New design for AVForums commissioned

Stuart Wright

AVForums Founder
Staff member
I have commissioned a new design for AVForums and wanted to keep you aprised of the progress.
The existing look of the site is based on the original vBulletin design, which is several years old and looks dated compared to modern websites.
The look of a website has a large effect on how new visitors regard it. AVForums is about AV technology, usually at the cutting edge of consumer electronics and should have a design which projects that.
At the same time our long term members like the existing feel of the website and will likely not want things to change too much.

I feel it's important that we are open and transparent in how we are shaping the future of AVForums and that everyone in the community has some input into how it develops. Hence this thread.
I am hoping that our wider community will appreciate why we need to update AVForums and support us in this endeavour. I have previously invited suggestions on what design ideas people have preferred for AVForums and that feedback has been useful. Thanks to all who contributed.

To answer what I anticipate will be the most frequently asked questions, at this point in time:
  • The current fixed and variable width styles will remain available to use.
  • The new design will be available in variable and fixed width versions.
  • The logo and menu functionality will remain the same.
  • I have asked for a left-hand column on all pages.
  • We have no planned date for the changeover to the new design. We want it installed ASAP, but will take our time to get the best possible design and will not compromise on that aspect. There is a lot of work to be done.

I will share with you the latest ideas for and iterations of the design as they are sent through for review. You are welcome to leave feedback in this page, and your comments will be read and considered, though you must appreciate that final decisions on design features will be mine.

The latest design proposal is in this post.
 

Attachments

markie76

Active Member
Hi,

I agree the site appearance could do with a revamp.

However, having viewed the attached proposed design, I don't see it as being 'cutting edge' - in fact I would describe it as being pretty plain and see identical designs all over the web.

Yes it is an improvement but I think something better can be done.

Thanks,

Mark.
 

Navvie

Member
Stuart,

Firstly thanks for keeping us informed about the changes and for letting us tell you what we think.

The new menu system is superb. This must stay, or be improved on in any new design.

There are many sites that I visit everyday. I visit these sites for their content. Not the style or layout or razzmatazz (I don't care what you can do with Flash these days!) , simply because the content is good and getting at it is easy.


So long as any updated style and layout doesn't make it harder for me to get to the content, I'm happy for you to do what you think is right.
 

Tight Git

Distinguished Member
Sorry Stuart, but I'm afraid my first thought is "Oh no, not again". :thumbsdow

I've only just got used to the latest changes from a few months ago.

It's the content which attracts me to visit each day, not the presentation.

I think we all agree that this is the best AV Forum on the web so, if it ain't broke...

But if you must change it, please assure us that we won't be going through all this again next year!
 

suniil

Well-known Member
Site need a good restructure with good IA (information architecture) and design. But changing layout and design of VB forum will make a lot of head-ache when you upgrade and current VB design is good enough to navigate and find the information, which is the primary aim.

I'd like to see a better layout for homepage organised with featured reviews, podcasts, hot topics, blogs and interviews.


Hi,
I agree the site appearance could do with a revamp.
 

Sofa-loafer

Member
I have to say, well done for giving those that want a change, just that! Its also good to see the 'Old Guard' get to recite "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" by keeping the existing style.

I use the quick style chooser (at the bottom of the page) to suit the type of monitor I'm using... I have 5 monitors for web-browsing (Well this is AVForums!)

I have to say the new design is a little plain, however, I'm sure your teaser is a 'work in progress' and to some extent, not that much really needs to change.

For me, I'd like to see easy to spot news articles on the home page (Have you seen the Engadget website as reference)

I'd also like you to consider using 'colour per section'. A very easy way to quickly establish what section your in when you have 2 or 3 tabs open. V-Bulletin has many restrictions but colour is not one of them. In other words, I'd like to see (for example) Green for lifestyle topics, Blue for Home cinema, Red for Home Electronics etc... Much like an organised filing cabinet, wiring chart or paint swatch, colours are used to represent a mood or function of an object. I wouldn't want to see overly bright colours, maybe a subtle 50% transparent version of each colour that is kind to the retina & the fulfils the need to brighten those drab winter nights with some much needed glow!

Please consider a coloured coding system on the new style. It'd be easy to adapt to... i.e. minimal learning curve for new & existing users, it would provide the 'difference' to the existing blue style & bring colour to our lives without unnecessary bling. Our world is full of colour, lets be part of it!

Anyhow... its good to be brave.

Crack on fella!

Regards.
 
Last edited:

Stuart Wright

AVForums Founder
Staff member
@Sofa-loafer, I have already suggested assigning the different sections
different colours. Obviously they need to be in keeping with the general forum style but easily identifiable.

The main sections are

Home Cinema
Electronics
Computers
Editorial
Movies, TV & Music
Gaming
Bargains
Classifieds
Lifestyle

what colours would you use?
 

Sofa-loafer

Member
Thats excellent, forward thinking & an obvious choice if your in the know!

Well, there doesn't seem to be a set formula that I know of, especially for AV systems so I'd use base Psychology. How human interact with colours.

Color Psychology - The Psychology of Color
Colors and Moods

Calm & relaxing green, maybe use this for home cinema as its a passive entertainment.
Maybe Red for Computers as this is a very vibrant energetic pass-time re: mental activity, fixing & building pc's and red is the colour of equipment lights that go wrong (Ref XBOX360!)

To be honest, I'd use the above websites to translate moods into colours. Maybe a few others to confirm your thinking. Once you've narrowed down your choices, I'd have a poll asking "how do colours change how you feel" or one directly saying "what colour should the pages be?" Sup to you...

It's a bit of a black art, there may be some red herrings along the way & you may find yourself with the blues but once your finished you'll be in the pink... couldn't resist :smashin:
 

Sniper Ash6

Distinguished Member
Thats excellent, forward thinking & an obvious choice if your in the know!

Well, there doesn't seem to be a set formula that I know of, especially for AV systems so I'd use base Psychology. How human interact with colours.

Color Psychology - The Psychology of Color
Colors and Moods

Calm & relaxing green, maybe use this for home cinema as its a passive entertainment.
Maybe Red for Computers as this is a very vibrant energetic pass-time re: mental activity, fixing & building pc's and red is the colour of equipment lights that go wrong (Ref XBOX360!)

To be honest, I'd use the above websites to translate moods into colours. Maybe a few others to confirm your thinking. Once you've narrowed down your choices, I'd have a poll asking "how do colours change how you feel" or one directly saying "what colour should the pages be?" Sup to you...

It's a bit of a black art, there may be some red herrings along the way & you may find yourself with the blues but once your finished you'll be in the pink... couldn't resist :smashin:
You say red for computers yet relate the colour to something from the gaming section :confused: Where yellow is the error colour for PS3s so it isn't true all the way through

Regarding the new design. This sounds good, especially keeping the old styles and making sure there are both fixed and variable width versions.

The colours idea sounds interesting as well
 

littletee

Active Member
Hi
just some quick initial thoughts.
(I am a motion graphic designer and not particularly qualified in User Interface design so please take it with a pinch of salt)

It is a challenge because there is a LOT on this forum. But more space around things would add clarity.

I think the main thing I would say is not to try to hang on to the current design elements. Don't be afraid to redesign the logos and colour schemes etc. This could be an entire re-brand.

I have often thought the site design doesn't really reflect the premium, high end or the scientific nature of a lot of the content. I don't mean this in an insulting way, I just mean that you are increasingly involved with industry and the site is becoming more high profile and gaining it's own respect and authority and that this is an opportunity to reflect and support this. You want to re-assure that you are not amateur but confident and informed. It is important to project that you are a highly intelligent community, somehow...

I feel the colour scheme and gradients lack confidence and cleanliness. Not sure what I mean but the gold and the blue seem a bit dated, or more, they are quite hard to work with as core colours / elements.

I am not sure what I expect, but I think my research starting points would be Hulu apps, or B&O media players. Flat calm greys, blacks and white. I think I mean high-end software versus consumer. This is prosumer that has more knowledge than professional sometimes.

I don't think it is too obvious to think about how important blacks and greys are to you (as in displays) or flat and neutral (as in THX) or sharpness, clarity.

Then I was thinking about calibration and a world of tweakers and maybe we want to be able to customise it more ourselves... particularly a general background / type adjust / slider for different lighting conditions. Gimmickky maybe but maybe not.

Whilst I like the colour coded sections idea, I would warn against overdoing it. A couple of lines and a couloured heading or highlight colour. I still think of the D65 calm of a grading suite, where you don't want to influence colour perception with surrounding colour. Not dull but natural.

The new menu system is much cleaner, simpler and logical so I expect the site shall follow suit.

I think the logo would benefit from being flatter, more solid. It may not even need Alien vs Predators (sorry) logotype anymore. Maybe it could be finer, thinner, as displays are more robust at drawing finer lines now.

I think other users are right in that it is the content we are here for not the design, but I also see that AVF is growing a lot and has a lot to offer.

Not sure if that is any help at all

Tris
 

jegan111

Novice Member
For me any changes are insignificant as its the content which attracts me to this great community. However, I do understand the need to update the sight to attract (and keep) new visitors and members.

No matter how the changes look I'm sure within a few weeks (or months) most of us will wonder why we had any reservations in the first place.

:thumbsup:
 

virtual22

Well-known Member
I think it looks good as well Stuart, however, I would also agree with the comment above about redesigning logos etc. The main part of the new page looks more modern (to me) and you then have the old gold logo at the top which, again, to me looks really old.
 

Stuart Wright

AVForums Founder
Staff member
Changing the logo would be a big deal as we have so much material (images, business cards and video for example) which use it.
But if someone wants to start a new logo design thread to which people can reply offering their own design ideas, I would be happy to consider a change if I saw a totally awesome one.
The only stipulation would be that the V and F are combined in the same way as they are currently.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
I think the current logo is fine, and I like the screenshot - function over form is my thinking when it comes to websites. They can be as pretty as you like but if they're a pig to navigate, well a pig is a pig.

Like the ideas of colours to differentiate the different sections/forums.
 

poppy10

Member
Sorry Stuart, but I'm afraid my first thought is "Oh no, not again". :thumbsdow

I've only just got used to the latest changes from a few months ago.


I think we all agree that this is the best AV Forum on the web so, if it ain't broke...
There's always a huge outcry whenever a well-loved site changes its look. This makeover is long overdue, avforums looks so 90s, which is embarrassing really for what is supposed to be a site devoted to hi-tech.

Not so keen on the proposal screenshot, but it is just a proposal at this stage, hopefully it will be tweaked.
 

avmaestro

Standard Member
I would prefer it to be more cutting edge etc. but most of all i'd be looking for something easy to use! without the menu system it currently has, i find it very difficult to what i want nowadays with this setup
 

ti33er

Well-known Member
Hi, a LOGIN box at the top of the screen, perhaps with Private Messages at the top too would be a good idea in my opinion.

Thanks
 

brumhee

Distinguished Member
If there is a left hand nav any chance of being able to book mark threads/forums to jump to quicker than the Quick Nav at the bottom?

Like the new look though, always good to have a freshen up :thumbsup:
 
It's nice to have change, as long as it's for the better.
Asthetics i don't mind, as long as funtionality isn't hindered.:smashin:
 

Stream62

Novice Member
I like the new design, will be refreshing to have a change and it doesn't seem too far away from the current design so hopefully will feel familiar.

How mobile device friendly is the new design or is there a mobile version?
 

Shady

Novice Member
Just my 2'penneth...

Although I am aware that this is a commercial site and needs to earn it's keep, I do find the large banners at the top of the screen an annoyance and have to wait for the screen to refresh every time I move from one page to another. I know this is only a couple of seconds, but it is an annoyance. My preference would be to adopt a more low key approach and not be so intrusive (I know this is at odds with the actual desire to attract people) or too animated / linked which results in longer page load times.

Can we also have a true 'mobile' version (ala HotUKDeals) where the threads are stripped back to basics within each category.

If you wanted to get really flash ('scuse the pun), could you allow each registered user to select the sections they are interested in - and present these each time they login ? Similar to how the BBC present their home page now.

Just my thoughts... as most people have said though - content is king and this is what keeps us coming back, that and the community which has built up around the site under your management.


Cheers
 

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