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Hey all

 

We are looking to reduce the number of boards to make it easier to navigate our community. It is part of an overall rework of our site and social media.

 

We will be encouraging the use of tags. For example, if we combine the draft song critique, the song critique and the lyrics critique board, into one “critique” board, then we would use the tags “draft song”, “song” and “lyrics” with “critique”.

 

What boards would you happily remove/combine/change/add?

 

Cheers

 

John

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31 minutes ago, john said:

Hey all

 

We are looking to reduce the number of boards to make it easier to navigate our community. It is part of an overall rework of our site and social media.

 

We will be encouraging the use of tags. For example, if we combine the draft song critique, the song critique and the lyrics critique board, into one “critique” board, then we would use the tags “draft song”, “song” and “lyrics” with “critique”.

 

What boards would you happily remove/combine/change/add?

 

Cheers

 

John

 

I can only say what I would do in your position.  I would eliminate Draft entirely since Critique in itself indicates an unfinished work.  I would keep both Lyric and Song as separate forums.  

 

Tagging is very confusing for many people, myself included.  It would be especially so for any newcomer as they and I did not know where to post, much less tag when I was new.  This seems to add to confusion rather than eliminate it.

 

What I would suggest is a sidebar menu with all the different forums rather than having to scroll down the page to see everything.  

OR

This could alternately be a dropdown menu when you hover (mouse over) Forum in the upper Main Menu.

 

Being able to see everything at once is preferable to looking through a page to find what is there. 👍🏻

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14 hours ago, Clay Anderson Johnson said:

 

I can only say what I would do in your position.  I would eliminate Draft entirely since Critique in itself indicates an unfinished work.  I would keep both Lyric and Song as separate forums.  

 

Tagging is very confusing for many people, myself included.  It would be especially so for any newcomer as they and I did not know where to post, much less tag when I was new.  This seems to add to confusion rather than eliminate it.

 

What I would suggest is a sidebar menu with all the different forums rather than having to scroll down the page to see everything.  

OR

This could alternately be a dropdown menu when you hover (mouse over) Forum in the upper Main Menu.

 

Being able to see everything at once is preferable to looking through a page to find what is there. 👍🏻


We plan to post some basic video tutorials on tagging. Not a solution but maybe a help.

 

We already have a setting on the forum home page that switches the forums between 3 views:

 

30AC0D82-845F-46A2-BDC8-DE28230FCE48.png004D0CC0-A88D-49CF-A54B-B909C6062FDD.png3F2357B4-22E0-4AB0-BB57-3DDF38A65F76.png

 


You can see the switch next to the “Start new topic” button.

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4 hours ago, john said:

We already have a setting on the forum home page that switches the forums between 3 views:

 

This is not what I was referring to as you still have to scroll the page.  It simply presents the information in a different viewing format. This is not a menu.  This is only the same information presented in a different manner.  

 

It is the ability to see every topic forum heading at one glance which will simplify navigation.

 

I also would have real concerns that few would view the video tutorial on tagging.  People's attention spans as well as the time they are willing to allot to a web page or site on viewing it is generally less than 3 minutes.  This is a statistic fact not an opinion.

 

You have to have a very serious person with a very serious, not passing, interest to either scroll a page for information or watch a tutorial video.  Unless I am really, really, really interested in a tutorial video I will choose not to watch it.  I have to perceive that video as being extremely important to ME personally, not the website's preference, to watch it.  This is not unusual behavior, this is typical behavior.

 

What you or I might be willing to do for information is not the same as your typical web visitor or even typical member.  The less time which is involved in finding as well as the simplicity of understanding information creates interaction and participation.

 

What you are advocating is not an improvement only a rearrangement of what you are doing already.  In this scenario the best path would be to do nothing as your existing membership are familiar with the current format.

 

*****

 

What I would do is develop another Main Menu opening in Forums listing the different forum topics.  Then I would place all the other items which are currently in the top menu in a ladder style dropdown in the upper left hand corner.

Edited by Clay Anderson Johnson
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I understand about the scrolling because I often use my phone to keep up with the boards ongoing throughout a day.  

 

Just a thought.. what if we reduce the number of images per section on the home page.. example would be having 1 image for Critiques and then have the different board listed, with most current topic in view, etc. Same with Member Music, Discussion, and etc.  This would  reduce the scrolling, put all links right there and show the most recent activity.  Also could help in keeping the critique boards separated because easier to see most recent activity. 

 

1 image per section would get rid of about 20 images and still leave some aesthetics.

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Hi Clay

 

Thanks for your reply and suggestions. :)

 

I agree about a video, any video. That’s why I said it wasn’t a solution. I’ve been running Songstuff for 22 years, so you’re very much preaching to the converted regarding people’s behaviour, their interests, changeable desires, skills and commitments. It’s always worth exploring and discussing as members do come up with interesting and useful ideas.


I am thinking over what you are suggesting, trying to imagine it in practice. I guess one difference between our perspectives is that I am looking mostly to improve working within existing forum software. What you describe could be a significant redesign, possibly beyond the scope of what we can realistically do. Possibly not. I am aware of limitations of our software but also wary of menu proliferation which if done poorly can be one of the worst blights on a community. In many ways the issue is too many choices. Too many choices is simply difficult to navigate, period.
 

Until about 2012 the www part of Songstuff was bespoke coded so I’m not afraid of coding, but I am cautious because of the ongoing commitment over and above the initial development. Our forums are customised forum software, built on several hundred thousand lines of code maintained by a large team of 3rd party software developers and software testers. The more we depart from the core coding, the more we potentially have to maintain and ensure compatibility with, for every single release of the forum software.
 

Don’t get me wrong. Potentially very do-able but it raises a lot of questions. I would need to be convinced and work through a proper design. Seemingly simple suggestions can result in literally hundreds of hours of work behind the scenes. That means I have to explore options about the real need for features and the best way to deliver it. Several hundred hours spent here means several hundred hours not spent elsewhere. If it worked out at 10 hours that w outdoor be a very different consideration.
 

Out of interest, if you look at the +Create drop down, it is menu driven creation for all community content. 
 

From what I remember, without coding, we can add menu items to the top menu only. I seem to remember that one issue was that it only goes 2 layers deep. If we could do it the way I am thinking, it is a manual process, but not coding. Still, that would be a compromise functionally.

 

It’s also a fact that we can’t have a system, going forward, because it caters for longer term members, purely on the basis that they have acclimatised to the problem. That may retain some members but it would leave in place something that puts new members off. Meanwhile longer term members may be used to issues, but most would like to see the boards busier. These things don’t all sit together.

 

It’s not an easy issue. Indeed it is several issues.

 

Less forums would certainly simplify navigation. It’s like peeling an onion!

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51 minutes ago, john said:

It’s not an easy issue. Indeed it is several issues.

 

I understand your position.  I am attempting to make things easier for everyone, especially you.  

 

I am not suggesting redesigning the site only the menu navigation. I don't know what type of CMS template you are using but most likely it will have a free or lost cost add-on for the ladder menu I suggested prebuilt and only has to be inserted in a cell or a div after you have added the links.

 

My guess, and it is only that, is the Forum is the widest used portion of the site and thus should be the forefront.  Concentrating on the Main Menu as being the forum topics would seem to me to be the main thrust of the navigation to simplify the ability to view all of those topics at a glance.

 

I am not privy as to what all your goals are but several of the Main Menu items at this time appear to be of little usage or real value to you,  Store appears to have little value. Hubs takes you to Forums.  Music Resources all simply leads to different areas of Forums.

 

 If you want improvement, changing the Main Menu to me would seem not only the most impactful but also the easiest.  Your original suggestion of tagging strikes me as being rearrangement not change.

Edited by Clay Anderson Johnson
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35 minutes ago, Clay Anderson Johnson said:

 

I understand your position.  I am attempting to make things easier for everyone, especially you.  

 

I am not suggesting redesigning the site only the menu navigation. I don't know what type of CMS template you are using but most it will have a free or lost cost option for the ladder menu I suggested prebuilt and only has to be inserted in a cell or a div after you have added the links.

 

My guess, and it is only that, is the Forum is the widest used portion of the site and thus should be the forefront.  Concentrating on the Main Menu as being the forum topics would seem to me to be the main thrust of the navigation to simplify the ability to view all of those topics at a glance.

 

I am not privy as to what all your goals are but several of the Main Menu items at this time appear to be of little usage or real value to you,  Store appears to have little value. Hubs takes you to Forums.  Music Resources all simply leads to different areas of Forums.

 

 If you want improvement, changing the Main Menu to me would seem not only the most impactful but also the easiest.  Your original suggestion of tagging strikes me as being rearrangement not change.


I completely get you are trying to help, and it truly is appreciated. 

 

Unfortunately the forums are not a typical CMS. That’s true for most forum softwares. The www part of the site is as you describe in terms of the ease of the CMS.

 

The www part of the site used to be as busy as the forums, but just now the www part is considerably busier than the forums. The trouble is, for the forums, there is zero visibility of how busy the site is. It should be said that the www parts of the site are still the biggest path towards getting new members.
 

Although the board traffic is increasing a little and has a good regularly active membership, it is still much quieter than it used to be. The traffic will come back because we are not being complacent about it. What kills sites quicker than anything is complacency.

 

The store as you see it is of little value, but We have a lot in development that will use the store as we build in self sufficiency for the site. The lack of depth to my pockets has several times acted as a choke and stopped the sites growing much bigger. The courses, advertising etc is content to be released. Ads are pretty well ready.

 

Having topics (if you mean original posts, which is what forums call new threads) as the main menu system would be a nightmare once the boards get busier. If you mean topics as in “the subject of a board” that would make more sense.

 

Hubs, the root hub, is a non member activity based view of publicly viewable forums, blogs, galleries and clubs. The member hub also contains several other assets. There are also currently hidden hubs that will become available as we introduce two subscription products with additional assets, like a 10,000 entry contact database and other features.

 

I look forward to the dawning self sufficiency. It will hopefully bring with it several improvements and additions for members… as well as liberating my pocket for covering increasing energy costs and food! Lol

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2 minutes ago, john said:

Having topics (if you mean original posts, which is what forums call new threads) as the main menu system

 

My actual meaning was Showcase, Song Critique, etc. I never meant individual topics which was poor wording on my part.

 

As I mentioned this was based upon guesswork not actual knowledge of your goals only what I perceived as an outsider.

 

My biggest point is you should only make changes IF it improves the site to a large extent.  Rearrangements like tagging are probably insignificant for the time expended.  The membership will adapt.  The question is will it benefit you enough to make the change?  

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3 minutes ago, Clay Anderson Johnson said:

 

My actual meaning was Showcase, Song Critique, etc. I never meant individual topics which was poor wording on my part.

 

As I mentioned this was based upon guesswork not actual knowledge of your goals only what I perceived as an outsider.

 

My biggest point is you should only make changes IF it improves the site to a large extent.  Rearrangements like tagging are probably insignificant for the time expended.  The membership will adapt.  The question is will it benefit you enough to make the change?  


Adding specific boards/subjects would be relatively easy if it is to the top menu. It was just a confusion with typical forum terminology. Actually showcase used to be in the top menu.

 

Tagging is already there, just not commonly used. Neither do we really encourage it. If we reduce boards staff can apply tags so that if we later decide to separate the boards again, we can filter topics using those tags. It’s not the only reason, but it is one of the reasons.

 

Boards are fairly dynamic. What makes sense when the boards are busy is nonsensical when they are quiet.

 

For example. Our boards were busy enough that having two song boards made sense. With one board adding a new song post meant it was only on the front page for about an hour. Less on busy days. Splitting boards slows down individual board activity levels.

 

Conversely, combining boards tends to create single busier boards. This expansion and contraction is a healthy way to manage community traffic, increasing activity in dead spots, and spreading activity in hot spots. Improving navigation is another aim. Busy boards frequently suffer from menu creep, where the purpose of menus dilutes and the number of entries increases. More choices means more complex menus. Splitting things can mean more appropriate compartments for info but it also means info can be harder to find. Microsoft and others use AI to create user specific contextual menus because overly complex menus can kill software and sites.

 

Such is the site admin’s lot! Eternally tweaking on info sites.

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4 minutes ago, john said:

Such is the site admin’s lot! Eternally tweaking on info sites.

 

You know what is best for you.

 

Although I am surprised you use a Microsoft server.  I have never used anything other than Linux as they are more secure and easier to program.

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I should add, I will go through a patch of changes, but not all changes at once.

 

My back is killing me otherwise I would have started today on non-critical easy changes. Hopefully I can start tomorrow.

 

I plan to re-absorb the off-topic board into the musicians lounge and re-title as musician’s lounge. I also plan to prepare for combining draft song critique with song critique.

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11 minutes ago, Clay Anderson Johnson said:

 

You know what is best for you.

 

Although I am surprised you use a Microsoft server.  I have never used anything other than Linux as they are more secure and easier to program.


I don’t use a Microsoft server, just giving an example of how seriously menus are taken and the impact, positive and negative that they make. It affects software programs, mobile apps, web apps…. Your car entertainments and sat nav, synths, DAWs especially,  washing machines, smart watches and phones…. It’s a big issue and a well trodden path.

 

We use Linux. :) Always have. Microsoft IIS sucks donkey butt.

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6 minutes ago, john said:

DAWs especially

 

I haven't owned anything but a Mac for over 20 years.  My wife screams at her work laptop with Windows 11 almost daily.  

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15 hours ago, john said:

I plan to re-absorb the off-topic board into the musicians lounge and re-title as musician’s lounge. I also plan to prepare for combining draft song critique with song critique.

 

I think these 2 changes are good ones.  Still thinking that reducing the number of images on home page would help. 😏

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