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Mahoning Valley Talk (Feedback Please)

Discussion in 'Forum Showcase and Critiques' started by Peggy, May 27, 2011.

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  1. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    My site is a regional site for NE Ohio and NW Pennsylvania, otherwise known as the Mahoning Valley. The town I live in, Youngstown, is pretty much in the heart of the valley, so most of my own focus is going to be on Y'town.

    I'm using Flexile blue, green, and red, as well as Flexile Dark (tho I don't use it myself), with alot of edits and modifications, thanks in no small part to Brogan's kind help.
    The forum status icons are by Shelley, who has kindly customized colors to match the styles.

    Add-ons I'm using are:
    Jaxel's XenPorta (portal/homepage) and XenAtendo (events manager)
    The Happy Place
    Who Has Visited
    ragtek Invite System and Welcome New User PC
    Onimua's Tweet Each Post (Template mod)
    Sitemap For XenForo
    Online Status

    A small site, but slowly growing, I have big plans for this baby.

    Give it to me, I can take it (just be nice please, I cry easily).

    Neal and Digital Doctor like this.
  2. Ingenious

    Ingenious Well-Known Member

    Your forum is clear and easy to read. I like the random quote box and although I'm not keen on speech bubble forum icons the ones on yours are different enough to look nice.

    You have a green dot near your avatar - is that an indication you're online? If so is that a new feature? Anyway I like it.

    You've got your newbie forum spot on - I had a look and everyone who has posted a new member message has been replied too - I think this is so important with new users. There's nothing worse on some communities than looking down the new member message forum and seeing "Replies: 0".
  3. Wuebit

    Wuebit Well-Known Member

    Nice and clean
    If anything I think the navbar tabs are abit small they look "squashed" imo
    Also the like and tweet button the home page seem wrong even tho that's how they come.
    Peggy likes this.
  4. Kim

    Kim Well-Known Member

    Very nice and clear site, easy to navigate and looks good.
    Peggy likes this.
  5. Panupat

    Panupat Well-Known Member

    I'll say it's very clean too. But with a twist - I think it's too clean. I actually have no idea what Mahoning Valley is looking at your website.

    A little graphic to emphasize the characteristic of your subject would be a great addition.
  6. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the kind words. The green dot is indeed an online indicator. There is a mod here on XF called Online status indicator, or something like that. It doesn't tell you how to do that, but Brogan tweaked it a bit and gave instructions on how to do the green dot. It's rather easy, but I don't remember. :p

    I changed them from 25px height to 28px. How do they look now?


    I've thought about this too. I'm just not quite sure what to do. for the time being, I'm going to add a tagline to the logo that says something like "serving Youngstown Ohio and the Mahoning Valley". (Or something like that).

    I'd actually like to have a new logo that's a bit more colorful with perhaps a map of the Mahoning Valley on it. Or something.
    One day. :)

    Thanks everyone.
  7. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    I'm waiting for John and Shelley's critiques.
  8. Wuebit

    Wuebit Well-Known Member

    Yea there better
    Peggy likes this.
  9. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    no one else... ?
  10. Sami

    Sami Well-Known Member

    To me the bird with the sign looks a little unfortunate or lonely. :unsure:
  11. Tilkißey

    Tilkißey Well-Known Member

  12. User

    User Well-Known Member

    I am not a fan of the portals because I don't believe they contribute to what you want people to do which is register.

    Let's say I am living in your area, and I arrive at your landing page, I am immediately inundated with news-site like information. Lots of content is competing for my attention, some of it like the Twitter box has a bunch of cryptic characters in it, and the one thing that truly tells me what the site is about (Welcome to ...) and why I should care is too long and doesn't stand out.

    If it were me I would ditch the portal altogether and provide a landing page where you tell folks who are not registered users yet what the value proposition of your site is. Answer them why they should care. In my opinion 140 characters is the limit to answer that question because you can tweet/sms it, and people don't get bored reading through a few paragraphs as to why they should care. Humans, collectively, have ADD. If you don't get your message across in the first few seconds then you lost the opportunity.

    If you want to keep the portal then I would either ditch the Twitter feed or create a new Twitter account specifically for the forum. I think it's fair to say that forum users, or yet to register guests, don't care about tweets like this one: "Good morning people! I just got home from work. Checking things out, then it's off to bed for me." If they want to follow you specifically then they will, otherwise the tweets should be about the forum only without personal stuff mixed it.

    I would eliminate the shoutbox until you have a larger community going. You want people to create content, not spend their time monkeying around in some sort of IRC/IM mode.

    I would rename "Say Hello!" into the tried and true "Introduce Yourself!", the later holds more of a command and it's-expected-of-you value. I would add a sticky to that forum giving some guidelines as to what people should include into their introductions, i.e. how long have they lived in the area, if they are not local then where did they move from, how did they find the forum, etc., this provides non-personal identifiable information yet can help build community. Don't ask them to include for example "their favorite summer hangout spot", you don't want some crazy stalker to go over there and wait for them.

    Create a personalized screencast that demonstrates how members can change their avatar picture. Camtasia is a good program to use, maybe there are free ones out there as well depending on which OS you are using. Potentially reward people who update their avatar but that would probably need an add-on that doesn't exist yet. :(

    I would move Feedback & Suggestions to the bottom of the forum list. It's not your prime content destination, it imho shouldn't be "above the fold".

    I would remove Singles & Dating for the time being. This section can backfire on so many levels. Visitors could assume that the site is geared toward singles, family and religious types could assume that there will be a bunch of rated M content, etc. etc., that section currently adds no value to your forum.

    I would rename Local Chat to Local Chatter and then preface the remaining forums with Local, like Local Sports etc.

    I would eliminate the Fun House and roll off-topic joke threads into This n That. This is mainly because I firmly believe that too many forums, especially at the beginning, spread your content too thin making it even more appear as if nothing is going on.

    Let's have a look at a post you made in the Politics forum, the "WHO exactly is Gov Kasich for?" one, here's the content of that post (it's just a random one I picked, the first one I clicked):

    What's the issue with this post?
    Well, it provides your terse opinion and then directs people away!!! from your site. I would include a relevant quote (like a whole paragraph that is relevant, or maybe a couple sentences in support of your opinion, then follow with some more discussion of your own and then another quote from the paper), so that folks only need to navigate away from your site if they really care to know all the details. You need to provide enough information in your post so that they are less likely to navigate away from your site. Yes you could argue that they will go to the paper and then return to post their opinion. I'll argue that they will go to the paper, read the article, and then see other interesting links there which they will spend time on.

    I would get rid of the "Your link could be here", it looks incomplete on the one hand and cheesy on the other. You currently have no users, there's no value for advertisers to buy space on your site. I would also drop the NameCheap affiliate link. Folks who want to buy domain names aren't going to somehow be reminded of that by the little ad on your page, they will go to a registrar they already know or recognize from the hundreds of millions GoDaddy spends on media ads.

    I would look into VigLink and see what they can do for you.

    Lastly, I would create a few dummy accounts and post as them. Right now when one enters a forum one looks at a row of threads which were all created by you (your avatar shows). That really needs to be changed. Fake it till you make it comes to mind.

    Obviously all of these are just opinions, feel free to mix and match and pick whatever you think is a good idea. Good luck with your forum!
    Steve F, Peggy and Renegade like this.
  13. James

    James Well-Known Member

    Quick comment, have you considered turning the Contact Us link into an overlay on the main page?
  14. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

  15. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    How would I do that?
  16. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much for such a detailed critique! It is much appreciated, truly.

    I see what you mean about the post you picked out above. I shall endeavor to follow your strategy more closely.
    Namecheap link, gone.

    I had a landing page at one time, and a few said I needed a portal if I wanted a homepage, which I do. SO I did this. I'm going to keep the portal, tho, and endeavor to make it alot less busy.

    The twitter feed that I have there is the website Twitter account, and you're right, I should post only website info. Thanks for pointing that out.
    Jokes I stuff moved to this 'n' that, and funhouse forum removed
    Singles and dating removed, family stuff moved to Valley talk, and socially speaking forum removed.
    Local chat changed to local chatter.

    I'll get to work on that homepage tomorrow.
  17. Trombones13

    Trombones13 Well-Known Member

    I think you would add class="OverlayTrigger" to the anchor tag and get rid of target="_blank".
  18. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    Add it where? :p
  19. Trombones13

    Trombones13 Well-Known Member

    Wherever you have your welcome message (I think it's in a template):
    Wherever you have "<a href="http://mahoningvalleytalk.com/misc/contact" target="_blank">Contact Us</a>," edit it to be <a href="http://mahoningvalleytalk.com/misc/contact" class="OverlayTrigger">Contact Us</a>

    Hopefully that makes sense... haha :whistle:
    Peggy likes this.
  20. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    James and Trombones13 like this.
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