You're talking about the framing. Sorry, I didn't realize. It's not among my concerns to the site. Yes, It's a preference. There are a few main trends regarding framing, I'm on the one against it. Gray on gray refers to the comments section, and any other place where there is a gray background and a "gray" font. It is not an unusual choice, I just don't find it the best. As an argument, you read articles in a white background, why comments should have gray, aside from structural purposes?
Regarding audience, I kind of disagree. Yes, the audience here is not the same of that of Reddit. And I think this should change. Still I'd like to see a site like this. It literally created its own engine! Which is awesome by the way. I love VulcanJs. Here is an example of what I would like to see on hitting the main page: https://forum.vuejs.org/.
Just for reference, I have 20 years as a developer, and I have been part in maybe hundreds of design discussions, even though I'm a front/back end developer. So, no expert but I'm somewhat on the loop. The changes I propose are a mix of personal choices and experience/research based opinions.
Also, any discussion of familiarity starts with mobile, which I don't use. My focus is mainly on the 1080p 24inch desktop experience.
"Grey is easier" I don't think it is. Would you disagree that most publications use a white background? Could you provide at least some examples of ones that doesn't?
"I disagree that those other sites are superior." We would have to define superior. For me, the best (most well paid) minds in UX + the most number of users are objective measures. That doesn't mean we have to copy them, but it beckons to the familiarity factor.
I agree that they have a constant stream of content and this matters on design. What use is to have 50 compacted posts that I can scan in 1 second, if we have 30 posts a week? It is unfortunate that we don't have a higher traffic. I believe in reducing barriers of entry to help on this, and making a familiar site is but a very small of those.
To your third point, open a screenshot of my version, the current design here and any of them. See you can spot the ideas I try to incorporate. I don't know your background, but I can give you a a technical response. Fonts, spacing, that kind of thing. I basically copied the typography from them, while keeping the site identity and adding a few of my preferences.
Please note I did that in about 4 hours of work. The gross of it was very fast, some details took very long. 1 hour I spent fighting the pop ups before deciding to disable them
Yeah, it messes up a few other pages as well. To be fixed.
I think the site needs a dark mode. More and more people are favoring it. I use my monitor in a nearly yellow tone,
redshift -O 2800k so I like the white background just fine. I can't get behind the gray background though. I mean, how many sites does that? I find it harder to read.
The font I used could be one size larger, I did made an alternate screenshot to compare. Yet research suggests the current font size, not the one from my script, is ideal. I still favor higher density, as I can analyze the content faster.
Regarding skimming, I read titles by rows, not lines. I think we've been conditioned for this. Just look at Reddit or Medium. I find it easy to read a few words and skip to the next row. The title is too important to be trimmed away, I would sooner hide the author, date an comments count. I think it's very hard to find a site with this few characters in a title.
I haven't used the site enough to give a proper opinion on the icons. I think they either should be used more or hidden altogether. But I mix my feelings regarding topics, something I didn't touch yet. They will either be on the left of the title, on the end of the line, or below the titles, in a smaller font. I can't tell you how much I want to see 50 titles at a time and instantly know where they fit. Blue tagged AI, green tagged Animal Wellfare, etc.
I plan on enhancing my script as I spend more time here. It might take a while. I mostly wanted to take a feel if my experiences are in line with others. I'm happy to keep my preferences as a userscript and give the users another choice.
Alright, here is a very crude preview
Hi there, as a fellow EA, developer and avid creator of Userscripts, here are my thoughts on first seeing the site.
The design is very different from other online communities. This makes for an awkward first impression, users like familiarity in their UI.
I believe the gold standard for forums are Reddit, Facebook, StackOverflow, Discourse. By gold standard I mean some of the best minds in software UX works on these site. I particularly love Discourse.
This is a forum, yet there are no topics / subtopics. It tries to do too much in one place. I don't think questions, articles and events belong in in the same listing. I am aware of the filters, my criticism still stands :-)
Everywhere I move the mouse I'm assaulted by a popup. Why do you hate me? :-D
Infinite scroll / load more adds uncertainty to the UX. It's hard to track context, I can't tell if I click somewhere all my "progress" will be lost.
Gray on gray! No gray background please!
Titles are long, yet the columns are narrow.
The comments font looks bold, it should be lighter.
Some pages have too much info. "How to use the Forum" shouldn't have a pages long comments section, specially with unrelated discussions.
Still, thank you for taking the time in trying to innovate and contribute to the OS community!
I liked YIMBY's forum organization. It faintly resembles what I had in mind. My city on Twitter has ~600k followers, but barely any discussions.
I'm thinking literally of the concepts of a Forum, or an Agora. A public place where people meet and exchange ideas. The public square made digital. In my mind seems like such a great idea, and then perhaps I should pursuit it. But if it is so great, why isn't this a thing already?
Perhaps a Facebook for good deeds. So instead of login in to see what you're 2nd grade teacher ate for breakfast, you will see how your neighbor helped to reduce the energy consumption on her street by reporting to the city hall about a wiring malfunction. The slogan would be something like "What have you done to improve the world today?"
Engaged citizens. "I have installed solar power in my building, done a tone of research, AMA (Ask Me Anything)" or "Have anyone proposed to the mayor what they did in Holland to solve the street animal problem?"
News sites are the closest I can find where people take the time to comment. People can contact local groups that matches their cause, ONGs and charities, but this has many drawbacks and can perhaps be made better with this digital forum.