Round-up #18 – Backstage 6: managing categories and forums

When building forum software, one of the most important pages in an admin panel – or Backstage in our caseĀ – is the page that actually contains the settings to manage the forums and categories you make available to your users. Today’s Backstage doesn’t do a really good job at that, so with the next major revamp coming up as part of Luna 2.0, I would like to take a look with you guys to how the new management page will work.

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Above, you see a screenshot of how the state is today. The above screenshot comes from our official board. And while it is in theory fine to work with, there are in fact more than just one usability issue.

First off: you can’t edit categories and forums at once. If you would change the position of your forums and the position and name of your categories and hit either “Save” in “Edit forums” or “Edit categories”, only the changes in the panel you would click “Save” on would be saved. And that’s bad.

Secondly, and this is more important to touch-enabled devices, the “Edit” and “Remove” buttons are next to each other, without any space in between. While hitting the “Remove” button will trigger a confirmation, this is once again bad design.

Then there is the inconsistency of what you can edit in the overview: why can you only change the position of the forums within their own categories, yet you can change the name and position of categories? Why can’t you change the name of a forum too? Why can’t you change even more than that?

Another issue we’ve heard complains about is that child forums aren’t indicated at all. In fact, in Luna 1.3 it is possible to assign a parent to a forum and put that same child into another category and this overview would actually display it as such. Finally, the current design isn’t responsive either, which brings problems on small screens.

And all of that is actually kinda bad news. So we set out to do better with Luna 2.0 and the result was us redesigning the whole thing. The result is this:

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And above you can see the result (as it stands now). First things first, these category titels “General” and “Browsers” are editable. They are text fields designed to not look like text fields. Below these category titles, you see an actual text field with numbers in. These are the position fields. As you can see, individual forums have them too. These fields will be present in the first couple of Previews of Luna 2.0 but we hope to kick them out of the software before the final release gets out, replacing it with a drag and drop system.

Anyway, to the forum settings, as you can see, the forums are now listed as colored bars (these colors are the colors you assign to them) and we’ve included their icons in the names if set. The edit button now appears in the bar too. If you want to edit just basic settings, you can click on the titles of the boards and their card will open, showing you settings for the name, position, icon and color. You’ll also see an option to remove a board and one that shows the forum is enabled. That later one is a new settings that allows you to temporary hide forums without the need of changing all permissions. You will be able to change it in Preview 1, but it won’t do anything just yet (because we’ll wait with that until the Mainstage gets its revamp).

As you can see, the “Bootstrap” and “Font Awesome” forums aren’t aligned to the left as all the others. This is because they are children of “Announcements”. There is now a visual hint! Additionally, even if you would put these forums before “Announcements” or in another category, they will still appear under “Announcements”.

And finally, you can now save both category and forum settings at once. It sounds like a small changes, but it is big and a serious leap ahead in managing your board. It’s all these enhancements that make Luna 2.0 already a better place to be. Menu management has actually a similar interface (only there aren’t categories and sub forums, of course).

We’re really looking forward to ship the first version of Luna 2.0 somewhere later this winter. We don’t have an ETA at this point, but the progress is promising and it would be awesome if we could get out our first preview somewhere in February. Stay tuned for more details and more looks into the next version of Luna!