Forum Design is Poor and Frustrating to Use for Me

I have rarely found a forum interface design as confusing or frustrating as this one.

1 It is hard to find a specific topic and then stay with it.
2 There are tons of incorrect update information

I’m used to having a simple hierarchical layout for various topics. For example I would like a separate section for each of the products, such as AI-Gigapixel, AI-Denoise, Studio Plugins with sections for each App, and so on.
It would also be really helpful to have a Wish List for each product in their own section, which should also show the download link to the latest version.

Currently everything is a huge messy hodge podge and it takes tons of effort and time to actually find what I’m looking for.
It’s not as if this is rocket science, going back a a couple of years the FORUMS were easy to use and not frustrating.
I’m puzzled why so few people have complained about this. I frequent a lot of forums and they are all pretty reasonable, some slightly better than some others, but none as bad as the Topaz Labs Forums, with the Beta Tester forums perhaps the worst.

If you agree please add your voice to this, otherwise it will not be addressed.

Thanks for reading,

Dan

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You can use bookmarks.

Not sure what you mean by this.

There is a search function at the top of the page.


I also think that, as with any other forum, once you are used to it it gets easier. Note there is a forum upgrade happening this weekend so lets see what that brings.

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Dan, I agree completely. It used to drive me crazy but I have to say that I’ve found the underlying problem is mainly user-based. Folks do not seem to pay attention to where they post, stay on-topic and post all over the place.

@AiDon and other moderators do their best to re-locate posts but it is a never-ending job lol. I think it has gotten a little better now that threads in the beta forum are being closed in a timely manner.

I hope the upgrade will help.

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I am pretty new to this forum but do have quite a lot of experience over decades with online forums and discussion groups.

I will say that there are visual elements to this forum which are above average. From what I have seen so far, it also appears to be a good community with a positive, supportive attitude. All this is great. :smile:

But I have to agree with the original post that the organization of the forum, how items do or do not show up and what the user has to do to find information is not well designed. These problems were all well-solved by the designer of photo.net in the 1990s, and he has always given the software away for free. You will find complaints on other forums about the organization of this forum. Fortunately, most people like the software and the company on the other forums. :slight_smile:

For example: I posted an item six hours ago and the only way I could find my post was to go to my own page and look at my activity. It did not show up on the list of posts in the section where I put it (and where it still appears to reside), nor did it show up when I looked at larger categories which should have included it. I even changed the parameters for what should be shown or how it should be organized to see if refreshing the feed would fix the problem. It did not.

If I can’t find it, how likely is it that someone else will find it and bother trying to answer my question? :disappointed:

I, too, hope the upgrade will improve the organization and search aspects interface.

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I, too, agree with Dan.

I like the more conventional approach of other forums. Much easier to follow in my opinion.

I hope the upgrade will help.

Bob

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Here is another example of the frustrating Forum Design.
AI JPeg to Raw was just upgraded to 2.01 and when I tested it I found that processed image came out seriously de-saturated.

I wanted to report this right away, so I found Forum under Community. I expected to find the Forum and then the AI JPeg to Raw section.

Alas, I got the Forum top level and spent over 6 minutes trying to find the section devoted to AI JPeg to Raw and couldn’t find the damned thing. So I gave up.

After some more comparisons, it turns out there was no problem once I brought the processed image into Photoshop, the saturation was corrected back to same as original with Adobe RAW. Had I found and dealt with this on the FORUM, someone would have quickly straightened me out right away. Perhaps someone else would have learned from my mistake.

Point is the link to the FORUM does not work as one would expect in an helpful efficient way, worse yet places are hard to find.

I agree. It’s a mess!

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Me too, one of the worst designs I have seen

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The Topaz user forum used to be like what you (and I) are used to. When they switched to a new platform with a completely different philosophy I found it extremely confusing. In the meantime I have learned to navigate it and hardly notice the aspects that originally disturbed me so much and appreciate the advantages. Some things I really prefer about this forum are:

  1. When I access the forum home page, I am presented not only with the newest posts (this is great if you visit the forum frequently), but also with a preview of any image that is discussed in a post and the first few lines of the post. This way if my time is limited, I can pick and choose the posts I access, and don’t really have to open any posts if I just want to get an idea of what is being discussed.
  2. I love the ease of making posts and being able to select a few lines in a previous post and then click on “quote” to reply to that post with a pertinent quote (like I did in this instance). The traditional hierarchal forums I frequent do have a quote functionality, but it quotes the whole previous post and I have to manually delete the parts I don’t want to quote.
  3. I love the way that I can minimize a post I am writing and look at other posts in the forums and the post I have started waits in the background for me to finish it. In other forums I am often frustrated when I leave the “author a post” window to look up something I want to refer to and all the work I put into my post is gone.
  4. I like the filters at the top of the screen that let me see unread posts, new posts, latest posts and top posts.

All in all, although I was very unhappy at first to be presented with an unfamiliar UI, I have grown to appreciate the new forum and wouldn’t go back.

Having said that, I do understand what you mean about the simplicity of navigating a more hierarchical type of forum. Here you can select various categories to browse (the three lines next to your forum icon at the top right of the screen) and you can use the search functionality to find topics you want, but it is not the same as what you are used to. I am reminded of my Windows operating system. Windows used to have a file manager that presented a purely hierarchical view of the C drive of my computer. I found it much easier to navigate my computer back then than I do since they changed that.

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Worst forum organization/software ever…raises my BP ten points every time I try to use it. I’m trying to go back and reference a recent post that I answered and can’t even figure out how to find it! (bookmarks should not be needed)

This organization frustrates you every step of the way! It’s horrible! Try looking at mu-43.com as a good example.

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Go to activity in your profile and select from there.

You can do most, if not all, of the Pros mentioned in the layout below…and for whatever reason I have zero issues navigating around like I do here. In other words, all of the gain and none of the pain.

mu43-layout

mu43-layout-2

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One downside of this UI (imo) is the lack of static, as opposed to relative, time-stamps in the table-of-contents, if you will. Makes it harder to identify the recent, relative post topics, from the old cruft. Yes, it can be done with the “xyz days” old, but it is not as intutive, imo. One of my biggest issues is trying to track “breaking (support type) news” versus all the “this is my new picture” posts. Perhaps there are some config settings related to default sorting that I can potentially tweak?

With the above example of an alternative UI all you have to do is click on the “Recent” tab at the top of page…which I use 99% of the time. If I need to go back further than one page of topics it is very easy to do.

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Personally I think, that like with any other forum I am on, it will never meet the needs of 100% of the participants in terms of design. I participate in many other forums and this is one of the better designed and managed.

The functionality is still there with the Topaz Products and Showoff Spot which 95% of the people visit use. And because of the number of products it is not possible to duplicate the Technical Forums for all products.

I am closing this thread now as it is no longer productive.

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