point size. Similarly, the layout should not assume that a 1024- or 1280-pixel-wide screen is a mobile device. If someone's mobile device (or computer with a high-resolution monitor, for that matter) reports an unreasonably low DPI setting for its screen size, that's not others' problem.

The icons are typical examples of flat-ass "modern" design, which sacrifices usability for the sake of being "sleek" and "modern". Shading and colors help delineate different parts of images and UIs, but the trend these days is to deliberately eschew this for the sake of being "modern". They are also implemented as font characters, and render poorly on desktop screens with traditional DPI settings, even with sub-pixel antialiasing enabled. Supporting "emoji" only instead of traditional image-based smileys is another fail, as "emoji", being Unicode characters, suffer from the same poor rendering as the icons. I'm not against allowing "emoji" to be used, but they should not replace traditional smileys.

At least the new forum doesn't seem to be as slow as a snail in molasses, as is all too typical with "modern" websites (due to lazy-ass developers using as much JavaScript, and especially JavaScript frameworks, as possible, lest they have to spend the time to actually write good, efficient code and use better-performing simple HTML and CSS where possible).

In summary, the new style would be acceptable as a user-selectable "mobile" style, but it should not be the only option. The old style was overall very good, providing mostly great usability in a desktop environment, while also providing a decent mobile version used by default on mobile browsers. I'm in favor of a site being reasonably usable on a mobile device, but it should not come at the expense of usability on a computer. As someone who uses a smartphone to browse from time to time, I have no reservation saying that smartphones provide an objectively inferior experience for browsing and especially typing. Those who ignorantly think that "hunting and pecking" on a virtual "keyboard" and holding their arms up to tap and "swipe" their fat greasy fingers on a touchscreen is somehow an advancement over using a real keyboard and precise pointing device should *not* be catered to; if one or the other device has to suffer concessions, it should be the mobile device.


Amen.
Originally Posted by: eutychus 

However, we've had the old version (left hand menu and a less wide screen) for so long, I don't know if people have become attached to it.


I have! It's rather disappointing and confusing to see that when I try to use the forum using the old style, I can't see a single post.
Zachary
2020-05-21T04:23:49Z
I'm going to have to backtrack a bit on saying the font sizes on thread pages "aren't so bad". The size for quoted text (as demonstrated above) is ridiculous.
PopKorn Kat
2020-05-21T08:31:47Z
Originally Posted by: Zachary 

I'm going to have to backtrack a bit on saying the font sizes on thread pages "aren't so bad". The size for quoted text (as demonstrated above) is ridiculous.



I gotta agree with Zachary. At the very least, make the font sizes of non-quoted and quoted text the same.
eutychus
2020-05-21T12:33:37Z
Here's a mock up of what the new style might look like. I'm in agreement about the font sizes. They're hardwired into the MB software, but there are ways around that.

http://mfoxweb-001-site17.mysitepanel.net/ 


There are a few aspects that I have to consider:

1: If I go with the new look it's going to be a months long project getting the whole site converted, so we'd have to live with a "hybrid" site for a while.

2: If we stay with the old look, I don't know when (if ever) I'll be able to track down what's causing the difficulties so we'd be stuck with the external MB for a while.

3: It's also a consideration that the more I work on the board software, the less time I'll have to give to updating the information itself!

So, let me know what you think!