Making the Forums Look Like Forums

We rolled out a new version of our Community site in early November last year. The goal was to create a community site that combined blogs, forums and wikis. Since that time, it’s been a bumpy ride for many of our users, and they’ve let us know it.

Up to this point, we’ve made updates to the site, improved performance issues that prevented users from posting reliably to the forum and worked to implement some fixes along the way. That said,  It's still a work in progress. Not too long after we went live with the fix for the performance issue, Geoff Knox published a poll to get feedback from the community. One clear request from our readers was to make the forums look and function like a forum. Last night we rolled out some design and functionality changes that attempted to do just that.

One thing we tried to do is make it easier to post. You'll see the Start a New Thread button right near the top of the Forum aggregator page. Clicking on a board from the left hand nav will bring you to a page that's divided into board sections. See the Laptop board below as an example (click on link or or the image below to go there). Each section then displays the three most recent related threads.

Dell Laptop Forum Board

At the sub-board level, you'll see two clickable options:

  • View All Messages – This will show you all threads in that board
  • Create a New Message – This will allow you to create a new thread in that board section

At the main board views, you'll see Posted By, # of Replies, # of Views, Last Action which shows who last posted to it with a date/ time stamp and Accepted Solutions which shows if the original issue was marked as solved by the user who created the thread.

  • Made it much easier for users to post a message on a forum
  • Finally added the ability to mark a forum thread as Read
  • Given Announcements and Floated Threads specific icons so they're easier to spot.
  • made it much easier to see the latest post in a forum thread
  • Added the ability to filter by Accepted Solutions
  • Fixed many of the line break, bullets and numbering issues in the text editor
  • On the blog side, we fixed the Category pages – See the Events category on Direct2Dell (or click the image below) as an example. From the category view page on any blog, you can get an RSS feed and filter it to show content from All Blogs that feature that category.

Events Category Page

I hope these visual and functional changes move us closer to what you've wanted. There’s still a lot of things we have to fix: search doesn’t work, we need to improve the single sign on process in a big way, have more work to make blogs look like blogs and  we have more to do in forums etc., but we're committed to getting this right.

To customers who contribute to the Dell Community, we appreciate your efforts as well as your feedback. Know that we remain committed to making this work.

About the Author: Lionel Menchaca