Better UI, Better Experience
Good UI = Good User Experience = Better Engagement
The top priority for V4 of software has been the refining of the UI. I want to make sure your users find the UI not only more appealing, but also much more intuitive when they are on V4.
One of the most refined interfaces is the message list. It is crucial that people find the message interface intuitive because it is the second most accessed page on the forum, after the home page.
As you can see from the screen shot on the right, you will notice the default look and feel is much different from our current version. Specifically:
Essentials Only v.s. Full Version display Switch
Users can now choose they preferred display by toggle the switch at the top. It’s a switch that allows users to toggle a simplified interface in case they find the message list look a little too “busy”.
The compact interface saves screen real estate by showing only important info without all the bells and whistles. Some people prefer simpler look (myself included) and they sure will find it in V4.
Topic Label as an efficient way to categorize posts
What you also see on the screen shot is that Topic label is now clickable. This feature allows users to easily filter posts by the label. We can view this as a topic categorization tool without the need to create sub forums.
As many of our avid forum users have noticed, sub forums is usually not an intuitive way to categorize posts because when people see multiple sub-forums, they are often confused as to which sub-forum they should post their messages to. Also, when they are looking for info within sub forums, they often have to guess the right forum to look into first.
Why not remove the barrier for your users by allowing them to post in an all-encompassing forum and attach labels to posts for easy categorization? This is especially important to a new community when there aren’t many posts and users on your community yet. You don’t want to look like a ghost town with many near-empty forums.
Of course, sub-forum is still available, and I am providing an easier option for you to choose in V4.
Instant in-place search
You’ll find a search box on the top right corner of the message list, in addition to the master search box in the header area. What this special search box does is for you to see the results immediately on the page.
This feature makes easier for users to navigate between the plain message list and the search results because they don’t have to be redirected to a page outside of the forum context. A standalone search system can be confusing to people because it’s not very obvious from the UI how to come back to the forum they were on. Saving those extra steps here and there creates a smoother User Experience which makes people want to stay longer and explore more, which in turn increases participation.
The shorter the learning curve, the better the member engagement.
Moderator can manage multiple threads at once
Over the year, I receive a few complaints saying the moderator interface for the message threads involve too many clicks to perform even the simplest tasks (pin message to top). And since we used to be able to only manage one thread at a time, the number of step multiply when you want to manage multiple threads (lock / move multiple posts e.g.).
What you will find in V4 is that not only is the page refresh gone after performing a task against a thread, you can drag and highlight multiple threads and perform tasks on them at once. It is going to help a lot especially when you need to clean up spams from your forum. Even though we have security measures against spam bots, it is difficult to eliminate human spammers completely. It is therefore very important that we have tools to help your community managers deal with spam when it arises.
Thanks for your time today and I will show more UI enhancements in my next post. Stay tuned!
post edited by Samuel -