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Travel Forums System Talk Site Design Suggestions Welcome

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1. Posted by Peter (Admin, 5430 posts) 18 Jun '08 19:37

Hey guys,

I've been looking at a general redesign of the site, trying to improve usability - which becomes ever more important with extra features and more content on the site.

I'd like to open this topic up to you guys, so if you have any suggestions, I can get them all together in this thread. They may not be heeded of course, but at least we can get a good feel for what things are working or what things aren't working for you.

As a heads up, some of the main things that are currently being worked on are:

  • Making the width fixed at around 1000px wide. Basically makes life a bit harder for people with 800x600 screens - currently about 4% of our visitors. Not entirely sure about this, but it sure would make life easier from our point of view and is becoming increasingly standard :)
  • Moving navigation to the top, rather than left. The left hand navigation area would then disappear entirely and be replaced by a permanent wider right hand navigation that will have section specific navigation (sort like in the travel guide).
  • Single search box. My idea here is to include a dropdown in the search box that lets you select the section you want to search. Depending on where you are in the site, it will automatically select that section. It's kind of like the Firefox search box. That will ditch the need for search boxes within site areas, like the forum - freeing up some more space.
  • A potential logo freshening or redevelopment to make it work within the new design.

In the forum, I'm considering changing the layout quite drastically even. My basic premise is to make it less "table" like and try a friendlier approach to listing new threads - more consistent with the style used on the "friends activity" page. I'm strongly considering replacing the forum index page with the "All Threads" view, so there is one less step to get to the content. This way, when you click on the "Forums" link, you will immediately see a list of active threads. Then in the new right hand navigation, the list of sub-forums would be shown to narrow down the posts displayed.

Ok, so those are my ideas at the moment. Over to you if you have anything to add, or any complaints about my ideas

Also, if you want to be more involved in the design stage by looking at drafts, etc.. PM me with your email address and I'll add you to an email list that I can use to send mockups to, etc..

2. Posted by Wonkerer (Respected Member, 591 posts) 18 Jun '08 21:03

Thoughts off the top of my head.


  1. 1 While I'm not opposed to navigation at the top, I do like that regular site navigation and personal navigation are separated right now.

  2. 2 I like the idea of a dropdown within the search box.

  3. 3 I like the forum index page, but the new idea sounds interesting too. Wouldn't want to loose the ability to very easily pick a category.

  4. 4 I love the version of the logo that Eric uses on "From the swivellin' chair." It has more depth and interest to it

I'll do a bit more thinking about this and see is there's anything else I come up with. Thanks for asking for our input!

[ Edit: Edited on Jun 18, 2008, at 9:05 PM by Wonkerer ]

3. Posted by TLWH (Travel Guru, 516 posts) 18 Jun '08 21:40

Thanks for letting us give some input!

Making the width fixed at around 1000px wide.

Go for it. I will box the old CRT and donate it to the recycle team

Moving navigation to the top, rather than left.

Hmmm, not crazy about it. I head from a survey that most web users like the left hand navigation thing. But then what I like about navigation here is that it's clear, big print, and easy to follow. There's a follow through later

Single search box.

Yes, for sure, great stuff

A potential logo freshening

Ok from a marketing and business stand point I would say it depends what your overall demographic is? And whether you are re branding or just shuffling for the sake of it. Personally I like the logo now. Having said that a change is also good, how about introducing a new logo but not shoving it in as the main logo just yet, see below

Some other ideas

1. Be prepared for a backlash. A lot of people hate change. Another site I have used they recently changed their forum. A disaster, people left in droves due to it's practical yet unusable format. (you had to scroll through each comment over many postings). Again it depends on your professional purpose for doing this, e.g. attract new users etc.

2. Blog search. It's something I find difficult here. Not sure if its a lack of blogs, or lack of tags,search etc. But the categories section might want a look through.

3. The front page. Would be nice to see more on actual blogs and travel areas. I think you saw my posting about TP vs WP and what one particular new user was looking for.

4. Comments (i was about to make a separate posting about that one. ). The option of turning them on or off for non reg's to make them, I think it was on the cards at some stage.

5. I like the current color scheme, it makes it easier to navigate. I hate bloggers.

6. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If people aren't complaining, it's a good thing

Right out of ideas for now, happy to have a look at templates so will PM you.

4. Posted by Peter (Admin, 5430 posts) 18 Jun '08 23:15

Quoting outcast

.. it depends on your professional purpose for doing this, e.g. attract new users etc.

Well, we always want to attract new users.

One of the primary issues I'm seeing at the moment is people being somewhat overwhelmed by the options (your WP vs TP thread is an example). I think design and usability enhancements can solve a lot of that.

The logo change is not really related to that, but depending on what happens to the design, some tweaking of the logo may be necessary to make sure it can fit within an altered format. We'll see. I'm quite fond of the current logo myself, even if it does have its flaws

5. Posted by Isadora (Moderator, 13924 posts) 19 Jun '08 04:54

Personally, I'm not too picky about where things are as long as they are easy to find. I do agree with outcast about the difficulty in searching for blogs though. I usually end up going to someone's profile and accessing their blog from there.

I also agree with Katherine about the logo. I do have a certain fondness for the "TP Blue" color scheme and logo, but the one Eric is using for the blog is fantastic. It reminds me of an old suitcase covered in travel stickers or old post card stamps. (It makes me want to join Indiana Jones on an adventure!)

6. Posted by tway (Travel Guru, 7274 posts) 19 Jun '08 05:16

Oh--I'd been meaning to mention that TP's layout at home on my laptop suddenly looks different--more blocky, somehow. I'm on Mac using Safari here and at home, but I only see the change on the laptop. Not drastic, just different and a bit less legible. Wonder what I've done..??

I echo the blog search--it's kinda hit and miss. And maybe a quick link to find people, as my swiss-cheese brain always forgets where to go to search.

And if you guys use the new logo, can you also do that luggage-tag template to go along with it? Making those things has been on my to-do list forever--maybe I"ll finally get around to it!

7. Posted by Peter (Admin, 5430 posts) 1 May '09 00:15

Well, well, well, I see this thread was started in June last year. It's about time something happened. Well, things have been happening, but it's always been a bit on the backburner. Now, with Sam in town, it seemed like a good chance to tackle this as there are usually a lot of opinions when it comes to these things. We spent today working on a revamped front page design, which we want to get your guys' feedback on.

Several things done

  • Totally different logo. This is one BIG thing we want feedback on. I'll explain the logic behind this later once there's some initial feedback, don't want to convince you before you've seen it.
  • Location based content. The idea here is that you would type in your next destination and below the search form would pop up content from all the different areas of the site; wiki, photos, members, forums, blogs, accommodation, etc.
  • Direct links into the major areas; maps, forums, bookings, photos, blogs

We've decided to just upload this mockup graphic we're working on for all TP members to see. Never mind the email list I suggested initially - we just want lots of feedback, so the more eyes the merrier.

Here it is

8. Posted by Hien (Moderator, 3906 posts) 1 May '09 02:53

Sigh... this credit crunch has hit everywhere. That little guy we all know and love will be replaced by a cheaper stickman. :(

9. Posted by joffre (Respected Member, 157 posts) 1 May '09 02:54

Love the "Where are your headed?" concept... the logo looks like an 80's throw-back, too impersonal for me... I like the "Map it" - "Discuss it" - "Book it" section, but feel it needs to be tweaked by someone with some graphic design credentials... in any case, just my initial impressions.

10. Posted by bex76 (Moderator, 3596 posts) 1 May '09 03:06

The new layout looks great - definitely much more slick and modern, and a really nice feel to it.

I must admit my first impressions of the new logo are that I prefer the present one which I like because it's chunky and stands out, and because the big logo of the backpacker is perfect for the site. I'll wait to hear your logic though Peter before deciding properly!

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