Home › Forums › Administration & Support › Website: Bug Reports, Feature Requests, Known Issues, and Changelog › THE GREAT BPL MAKE-OVER
Oct 15, 2020 at 9:56 pm #3679916Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
As long as BPL is being highly revamped may I once again suggest that you look closely at the Long Range Hunting Online Magazine and its layout. PLEASE take a good look at it.
As I have mentioned a few times before, this is THE most user friendly and attractive website I’ve ever been a member of. Just join and use it for a few times. You can always post by asking questions on one of the forums like optics or backpacking (of which there are 3 forums).Oct 15, 2020 at 10:11 pm #3679921
What do you like most about that site, esp. when compared to BPL? Articulating the differences that you like would help me understand your suggestion better.Oct 16, 2020 at 12:11 pm #3679980JacobBPL Member
I’ve never been to that website before, but a quick browse shows they are using Threadloom. It also looks equally cluttered to BPL to me…
A similar suggestion I would make would be to look at Discourse.
Lots of members seem to be quick to compare this forum to social entertainment sites like Reddit.
I think software like Threadloom and Discourse are designed to give users a more ‘social’ feel in terms of low number of clicks before accessing content, etc, without removing the information sharing tools more traditional forums are built around, like chronological posting.
Discourse provides a thread summary feature; threads like the one for the SO flight have tons of useful info but get super long. The summary feature can collect all the links posted and list them in order of clicks, compile a gallery of pictures from the thread in order of likes, etc so people can not only easily find content but use that tool to jump around the thread.
I think tools that can expand on BPL’s information sharing capacity to make it a better forum for learning and sharing are the best way to evolve the site in the presence of entertainment giants like reddit and youtube.Oct 19, 2020 at 2:49 pm #3680298Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
->the ability to ALWAYS edit my posts
-> the ability to ALWAYS add to another’s thread
->the instant change of font (bold, italics, underlined, etc, when i use that feature
-> the use of a light brown background to give it a nicer “feel”
-> these of downloading photos
-> the UNCLUTTERED look of the site (Jacob, what the heck are you talking about? If you are a member no ads pop up.)
-> the nice HOME page photo of the pond and mountainsOct 19, 2020 at 9:33 pm #3680356
One of our objectives with the new site is to declutter it.
I’d like us to graduate to a beautiful and aesthetic design that doesn’t cater to your ADHD.
Some drivers of the new design:
* keep you engaged with the content on the page – the raison d’être you’re on the page in the first place;
* eliminate distractions to that content – including ads, calls-to-action, sidebar clutter (we’re actually going to ditch sidebars on all article content);
* enhance the beauty of the viewing experience – more readable fonts, optimal character and line spacing so you don’t get a headache reading long-form content;
* stunning visual imagery to take advantage of high-DPI screens;
* a vast improvement of accessibility standards for the vision-impaired;
The reduction of visual clutter will be a little controversial, especially in the forums. I’m not a huge fan of badges, reputation scores, like buttons, upvotes, etc. These things often do more (unintentional) social damage to a community than good.
We will expand our post reporting/moderation functionality, so there’s clarity and transparency into why a post has been reported or has been moderated.
We will allow you to better curate content yourself (with widespread adoption of your ability to favorite content across all site sections).
We will declutter the forums –
- trip reports will now get their own section of the site (with structured searching, including geo)
- gear swap will get its own section (so buyers and sellers can manage their listings/watch lists more effectively)
- user gear reviews are coming back, and will get their own section
- chaff will probably go away (to speed up the forums mainly, plus we’re calling this initiative “forum gentrification” – bringing diversity and order back to hoods controlled by old white men 😂)
- and we’ll add some new forums to address the growing need for discussion on timely new topic areas
My vision for the new site will reflect some of Backpacking Light’s core values – simplicity, open space, inviting.
Imagine walking into a cozy little cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows affording views of nature and lots of bright natural lighting, where some really nice, helpful people invite you to join them at a smooth-sanded birchwood table for a friendly discussion about how to lighten your pack and get outdoors more.
Brighter, simpler, intuitive, uncluttered, positive, inclusive, helpful. With plenty of space so you don’t get a migraine trying to figure out where everything is.
We’re early in the design phase right now. I’ll share visual designs as we progress. We hope to wrap up the article and forum designs by the end of the month.Oct 19, 2020 at 10:17 pm #3680357Dave HeissBPL Member
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
I don’t envy you Ryan. I’m near the end of shepherding the creation of a new website for the company I work for (going “live” in 2 weeks!) and it hasn’t been an easy process. What was agreed to – 10 months ago – by the leadership team as our “concept road map” during several endless site development meetings was quickly forgotten when the first working executions were presented.
Why? I think first, websites are complicated and highly interconnected things and it’s hard to grasp how everything is going to function until the actual site starts to come together. Second, a website is not just information and functionality – it’s also creative. It’s art. And like art, everybody has a different opinion when it comes to their interpretation of a website.
“The site’s too serious, we need more photos where the people are smiling.”
“Why so much white space? Why aren’t the photos bigger?”
“Too much text. Nobody’s going to read that. Bullet points are all we need.”
“Jeez, you’re making me scroll down to get to section ABC? That needs to be up top.”
“I know we wanted a “Contact” button there but it’s better as a pop-out from the side.”
I could go on and on. And that’s with a previous creative agreement and site layout plan already hammered out and in place! So I hope you’ll be ready when BPL’s brilliant website makeover is shredded by members for one reason or another. Maybe they just don’t know that it’s really freaking hard to build a good website, and because the artist puts so much of himself/herself into it it’s also hard to take the nitpicking and criticisms that will inevitably follow.
Trust me. Been there, done that.Oct 19, 2020 at 10:41 pm #3680359
Dave, thank you. I really appreciate the encouragement there. It resonates!
I’m really hoping the new site just reduces site visitor cortisol – at least for those visitors who are trying to find a place on the web where they can freely learn and grow.Oct 21, 2020 at 11:28 am #3680500idesterBPL Member
@doug-iLocale: The Cascades
“chaff will probably go away … bringing diversity and order back to hoods controlled by old white men”
Just who are you calling old! :-) I think this is a positive step, as I’ve said before. I’m sure there are plenty of chaff lurkers, but really only a few regular chaff posters – and too much acrimony between some. It’s too often more like a grade-school playground (I know you are but what am I!!) than a real discussion forum. It gets exhausting, which is why I don’t post there anymore. Of course, killing chaff might just move some of that stuff to the main forums, as there are already some chaffy threads started in the main forums. Will you be moderating main forums with a ‘stick to the thread topic or forum topic’ hand or allowing wide latitude there?
And if not in your plans, you should consider killing the ‘user test forum’ as well. Doesn’t really seem to have much use anymore, though perhaps you have some other plan for it.Oct 21, 2020 at 12:20 pm #3680505Mike WhitesellBPL Member
please please please add the ability to go to the first unread post in a thread.Oct 21, 2020 at 1:16 pm #3680518matthew kModerator
“please please please add the ability to go to the first unread post in a thread”
Seconded. When we click on a thread, the software should take us to the first unread post.Oct 21, 2020 at 1:16 pm #3680519matthew kModerator
Ryan, I love your vision for the site. I’m looking forward to seeing it. All of the improvements you describe sound great.Oct 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm #3680522William ChiltonBPL Member
“please please please add the ability to go to the first unread post in a thread.”
Yes, please. Currently the thing that irks me the most.Oct 21, 2020 at 10:57 pm #3680576
We are testing several “unread posts” code options. I hope one of them will work…
I also think removing chaff, gear swap, user test posts, and restructuring the forum database will make some of these features easier to implement without slowing down the forums.Oct 22, 2020 at 4:55 pm #3680662Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
I vote for keeping some test post capability, with automatic 24 hour expiration or something. I find testing more-or-less out of the public eye is critical for long, complex forum posts, versus exposing to the world a large number of post/edit cycles, with some quick replies/corrections made obsolete. Too many weird things happen with certain formatting choices.
But maybe the Web gods are getting back at me for decades of HTML abuse :-(
— RexOct 22, 2020 at 8:53 pm #3680679idesterBPL Member
@doug-iLocale: The Cascades
Remember, you’ve (currently) got an hour to edit a post, so if it comes out weird, just edit the thing.Oct 23, 2020 at 3:50 am #3680709Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I can’t remember what the old forum software was like. Apparently I don’t miss it.
The current iteration works just fine for me. Honestly, I don’t know how these requested improvements will enhance my time here. I’m surely not going to leave because we can’t do some of these things now.
In the very first post, Eric referenced a forum site he likes. I went to that site. It is typical forum software. It works like most forum software. I guess that’s the point. This is an Internet forum. Software can’t change that. The question might be, are Internet forums obsolete?
Apparently, social media like Facebook is supplanting forums. I think BPL has a Facebook page. How is that working out? I don’t know because I don’t use social media, ever.
BPL is probably like most businesses. It needs to attract new customers and retain old ones. The thing that does this with forums is the content and the environment created by the members. Those are the two important things.
I think having to pay to post probably deters a lot of new people because they don’t see the value in paying. It is like anything in life — we don’t buy something unless we see the value in it. And the perception (from visitors/lurkers) is probably there are alternative free resources available.
I bought a life membership years ago when it was first offered. This is the only site I have ever paid to belong to, but I don’t spend much time communicating on the web. There is one other forum I may visit a few times a year. And that is all. But then, I may not be the typical person and my views won’t matter anyway.Oct 23, 2020 at 5:16 am #3680712JCHBPL Member
“The thing that does this with forums is the content and the environment created by the members.”
I could not agree more.
I wonder what the demographics of BPL membership are? This is not the first time this question has been posited. It’s probably not totally off-base to assume it is primarily men over 40. Over 50? Nearing retirement? I think this is a good question to answer. FWIW, I would respond to a survey of members to ascertain the answer. Actually knowing, not assuming, what the demographic layout is could be very valuable.
If that assumption proves accurate, BPL should probably address attracting new (younger) membership lest the community dwindle and disappear. For a population to thrive, it must replace itself.
IOW, what “we” think BPL should be may not matter all that much…Oct 23, 2020 at 7:52 am #3680724KatttBPL Member
I think that in order for BPL to attract younger people it’d have to have “likes” and upvoting and allow for funny 10 second clips. It sounds like a knock but if you look at where young people spend time online by and large its social media. Articles and trip reports that have a narrative, debates on fabric properties or how much fuel it takes to boil water at different altitudes – take time to read/ don’t offer a quick reward. Should BPL change to the point of being a backpacking tick tock just because that’s what sells? not in my opinion. A site that requires a bit of a longer attention span is ok; why turn into a cheap version of itself just so the kids want to hang out? When old people try and become hip it’s usually a sad sight anyway. BPL is fine as is to me; chaff going is good but we know that some will demand chaff material make it in the main forum because ….fervor .
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