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Improve look and feel of a freshly installed forum

Author Ojlert
#1 | Posted: 12 Oct 2009 13:10 | Edited by: Ojlert 
I think it would be very good to improve the look and feel of a freshly installed forum.

I recently upgraded and well to be honest it does not look very good.

95% width makes the paragraphs too wide (which is not a good thing for readability) and if that figure is changed it does not look good and other stuff must be modified..

The colors are not that good either and there is no preset text style to use as a heading to link to the main homepage. I mean you'll probably want a large heading of your forum that points to your main website. Just adding a h1-heading didn't look good for me.

All I'm saying is that it would be nice if the forum looked good right out of the box. First impression lasts.

The old forum look and feel was way better than the new one (at least it didn't disrupt readability by having a monstrous width of the posts).. I might change to the old look and feel if it is possible.. It probably is.

Yes I know all these things could be changed by a handy webmaster but it helps no one if it's more difficult than necessary.

Also if you could have some person with excellent English and technical skills to look over the manual it would be nice.. It has some shortcomings..

Other than that, thanks for an excellent forum!

Author tom322
Active Member
#2 | Posted: 12 Oct 2009 15:07 
I do my own design and I know how hard it is to achieve 'good' results. But in miniBB's case I like the design because the colors are very well toned and original at the same time. I have no issue with readability.

Width - you can change it all in the CSS file and it will look right everywhere when you change it correctly. 95% is good because you don't want your users to scroll down the page just to read more than one message.. Good usage of screen space is now more important than ever and 90-96% width approach is the most optimum for all screen resolutions.

To sum up, you can change basically everything regarding the website look in the CSS file. Besides, if you show two colors: red and blue to 10 random people and ALL of them say they like the blue color better then you can talk about 'good' or 'bad' design. Otherwise, it's not possible :).

Author Ojlert
#3 | Posted: 13 Oct 2009 01:08 | Edited by: Ojlert 
Yeah ok I can't find any source at the moment saying that a somewhat short line width is optimal... Just took it from my memory so can't say for certain that I was right about that.

My screen is 24 inches wchich is probably wider than the average screen as well so I use a pretty high resolution.

Still the first impression was that it didn't look so good and that's probably what most new visitors will feel. But I guess it can be OK but the old forum looked better.

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#4 | Posted: 13 Oct 2009 08:14 
Well, I'm really surprised to hear that we need to improve something after we did improving during at least 6 months of developing :-)

You don't have to be a "handy webmaster" to change the width of your forums. It's changed through CSS in a minute. Or even 30 seconds. Just look up by 'width' and change the first two occurrences.

We never recommend to apply the default skin to your own forums. miniBB is created to support custom solutions. If your board is custom, if it's different from others by look, you have more chances to make it popular and cute. When I visit boards having standard vBulletin or phpBB or even miniBB look, I feel shame.

We need our default board wide because not each user on this planet has 24'' monitor. Probably half of the market are now laptops. Making the width as large as possible provides the excellent view of the board on mini-computers. It's miniBB. We are oriented on large markets by default.

You can download the skin from miniBB demo page and apply it to your forums, that way making the fixed width. You could even try on the same demo the "ultra-mini" skin. It provides 600 pixels width for the forums.

Saying "the old version was better" I think you just don't get the idea the software is still the same as earlier. Now it could have a wider look, or it could look thin. It could look different. That's what we would like to pay your attention to.

Author tom322
Active Member
#5 | Posted: 13 Oct 2009 09:25 
We need our default board wide because not each user on this planet has 24'' monitor.

I have 24'' monitor :). But I set it for comfortable working (like 1024/768, not 1600/1200).

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#6 | Posted: 13 Oct 2009 10:51 
Currently I see only 2 users from this thread have 24'' monitor :-)

I guess I should put an "Eco" mark on miniBB's page saying you can go blind if your monitor is wider than reader's shoulders, reading miniBB? ;-) that way we don't support large monitors and we're still trying to make the world green...

Anyway, our default style is really belongs to us. It makes us recognizably different from the other software. I wouldn't not consider this thread as a "suggestion", because then it sounds like "Hey Microsoft, why wouldn't you listen to my advice to change the colors of your Windows interface? I don't like them".

So, you can change colors even for Microsoft Windows these days, not speaking about miniBB... We have millions of users and despite each advice is thankful, we can't make something which will satisfy everybody. The most important here is that it satisfies ourselves ;)

Thanks for the topic, anyway...

Author tom322
Active Member
#7 | Posted: 13 Oct 2009 10:55 
that way we don't support large monitors and we're still trying to make the world green...

Well, I guess I go green because as an alternative I would have two 17'' monitors = 34'', not 24'' ;).

Author Ojlert
#8 | Posted: 13 Oct 2009 12:53 | Edited by: Ojlert 
Okay yeah maybe there was no big point in posting this I was just a bit taken by how the forum looks now compared to how it looked previously..

If windows had enough complaints about that their default windows interface looked like crap they would probably change it in the next version. Not everyone knows how to change it by themselves and it is the default interface that will be displayed to a lot of people regardless of the possibilities to change it easily.

But they probably don't get many complaints about it and you will probably not get that either. But if you get a couple of more complaints about it then you will probably start thinking about making improvements to it. Except that you get paid mostly for modifications that you do for your customers so probably the incitement is lesser for you than for Microsoft since they are paid up front.

That will be enough rambling for now.

Is it easy to change to the old look and feel again by the way? Just wondering...

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#9 | Posted: 13 Oct 2009 16:04 | Edited by: Paul 
But if you get a couple of more complaints about it then you will probably start thinking about making improvements to it.

You probably meant a couple of thousands of complaints ;-)

I really have not a lot of motivation to do what the majority will like. We're doing our product looking professional and suitable in many areas, and if it goes against your taste, you are welcome to change it, and if you doubt how to change it, you may hire us. miniBB is free unlike Windows, and it's our little home business, to provide custom support on this software.

Like I mentioned, you can go to the old version easily just changing the skin (later when I have time I could even create a skin like the earlier blue one, meeting all new CSS definitions - in a hour), but we personally feel wide layout is better.

Then why you need your wide screen at all? ;-)

Author Ojlert
#10 | Posted: 14 Oct 2009 13:09 
Ok thanks for telling me how to change back.. Maybe I'll do that and maybe not.

Ok you win ;-)

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