Folks, we've been tossing out sneak-peaks for months, have been opening this up to members for about a couple months, and have had an open member
beta test for almost a full week.
Everyone got a U2U urging them to test the new site and provide commentary in this thread:
Open Member Testing: ATS.5/3 Final Release Candidate
If you didn't participate in an unprecedented open test and request for feedback, why are you doing so after launch?
Please stop starting new threads and use this one thread
for your comments.
And for the purpose of communicating, yet again, the rationale behind the redesign, here is what was posted in the open test thread...
By now everyone should have received a private message with the username/password that enables access to the Final Release Candidate version of the
This is the fourth round of user testing (first being staff-only, second being invited beta-testers, and third being an open-beta test to all members)
and is intended to accomplish the following:
1) final testing of the site UX (user experience) on a wider variety of user scenarios
2) final refinement of of the color scheme of the two UI (user interface) options
3) establish an understanding of the new interface/structure for a less jarring cut-over
4) begin the offered opportunity for a member collaboration on new smilies
This open test is not intended as an opportunity to offer significant alterations to the UI/UX in any way. Months of work, preceded by months of
research, and that preceded by months of analysis of existing "upgrades" to so-called discussion board frameworks (XenForo being the best of a
The Primary Goal
What you are testing is not "change for the sake of change." Two massively important
factors have been the driving force behind such a
significant re-think of what a discussion board platform should be.
1) While the number of in-bound new users (roughly 85% of all daily traffic) has remained relatively flat, the user-engagement (content/thread pages
viewed) has been falling off for months.
2) Across the Internet, nearly all discussion boards are experiencing a very similar phenomena. The decline in engagement is seen everywhere, even in
large long-established video game forums.
The reason, is relatively simple: the audience has changed. The percentage of people comfortable with the rigid/tight discussion board format is
decreasing, while the percentage of people accustomed to the more open sensibilities of contemporary flat design is increasing. It's a clearly
quantified (and has been) fact of life for online operators.
Our mandate at AboveTopSecret.com, for more than ten years, has been to create and maintain a venue that showcases the quality content created by our
members. A big part of that mandate has been consistent attention to search engine optimization. Another big part has been the delicate balance of
advertising to provide the revenue needed to support big traffic, our own advertising, and growth. But the biggest part of that balance has always
been finding ways to push the boundaries of a discussion board platform so that new users have the best possible chance to discover your content.
Right now, discovery is falling. Action is needed.
So every decision from font-size to color to mobile responsiveness has been from the vantage point of "what best highlights the content." The
content is first. The content is second. And the content is third.
I'm not saying your input isn't important
That's why this is the third time we've opened the development site up to members. But if we didn't place a high priority on ensuring your content
is both discovered and lingered-over, all we'd be doing is talking amongst ourselves and no one would have encountered the long-list of content that
you created, that became important on thousands of other websites and hundreds of news sources.
this thread is closed.