Below these first couple paragraphs, you'll find an image of the proposed site redesign concept...And the name of the new home page is...
This page is called "The Spot". It is designed to be the primary entry into the forums for a user, creating "the spot" to view all the information at a glance, sorting active threads to the top of the stack, with priority given to other users marked as "friends".
Comments, Questions, Suggestions
This design is open to comments, suggestions, and questions. Questions will be answered if able; comments and suggestions will be considered as the process iterates.
The concept for the page is to function more like a social community while still existing as a forum, providing the user an easier experience for engaging in the community.
Problems Being Addressed
This redesign attempts to address is an issue with the current version where a returning user visits and it seems as though the site is empty when nothing has been posted new since their last visit. This manner of presentation (showing only "new posts") ignores the 84,000+ posts that have been made on the site which simply aren't new.
This redesign also addresses an issue that didn't exist a decade ago when the original "My Spot" page was created, where the majority of users are visiting sites via a Mobile interface. Mobile visitors aren't prone to type long-form responses in comment or article form, and may sometimes feel compelled to avoid short/informationless posts. This design promotes the short response, with the option to move to a full editor experience for long-form writing.
Reinventing the forum display concept is challenging in that there are many conversations involving many people, with varying degrees of conversational awareness (read: "different people left off at different places in the thread"). The challenge is similar to a shared email inbox maintaining state for individual users with access to the email conversations.
The approach with this design is to create a more fluid experience for the user, allowing as much interaction to take place without leaving the page as possible...while consolidating all the information available into only what needs to be displayed at the time.
is only displayed when the user hasn't seen it before. Additional updates posted to it will be in the form of "unread posts" that show up in the My Spot section.
is a chronological ordering of the threads/topics posted in the forum. The viewing user will have the ability to alter their My Spot sort order, giving priority to other forum users the viewer marks as "friend". This listing of posts will be an infinite scroll experience, as the user traverses back through all accessible topics.
will still be available to navigate to the full forum concept to view the topics in their natural state: categorical conversations.
Implementing this design will require a layer of technology that doesn't currently exist for the phpBB forum system: a template that turns the content into an API request so content can be built from the existing forum logic. This type of template will have to be created for the data to become available, in addition to the templating involved in the visual display. More details on this will be available at thepizzy.net as work proceeds.