1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Jun. 1, 2006
The Design Problem
Forum design can be a hard project. You must balance the need to make yourself
unique and address peoples prior assumptions of how forums function. You
don't want to change things to much or you risk confusing them. But if you
keep the defaults you will have nothing to make yourself stand out.
Of these samples the Designers Talk
forum really stands out to me. It sticks
with some of the traditional interface elements but has still managed to
really brand the system. It clearly stands out as a unique location and
gives me the feel that they are serious about what they do. The opposite
effect would be an unbranded default phpBB forum that feels like every
other one on the web. Nothing to remember, no impression left on the visitor,
and all to quickly forgotten.
Personally I find most forum app's to be rather confusing, and this is ironic
since I consider my self a rather technical person. It seems to me that forums
need a simpler format, a more basic means of enabling conversation. I highly
recommend you check out vanilla, a new type of forum app.
I only wish I could find something as elegant in .net.
Joel on Software - article about forum function ideas.