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What Now?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by ibaker, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. ibaker

    ibaker Well-Known Member

    This isn't really "off-topic" but maybe it is.

    At this time every year I re-evaluate my site(s) and perhaps change colour scheme, add extras, add another year on to the site's strategic plan, ask users for feedback on what they would like to see added to the site etc etc etc.

    In the absence of any thing coming from XF in terms of core functionality, plus there only being some minor addons of interest, I have turned my eye to "WHAT" is happening external to the site in the hope of getting ideas to help my site keep up with things. In doing this I see some big shifts happening in user hardware and environments. More and more users are accessing the site with mobile devices, not just a phone but tablets are becoming the preferable tool over PCs. Add to that the new Win 8 OS with its touch screen flavor, the choices of Apple, Android and Windows, it is really making me think about the Internet as a whole and what my site looks and feels like today.

    We have:
    Mobile Phones - Apple, Android, Windows...all using icon style menus, small screens and finger controlled
    Tablets - Apple, Android, Windows...all using on average 10" screens, icon style menus and finger controlled
    Laptops - Apple, Windows...getting phased out and replaced by Tablets
    PCs - Apple, Windows...large screens, icon style menus (enhanced by Win 8) and could potentially be replaced in some circumstances by Tablets

    Social Media connections...a prolific array with Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Google+ etc all with their own style of use that is somewhat different to the generic style of web sites.

    So, where is the internet going when for years the style of use of the Internet has been as a vast reader of documents+.

    The majority of web sites are of a standard design in that they have a menu bar across the top which you use to access pages (docs) of what you are looking for. Now here lies my rambling and no doubt questionable thoughts...Is the Internet now "old" in its style of use? Do we have a mismatch between the Internet's style of use compared to the style of use of the devices that we use to access the Internet? and if so, should we be looking at the design of Internet sites to bring them more inline with the devices we use?

    For example...with smaller devices, should we have our sites with a simple hover over or finger touch menu system that slides open a menu of icons and do away with the "menu bar" all together...is the user ready for this or would they still prefer a couple of bars across the top for PC use, even though their Win 8 OS is different (remember the MS Office menu shortcut bar) and does every site "have to" have a style for PCs, a style for Tablets and a style for mobile phones.

    Should we throw the old generic Internet site style that we have lived with for years and really get out of the box and adapt a style and use that is the same as the mobile devices that we use?

    The above is just my ramblings on where to now for a forum web site that is on the Internet and accessed by many different devices and operating systems and trying to keep up, or be the leader of, the times...or am I just sick of looking at my same old site style when I am experiencing exciting times in the use of my devices?
    erich37 likes this.
  2. steven s

    steven s Well-Known Member

    In designing sites you definitely need to consider multiple devices.
    Recently I was looking at wordpress templates on various platforms.
    I needed one that would resize properly on iPhone and Android devices.
    Something that would be usable on 7" and 10".
    It was hard enough trying to develop for specific screen resolutions.

    I now format html email for smartphones.
    How people view the internet is certainly changing rapidly.
    I'm waiting until 12-12-12 before I continue. :)
  3. Aarmin

    Aarmin Active Member

    I'm a bit clueless, but I am noticing more Responsive Web Design websites. I was wondering if xenforo had this in planning, I know vBulletin has it on their Beta 5 forum software. Don't know what IPB is doing, and I can only imagine all the free forum software will probably take YEARS before they adapt a responsive design - yet alone if they are even thinking about it (doesn't MyBB still use tables?).

    Roadandtrack just launched there new design.

    I plan on designing my forum with a responsive layout... I don't personally use a smart phone, but if a large base of internet users use these smaller devices then I suppose I should tailor.
  4. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    What time on Friday does the world end ?
    12:21 12 seconds ?
  5. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

  6. ibaker

    ibaker Well-Known Member

    Imagine if your site was the same on a mobile device as it was on a PC i.e., you click the mouse, hold down and sweep across the PC screen with the screen sliding across just like you would do with your finger on a mobile device...across the top is just the word "Menu" and when you click that a draw of icons slide down from the top of the screen on your web site, just like the "Latest" is on a Samsung Galaxy phone
  7. ibaker

    ibaker Well-Known Member

  8. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    One is a full style. The other is an addon to make your existing style become responsive. I'm using the addon and very pleased.
    Sheldon likes this.
  9. Sheldon

    Sheldon Well-Known Member

    I am using both, and very pleased. (y)
  10. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    That's a really excellent and careful analysis ibaker, thank you.
    I agree we should definitely be thinking about how to adapt and redesign for new types of gadget.
    However I would sound a note of caution.

    As admins we are online a lot more than most. What seems familiar, even stale to us, is still new and challenging to a surprising number.
    Most of my users simply click What's New and that's that. They are actually my GOOD active users. It's a rare one will actually start a thread.
    A minority use Private Conversations (Even though I have buttons to start one in the userbit).
    I'm not the only admin who's had to do training on users who automatically click the Quote button hugely lengthening a thread unnecessarily - even though the Reply box is RIGHT THERE! Nor am the only one who supplies newcomers with a direct link to our Welcome thread - but get told later "It was too complicated."
    In my business life I'm struggling with a wearying number of clients who can't do email attachments, can't do basics on a word processor.
    I could go on.

    So what I see happening is a bigger and bigger gap between the savvy who use tablets etc and the strugglers still having problems with the most basic basics.
    THAT I think it the real challenge for us. Inclusion.
    How to create bog simple user paths and layouts for the strugglers while seducing the savvy with sleek design that suits them.

    One issue I've found with email already is that where users use mobile tech they are far more likely to write tiny snippy posts of a few words. Often hasty, ill thought out, in other words dashed off while doing other things in the world. It doesn't promote thoughtfulness though it can promote participation. A sense of belonging? I'm not sure, but I think it's diluted.
    So do we welcome posts of a few words, or one line, one after the other going down the page? lol / haha/ oh yeah/ NOT! - the Twitter txt culture. For certain forums the answer may well be yes, but for others no, and it's a decision for us to make. Or else if this is not welcome a design issue to block it and push for more substantial posts of at least a few lines, in general.

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