Relax, just needed your attention - this message will be posted in several forums.
Tonight January 1, 2014 we will be switching our default color theme from the current default blue and gray tones to the CLASSIC THEME called "WOOD and HONEY" for a ONE WEEK TEST. NOTE: you can easily change it back on your device, more on that later in this post.
Here's why. We are soon approaching our 10th anniversary as Beemaster Forums and since it's inception we have had alternate color themes that users can choose. The original color theme was called Dessert Storm, which worked well with our initial software PHP_BB. Then we migrated to SMF software where the colors you see, the steel gray and icy blue were the default.
Robo, kindly recreated the Desert Storm colors which beautifully keep in the theme of beekeeping and we kept it as an alternative color theme. Problem was, in hindsight I would have made the Classic the default because of how well it complements beekeeping. Many people use the Classic WOOD and HONEY theme, but many people have no idea it is an option, because the only time they go into their profile is to add their location, add an avatar and possibly some minor details about themselves or add a quote or web address to the signature line.
Few people have read previous posts suggesting they try the alternate themes to see which is best appealing to them or how well it appears on their screen. Switching for a week to the Wood and Honey theme is a chance to show members, especially members who have been here a few years or less, that we have a unique color theme that represents the look of beekeeping, both hive parts and honey.
This is an experiment. I want to try having a brand logo look with the classic color theme, something instantly recognizable and not just a cookie cutter appearance that nearly every forum has.
The Wood and Honey theme will be up for one week: enough time for members to see it and test drive it in all the windows that you cycle through as you post, reply, quote, etc.. We want your feedback, but please give the colors a try, just don't switch back, if we forced the color theme, I doubt it would be enough for anyone to say "Forget that, I liked the old one, this one stinks" think of it as a test drive, a unique looking site that matches it topic so much better than the default theme.
My opinion, pretty obvious: I have used the Wood and Honey theme since the beginning, many users have. Most members report that they find it easier on the eyes, and they do acquaint it with beemaster and beekeeping. It's like putting on your seat-belt; at one time few people wore them, then it became second nature - you do it without even thinking. Returning to the default theme
to go back to the default theme, just:
* Click on Profile
* Click on Look and Layout
* Near the top on the right side column you'll see CURRENT THEME - click the word CHANGE.
* You'll see 5 themes to choose from, click USE THIS THEME or PREVIEW.
* Scroll down and choose CHANE PROFILE and you're done.
I will changing the default to the classic wood and honey theme around 10pm EST Wednesday the 1st of January. It will be on for a week - I hope you give it a try. You can change it back and forth as much as you like. I'm doing this mainly to show members we have a unique color theme that better represents the forum, one which they likely don't know exists. Looking forward to all feedback. Please reply with your feedback in this post topic.AS WE GO INTO OUR SECOND DECADE
Another point is having a unique look that brands us as a beekeeping site - something recognizable at a glance. Beemaster Forums has become stuck to its pledge of being advertizement free and family friendly, it is known as a site where anyone, you and old can come and feel safe surfing. We exist on member donations, something that no other beekeeping forum can say, especially for a decade now. With that promise, we have also added that we will be doing everything technologically feasible to allow members interact with the forum through all types of devices and sever social networks with many more to come.
About social networking: it is a fact that many members never (repeat NEVER) come to the Beemaster Forum homepage, a sign that times have changed and we are changing too so that people on the go have access to both read and post on the forum from whatever device they have. We have over 2000 Facebook members, there is a good chance you have never been to the Facebook Beemaster Group Page - if not, I want to add that is is a wonderful site on its own. Mobile users can literally work their hives, snap a photo and upload it with text or in HD video, instantly sharing or asking for help identifying issues with 2000+ members. It is a world of its own, growing at an incredible rate and it is beautiful to see the images and the interaction there.
We have posts automatically go from the forum to the Facebook group. Dozens of posts from General Beekeeping forum are uploaded every day and the group members are very active replying and commenting. We have Twitter integration as well and we are evaluating what other services we can interlace with to make Beemaster easier, faster and thus more often used by people from the web, on any device and in many social networking methods.
And it is not just a matter of keeping up with how people communicate, it goes beyond that, it creates a place on the web where a simple click from the most desolate places puts you in touch with thousands of people instantly. We want to make use of the way people communicate, the web as we have known it has changed greatly in the past few years. People take a photo, or have an idea and with one click, they can send it to dozens of services they use. I learned with Youtube, when it was bought for $1.6 Billion by Google that there are services people never heard of that web savvy sites want to swallow up. When Youtube was purchased, I doubt that 10% of of Internet users had heard of it - look at it today. Before I do anything, home repairs, installations, software reviews - whatever, the first place I always go to is Youtube.
So it is our goal to make this forum and other venues we make available to members as up to date as possible. But there is ALWAYS fear of getting a way from what we do and become just a bunch of pages with seemingly useless links embedded in every post. I have seen some of the software for forums in use today, ones trying to satisfy every social networking group by having dozens of icons with every post - it becomes distracting and unfriendly to use if it is not done right. There is a balance, a place where die-hard forum users and social networking sites can live harmoniously on a page. It is easy to over-kill a webpage with icon short cuts to every app going. To continue to move forward and not scare off the tried and true folks who have logged into www.beemaster.com
is tricky. If member posts are lost in a busy webpage, you have defeated your goal of making the site app friendly - there are dozens of Facebook like sites today, and even Google entered the social networking world with Google+ - which has so little appeal to the masses, Google made Youtube members sign-up to Google+ just to be able to post replies on Youtube videos.
So, in our 10th year as a beekeeping forum, we are studying how growth will better, not clutter our forum's appeal. Don't expect to see any major changes. There are forum software updates we can make, there are other forum platforms we could migrate to, but a major factor in any decision is how we save our massive archive of posts so that it will always be accessible to all members and guests. At no point do we want to make one step forward, two steps back - all improvements are big decisions and none will be hap-haphazardly done - if we can not improve the site with a new feature, then that feature will not be included. But most importantly, we don't want to ever clutter the site so that people have to work to navigate through it, everything should always be just a click or two away. Surfing our site should never be complicated, no matter how many bells and whistles it has.
So that's an update from behind the scenes. I like to keep everyone informed at what happens here because all of you have invested a great deal of your time here and our great staff recognizes that more than you may know.