Revitalize layout for competitive landscape to increase traffic and retention

vbresults

Well-known member
I was looking over this old suggestion and thought about how competition for forums has changed over the years. As a consumer, I used to browse forums every day. Now, I almost never browse forums; instead, I use Reddit to do the same.

This can increase traffic and retention of users. A lot of big forums already have similar features through custom add-on's, but it's not nearly as streamlined as Reddit. This can bring that advantage to every forum.

There are 3 fundamental things that one does on Reddit. 1. watch a feed about topics that you are interested in (homepage feeds) 2. read about or find information on a topic, and 3. ask a question on a topic or provide commentary or an answer.

The broad suggestion is to update the layout to mimic those three aspects of reddit. The changes in 2.2 were a step in the right direction, but were only centered around the last item. This suggestion is probably closer to what the devs were envisioning.

This is what the old "What's new" page looks like (and I almost never used it on any forum):
WhatsNewBefore.png

This is what the new "What's new" page (and forum homepage) looks like:
WhatsNewAfter.png

The actionable suggestions are to:

1. Replace "What's new" as shown above, and make it the default homepage instead of the forum list ("Browse Forums" is there for people who want that) and allow upvoting/downvoting on the OP (but minimum of 0 display value like Reddit).

This would have media support (like attachments, external links, images and videos), but the admin decides what post types are allowed on a per-forum basis, and then when posting, the user would select the post type.

These feeds would also have RSS links to the original posts (but not comments, only updating the timestamp on a reply so people come back), and add developer hooks and an interface so custom feed types can be added.

2. Make efficient use of space and do away with showing extraneous information like views (the latter is superseded by votes); on desktop, make efficient use of space on the screen and also use sidebars the way reddit does (subforum description, rules, moderators, etc.)

3. Implement a threaded comment structure like Reddit where after X replies to a comment, you have to click on a link to load the rest; as part of this, the post box would need to be streamlined and likes hidden in favor of votes

4. Allow admins to set a background photo, font, and text colors per subforum as subreddits do; less extreme than a theme shift per-forum

5. On install/upgrade, let admins choose a layout: "Reddit-like" (default for installs), "Quora-like", or "Classic forum" (d. for upgrades). Some websites have specific use-cases or don't want to change it, that's their choice

Reddit is great, but it has its weaknesses being highly centralized, larping, anonymous unaccountable mods, etc. I can develop these features privately for clients like I did with the older suggestion, but I know this could be a godsend for admins at large.
 
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Upvote 24

vbresults

Well-known member
Edit: WRT suggestion #1, it looks like Reddit records the last subreddits you recently browsed to generate the feeds. This would also optionally include a similar, but scoped display for subforums. They could function like subreddits for bigger boards which have lots of subforums already.

Maybe the "What's new" navigation tab items can just be a list of forums as a shortcut (horizontal scroll on desktop, vertical on mobile).

Also, WRT #3, threading would reclaim the vertical space that is taken up by quoting posts and the tree structure could be inferred from the old system by detecting quote tags at the start of replies.
 
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Tracy Perry

Well-known member
Replace "What's new" as shown above, and make it the default homepage instead of the forum list ("Browse Forums" is there for people who want that) and allow upvoting/downvoting on the OP (but minimum of 0 display value like Reddit).
Make it the "default" and I'm sure you would have me and many others *****ing up a storm about it... now, make it an OPTION and I can agree. Not everyone wants a FaceBook/Twitter/Truth Social type interface... we are PERFECTLY happy with the somewhat original design and having the ability to do otherwise.

The broad suggestion is to update the layout to mimic those three aspects of reddit.
And my broad reply is the interface of reddit sucks salty balls. I HATE the interface of reddit.. even on mobile.
Make efficient use of space and do away with showing extraneous information like views (the latter is superseded by votes); on desktop, make efficient use of space on the screen and also use sidebars the way reddit does (subforum description, rules, moderators, etc.)
Really? I would think that the number of people actually looking at an item would FAR outweigh the few that will take the time to vote on something... do you really expect us to believe that every person who views a topic votes on it? Or is it more realistic to say that people will view the topic, gain data that they need and simply not take the time to vote (realizing that people are now naturally lazy).

Implement a threaded comment structure like Reddit where after X replies to a comment, you have to click on a link to load the rest; as part of this, the post box would need to be streamlined and likes hidden in favor of votes
Oh GOD no... I absolutely HATE threaded replies. When a topic gets involved/complicated, all threaded replies do is ADD to the jumbled interface.

Allow admins to set a background photo, font, and text colors per subforum as subreddits do; less extreme than a theme shift per-forum
Can't that already be done by template/css edits? Or are you talking about making it "click here" type interface, and adding even more into the back-end to track?

On install/upgrade, let admins choose a layout: "Reddit-like" (default for installs), "Quora-like", or "Classic forum" (d. for upgrades). Some websites have specific use-cases or don't want to change it, that's their choice
Again... can't this more easily be done by styles? You know, purchase a style that alters, via exiting templates, to fit your needs?
Do you realize how big of a headache your suggestion would most likely be to style developers (and yes, there is a difference between an add-on developer and a style developer)?
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
And my broad reply is the interface of reddit sucks salty balls. I HATE the interface of reddit.. even on mobile.
I have to agree. One of the good things about xenForo is that by default it doesn’t look like Reddit.
I would think that the number of people actually looking at an item would FAR outweigh the few that will take the time to vote on something..
Again agreed. Hardly anyone voted on my forum. We have done extra custom likes that allow for much more nuanced and useful reaction.

As a suggestion I have no reason to object to any of it as options, as long as it doesn’t add bloat, but not as default.
 

DigNap15

Well-known member
I have to agree. One of the good things about xenForo is that by default it doesn’t look like Reddit.

Again agreed. Hardly anyone voted on my forum. We have done extra custom likes that allow for much more nuanced and useful reaction.

As a suggestion I have no reason to object to any of it as options, as long as it doesn’t add bloat, but not as default.
I have to agree about voting on each topic not being a great feature to add.

But the thing about making forums look more like Facebook and Reddit is that Facebook and Reddit have taken away most of the forum members and users.

So why would you want to carry on with boring old category layouts that people are voting with their feet against.

Sure we all know that forums allow for more long form content and debate and searching.
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
So why would you want to carry on with boring old category layouts that people are voting with their feet against.
If they are doing that with your forum then maybe it is best for you to change the layout if you know that is what they want.
 

DigNap15

Well-known member
If they are doing that with your forum then maybe it is best for you to change the layout if you know that is what they want.
I did not say that my members are leaving with their feet, I get a steady flow of new members and a steady drop off in old members.
What I said was that overall, forums seem to be dying.

I just changed my layout to make my forum look busy, and to get away from the traditional old boring category first layout.
I'll report back in a few months to see if there has been any major effect either way.
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
The typical forum layout used by 99% of fourms
Where all the categories are listed on the main page
I don't think 99% is realistic.

Even if forum list is the default for xenforo, they have made it very easy and obvious to use new posts, or any other page. My own site has a dedicated landing page with new threads, new posts and popular posts. Users can then choose from the main navigation to see the forum list or new posts if they choose to.
 

DigNap15

Well-known member
I don't think 99% is realistic.

Even if forum list is the default for xenforo, they have made it very easy and obvious to use new posts, or any other page. My own site has a dedicated landing page with new threads, new posts and popular posts. Users can then choose from the main navigation to see the forum list or new posts if they choose to.
Obviously I was wrong about the 99%
I had a look at your forum and its got a very nice landing page with as you say New Threads, New Posts and access to the Forum Categories.
Well done!
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
Obviously I was wrong about the 99%
I had a look at your forum and its got a very nice landing page with as you say New Threads, New Posts and access to the Forum Categories.
Well done!
Thank you.

It is basically default layout with the page as index route. Default xenforo widgets (New threads, new posts) plus popular discussions widget which is a search forum widget based on criteria of replies and likes I think). I think all of those have some validity in getting new users to post something.

The existing members mostly don't use that page as entry to the site though, they set their browser bookmark either to new posts, forum list or or their favourite subforum (or maybe category).
 
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