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Hey all,

It's been a while since I've been active on here. I'll keep this short. From a UI/UX designers perspective. I feel that with the major changes of other social platforms and even competing forum based software, the result is that IPS is behind in times. Facebook/Instagram and other major platforms are designed as a mobile first approach whereas IPS is simply "mobile friendly"

My suggestion is to take an approach towards mobile first for the front-end/default theme. Take a look at a few well designed ones such as: https://discuss.flarum.org/ or https://community.nodebb.org/ or https://meta.discourse.org/ - I am not a fan of the software, but you have to admit (especially Flarum) the browsing experience and features from a front-end perspective are nice. There's a reason why "Reddit" is so popular/intuitive to use. It's designed well regardless of the browsing experience.

The mobile approach that they have just makes the overall experience better. Conventional forums are dying out sadly because they're not keeping up with the mobile trends. More and more people are prioritizing phones than even tablets and desktops combined. This has hurt IPS I'm sure and I'm surprised that this hasn't been addressed in any of the 4.x releases as of yet. It's been 5 years and no big changes in the browsing experience in front-end with it not being much more mobile friendly than it was before then.

Taking this approach will allow larger communities to offer application frameworks like ionic to wrap their site, upload it to Android/iOS for download use to extend their audience while not increasing the work footprint that they need.

Are there any plans in the near future to take a mobile first approach, or are we at the mercy of just theme developers to bring this to fruition?

 

 

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We appreciate the feedback, exchange of ideas and overall dialogue. I believe the original question has been addressed and this topic has run its course and we're just heading downhill at this point.

Just a little clarification regarding my comments about our site's desktop/mobile split (taken from GA), it wasn't meant to demonstrate that mobile isn't important or we don't realise that for a good

We're working on dedicated mobile apps to be released this year. We definitely are thinking mobile first (although stats on our site show a 70%/30% split for desktop versus mobile).  There is som

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We're working on dedicated mobile apps to be released this year. We definitely are thinking mobile first (although stats on our site show a 70%/30% split for desktop versus mobile). 

There is some friction in that existing customers pick us because of our interface and the way our UI works, and flipping it completely to something new and different (in terms of removing strong category and forum separation like discourse does) will likely result in a strong push back.

That said, we are taking steps to improving the UI for 4.5.

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4 hours ago, Matt said:

(although stats on our site show a 70%/30% split for desktop versus mobile)

Is there some way to collect data across the whole community (either CitC users, or aggregated CitC + Self-hosted) for those who opt-in?

I would think the community site for the developers of the software might trend differently than the general users of the software on our communities using the software. I'm now well beyond 50% mobile (last I checked it was mid 60s and grows a bit every year). 

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I like Morgins idea. Using this site as your basis behind UI improvements isn’t the way to look at it in my opinion. Since this is community based software, I would ask the community. 
 

I think flarum has a lot of nifty ideas that are simply front-end specific and won’t affect the overall functionality of the software, but at least makes the site much more mobile friendly.

I understand the pushback, I definitely wouldn’t want to sacrifice some features just for better mobile support, but there does need to be a balance and there needs to be a better approach. I’m only asking for better UI in mobile formats. Tablet and desktop versions work fine.

I wouldn’t mind sitting down with you guys and go over some simple fixes for the UI that would mostly be just some retheming that won’t affect the back end all too much.

This is what I do for a living. I work with Radiologists m, technologists and other providers all day. And a huge portion if that day is how to better offer quicker, streamlined care for our patients. Eg. Trying to get a report dictated or ready to go with the study at hand and comparable imaging as quickly and efficiently as possible and in the fewest amount of clicks. 
 

I think the overall viewing experience on a phone is workable. You’re just missing some dedicated polish or dedicated features to take mobile to the next level.

Here is another small problem. Your SEO has fell off hard. If you do a google search and look for “best forum software” you’ll find that IPS isn’t even on the list on searches. While some links may mention you in the article....You’ll find that other forum software are listed in the actual results. Such as vanilla forums. 
 

I want to say that SEO with IPS has always been an are of concern since 4.0

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I invested heavily in Discourse a few years back  and loved the platform at first. But they made some mobile first design decisions that disenfranchised the needs of those who needed a richer experience. Same too wth Node IIRC. I've not much experience with Flarum other than watching it develop over the years.

With Discourse I felt they had a fabulous platform, until that is, they decided to cut a few desktop friendly features in pursuit of a more mobile optimised design. For example, they used to show continuation arrows, allowing linked threads to be traversed with ease - seen here: 

image.thumb.png.69f08ac253894335228210048c258dcc.png

There's no doubting that the removal of these arrows made for a more streamlined mobile experience - but, it sacrificed functionality that drove the likes of me and others away. Not questioning Discourse, or its owners as the platform has clearly been successful. But it raises the issue of how you go about serving in parallel two very different masters - desktop and mobile. Discourse hasn't managed it as the rich desktop experience we enjoy here is totallly missing -  instead replaced with a linked list of nodes that invite chat, but in my view, don't invite the richer , deeper experience of IPS: Clubs, in depth profiles etc.

As an aside I believe Discourse's pages still sit on top of client side Ember JS, which gives it that instant update experience. Be nice to see something similar here on IPS (with a documented client side API) which I believe would transform the front end theme building experience. Part of a bigger discussion perhaps, but I wanted to raise a potential red flag about how to approach supporting different types of devices without one or more being sacrificed in support of the other.

Edited by christopher-w
typo
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4 hours ago, Morgin said:

I would think the community site for the developers of the software might trend differently than the general users of the software on our communities using the software.

Absolutely. This site, notably visited by individuals developing communities, will be disproportionately skewed toward the desktop side. The subject matter and audience will be large factors into that split. Our community is at 85-90% mobile.

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7 minutes ago, Paul E. said:

Absolutely. This site, notably visited by individuals developing communities, will be disproportionately skewed toward the desktop side. The subject matter and audience will be large factors into that split. Our community is at 85-90% mobile.

Show us the stats proof on that and let us know what type of subject your site is about please. Considering millions of people a day across the globe sit at work on a desktop I find those numbers skewed.

Also, according to ISP's we see a mobile usage of anywhere from 52 to 56% are mobile users. Some claim as high as 60% not very many however. Again, show us the numbers.

Edited by DesignzShop
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14 minutes ago, DesignzShop said:

Show us the stats proof on that and let us know what type of subject your site is about please. Considering millions of people a day across the globe sit at work on a desktop I find those numbers skewed.

Also, according to ISP's we see a mobile usage of anywhere from 52 to 56% are mobile users. Some claim as high as 60% not very many however. Again, show us the numbers.

This is dependent on the community.

Here is mine: 

Mind you that iOS and Linux are iPhone & Android devices. So desktops are only 17% of the browsing experience.... which our site is mostly forum based other than advertisements.

iOS - 47%~
Android: 35%~
Desktop: 17%~

iOS 69,478 46.8 % 1,751,994 48.5 %
linux.png Linux 52,234 35.2 % 1,215,993 33.6 %
win.png Windows 15,242 10.2 % 373,879 10.3 %
mac.png Macintosh 10,458 7 % 251,400 6.9 %

 

 

1 hour ago, christopher-w said:

I invested heavily in Discourse a few years back  and loved the platform at first. But they made some mobile first design decisions that disenfranchised the needs of those who needed a richer experience. Same too wth Node IIRC. I've not much experience with Flarum other than watching it develop over the years.

With Discourse I felt they had a fabulous platform, until that is, they decided to cut a few desktop friendly features in pursuit of a more mobile optimised design. For example, they used to show continuation arrows, allowing linked threads to be travered with ease - seen here: 

image.thumb.png.69f08ac253894335228210048c258dcc.png

There's no doubting that the removal of these arrows made for a more streamlined mobile experience - but, it sacrificed functionality that drove the likes of me and others away. Not questioning Discourse, or its owners as the platform has clearly been successful. But it raises the issue of how you go about serving in parallel two very different masters - desktop and mobile. Discourse hasn't managed it as the rich desktop experience we enjoy here is totallly missing -  instead replaced with a linked list of nodes that invite chat, but in my view, don't invite the richer , deeper experience of IPS: Clubs, in depth profiles etc.

As an aside I believe Discourse's pages still sit on top of client side Ember JS, which gives it that instant update experience. Be nice to see something similar here on IPS (with a documented client side API) which I believe would transform the front end theme building experience. Part of a bigger discussion perhaps, but I wanted to raise a potential red flag about how to approach supporting different types of devices without one or more being sacrificed in support of the other.

Yes, that is the point I was trying to make. There has to be a balance. There's no reason that IPS can't introduce some mobile first approaches while still catering to the desktop crowd. It's mobile first for the experience, but just because you use a desktop or even a tablet, doesn't mean you can't still offer a good browsing experience.

Sadly, while I love the idea that they used their own proprietary frameworks, I honestly think that was a bad move. It is clear that since 3.8 (when I came about) developers are far and few between and I don't blame them. I didn't want to learn yet another framework and if you need assistance and want to hire another freelancer from say a freelancer website, you won't find a single person that can do it and even less interest to learn it. We're at the mercy here of just a select few... and out of those select few, there's a couple I wouldn't want to give money towards.

Finally, while I might still use IPS for my own personal communities, I can no longer keep recommending IPS to clients. There's just not enough benefit nor do I feel that IPS's vision is in the same direct path that most consumers are making & the choice to use proprietary frameworks only hurts the development crowd which in turn hurts the client base. I'm still going to be around here and I will always advise and hope for the best, but we're just not and we're not FAR off from being the best. Just takes a bit of ingenuity and acceptance that some resources, while not unique, but are a better decision in the long haul for your clients than something out of your own hat.

Just my 0.02c for what it's worth.

 

 

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Car dealerships, hospitals, gaming sites, Walmart, Target, Grocery stores, any retailers, Apple, Microsoft, Musicians Friend, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, dating sites... and blah blah blah.. ALL major sites use 2-3 layouts. Desktop, tablet and mobile... So no, vanilla and mobile is not the only solution or answer.... 

As a matter of fact, IPB is doing this exactly correct. Unfortunately, some minority mobile users are pushing/exaggerating numbers at IPB in a way that shouldn't be because there about me, me, me, me, me and might in the end just be shooting themselves in the foot.

Besides all this, millions a people a day across the globe sit at work on a desktop and that will never change. NEVER... People will revolt if anyone thinks someone wants to look at a plain vanilla white screen all day that repetitiously regurgitates text with minimal options only.

Lastly, IPB is NOT just forum software. IPB is NOT free software and so it offers more options to the end user. Also, IPB doesn't take years for product updates and put you at the mercy of free offerings and non-paid staff, no, you get more and you get better support and software updates. 

Besides this let's just ask why some of this software is so popular, could it be because it's FREE? Let's ask ourselves why it's vanilla, could it be because it's FREE??

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34 minutes ago, DesignzShop said:

Show us the stats proof on that and let us know what type of subject your site is about please

I don't disclose specifics about our sites here, yet I assure you I'm not misrepresenting our metrics. 

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2 minutes ago, Paul E. said:

I don't disclose specifics about our sites here, yet I assure you I'm not misrepresenting our metrics. 

No proof, no go.. Don't spout off something like that you can't back up. Anyone can make a exaggerated number up.

Edited by DesignzShop
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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, DesignzShop said:

Car dealerships, hospitals, gaming sites, Walmart, Target, Grocery stores, any retailers, Apple, Microsoft, Musicians Friend, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, dating sites... and blah blah blah.. ALL major sites use 2-3 layouts. Desktop, tablet and mobile... So no, vanilla and mobile is not the only solution or answer.... 

As a matter of fact, IPB is doing this exactly correct. Unfortunately, some minority mobile users are pushing/exaggerating numbers at IPB in a way that shouldn't be because there about me, me, me, me, me and might in the end just be shooting themselves in the foot.

Besides all this, millions a people a day across the globe sit at work on a desktop and that will never change. NEVER... People will revolt if anyone thinks someone wants to look at a plain vanilla white screen all day that repetitiously regurgitates text with minimal options only.

Lastly, IPB is NOT just forum software. IPB is NOT free software and so it offers more options to the end user. Also, IPB doesn't take years for product updates and put you at the mercy of free offerings and non-paid staff, no, you get more and you get better support and software updates. 

Besides this let's just ask why some of this software is so popular, could it be because it's FREE? Let's ask ourselves why it's vanilla, could it be because it's FREE??

Car dealership sites are a pain, intentionally. To bring you into the dealership - Sorry, but I can't agree with that. Also, they all use the same CMS which... guess what? Isn't mobile first! Gasp.


Also, Walmart, Target, and a few other sites... have been proven that mobile apps are used more. Also, it's been proven that people frequenting their site, are also more mobile than Desktop (though people still visit more often because of desktop... eg they're at work browsing and service isn't as good)

When I said vanilla, I meant "stock".

As someone who has used dating sites in the past and have helped build them... I assure you, applications are more heavily used than the websites. In fact everything is being pushed towards mobile first... so why fight it? I understand the argument there are things I still want out of desktop, but desktops are more and more becoming used as WORK devices and not Social engagement, social experiences or general activities. So again, why fight it? If you wanted proof, provide your own that I'm wrong on this, because I know I'm not.

For something to be 'paid' - I expect specific things and that is why I don't recommend anymore. It's not a mobile first approach which is what the MAJORITY is going for. You won't those answers here, because this isn't the market for it. But again, statistically and for MOST services/engagement - mobile is taken as a priority. 

Edit: Since the copy/paste didn't go to well, here's an actual screenshot of one specific site. I have at least 13 more that are all powered by IPS only.

Edit 2: For Windows/Macintosh - over 93% was laptop/macbook - 7% was desktop only. Want proof of those too?

Capture.thumb.PNG.e0ed544181c5e82d8b1f8b1b6ecdc689.PNG

Edited by Dylan Riggs
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2 minutes ago, DesignzShop said:

No proof, no go.. Don't spout off something like that you can't back up.

I think you might have me confused for another poster in this thread, or mistakenly believe that I'm engaged in a debate with you.

I'm, in good faith, providing generalized insight into our properties. I'm sorry that I cannot provide proprietary and confidential data on a public forum to you.

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I didn't say anywhere desktop was used more than mobile, as a matter of fact, from what I said above it is used more. I look at ISP proof, not individual websites. Individual websites due to subject matter can skew what's really being used. What I am saying is don't make the software vanilla for the sake of mobile use. Simple.

4 minutes ago, Paul E. said:

I think you might have me confused for another poster in this thread, or mistakenly believe that I'm engaged in a debate with you.

I'm, in good faith, providing generalized insight into our properties. I'm sorry that I cannot provide proprietary and confidential data on a public forum to you.

I know exactly who said what, you opted to provide stats that are well above the average for most any site in regards to mobile usage. I don't care about good faith. You can lie like anyone else to get what you want. I seen it before here. until you provide proof, you're on the sidelines for credibility. And no, I don't care to debate that.

Edited by DesignzShop
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1 minute ago, DesignzShop said:

I didn't say anywhere desktop was used more than mobile, as a matter of fact, from what I said above it is used more. I look at ISP proof, not individual websites. Individual websites due to subject matter can skew what's really being used. What I am saying is don't make the software vanilla for the sake of mobile use. Simple.

So show me the ISP proof - If you think Desktops outnumber mobile devices/tablets - I think you must be looking back about 15 years.

Here - This was first link on google. Didn't even check the integrity of this article, but even the first link tells you that mobile is most heavily used: https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/mobile-desktop-internet-usage-statistics

I'm sorry to bust your chops, but IPS is simply niche community software. You will only want to purchase this for SPECIFIC uses only and that's it. You don't purchase IPS if you want the best social engagement. You will want to push your client base and your business model to one that is working the best (Facebook) that's just how business goes.

I don't want IPS to make IPS a basic piece. I want a balance, this balance can already be achieved and it just isn't. I don't want features removed, I want support across each spectrum. We're on the same page for what we want out of IPS. However, no one can disagree that it's falling behind times and is becoming niche based software.

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6 minutes ago, Dylan Riggs said:

So show me the ISP proof - If you think Desktops outnumber mobile devices/tablets - I think you must be looking back about 15 years.

Did you just not read what I said? Let me repeat that for you.

 

6 minutes ago, Dylan Riggs said:

I didn't say anywhere desktop was used more than mobile, as a matter of fact, from what I said above it is used more

https://www.perficientdigital.com/insights/our-research/mobile-vs-desktop-usage-study

https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/mobile-desktop-internet-usage-statistics

For goodness sake Dylan, look it up! I show you the proof of what I said.. 

What I'm referring to is out there many many times over, however, private site data is not.

Edited by DesignzShop
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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, DesignzShop said:

Did you just not read what I said? Let me repeat that for you.

 

 

I don't think we're on the same page here or you don't understand what I'm trying to say. Apologies.

You said this: Car dealerships, hospitals, gaming sites, Walmart, Target, Grocery stores, any retailers, Apple, Microsoft, Musicians Friend, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, dating sites... and blah blah blah.. ALL major sites use 2-3 layouts. Desktop, tablet and mobile... So no, vanilla and mobile is not the only solution or answer.... 

Yes, that is very true, you're right that they do. Here's the kicker that I'm trying to say. They put more emphasis on the mobile design portion first eg... mobile first approach, no where did I say to leave out desktop. Anyways so that the browsing experience works great on what their users use the most... mobile devices. Big companies like amazon/all of the other big ones have the logistical support to make EACH browsing experience work perfectly.

I can assure you that OKCUPID and POF.com dating sites perform, look better and have had more time spent on in mobile form than desktop.

IPS is the opposite. Mobile is not necessarily left out, but it's just made responsive and doesn't have a focus, again... balance.

Hope that makes sense.

Edited by Dylan Riggs
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5 minutes ago, DesignzShop said:

I know exactly who said what, you opted to provide stats that are well above the average for most any site in regards to mobile usage. I don't care about good faith. You can lie like anyone else to get what you want. I seen it before here. until you provide proof, you're on the sidelines for credibility.

I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help to you and wish you the best. I'm honestly not sure what "ISP proof" is in the context of your posts. I'm providing average metrics from our analytics solution, Google Analytics for our particular Invision properties.

Different communities will attract different classifications of users. A community site that deals with things like web site theme development, or programming, or business-to-business solutions will likely attract more individuals who typically browse the internet via a desktop machine by virtue of their job or profession or comfort and skill set. That's simply not the case for other classifications of communities using Invision software.

It's beneficial that we as peers in this community recognize that our use cases and our target audiences may be different from others as we provide support to each other, and that Invision as the vendor, recognize that their product is used in very different ways as well.

Myself? Desktop all day. My end users? Not so much.

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BTW - I use Andriod and think IPB looks better than most sites I see in Android. I use a Samsung Galaxy s10 btw. I will further say, I love IPB in my phone. That's exactly why I can't understand what the issue is. Yo do not need a mobile app to use IPB. You don't need to download anything or put more crap on your phone. IPB done this right. Just my opinion.

Edited by DesignzShop
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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, DesignzShop said:

When you start mentioning Vanilla, Discourse, Flarum etc... That's not the way IPB needs to go imo. IPB is much more than that and deserves more. Stripping it down to vanilla is not the answer.

Again, vanilla is not the forum solution I am talking about. I'm talking about IPS out of the box, with no modifications/themes etc.

You have to understand that Discourse/Flarum are mobile first approaches, but Flarum is not even a released software and IPS has been around for how long? At least 15 years, right? All I'm trying to tell you is, IPS needs to put more emphasis at making Mobile more of a game player when most of the entire WEB is mobile instead of focusing specifically for desktop use and supporting mobile, but not making an emphasis. 

The end goal is to provide the feature set IPS provides, but also making it much more intuitive to use on mobile. You're in the minority if you think IPS works "perfectly fine" on mobile. There MANY improvements to be had, I can tell you that.

If you can't agree with that, then that's fine. I have nothing more to add. 

Edited by Dylan Riggs
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