Layout issues

I have to say that even after a week I am having a hard time reading the new forum. It’s mainly to do with the different proportions between things. There’s a lot of pretty graphics and white space that seem very nice from a design point of view but actually waste a great deal of space. I don’t really need to know the exact time of both the latest comment and the original thread creation, and compressing the information about time and poster into a narrow column means they take up two lines each, reducing the number of topics that can be seen. Even if I shrink the text I can only get 10 items onto the screen before I have to start scrolling.

For example, when you fires come into a forum you can see only 8 topics at once before you must scroll. On Elektron-users (with the smaller font and wider columns) you can see 15 topics. This makes is much easier to spot where the activity is. This problem is even worse when I’m reading a thread. Because the avatars are so large and everything is squashed into the middle , I can only see a small number of messages, and the text is dominated by the graphical elements, including the horrible horrible soundcloud bars. I don’t want to link my soundcloud account because the bar is so big that it acts as a massive heavy horiztonal divider between Every. Damn. Forum. Post. I mean really, if I’m reading a thread where one person makes three different comments, what’s the use of seeing a giant souncloud bar under every comment? The bars are so big and heavy I feel like I’m in jail.

I don’t like the sidebars either. the only choices I get are ‘On Fire’ and ‘Recent activity’ (which often duplicate each other), and the fonts are bigger than the forum topic list, so my attention is continually being drawn over to the right side of the screen for no reason. On the other hand, things like messages and subscriptions are buried under my profile up in the top-right corner, so I can’t see if I have a new message unless I reach up and click on it. Just now I found I got a message from another user 2 days ago, but there was nothing to indicate this information to me. The ‘Notifications’ and ‘Forum’ activity subpages (from the home page) are also useless because every single message is given its own entry, instead of a summary telling my that a small number of threads have ‘7 new replies’ or whatever. I am finding it hard to keep up with the threads I participate in because the design is so user-hostile.

I know designers like whitespace and all, but about 50% of my screen is just empty space. I don’t visit a forum every day to look at it (as designers seem to imagine), I visit it to read and the reading experience is very, very bad. I feel like I am stuck in a children’s book with bright red text everywhere, chunky fonts, and a minimum number of words.

Posting and commenting is worse again, with the tiny interface where you are limited to a box and the empty space in the box is greater than the text entry area, so you can only see one paragraph at a time. I mean, why is there so much empty space below the ‘create topic’ button? For writing tutorials or any kind of in-depth discussion this is a killer, who wants to scroll up and down all the time? I find it difficult to write or edit a longish message like this because If I scroll to add in a sentence to a different paragraph I can’t see anything else, and so I keep putting things in the wrong place.

Being restricted to typing in an area that is only about 5% the size of the screen is just ridiculous. Also, when I’m posting or commenting I’m stuck with this modal dialog box. I can scroll the page behind it but I can’t move the box around to look at anything. So if I am commenting on an existing thread and I want to quote someone, I have to:

[li]open up a new tab in my browser[/li]
[li]navigate to the[/li]
[li]navigate to the forum[/li]
[li]navigate to the thread[/li]
[li]scroll to the message I want to quote[/li]
[li]copy the text[/li]
[li]go back to the first tab where I have my edit window open[/li]
[li]paste the text[/li]

I’m sorry, but this is fucking ridiculous. What good is a quotation button when you can’t even select text in the same browser window? What should be a 2-step operation (select and copy the text on the same page; scroll back to the edit window and paste it) now takes 8 steps.

Elektron, please rethink the design of this, Grab your designer and explain to him/her that this is not a product page or advertisement. This sort of simplified layout is OK when I am looking up product information, design is quite important in that context. But on a forum where communication and text are the most important, the design sucks. Demoting the text in favor of colors and whitespace is extremely unfriendly and is creating a barrier to the exchange of information.

I’m sorry to rant and use rude words, but the truth is that I am feeling worse and worse every day. I find I am avoiding this site because browsing and posting are such a painful experience. By contrast I still like reading Elektron-users - it is not the most beautiful site either but it does not punish me for the simple activity of reading and writing.

See, even in in this first topic post above some of the sentences are in the wrong place (especially in the first paragraph) because of scrolling about in a tiny edit window. I left the bad writing as it is because the idea of editing that long message again is too painful. On elektron-users I would happily go back and edit a long post several times to make the text flow just right.

One other: the font. The serif font is great for headings but it sucks for body text (I mean look at the kerning for the italics in this sentence). Use the same font as in the edit box. You can see over on that the serif font is only for headers, body is in a san serif family and that’s much easier on the eye.

overall i think the forum is fine but i believe that some changes have to be made to make things more user-friendly. after some days of using it i would probably:

  • make some of the graphics a bit smaller (like the profile picture and the white box on the right side of a post, it takes way too much space for just a couple of information that could be displayed differently)
  • change the ‘default’ font size (one could increase/decrease the size from within the browser but then the entire site will get bigger and bigger…)
  • white is good (light gray), it makes things clearer but too much white becomes dispersive

this is something i would probably get fixed before some of the other stuff (surely there’s some work to be done on the backend as well…) but these, together with some other fixes will make the forum more usable

Viewing on an iPad at the mo, & it’s not too bad but last night I tied to read this thread on an iPhone & frankly gave up.
Left & right boarders need reducing by 20% at least, it’s just dead space.
Think the font size is fine.
Bottom bar either needs to go or be significantly slimmer!
I actually prefer the EU layout where it’s not static!
There, that’s my 2 cents :slight_smile:

I agree with Anigbrowl on most of his points. The writing and reading experience on this new forum feels “compressed”, I’m on a 21" screen, yet I feel like I’m browsing around on a mobile device at times. The bottom bar is extremely annoying, and far too big - does it have to be glued to the bottom of the screen like it is now? Can’t it just act as an ordinary footer?

The reading and writing experience on the old Elektron-Users were more straight-forward, not at any time while using it did I feel it had a design problem. It just did what it was supposed to do. In general there’s just far too much scrolling for too little information on here.

Definitely a case of style over function at the minute…

But on a forum where communication and text are the most important, the design sucks.

Hate to say it but hes right!I think the only possibly fix would be to scrap this whole design and move to a traditional style forum.Why not just do a vBulletin forum???

Thanks for all the feedback! Really important to us to hear what you think of Elektronauts. And Anigbrowls initial post certainly contains food for thought. We will for sure try to remedy the bottom bar, the size of the text area in the create topic/post reply windows + try to compress some space between forum posts.

Thanks for the update Jon. I know it’s a lot of suggestions/complaints to take in at once, but looking forward to the next iteration!

difficult on a macbook air which i use daily

incredibly slow on iphone and wasn’t able to post

I’ve tried Elektronauts on a Macbook Air as well and I agree the visibility in the forum threads is not really up to par. We’ll start working on the next iteration, which has been thoroughly comped and outlined, this Monday. It’ll kill a lot of white space between posts, make the SC-bar more discrete and shave off a healthy amount of pixels from the bottom bar. A slew of other graphical/layout things will be taken care of as well.

We hope to roll out the update rather soon. Vacation times etc make things move a bit slower, but getting Elektronauts right is something we really prioritize.

We all use Elektron kit so we all spend half of our free time trying to do elaborate things in tiny edit windows. The forum reflects the workflow pretty well :wink:

As you might’ve noticed, we’ve updated the layout. Killed a lot of white space and trimmed the bottom bar by more than half the height. The create topic/post reply windows have been rehauled as well.

The bottom bar still needs some tweaking though, we’ll continue working on that.

Hope you like the changes!

This is definitely better!
the bottom bar layout is broken it seems:

looks the same in latest Chrome and Safari on OSX.

But I still think it should only be visible if you scroll to the bottom.
I feel it is kind of sandwiching the content in an unpleasant way… that would be okay if the bar would actually be essential for browsing, but I never use it except for getting to the next page in a thread as it’s the only option.

If I want to browse the forum, I do it via the Forum Activity page all the time.
(I’ve got a keyboard shortcut to bring me there which I use really often. This is the most important page on elektronauts imho, and I would love to see it be streamlined as good as possible, e.g update-without-reloading, purge-threads-which-you’ve-seen, and go-to-first-unread-post-in-thread )

The bottom bar doesn’t bring me there.

If I want to go to a specific sub forum e.g. to create a thread, I can handle the extra step of scrolling to the top. (Though quickly getting to the sub forums could be improved)

And if I want to reply to a thread, I use that little arrow button at the bottom of each post…

i agree with void; the bottom bar is not essential and it would be better if it would show up when one reaches the end of the page.
the big orange reply button is probably a duplicate, it could perhaps be replaced with something else (‘top of the page’ button?)

We’re working on fixing the bottom bar at the moment! Expect an update very very soon.