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Organizing the forum channels

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    Organizing the forum channels

    Admittedly I don't post much here, but I read a ton and really value the community and the expertise from the Pit that the rest of the internet can't offer. Generally I just browse through "Recent Posts" and try to keep up with whatever's happening. This post is definitely not intended as a criticism, rather as constructive feedback.

    Any time I want to cook and I'm looking for something specific, I want to pull up recipes from the Pit (recipes and info from members, not from the free site). It's really hard to find the relevant forum/channel. If I click Home, I have to scroll through a number of things that I'm either not interested in, or that don't change all that often. It starts with "Featured Posts" which seem arbitrary in presentation. Then a series of other things that seem more like ads than content (Discounts and Deals, Sneak Peaks, Previews from Meathead's Next book which is tentatively coming in 2022 - it's currently 2020, not that anyone needs a reminder). Even Audio & Video, eBooks, and Meat-Ups appear ahead of the "Recipes, Technique, Food, Cooking" forum.

    Could the Pitmaster club categories get rearranged or could there be a condensed menu to easily browse these channels?

    Cheers to Meathead, all the moderators, and everyone who makes this place great.
    Last edited by jtw; October 21, 2020, 10:00 PM.

    #2
    raywjohnson

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    • raywjohnson
      raywjohnson commented
      Editing a comment
      Anything can be done. Just need the approval of the boss.

    #3
    I suppose I didn't have anything specific in mind - after all, it's not my site. But something like a Table of Contents for the various channels would help because there is a LOT of content on the main forum landing page...

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      #4
      There are a number of ways to do this, (that come to my mind ). Feel free to make other suggestions.

      Alphabetize the categories.
      Highlight the most used categories with a color change.
      Add a bullet of some type to the most used.
      Alphabetize with one of the above.

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        #5
        Put the cooking stuff first. It’s the part that matters most to the members.

        It’s tempting to organize it like one would organize an essay, or a book: larger topics encompassing specific topics. But the scope of the forum is kind of sprawling.

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          #6
          Two words: site map

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            #7
            Yes it could, but I am not the person to ask.

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              #8
              Originally posted by Mosca View Post
              Put the cooking stuff first. It’s the part that matters most to the members.

              It’s tempting to organize it like one would organize an essay, or a book: larger topics encompassing specific topics. But the scope of the forum is kind of sprawling.
              I agree. Both the Pit and the free side make it pretty hard to actually find recipes.

              Main issues with The Pit home page:
              1) There are too many top level sections.

              2) The content area is used for navigation. If anyone notes that there are too many items to fit across the top... yeah, that's because there are too many sections.

              3) There's little in the way of architecture here. Usually you want the stuff that you want people to see first at the top. But you have *cartoons* higher up the page than recipes.

              What I'd do:
              1) Eliminate Member List, Who's Online, My Membership from the top nav. Put the last one under my account in the upper right. Put the others in the footer.

              2) Add to the top nav: Recipes, Competition BBQ, Grills, Smokers etc

              3) Move Help & FAQs, Suggestion Box, Meet Our Team to the footer.

              4) Consolidate all of the media the two magazine links's the Deep Dive ebooks, Audio/Video, newsletter archives all under one Media item. Optionally, put the Deep Dive stuff with the sneak preview from Meathead s next book.

              5) Use the area where you have the section listing for actual content. This needs some experimentation, but I'd lean toward making this recent stuff - the current newsletter issue (NOT the archives), links to events, etc.You have a 10 item slider - pull out some of those on the page so they get exposure.

              PS: Consider making some top nav items in the above scenario dropdowns. So, have Recipes be a dropdown with, say, Beef, Pork, etc as menu items. Then, when someone taps Recipes they can tap Beef and go directly to the Beef Recipes.
              Last edited by rickgregory; October 22, 2020, 12:00 PM.

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                #9
                Thanks for the suggestions. A year or two back RayJ & I spent a good deal of time condensing the main Home page to what it is now, which was a HUGE improvement to what it used to be. I realize now, as we did then, that it's still not perfect.

                The order of the Channels on the Home page as they are now are by Meathead's request, with my input. We want to be best suited to new members. The first things new members, especially those unfamiliar with forums (and if you seen our Contact Us emails, you'd be quite surprised how many just don't understand how forums work and are asking for help with basics) to have in front of them is Help, FAQs and such. Once members are familiar and are here to chat and share and other things, then they know to scroll down a bit to find Food, or Cookers. That was our thinking in the beginning. If we tailor this to experienced members, then we're not welcoming to new members and we won't grow.

                That doesn't mean I don't agree with the above sentiments from y'all that it needs cleaned up and refreshed. I do. It does.

                I will work on some ways to decrease some more clutter and perhaps we can kill three birds with one stone. But please be aware, this is vBulletin, this is not an HTML website. We can't just build drop-downs everywhere and make it smooth crisp and seamless like a modern website. We are limited to how this vehicle that we're in operates. It's a Jeep and we want the ride of a Lexus.

                But we can do better and we'll get on it!

                (Edit: there are big changes on the horizon for the public side of AmazingRibs.com in the next couple months as we switch CMS from Drupal to Wordpress. We'll be able to improve it a lot, some visible immediately, some just functional. Lots of focus and manpower going there at the moment).

                Comment


                • rickgregory
                  rickgregory commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I still think you have far too many items on the home page and it's not at all apparent why they're organized the way they are. You could have a Help/Orientation/How to Use section at the top but again, you have CARTOONS above the Recipes.

                  And I can't imagine even new people care about the member list or who's online but you put those in the main nav.

                  I'd be happy to do a quick wireframe to make what I'm saying concrete. If you want, email me (or PM me here).

                • Huskee
                  Huskee commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thanks Rick, I hope I've expressed in my words above that I agree with you. There is more we can do to improve this and I'll bring it up at my next meeting w/ Meathead. He usually lets me handle this place but sometimes he has specific things he wants. rickgregory

                #10
                I tend to do a search on the food I want, then scroll through the results until I find the recipe. Not the quickest, but it works. Plus, on the recommendation of several of our peeps, I installed Paprika as a recipe organizer and I copy recipes I use a lot into it. It is a great program.

                https://www.paprikaapp.com/

                Comment


                • glitchy
                  glitchy commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Just FYI, you do do seem to be able to download from the forum to, if you click the post number, it gives you a URL to that post that you can open in the Paprika browser and download. I haven't done extensive testing, so don't know how it will behave when that post is in the middle of a page or if other recipes are posted in subsequent threads on the same page, but I just imported Huskee's Original Shawsh by only hitting the download button.

                • klflowers
                  klflowers commented
                  Editing a comment
                  glitchy, thanks. I hadn't thought to try that.

                • JimLinebarger
                  JimLinebarger commented
                  Editing a comment
                  @kflowers glitchy Paprika will download from the site even if the recipe is in the middle of the page. I have not had any issues with doing it. I tend to massage it a little to make it more presentable/printable in Paprika, but I do that with every site I download from.

                #11
                Alphabetize the channel listings, alphabetize the channel listings, alphabetize....

                Comment


                • Huskee
                  Huskee commented
                  Editing a comment
                  fkrall But alpha isn't as cut and dry as one might think. Is it "Food"? Is it "Recipes"? Is it "Cooking"? Is it "Food, Recipes, Cooking", or "Recipes, Cooking, Food"..Is it "Media" or "Magazines" or "Videos" or "Audio/Video" so is it at the front middle of end of the alpha listing? Hmm.

                • fkrall
                  fkrall commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Huskee--A point well taken I didn't consider! Academic as I write this, so I'll happily give the new order a go and focus on more critical things, like how do I reply to a post as I'm doing now and present the originator's screen name in red? I'll check the Help page, if I can find it!

                • fkrall
                  fkrall commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Huskee --Easier than I thought. I'm a convert!
                  Last edited by fkrall; October 27, 2020, 06:34 AM. Reason: Left a space after "Huskee" to see if that worked

                #12
                I agree, lot's of scrolling to get the good stuff down below. Is there any way to order the channels by the most-posted on and viewed?

                Comment


                  #13
                  Some great ideas here. Thanks! We will move the Recipes closer to the top ASAP. Meanwhile, I have taken your ideas and just sent a list of proposed changes to the moderators for feedback.

                  As you can imagine, we think about these things. A lot. We are well aware of the navigation issues. If we weren't you told us in the member survey. It took us a while to analyze the survey data but it taught us a lot. I am working on a summary of the survey to share with you.

                  We face several problems:

                  What one person finds important, others do not. One of you suggested making Competion BBQ more prominent. The survey told us very few of you are interested in that.

                  The member survey also told us that many of you don't know about the features we have for you. A few people said they didn't know about Hot From The Pit or BBQ News or Happy Hours. A few didn't know about the Meat-Up In Memphis! This tells me we need to make some things MORE obvious, not less obvious by hiding them. No way are we moving Help and FAQ down! It contains so much vital info on how this forum works that is especially helpful to newcomers.

                  Last time we rearranged the Channels we got some flack that people couldn't find stuff. Remember how pissed you were the last time the drug store rearranged its shelves?

                  This is a forum, not a normal website. YOU run it. If you post a bacon recipe in Show Us What You're Cooking rather than in the Bacon section, we can't control that.

                  We can't test your recipes or rate them.

                  Discounts And Deals are not ads. We try hard to get companies to make you special prices. We are NOT paid for this.

                  As for a table of contents or site map, that is exactly what we are trying to do with the Channels page. It IS a top level map of what is here.

                  The biggest problem we face is communicating with members. Only half of you read Hot From The Pit! How do we tell you about new stuff or other important news?

                  The free site is undergoing a complete rebuild from bottom up. We are ditching Drupal after spending about $300,000 building it and moving to WordPress. The new site will launch before the end of the year (I hope) and navigation is MUCH improved.
                  Last edited by Meathead; October 24, 2020, 07:59 AM.

                  Comment


                  • rickgregory
                    rickgregory commented
                    Editing a comment
                    "...We are ditching Drupal after spending about $300,000 building it and moving to WordPress..."

                    Aww, I wanted to bid that* I do WordPress dev.

                    *kind of not serious, kind of .

                  #14
                  Your wish is my command. I have made the following changes to the Channels page today. More to come.

                  I have shortened the text under each channel so there will be less scrolling.

                  Recipes has moved up the page a lot, it is followed by Beverages, Grills And Smokers, Fuels, andAccessories. We will also add Recipes to the tab bar at the top soon.

                  There is a new top level channel: Free Books And Magazines. Click on it and you will find these former top level channels: Previews from Meathead’s, Free Deep Dive Guides, Barbecue News, Cartoons, “Hot From The Pit” Newsletter Archives, and Tailgater.

                  I have fiddled with the order of the channels. Thy are not in alphabetic order, but the are in order of importance and popularity. I have changed a few names to make them more definitive.

                  Minor other polishing.

                  Comment


                  • Attjack
                    Attjack commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Sounds great. I'm going to go check it out now.

                  • Attjack
                    Attjack commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yeah, that's MUCH better.

                  • Stuey1515
                    Stuey1515 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yep definitely an improvement there, thanks MH

                  #15
                  We have added Recipes and Announcements to the tab bar.

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