Forum Design - Hard to refer people

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Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Juntistik » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:21 am

Hey everyone,

I have been a long time lurker here and end up referring a lot of people to this site. Unfortunately, many people are turned off by the overall design, ux, and responsiveness of the site. Are there any plans to redesign this site? Maybe some IT centric Bogleheads would be willing to do so for free - I know I would be willing to.

I lost my previous account details so this is a new one - please don't be turned off by the post count.

Thanks!
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby jjbiv » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:36 pm

I agree, the home page is very busy and confusing to a new visitor. This likely stems from the forum's history as an index of the Morningstar Diehards forum. Simple is better when it comes to welcoming new members and guiding them to the introductory resources they are most likely to find useful. I personally was turned off by several visits to the site before I dug in deep enough to understand the treasure trove of resources here. This seems to be a case of appearance and design masking fabulous content. It's a good problem to have but one that (IMHO) can and should be addressed.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Default User BR » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:53 pm

If the main page is too confusing, use the Index page.

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/index.php

That's my preferred entry.


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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby jjbiv » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:01 pm

Default User BR wrote:If the main page is too confusing, use the Index page.

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/index.php

That's my preferred entry.


Brian


I believe the main issue here is that a new visitor is not likely to make it that far. I imagine most new visitors see the home page and feel at least a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps they click on a link or two but I doubt they get much further. An analysis of the web server logs for this site would tell us for sure. Regardless, making the site more welcoming to first-time visitors would benefit all of us by creating a larger and more dynamic community here. Perhaps we have a UX designer who frequents the site and could assist?
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby bertilak » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:02 pm

Default User BR wrote:If the main page is too confusing, use the Index page.

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/index.php

That's my preferred entry.


Brian

That's where my bookmark is. I forgot there was a main page other than that. Just took a look at it (http://www.bogleheads.org/).

Yikes! That is scary! :shock:

Hundreds (literally!) of random-looking links with a bunch of cryptic codes (h, t, p, c, r, l, f) and that doesn't include the "Quick Links" down the left-hand side.
Last edited by bertilak on Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby mhc » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:03 pm

Dupe,

do you have an example of another forum that looks better?

If a person is not use to using forums on the web, it may be a turnoff, but this forum is very similar to others.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Default User BR » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:29 pm

jjbiv wrote:
Default User BR wrote:If the main page is too confusing, use the Index page.


I believe the main issue here is that a new visitor is not likely to make it that far.

Depends on how they got here. From a search, perhaps. From a referral, the referrer should give them the Index page. That looks a lot like other web forums they might be used to.


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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Default User BR » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:32 pm

mhc wrote:do you have an example of another forum that looks better?

If a person is not use to using forums on the web, it may be a turnoff, but this forum is very similar to others.

From the Index page, yes it looks like most other PHPBB forums. From the main page, not so much. I personally think that is the reason so many thread get started in the wrong forum.


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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby ObliviousInvestor » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:39 pm

I always link to the forum index page. From there, it looks pretty much like your standard online forum.

I do use the bogleheads.org page for my own viewing though.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby SteveB3005 » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:59 pm

If they're overwhelmed by the webpage layout, they're never going to get the part about ignoring market noise.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby dratkinson » Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:38 pm

I'd forgotten about the "first" page. Never use it as I come in at...

http://diehards.org/forum



But when I refer people, I make it easy for them. If you google "investment forum", you will also bypass the front page and come directly in. So I tell them...

    "Google 'investment forum' and choose the Bogleheads' entry. It's an homage to John C. Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Investment Group."

Easy to remember search.
d.r.a, not dr.a.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby LadyGeek » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:19 pm

Decisions on the home page design are made by the site owner, Alex Frakt. I'll ask him about it.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Skerrick » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:38 pm

While I agree that the main page is intimidating, it is my preferred method for "browsing" the forum. I really like seeing the active threads across the entire forum. Move it if you must, but please do not get rid of it.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby LadyGeek » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:40 pm

BTW, clicking on the heading at the top of each column will sort the list.

Alternatively, you can view across the forum this way: View new posts

Board index --> View new posts, look just above the FORUM heading at the top left.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Juntistik » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:25 am

SteveB3005 wrote:If they're overwhelmed by the webpage layout, they're never going to get the part about ignoring market noise.


Clearly you don't get it. It goes beyond being overwhelmed. I see many threads about people complaining about eye strain when looking at computers. A landing page with tons of links and text everywhere can contribute directly to this. I, like some other posters, actually enjoy being able to skim everything from a central place - it can just be painful from a UX standpoint.

I think the forum view is fine, so I actually should have phrased the title of this thread a little differently. Overall, i think it would be cool if the landing page at bogleheads.org could use a refresh. I totally understand that this site is more about content and that any refresh is probably a long ways out.

Thanks for the responses everyone
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby SteveB3005 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:52 am

I get it, and have for a while.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby WhyNotUs » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:07 pm

UX reminds me of my old days on the WELL.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Sheepdog » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:09 pm

Nothing can be perfect for everyone. Change what we have and someone can say that could be better. I just looked at "Who is online" and it says at this moment,

In total there are 336 users online :: 60 registered, 12 hidden and 264 guests (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 705 on Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:15 pm


336 persons at this time of day on a Friday, is amazing to me. The website seems to be working fine.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Mel Lindauer » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:16 pm

Obviously with numbers like these (approaching two million posts), there are lots and lots of folks who aren't having a problem.

Total posts 1,703,968 • Total topics 114,486 • Total members 29,014.

And we also need to remember that while we have more than 29,000 registered members, there are often five to ten times as many visitors as members online at any one time, so the total number of guests reading the forum without posting are mind-boggling.

I'd suggest giving friends you want to refer to the forum this link: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/
Best Regards - Mel | | Semper Fi
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Big Worm » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:48 pm

That busy page is HORRIBLE. I started coming here a bunch more when I figured out how to get to the more palatable forum.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby kaneohe » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:25 pm

One nice thing about the existing page is that it does contain a lot of info so you can find it if you spend enough time.
If you used e.g. the /forum page, some of the links would be missing and folks wouldn't know about them or have a hard
time finding them.

What seems to make the page busy is the extended list of the most recent threads. Perhaps that list could be shortened on
the first page with a link at the bottom to the next page which could be an extended list. That would clean up the home page w/o losing the other important links.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Alex Frakt » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:36 pm

Juntistik wrote:I have been a long time lurker here and end up referring a lot of people to this site. Unfortunately, many people are turned off by the overall design, ux, and responsiveness of the site. Are there any plans to redesign this site?

May I suggest directing readers straight to the wiki's Getting started page or at least telling there is a link to it at the top of the home page if they find the entire page overwhelming?

I could see swapping or truncating the Quick Links section at the top of the left nav bar for something that would provide better guidance to someone new to the site. But I'm not going to remove the thread list from the home page. It is far and away the most heavily utilized section of our site. Most of our traffic comes from repeat users who bounce between the homepage thread list and different threads. I do not want to do anything to inconvenience them.

I'll also note that our site logs show that most new readers do not come through the home page, they come in through search engines and land on specific threads. Most of the time they apparently find what they are looking for since they then disappear. A smaller number apparently backs out to their search and re-enters to another thread. The small percentage that browse from a search result page to our home page do not seem to have great difficulty with it, they usually check out more pages before leaving.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Sidney » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:42 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:
Juntistik wrote:I have been a long time lurker here and end up referring a lot of people to this site. Unfortunately, many people are turned off by the overall design, ux, and responsiveness of the site. Are there any plans to redesign this site?

May I suggest directing readers straight to the wiki's Getting started page or at least telling there is a link to it at the top of the home page if they find the entire page overwhelming?

I could see swapping or truncating the Quick Links section at the top of the left nav bar for something that would provide better guidance to someone new to the site. But I'm not going to remove the thread list from the home page. It is far and away the most heavily utilized section of our site. Most of our traffic comes from repeat users who bounce between the homepage thread list and different threads. I do not want to do anything to inconvenience them.

I'll also note that our site logs show that most new readers do not come through the home page, they come in through search engines and land on specific threads. Most of the time they apparently find what they are looking for since they then disappear. A smaller number apparently backs out to their search and re-enters to another thread. The small percentage that browse from a search result page to our home page do not seem to have great difficulty with it, they usually check out more pages before leaving.

I'm impressed that you could figure all this out from the transit lounge at the Moscow airport. :P
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby tibbitts » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:22 pm

I don't understand what the complaints are about - the page seems fine, and having threads on that initial page is the best feature.

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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Alex Frakt » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:38 pm

Sidney wrote:I'm impressed that you could figure all this out from the transit lounge at the Moscow airport. :P

That's funny. But I want to answer it seriously with the relevant paragraph from our forum privacy policy:
Log File Information - When you browse our site our web server automatically collects basic information provided by your web browser including pages requested, internet protocol (IP) addresses, type of browser, referring and exit pages and search query (if referred by a search engine). The raw data is stored in text files on the server known as log files. The log files are only available to the system administrators and are only used for administrative tasks, such as performance tuning or fixing bugs. However, aggregated demographic information which contains no personally identifiable information may be made available to interested parties (including the site membership) at the discretion of the site owners.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby JSMill » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:00 pm

One suggestion: cosmetically, I think the landing page would benefit from more "negative space."

http://sixrevisions.com/web_design/nega ... s-a-guide/

Perhaps move away some of the text/ links on the left side of the page?

On the whole though, I am very appreciative of the work that the site administrators have put in. As a new user last year, I did find the layout a little disconcerting but now I'm very comfortable with the page setup. Thanks,
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby wintermute » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:01 pm

Personally, I like the current main page a great deal. It's simple text with few images, displays very fast, and will load even over a 1x or a bad 3g link. I find thread display to be quick as well.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby pennstater2005 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:18 pm

I like the thread list and it never turned me off from this site. Actually, it is an easy way to see when a new response comes in for a particular thread. This is my default page for both my laptop and my smartphone.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Saving$ » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:23 pm

Skerrick wrote:While I agree that the main page is intimidating, it is my preferred method for "browsing" the forum. I really like seeing the active threads across the entire forum. Move it if you must, but please do not get rid of it.


What about the simple solution: Just switch the addresses so that www.bogleheads.org lands you where index.php lands you now, with a new header directing folks to the forums.

And then give us old timers a direct link to where www.bogleheads.org currently lands you.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby etarini » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:24 pm

I'm sorry, but I LOVE the main page. I had to refresh my memory to see what the index page looked like, because I never use it. I immediately remembered what I didn't like about the index page - it shows you the topics, but, unless you're determined to drill down into some narrow topic, you don't see the interesting post titles for all the forums.

Even if I'm looking for something specific, I often get waylaid (or make a mental note to come back) when I see an interesting post. Wooden floors? Yes, I'd like to know what others have to say about that. Generators? Buying municipal bonds? What to do if you only have 3 days in a city I might visit someday?
Chip-and-pin credit cards?

There are so many topics, in so many areas, that I might want to see, that I can't imagine losing the wonderful main page that greets me several times a day when I visit - sometimes researching something specific, but often just to see what else others are doing.

Thanks again for such a wonderful forum.

Eric
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby bigmantenor » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:36 pm

etarini wrote:I'm sorry, but I LOVE the main page. I had to refresh my memory to see what the index page looked like, because I never use it. I immediately remembered what I didn't like about the index page - it shows you the topics, but, unless you're determined to drill down into some narrow topic, you don't see the interesting post titles for all the forums.

Even if I'm looking for something specific, I often get waylaid (or make a mental note to come back) when I see an interesting post. Wooden floors? Yes, I'd like to know what others have to say about that. Generators? Buying municipal bonds? What to do if you only have 3 days in a city I might visit someday?
Chip-and-pin credit cards?

There are so many topics, in so many areas, that I might want to see, that I can't imagine losing the wonderful main page that greets me several times a day when I visit - sometimes researching something specific, but often just to see what else others are doing.

Thanks again for such a wonderful forum.

Eric


+1. The functionality of the front page as it stands now is very good. It is very nice to be able to see at-a-glance what topics are trending (similar to Reddit). I also thoroughly enjoy that the front page updates the current hot topics when I use the "Back" button on my browser, instead of remaining static/requiring a refresh.
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Re: Forum Design - Hard to refer people

Postby Juntistik » Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:51 pm

I apologize about the long delay in posting in this thread.

I was by no means criticizing the value or usefulness of the front page, only the experience. I do appreciate that this is a successful forum and that clearly something is working. I think the true value of the forum is the content, not the design. The post above me mentioend Reddit, this is an example of a site that displays a lot of link based content on a front page in a clean way. Clearly their design couldn't be directly applied to Bogleheads for many reasons (no upvoting/downvoting, etc), but i think its an example of how link based thread titles can be displayed in a cleaner way.

Regardless, it seems like there are many mixed opinions on this - I enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts.

Thanks

Junt
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