New Beta Forums in Site News (non-forge) Posted March 9, 2015 I made an account to comment and offer critique on the beta forum design. To be straight to the point, the beta design as it stand is pretty terrible from a usability point-of-view. The main issue is the hierarchy of information and the non-intuitive buttons/hyperlinks. My eyes are drawn all over the page and it's hard to tell which information is "more important" than others. A few key examples are as follows: The red text used for hyperlinks and the "latest posts" listing on the main page stands out way too much. It draws your eye away from other more important info such as titles, and clashes with the standard, black, non-hyperlinked text. Compare this with the original forum and it's blue hyperlinks with underlines. You'll notice the colour blends well when embedded along black standard text but still appears distinct and is clearly clickable. The removal of column divider lines causes difficulty distinguishing between columns and muddles the design of the front page. Ironically, I suspect this design choice was intended to create a more "minimal" effect but has the unfortunate side effect of causing the overall design to be more convoluted. In an information-dense design such as a forum, keeping some level of column differentiation is critical to allow a viewer to quickly distinguish between the different sets of information. You can see how this was applied horizontally for each topic row. Divider lines are used to great effect in the current forum and are used in many other forums for good reason. They work. The titles and many other hyperlink text, aside from a mouse pointer change on roll-over, have no indication that they're clickable links. The current forum uses underlines, colour, and rollover changes to indicate that text is clickable vs. greyscale standard text. Removing or changing this visual system has serious practical consequences that will likely be a great source of frustration for your visitors. All in all, I can see how the designer has tried to make the beta forum design sleek and more minimal looking, but it unfortunately failed as a design for lack of some key usability concepts. I would strongly reconsider this design since there's no point making a webpage sleek, sexy, and minimal if it's a pain-in-the-ass to use. If I had the time, I'd offer further assistance, but as of now all I can offer is my critique and suggestions. Sorry if this sounded harsh or like I didn't appreciate the work put into the new design. I genuinely hope this helps because if I didn't care I wouldn't have commented. p.s. I use "minimal" in the loosest sense. It was best word I could think of to accurately describe what I thought the designer was trying to achieve.