Also, I know that the more prevalant Twitter icon around the internet is this guy:
Been finalizing one of the last sections of the website ... the "articles" section. Basically articles are going to be handled in a completely different way on the new website. Instead of just posting things in the forums -- like we've done in the past, which is kinda weird because it's just duplicating a post really. The news post and the "article" post are basically the same. I figured that we should have a separate way of doing "articles" and features. Something that allows more flexibility. Full on custom HTML if needed, extra info, the works. Besides another pass at the search features on the new website (they're way better than before, but still need another look) - this was the last section that needed to be "created" for the new website. It was the last portion that I hadn't touched or fixed up yet. So, it's nice to be closing in on that being done.
I'm just adding 140 characters of text here so that the ugly image tag doesn't show up in my twitter feed when this gets imported into it ... hmmm, I think I'm close to the limit, right? Yeah, gotta be over the limit by now ... righhhht?
I'm looking forward to giving news articles the love they deserve. With a fresh, clean, completely updated look. We'll have all the information you want directly in the news article, which means: no more putting videos in the replies, no more searching around for all the information you want. It'll just be there.
One of the nice things about having staff playing around with the new website with me - is that it allows me to see what works and doesn't work when using stuff around the site as I would if it were actually live. When you're just testing stuff out yourself, you can't really get a good feel for how quickly you can move around the website (or not). I've already got a bunch of notes for things to change in threads, homepage, profiles, things like that - that just didn't work quite as well as I had envisioned once multiple people were using the site at once. I also learned that the PM system was great in the new "threaded" mode - but it wasn't giving me enough definition between the two parties. So after some re-working we came up with a better solution ... and something that can be used a few other places on the site as well.
The very first staff members have been given access to some of the new AP.net this morning. Literally the first people besides me to play around with anything and get a feel of what the new website is going to be. Pre-beta launch even. It's a bittersweet moment for me. Like pulling back the curtain on something that has been almost 2 years of labor. My brain saying: PLEASE FUCKING LIKE IT, holy shit, PLEASE LIKE IT.
I had a weird realization earlier today. This is the website I see running in its new form - or slight variations (always going to have to upgrade in some way) for maybe 10 more years. It's built to be easy to build on to - easy to change little things. However, in 10 years I'll be almost 40. Ugh, that scares me by itself ... however, there's a good chance this is the last version of AP.net I design. That this is the last version of the website I started in my parent's basement .... that I myself create.
Sorry I haven't posted updates on the new website in my blog for a while, the site is finally on a live dev server and I've been tweaking it all to make sure it works in its new environment. Not only that, but I can finally make a bunch of other little updates I have been meaning to do but needed it "up" before I could: like friendly URLS for news articles and reviews and all that. Sooo, swamped at the moment.
The last section of the member profile I haven't posted about yet is the "image" tab. It's a place where you can upload your own galleries, and pictures, and it will also hold any of the "official" images you've uploaded. For example if you upload a desktop wallpaper that gets approved for our official gallery, it'll show up in your profile gallery and on the main one.
Back to the new AP.net member profiles. The next tab to explore is the "blog" tab. Seeing as you're reading my blog, this is probably of some interest to you. The blogs still have their own "section" of the website, where you can browse through people's blogs and all that ... however, for almost all intents and purposes: the blog section is brand new. There's not a single line of code in the new version that exists in the old. There's a few reasons for that, the main being that it was time to give them the features they deserved.
One of the things I thought long and hard (that's what she said) about, was what the blogs were to the website. With things like Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter ... what did our blogs bring to the website? For me I see them as a place for people to share things with our community that they don't have another place to do. If you don't want to create a thread about something, you can blog about it. It works great for staff wanting to write articles. It works great for guest blogs that we can push to the main page as news articles. It works great for features. It works for people who spend a lot of time in our forums and want to broadcast recommendations to all their followers on AP.net. It's not a full fledged blogging platforum like wordpress or tumblr ... but I think the niche exists and they do serve a pretty important purpose on the website (we have over a thousand of them on the site). Sooo, I wanted them to have the features that could live up to this. I wanted when someone posts a blog to be able to let people know better. So, it'll get pushed to the friend feed, the personal feed, and there are individual RSS feeds as well (for importing to other blogs platforms if you'd like). I wanted people to be able to treat them like a thread or news post: so if you post in one it gets added to your "followed threads" panel, if you're quoted it gets added to your "who quoted me" section, if you want to have email notification of new replies: you can do that, quick reply works, mult-quote works, adding attachments works, inline auto-embed of media works: the whole nine.
I added a quick blog feature for the owner of each blog up at the top:
Sometimes you just have something you quickly want to blog about and you don't need a full page to do it. Of course, sometimes you do want to use the full post a blog page: so it got revamped as well. It looks almost identical to the new posting page I showed earlier. You can add actual attachments like you can in posts - not just the stupid tinypic upload garbage we have now.
The blog posts on the page are kept extremely simple. Clean and basic.
Hovering over the blog entry gives you a few more options:
So that, just like the news articles, you can quickly share a blog you enjoyed reading. A more full image of the blog section can be seen here.
What does the inside of a blog look like? Wellllllll, it looks very similar to what the inside of content pages are going to look like (news posts, reviews, interviews, etc.) ... and it has a very similar side-bar to all threads. Actually, it looks identical to this.
That's the first time I've shared any of the content pages (because they're still being worked on actually). So, feel special.
You can quickly see the title, quickly return to the blog if you'd like, quickly view the author's profile, share the blog on twitter/facebook/email, and the tools menu is just like on threads: post a reply, follow the thread, view last post, and see who's posted in the thread. The user's rank badge is viewable if they have one (red = staff), the user's profile pic is hanging out, as well as some stats like how many people are following this user, how many people have viewed this particular blog, how many replies there are on this blog entry, and how many blogs in all the user has written.
I check release dates so many times during the day. To see when something is coming out, to see if it's in our database, to make sure we've got features and whatnot prepared for popular releases. In the new website, I wrote the database from the ground up. I wrote it to be something I would want to use. With that I built some cool tools into it so that I can pull what the most popular releases for the week are to highlight, predict the most popular releases of the month for our community beforehand to make sure we have features and exclusives scheduled, and things like that. I'll post some screen caps up for the new section in a few days. Right now I'm working on a behind the scenes tool for staffers that acts as a bookmarklet for quickly seeing if a release date is in our database. That way they can either get the info, edit it if new info comes up, or add it if it's not in out database. I can't tell you how many times I am going to use this on a daily basis.
Welp, just felt like sharing ... this is the kind of thing non-staffers never get to see.
More information on the release date section in an upcoming update. It's going to be invaluable.
Back to the profiles! Wooooooo. The "wall" tab of the new profiles are a place to leave public messages to people. You know the drill. We've got it on the current site, and it's getting a little upgrade for the new site:
Mainly some quick reply action to leave a message and then you can easily reply to them.
Sometimes you wanna send PMs. Sometimes you want it to be public. This is the public way.
I think the "member profiles" were the second most requested part of the new website people wanted to see. Because there's a lot to take in ... I'm going to do it in batches. We'll start with the main part of the profile, and then move through the tabs.
The main part utilizes the same look as the "friend feed" I talked about below. It's what the user is doing on the website. So you can quickly see if they posted an album review, blog, started a thread, things like that. My feed is currently dominated with bands I have been following as I test the website. So that's why it looks like this:
The modules on the right give you all the information about the user. A picture (clicking gives you a larger view), tools to follow or block the user, and a quick way to send them a PM. Stats and quick info is below that. And then a randomized quick list of who the user is following around the website + an option to view all.
The feed itself can be filtered and customized. And if the user has added in their twitter or last.fm name - you can actually filter their latest tweets or "recently played" tracks right into the profile as well.
Clicking one filters the entire feed to show just that ... for example; only blog stories.
... I'll move to the next tabs in my next updates, but as you can see there are options for the "Wall" (leaving public comments for users), more info (like the current profile), and then the user's blog and their images. Those are both pretty much ground-up redone.
Ok, after reading the comments below - I have a good idea of what my faithful blog readers want to see in regard to the new website. I know the forums were really popular, which makes sense -- if you signed up for an account and are posting in my blog, odds are you're a pretty consistant member and probably hang out in the forums. So, let's talk forums. First of all, I'm going to do this a little different. Instead of putting images inline, I'm going to just link to them and then talk about the image. This way I can include more. Pictures say more than words. Or whatever that saying is ... so, yeah.
Note: There are some options in these screen shots that are from a staff member's point of view. So there are a few additional options that may not be available to the "regular" member that's viewing the forums.
First up is just the basic forum view. What I tried to do is clean up what we already have. It's not dramatically different than what you're used to seeing. It's just ... well, cleaner and has a facelift.
Viewing a forum
Some of the changes are based on a conversation I had with users a few months ago in the forums. For one, under the thread is a preview of what's in it ... and if you hover over the thread you get who posted it. This is reversed from how it is on the website now. Also, instead of bolding/unbolding threads with "new" posts in them, there will be a green dot in front of "new" threads. This is how it is on the mobile website, and I think it works better aesthetically. Clicking the green dot will take you to the first "new" post in the thread. I cleaned up the columns on the right, and you can still click the "last post" column to go to the last post in the thread.
The search box is now more prominent. The search itself is also more powerful. You can have it return threads: image, and then keep searching (on the right), or re-search and return posts. From the search results you can also immediately reply to the post.
Each thread also now has a tiny little menu button on it as well. Clicking it will give you a pop-up menu of some well used options:
1) Go to new post: if there's a new post in the thread, you can go directly to it.
2) Go to last post: jump to the last post of the thread.
3) Follow/unfollow thread: quickly follow or unfollow the thread.
4) Who's posted? See a list of the users that have posted in the thread.
The new posting page (if you click "start a new discussion") has been completely re-done.
Image of posting page.
Virtually everything has been streamlined. Adding a poll, adding attachments, customizing your notifications ... all right there. Plus, if you try to create a thread with a title that's similar to one already made, you'll see a little notification letting you know. This should cut down on some duplicate threads (better mod tools will help merge dupe threads as well).
Threads themselves are pretty damn sexy. The biggest change is that they all have a right side module now. HOWEVER, I know there are purists out there that won't want this. So, I've coded in a hot-key for members that will collapse the side module, and set a cookie to remember your settings, and you won't have to see it. However, I think I'll keep the side module open ... it's got some cool tools.
For starters staff can add an image to "official" threads. So the really, really popular threads that a lot of people use each day -- can be defined. The example shows the official Dexter thread. Under the image are quick sharing options for the thread (tell your friends to come join you via twitter or facebook or email), as well as a tools menu that works just like the one on the previous page. Same options + a "post a reply" option). So you can post a new comment in a thread without having to go to the bottom and use the QR if you know what you want to say right away. That kinda thing.
The top nav bar took me forever to figure out how to get it to work how I wanted. I played with about 90 different iterations. I wanted something that had breadcrumbs so you could be in a thread and quickly get back to the forums if you didn't want to use the pulldown menu at the top. And I wanted a way to navigate through the pages of the thread without adding a full pagenav system up at the top. I found it ugly. So now you can use the little arrows at the top to quickly scream through a thread. Clicking the right one will take you up a page, left back a page. It's extremely handy. Double clicking the right arrow will take you to the last page, and double clicking the left will take you to the first page. Plus, you can use the search at the top to find a specific post in the thread. After using it - I just knew it was the right fit. It's intuitive and keeps you from having to scroll to the bottom of every page to get where you want to go.
Ohkkk, next: Quick reply lets you know who you are responding to. And your pagenav buttons are at the bottom.
The other module on the page is a "related threads" module. It lets you know if there are similar threads or other threads kinda like the one you're viewing. So, there might be stuff worth checking out / commenting on in there as well.
That's pretty much ... the forums. If I can think of anything I missed, I'll post later. If you have any questions, hit up the replies and I'll do my best to answer later as well.
Ok, now I have some more admin stuff to fix up. The admin/mod tools are one of the last big things the new website needs. Then it's more tweaking and perfecting. All this while listening to "War Paint" and enjoying the rarity of a band staying aggressive on their sophomore album and maybe having even more angst than their debut. Not usually how it goes. Loving this CD though.