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.
I’m afraid I can’t agree with anyone saying what the so called software computer staff have done with improvements. It’s still so technically difficult to use, for someone like me just wants something very simple to use. I really feel like swearing about this, but then I would get a ban. I do know of a number of forum members who have left because of this and some more of the regular posters who I suspect have left this forum as there have been no posts from them since before Christmas. I feel very strongly about and very annoyed about these so called improved changes, which they are definitely not.
I'm still getting a lot of posts where the oldest postings are still appearing first, and lost somewhere amid all replies, are the latest at varying stages, not in synch!
I think the easiest way to try and explain it is, a form of branching out following the various threads within a thread, if that makes any sense!
Whatever, it's still a mess and not user friendly.
Gotcha, KATE :-*
See HERE.... Doh! link is still Feint but may be improved on later.
Amazing, isn't it, Scylla--lol?! Things are improving a bit more--hurrah!
If I'm not mistaken, we have a new, slightly smaller, but superbly denser, font !!!
Anyone else? Or am I seeing things "differently"?
Annette in SoCal said:the powers that be have decided to redesign an already well functioning website to be cumbersome and confusing.
I'm wondering if the motive for signing up with the new host without any regard whatsoever for how suitable the platform would be for our uses was purely financial - less storage space req'd, so cheaper. Pale font. Default pic size tiny. View more... view more... view more...
Catlady: I guess we have many people accessing the site various ways, so one person's problems may not be another's. What's such a pain is that it all seemed to work okay before the redesign. This is the second website I use where the powers that be have decided to redesign an already well functioning website to be cumbersome and confusing.
Hi Anette, I use my ipad all the time and when I reply, as in now, the box is an okay size to reply in but the size of print is so small it is a pain. Yes I could go in and format and change the size but you would have to do that every time you posted. Regards the posts, folks would prefer to have them in order as before the update, oldest at the top and page numbers at the bottom so that you can scroll to where you know you last finished off reading. What we have now is the original post at the top and every reply under that with the newest at the top.
I too have wondered if the powers that be have stopped listening.
I'm unclear where some folks are seeing tiny type. If anything, the typeface is so large and the space between the lines so deep that it makes the site almost unusable for people using tablets. I agree that it's too pale.
I'm also unclear what TeeJay is saying regarding the latest post appearing on top of the oldest post. On the Weekly Chat, they appear in reverse chronological order. Users now click Reply under the newest post even when they're responding to older posts, but they do include the name of the person whose post(s) they're responding to.
I don't use Facebook because I think the company has been consistently careless with its users' data, has ignored warning signs that malign parties were taking over it's site and is too arrogant to think it needs to do anything about it.
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