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Most forums have the same basic layout - Boring!

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by jt2011, May 17, 2012.


Forum Layouts

  1. I like boring layouts

  2. I hate boring layouts

  1. jt2011

    jt2011 Active Member

    Typical layout of a forum.

    Why do most forum softwares use the same layout?

    At its foundation a forum is really a CMS with multiple authors, so why serve the content in similar layouts but with only different skins?

    I have been searching for years for a forum software that gets rid of this but so far have found none and so I must code my own.

    When are forum software going to break free of the forum layout stereotype?

    Just to give you a view of alternatives, here's an example of breaking free of the typical layout, yes it is not pretty but my photoshop skills are not the best either.

    An enterprising person could make a truckload of cash if they could devise a way to make a forums layout very easy to customize and arrange all the pieces as one would like to have it.

    *edit to add
    let me give you an example of a non-boring forum, or a site that at first glance appears to not be a forum but actually is using one
    the site is made using an extremely customized version of VB

    amazing right?
    Digital Doctor and Neal like this.
  2. steven s

    steven s Well-Known Member

    I like functional layouts.
    JABRONI likes this.
  3. Forsaken

    Forsaken Well-Known Member

    A forum is not a CMS in any way.

    A main reason why forums generally have a similar layout style is because it is the easiest and most common way to present the information. People have issues adjusting from IPB/vBulletin to XenForo, could you imagine having them adjust to a completely new layout of forum?

    UI Design has to take into account usability equally with the appearance. What is an amazingly innovative design that someone can't use?

    Your example image has a few issues, the most major of which is it being so cramped. While it would work, it wouldn't necessarily look all that great, it wouldn't be the most pleasant UI to use.
    0xym0r0n and Yorick like this.
  4. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    It's what's inside that counts! The fancy layouts only mean a lot for the first moments....
    Chimpie likes this.
  5. jonsidneyb

    jonsidneyb Well-Known Member

    Maybe the basic forum layout works so good there is no reason the change it. Perhaps it is the little details that make the difference.
  6. Floris

    Floris Guest

    The default layout from XenForo looks better than most of the already existing boards out there.
  7. jt2011

    jt2011 Active Member

    @Floris' this is very true and the reason why I decided to purchase Xen yesterday

    My aim with this thread is to open a discussion on layouts and the flexibility or ease one should have as a site operator; to change the layouts or the way the arrangement of content is displayed in any page.

    In phpBB all I had to do was open an existing base forum file like viewforum.php paste a function and call and then make a template edit in one file and hey presto what you wanted done is done.

    I've tried IPB and the administrative interface was a frustrating thing to use, let alone try to make something for it.
    I know Xen is somewhat similar to IPB but the easy admin interface and default features beat IPB by a mile.
    And also Xen has some neat plugins, like the post ratings one I bought yesterday.
    I'm also looking at buying the myShop plugin once more features are added.

    I used xen in the thumbnails only to illustrate a common forum interface, nothing more.

    Wouldn't it be great to be able to drag and drop blocks of content anywhere you wanted in a page?
    It would be freakin awesome!

    TheVisitors likes this.
  8. jt2011

    jt2011 Active Member

    @foresaken yes the image has issues, as I mentioned in the post I am not a photoshop wizard as you surely noticed i did not include the sidebar in the image, just pretend its there. Also pretend that the columns are different widths and heights and that there are other things there.

  9. steven s

    steven s Well-Known Member

    Too bad you didn't see the first version of http://naatan.com/support/ It clearly pushed the envelope in forum design.
  10. jt2011

    jt2011 Active Member

    @steven s
    any screenshots?
  11. steven s

    steven s Well-Known Member

    You couldn't capture it with a screen shot.
    It wasn't for me but it did illustrate the extreme level that can be done with talent and xenforo.
  12. Forsaken

    Forsaken Well-Known Member

    I've done different node/category column designs, and they've always been a bit cramped (even with removing some elements). Just having variable width/heights won't change that, and would have a negative impact as it wouldn't be symmetrical and would more often than not look sloppy.

    You can pretty much do anything you can imagine with XenForo, the only fall back is you have to do it within the constraints of HTML/CSS and browser support. You also need the knowledge to do so which is what is difficult, as even I've had to learn new techniques and methods to do things.

    A WYSWYG solution (Which is what it sounds like you're wanting) is pretty much impossible, or it would be extremely limiting. If you know HTML/CSS and have the time to learn XenForo, you can get pretty much anything done, more so than any other system I've used.
    jt2011 likes this.
  13. Jaxel

    Jaxel Well-Known Member

  14. jt2011

    jt2011 Active Member

    Wordpress has a great drag and drop interface for placing your widgets.
    Besides it doesn't have to be WYSIWYG, perhaps modifying a few lines of code in a file or something like a block template system.

    it could be something as simple as being able to arrange blocks in code like this:
  15. jt2011

    jt2011 Active Member

  16. jt2011

    jt2011 Active Member

    Would be heaven if xen included this by default ;)
    this is a thing of beauty
    Digital Doctor likes this.
  17. Panupat

    Panupat Well-Known Member

    It is. It is.
  18. Jason

    Jason Well-Known Member

    Advocating change for the sake of change rarely ends well.

    The reason forum layouts haven't changed much over the years is not for lack of trying. The basic layout simply just works and makes sense to people. Breaking your content down into 15 different blocks on your front page is not doing your users in any favors. You've just made the page harder to easily scan.
    0xym0r0n and ragtek like this.
  19. melbo

    melbo Well-Known Member

    Once you get past the portal in the first link you gave us and find the forum, it's still a 'forum' layout. I appreciate what can be done with portals but have found that while many admins like full blown multi flavor ice cream sundaes, with 4 different sauces and nuts on top of the whipped cream, most regular users prefer vanilla...
  20. jt2011

    jt2011 Active Member

    I suppose this is true if you were expecting a forum interface.
    If you were to use xen and make a layout exactly like CNN.com or my.yahoo.com or bbc.co.uk, would you say those are hard to scan also?
    can you clarify in what context you mean?

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