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I've decided to bring my big-board over to XF :)

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by CyclingTribe, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    I've decided to bring my big board over to XF - www.cyclechat.net

    I need some more features first (waves "hello" to 1.1 ... I see you hiding around the corner you little monkey you!!), and the big board search application that is being worked on ("Go" team XF), but I've decided not to continue with any more IPB updates and instead start work on moving over to XF.

    I've been with IP.Board 3.x for 14 months and had great support from the IPS team and community (and wish them well as they move forward), but I've just grown to have such a personal liking for XF that I've chosen to use it as the future platform for CycleChat.

    I've got to be careful, because I made a massive hash of moving from vB to IPB and lost quite a few members and traffic in the process (which thankfully recovered), but I've learned from the experience and I'm pretty sure that my community is going to love the simplicity of XF.

    I'm going to try and replicate as much of the IPB functionality as I can (my members are used to having it, so taking it away won't be seen as a positive move) so I will no doubt be trying out a good few of the add-ons that are doing the rounds ("Hello" add-on developers!!).

    It's months away, but now that my own community know, I thought I'd share it with you guys.

    Any tips, advice, or add-on pointers would be very welcome, and the reaction of your own communities to the migration to XF (good and bad points) would be interesting as they may serve to help me easing my own regulars over the hump of moving.

    Shaun :D
    Kier, ShadyX, borbole and 5 others like this.
  2. Kim

    Kim Well-Known Member

    Best of luck with it all Shaun! :D
    GeeksChat likes this.
  3. Dean

    Dean Well-Known Member

    Get a focus group together. I learned a tremendous amount be being in the same room with people while they tried out the software, some items I found of interest include:
    • Some did not know their password, email, or even their own user name
    • They instantly found defects in some of the addons I installed
    • They thought it was nice that I cared about their opinion
    • Based on their input, I created tutorials with pictures of old forum vs new - and arrows showing where they corresponded.
    Steve10, lazy llama, Peggy and 5 others like this.
  4. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    Now that is very good advice.

    I never had chance to do that when I moved from vB because I was fire-fighting the impact of the changes, so yes, I think that's a very good idea. (y)

    Shaun :D
  5. TheLaw

    TheLaw Well-Known Member

    Wow... congrats Shaun. We've been talking for a long time, vb to ipb and now to here. Love your site and I certain applaud the amount of return you've been able to get out of the investment. Looking forward to seeing you transition that great custom style over to an eye-popping XF style. I'm highly confident that the transition will go over even more smoothly this time.
    GeeksChat likes this.
  6. lazy llama

    lazy llama Well-Known Member

    I agree with Dean's recommendation of a select focus group. We didn't do a physical focus group, but had a limited beta for invited users and it proved very worthwhile.

    Although listening to users is important, you'll find that you can't please everyone and there will always be serial-complainers, people who are used to features of the old system which aren't there any more, and people who don't like the look/feel. We've taken the approach of not changing too much so that people can settle in to the way xF works, rather than just trying to make it work the way our previous (vB) system did.

    "What's changed" and FAQs are also really useful, and pointing people to the xenfans User Guide (http://xenfans.com/pages/user-guide/) can help, if the users can be bothered to read it!

    Good luck with the migration. Drop me a Conversation (still sounds wrong) if you need any moral support.
    GeeksChat likes this.
  7. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    Thanks Michael - I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'm going to have a play with the skinning system myself first, to get a feel for it - especially as this will be XF license number four and it'll pay me to learn a bit of how it all works!! - but have already spoken to Ehren (who designed my IPB skin) who in turn has recommended Graeme (Xenfocus.com) who I will likely approach nearer the time if I haven't managed to get my head around it (or my skin looks completely naff ... :ROFLMAO:).

    I have no problem paying for quality work, and Ehren and (I'm reliably informed) Graeme definitely do quality work!! (y)

    Thanks - it is definitely something I plan to do this time around.

    When I converted from vB to IPB I was so busy learning the inner workings of it all and fire-fighting support requests that I pretty much left the users to fend for themselves, and whilst I had planned to write lots of How to's I never got around to it. I also completely changed the skin colours and general layout which had a whole bunch of people running for the hills (that was only fixed when I later commissioned a second skin to mimic the previous vB look).

    I'm hoping that the simpler layout and operation of XF will appeal to my community and will be taking my time with the development and making sure I prepare all the switch-over material in advance of the actual move. Screenshots and video demo's should do the trick, as well as asking the community which functions they use the most (as Admin's we generally have a different tool-set and habits when on the forums we own).

    I read the write-up of your recent move - nice, very nice - and what a post count from such a small community - dedicate bunch aren't they ... :)

    I'm confident that our investment in the XF platform will be long term and am looking forward to the software going from strength to strength.

    Shaun :D
  8. lazy llama

    lazy llama Well-Known Member

    That's one word for them, yeah :D
    Dean and GeeksChat like this.
  9. Ingenious

    Ingenious Well-Known Member

    Couple of comments, firstly GeeksChat it's funny because I have an IPB3.2 licence and test installation and yet I am still drawn to XenForo, it just seems to all work better, and be much more focused on the job at hand - engaging the community and getting them to talk.

    Secondly, Dean, great idea about a focus group, I'm going to get half a dozen of my members together and have them look over the test conversion to see what they think.
    Kim, ManagerJosh and GeeksChat like this.
  10. robdog

    robdog Well-Known Member

    All I can say is test, test and more testing of the import process...

    Oh, and before you import anything, make a backup of your XenForo DB just in case you want to revert real quick. I normally make ALL my style changes and install all my add-ons before the import process.
    GeeksChat likes this.
  11. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    More good advice - thanks. (y)
  12. Dean

    Dean Well-Known Member

    Ah yes... At the time when we converted, several could not figure out how to do things. Initially most of the areas/forums with special permissions were totally private so there was a lot of 'where did this forum go?' type questions in addition to the 'how to I' type questions. In retrospect I should have had just the FAQ area open for them to read and post in for a day. Once most people get into their 'groove' they will never come back to read any additional instructions.

    Other tid-bits I thought were interesting:
    • do as much cleanup as possible before conversion, if features will not be available on xf, such as 'not being able to see other peoples threads', you may as well deal with that on your existing platform to get people used to it.
    • Keep an eye on your firewall. Ours is a bit aggressive and will auto block anyone that gets an error over and over in a certain number of minutes - which locked out a few of our moderators until they contacted me via other methods.
    • Any focus group is good, we did them via PM, email, phone, and in person. I focused on the people that were more popular, wanted to help, but not good with computers. Maybe you have some members like that on your bike forum? Maybe designers or bike mechanics?
    GeeksChat likes this.
  13. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    Good stuff Dean ... thanks.

    I've got a good mix of old, young, tech-savvy and "make it easy for me please ... PLEASE!!!" users who are more than willing to help, so I think a preview/feedback/modify-it-a-bit kind of cycle will be good for ironing out a few things and catching the various bits that I won't notice myself - you know how it is, when you're used to using something, you can easily miss things that others notice because they don't have the same familiarity.

    I think my forum announcement about a forthcoming change has made a few of them gulp a bit, but I'm pretty confident that when they finally get to play with the "it just works" XF software they'll be fine (if not, I'll have an awful lot more time on my hands to hang around here with you guys ... :ROFLMAO:).
  14. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    I simply made a small purchase in some HD screen recording software, my choice being iShowuHD, made videos of general forum features, then specific features, and posted them for users ahead of time. Also improved upon them as questions have arisen.

    I have posted many threads about how users responded here... overall, far more positive than the prior VB. Yes, they missed some features initially due to it being new software, though the overall software itself out of the box, they've been extremely impressed about. Posting has increased, server costs decreased, user interaction and online times increased severely.... basically, users really do become addicted to the FB style alert functions, staying on the site waiting for an alert response to their posts.

    Its been win win from both an admin and user perspective. This software has the best spam prevention I've ever come across when combined with a few key mods already freely for use here.... that I literally am lucky to see a few spam attempts per week, as the mods stop profile spam, find it quickly via the ACP, and the list goes on.

    Moderators in general find much less work to do now and more time interacting as just members.
    Ingenious and GeeksChat like this.
  15. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the video tip Anthony ... much appreciated ... I'll take a look. (y)

    Sounds like things have gone well and settled down now for you - something a few people have mentioned now.

    I expect that once the ease-of-use of XF becomes apparent it will sort of sell itself to my membership. :)
    Anthony Parsons likes this.

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