Make the index a modular portal

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Dragonwolf
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Make the index a modular portal

Post by Dragonwolf »

Lets face it, the Index on phpbb is boring and almost completely non-functional. It has been host to some of the worst ideas ever to hit phpbb - including putting the login bar at the very BOTTOM of the page. :lol: It's almost like the designers of Phpbb have something against the most important tenant of web design - that the user shouldn't have to click though a pile of almost blank pages to get to where they want to go. To expand the functionality of the index page, I suggest we make it a 'portal' page. Portal mods are an interesting concept, but, again, they suffer from a big fault in that they add an extra page you don't need. My suggestion is that we turn the index into a modular portal but without the extra page, like this:

Image


Some Suggestions:
  • The user should really be able to see almost everything important that is going on from the front page and go there right away with no hassle. As much of it as possible should be updated dynamically, with an option to turn this off. Clicking on the avatar should take you to a preview of your profile page. Logging out should turn the avatar into a login box.
  • The user should have to click through the absolute minimum amount of stuff to get to what they want. This means no login page - the user gets taken right back to the index. :P
  • Forums should have three 'new post' states: Totally New. Unread. and Read. Totally New should highlight the whole forum bar and generally make it more noticeable. Totally new would wear off after you view the forum. Unread would highlight just the forum name, icon, and the topic name (see right hand bar on image). Read looks as normal. Clicking anywhere on the forum box should take you directly to the forum.
  • Ideally the Forum index's 'Latest posts' box should show the last three posts in a list.
  • There really should be a shoutbox by default that can be turned off but this isn't totally necessary, it just really, really, helps build comunities. It should archive and filter all messages.
  • The forum header should be turned into a neat sidebar, at the moment it looks like a mess and it is hard to see what is clickable and what isn't. For preference, everything should have a small icon (or be an icon).
  • Accessibility options such as text size need to be visible enough for people with sight problems to be able to easily find them.
  • Stuff that really isn't necessary (like in-forum bookmarks) should be stripped out.

So what does everyone think? :D
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Arty
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by Arty »

You are talking about removing useless stuff, yet all I see is bloat:
  • 2 sidebars with irrelevant content distracting user from what matters - list of forums.
  • Huge menu on left side instead of compact menu below header. Most websites use menu in header, that's where users are used to look, not sidebar.
  • Birthdays, stats, forum style selection before main content. They belong in footer with all other stuff nobody cares about. Or at least on right side. Visitor's attention starts on left side because visitors are used to reading from left to right (opposite for RTL languages), so main content should start from left side, not useless sidebar.
  • Second menu on right side. WHY? As if one big menu on left side is not bad enough?
One sidebar on right side is fine - all irrelevant information can be put there. But it should not be used for important content like you use sidebars in sample. Sidebars are for extra content only, so when its removed on small devices nobody would miss it.

Then there is issue of displaying all that mess. With many devices (desktops, tablets, phones) users can use to access forum, content should not require user to have wide screen. Layout with sidebars where important content is stored does require that.

Such layouts do not belong in modern web.
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wintstar
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by wintstar »

Dragonwolf wrote:Lets face it, the Index on phpbb is boring and almost completely non-functional. It has been host to some of the worst ideas ever to hit phpbb - including putting the login bar at the very BOTTOM of the page. :lol: It's almost like the designers of Phpbb have something against the most important tenant of web design - that the user shouldn't have to click though a pile of almost blank pages to get to where they want to go. To expand the functionality of the index page, I suggest we make it a 'portal' page. Portal mods are an interesting concept, but, again, they suffer from a big fault in that they add an extra page you don't need. My suggestion is that we turn the index into a modular portal but without the extra page, like this:
...
------------1
Greeting Stephan :-)
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Master_Cylinder
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by Master_Cylinder »

wintstar wrote:
------------1
12 negatives = a positive. :lol:
These kids today...
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imkingdavid
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by imkingdavid »

phpBB is a bulletin board software. The main content of a bulletin board is its topics, containing posts. These topics are organized into forums, which are further organized into to categories. This is the basic structure that phpBB is designed to present, and it does so in a very logical manner. Placing other content on the page can be convenient, but ultimately the more content you display, the less user-friendly it is because it's simply more stuff to process, and it can distract from the content you actually are trying to present. The main goal of the software should be to display the content the user is looking for in a user-friendly manner, and to provide intuitive ways to access and browse that data.

When I look at your screenshot, all I see is a reorganization of the current data (with the addition of two unnecessary blocks). What you did was you took the navigation bar from the top and placed it on the left. You took the birthday/stats sections from the bottom and placed them on the left. You took the login box and placed it (presumably) on the right, which is then replaced with the user's profile information when the user is logged in -- this concept is not bad (I agree with putting the quick login form in a more logical place) but the presentation is not the best. I don't really see any benefit in taking the currently single-columnar format and making it into an arbitrary three-column format without actually considering what location makes the best sense for each specific piece of data.

As Arty pointed out, this format is also not great for responsive design because you have to figure out what data is important enough to be retained when the user is on a smaller screen resolution, and where to put that data, as well as what data can be discarded without greatly reducing the quality of the browsing experience. Responsive design usually ends up with a single column of data, so when you have two sidebars you have to decide if any of that data more important than the actual content (i.e. forum list, topic list, posts). For instance, sure it's fun to see whose birthday it is, but that's not the primary content a bulletin board is designed to display. So then, do you remove the birthday list on small screens? Or do you hide it with the option of expanding it? Or do you remove it altogether? If you're going to show it at any point, it'd make the most sense to place it at the bottom, beneath the content list... which is where it is presently.

There are also two extra blocks that really serve no purpose: the style switcher (who changes the board style frequently enough to need a dropdown on every page?), and the search block (there's already an identical box at the top of the page). These just add to the clutter without providing any real benefit in the long run.
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wintstar
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by wintstar »

Master_Cylinder wrote:
wintstar wrote:
------------1
12 negatives = a positive. :lol:
A portal should in no case existed from 3.1. In my opinion, a portal flooded the members with information.
Greeting Stephan :-)
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NORDLANDVOLK
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by NORDLANDVOLK »

phpbb is a forum, who need a portal can install a mod for that.
Last edited by NORDLANDVOLK on Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
sorry for my bad english :oops:
Alien_Time
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by Alien_Time »

imkingdavid wrote:this concept is not bad (I agree with putting the quick login form in a more logical place) but the presentation is not the best.
Hi imkingdavid, Have you seen my suggestion here regarding the quick login box? viewtopic.php?f=108&t=44847

That can be easily implemented into phpbb if the developers approve it.

Other than that, I wouldn't mind if the top 5 stats are added to the index. I am currently using RMcGirr's mod to display the top 5 / recent posts, newest users and top contributors that place these info at the bottom of the page and I feel having this make sense in index page.
Dragonwolf
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by Dragonwolf »

2 sidebars with irrelevant content distracting user from what matters - list of forums.
I should mention that this is basically a screenshot of a portal mod, it doesn't have to look like this. If you are worried about it being distracting I should point out that the current forum menu looks like this:

Image

That's about, what, thirteen hyperlinks and a load of plain text compressed into a half inch bar, and it dumps even more in there if you add mods. And Subsilver is even worse! Also, lets not forget this mess:

Image

My main concern is to make this into something which can easily be seen and understood. I have installed this mod before and all of my users say it is easier to see the links when they are set out like it is in the Portal mod image. I should point out that it could be organised differently if you like (it's modular), but when you get right down to it, all this alteration is is a reorganisation that neatens up the links that are already there. The only new thing is the theme changer menu. The second search bar was a mistake and can be ignored.
Dragonwolf
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Re: Make the index a modular portal

Post by Dragonwolf »

In fact, you could even have it like this, depending how you like your forum. This image has all the admin and moderator links cut out, removing a lot of the clutter. The board style window could go on either side or be removed:

*Edit, I keep forgetting to remove the original row of hyperlinks for new and read posts, but they could actually stay there*

Image
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