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Announcement/ HYS are too invisible

Discussion in 'General XenForo Discussion and Feedback' started by Morgain, May 22, 2013.

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  1. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    I find it a constant anxiety that these important forums are so invisible. I visit XF often but sometimes there are periods of illness or busyness that prevent it.
    So how am I supposed to know when things appear here? I have no way of setting an alert or notification on a forum here. But I don't think that is enough for really key items either.

    Secondly even if you do visit here constantly, there are only two ways of seeing these forums have new threads.
    One is Whats New?
    (which is an excellent resource and should IMO be far more accessible eg part of the breadcrumbs bar)
    But it can change rapidly in one day and an item get overlooked among a lot of small stuff. These key forums should really show up highlighted in some way.

    The other is when another user mentions there is a HYS or announcement. This is a good community so generally I do see this kind of mention but it is still not really appropriate that notices from the board management are dependent on ordinary members to alert each other.

    Why not post a Notice up to tell us there's a new Announcement/ Have You seen?
    Why not make these threads appear highlighted in What's New listings? Or selected threads appear highlighted would be neat for admins.
    Why not add an option to add ourselves to a Notification list for those forums?
    or to any forum for that matter.
  2. speedway

    speedway Well-Known Member

    Couldn't agree more. Got here this morning and clicked Whats New. Screeds of posts awaited me and it was only that I saw Slaviks thread about the new version that I knew 1.1.5 existed. For what is worth, I just don't read every thread in Whats New and time doesn't usually allow it anyway.
    Morgain likes this.
  3. xf_phantom

    xf_phantom Well-Known Member

    Adam Howard and Morgain like this.
  4. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    This is factually incorrect.

    So you don't see the highlighted, unread icon and forum name in the forum list?

    Nor the new, unread thread in the thread list?

    Nor does it appear in What's New?

    You can also follow Mike and new threads and posts by him will appear in your feed.

    Regarding new releases, an email is sent one to two days after each release.
    Notifications are also posted on Twitter and Facebook.
    There is also the forum RSS feed.
  5. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Brogan You only really go to the forumlist if you're a new member. After that your browser goes to wherever you last visited on this site.
    I have no reason to look at the forum list deliberately. if I want to find a specific forum I use the quick navigation version on the breadcrumbs which is so much more compact. So asking me to visit the forumlist on a daily basis just to check on these particular forums doesnt make sense. They dont have new threads that often.

    Yes these items do show up in What's New but as I mentioned, and others have remarked too, only mixed in with a lot of other stuff. Very easy to miss and if you visit XF leaa often than daily completely easy to miss becaise Whats New has no controls (something frequently requested) so it generates a flood of irrelevance you have to go through.

    Of course I can see the unread thread and icon in those forums - if I visit them. But why would I visit them if they do not alert me?

    But really this is not about arguing the case. I have given a portrait of user experience and others have strongly agreed. This is an issue which also been mentioned at intervals along the history of XF. It may not bother modertors but it does bother ordinary users.
    At this time when such annoyances to users are being corrected, it would be appreciated if this one was included for attention. I have suggested above several remedies.
  6. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Perhaps you need to start using forums as they are intended to be used?
    Jeremy and Lisa like this.
  7. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    I don't know about anyone else, but my browser goes where I tell it to go.

    Maybe you have a setting that retains the page you last viewed, but that is by no means default.

    In the morning I launch my browser (Chrome) and I can either reopen tabs from another PC or from my previous session or I get a list of most frequently used tabs. One of them happens to be the forum home here.

    A cursory glance down the list to see if there's anything important (new Announcements / new HYS etc.) and then straight to What's New.

    Also, by the way, there's often a pattern that is only very rarely deviated from. By no means publicly set in stone, but if you yourself has an issue finding the new stuff remember this:

    Releases nearly always happen on Tuesdays.
    HYS content is nearly always released on Fridays.
  8. speedway

    speedway Well-Known Member

    Really? I *never* shut down my PC aside from power cuts and when I need to restart due to an upgrade. All the sites I have open stay on the same page I was one prior to retiring for the night. When I am here, 99% of the time I leave it on What's New, check in the morning for any alerts or just click What's New again. As I have said in my reply to this, doing so produces every thread that has been updated during my night time which usually means the majority of replies happen when I am asleep (being in Australia).

    If we had Subscribe to this FORUM available I would do like I used to do at vBulletin.com, subscribe to the announcements forum for anything that was posted there. That would pretty much satisfy Morgains wish list as subscribing to a forum would get you alerts from anything posted inside it.

    Maybe we need (yet another) poll on how people actually use this site before we become judgemental on how people DO use it.
    Morgain likes this.
  9. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    The forum home page exists for a reason, as do the individual forum views and all of the other various pages.

    If people are not visiting them to check for new content, the problem is theirs, not the software.
  10. speedway

    speedway Well-Known Member

    Nobody is saying there is anything wrong with the software, they (the few) are saying that important things like new version announcements deserve better visibility. I still say it has nothing to do with the fact that people use the software differently. I recently asked my users about using a front page like Xenporto and was surprised to get the feedback that the majority of them used the New Posts page as there default, even to the point of bookmarking it for easier access.

    As customers I think is is not "our problem" that we don't use the forum like you or anybody else does. Highlighting important changes/updates is the responsibility of the supplier, IMHO. vBulletin ACTUALLy got something right in this regard with the subscribe to forum option.
  11. kontrabass

    kontrabass Well-Known Member

    :notworthy: Agreed that a "subscribe to forum" feature is sorely missed, and would satisfy the OP as well as me. I really don't have time to check XF.com every day, but I have to in order to see announcements. Would really like to see announcements and new HYS thread notifications in my inbox. ;) No need to have the forum admins set up new notices for every new thread, IMO.

    FWIW my users rarely look at the forum list. Most hard-core forum users go straight to "What's New" on my vb3 forum. I don't think it's fair to tell them they're using the software incorrectly.
  12. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    A suggestion to watch a forum has been made.
    It may be implemented in a future release.

    Until such time, it is up to each member to utilise what functionality is available.
    Chris D likes this.
  13. RobParker

    RobParker Well-Known Member

    "You're holding it wrong" :-D
    Renegade likes this.
  14. James

    James Well-Known Member

    Subscribe to the forum using the RSS feed and/or follow XenForo on twitter.
    MattW and Chris D like this.
  15. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    I don't shut down my pc either, but when I hit a forum for the first time that day or after some inactivity on my part, the first thing I do is go to What's New... followed by ForumHome to see if there's any announcements that mightn't be on the first page of What's New.

    It's not rocket science.. why make it so?
    Andrej, Biker and Chris D like this.
  16. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    I think there are many ways of using forums - they are a software designed to be flexible to the user.
    To me the job of admins and designers is to observe users closely and to work WITH them and their habits. XF has an excellent record for doing that.

    In fact I too assumed that users would visit the forum home page. I gradually learned that they simply don't. They arrive - often by following an email notification to a specific thread. Then they click Whats New.
    So i built my usage pathways around that knowledge, placing What's New buttons in various convenient places like a global sidebar and on the breadcrumb top and bottom. Activity and no of visits went up a lot.

    Lots of sites use portals and redirects to make them the landing page. XF 1.2 will offer the option to make the landing page something other than forumhome. So forumhome will be even less central than it is already.

    I really don't think we can lay down the law on the routes of usage people take.
    Well maybe on specialist sites but you'd have to edit the software a lot - remove Quick Nav, select out the homepage, add something so after completing certain actions you automatically visit forumhome. Oh you'd have to make it that if someone follows a link off a notification they'd be forced to visit the forumhome before reding it. Doesnt seem like a good user experience to me but it might be necessary for a specialist site.
    Not in general though.

    If the management of a particular forum want to insist on particular usage paths then that had better be a permanent warning notice on display. "You should click here to check forumhome for what is happening, especially to see if there is any news on Announcements or Have you seen" Ugh - that's the kind of thing users instantly ignore.

    Please be a bit more understanding of our end of it as user experience.
  17. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    I have responded to your factually incorrect statement about there only being one or two ways to see new threads and content.

    You can either take that advice on board by changing how you use the site or ignore it.

    Your choice.
  18. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Good point. But I'd go further to say that it's not even about how most people do things. Forums are attractive a lot because they are FLEXIBLE to different users preferred usage.

    This thread has already demonstrated that people have various workarounds they use to cope with this problem. Resourceful people use resourceful methods to cope.
    But why should they have to? Forum software works hard to make using the forum easy and comfy so why make an exception on the crucial area of communicating the topmost important messages to our users?

    Secondly not all users are as resourceful as the veteran forum users who gave their solutions above. In fact the majority of users are not. So the way we structure a forum cannot centre on how veteran forum users behave.

    Why not just provide a better, more comfortable experience for everyone?
    To me that is what XF USUALLY does.
    Making it possible to follow a forum would do that. An admin could then set this as default on their Annoucements - I know many admins would welcome that.
  19. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Chris D and Lisa like this.
  20. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    It's logical progression. I'm certain it will be included in the future.
    Lisa likes this.
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