Re: BBpress. Mindset, features and where now? discuss…
I think that the user experience ultimately should define itself as the audience grows.
I recently just witnessed a GIANT misstep on one of the larger forums I’ve been involved with. They moved from ZeroForums to vBulletin, and of the 1.2 million active members and COUNTLESS posts and topics, it managed to work pretty alright on ZeroForums. It was simple and people got used to using it the only way they could on such a large forum; they had a link to the topics you’ve posted in or are watching, and you can keep track of new posts there.
It was so simple but it worked so well. It let you peek your head out and scour some forums for new content if you wanted to, but it allowed you to stick inside the topics you were the most comfortable with and related the most to.
vBulletin totally removed that link, and because it handles searches differently, it’s taken 2 days so far and the search functionality still isn’t working because there is so much data to catalog.
Basically they had a forum that worked for what it’s users needed it to work as. The theme was so simple and stripped down but allowed for basic BB tags and had a good distinction between those tags. It had just the right balance of user profile customization (signature, avatar, etc) without making a social networking site.
I think what bbPress does, is it allows the administrator to decide how much of what type of emphasis can be placed on what areas of the discussion, and to add or remove those things via plug-ins without hurting the data.
I personally think that end users have no idea what they want, and regardless of what you serve them they won’t be happy. The idea is to provide them 1 option and force them to adapt to it without ever feeling like they are learning something totally from scratch.
How many times have you asked someone what they’re hungry for and they say “Oh I dunno, you?” If you said “Hey I want pizza, is that cool?” they will probably say “Sure.”
In the dinner choices of life, bbPress is a pizza crust and the plug-ins are the toppings.