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opinions on the new forum look

 
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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What really stood out the most to me was that the buttons sort of blend in with the background image. If the area directly behind the buttons had a more plain background they would contrast a lot better.

Another thing that made me wonder was why the different lengths for the different thread groupings ('all time';'this month';'most recent')? Kind of messes with the "flow" of the page...

Other than that I'm liking it, will probably like it more as the newness wears off.
 
Posts: 696
Location: Porter, Indiana
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Well, count me among the people that absolutely despises the new look of the forums. To me, forums are all about the content and interactions of the users, and stuff that makes viewing that content more difficult should be avoided. Doing a review of the screen with the old design, about 92% of the area is devoted user content (green areas), while 8% is devoted to artistic fluff (sidebars, etc.). In the new design only 71% of the screen area is devoted to content.

92% Content (green) with old design.



71% Content with new design.



On the plus side, the new look is still better than Microsoft Outlook 2010 where ~75% of the screen is devoted to (mostly) useless crap.
 
gardener
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As someone who regularly reads the forums on a laptop, the abuse of the vertical display area is enormous. I can just barely see 2 forum posts.
LaptopArea.png
[Thumbnail for LaptopArea.png]
Default fullscreen browser area
 
pollinator
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John Wolfram : - Just playing around, trying to learn the new system, above the Column of Forum buttons to click are 3 small buttons.

The top one furthest right will make the Column of Forum Buttons disappear and give you a fuller screen - and brings it back to allows
you to hunt for information at a different forum !

See the screen shot above ^ I do not like the Smaller Permies farmer!!!

All our problems should be this easy Big AL
 
Bill Crim
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The more I look at the little Preview Icon on every thread, the less I like it. Threads without the preview pic look like they are missing something, and threads with the preview pic aren't enhanced.

Also... It isn't a thumbnail image. It is the real full-sized image, just scaled down visually. You are still sending a full-size image to my computer. This would be bad for bandwidth costs.
Thumbnails.png
[Thumbnail for Thumbnails.png]
 
John Wolfram
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allen lumley wrote:John Wolfram : - Just playing around, trying to learn the new system, above the Column of Forum buttons to click are 3 small buttons.
The top one furthest right will make the Column of Forum Buttons disappear and give you a fuller screen - and brings it back to allows
you to hunt for information at a different forum !
See the screen shot above ^ I do not like the Smaller Permies farmer!!!
All our problems should be this easy Big AL



If you made the left side menu hidden by default, and switched the black frame at the top to be scrollable, the page would be much better.
 
garden master
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So far, I have been in the new system for about five-ten minutes. This is my first-off reaction: it seems a bit dim in the forum, aesthetically speaking.

I rather like the nice bright look, that is going on right now in the current version- not the beta version, because it matches up with the idea that we are having discussions and thinking on the forum.

Also, the buttons of the beta server, kind of got at me. It feels like one of the video/computer-game forums with the new look, which to me, seems a little off.

Plain is fine. It makes it easier to focus on what matters: the conversations and the people.

EDIT: Here is my second opinion now that I have been submersed in the new beta server for a while. I think the look is OK. I really like the pictures that show up in the subforums, and how things are categorized into the sections: most recent, most viewed, etc. I still think making the SIMILAR THREADS more visible would be helpful- perhaps placing "similar threads" on the side or top, instead of the bottom of a thread, would work... I sill think the beta server looks a little too dim and contrasts with the actual posts a bit much.
 
Michael Newby
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Just saw the beta site for the first time on my phone (Galaxy S5) and I have to say that I really really don't like it.

Everything was so cramped that the personal info to the left of the posts was running into the actual post space, the background seemed to be taking up almost half of the usable space, a simple sentence looks like an entire paragraph so I have to do a lot of scrolling... The experience was almost painful. If that was my first foray into permies.com land then I'm not sure how long I would have stuck around.

I'll agree with John when he says that there's a good bit of wasted space around the edges.
 
steward
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since you asked...

I remember how horrified I was back in 1996 when the HotBot search engine came out... All those funky colors about gave me an epileptic fit. I believe that a large part of Google's success was that they chose a plain black and white format. No nonsense. No decorations. Just plain old easy to read black on white text.

The new permies has so much going on visually that is it difficult for me to actually pay attention to the text. It's like the buttons are a captcha, designed to prevent anyone except the most persistent from reading and understanding them. The menu on the top of the page seems like another captcha with light brown over darker brown again interfering with my ability to read and understand.

The new color scheme seems dark to me... Dark and inaccessible... Hard to read. Hard to find things at a glance. In either version, half of my vertical screen is taken up by a logo, an ad, and a one or two line menu. Both of these issues are helped immensely by blocking images incoming from www.permies.com. That doesn't help though with the difficulty of reading text on brown backgrounds. Ha! So I searched around until I found a setting in my web browser that disables all custom colors for text and backgrounds. Wow! Permies is perfectly legible now.



 
Posts: 4
Location: oregon nw of eugene
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I don't particularly like it. The color scheme is annoying and much harder to read and agree with what Joseph had to say about simple.
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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I would like to See : Every Time The New Topic is pressed I would like it to take us to a new page where they are given links to these pages

http://www.permies.com/t/34193/tnk/permies-works-links-threads

and

http://www.permies.com/t/43625/introductions/Universal

This would be very handy for 1st time posters, they could then be given an option to continue on to their Own New Forum Thread or review these

'Universal greeting posts'


Alternately as soon as they have made their initial post they could be shown these "Universal Welcome Posts " and the Similar Threads and then

asked if they wanted to See and or Review and edit their posts - again this would give them immediate feedback and cut down on redundancies Big AL
 
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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The beta view is really hard to use on my phone. The text smooshes together and space is wasted on the dark wood border. Too much going on, simpler is better.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1947
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I am borrowing a computer to try it. It is much easier to use on a bigger screen. The mobile version is not useful but this might be ok.

The buttons are too close in color to the wood background for me to see easily.

I feel like I don't like it as much but it might just be because it's unfamiliar.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1947
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When I try to zoom in in the mobile view, the buttons at the top zoom in too so the thing I wanted to see better becomes hidden.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
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Matu Collins wrote:When I try to zoom in in the mobile view, the buttons at the top zoom in too so the thing I wanted to see better becomes hidden.



Similar thing happening for me... The menu at the top of the page doesn't scroll with the rest of the page, so the page text and the menu text get all jumbled up together. May be my own fault for turning off colors and images... Turning off colors applies to every web site that I visit. I'm sure enjoying the Internet a lot more today!!!
 
Posts: 1837
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I actually like the new one better. Seems easier to navigate since I tend to bounce around between things a lot.
 
Dave Burton
garden master
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Here's my third opinion: After letting everything about the new forum sink in, I'm actually kind of digging the new forum. it's pretty cool! The contrasting isn't that bad after you have a day to let the new look sink in. And the new buttons are very functional and useful. I like the ability to look at other forums quickly.
 
Posts: 177
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I always ask the same question when a website undegoes a major change: What was working so badly, or was so in need of improvement that it needed to be changed?

The actual functionality seems to be much the same, just more bells and whistles. Graphics that take a little more bandwidth to load. And add to the congestion of the Internet. The only place I really like seeing graphics in this website is when I'm viewing a photo of somebodys lovely creation.

I can't help but evoke a kind of third ethic here. Set limits on bandwidth growth. Rather than increasing the size of a website to meet available bandwidth, we should be using the increased Internet bandwidth to reduce latency, and focus on information content rather than bells and whistles.

Just because we can make it flashier doesn't mean we should.
 
Posts: 78
Location: Independence, KY Zone 6A
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I think that the sub forums are to busy "Top all time" and "top this month" take half of the usable space where they are. I would move it above the active topics without pictures.
 
master steward
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There is a lot about the new look that I like. The off-white background colour and the black font, as well of the choice of font make it much easier to read for a person like me with a language disability. I like how the "Forums Search Permaculture Wiki Recent Topics..." stays at the top of the screen while I scroll down.

The thing that I don't like at all is how cluttered the ... not sure what to call it. The "top all time, Top this month, most recent..." looks. The "top this month" section is interesting, but what I really come here for is the "most recent" section. Maybe it could take up more space and be more text focused instead of having the pictures show in the list of subjects? If any of that made sense.

If I had my druthers, I think I would stick with the old look but have the "Forums Search Permaculture Wiki Recent Topics..." stays at the top of the screen while I scroll down. The old look just feels cleaner and faster.

Thinking about my friends with slow internet, I can imagine that the new look could take noticeably longer to load than the old one.
 
master steward
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I agree with the other posters about the new look being a little too busy, with the "fluff" taking up a lot of space. I also don't care for the scrolling "Recent topics, etc" header. One thing I do like is that it scales the posts' paragraphs to my window size. I often shrink my window so I have a split screen thing going on. But, when I do that with the old format, the paragraphs don't scale. By this I mean that the paragraphs' widths do not shrink to match the size of my window--They stay at their same width, meaning I have to scroll left and right to read the whole thing. That's really annoying. The new forum look does change the pragraph width, which I like!

I also like the new colors and textures of the new look. The permies tree icon, though, looks rather glaring, as it's background is white and square. It would be better if the background was the same so it blended in.

One other thing I noticed that I don't care for is how the new look changes the "date and time" that a post is made. Instead of saying, "Today 8:50:02 AM" it says, "9 hours ago." Or, instead of "7/26/2015 8:37:01 AM" it says "2 days ago." Or, worse yet, in place of "2/17/2013 6:19:43 PM" we have the horribly vague "2 years ago." I hate the rough estimates. I drives me nuts that facebook does this. I'd hate to see it happen here permanently, too!

EDIT: Oh my goodness, I just saw what the "top of the month," etc. stuff that people were talking about. I have to agree that I do not like it. It's visually confusing, the thumbnails are annoying, and dislike not being able to scroll easily and see the last 50-odd posts that had been posted in a given sub-forum. It is neat to be able to access the information of "Top of the Month" and "Top of All Time," but I think a little link at the top of the page to see those threads would be much easier to process visually.

I also miss the "permies>>forums>>tinkering with this site" address at the top of each thread. Now it just says, "tinkering with the site." It's not a big grievance or anything, but I do use these links to navigate all the time, and it makes me sad that they are gone.
 
Jason Silberschneider
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Nicole Alderman wrote: One thing I do like is that it scales the posts' paragraphs to my window size. I often shrink my window so I have a split screen thing going on. But, when I do that with the old format, the paragraphs don't scale. By this I mean that the paragraphs' widths do not shrink to match the size of my window--They stay at their same width, meaning I have to scroll left and right to read the whole thing. That's really annoying. The new forum look does change the pragraph width, which I like!



This is normally caused by somebody uploading a photo that is far too big, instead of scaling it to - say - 30% before uploading. Wordwrap isn't going to be able to fix a large photo, which must stay at that width.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
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Jason Silberschneider wrote:

Nicole Alderman wrote: One thing I do like is that it scales the posts' paragraphs to my window size. I often shrink my window so I have a split screen thing going on. But, when I do that with the old format, the paragraphs don't scale. By this I mean that the paragraphs' widths do not shrink to match the size of my window--They stay at their same width, meaning I have to scroll left and right to read the whole thing. That's really annoying. The new forum look does change the pragraph width, which I like!



This is normally caused by somebody uploading a photo that is far too big, instead of scaling it to - say - 30% before uploading. Wordwrap isn't going to be able to fix a large photo, which must stay at that width.



I've noticed it being worse when there was a large picture, but that was only one page on one thread. I just experimented with zooming in and out, as well as shrinking my window. It appears it's not so much that the words don't wrap, it's that the forum does not change to fit my window, when I scroll out. Here's some example screen shots.
Zoomed-Waaaay-Out.jpg
[Thumbnail for Zoomed-Waaaay-Out.jpg]
Still-scaling-to-fit-my-window.jpg
[Thumbnail for Still-scaling-to-fit-my-window.jpg]
Ah-booger-no-I-can-t-read-it-without-scrolling-right-and-left-copy.jpg
[Thumbnail for Ah-booger-no-I-can-t-read-it-without-scrolling-right-and-left-copy.jpg]
 
Jason Silberschneider
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In other words, the only thing that really needs to be improved with the site as it is now, is to allow scaling to fit different screen sizes. My vague recollection from my previous life is that this is solved by making one variable in the HTML code relative rather than absolute for the page sizing. Sounds easier than a complete makeover.
 
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I've noticed that when opening pages from an email notification, I have to scroll back up a little to get to the actual start of the message its supposed to take me to. The amount I have to scroll is about the same as the top bar (Forums | search | etc).

Of course, far far way more useful to me than a mere new look would be the ability to go to the oldest unread post in the thread. I don't care about the last post in the thread, which is available in the list, since there might be several other new posts in the thread since I last saw it; and posting in a thread without having read every single post in it is just wrong. [The reason I even use email notifications at all is because there is no 'unread post' functionality, and that sort of makes up for it.]
 
gardener
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Well, I don't know how much I would adjust to this new look over time, but so far, I don't like it at all. There is more junk all over everywhere, and less window to read messages in. In particular, the new forum menu format is confusing and inefficient. I followed the (view our new format) link on the old format post I was reading, then followed the link to make my comments "here"and had a hard time finding where I could make comments, a very hard time. Those long vertical bars are not easier to use than the old list, and they don't make it easier to read through the topics. They make it a lot harder.

And I don't really CARE about "top" anything. I want as much user posted information on the screen as possible, not as many buttons as possible. As many thread topics visible at the same time.

I wonder, was there a problem you were trying to fix?

Often times when google decides to change something, it appears to me, the lowly user, that they have not improved anything, the designers are just having fun building something new. Stuff like rebuilds and redesigns is "playing", and I think they lose track of the fact that the majority of users are folks that use the internet because so much commerce and culture has been transferred there. I use the internet for things like permies.com, where there are lots of people interested in what I am interested in, and there is not a non internet option to replace it. I definitely do not have the same amount of fun as the designers joy and excitement over "Hey, look at this!" and "You know what would be really cool"... and the next thing you know, a perfectly good thing has been changed rather than improved, and rather than using the time to do the business I came online to do, I have the frustration of trying to figure out how to find my way through the cool new thing that has hidden the information I need and obscured the process I learned in order to find it.

I don't mind a remake if there is an issue to address, but, I just don't know what the issue was or what the objective behind creating new format was/is.

I agree with the posters who pointed out the difficulty with reading the full width of the window in the old format, and I am suffering from that right now, but fixing that is the only thing I think would improve the existing system.

Thanks very much for the opportunity to look and comment. I am going back to the old format, if I can find my way out of here, and won't look at this again unless the one we are using now is made unavailable.

Thekla
 
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I do like how the top banner stays available during the whole thread.

A lot of others have had some really interesting input, actually some really good input. Please pay attention to things like readability, screen size, wasted space and bandwidth usage.

Also consider a mobile version, please! most of my reading is from a mobile device.
 
pollinator
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I run a self reliant homestead and one of the maxims I use running the farm is....if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Personally, I like the old forum just fine. The new format is snazzy and pretty, but I suppose I'm just an old geezer who is no longer impressed by glitz. I don't know really if people would come to permies.com because of the glitz, but if it's glitz that draws their attention I doubt that they're really serious about permaculture.

Anyway, the new format is a bit distracting compared to the old. The one issue that bugs me is that the new format makes reading a post more cumbersome because it devotes less horizontal space to it. So instead of a broad column of type that took up the whole width of my screen, I see a tall narrower column. It just means more scrolling down on my iPad.

I like the ease of seeing the various tabs on the old forum. My eyes at first completely missed the top row of tabs across the top. Now that I know that they're there, it's not a problem, but I did miss seeing them initially.

Ya know, humans are primates, and as any animal behaviorist knows, primates in general hate change. So I guess you'll see resistance to switching to a new format.......but the monkeys will get use to it.

One thing that I don't know how to check.........does the new format use more bandwidth? I have to pay extra for my bandwidth if I overrun my monthly allotment, so I surely won't be happy if the new format starts gobbling up more for usage. (I not a geek, so I think it's called bandwidth. Perhaps "download megabytes" or something like that is what I mean? ) As an aside, I just found out that I'm wasting over have my monthly bandwidth allotment due to automatically downloading ads on the various websites I visit. So I'm trying to install some sort of ad blocker. If I'm not successful, I plan to stop going to websites that have lots of ads. I really hate paying to download ads that I have zero interest in even looking at.
 
pollinator
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My first impression was that the (hang on why is the text in this edit window so very tiny... reminds me of those please write your complaint in this box ->[ ] ) display speed is very much improved. Getting an email that says there is a new message in * forum and activating the link gets me the message displayed very quickly. I like that.

Not sure why the message compose screen is so different, maybe not updated yet?

There ctl + a few times makes this so I can read what I am doing.

compose still provides no way of uploading a standard *.webm (html5) video or even embedding it. Youtube belongs to someone else and is controlled (it seems) by Sony who will pull any video they feel like for content. (oops, sorry for rant... the empire prolly gets a kickback for these things too, so maybe that is ok)

The look is fine by me... anyone who has been around a while will stay anyway and get used to it... and new users may feel this shows "care and planning" or something, so it is worth sticking around to what is here. (I am not an advertizing guy so who knows )

Edit: I think the font size for message compose should be the same as message display
 
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I'm not going to comment on the look at the moment, but I do want to emphasize that the choice of dating posts "3 years ago" instead of with an actual date removes an important layer of information.

Many people will write something like, "I just started planting potatoes this week". Ok, *when* did that occur? Was it March, June, or October? Was it early or late in the month? To me, this is vital data now made opaque.

On a similar note, I think people should not be able to register without putting in a climate zone, USDA or otherwise. Just make it a requirement to put something in that field, even if it's a note saying that the person is nomadic. There are many posts that have left me wondering about hardiness, because the person didn't indicate where they are growing.

 
Posts: 395
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I came here just to say what I suspect has already been said but I am having heath problems with fatigue so I can't read every comment

the background and sides are just too dark brown for me to read it comfortably. I prefer the old theme as far as readability and ease of use of the site goes.

I did read a little and I want to say I agree with Cynthia Quilici about the importance of knowing when a post was posted. this seems useful and like the site will work better to keep this information easily seen.

and I want to disagree with Cynthia Quilici about requiring people put in a zone for climate. I have so many micro climates that are different enough the local zones on charts really don't help me much at all. my average year round temperature is right around 70 so plenty of plants need more frost than we get here and plenty of plants don't ripen well here but plenty of plants grow fantastic here that don't grow well in most of the world. I have never seen any sort of climate zone chart that really helps me. I need to look at specifics for each plant to see if it will grow here. I am happy to say I live in a cool foggy pacific coast climate that is not far north enough or foggy enough to be considered part of the oregon washington group and it is not nearly warm enough or tropical enough for the other groups here.
 
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Dislike, looks childish and gimmicky. Please preserve the white space, functional & clean current view.
 
steward
Posts: 3174
Location: Moratuwa, Sri Lanka (zone 12)
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We want to thank you all for giving your feedback on different perspectives. At this moment, I can only say that EVERY suggestion you added has been considered and discussed among the staff. Some of these suggestions were prioritized, 'fixed', and in test, and you will see the reflection of some of them soon on production.

At the same time, I agree that our beta template doesn't look good at all on mobile devices, and it isn't responsive much with browser scaling. This is because in beta template, we have intentionally ignored mobile devices, because we have plans on creating a separate, clean, and minimal beta template for mobile view soon.
 
Cynthia Quilici
Posts: 42
Location: Central Vermont
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I understand what Meryt is saying on a fine-grained scale. But some people post and you don't even know what hemisphere they are in, nor what sort of climate (tropical, temperate, what?).

If "zones" don't float everyone's boat, I still think at least a general location would be helpful.
Meryt's own profile is fairly descriptive, so thank you for that!
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 15598
Location: Left Coast Canada
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I wonder if zones are actually useful. Even if we did have a universal, world wide system - instead of the current each country/region having their own way of measuring things - if it would be possible to use it. There are so many variables that affect growing seasons. Min and max temperatures are only one small part of it. Frost dates, can vary by weeks, within the same zone. I haven't seen yet that the zones take into account the effect that day length has on growing. My cowpeas began to bloom this week! The luffas (in the greenhouse) are just starting to form flower buds - yet by my zone, I should be harvesting green cowpeas a month ago and munching on little luffa gourds for the last few weeks. The problem is that I'm so much further north than the rest of my 'zone', which means that plants that are daylight sensitive behave differently here than they would in other parts of the world with the same zone as me.

Then there is rainfall. Most of the places in my zone have a very different rainfall pattern, so if I buy seeds for my zone, it won't necessarily grow here without extra agricultural inputs like irrigation. If I planted by the dates for my zone, things would fail miserably, but if I put my potatoes in the ground in Feb or earlier, I get a splendid crop. Most of my actual plantings are at least a month before the standard planting date for my zone.

But that's just my experience as to why I don't much care for these zones. Maybe the US is more uniform than the 'wilds' of Canada, so zones make more sense there?

Agricultural zones are perhaps a useful starting point, but no substitution for personal observation of the local growing patterns.
 
gardener
Posts: 323
Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
56
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I don't have a lot of input other than to say, I like the new look.
I prefer a color other than white. White is hard on the eyes at night.

I know this kind of thing takes a lot of time and it's great to see the forum getting a facelift.
Thanks to everyone working on it!
 
Posts: 63
Location: Haut-Rhin, France
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less is more - I know it sounds cheesy but designs really tend to be best if nothing more can be removed.

It looks old, like pages I designed 10 years ago.
Some of it is the darkness of the wood background.
The buttons OMG last time I did buttons like this I committed the crime to implement them as image map and switched the images for the altered state!
It uses a lot of space around the content but does nothing with it to make it calm and pleasant to consume the actual content.

For the color palette have a look at solarized not for the colors but for the explanations about selective contrast and the like.

Disclaimer: I'm NOT a talented designer but I do some web programming at work and as we don't have designers to help me I just use bootstrap to style the web tools I get ordered to build.
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1478
Location: Vancouver Island
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Dominik Riva wrote:
It looks old, like pages I designed 10 years ago.





I have been told the tk/tcl stuff I still sometimes use, looks old. So I was quite surprised when the latest version of a tool I use quite a bit looks like it uses tk for it's buttons etc. It uses qt which is actively developed and concidered some of the latest stuff out there. Great for designing crossplatform software.

As with womens clothing, GUI styles seem to go in cycles. The current trend in computers is towards people who are able to use a computer only if it is an appliance... like their phone or microwave or fridge. There are expected to be only 3 to 5 applications in use ever. Many of the new "styles" in SW look old to me too.
 
gardener
Posts: 2941
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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I agree with a lot of the comments here. The thing that led me to feel a need to comment was the top menubar - on my laptop it takes a big permanent bite out of the height of every page, and I can't see some pictures complete but have to scroll up and down. This is always a risk, but happens more when the content space is diminished by navigation. Making the top bar a thin line that scrolls down when the cursor hits the top of the screen is easy with CSS and well supported in browsers nowadays... it can even be made gracefully animated.
Other people's usage may vary, but I spend about 95% of my time looking at recent posts, and having the options permanently onscreen in the top menu is seldom of use to me.

If the side menu toggle setting is remembered for a user, that would be okay with me (I haven't looked at it long enough to know yet.) Othrwise, it does take up a large chunk of screen with navigation that (for me) is seldom needed.

The woodgrain and buttons look old-fashioned, and the dark color scheme tends to make some things harder to read (particularly the top menubar).

I think important information is lost with the breadcrumbs simply showing the immediate sub-(sub-)forum instead of the whole trail. What category does "Meaningless Drivel" fall under? One who does not regularly visit there would not know how to find it, or where they are if they drop in from a link.

I do find the "quick reply" box working better than the old one, which always appears off the top of the screen for me, and then jumps down after I click on it and start typing.
 
steward
Posts: 28036
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Michael Newby wrote:
Another thing that made me wonder was why the different lengths for the different thread groupings ('all time';'this month';'most recent')? Kind of messes with the "flow" of the page...



Please help me to understand this better.


My thoughts are that if a person comes to a forum or to the main forum page, they would be most interested in our most popular stuff. So that is what appears on the left most column, the most popular stuff of all time. The second column would reflect the top stuff this month - so it might include stuff that they have heard about recently. Then the "most recent" column is the stuff that our regulars will probably be the most focused on.

 
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