The State of BuSo Address [BuSo 2.0] - New Features, Some Gone, Stuff Coming Soon, & Your Feedback!

The Engineer

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Introducing...




Behind the scenes I've been quietly brainstorming while collating data, constantly looking out for opportunities to improve our experience here on BuSo. There have been feature requests, stats informing me on what's being used or not, design considerations, and more.

If you've been here for a while (we're about two months out from our 4 year birthday!), you've seen people come and go. You've seen the culture shift and interests in different pursuits and monetizations wax and wane. But the one factor that has always held steady, above all others and in defiance of every other forum and communication hub for our industry, is that of professionalism. Thanks to you guys and gals, the builders, we boast the highest quality and most informative discussions online.

In our 4 years, we've watched members hire others who then pack their bags and move across the country. We've met with each other at various conferences, not only across the United States but globally. Many of our members have been speakers at these events. We continue to share information freely and engage in commerce with one another through the marketplace. It's been a wild ride, but as we all know... the ride never ends.

Special Thanks
  • @Ryuzaki - for putting in a weeks worth of 14 hour days with me and especially for helping with the design work.
  • @CCarter, @Bloghue, & @MetaData (yes, he's still alive & well!) - for giving me some firm Yes or No's when I couldn't decide on certain things.
  • @Potatoe - for the ridiculous nickname of NuSo for the new rollout, which I can't get out of my head now.
  • Every one of you - for holding down the fort while the administration team got quiet as we pounded out this update. The builders are everything.
Note:
Of course, like with nearly every piece of software you use, 90% of the update is behind the scenes and deals with code, speed optimization, payment processing, and preparing modularity to add more features. I won't bore you with that, but there are some front-facing things that changed you'll enjoy hearing about...

- WHAT'S NEW -
First and foremost you'll find that a lot of the design has changed. The goal here was to minimize wasted space without a feeling of being cramped. Minimalism was our game, and even more so now. You'll find some links missing, some features removed, and useful items in new places. But at the end of the day it's way more efficient and pushes the content as the main focus even more.

I can't possibly show you everything, but I'll point out the part that you'll have already noticed and will see over and over again...

The Header:



In BuSo 2.0, we moved the logo in order to get the content a solid 55px higher (and even more in places like the homepage), since that's the reason we're here. We got rid of extraneous text where images would suffice. Even the screenshot above for 2.0 has more text and links than the live version has, because even as we neared launch and took these screen captures, we still aggressively kept hacking things down to the essentials.

Collapsible Sections


On the homepage you'll find that you can now toggle each main section of BuSo away. As of right now there's only two primary sections but that may change in the future, and this feature will allow you to hide sections you never visit, making your navigation faster and the visual appeal cleaner.

Inline Editing


Previously, when you wanted to edit your post, you had to deal with an overlay screen which had a constrained width and wasn't very convenient on mobile. Now, your post itself will become a text editor where you can make your changes live. This will better represent the way your post will look visually when you save the changes, especially on desktop.

Contained or Full Width


A lot of members have asked for a full width site template they can use, who like to browse on Smart TV's and ultrawide monitors or even just widescreen ones. We were always of the typography school of thought that we don't want to turn our heads a ton or dart our eyes too far to read a whole line of text. But enough people asked for this that it warranted having. But we did you one better. You don't need to change templates, just click the button at the bottom left of the forum and you'll immediately jump to full screen and stay there until you click it again, even from session to session.

Note:
The four items above are only a sampling of some of the new features you'll discover as you begin to explore the new experience. Combined with the last set of updates we pushed, like selective highlighting for quoting for example, things are getting really intuitive, easy to use, and most importantly, faster to use. Let's also look at some stuff that was removed.
- WHAT'S GONE -
Following Bruce Lee's sage advice, "It is not daily increase but daily decrease, hack away the unessential," we made the call based on usage data to get rid of a lot of "stuff" that wasn't improving our experience. If anything, it was cluttering the interface and creating little places we could get lost in, removing our focus on the core content. Here's just some of what you'll find is gone:

The News Feed
Not many people used this, and it had stunk of "social media" anyways, which is not why we're here. For those of you who never dealt with this, what it did was curate all of the recent posts of members you were following into one stream so you could keep up with them quickly.

But the data showed that, while people were following each other, they weren't using the News Feed. They were still navigating to that user's profile page and viewing their posts from there. You can still follow people, and your "follow list" will act like an entry point, shooting you over to each user's profile if you want to mine for gold in their posts. But the News Feed itself is toast.

Posts You've Liked
We had a member (I can't recall who) request this feature so he could use the Likes feature as a way to bookmark quality posts he wanted to return to in the future. Turned out, after we added that and announced it, not many people used it. We offer links to every individual post that can be bookmarked or posts can be pasted into a text document as well. It was a decent idea but one not widely adopted, so it's gone.

Latest Activity
This was a stream where you could see the newest posts and likes, from newest to oldest, whether you had viewed them or not. It was simply a catalogue of what was happening. Turns out nobody used it. We all use "Newest posts" to check out what we missed, where the posts are removed from that stream after we view them. Latest Activity was redundant and not useful, so it got the axe.

Profile Posts
This was another area that was too much like social media for my liking. Spammers signed up for it (but couldn't use it) and even some members who graduated out of Orientation tried to drop links in it (not indexable and nofollow). And the regular users and power users simply weren't using it much, and if they did there was hardly anything of value in there. So we deprecated that altogether. If anyone still wants to use this type of thing, consider your "user title" as an alternative spot. I'm not suggesting you put your mood and what song you're listening to in there, but maybe "Out of Office Until Saturday" if you need to broadcast anything to the builders.

- WHAT'S COMING -
Trader Rating System
This already exists, a lot of you have ratings, and your data is safe. We had a compatibility issue to sort out but it didn't warrant not going ahead and rolling out the update. We'll get the Trader Rating System live again ASAP. Maybe a matter of days, or a week or two tops.

Email Service Provider
Some of you have reported spotty email delivery. The reason for that has been our service provider indiscriminately assigns new users to random IP's who then immediately start blasting spam, getting the IP blacklisted. Apparently they'd rather spend all their time trying to clear their IP's than putting some protective measures in place. We'll be switching to another provider in the next few days which should entirely solve the problem. Thanks to our pals at SERPWoo for the recommendation.

Deals Exclusively for You
This one has been on the books for a long time, and we're going to start rolling forward on this hard. In the past, you'll remember that we've scored some exclusive coupons for the builders with some reputable companies. We want to keep doing this as a way to thank you guys, and collect them in one easy to find spot. Eventually you'll see a "Deals" tab launch at the top of the forum next to the Upgrades tab, that will contain an ever-growing list of exclusive coupons, discounts, & bonuses specifically for us. Some of these will provide us affiliate commissions and some won't, but we'll never toss something in there that we don't specifically endorse. We'll be doing the outreach for this, so it won't be willy-nilly.

- YOUR FEEDBACK -
A lot of these changes were informed by data, and we can't collect data on things that don't exist. Is there anything you feel is missing that would enhance your experience here on BuSo 2.0? Anything you particularly like or dislike with the new features or removed ones?

For instance, we had a set up arrows that would appear on the right side of the screen that you could click to magically zip to the bottom or top of the forum, but decided against using it. It got in the way on mobile and there's already a "jump to top" feature on mobile browsers, and scroll wheels on desktop cover that well too. But on tablets and laptops it might be good. Let me know!

I'm all ears and happy to entertain every idea. Just drop your thoughts in this thread and we'll discuss it with everyone.

Thanks again to every builder who posts once or regularly, every lurker validating our process, the vendors in the marketplace who help keep the lights on and give us great products and services to better our businesses, and especially to the moderators who tirelessly keep this place high quality and spam free.
 

The Engineer

Aegis Jaeger
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I forgot to mention:


You'll now find a link at the top of each thread that will jump you straight to the newest posts you haven't seen (although you'll be jumped there from the forum view or the New Posts page anyways). Also, these new posts will be indicated as such by the nifty blue icon at the top right of each post, as seen in the image above.
 
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Looks great, guys. The header design looks much better.
 
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The header is great, not sure I like the lack of lines between post rows and columns etc. Might take some getting used to
 

Calamari

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The header is great, not sure I like the lack of lines between post rows and columns etc. Might take some getting used to
Agreed. It could use a little more "visual division"?.
 

Potatoe

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First things first, huge thanks to everyone who has worked so hard on this community over the years.
I can only imagine there's so much more work that goes into a place like this than we see as users and I don't think if I've ever said how much I genuinely appreciate the effort.
It probabally feels like a thankless job at times, especially if the only time you hear from us is when there's an issue, but just know how much we appreciate your efforts. I think it's safe to speak for the majority on this one.

As for the new look... I'm a dissenter, I think it looks great and I love the cleaner appearance.
 

Ryuzaki

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The header is great, not sure I like the lack of lines between post rows and columns etc. Might take some getting used to
Agreed. It could use a little more "visual division"?.
You guys aren't the first to mention this. I tried to deal with it using white space but some lines definitely may be needed. I toyed with it before anyone brought it up and couldn't get it how I liked it, but all of you are validating my initial thoughts. I'll get this solved for us. Thanks for speaking up.
 
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I love everything about the new redesign except one annoying little thing: on mobile I have to click to open the menu before I can click "new posts" when before I could just click "new posts" in a single click.
 

Ryuzaki

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I love everything about the new redesign except one annoying little thing: on mobile I have to click to open the menu before I can click "new posts" when before I could just click "new posts" in a single click.
You can click the Lightning Bolt icon in the menu to jump right to new posts. It'll take you to "What's New" actually, populated only by posts. I know that was something we caught yesterday. We'll change that as a direct link to "New Posts" (this is now complete), but there's no difference for the time being.

Lightning Bolt:
You beat me by mere milliseconds. Wait, I just had this tab open and didn't see the "new posts have been added," which is also a nice feature. :D
 

Ryuzaki

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The header is great, not sure I like the lack of lines between post rows and columns etc. Might take some getting used to
Agreed. It could use a little more "visual division"?.
What do you guys think of it now? I tweaked it so that the entire post is encapsulated by a border, like a cartoon character speaking and his words appear in a bubble, except here it's your avatar talking. I mean on desktop only right now. I still have to tweak mobile.
 
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What do you guys think of it now? I tweaked it so that the entire post is encapsulated by a border, like a cartoon character speaking and his words appear in a bubble, except here it's your avatar talking. I mean on desktop only right now. I still have to tweak mobile.
Looks good! I think you might need some vertical column lines on post listings like the new posts search https://www.buildersociety.com/whats-new/posts/1283/ but the horizontal lines issue was the bigger one for me.
 
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What do you guys think of it now? I tweaked it so that the entire post is encapsulated by a border, like a cartoon character speaking and his words appear in a bubble, except here it's your avatar talking. I mean on desktop only right now. I still have to tweak mobile.
Looks great!
 

turbin3

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I like the improvements. Definitely a lot more streamlined, and noticeably faster and smoother functionality.

One thing I can think of is what @Darth and @Calamari mentioned. I do think it could help the reading flow, having a clearer separation between users' posts.

*Edited to add: Another thing that might help is more color contrast between the body background, .p-body-inner, the articles, .message-cell--user, and .message-cell--main. I feel like it might be a good idea to have slight color contrast between at least 1-2 of these areas. If the user column has one background color and the message is white, it's much easier to visually tune out the other stuff and just focus on the content.

Another might be floating the whole actionBar to the right. That way all the action buttons are in one place. In-browser, testing it, it seems to help focus the view on the content on the left. At least for me, when I scan a thread, I'm usually just looking at post dates and the content itself, so it's good those are on the left. I would guess most others do similar.

Coming from a background of moderating and managing forums, I understand just how much work goes into the backend of building and managing a site like this.

The fact that BuSo has managed to build, maintain, and grow a culture of quality like this is impressive and what keeps me coming back.
 
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Another might be floating the whole actionBar to the right.
I tried this and I agree that this looks nicer, just moving "Report" over with the others. It lets my eyes latch onto the content easier for some reason.

The new design is nice. The header is more convenient. The body where the posts are is sleeker, but not better or worse, just different. It looks like it's designed for professionals a bit more and for less casual conversation. That's probably a good thing.
 

The Engineer

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Thanks for all of the feedback, everyone. We've caught a few other places where things were weird cross-browser. Nobody told us the homepage sidebar was goofy on a couple browsers until just now. If you guys see anything that looks strange and not deliberate, please shoot us a screen shot, because if it doesn't look flawless, it's likely an accident that we want to fix.

Thanks to @Rageix for noticing a problem with hyperlink colors in some places, @CCarter & @Darth & @Calamari, & @stackcash for feedback on the visual separation on the posts, and @Steve Brownlie's partner Garrett for pointing out the sidebar issues. And thanks to @turbin3 for the advice on the actionBar, which I'm going to attempt to fix now.

It looks like things are nearing their final form for BuSo 2.0, unless anyone has any other feedback, advice, or error spotting.
 

shiftymcnab

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I’m not sure if it was something you had before.. but a back to top button would be very handy.. (unless I’m missing something )
 

The Engineer

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I’m not sure if it was something you had before.. but a back to top button would be very handy.. (unless I’m missing something )


Here you go, @shiftymcnab. Good catch, great suggestion. That was something that was in the previous version that we tried to do in another way and canned it, then forgot to add it back in. You'll find it in the footer menu on the bottom right after the last post & reply box.
 

The Engineer

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This thread got quiet, hopefully indicating everyone is satisfied with things the way they are now.

Two more changes have been made that should make the forum even faster:
  • We're on PHP 7 now
  • We're on HTTP/2 now
Finally, and unfortunately non-negotiable for us, is that we won't be bringing back the Trader Rating system. We've tested up and down, inside and out, working with the developers as well. It's simply not reliable. You do something once and do it the exact same way again and get different results. Importing old ratings was an absurd chore, although we did get it to work. But then porting all of that to the live site proved to be unpredictable again. It's simply not trust worthy, and the more we all invest into it, the sadder we'll be when the problems get compounded again later.

It was a nice feature but as we all agree, plugin dependency is bad anyways. Without it, we won't have any plugins installed, which is preferable.

Before I made this decision I consulted some of the marketplace vendors and they were neutral on it. If it was there they'd use it, if not then fine. "People get more details reading reviews in our threads," was the ultimate consensus.

With that being said, BuSo 2.0 is complete. Thanks again for making this place what it is. Without the posters, lurkers, readers, and moderators, [aka all of the Builders] there'd be no Builder Society.