Categories page looks crowded compared to myBB

(Dan Dascalescu) #1

Related opinion that might be unpopular:

I personally feel overwhelmed by the landing page of Discourse forums being a jumble of topics from all categories. Old-school forums present a list of categories, I got to the ones I care about, and see what’s up. With Discourse, I see the top few topics, (maybe open the most interesting 2-3 in tabs), then go into “prevent information overload mode”, and close the landing page (topic list) tab.

I know a possible solution would be to set the landing page to /categories, but that looks crowded compared to, say, the classic MyBB landing page. My gut feeling says that, all other UX factors equal, a user might hang out more on a forum that welcomes them with the “classic” layout.

Why use categories instead of tags?
Sorting by category mixes sub-categories with the same name
(Jeff Atwood) #2

Can you post screenshots comparing the two, maybe mocking up what you think should change to make it better?

(Dan Dascalescu) #3

Thanks for moving the topic, @codinghorror.

Mockups aren’t my forte, but here are screenshots from the Quantified Self Forum powered by MyBB and by Discourse. The links point to live versions, and do let me know if redirects will work incorrectly at the time you see this post.

This is one of the many MyBB themes.

Other MyBB themes may look even cleaner, though having in mind the typical audience of MyBB boards (:cough:), “clean” isn’t exactly the pinnacle of what IDEO would call “clean design”.

I guess the crowded look depends on the nature of the forum. The more disparate the categories, the less appealing a “latest topics from any category” view will be, and vice versa.

(Dan Dascalescu) #4

Thought experiment: how would the Discourse landing page scale to a high-traffic forum with a large number of categories?


(Simon Cossar) #5

You could override the categories page template to make something similar to the MyBB landing page. For your forum there could be a table for each category, and the table rows could be formed by looping through the subcategories.

(Simon Cossar) #6

I’ve tried doing this. It’s difficult to get the latest topics that are associated with a subcategory in the category list.

(Jerry) #7

You are comparing Latest to a list of categories. Apples to oranges. I know you know this, you even addressed it.

As for the benefits of a presentation à la myBB, I’d say even though it is cleaner, it is also way less informative. I also felt overwhelmed the first time I had seen Discourse, but now I wouldn’t go back to the legacy way of presenting topics. I agree some things could be hidden or toned down to make it clearer, but not to the detriment of information. Compare the density of relevant information for someone that is looking for interesting/relevant topics (highlighted in red):

If you argue that some people prefer to drill down inside categories to see the topics that are relevant to them, then they should bookmark that category instead of the whole forum.

I feel like I’m not making sense but I hope you understand.

(Dan Dascalescu) #8

Wait, I can bookmark a category? How can I do that? I wasn’t able to find the option/button on the categories page or within a category. If you meant tracking, then that would generate a ton of notifications, no?

It would be really neat if users could bookmark a set of categories, and have (only) topics from those categories show up in latest (first). This would be a good solution to the thought experiment I presented above. If this is already possible, I must’be not seen it somehow and it might be worth reconsidering the ux for it.

(Jerry) #9

Using your browser bookmark feature, I meant.