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Welcome to the new AVForums

It has been a long time coming.

by Phil Hinton Oct 26, 2013


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    Welcome to the new AVForums
    After nearly a year of hard work and long days to get to this point, I want to welcome you to the new look AVForums.
    Editorial.
    You will have already noticed the new contemporary design with lots of bright images associated with news, articles and reviews on the front page. The new menu provides easier navigation to the editorial; with Hubs being central to finding the editorial information you want from the site. This is only the beginning.

    We have produced editorial content on the forums for over 10 years now, starting way back in early 2003 with DVD reviews. Over the years the team has grown and we have added hardware reviews, games, videos, podcasts and more. However, with the old design most of the hard work the editorial team produced was hidden behind menus or had to be posted as a forum post; which never looked professional or gave the team a chance to present their work in the right way. So after collating the ideas of what we wanted the editorial to look like, the job of redesigning the home page, hubs, articles and reviews was given to Critical Media with a brief to design something glossy and contemporary. We wanted to use more images along with a design that had easy to read text and a format that resembled a glossy magazine layout. We think the end design matches the initial brief and we are looking forward to your feedback.

    Within the new design you should always be able to find the latest editorial content easily. Starting with the Hubs, you can quickly click through to your area of interest, be that Home Cinema, Tech, Gaming or Movies. The hubs are like section home pages with all the latest news, articles and reviews arranged in blocks. This allows you to quickly scan the page to find the story or review you want to read. If you want the latest news, articles or reviews quicker than that, you can select the area of interest from the menu options. The home page offers you the full choice of what is new, but with hubs and direct menu links, you can dig down deeper into the content that interests you quicker.

    We have designed the navigation of the editorial to make sense to readers. You will be offered related content to read and the ability to gather more information about the products or stories. In the near future you will be able to compare the products you are interested in or even write your own reviews of the products you own.

    The podcasts and videos will now be easier to find and enjoy with prominent front page placement in the media player, as well as their own dedicated Hub page.

    Finally articles will become a major feature of our editorial coverage going forward and we hope to start covering even more exciting developments in the AV world as well as producing more tutorials and guidance for members.

    This is just a small sample of the new editorial and over the next few weeks you will see even more new features and functionality appear to make your experience of the site better.

    I am really excited to present the new editorial to you and look forward to your feedback.

    Phil Hinton – AVForums editor.
    The Forums.
    I stated over four years ago that we would not be moving forward with the vBulletin forum platform we use to run AVForums.

    In January this year I posted how in the years since my initial post, my fears for vBulletin have come to fruition.

    So the move to Xenforo was unavoidable.

    This is a big deal. It's the first change in platform since 2001 and we have worked hard to get it as right as we can. We have hired the best people we could:

    • Critical Media to create the design
    • Mike Creuzer of Audentio Design to implement the design in Xenforo
    • Jake Bunce to prepare for our import
    • Chris Deeming to create new addons for Xenforo to provide us with the functionality we need, and
    • John Warwick of Sugar Coding Ltd to write a new editorial Content Management System (CMS) and front end system from the ground up.

    In addition

    • Vicki and the editorial team have to helped refine the new CMS and front end.
    • the moderating team have assisted in devising better addons for AVForums on Xenforo.
    • Tim Dunton at Nimbus Hosting has been working out of hours and beyond his remit to ensure our servers are optimised and our databases have been set up correctly for both the import and the new site.
    • I have been working primarily on getting the Xenforo AVForums to retain as much of the functionality we need from the vBulletin AVForums. More on this below.

    The amount of work involved has been huge. The work on the new CMS and editorial system started last year. And getting the import down to just a few hours has been a highly technical and involved process lasting several months.

    Over the 12 years that we have used vBulletin to run AVForums, we have built up a large set of fairly unique features in both the front and back end. I have spent the last few months organising what addons we need, sourcing them where they already exist and commissioning them where they don't.

    For example, a bunch of front end features we need relate to trading. One thread per person per forum, no under 18 trading, members' ability to archive ads, custom ad creation form and, of course, trader ratings. A small but important unique feature we have is the contact form with selectable recipients. More obvious features are the concise forum list, competitions and a display of the number of viewers reading each forum and thread. We have had to commission all these addons for Xenforo. Meanwhile behind the scenes, the back end also requires some unique features. The biggest being our moderator checkpoint system which allows the moderators to better monitor the forums. In all, we have over 40 addons installed on to the standard Xenforo installation. The majority are oriented towards giving our members a better experience using AVForums.

    At this point, some elements of AVForums will be late in moving over or won't be available at all. There is so much to do that rather than rush some elements, we are deferring them until later in the autumn when we can re-launch them properly. And some elements of AVForums which are generally under-used will be dropped in order to maximise on efficiency and speed of the rest of the site.

    We hope you like the new design and functionality and look forward to your feedback.

    Stuart Wright - Founder AVForums

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