New TWF skin

JeevesBond's picture

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I already posted this, but it seems to have disappeared somewhere in the Intarwebs. :)

Basically, we've created a new theme for TWF and would like some feedback! Do you like it, do you not, is it nearly ready to go in your opinion? Let us know what you think!

To enable the new look, visit this link and select grid_inspired as your theme.

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Megan's picture

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You need to do some manual kerning on the TWF logo - check the APC one for referencce. I think I moved it in about 2 notches for each character. I think it's ctrl [ or alt [ in Inkscape. Google it to find out for sure.

Looks good though Smiling

Renegade's picture

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The new skin looks a lot cleaner and sharper than the default one. Kinda wakes me up because I usually check TWF in the morning. Smiling

IMHO, I found the default a bit too bland... :'|

Brooke's picture

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I think that it looks good! It took a bit to get used to the one skin - this is bolder - and I like it.

It still takes me 8-30sec to load - but that's not because of the skin.

Two thumbs up!

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I like it, and I especially (not related to the skin) am glad the "quote" and "mark topics read" buttons have been implemented. Wink

JeevesBond's picture

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It still takes me 8-30sec to load - but that's not because of the skin.

Is that just the front page, or on all pages?

It's really nice to have new posts/threads on the front page, but the queries are expensive and make the front page really slow to load. Am going to simplify those shortly. Smiling

Feel free to switch to the new theme permanently, there's not much more work to do on it. Thanks for the feedback everyone!

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Brooke's picture

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JeevesBond wrote:

It still takes me 8-30sec to load - but that's not because of the skin.

Is that just the front page, or on all pages?

All pages - for example - I clicked "quote" and it took 43 seconds.

The middle column on the front page, under highlighted topics - it has a list of links - that list is too close together. It looks like 1 paragraph of text. And I personally think the green text is a little hard to read.

pr0gr4mm3r's picture

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The home page looks a little squished because of the three columns, but looks great otherwise.

JeevesBond's picture

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Just had to restart the server again. Looking at the Drupal logs, it seems spammers are attacking the search form (thinking it's a form to submit content or what not) with messages like:

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, nice site ***SPAM LINKS!!!! ***

There seems to be a correlation between them doing this multiple times and the server falling over. So I've switched off searching for people who aren't logged-in. Sad

Hopefully that will make the site go faster, let us know everyone (particularly Brooke and others who've been having trouble). Smiling

The middle column on the front page, under highlighted topics - it has a list of links - that list is too close together. It looks like 1 paragraph of text. And I personally think the green text is a little hard to read.

Does it look better now?

*** EDIT ***
I haven't changed the green links, though you may have a point there. Smiling

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JeevesBond's picture

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This topic has been moved somewhere everyone can see it. All members: we'd like your feedback! Laughing out loud

demonhale's picture

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I like the alternate theme much better... Although the green bar curved edges are all pixelised I think...

*edit: All bars that have curved ends are pixelised... Aside from that, I think this is better... Also the left side BG alignment is off sometimes... (brown-lightbrown inclined stripes)

JeevesBond's picture

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Although the green bar curved edges are all pixelised I think...

We're using CSS to get that effect border-radius, instead of using images. That's why it looks pixelated. Plain

Also the left side BG alignment is off sometimes... (brown-lightbrown inclined stripes)

Well spotted! I'll fix that shortly. Thought it was repeatable, must have messed it up. Smiling

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Megan's picture

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JeevesBond wrote:

Although the green bar curved edges are all pixelised I think...

We're using CSS to get that effect border-radius, instead of using images. That's why it looks pixelated. Plain

... and why you don't see if it you're not using Firefox... might work in Safari, actually, I haven't checked though.

Liam, try making the links just a little darker/more saturated. You won't be able to tell it's a different colour from the navbars.

Scuba Steve's picture

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i like it I am just used to forums being a bit wider than this

Megan's picture

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I was wondering if it was too narrow. We're using an em based layout this time (try resizing text in your browser). We could go a bit wider and still fit in a 1024 window. I think the current width is the equivalent of 840px, so some of the side border shows.

Another thing - the NEW link is looking really scratchy to me (Opera 9/OSX). It's clearer but still small in Safari. I think it should be pink too. Like the placement there though...

demonhale's picture

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Oh and one more thing, I think this theme is a lot quick loading, I tried to alternate between the two, and this one is a bit quicker...

JeevesBond's picture

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The new theme is now the default. Smiling

The green links are darker and should be easier to read, and the whole page is wider. Think that's about it. Any more thoughts or worries?

*** EDIT ***
I also made the cursor focus set to the username box on the login/register/forgot password pages. It was getting on my nerves.
Smiling

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Awesome! I haven't been here in a while. Just too swamped lately. The forums are really looking great. I see you've done a few things I plan on doing for advforum. I may need to hit you up for some code. Smiling

Now it's time to work on those user profiles. I know a module you can use. Wink

Michelle

Megan's picture

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Yeah, that would be nice. Especially since it's the first thing you see when you log in.

Did you try making the "new" text pink? I see it's bigger and clearer now. Might not be readable in the same pink as the logo but we could go a bit brighter for that text. It would make it stand out more.

JeevesBond's picture

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Did you try making the "new" text pink? I see it's bigger and clearer now. Might not be readable in the same pink as the logo but we could go a bit brighter for that text. It would make it stand out more.

Yeah, it looked swanky and that but totally unreadable! Give it a try with Firebug to see what I mean. Sad

Now it's time to work on those user profiles. I know a module you can use.

Lol, you're totally right. Think we might need to move to a faster server before installing any more modules though! We've got plans to do that actually; Adv. Profiles are on the list of things to do after the move.

I'll definitely be sharing the code we used to do the forum listing, got to do a follow up to the 'Goodbye vBulletin' article. Smiling

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JeevesBond wrote:
Lol, you're totally right. Think we might need to move to a faster server before installing any more modules though! We've got plans to do that actually; Adv. Profiles are on the list of things to do after the move.

I'll definitely be sharing the code we used to do the forum listing, got to do a follow up to the 'Goodbye vBulletin' article. Smiling

If you don't have a new host in mind, let me know and I've got a reccomendation.

I'll be interested in seeing your code. There's big things in the works for forums core and contrib. Going to be an interesting time before the next freeze.

Michelle

JeevesBond's picture

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I'll be interested in seeing your code. There's big things in the works for forums core and contrib. Going to be an interesting time before the next freeze.

Hey, where are these exciting things taking place? I need to get on the bandwagon! Smiling

Was thinking of starting out by looking at the forum module bugs list and seeing what I could review/fix. Would that be a good place to start?

We've already signed-up with a host, I'll certainly ask you if it doesn't work out with them though. Thanks. Smiling

a Padded Cell our articles site!

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JeevesBond wrote: Hey, where are these exciting things taking place? I need to get on the bandwagon! Smiling

Check out http://groups.drupal.org/drubb for the battle plan in progress. We could use the help. Smiling

Michelle

JeevesBond's picture

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Michelle wrote:
Check out http://groups.drupal.org/drubb for the battle plan in progress. We could use the help. Smiling

Cool. Am already a member of that group. Just spotted the wiki posted by catch (even made a tiny edit to it Smiling ). Was worried there was something that I was missing. Should probably spend more time on IRC too.

Thanks for the linky though, and if there's anywhere else I should be let me know! Smiling

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Some discussion goes on in merlin's channel. If you don't know which that is, catch me on IRC. It's not secret but not really advertised, either, so I don't want to post it here.

Michelle

demonhale's picture

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Hmmm... So that was why my cache was all bugged up earlier, I may have logged in while the default theme is changed. Now all you people wondering why you don't see any page style, refresh your browser cache. This is not a link bait just to help on browser cache issues. (for complete instructions you can visit my blog)

Now I think speed has really improved...

demonhale's picture

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Is there a way to make the username more prominent on the Black Bar? Maybe enlarging it or making it bold or make it have a different bg or something, because if there's no Avatar, it's hard to know the poster and it's really hard to take closer look on the usernames...

Megan's picture

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I agree, and it's hard to know that the username is a link to the profile. Maybe if you get a suitable pink for New it could also be used for the username.

robfenn's picture

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I think it's considerably better than before. The colours help navigation become more intuitive.

JeevesBond's picture

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I think it's considerably better than before. The colours help navigation become more intuitive.

Tah, very much Rob! Smiling

I agree about the usernames, my only thoughts on it at the moment are: 'Hmmmmm...' though. Will have to think about how to solve this one.

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Abhishek Reddy's picture

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It's nice overall. Smiling

I find it somewhat too busy, noisy or unfinished in places. With some more time attending to detail, I'm sure that can improve.

I'm not a fan of the cliche diagonal stripes, either. Feels too pre-fabricated.

JeevesBond's picture

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Help us out here old chap, where is it noisy or unfinished? Is there something we don't know about? Smiling

See what you mean about the diagonal stripes, we like them for the moment though, but don't worry we're not going to go all 'Web 2.0' on you. You know what we think about that sort of thing.

The diagonal stripes are something we can change a bit later when they go out of fashion (or we get bored). Not difficult to swap them out for a gradient or something later on. Smiling

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Abhishek Reddy's picture

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I've attached a screenshot pointing out five bits that I'll comment on here. (Plus two bonus extra comments!)

1) The whitespace around the header block seems a bit superfluous and, in the context of the rest of the page, a little jarring. I think it would look much neater flush against the edges. The same might apply for the search box.

2) The cheeky remark text isn't vertically aligned with the navigation text.

3) The search input box is a bit too small on my browser. I would prefer it were left at the default size.

4) The ads seem to be under my username's heading. I see you've used whitespace to separate them, but maybe a separator item, or alternate background colours would work better. I quite liked the sidebar headings in the previous design.

5) The spacing between columns (even on two-column pages) is uneven. While not necessarily conspicuous, it subtly adds to that noisy/jarring feeling.

6) I find the whole design lacking typographical life. Aside from quoted code in posts, I think 100% of the text is sans-serif, with only basic variation in size and weight. It's begging some creativity in text styling and layout. A lot of that noisiness I keep referring to comes from the loud and competing headings and even links.

7) Even the logo is somewhat lacking vitality. The text is bland, the spacing and symmetry uneven.

I would suggest starting with a revised logo, using some of the elements of style already in the layout, and then updating the rest of the typography, and tightening up the few spacing issues.

Smiling

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twf-tagged.png 7.32 KB
Abhishek Reddy's picture

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And two more extra special premium additional comments!

1) In Iceweasel, the green navigation bar doesn't line up with the logo/search box, on the right. I'm not sure I like the rounded corners anyway.

2) The link hover styles in the navigation bar at the top differ from the identical-looking navigation bar in the footer.

Well, hopefully all that should give you an idea of what I mean by the details and roughness. I'll point out more if you want, but I know from experience the solution is for the designer to just keep tweaking over time until they're tired of it.

As I said, overall, it's a nice redesign. Smiling

JeevesBond's picture

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I've made changes according to this advice... Where I agree with it. Smiling

1) The whitespace around the header block seems a bit superfluous

I disagree with this. Smiling That white space is uniform around the page, it adds coherence to the design. The BBC do something similar.

2) The cheeky remark text isn't vertically aligned with the navigation text.

Should be fixed now.

3) The search input box is a bit too small on my browser. I would prefer it were left at the default size.

This looks better in Konqueror now, however the 'Search' button is being nudged down and we're not sure why. We've had a cursory attempt at fixing it, but haven't really got the time to really delve in and find out why it's not working.

4) The ads seem to be under my username's heading. I see you've used whitespace to separate them, but maybe a separator item

Fixed.

5) The spacing between columns (even on two-column pages) is uneven.

This was done deliberately. Otherwise text from different columns will run together. We basically made each element have the same margins. There are a few other designers who've made the same choice: http://news.bbc.co.uk http://www.markboulton.co.uk http://www.456bereastreet.com/ for example.

I've done some work on six and seven. As you pointed out: it's always a work-in-progress. Smiling

Bonus:

1) In Iceweasel, the green navigation bar doesn't line up with the logo/search box, on the right. I'm not sure I like the rounded corners anyway.

Not sure about this, is it still a problem?

2) The link hover styles in the navigation bar at the top differ from the identical-looking navigation bar in the footer.

Fixed.

Hopefully this makes the design better for you, although there are some things we'll have to just disagree on. I can live with that, if you can. Laughing out loud

Note: you might need to clear your cache to see the new changes (we've got aggressive client-side caching setup).

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JeevesBond's picture

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Oh, and I bet you thought I'd forgotten about this by now! Laughing out loud

Roo's picture

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Wow wow wow! This is awesome! I liked the other one, but I didn't really get used it for some reason. While I liked the look of it it was kind of awkward to actually use. This is IT!

Roo

JeevesBond's picture

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Thank you so much Roo, it means a lot that you like it. You're a lady with taste! Smiling

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I can understand the "too noisy" comment a little bit. Whenever I look at the forums front page, I feel a bit overwhelmed because I feel like the boundaries of the page are too skinny for a three-column idea like that. Plus the flashing ads and the one with bright contrasting colors really draw my attention away from the forums and frankly hurt my eyes a little bit.

I actually like the diagonal bars, but I wish they extended all the way down the page. I've always found that (at least for my eyes) a space with a big blank or solid color background is best visually supported with a texture or pattern around or behind it. It makes it seem not so outstanding and blinding.

As for the tiny black user bar: I just don't like it. I can really only comfortably read it if I stop and focus and I feel as if I should be able to read it if even from only a glance. Most of the time I can see an avatar and recognize who the poster is, but not always. And as for the "NEW" text, I feel as if it would almost be a little more prominent perhaps if was color-coded in some way (see attachment for my idea). It would make it a bit easier to browse a little quicker and see the new posts. I guess I'm just a bit of an advocate for quick browsing as I don't always have a lot of time. I am dealing with mediocre load times (averaging 10-11 seconds) so quick fixes like that would make it easier for me to browse and make more posts like this one.

I do think the new theme is wonderful and SO much better than the old one, but it's just not completely usable for me. Thanks.

Kurtis

AttachmentSize
My idea for the "new" notation 8.5 KB
JeevesBond's picture

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Hey, just who do you think you are, coming in here with your brilliant design ideas and really helpful comments! I've implemented your new post suggestion, but you'd better stop being clever, you're making me look bad!

Only joking, t'was a great suggestion and we do welcome that sort of thing (even if it does make me look bad). Laughing out loud

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I really like this skin over the last one.

The load time seems to be much better as well, which also makes me happy!

The only thing I see so far that I would like to see changed is
the posters name with their avatar..
I almost can't see the italic name in the dark bar.

Great job!
Thank for being here

~dragonsjaw

"Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight- 'Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight." - Bruce Cockburn

Smp Business Hosting's picture

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Nice job,

I think it looks 10 times better and is a lot clearer now.

Though I think the home page would look better if you consolidated the middle column into the right one underneath the existing items and extended the length of the left one.

I also think you should put a gap of about 5px between each of the adverts on the right col as they look crowded.

Apart from those 2 things I think it's an awful lot better than the default skin nice work Smiling

Regards, Steve

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Of the three main changes I can see, I like them all. The bold username, the "new" notification, and the bold links. Everything stands out more and really is easier to read and identify. Wink

Kurtis

demonhale's picture

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Why don't you implement the same thing you did for the "new" pink edges to the username area, Have it the Green Background your using for the nav bars and footer bars so that the username is well-separated from the posted info. It's a slight adjustment to make it look good.

If could just touch the themeing code of this site I'd be glad to help you out with all the wonderful updates you made Liam...

Sample:

sample

demonhale's picture

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Also maybe you can add an overflow:auto on image attachments, just noticed it on my previous post...

JeevesBond's picture

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Sorry work has stopped for the moment. Megan and I have to spend some time doing other stuff. We'll get these last few issues sorted out shortly though. Thanks for the feedback all!

Demonhale: am not sure we can use the green. Particularly since usernames are variable width, if the 'new' links went in there it might work. Thanks for the suggestion though, seriously. Smiling

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pr0gr4mm3r's picture

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I am also very happy with this new skin. Just a couple of suggestions...

1. It seems backwards that the open envelope icon symbolizes an unread thread, and the unopened envelope symbolizes a read thread.

2. I like it when it says how many threads are unread from the home page, but it doesn't show how many threads were updated. I think it's just as important to know when a thread has been replied to.

JeevesBond's picture

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1. It seems backwards that the open envelope icon symbolizes an unread thread, and the unopened envelope symbolizes a read thread.

Makes sense, I'll put this on the to-do list.

2. I like it when it says how many threads are unread from the home page, but it doesn't show how many threads were updated. I think it's just as important to know when a thread has been replied to.

Hmmm, I thought that's exactly what it does. Have I got it wrong?

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pr0gr4mm3r's picture

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JeevesBond wrote:
Hmmm, I thought that's exactly what it does. Have I got it wrong?

Here are a couple of screenshots. In ss0.png, it doesn't show any new messages, but if I click on it (ss1.png), there are in fact two threads with new messages.

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ss0.png 5.86 KB
ss1.png 332.43 KB
Scuba Steve's picture

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I have used this for about 2 weeks now, it is finally starting to grow on me, I have decided I really like it

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