byzantinex
 member, 91 posts
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 12:21
Re: New site design
bigbadron:
Nope, I'm saying that adopting a mobile first strategy on this website will likely alienate a lot of existing users.


But there are a bunch of us already spending our own time and money to make it mobile friendly.

And how could making the site work on mobile alienate any users? It's not like it will stop working on desktop for those users...???

quote:
While I like the look of the responsive version on the beta site, what I'm objecting to is the idea that everybody (who counts) is using mobile phones to access the internet, so that should be the priority for development here.


But if the site is made responsive then it's one code base and phones won't be prioritized, they will use the same exact site as all the desktop users.

Anyway, Jase is already working on it so I don't know why I'm arguing. Sorry.

This message was last edited by the user at 12:22, Sat 08 Apr 2017.

pdboddy
 member, 520 posts
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 12:22
Re: New site design
In reply to byzantinex (msg # 12):

Sorry, there's not a phone/tablet keyboard, or voice option, that lets me do up to 150 wpm like a proper mechanical keyboard does.

Mobile touch and tactile options are, in my opinion, piss poor.  They work nicely for today's distracted population, who talk in 140 character blrps.  But typing out a typical Shadowrun scene description on a mobile keyboard is a Royal pain in the behind.  And this is from someone who's had a mobile phone as his only phone (no landline) for almost 15 years.

Yeah, mobile search passed desktop a few years back.  But this doesn't mean desktops are dead (the horse everyone keeps beating about desktops certainly is though).

But, I think the design philosophies used for mobile design work just as well for 'desktop' webdesign.  In a veritable ocean of flashy websites with doodads and ads, having a very simple website is a breath of fresh air.  It is why I have always been pleased and impressed by Google.com.  A quintessential website that works well, and quickly.  It's been my homepage forever... if it doesn't load immediately, you know there's something up.

However, some of the concepts in mobile design are very frustrating.  An article, which is perfectly fine on my phone and easy to read, becomes annoying to read in 'mobile' format because the article is now 40 pages long.  Sure each page fits on the screen (along with the damned ad), but it's irritating to read having to wait for each new page to load.  It's not terribly long, but long enough to break my concentration.

Mobile design's not useful if I have to keep switching to desktop versions on my mobile devices.

You do need a mobile version of your website, I won't argue that.  But I don't get this 'mobile first' thinking you have.  Most websites I've worked on had multiple versions being developed simultaneously... no point in inconveniencing a big chunk of your customers.

Back on topic now.  I originally viewed the new site on my tablet.  Checked it out last night on my desktop.  Looks fantastic.  Reminiscent of the current RPoL, but seems a bit crisper to mine eyes.
steelsmiter
 member, 1706 posts
 AWE, BESM, Fate, Indies
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 12:29
Re: New site design
bigbadron:
Nope, I'm saying that adopting a mobile first strategy on this website will likely alienate a lot of existing users.

Like me. It'll alienate me. Actually it might flat out trim me from the userbase entirely if it's hardlined enough. I'm fine with a mobile also strategy, but if I'm in for a mobile first strategy it fruitcakes me right out.

quote:
While I like the look of the responsive version on the beta site, what I'm objecting to is the idea that everybody (who counts) is using mobile phones to access the internet

Yep, I only use my mobile phone for the internet when someone is actively chatting with me and won't can it for a bit. That doesn't happen with RPoLchat (because I've only used it for about a week in the entire time I've been here). Happens on facebook and discord, that's about it.
bigbadron
 moderator, 15323 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 12:43
Re: New site design
quote:
But if the site is made responsive then it's one code base and phones won't be prioritized, they will use the same exact site as all the desktop users.

Exactly... so what's with all the "mobile first" talk?
byzantinex
 member, 92 posts
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 12:55
Re: New site design
I dunno...

I felt like the conversion was sort of anti Mobile for rpol.

Anyway. Same team! I'm going to go play my game now.
Gaffer
 member, 1450 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 14:04
Re: New site design
I had a quick look at the beta site, using my PC (my preferred connection, mostly because my tablet is kind of quirky to post with, mostly because I'm an old guy, but I do find myself using it more and more.

The new look is certainly different, but I found it very easy to navigate. The look is a bit boring, but that's probably because I've had a customized set up for years now.

I'll try to use my tablet on beta soon and will get back hear with more comments.

jase, thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into this place we all call home. You are one in a million!
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1116 posts
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 21:14
Re: New site design
To note, I just plain old don't have desktop access.
I personally think it should be made suitable for both desktop and mobile equally, with neither left as secondary.

======= Critique,

=== 1
One thing I love about the current style is that poster info is on the side rather than injected between messages. It is one of the best things about the current design. I really very much hate reading "msg -> post details -> msg." It breaks it up too much and makes it harder to just follow the conversation.

In fact, the presentation and clarity of threads is a major factor of what forums I actually bother reading, and rpol having minimal stuffing between messages and putting all that stuff on the side (and lacking the navigational sidebars) is one of the biggest reasons I frequent this forum, even to the point of being a bigger factor than community or available tools (such as dice roller). In fact, I really get tired of the tags here using < and > because they are much harder to use than [ and ] on my phone (and it already can take an hour or more to type up a post), but I overlook that precisely because of the current layout and presentation.

=== 2
You have two main menus with different options, I'd suggest calling one a nav menu (navigational menu).

=== 3
I'd suggest putting rmail under the profile button instead of the main/nav menu.

=== 4
For the page where you type up a post, you should add some space between the message box and the edge, otherwise, you have to scroll through all the text in the box in order to scroll the page past it because if you drag in the box it will scroll the text rather than the page. Having the space on the side allows one to scroll the page without scrolling through the text in the box first by dragging on that space.
icosahedron152
 member, 753 posts
Sun 9 Apr 2017
at 05:27
Re: New site design
The next three paragraphs are admittedly a bit of a rant, but they explain the 'mobile last' viewpoint of (part of) the existing user base that Jase thankfully doesn't want to alienate, and as such I think they serve a legitimate purpose here. However, I absolutely agree that mobile users should have a site that is as usable as possible for them. Jase is doing a great job.

I'm exclusively a desktop user. Even laptops are too fiddly and awkward for my liking (that darned touch pad - give me a nice, responsive and controllable mouse any day!)

I'll resist mobiles until Google, Microsoft, et al turn their 'mobiles first' policy into 'mobiles only' (only a matter of time, alas, and the more we pander to them, the quicker it'll happen). Why? Because:

My eyes can no longer reliably see mobile-sized fonts without PITA scroll and zoom actions, my fingers frequently hit the wrong keys cos they're too darn small (and I'm touch-typing anyway cos the keys are too small to read), you have to toggle on and off a punctuation key every time you want to use punctuation (and I'm old-school enough to want to use it...), and the last thing I want is a voice activated system that makes everyone within fifty feet of me party to my activities.

So, to the Beta test:

There doesn't seem to be much to test. However, that could be because the page is adapting itself to my desktop, and if so that's a definite thumbs up. It looks quite usable on a desktop. I haven't used it on a mobile yet, so I can't comment on its readability there.

I don't like the way you now have to click on Your Games, Games you Watch, etc, to bring up sub-menus. Currently the Main Menu is just there, and I can see at a glance all of the games and forums I use, and whether there are any new posts. I would rather have them all on one page even if I have to scroll to read them. Scrolling is easier than clicking in and out of sub-menus on any device.

Hope that helps. :)

This message was last edited by the user at 05:30, Sun 09 Apr 2017.

nauthiz
 member, 513 posts
Sun 9 Apr 2017
at 06:41
Re: New site design
Had a chance to poke at the beta with some mobile devices.  As someone who interacts (reading and posting) with rpol the majority of the time via a mobile device, the orientation towards a more mobile friendly format is welcome.  While the site is fairly usable as is, there are some issues that crop up from time to time that hopefully the new format will solve.

From what exists so far, the beta is certainly a bit easier to use on mobile over the current design.  The scaling works fairly well and menus are fairly responsive.

There is one specific issue I ran into with the scaling that I did want to point out however.  Given that "How the main menu, game menu, thread view and compose screens look and work.  These are somewhat, but not completely, finished.", I don't know if it's a known issue.  So if it is, please feel free to ignore.

I took a few screenshots to demonstrate the issues, as I figured that would be easier than describing them.

The first two were on a tablet, using Amazon's Silk browser, at a resolution of 2560x1600.  A bit of overlap between the right side navigation menu and the text formatting tools in the message posting screen and in the post preview screen the same issue with the curly graphics.

http://i63.tinypic.com/692o02.jpg
http://i67.tinypic.com/11imwz6.jpg

The second trio were taken on a phone, using Microsoft's Edge browser, at a resolution of 1440 x 2560.

You can see the same issue with the same design elements in the post and post preview screen, but they're a bit more severe in terms of blocking other elements of the site.  The first shot shows the way the post message screen is initially presented.

http://i63.tinypic.com/11l4h03.jpg

The second two show the entirety once it has been pinched and zoomed out to show the elements that are initially off screen.

http://i63.tinypic.com/692o02.jpg
http://i67.tinypic.com/11imwz6.jpg


Generally the direction of the beta seems to be going in a positive direction, whether via desktop or mobile.  I think in the end it will be rather worthwhile.
Gaffer
 member, 1453 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Sun 9 Apr 2017
at 13:04
Re: New site design
DarkLightHitomi:
...love about the current style is that poster info is on the side rather than injected between messages. It is one of the best things about the current design.

I will go ahead and add my voice on this issue. Especially as a GM, it's very helpful to be able to look over a previous post (or two) without a lot of scrolling.
Shannara
 moderator, 3720 posts
 Keep calm, drink more
 COFFEE!!!!
Sun 9 Apr 2017
at 14:28
Re: New site design
icosahedron152:
I don't like the way you now have to click on Your Games, Games you Watch, etc, to bring up sub-menus. Currently the Main Menu is just there, and I can see at a glance all of the games and forums I use, and whether there are any new posts. I would rather have them all on one page even if I have to scroll to read them. Scrolling is easier than clicking in and out of sub-menus on any device.


Definitely agree with this.  If there must be submenus, I'm a big fan of allowing them to be stickied open or closed with that setting saved.
pdboddy
 member, 521 posts
Sun 9 Apr 2017
at 14:47
Re: New site design
I have found a slight issue.

When you are in a game, and click on "Character Details", there seems to be an invisible layer that covers the menu buttons.  The "View Profile of:" dropdown menu overlaps the game's menu.  And you can only click the bottom three buttons in full, to click the others, you have to touch the very right edge of the buttons to click on them.

EDIT: Also, I cannot find the RTJ text anywhere in the game menu.  I can edit the RTJ text, but I see no link to it other than the GM menu.

This message was last edited by the user at 14:49, Sun 09 Apr 2017.

jase
 admin, 3550 posts
 Cogito, ergo procuro.
 Carpe stultus!
Mon 10 Apr 2017
at 01:28
Re: New site design
Thanks all for your input.  It doesn't look like the same 50/50 split that voted on the recent poll frequent here!

A few points of clarification;

  • Menu placement, drop down (or other) menus aren't done.  Especially on screens I've listed as not finished.  Some screens I haven't even touched, so things will overlap, run off the side or just be messy.
  • There's no submenu on the main menu.  There's links and anchors to games you own etc, but that's the same grouping that's currently here.  Possibly worded slightly but we're not at the stage where we need to worry about wording.
  • The links have shuffled around and are currently in their "I'll pop it here for now" location (or possibly forgotten entirely).
  • The changing "Private to" dropdown is the same as here -- if the list gets too long it changes from a standard HTML dropdown list to a CSS menu.  Replying to a thread can trim out a lot of extra information as it removes all invalid recipients (i.e. who can't see the group).  The CSS hasn't been updated so will be all weird.
  • The current test theme is based off the "white" theme from here (which is grey with some blue really).  So if you're using a different theme here then it'll obviously be different, more so if you're using a dark theme.
  • I won't be developing an app.  I see no point when we'll have a fully responsive website.


And some more verbose stuff;

I've seen "mobile first" mentioned a few times (ok, all over the place) with web design and I've seen it mean different things.  Design wise I take it to mean you figure out how you'll render it for mobiles and then adapt it for larger screens, and technically I've seen it referred to as having the design default to mobile layout and only adapt it to a larger screen when you know the web browser has a larger display.

I don't do either.  I find that a mobile view is, by its very nature, constrained so trying to design from there doesn't make sense.  Strictly speaking I design desktop first, but I like steelsmiter's "mobile also" mantra.  RPoL is currently a desktop first environment and I'm adapting from there, so I'm editing from what we've currently got.  To delete the whole lot makes little sense to me, so I'm definitely starting from a desktop-centric view.  But once that's done it's a case of figuring out how I want it to look on a mobile, not what the current view will let me do.  Then I consider if the current layout can be made to adapt down to the view I want, and if not then I reconsider what I want or figure out if I can make a compromise for either environment to make it work.

Thread views -- I'm pretty sure the way thread views adapt down has to stay the way it's currently planned.  Vertical width is the nemesis of small devices, so trying to cram the post information to the side strikes me as working directly against one of the inherit advantages of responsive design.

Have run out of time, hopefully I've addressed all issues.  Thanks again one and all!
steelsmiter
 member, 1708 posts
 AWE, BESM, Fate, Indies
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Mon 10 Apr 2017
at 01:51
Re: New site design
jase:
I like steelsmiter's "mobile also" mantra.

*bows* "I am not wuhthy!"
Mad Mick
 member, 889 posts
 Ain't sayin nothin
 Got nothin to say
Mon 10 Apr 2017
at 10:58
Re: New site design
It would be nice to have an option to move the main menu to the left.  That's what I expect in sites, and it feels counter-intuitive to have the menu on the right.  It is out of the way of game threads, though, so maybe offer that option if possible.

The font sizes on the GM menu seem too small.  Maybe two columns?
swordchucks
 member, 1363 posts
Mon 10 Apr 2017
at 13:31
Re: New site design
To be blunt, I don't come to RPOL for the layout - I come for the functionality.  As long as the new design keeps all of the functionality I need and maybe even adds some more, I'll be happy with it.  Six months after the change, I'll probably have forgotten what the old design looked like.  That's probably true for the majority of users.

For usage, I mostly write from a PC, but read posts on mobile quite often.  The deal killer for mobile are features you have to hover your mouse over (which happens now with spoiler tags, but they're used relatively rarely).

Looking at a few test posts in the new system, I agree that menus on the right feel a little weird, but, then again, I use those buttons a whole lot less than I use the game menu so maybe that's alright.  I've gotten pretty used to the "three column" look where the important content is in the middle.  The only other thing I found odd is the way portraits are placed in posts feels... weird.  It's more disconnected from the rest of the info, kind of hanging out distantly on its own to the right of the text, when I look at it.

On mobile, I actually like the shifted thread layout to do headers over posts.  It makes it easier to fit it on a small screen.  When I was looking at it, though, portraits aren't shown, though that might just be an option I'm missing somewhere.
jase
 admin, 3551 posts
 Cogito, ergo procuro.
 Carpe stultus!
Tue 11 Apr 2017
at 00:25
Re: New site design
I tried the menu on the left, it looked really lop sided and odd when viewing threads.  You'd have the menu, then the post information, and finally the actual post text all the way to the right.  With the menu on the right the post text is close to centralised.

swordchucks:
Six months after the change, I'll probably have forgotten what the old design looked like.  That's probably true for the majority of users.

I suspect you might be right.
Mad Mick
 member, 890 posts
 Ain't sayin nothin
 Got nothin to say
Tue 11 Apr 2017
at 03:21
Re: New site design
Ah, no worries, Jase.  I haven't seen too many sites that have a menu on the right, but I'll probably get used to it as swordchucks said.

I used to access RPOL on my iPod touch more.  I'd pull up the day's threads before I left for work and compose posts on the ride into the office, and do the same thing when leaving.  After about two years of 2-3 multiple paragraph posts a day, I stopped posting my iPod's screen and bought a Bluetooth keyboard for posting in coffee shops.  I still do that, but probably 80% of my posts are via desktop now, and 98% are with a full keyboard.

Now that Google Chrome has brought back the option to save posts to read offline, I read more posts using my iPod.

The biggest beef I have with the current site is the tendency to stretch out lines of text really far when large images are used in a thread.  The thread looks fine on desktop, but the words are too small on mobile.  It would be nice to have the images resized automatically on mobile to fit the width of the screen, but that may be beyond the scope of the new site.  Awesome!  It looks like this has changed, on desktop anyway for both desktop and mobile!  Thank you!  This is a huge improvement!

It's especially an issue when rereading old adventure threads.  Usually it's ok, but every now and then a large image forces the text to stretch too far across the screen.

This message was last edited by the user at 03:27, Tue 11 Apr 2017.

jase
 admin, 3552 posts
 Cogito, ergo procuro.
 Carpe stultus!
Tue 11 Apr 2017
at 05:15
Re: New site design
You've obviously picked up a little on what oversized images do, but there's actually more;

As you've seen image that's wider than the viewport will get shrunk down.  What's not there yet is that all images (it's an all or nothing option) will have a "lightbox" (see https://www.w3schools.com/howto/howto_js_lightbox.asp for an example).  That way shrunk images can easily be viewed in all their glory.

Additionally, tables will be constrained to the width of the message window.  Any wider and they'll scroll left-right.  Currently really wide tables make you scroll the page horizontally, going forward you'll only scroll the table.  No messing up the entire thread 'cos of one over-wide image or table.
nauthiz
 member, 515 posts
Tue 11 Apr 2017
at 05:57
Re: New site design
jase:
No messing up the entire thread 'cos of one over-wide image or table.


This is pretty much the thing that makes (in my experience) the experience of using the current design on mobile go from "a bit of work, but functional" to "totally broken" when encountered.

So it's awesome to hear it'll be done away with in the new design.
swordchucks
 member, 1365 posts
Tue 11 Apr 2017
at 15:28
Re: New site design
While I'm thinking about it...

My #1 wish for a site design tweak is to make the games listing on the front page more controllable or a single list.  With the current format, I tend to have exactly one game that slips into the right column with the forums and I miss posting in it all the time because I don't think to look over there when I'm looking for games to post in.

Letting me have all of my games in one list, or just to forcibly group my games together in blocks would make my experience a little better.  (I didn't check to see if the new design already addresses this or not, but since it's still influx, it's probably still a good idea to mention it.)
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1117 posts
Tue 11 Apr 2017
at 21:40
Re: New site design
I started this post last night and didn't get to post it. I think some of these points have been brought up but here it is anyway.

Mad Mick, I must disagree. The menus should not be on the side, especially not if they are treated as a frame. As a frame they rarely work, usually hiding stuff off screen or under the frame (makes d20pfsrd painful to use on a small mobile, lists and sidebars are always half hidden).

Even when such side menus work (like when the framed page is truly a single column with a clean design), or when using a desktop, it makes the page look busy and messy.

When it isn't a frame, then once you scroll below the menus, you get a busy center column with blank space on the sides.

One of the great things about the current design is that it is truly limited to two column (the post info on left, and message on right), but also that there is no side frame.

Jase has, in the current look, managed to avoid making the pages look overly busy, thus maintaining readability. This stems from the combination of minimizing the stuff between messages, the fact that plenty of "white space" exists throughout, and particularly in the appropriate places, and finally, the simplicity of stacking vertically.

Even two column us hard to get the readability right, though the current design managed it quite well, mostly because the left column is mostly whitespace and has no primary content and the difference in color separates the two well. Also, zooming in to look at only one column at a time is possible.

Looking more like the popular styles is a bad thing. I can see how such styles sound nice, especially in trying to pack the maximum amount of stuff on screen at once, but that doesn't make those styles work well for the one reading them.
byzantinex
 member, 93 posts
Tue 11 Apr 2017
at 21:42
Re: New site design
Jase, I know you've got a life and job and everything (priories man?! :D j/k) and I know these projects don't have fixed timelines, but do you have any concept of a delivery date for the responsive site design? Are you thinking a few months? 6 months? A year?

This message was last edited by the user at 21:43, Tue 11 Apr 2017.

DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1118 posts
Wed 12 Apr 2017
at 04:18
Re: New site design
swordchucks:
To be blunt, I don't come to RPOL for the layout - I come for the functionality.
 ...


Interesting. I'm the opposite actually. I come to rpol for the readability, which is primarily about layout. And if you think about it, I come here to read, so reading should be easy. *

Rpol has a clean look that is easy to read, has a dark theme which is easier on the eyes, and one of very few cases where two columns can actually be better than one and does it well.

Nearly all forums I see are cramped and pack in lots of stuff where it shouldn't be and all around are confusing to read and painful to sort through especially three column sites (which seem to be a semi-standard of sorts), hence, I avoid them when I can. In fact, only rpol and one other site are clean and easy enough to read that I actually spend time for fun rather than research or work.

Would be nice if rpol used square brackets instead of angle brackets, but as that is mostly a keyboard issue (square brackets are easier to get to, or equally difficult to get to, as angle brackets on all android keyboards I've used), I don't know how common that is all around.


* PS. I can get around any functionality issues, but not so for readability.

This message was last edited by the user at 04:20, Wed 12 Apr 2017.

Sir Swindle
 member, 195 posts
Wed 12 Apr 2017
at 12:51
Re: New site design
I'm with Hitomi,

This is my primary RP site because there are no flashy bits and it looks enough like a spread sheet that I'm fine keeping it on screen at work.