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The Infinity Program

Discussion in 'Forum Showcase and Critiques' started by Hyperion, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member



    The Infinity Program is a general discussion forum that was created in June, 2004. The forum started with phpBB 2.x before being moved to vBulletin 3.x in December, 2007. By December, 2011, the forum was converted to xenForo 1.x, so I have been using this software for just over a month.

    The banner, background image, and any other aesthetic changes are still to be applied by one of my fellow administrators when he gets the chance. In the mean time, I have been working on replicating every feature from vBulletin 3.x I liked, the last and latest being the "Sample Topics" display that was placed above the forum listing on the index page, and which an expert coder here at xenForo support replicated for a modest fee.

    In addition to the guest welcome message and a custom sidebar block displaying featured content, I achieved my goal of showcasing several samples of topics and giving context to my forum for the guest before she ever browses. I felt that too many stand-alone forums like mine fail to give guests content and context on the index page, forcing them to browse to figure out whether they should join.

    I am worried, however, that I may have stacked so much content on the index page that it looks too busy, and may serve to overwhelm the guest even as it gives idea what the forum is about and what kind of content is produced. Relatedly, I wonder if guests may think that the text in the "Sample Topics" display should be more readable.

    Going back to the purpose of my forum, it is a mere general discussion forum. If there is any difference between it and other stand-alone general discussion forums of its size, I suppose it is that emphasis is placed on substantive discussion and an enriching community; i.e., a forum community where people do not post simply to get more exposure for their websites, and people actually care about having worthwhile discussions for the sake of having worthwhile discussions.

    Along those lines, I care a lot for content and managed to preserve all of it (except for about six posts and one account lost after converting to vBulletin 3.x) despite switching hosts three times and switching software three times.
    Fuhrmann likes this.
  2. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    I like your Guide Tab.
    - Is that just a forum Post with it's own tab ? Looks like it is :)
    - Did you use Jake's Tabs addon ?

    No Forums, Help or Members Tab ! Cool.
    Hyperion likes this.
  3. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member

    Digital Doctor

    You got it exactly; right on both counts.

    If you used Jake's add-on, you may know that setting up a forum post as a tab can be done, but the tab will not be highlighted when you click it. To overcome that obstacle, Jake showed me a trick: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/nodes-as-tabs-with-tab-selection.23295/page-9#post-303624

    And, as you know, to remove the breadcrumbs above and below that post — and that post alone — I used conditionals: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/remove-the-breadcrumbs-from-a-specific-node.9011/#post-304169

    Yeah, I think less is more; my theory is that a few options focuses the guest's attention. And those few options are what I believe are most relevant to the guest. The logged-in member has the following additional tab options: Albums, Members, and Help. I am thinking of making Members and Help sub-navigation options under Home or Guide. As for removing Forums, I hated the redundancy since I do not have a portal or another website attached to the forum. Forums was also removed from the breadcrumbs.
    Digital Doctor likes this.
  4. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Wouldn't your creation be the WYSIWYG, BBCode compatible, editable from the front end, appears in What's New "Page" everyone is looking for ? :)

    Could I have 50 pages that appear under the Tab ?

    No wonder it looked so clean ! What about getting rid of the breadcrumb on Staff and Articles ?

    Excellent point !

    There is almost no content in the Help Tab .... just put the stuff you think is important in your Guide Tab.
    Hiding Members to Guests is only respectful and basic spam prevention.
    Kier himself said an alphabetical list of members was of questionable value.
    In it's current form, the Members tab isn't worthy of a "Top Row" Tab ! ==> subnav under Home seems like a good plan.

  5. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member

    Sorry; do not follow.

    Interesting idea; it did not occur to me to remove breadcrumbs from Articles, Albums, and Staff. I will make a note of that on my to-do list.

    Reminds me that when I was on vBulletin 3.x I simply removed the FAQ tab, replaced it with the Guide tab, and added a note at the beginning of my Guide to this effect:

  6. Robbo

    Robbo Well-Known Member

    Nice and clean however I see a lot of text without much imagery. You need to have a balance to keep the user interested and not overcome by a lot of text. Anything as simple as icons with a text block can work to give the illusion of less text to read.
  7. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member


    Yes, I have been worrying about text overload. You are talking specifically about the index page, right? What do you think of the addition of avatars beside each new topic (like is done at SLR User) and beside each entry in the Featured Writings block on the sidebar? The latter may be tricky though since all content shown on that block is done entirely via the post editor. Maybe I should even show off latest album or miscellaneous images on the index page as is done at that forum I linked to above.

    — Oh, right, not just avatars but images in general. Hm. I have to think more about how to best do that. Showing off album images like SLR does may be a good idea.

    Oh, yeah! I can add at least one image to the guest welcome message.
  8. Robbo

    Robbo Well-Known Member

    Yeah just the index page. Needs something on the welcome text. Either an image or less text. Then the feature writings could use an icon before each title to break it up nicely. Should probably make the summary in each item a bit shorter as well, maybe even a font size smaller. The the featured quotation could use a quote image or something to help break it up.
    Hyperion likes this.
  9. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member

    I am of course still looking to offset the text overload that a guest may have looking at my index page, but I wonder what you think of the changes to featured writings: I have increased the text size for the title, bumped the text beside the header to another line, added a line break for the "read more" text below each sample writing, shortened the excerpt for the last sample, and added an icon beside each title.

    Maybe I should just bump the title text back down a size or resize the icon?

    I was thinking of making the "read more" text a CSS button (much like xenForo allows administrators to make CSS ranks) saying something like Read More -> but I am not sure if that could easily be set up.
  10. Robbo

    Robbo Well-Known Member

    The icon size is a bit big, that's the first thing I notice. Then the spacing between everything is a little too much, make it a bit smaller. Only small things however, looks a lot better now. Personally I would just have it with the titles. Like the following...
    [icon] “Memory”
    A short story by White Frost
    muted date text
    Hyperion likes this.
  11. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member


    I very much appreciate the continued feedback.

    I was thinking about which icon should replace that one, as I did not want to resize it. Then I remembered that when using vBulletin 3.x there was a "new post" icon before each topic title on the Last Post section of the forum listing. That icon is just the right size, I believe. Designed by Shelley, too. I am now using this smaller icon before each topic title.

    If I correctly understand, you are referring to the line break between the title and excerpt, and between the excerpt and "read more" prompt, and also to the new line for the author name and type of written work (e.g., short story or essay).

    Assuming that to be the case, I got rid of the break between the title and author/type and added the latter in parenthesis after the title.

    Also, I got rid of the brackets around "read more" and turned it into "continue reading" with ellipses at the end to give the viewer a wider space to center his cursor on to click, and got rid of the line break by instead placing it on the same line right after the end of the excerpt.

    Lastly, the title remains bold, but author/type in parenthesis no longer is.

    (Edit: I decided to remove the author/type information entirely, so it is now just the title before the excerpt.—Also got rid of "continued" reading and made the title the URL.)

    I hope this is an improvement to my last. I know it does not add much by itself in terms of offsetting text overload, but though subtle I hope it is notable enough that whatever additions I am thinking about and implement later will do its small part in having a more meaningful cumulative effect.

    Relatedly, the banner is still to be added, and the background image will have a color contrasting the gray and a darker color than the present hopefully to help focus reader/viewer attention to the center. I hope this adds to the effect I theorize there will be.

    Of course, I know nothing about design, so I may just be babbling incoherently, ha.

    Yeah, this is the popular choice (just the title), and there are plenty of add-ons for it, including one by the very same guy who created the add-on I am using for the featured writing block.

    I very much like adding a sample from the topic itself to try to help entice the reader, especially as mine is a stand alone forum without a tight niche so I figure mine more than other forums (even amongst stand alones) will have to work more to convince readers/viewers why they should check out the topics rather than have to click around first to find out.

    I could add a summary, but I think the excerpts I chose are more interesting than any summary I can come up with. On this point I think particularly about the first featured writing, that short story "Memory," which when I was adding it I liked to imagine would be quite captivating to me if I was reading that excerpt of it for the first time.
  12. Robbo

    Robbo Well-Known Member

    Looking better. I would just say a little less space between title and content and possibly a smaller font for content.
  13. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    I took your Nodes as Tabs tweak and added it to this thread:

    How to Style Threads to look like Articles
    Hyperion likes this.
  14. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

  15. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member

  16. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member

    A minimalistic logo was designed by Ramona (aka Dojo) after I asked because I did not want to look at the name of the style anymore, heh. Usually it was my fellow administrator, Saint, who designed the logos, but he is too busy, unfortunately.

    As for background image, I am re-using the one that Saint designed for Greenfox, a dark style for vBulletin 3.x. I am surprised that the background image went well enough with the foreground that I kept it. I did not like the gray of the original background, as it made the forum feel like one of those padded white rooms in a madhouse.

    Finally, in regards to the new logo and background image taken together, one concern that came to mind was as follows:

    I may also need to have the header area of the foreground further distinguished from the background, starting with a gray border, maybe.
  17. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member

    Hm, strange. I was trying to get the style copyright color changed from black to white so it can display on my dark background, but making that change in xenforo.css not only failed to make the text white, but shifted it to the center, removed my background image, and removed the headers to my forums on the index page, issues that were not resolved by undoing the change. Ah, well, got even more work to do.
  18. woodward82

    woodward82 Member

    Just registered, had to put my math to test though for the captcha lol

    I noticed in the sig My forums: The Infinity Program and The Admin Zone. are both of those your forums or just the first one?
  19. Hyperion

    Hyperion Active Member

    Hi, Woodward82. I just replied to your PM. I am an administrator at TAZ. TIP, on the other hand, is my personal forum. Thanks for signing up.

    I assume you registered as MichaelAllen. Sorry about the anti-spam question; I find that spam bots easily get through the simplest questions, and that image verification seems more likely to confuse people (e.g., I was asked to type in Arabic symbols recently) rather than dissuade spam bots these days.
  20. mrGTB

    mrGTB Well-Known Member

    I like the new background image you've used, didn't see that before and it looks really good with that theme, suits it very well.
    Hyperion likes this.

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