I’ve got some good news. We’ve been looking over your feedback and working on as many of your suggestions as possible for the last week and have got some improvements planned for next week. So we wanted to give you an update on where we’ve got to, next week’s improvements, what’s still to come, what we’re unfortunately not able to change and what the next steps are after these first updates.
Next Week’s Improvements
We’re aware many of you were having difficulty with the default text styling. The text is going to be made darker overall, larger in most places and bolder in some places. We will also make the text links more consistent and clearer.
Some of the changes that were made as part of the community upgrade were to bring the styling in line with the main RSPB website - it’s important that we have a consistent look across all of our sites and the old community website had fallen away from these as it’s been a while since it was last upgraded. However, there are a lot of places where these have to be changed in the software and in many places the text was showing ‘default’ settings - the lighter grey text for example. This is where there have been some visibility issues which should be improved next week.
Forum post ordering & layout
One of the things we know you’ve been keen to see improves is how posts and replies have been displayed.
With the software upgrade came a new layout to post threads. This meant that replies to previous posts were indented or ‘nested’ which can make it harder to follow the order of replies. Also, it required clicking through multiple pages to get to the end of very long threads.
We plan on switching off the nesting entirely. When you reply to a previous post, it will show as ‘in reply to…’ next to your name in the post. The order of posts will also be reversed so that the latest posts show at the top rather than the bottom, so there’s no need to click through pages to get to the end of the thread. There will still be buttons at the top with ‘Oldest’ and ‘Newest’ so you can switch between these.
This all means that you will see a ‘flat’ list of all replies to the original post shown at the top of the page, going from most recent down to oldest. Clicking on the ‘Reply’ button shown under the original post will add to the thread as a whole, or the ‘Reply’ button under every individual reply will reply to that post itself.
We’re also adding a ‘Latest posts’ list on the right of the page (or bottom, on phones) which will show the latest 10 posts within that forum. This will replace the ‘Related’ post list which didn’t seem to be very relevant according to your survey feedback.
Community home page layout
We’re going to increase both the number of recent forum posts and recent blog posts shown on the homepage, from 10 to 15 (forum posts) and 5 to 9 (blog posts). Bear in mind that you can click through the pagination at the bottom of the forum posts to see more, and we’ve added this to the blog posts too.
We’re also adding a similar feature for photos, so you can view the latest photo/video uploads from the homepage.
On the right of the page (on larger screens, or the bottom on phones), we’re improving the lists here to show the most popular 10 forums and blogs. We have an awful lot of both and hopefully this should make it easier to find them.
(ie. the main pages for Wildlife, Places to Visit, Get Involved, Our Work, Chat & About)
All of these pages are being improved to make them align with the main community homepage. This means that rather than just displaying the forums and blogs that live within them, they will also show all the latest forum and blog posts, more like before the upgrade.
The upload limit for attachments will be increased to 5Mb per file. We are continuing to look into how we can alter the software to have different default display sizes of images and video, once we have an answer on this we will let you know how we intend to update and improve this.
A couple of people in the survey responded that they thought some content was moved or removed as part of the upgrade. It’s important to point out that no content was moved or deleted at all (except for a bit of spam that had crept in!). It’s all still in exactly the same place as before; the software upgrade changed nothing more than page layouts and styling.
Hopefully the upcoming changes will make it easier to navigate around and find what you’re looking for, but rest assured that it’s all still there.
Still to come
We’re still looking at ways of making it easier to reply to a forum post, including having the reply box open by default.
We’re looking at removing the ‘sticky’ header so that the area at the top of the page doesn’t ‘lock’ in place as you scroll down, taking up some screen space.
We’re looking at ways of to make it easier to skip through pages of the forums by page number instead of having to click on a button to load the next page one at a time. If we do manage this then we may switch the post order back so that the oldest ones are shown first and the latest ones are at the bottom, but you’d start off at the latest page.
We’re not able to change
There used to be a list of users currently online which some people mentioned in the survey that they miss. This isn’t a feature available in the new software, though each user does have a coloured dot next to them to indicate whether they’re online or not… green if so, grey if not.
Next week we’ll implement these improvements and comment on this thread to let you know. Once this is live take some time have a look around and get used to what will have changed then let us know here what we should look at improving next. It’s in our plan that for future improvements you’ll be asked for suggestions and we want to get you involved in the testing stages as well, to make sure this remains your community.
Thanks again to everybody for your patience and helping to feed into how we can improve.
Jon, thanks for the update. While you investigate how to offer different default display sizes, would it be possible to alter the one default that is there at the moment. If you were able to change the current default of 320x240 to 1200x800 that would really help those of us who post photographs. It would ensure that pictures posted would span the whole panel so that reasonable detail could be seen by those who don't want to open and close each picture but would also give those that want to, the chance to see pictures at almost full screen.
Secondly, is there no way that the left hand and right hand side of the screen can be used - 4 inches of white space with a pencil in the top corner is really a waste of resources.
My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobs_retired_now/
Hi Jon, thank you for this detailed response to the many comments you must have received. A recurring theme amongst posters was that RSPB wouldn't or couldn't make changes in relation to the feedback. Whilst obviously the "proof of the pudding will be in the eating" and posters will want to see how the changes actually work out, your reply is a positive first step. Ian
Hi Jon. Thanks for all the information on the upcoming changes.
Warning! This post contains atrocious spelling, and terrible grammar. Approach with extreme edginess.
Thanks for the update Jon :-)
Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index
Thank you so much for the detailed update Jon, sounds like some promising initial improvements will be made which are very much appreciated. Please thank the tech team too but remind them there is only one ten minute coffee break in the morning, 45 mins for lunch and 10 minute tea break in the afternoon - we may increase that allowance to a one hour lunchtime once they implement the first changes lol Seriously though, thanks for all your consideration to our feedback and good luck with the improvements.
"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"
Thank you JonB. It sounds as if these changes will make it all a lot easier.
Thank you Jon to you and your team for reading and listing to the feedback from us the community users. Much has been said regarding previous updates and how nothing was changed or followed up on. It is brilliant that you are going to be making changes next week and maybe later on, which will allow us to be able to post and navigate easily. Thanks
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Many thanks Jon. It is so good to hear you have been 'listening' and taken on board the various comments. I look forward to seeing the results of your labours next week!
Birdie's DU Summaries 2018
That all sounds great, presumably there will be a shut-down again? Thanks very much for listening!
Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France
Wow. I've never heard of any organization responding so quickly to comments/complaints. Amazing. Thank you.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654