Skald
 moderator, 766 posts
 Whatever it is,
 I'm against it
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 05:21
New site design
Being notoriously against any form of change whatsoever ("What do you mean it's Saturday ?!!  I LIKED Friday !  Why did you change it ?") ...

I like it.  Didn't think I would, but I do.  Under the skin, it's not a million light years away from the current layout, so there's enough of the familiar there that it doesn't feel entirely alien.

Couple of things to get the ball rolling:

1) I assume that Post a New Topic at the bottom of the game thread should be Post a Reply ?  I know we have Post a Reply on the This Thread menu at the top, but I'll be looking at the last post down the bottom of the page when I want to reply and it'd be handier not to have to scroll back up.

2) "The cast list gets confusing when it wraps, what if the" Tag sat underneath the character name to allow more width for the other columns, so the last game login and last game post time/date stamps columns can be widened slightly so they don't wrap.  It'll still be two lines per character, but it'd improve readability (and while some games use Tag for ranks etc, I suspect most will read "player" and we already know we're in the player section of the cast.  Now if I could just work out how to save even more space so we could get the portrait on there too ... (completely unnecessary, but would look pretty <grins> )
Utsukushi
 member, 1409 posts
 I should really stay out
 of this, I know...but...
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 06:06
New site design
OMG, Friday was awesome.  This newfangled `Saturday' needs to go.  And don't even get me started on Tuesday!  Ugh.

I don't really agree that RPoL needs to aim for the mobile user -- until typing becomes a whole lot more convenient on mobile devices, there's nothing RPoL can really do to make itself more usable that way.  It can be easier to navigate, more readable, yes, but actually writing a significant post from my phone?  There's nothing jase can fix right now that will make me want to do that.

But meeting Google's list of demands... yeah, I'm afraid that makes sense.

The new layout is definitely going to take some getting used to, but, yes.  I could get used to it.  I'll agree that it doesn't feel `familiar', but I can see where you really tried to preserve a lot of the underlying structure and ideas we have now.

Um, yes, there are lots of tweaks and changes that need to be looked at, but you disclaimed pretty well that it's a work in progress.  It looks good!  Or at least.. acceptable.  Not too traumatic?  My eyes didn't melt, at least, so that's a good sign.

I'm finding it a lot harder to make out which Group different Threads belong to.  I mean, I found it, but even having found it, it doesn't stand out very well.  I like where that is now, but at least something to make it stand out better - maybe even just making that Bold?  "For Group 1 by The All Seeing Eye with 472 replies."  I think that would help.

And... I know you said it's still much in progress, so I get that we're not looking for debugging issues yet, but I'm getting some weird effects with the list of people to possibly post Private Lines to -- sometimes there's the drop-down menu as with Styled Text, and sometimes there's just a bulleted list going down from the spot where the drop down should be.  And once it was a list set in transparent boxes.  I'm trying to figure out some pattern to when this is happening.  It sort of seems like clicking the "Post a new Topic" most often gets the shadowy boxes list, while using a "quote" or "reply" link from a post either gets the dropdown list or the bulleted list?  Sort of?  It seems to be a consistent difference between different threads, but I don't know what's different about the threads.
bigbadron
 moderator, 15320 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 08:54
Re: New site design
Utsukushi:
I don't really agree that RPoL needs to aim for the mobile user -- until typing becomes a whole lot more convenient on mobile devices, there's nothing RPoL can really do to make itself more usable that way.

Agreed (Wait, what?  It's the End Times!).  I use my phone to check RPoL occasionally, but never to post anything more than OOC one-liners.  Why?  Because typing on the phone is a nightmare.  And as Utsukushi said, there is nothing RPoL can do about that.

Frankly I'd rather see work put into a single version of RPoL that benefits the most users (like the version currently being worked on), rather than splitting efforts into two different versions, or focussing on something that would just encourage me to post less.
byzantinex
 member, 89 posts
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 11:13
Re: New site design
@bigbadron and Utsukushi

I do most of my posting on this and my own forum from my mobile phone and tablet.

I actually built my own forum with vanilla forums specifically because it was mobile focused.

I run a few games on there.
My players almost exclusively post from their mobile devices as well.

Maybe this is a generational thing? I'm 32 and I type on my phone all day long or use speech to text so saying it's a nightmare to type on a phone seems weird to say.

Fewer and fewer people even own desktop computers and laptops. I've been focusing all my development work on mobile first focused projects for almost 5 years now. Mobile devices rule king on the web.

Anyway, if any community wants to survive it has to evolve and attract new members. It's my professional opinion mobile first is the way to do that.

p.s. I just typed that entire response from my tablet using the custom developed page I created to make RPOL mobile friendly...

p.s.s. The average person I've met on RPOL is 30-40 with a full time job, married with kids. If we attract those younger people who are interested in D&D and were born with smart phones in their hands they 1) Have more time on their hands 2) we could teach them to play the best game in the world, and one without graphics and 3) A rising tide raises all ships, so younger people with more time on their hands getting involved in our games will mean more frequent postings.

This message was last edited by the user at 11:42, Sat 08 Apr 2017.

bigbadron
 moderator, 15321 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 11:43
Re: New site design
quote:
It's my professional opinion mobile first is the way to do that.

That is, as you say, your opinion as a developer who creates mobile sites.

quote:
I'm 32 and I type on my phone all day long or use speech to text so saying it's a nightmare to type on a phone seems weird to say.

Odd... to me it seems like a perfectly natural thing to say.  *shrugs*
steelsmiter
 member, 1705 posts
 AWE, BESM, Fate, Indies
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 11:46
Re: New site design
bigbadron:
That is, as you say, your opinion as a developer who creates mobile sites.

I had almost that exact thought.
byzantinex
 member, 90 posts
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 11:51
Re: New site design
In reply to bigbadron (msg # 13):

That's my thought as a developer who's been involved in web dev for almost 14 years and has adapted to the times... I'm not selling mobile sites because I want to, I'm building them because that's what the web (and Google) demands.

2 years ago (2015) mobile search volume bypassed desktop...

Why do you think Google prioritizes mobile friendly / responsive websites? Because they sell mobile websites? Nope. It's what customers demand.

If you're going to argue that a mobile first focus for every website isn't necessary then I'll bow out of this conversation.

p.s. Another user took their own time to develop a method to make RPOL response. https://ramirezj.github.io/rpo...rUsername/index.html

p.s.s Another user took the time to write a mobile notification app...

This message was last edited by the user at 12:20, Sat 08 Apr 2017.

bigbadron
 moderator, 15322 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Sat 8 Apr 2017
at 12:15
Re: New site design
quote:
If you're going to argue that a mobile first focus for every website isn't necessary then this is a defunct conversation and I'll shut up now.

Nope, I'm saying that adopting a mobile first strategy on this website will likely alienate a lot of existing users.

quote:
Why do you think Google prioritizes mobile friendly / responsive websites?

Sorry, but didn't jase start this thread to discuss the responsive site that he's already working on?

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.
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.