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Xenforo usability practices?

Discussion in 'XenForo Pre-Sales Questions' started by crabpaws, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. crabpaws

    crabpaws Member

    Hello --

    I have a site for general users who are not technically inclined. We don't want anything fancy, just forum software that's easy to use -- no integration with Facebook, no social networking, just average people reading and posting, posting and reading. Just like the old days.

    How does Xenforo assure usability of new and existing features and functions? It seems to me there would be two major user groups for which you design, administrators and end-users.

    The people who participate in your forums would be more representative of administrators than general end-users.

    Also, what do you consider to be your primary market for Xenforo? I want to make sure it supports sites like mine.

    I have spent some time with Invision Power Board and have found while it may have a lot of bells and whistles, the usability of basic functions in that software leaves a lot to be desired.

    It seems to me that offering high usability out of the box would be a competitive advantage, but maybe that's just my perspective. I'm new to the forum software world.


  2. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    You can disable the Facebook and Twitter functionality in the ACP, if you prefer to remove it.

    I don't believe XenForo is aimed towards any particular market.
    It has been designed to have broad appeal to all forum owners and users.

    You're able to test it for yourself using the online demo: http://xenforo.com/demo
    That should enable you to see how customisable it is.
  3. crabpaws

    crabpaws Member

    Thank you. What are Xenforo's usability practices?
  4. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

  5. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    I echo the above post.

    What do you mean by " Xenforo's usability practices"?
  6. crabpaws

    crabpaws Member

    Thank you. Nielsen-Norman is a very good source for usability practices.

    In the report you cite, there are these points:
    1. Integrating UX into Agile teams
      • User Experience people are bridges
      • UX work is early, flexible
      • Low-fidelity prototypes as specification document
      • User Experience work happens in parallel
      • Guerilla-style UX validation
      • Integrating into teams: Case study
    2. Guerilla usability: quick-and-dirty techniques
      • Early work
      • Sprint-specific work
      • Decoupled (holistic) work
      • Post-sprint work
    3. Making it happen
      • UX people have to embrace Agile too!
      • Showing user needs to a fast-moving team
      • Showing your value
      • Essential techniques for short-staffed teams
      • Special challenges for large and distributed teams
      • Making it happen: Case Study
      • Always room to grow
    Now, Agile development is a technique for technical development. It can be done without incorporating user experience (UX) processes. Incorporating UX processes will result in higher end-user usability per cycle, yielding a more mature user interface with the advantages of Agile development on the technical side.

    Do you incorporate UX processes into your Agile cycles, and what UX methods do you use?

    PS I couldn't get this post into the html editor -- it tossed me out into the visual editor which, on the second round, worked well enough.
  7. Ingenious

    Ingenious Well-Known Member

    My successful community forum was the result of skipping steps 1 - 3 above and just uploading and running a forum.

    This sort of stuff is typical of missing the point entirely of "just doing something" and instead wasting time wrapping it in silly buzz words.
  8. Shamil

    Shamil Well-Known Member

    crabpaws, I don't believe that there is a dedicated person to UIX/elements on the vBulletin or XenForo staff.
  9. crabpaws

    crabpaws Member

    Thanks, Shamil. Was Digital Doctor speaking for Xenforo or was he just being helpful with the pointer to Nielsen-Norman?
  10. James

    James Well-Known Member

    Digital Doctor speaks only for Digital Doctor... unless we have a secret XenForo employee on our hands :cautious:
    Forsaken likes this.
  11. Shamil

    Shamil Well-Known Member

    He was being helpful. However, having said that, Kier knows a thing or two about usability, though he used to create graphics and such for large companies as an agency, if I recall correctly.
  12. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Agile is my outsider looking in description of coding at xenforo.
    crabpaws: there are two coders @xenforo.com : Mike and Kier.
    vBulletin probably has plenty of coders.
    How Mike and Kier make xenforo kick vB's butt is unknown to me. But I can say I find it painful using vBulletin and I love using xenforo.
  13. Kier

    Kier XenForo Developer Staff Member

    To be entirely frank, we don't have time for formalised usability testing that we can label as Nimblebert Nobbleberry or whatever. What we have is decades of experience writing web software, an eye for what works and an ability to sympathise with varying types of end user.

    The result is XenForo. Use it for a while and decide for yourself whether or not it's accessible, easy, and enjoyable to use, but don't rely on terms and concepts from someone who's made money from writing about this stuff rather than actually doing it.
  14. a legacy reborn

    a legacy reborn Well-Known Member

    You had me at "To"
  15. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    Nimblebert Nobbleberry.... :D

    I don't know if my opinion accounts for much, but I've been using forum software since my days as an online user at Compuserve, back when forums were text-based using number-based menus and "Go" commands to get from one forum to another. I've used countless others over the years, and have personally used WebBBS (a rewrite of the ancient "wwwboard" system) phpBB, SMF and vBulletin on forums I've founded and/or administrated over the years. And as of a few months ago, have added two XenForo installations to my list of experiences.

    Of all the systems I've administered personally, vBulletin is by far the winner in "bells and whistles" (some of them arguably unnecessary), but XenForo beats it handily at having the most user-friendly interface. It is the only forum system I've seen where users overwhelmingly approved of the change to a new system, and lobbied the least amount of complaints. It also boosted forum participation, which I attribute to XenForo being easier to use than the others. Its clutter-free default theme is also inviting, pleasing to the eye and the lack of distractions actually makes reading conversations much more enjoyable.
  16. crabpaws

    crabpaws Member

    Kier, I make the big bucks doing Nimblebert Nobbleberry here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I often work with software engineers, in all their glory. I've also been around BBS as a poster almost as long as Rudy. (Thanks for your post, Rudy.) Yes, they've come a long way since the Unix editor.

    The reason I'm asking this is because usable screen design requires an eye for strategic allocation of space on the screen. On first glance, Xenforo looks promising in this regard, but I want to know what kind of reasoning will be used in designing functions in the future. What's significant to me is that you might have had experience in graphic design. Also, your "ability to sympathise with varying types of end user."

    Not everyone is interested in fiddling with software, and my users definitely are not, they're that type of end user. As for myself, I am not crazy about paying twice for it, the second time being to modify it for basic usability. I think basic usability should be built in. I'm talking basic: Topic Reply, Start Topic, View New Content (hmmmm....).

    (Is the issue with the html editor a bug?)
  17. Tomble

    Tomble Active Member

    I certainly find XenForo quite intuitive and quick to use, and have found some other forums quite frustrating to use since I've gotten used to XenForo. For example the alerts when a reply has been made / like / quoted, and also that clicking a link takes you straight to the first new post since you last looked rather than having to guess at page numbers / find some small icon to take to first new post.

    Having said that it isn't the simplest you could get by a long shot, however I think it is one of the most intuitive. Whether you think your users will like it's design and behaviour or not is obviously something only you know.

    What is the issue and which browser are you using?
  18. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't sweat it to much: forum users adapt to whatever system is in place, if the topic interests them enough. I have used the forums over at PC Magazine a few times--I really dislike that system, but I still made it work when I just had to say my piece. :D

    The short version of my message above is that XenForo, in my experience, is the most user-friendly I've used thus far. I try to look at it from the standpoint of a novice forum user as well. Other than a few small wording changes (you may want to change "Start New Thread" to "Start New Topic"), even novice users should be able to navigate it quite easily. More experienced forum users tend to expect certain controls to be in a specific place, and XF appears to do that as well.
  19. Forsaken

    Forsaken Well-Known Member

    My stepdad that is completely blind finds that this is the easiest software to user other than his usual newsgroup.

    As someone who advises on usability, you know that every software has a learning curve, and I've found that XenForo has the quickest and easiest in comparison to the competition.
  20. crabpaws

    crabpaws Member

    Re the html editor -- when I pull a post into it via More Options, it displays as a text editor for a few seconds and then reverts to the visual editor. I'm using Firefox 3.6.16 on Mac OS X.

    I think I have realistic expectations about a learning curve for my end-users. Personally, as a usability designer, I want to work with an interface that doesn't make me barf in terms of poorly thought-out user experience and design. I'm finding IPB a big disappointment in this regard. I don't want to get burned twice.

    Graphic design is related to usability, but is not the whole ticket. Generally, highly usable interfaces are visually pleasing but not because they've been designed to be pretty. They have elegance, in the engineering sense, each element serving the purpose of the whole with no unnecessary parts. The simplicity, which seems inevitable, actually takes a lot of thought to achieve.

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