SQLServerCentral Design Decisions–Forum Threads

Steve Jones, 2019-04-12

It’s been a long couple of weeks. Almost two weeks ago we cut over from our older, v2 version of the site to the new (and current) v3. Lots of bugs, lots of disruption, and lots of unexpected items.

As a bit of trying to help me understand as well as a catharsis, I wanted to jot a few thoughts on things that I’ve had to make decisions on or work within our framework. This post looks at one small item, the display of forum posts.

The New Look

Here’s the top of a thread in the current site.

2019-04-08 11_38_35-Window

A post and two responses, and I think it’s easy to see who’s posted, their avatar, the text and content, I can follow a user or send a message, I can reply or quote a post. My signature is small and a different font from the text.

Here’s another couple posts, which I think are harder to read:

2019-04-08 11_45_19-Window

These are older signatures, which don’t format as well, and some of the quoting is a little broken and causing issues.

I don’t think the new format is necessarily more visually appealing to me, but it is less elements and a cleaner look in a more modern style. For everyone that liked the old format, we have people that didn’t.

And vice versa.

In this new format, we took the default bbPress items and tried to aim for less extraneous information. We styled this to have less color and contrast that is distracting while presenting the information that users need to see. We limited the options, of which we had too many and confused people in the older forums.

This also gives us a good codebase on which we can make future changes. While many of those aren’t visible here, the pace and breadth of changes we’ve made in the last two weeks to tweak things is way above anything we went through the last time we touched the forums. I’m amazed at how well we’ve adapted to new areas and requirements as we go along.

That being said, I know there are lots more changes to make and look for more to be coming in the next few months. We’ll change the styles slightly and perhaps redo some of the layout to make things easier.

One thing this project has taught me is that what I think is a simple decision for software isn’t so simple for my users. We have thousands, really hundreds of thousands of users and some days it feels like none of them are pleased. I couldn’t imagine how hard it is when your software or site has 10x or 100x that size.

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