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More changes on the development site - feedback welcomed

Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/13/2019 10:37 am
I made some more tweaks to the dev site. For those of you who are interested, I'd appreciate any feedback.

The biggest change you'l notice is the font. Site wide it's been changed to Source Serif Pro. Let me know what you think.

I've also bumped up the font size in the list threads view, making it a little easier to see the thread titles.

Something else in the list threads view, you can click anywhere in the row and it will take you to that thread. Should be a little easier to click on threads on smaller screens.

I made some other little tweaks here and there.

Thanks also to widmerseyebrow for his CSS versions of the Back To The Corner and Add A Comment buttons.
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The font selection seems contentious  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/13/2019 10:11 pm : link
As I expected it would be.

I may try a sans-serif font tomorrow and see how that looks.
RE: This comes up on all of these threads  
bebopson : 5/13/2019 10:39 pm : link
Quote:
1) This forum implementation is unique and gives BBI a lot of its character. The majority of BBIers like it.


You should consider that you could be turning off as many people as you're retaining.

Quote:
2) There are over a decade's worth of posts and comments archived here. That's a lot of value.


They can be migrated.

Quote:
3) No good replacement that would make everyone happy actually exists. All forum implementations have their own quirks and features that people would need to deal with.


You can't be serious. The functionality and robustness of this platform is way behind the curve.

Quote:
4) Any "out of the box" solution would require a significant amount of work to customize it so that it would be suitable for BBI.[quote]

It's a blog and some static content with a forum, don't over-think it.

[quote]5) Ads in the forum make up a significant chunk of BBI revenue. Any solution, like Disqus, that eliminates forum ads is a non-starter.


The example I cited is actually discourse.org, and it has an official advertising plugin.
RE: This comes up on all of these threads  
Josh in the City : 5/13/2019 10:46 pm : link
In comment 14442556 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:
But just for the record, we're not seriously considering moving to a new forum platform because:

1) This forum implementation is unique and gives BBI a lot of its character. The majority of BBIers like it.

2) There are over a decade's worth of posts and comments archived here. That's a lot of value.

3) No good replacement that would make everyone happy actually exists. All forum implementations have their own quirks and features that people would need to deal with.

4) Any "out of the box" solution would require a significant amount of work to customize it so that it would be suitable for BBI.

5) Ads in the forum make up a significant chunk of BBI revenue. Any solution, like Disqus, that eliminates forum ads is a non-starter.


Gary, these excuses are all (excuse my language) horseshit. Itís way past time for BBI to be upgraded and none of the points you listed above are real reasons we should avoid improving this forum. Only rational reasons I can think of are cost and time. And I respect the decision if those factors make it unachievable but hopefully we can make it happen.
Discourse.org is not a viable option  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/13/2019 11:04 pm : link
Their 500K page views per month plan is $300 per month. FYI, that's less than a quarter of the Corner Forum's worst monthly page view count in the last two years.

The previous two months were some of our best of all time with the Corner racking up nearly six million page views in both March and April of 2019.

I can't imagine what Discourse.org would charge us for that, but it would be some significant multiple of our current monthly server bill.

There are nearly 200,000 threads currently in the database along with nearly six million comments. Nobody is going import that into any kind of existing software.

The Forum, as it exists right now, is ridiculously successful and popular. I'm trying to make it more mobile friendly and to improve some functionality without ruining what makes it different and special.

discourse plans  
bebopson : 5/13/2019 11:10 pm : link
Those are their paid plans. Scroll down, you can also self-host. It's FOSS.
Thread archive  
bebopson : 5/13/2019 11:14 pm : link
How many of those 200K threads are actually generating traffic and making you money? I would bet 99% of traffic is on the last two days of threads. You're making a lot of legacy kinds of arguments that just don't fly.
design issues  
bebopson : 5/13/2019 11:19 pm : link
Also keep in mind that your thread comment model is totally de-normalized. A lot of your bandwidth is serving up duplicative content (quoted comments). Most importantly, every time a new comment is added to a page, you are serving up a new version of the page, which means you're not taking advantage of any caching. With a more modern architecture and data model your bandwidth should go down significantly.
I like the changes Gary  
montanagiant : 5/13/2019 11:51 pm : link
Kudos
Not to be rude or dismissive  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/13/2019 11:57 pm : link
But I've been running this site since 2007. I think I have a pretty good handle on how it runs and what the major issues are.

This is easily one of the most popular and successful, independent, fan-run, sports forums in the world.

Obviously it's a web 1.0 framework and lacks a lot of modern features, but it works, people like it, there are good conversations happening, it's very Google friendly and it makes enough money to pay its way.

I really don't see any compelling reason to switch to something else. A lot of the features on modern forum software can create as many problems as they solve. Most of them don't really make the conversation any better and that's what we're about here.

Not to mention that I have, over the years, built a bunch of special purpose, back end tools to manage and deal with problems that are specific to BBI. I would be loathe to give those up.

Anyone one of you is free to buy a domain and spin up an instance of Discourse or whatever and start talking Giants football. We'll be sticking with this for the foreseeable future.
RE: Not to be rude or dismissive  
bebopson : 5/14/2019 12:16 am : link

Quote:
Anyone one of you is free to buy a domain and spin up an instance of Discourse or whatever and start talking Giants football. We'll be sticking with this for the foreseeable future.


The community here is obviously its most valuable asset. Just trying to help.
RE: RE: Not to be rude or dismissive  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/14/2019 5:52 am : link
In comment 14442632 bebopson said:
Quote:
Just trying to help.


I get that and I'm not trying to be a dick, but I've answered this question dozens of times already.

Even if I had the time and resources (which I don't) to implement an entirely new, off the shelf, forum solution, it's not clear to me that it would be better for the site, all things considered. We'd be tossing away a big chunk of our legacy for some functionality that would be, in my opinion, of limited benefit.

We're sticking with this for the foreseeable future.
RE: Not to be rude or dismissive  
EricJ : 5/14/2019 7:28 am : link
In comment 14442624 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:

I really don't see any compelling reason to switch to something else. A lot of the features on modern forum software can create as many problems as they solve. Most of them don't really make the conversation any better and that's what we're about here.


There is one feature in particular that would make the forum much better. Maybe you can find a way to program this into the current platform Gary.

Other forums have a feature where you can click back into a thread that you viewed before, and it puts you at the spot where you were when you exited last.

So, for example... If the thread had 46 responses when you last saw it but now it has over 300... it would drop you at #47.

Also, when someone replies to you directly.. you can see there has been a reply to you and you can immediately navigate to that reply.

That absolutely would make the forum better and would create more clicks and views. I know someone else who owns an extremely popular forum in a different topic and he indicated that the new format created a significant boost to income.
Once I fix the UI and get the back-end code cleaned up  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/14/2019 8:58 am : link
I'll be open to adding some features like that.
I think the biggest reason to be compelled to switch  
BigBlueDownTheShore : 5/14/2019 9:29 am : link
to a different format is quite simply it is not user friendly for anyone to use.

I'm taking a process improvement class right now, and I had to read 2 chapters of the book, "Don't Make Me Think Revisited". I highly recommend it, and I couldn't help but think about BBI as I read it.

Now I am not going to even give you an exert from the book, but just give you the visuals in them.

When I saw this diagram. I thought of the BBI Crowded Front Page, that I do not think anyone uses:



This one as well

Example 1 Not Thinking


Compared to Example 2 which is what the front page of BBI is like and there is a ton of thinking involved:



The biggest issue with the new page layout are the clickable buttons. Here is a diagram to show you why I think so



And Finally using the archaic BBCode. It makes people think to much about how to add things. In this post alone, I put the wrong / a few times before I posting making me rethink over and over again. There are new forums out there, where you can literally click an image and past it into the forum.



Compared too:



You are more then likely turning away the younger crowd of Giants fans, that do not stick it out to try to figure out how to make a post exactly how they want it because simply they can find another site that allows them to do it that much easier.





Duplicating the original thread contents in a reply  
NYRiese : 5/14/2019 10:09 am : link
consumes an awful lot of screen area resource.
I'd get rid of it, perhaps replace it with the 1st few words and then an ellipsis....
Technical changes on mobile seem ok  
widmerseyebrow : 5/14/2019 10:22 am : link
As far as the font and readability goes, I think people are really asking for better typography as a whole, and typography is tough.

TL;DR: Go to a discussion board or comments section with beautiful type, use the inspector, and copy their font pairing. A site-wide line-height of 1.4 or 1.5 would improve readability, but youíd need to alter the WYSIWYG to wrap paragraphs in <p> tags instead of inserting two <br> tags.

Some thoughts on the typography:

Font-size: 16px is the recommended minimum for your body text. Some news sites go up to 18px. BBI is good there.

Font-family: The best examples of typography usually feature a mixture of sans serif and serif fonts. Take Medium, Politico, etc. The heading, sub-header, author, and article body alternate between serif and sans-serif (with subheaders and author names using varying boldness, casing, and letter-spacing). While people are complaining about the new font, perhaps they wouldnít if it was only applied to the post body and paired with a really clean looking sans-serif for the post title and post author. If youíre not a design type, Iíd suggest just going to a site (especially one with a discussion board or comment section) with beautiful type, looking in the inspector, and copying their font pairing.

Line-height: using a common, site-wide line-height brings consistency to your vertical spacing and makes the site easier on the eyes. 1.4 or 1.5 is generally accepted as good. The only issue I saw when doing this to BBIís thread page is that the markup on the thread body is technically not great: the paragraphs should be wrapped in <p> tags. With standard <p> margins, thereís no need to insert manual <br>s between paragraphs. Because there are <br>s, the spacing between paragraphs becomes huge when line-height is increased.

Of course there is more to great typography but thatís a good start.
Switching to a forum  
widmerseyebrow : 5/14/2019 10:31 am : link
I can see why people want to switch to a forum and get all the UI improvements, features, and clean design. But it's important to understand that there's nothing magical about forum software. BBI could look and feel like those forums without changing the guts of BBI if Gary and Eric wanted to invest the time/money in a redesign. But as outlined by Gary, the archive and current traffic are valuable assets.

Is BBI a beautiful site? I wouldn't say so, but it's become a whole lot more usable with the minor tweaks made recently.
RE: Once I fix the UI and get the back-end code cleaned up  
EricJ : 5/14/2019 12:51 pm : link
In comment 14442838 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:
I'll be open to adding some features like that.


Thumbs up!
widmerseyebrow  
Eric from BBI : Admin : 5/14/2019 1:04 pm : link
I want to thank you for your valuable technical input.
Mockup of what I meant about hiding columns for mobile  
schabadoo : 5/14/2019 1:37 pm : link
Open the link in a browser and resize the width down to phone sizes. This is quick and dirty, just want to demonstrate an idea to improve readability on mobile.
Link - ( New Window )
RE: Mockup of what I meant about hiding columns for mobile  
BigBlueDownTheShore : 5/14/2019 2:29 pm : link
In comment 14443364 schabadoo said:
Quote:
Open the link in a browser and resize the width down to phone sizes. This is quick and dirty, just want to demonstrate an idea to improve readability on mobile. Link - ( New Window )


I'm not seeing the changes....
RE: RE: Mockup of what I meant about hiding columns for mobile  
Giantology : 5/14/2019 2:36 pm : link
In comment 14443456 BigBlueDownTheShore said:
Quote:
In comment 14443364 schabadoo said:


Quote:


Open the link in a browser and resize the width down to phone sizes. This is quick and dirty, just want to demonstrate an idea to improve readability on mobile. Link - ( New Window )



I'm not seeing the changes....


The Views and Posts columns collapse on mobile screens.
RE: RE: RE: Mockup of what I meant about hiding columns for mobile  
schabadoo : 5/14/2019 2:44 pm : link
In comment 14443466 Giantology said:
Quote:
In comment 14443456 BigBlueDownTheShore said:


Quote:


In comment 14443364 schabadoo said:


Quote:


Open the link in a browser and resize the width down to phone sizes. This is quick and dirty, just want to demonstrate an idea to improve readability on mobile. Link - ( New Window )



I'm not seeing the changes....



The Views and Posts columns collapse on mobile screens.


Wouldn't it make sense?

Honestly I'd think about hiding all of them except for the topics.

Screenshot if you can't see change:

I have wide screen mobile,  
BigBlueDownTheShore : 5/14/2019 2:48 pm : link
so I think that's why they aren't collapsing in mine.
FWIW, my humble suggestions  
V.I.G. : 5/14/2019 2:59 pm : link
1) Font
-Any serif font is worse on screens, better printed.
-Helvetica Neue is such a time tested gold standard, go there

2) Hamburger Menu

3) Collapse some of the columns
-It will allow you to increase the font size
-We don't really need to see the # of views, aren't we more interested in # of posts. in any event they correlate well.
that saves mobile space.
-started by and last post could be in the same column. I don't know about others but I don't sort by that but indifferent if others do.

4) maybe top and bottom border for each post might add visual appeal
X  
Ryan in Albany : 5/14/2019 4:55 pm : link
Why am I still getting ads in the middle of the threads? Is that normal?
Honestly a bigblueinteractive subreddit would be besr  
jlukes : 5/14/2019 5:18 pm : link
Pinned topics. Better threads and posts get up voted. That system would be fantastic
great work  
2cents : 5/14/2019 5:34 pm : link
on everything you guys do for the site, i dont frequent many forums/blogs outside of reddit so my experience with alternatives is limited but you do seem to hit a sweet spot here.

Just to set the demographic for you on my feedback, im mid 20s that views the site alot on a mobile device, been on here for many years passively, actively for about the last 2. also one side point, i have a lot of friends that ive tried to get involved here but dont seem stay interested and quickly fizzle out.

feedback on dev font:

i like the new font alot but maybe too drastic on the size increase, perhaps scale it back partially.

unwanted feedback on other features:

my only wish/suggestion/recommendation would be for some sort of ranking system for the comments and stacking replies similiar reddit. I get those are feature that make reddit special and admittedly, I dont know enough to understand if that is even plausible for the current architecture but i think that would bring this site to the next level. it would allow for passive BBI to get more involved in the site and help reduce learning curve for new users.

I apologize if this idea has already been discussed and shot down but thought it was worthwhile to the topic. once again thank you for the work you all do maintaining this site and considering the community.

All good with me.  
Giant John : 5/14/2019 7:24 pm : link
I noticed the font size but had no clue font had changed. LOL.
Itís probably been mentioned  
mattyblue : 5/14/2019 10:39 pm : link
but on my iPhone I can no longer double tap to zoom in when reading. Either the font or the sizing is a little annoying to read through.
A lot of good suggestions here  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/14/2019 11:38 pm : link
I killed all the columns on the vertical phone view except for the topic and the ads. The ads kind of mess up the view, but it's more readable.

Opinion  
SgtDog : 5/15/2019 7:41 am : link
While I like the new font easier to read and dont need my glasses it does look 'old'

Suggestions
1.Stack comments that reply to other comments within a thread. It would make following some of the various discussions within a thread more cohesive.
2. Add 'like' or 'dislike' feature so we can provide quick feedback without a full comment. Or use thumbs up or down icon; or go creative and use touchdown (like) or flag (dislike) icons;

Regardless this site is awesome. Its amazing the community it has build thanks for your endless efforts. Any influence with the Giants for a 'Return to Albany' training camp
RE: A lot of good suggestions here  
V.I.G. : 5/15/2019 7:46 am : link
In comment 14444312 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:
I killed all the columns on the vertical phone view except for the topic and the ads. The ads kind of mess up the view, but it's more readable.

Looks way better. Is it possible to put the ads in-between the posts instead. Otherwise everyone will finger soon to the left anyway and not see the ads.

Also hamburger menu will clean up the top well.

Good work.
RE: A lot of good suggestions here  
BigBlueDownTheShore : 5/15/2019 8:29 am : link
In comment 14444312 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:
I killed all the columns on the vertical phone view except for the topic and the ads. The ads kind of mess up the view, but it's more readable.


I use one of the wider phones. All the columns still show up and everything seems scrunched up compared to the normal layout.
For instance the  
BigBlueDownTheShore : 5/15/2019 8:32 am : link
Topic | Search | etc. is stacked one on top of the other making the header of the forum really narrow.
What kind of phone?  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/15/2019 8:47 am : link
Thanks for the feedback. I might dump the views and posts on intermediate screens and then everything on the smaller screens.
RE: A lot of good suggestions here  
schabadoo : 5/15/2019 8:48 am : link
In comment 14444312 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:
I killed all the columns on the vertical phone view except for the topic and the ads. The ads kind of mess up the view, but it's more readable.


I like it, definitely an improvement.

I have no idea on your analytics, but I'd bet you have a significant amount of mobile users. This'll help, at least on phones.

You may want to scale it, like hiding one column at tablet sizing.
RE: RE: A lot of good suggestions here  
schabadoo : 5/15/2019 8:59 am : link
In comment 14444373 V.I.G. said:
Quote:
In comment 14444312 Gary from The East End said:


Quote:


I killed all the columns on the vertical phone view except for the topic and the ads. The ads kind of mess up the view, but it's more readable.



Looks way better. Is it possible to put the ads in-between the posts instead. Otherwise everyone will finger soon to the left anyway and not see the ads.

Also hamburger menu will clean up the top well.

Good work.


I like the suggestion of moving the ad in the thread view, maybe over or under the logo or menu? It's killing your good work on the phone view.
RE: What kind of phone?  
BigBlueDownTheShore : 5/15/2019 9:00 am : link
In comment 14444404 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:
Thanks for the feedback. I might dump the views and posts on intermediate screens and then everything on the smaller screens.


iPhone 7 plus.
PS My previous post  
BigBlueDownTheShore : 5/15/2019 9:01 am : link
was just for feedback. I love this place, and appreciate all you guys do! Just trying to help.
Over half of our site traffic is mobile  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/15/2019 9:04 am : link
So obviously these updates are long overdue.

I have to do some client work today and I'm teaching a WordPress class tonight, so I'm not going to play with it any more today.
I appreciate all the feedback  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/15/2019 9:32 am : link
Especially from those of you with iPhones since we're a strictly Android family here.
RE: I appreciate all the feedback  
schabadoo : 5/15/2019 9:45 am : link
In comment 14444472 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:
Especially from those of you with iPhones since we're a strictly Android family here.


You should try Chrome-Inspect-Toggle Device Toolbar and there's 3 or 4 iPhone views you can use.
One Suggestion  
BigBlue2112 : 5/15/2019 2:13 pm : link
I'd freeze the clickable headers so that they are always on the top of the screen, similar to how you can freeze panes in excel.

So in the Corner Forum you'd always have the Topic, Started By, Views, Post, Last Post headers along with everything above it, then when you are in a thread, youd have the usual Home, Corner Forum, Gameday, Team, etc headers locked up top.

Just a personal preference of mine, no right or wrong answer here
RE: RE: RE: You  
Amazinz : 5/15/2019 4:15 pm : link
In comment 14442269 Eric from BBI said:
Quote:
Gary is working on the menus.


This is my biggest gripe with BBI. I appreciate the effort!
RE: The font selection seems contentious  
Alan in Toledo : 5/15/2019 4:24 pm : link
In comment 14442559 Gary from The East End said:
Quote:
As I expected it would be.

I may try a sans-serif font tomorrow and see how that looks.


Georgia?
RE: RE: The font selection seems contentious  
schabadoo : 5/15/2019 5:27 pm : link
In comment 14445237 Alan in Toledo said:
Quote:
In comment 14442559 Gary from The East End said:


Quote:


As I expected it would be.

I may try a sans-serif font tomorrow and see how that looks.



Georgia?


Georgia is serif.

Arial, Helvetica, Open Sans, those are popular sans-serif options.
I've been looking at a bunch of typography forums  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 5/15/2019 5:59 pm : link
So what kind of fonts they're using and a lot of them use serif fonts for the body text.

I'll probably spin up a few demo pages with different font mixes and let people vote on it.
iOS here  
DonQuixote : 5/15/2019 8:13 pm : link
Ads and font sizes much better. I donít have to magnify.

I prefer the arial style font in the quotes and think it would look great throughout. It is objectively easier to read (I recall there has been research on this).

The window. I am typing in now, to post a comment, does not resize on my phone, but it also does not behave pathogenically if I shift the window back and forth to see the text as I type.
Appreciate all your work ...  
Manny in CA : 5/15/2019 9:39 pm : link

But the large font is a bit too much.
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