admin, 3549 posts
 Cogito, ergo procuro.
 Carpe stultus!
Fri 7 Apr 2017
at 06:21
New site design
It's with no small amount of trepidation that I post this.  As some of you may be aware there's been a lack of updates to the site for quite some time.  What most aren't aware of is this has been due to a major visual rework that's been done behind the scenes.  It's very hard to make identical changes to two different code bases so I (wherever possible) have been maintaining a single code base that is dealing with the aforementioned visual layout changes.  Great features have been suggested by members but I'm unable to action them until the visual modifications are complete.

Why change?  I believe without some changes that RPoL runs the risk of stagnating.  Google, with their search engine dominance and ability to stipulate pretty much whatever they like, have clearly stated that unless you have a responsive layout as well as https (which is already available for testing via https://rpol.net or https://www.rpol.net) then your website will be ranked lower.  I don't want to introduce anything that will alienate the existing player base, but I'm also realistic and know that if there's not a reasonably steady flow of new members then the site will slowly wither.

So what's this war and peace post all about?

This requires more text.  Sorry!

I've tried adapting the current layout to be responsive, but as soon as you give the directive to mobiles/tablets to do this, everything goes awry.  I tried updating the current table-based layout to be responsive, but I was pushing a round peg into a square hole and it was getting messy, unreliable and really time consuming.

Ergo a fully responsive, designed from the ground up, website has been in development for quite some time.  It's using more modern (but not bleeding edge) web design and zero javascript (besides what we've already got).  Requirements for a fully functional website are any major browser beyond ~2011, but it'll degrade for older browsers.

Why the trepidation?  A few reasons.  Firstly I realise that some people have a lot of fondness for the existing layout, myself included.  For desktop browsing it's not broken, though it certainly could benefit from some readability improvements.  Secondly the beta site is very unfinished, but despite that I want to give you all the opportunity to see what's in development, and I think that will cause issue for some.  Lastly it's been designed from scratch, so it doesn't carry over much that's... familiar.

If it's unfinished what's to see?

A few things.  Though it's not many they're the important parts.

  • The general framework/layout of the site.
  • The responsive (adaptive) design.  If on a desktop reduce the browser width and you'll see it adapt at two different "break points" (800px and 695px wide).  Not every page has a breakpoint at 800px, but you will notice it at 695px.
  • How the main menu, game menu, thread view and compose screens look and work.  These are somewhat, but not completely, finished.  Same for the cast screen, though that doesn't adapt down the best and needs more work.

What's not finished?

  • Everything.  So please don't nit pick.
  • The colours.
  • Pixel perfect placement.
  • Dice roller, game maps, game introduction, sheets, descriptions, searching, help/faq, GM menus.  Anything else I haven't explicitly listed as (somewhat) finished.
  • Stickylist, help, faqs, create a game.. you get the idea.

OMG it's so different, and for that I hate it.

Sure is, but give it time and it'll hopefully grow on you.  Besides the adaptive layout there's some major changes that aren't responsive centric.

  • The font size is larger.  Small fonts actually decrease reading speed and recognition.  A lot of recommendations are to go even larger but we've set a compromise between recommended and what we've currently got.
  • The site has a maximum width of 1100px.  Going any wider ends up with a crazy view and actually doesn't fit any more text on the screen, as the wider you go the bigger the line height (the gap between one line and the next) needs to be to maintain readability, so longer lines results in the exact same amount of text.  Keep in mind that later on you'll be able to customise the theme and I hope that will include site width.

What do I expect from you?

  • No FUD.
  • No blanket negativity.
  • Constructive feedback.  Doesn't have to be positive, but all feedback (even positive) needs to have a point.  "I don't like the new layout because _______", "I like the new layout, it _____".  "The cast list gets confusing when it wraps, what if it _______".  Fill in the blanks.

Remember, if I wasn't interested in your thoughts and input as well as trying to find a compromise that will please as many people as possible then I'd just roll out the changes and not bother posting here.

TLDR version;  Step 1: check http://beta.rpol.net, step 2: don't panic.
 member, 518 posts
Fri 7 Apr 2017
at 11:05
New site design
I think the layout looks good.  It'll be better once we can colour it to our tastes.  It seems very responsive.  Though, I cannot even get into one of my games to see how it looks.  You did say that there's a lot that isn't set up yet. :)

I think it's a good step in the right direction, and your reasoning for it is sound.  And I appreciate the effort you're taking to not break the site for as many people as possible while moving to a more modern layout.
 member, 88 posts
Fri 7 Apr 2017
at 15:16
New site design
I have looked over the beta site several times since I joined RPOL and other than the colors I feel it's a VAST improvement over the current design in terms of usability on mobile.

Mobile is really the way we need to push the site in order to help the user base grow, as well as increasing involvement from current users.

I've messaged you about a mobile app I would love to assist with, and I even wrote my own script (link to a message in this forum) in order to make the site work better on mobile for myself.

My vision for RPOL would be as an app, or at the least a mobile site with push notifications for games. Most people don't/won't use the site on their phones because it's so unwieldy with the pinch/zoom. But imagine how much faster games would move forward if every time a post was made on a game your mobile buzzed (special thanks to the Unofficial RPOL notifier app), you clicked and were taken right to the post and had a very mobile friendly interface for posting.

This is what I do now with my custom script and it allows me to make far more updates than when I was using the default RPOL site on mobile.

Instead of people "waiting to post until I'm at a computer" I think the involvement would skyrocket.

Heck, I don't care if the entire site is pink with care bears flying around, if it works on mobile I'm going to pee my pants with excitement! :D

And as I've said in several other posts, I'm a web dev with over a decade of experience and I would be more than happy to help you in any way possible. This site saved my relationship with RP and I've made my positive feelings and apprecaite toward RPOL.net really clear :D (link to a message in another game)

Thank you so much for your work jase.