Issue

The create post button is hard to find for new forum members.

What user would expect

Current design

User needs to hover over their own name in top right to open the dropdown.

  • Note that you need to hover, the intuitive action of clicking brings you to your profile.
  • Also your name doesn't indicate it can be hovered over or clicked.
  • Here is how it looks at the moment on desktop browser.

Solution

General UI

Make the create button more obvious in the general forum UI. Here are two options:

  1. Put the buttons somewhere in the top bar, for example next to search.
    1. Make sure it doesn't look like a simple text, so user actually knows it can be clicked. E.g. add a visual "+" icon in front of "Create Post" text.
  2. Add a + button in the bottom right corner, next to the chat.
    1. Adding a button that looks clickable stands out more and communicates to user it will go to a new page. 
    2. Perhaps the chat can even be replaced / moved somewhere else? I'm not sure how often it is being used, but "usual reply time 1 day" doesn't really make it sound like the "real-time chat experience" user would expect.

Search Page

Additionally, ensure the answer for "How to create a post" shows up in the search. It might be explained in the forum manual, but that doesn't seem to be a search result at the moment. 

Additional Suggestions

  • Forum manual isn't immediately visible on the side bar, can add a link there or make existing option more obvious.
  • Also add a link to forum manual / create post instructions to the New Post Menu.
  • Add a small downwards arrow next to user name in top right or any similar icon that indicates this can open a hover dropdown.
  • Make tapping the name not open the profile, and instead open the dropdown.
    • There is already an open profile option as part of the dropdown.
    • The sidebar on the left, search field and notifications button opens on click too, so more consistent design.

Reason

There are quite some posts and talks encouraging new users to create posts. They cannot create posts if they can't find the create button and/or forget where to find the instructions. :)

20

New Comment
8 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:17 AM

At least on LW, we intentionally didn't make the new-post button super easy to find, since it is not actually an action we want new users to take. We want it to be a thing someone does after having lurked for a few weeks. Commenting is a much more discoverable action, since that's something that I feel happier about people doing earlier in their journey.

It's not like we tried to hide it, but I think a website that has a giant new-post button in the bottom right corner, for example, would communicate that new users should feel quite comfortable pressing that button, and that it should be one of the primary ways for them to engage with the site, when I think that will somewhat reliably make people sad (both readers and authors). 

I'm only rarely on the LW forum (mainly reading via email summaries), so I don't know what LW's target audience or approach to new users is.

From the impression I got during various EA activities, theEA forum is meant to be a welcoming place for new users who are encouraged to interact. This doesn't necessarily mean making full standalone posts, but can include creating question-posts or shortforms. The issue I've described applies to all post types.

Note that with new users I mainly mean users new to the forum, not necessarily new to EA. Having good knowledge of EA principles doesn't include forum-navigation skills.

I understand you prefer new users to comment, and I agree that commenting is something that is easier to find. As a new user basic actions I picked up quickly were: viewing posts, voting, commenting, searching, opening my profile, using the sidebar. None of these actions included finding the forum manual and learning how or when to create posts.

So even after having lurked for a few weeks (so being within your "create-post target audience"), these things weren't clear to me. There is no guide between creating comments and creating posts.

So aside from changing the general UI, what do you think about the other proposed suggestions?

I think having a better linked forum manual, or something in that space seems pretty good to me. I feel like we can generally do better at cultural onboarding and helping people orient to the site, though it's a hard problem, since people do rarely read things even when they are pretty prominently linked, so I am not super sure how much a prominently linked forum manual might help.

  • I am glad people suggest things like this.
  • I disagree with this suggestion; I think it's sufficiently easy to find how to create posts. (Edit: also agree with Habryka.)
  • I like the thing in the bottom-right corner as it is; relative to alternatives, the current way requires little activation energy to get in touch with the forum team.

Happy to read suggestions are welcome. :) Giving positive feedback (even if one disagrees with the content) is appreciated, since it encourages me (probably other users too) to continue interacting. Something I'd love to see more.

Question about your last pointer:

So is the chat in the bottom right corner for getting in touch with the technical forum team? Or chatting with anybody from the EA community?

From the chat interface itself and your last pointer that isn't fully clear to me. When pressing "Send a message", there is no previous chat history, so it doesn't seem like and ongoing community chat.

When typing a message there I wouldn't be sure at the moment, whether I would get a response via email or come back to the chat tomorrow. And if I come back tomorrow, whether my question will be hidden due to other people chatting after me.

I don't fully understand how it works so I am not able to give suggestions. But if the Forum Team values new users understanding this chat (over e.g. creating a post), then perhaps my questions can be seen as a first-user-impression and hence possible feedback.

Props for writing this suggestion. 

Thanks for posting this. I definitely understand the cognitive dissonance between guidance that encourages people to write on the Forum and a UX that isn't intuitive for a brand new user coming from standard web tools.

The Forum team is currently hiring for a product designer, and I'm hopeful that we'll have a chance to take a look at our information architecture and interaction design, among other things. I don't think confusing UX should be a reason for not using a tool, even if there are various other reasons (which perhaps we should also work on).

Also, I'd note that we have a feature suggestion thread that you can use in the future for suggestions like this.

Thanks for your reply and the link. I wasn't aware of that thread before and added a comment there now. Hope you'll have success with the hiring process. :)