Suggested UX improvements for forum site
#11
(05-29-2020, 05:16 PM)fire219 Wrote: Hi, forum admin here -- I've put quite a lot of time trying to refine this theme.

I'll start off with a statement that I do agree with most of what you said. This theme is not especially efficient (and the recent 3-bar change up top doesn't make me happy -- but I'll get to the reason for it). However, there's several issues here, and they mostly revolve around two factors:

1. MyBB themes are ridiculous

If MyBB used just a few linear template files that go together for the overall design, many of these changes would be much easier, and could be implemented just like you did. However, the Powers That Be decided to split them up into a ridiculous number of tiny files. They are called with spaghetti code, with hard coded variables for what each chunk of the website should be. There is not much room for creativity in design. Edits that are more than minor changes to text take hours to implement (such as the one I'm about to get to).

2. The design you made will completely fall apart on mobile devices

Yes, the design you made is efficient and effective -- on landscape orientation screens. If you tried to view it on a smartphone, I can promise you it would break and become unusable.

Case in point: that 3 bar (blue-black-silver) header up there? I did it just a few days ago, and don't like how it looks either. Previously, the text/links in the top two bars were in one. But on mobile devices, the links (Main, Rules, Getting Started, etc) completely disappeared -- because there was no room for them! People started complaining about not being able to access those links when on mobile, so I had to split them into two bars in order to fix that.

Now, I'm sure at this point you're yelling at me about Responsive Design. And sure, in a perfect world, you would be right. However, myBB has zero consideration for Responsive Design in mind! There are some themes out there which try to be mobile friendly, but they don't work very well. There also once were plugins which try to remedy this in some fashion, but they're now extremely out of date and have no chance of working properly. 

With immense amounts of time, this theme might be able to be hacked apart to be presentable on mobile, and meet your requests for screen real estate. However, I don't know anyone with immense amounts of time and the desire to deal with this.


In the end, the ultimate solution is to move to a different forum platform. Because trust me -- at this point I feel no love for myBB, to put it mildly. But many of the "modern" free/FOSS choices have UX choices that infuriate me (placing all threads into a giant pile and forcing everyone to use stupid filters to narrow the results down). We'd also be at the mercy of some likely dysfunctional database export tool, else lose 4 years of forum posts.

In the coming days, I might try to narrow some of the margins and shrink some elements, but unfortunately your desire for a super slim layout is a pipe dream. Also, I really like the pretty header image, thank you very much. Wink

MyBB is very old, it's a bad vBullettin copy, nowadays there are better alternative like flarum, have you consider to switch from mybb to flarum?
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#12
(06-02-2020, 06:57 AM)giamma1295 Wrote:
(05-29-2020, 05:16 PM)fire219 Wrote: Hi, forum admin here -- I've put quite a lot of time trying to refine this theme.

I'll start off with a statement that I do agree with most of what you said. This theme is not especially efficient (and the recent 3-bar change up top doesn't make me happy -- but I'll get to the reason for it). However, there's several issues here, and they mostly revolve around two factors:

1. MyBB themes are ridiculous

If MyBB used just a few linear template files that go together for the overall design, many of these changes would be much easier, and could be implemented just like you did. However, the Powers That Be decided to split them up into a ridiculous number of tiny files. They are called with spaghetti code, with hard coded variables for what each chunk of the website should be. There is not much room for creativity in design. Edits that are more than minor changes to text take hours to implement (such as the one I'm about to get to).

2. The design you made will completely fall apart on mobile devices

Yes, the design you made is efficient and effective -- on landscape orientation screens. If you tried to view it on a smartphone, I can promise you it would break and become unusable.

Case in point: that 3 bar (blue-black-silver) header up there? I did it just a few days ago, and don't like how it looks either. Previously, the text/links in the top two bars were in one. But on mobile devices, the links (Main, Rules, Getting Started, etc) completely disappeared -- because there was no room for them! People started complaining about not being able to access those links when on mobile, so I had to split them into two bars in order to fix that.

Now, I'm sure at this point you're yelling at me about Responsive Design. And sure, in a perfect world, you would be right. However, myBB has zero consideration for Responsive Design in mind! There are some themes out there which try to be mobile friendly, but they don't work very well. There also once were plugins which try to remedy this in some fashion, but they're now extremely out of date and have no chance of working properly. 

With immense amounts of time, this theme might be able to be hacked apart to be presentable on mobile, and meet your requests for screen real estate. However, I don't know anyone with immense amounts of time and the desire to deal with this.


In the end, the ultimate solution is to move to a different forum platform. Because trust me -- at this point I feel no love for myBB, to put it mildly. But many of the "modern" free/FOSS choices have UX choices that infuriate me (placing all threads into a giant pile and forcing everyone to use stupid filters to narrow the results down). We'd also be at the mercy of some likely dysfunctional database export tool, else lose 4 years of forum posts.

In the coming days, I might try to narrow some of the margins and shrink some elements, but unfortunately your desire for a super slim layout is a pipe dream. Also, I really like the pretty header image, thank you very much. Wink

MyBB is very old, it's a bad vBullettin copy, nowadays there are better alternative like flarum, have you consider to switch from mybb to flarum?

A year or so ago when we did our forum upgrade, we did consider Flarum (and a few others). However, from my previous message:

Quote:many of the "modern" free/FOSS choices have UX choices that infuriate me (placing all threads into a giant pile and forcing everyone to use stupid filters to narrow the results down). We'd also be at the mercy of some likely dysfunctional database export tool, else lose 4 years of forum posts.

This applies to Flarum, and most of the alternatives that we saw. Along with the fact that our previous forum was also MyBB, in the end we decided not to change.
Community administrator and sysadmin for PINE64
(Translation: If something breaks on the website, forum, or chat network, I'm a good person to yell at about it)

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#13
(06-01-2020, 12:44 PM)Stevie-O Wrote: Let me just get this one out of the way...

(05-30-2020, 08:59 PM)Dendrocalamus64 Wrote: That sort of thing is easy to customize on your end.  Install uBlock Origin, right click on it -> Block element -> Done!

That's the exact sort of thing that is called out on the "Doing Things That Scale" article I linked at the very top of my post. Requiring every user of the forum to do something special in order to get a good experience means that most people won't get a good experience.

(05-29-2020, 05:16 PM)fire219 Wrote: Hi, forum admin here -- I've put quite a lot of time trying to refine this theme.

<snip>

In the end, the ultimate solution is to move to a different forum platform. Because trust me -- at this point I feel no love for myBB, to put it mildly. But many of the "modern" free/FOSS choices have UX choices that infuriate me (placing all threads into a giant pile and forcing everyone to use stupid filters to narrow the results down). We'd also be at the mercy of some likely dysfunctional database export tool, else lose 4 years of forum posts.

@fire219 Thank you for your response! I freely admit that when I was putting all this together, I expected that something different would have to be done for mobile. (Note that, on my phone, the current theme still doesn't work so well; the headings at the top are so tiny they're pretty much unreadable without zooming.)
The current theme definitely isn't perfect on mobile, but it's at least functional without too much frustration.

(06-01-2020, 12:44 PM)Stevie-O Wrote: If you think it's appropriate to move to a different forum software, then I'm not going to argue.  Like I said, I had about a dozen other issues with the forum software; even if we fix the responsiveness issue, there's still everything else wrong with it.

I'm not saying it's appropriate to move to a new forum software. Just saying that it would be easier than fixing everything you mentioned in your OP. Do notice though that I did decrease the size of many of the header elements a few days ago, though.

At this point I feel like you're making a mountain out of a molehill, but if you want to explain a bit on your other issues it's possible you might change my mind.
Community administrator and sysadmin for PINE64
(Translation: If something breaks on the website, forum, or chat network, I'm a good person to yell at about it)

  Reply
#14
[Image: d8317e8c0317b36e22292f81cd840e5ceda17872...3bbb37.jpg]

More seriously though, the current forum [theme] might be clunky, but it works. Until there is a drop in replacement or better alternative that isn't going to requires hours of work that volunteers don't have to spare, I'm quite happy to use UBlock Origin to relieve my mouse from scrolling, and call it quits. I'm not saying it's not worth discussing, but a major consideration here is time and effort - as this is a community affair.
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#15
I agree with Steve-O the header image on the forums is superfluous dead space it needs ditching.

Moving the Pine64 logo in to the blue header line that currently sticks to the top.

The header background image is anyway terrible quality eye sore.
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