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.
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?