Here’s one of the biggest things I’m having trouble with. When looking at a screen - any screen - I have no idea where I am. Am I looking at posts on a single board? Am I looking a list of search results? Am I looking at recent posts across multiple boards?
I just don’t know where I am. There’s nothing on the screen to help me figure that out.
That’s creating a constant feeling of being lost - of not knowing how to get where I want to be.
Most boards have some “breadcrumbs” at the top that will let you know where you are. So, for this post, I know it’s in the New Site Help and Feedback categories because it’s right below the title.
This one has it at the top, because it’s not the first post in a topic but the last and it’s way down the page but it’s still there. It actually shows the top category (Investment Analysis Clubs) and the sub-category (METAR). and both are links if I want to get back to that place:
That breadcrumb is dynamic - as you scroll down through a topic, it will disappear as the title moves off the screen and appear at the top of the page
I see that now. For the last 20+ years, you’ve trained us not to look at the banner line. It’s always been a useless waste of space that scrolled off the screen as you moved down the page. And now when you first look at it - when at the top of the page - it still looks like a menu bar; the now traditional hamburger lines, a title that gives you no indication that it is clickable, a search icon and a circle with initials that hints at something user oriented. Good stuff, but nothing that tells you where you are. But as you scroll down the page it changes dynamically, highlighting the topic you’re reading and giving you some micro print about where you are.
The problem is that your attention is generally elsewhere on the page when the dynamic change happens. You are scrolling down because that’s where you’re reading. And you’ve already mentally dismissed the banner line because of history and because you simply don’t see the change.
Personally, I wouldn’t have the banner changing like that. The initial banner line with “Motley Fool Community” links to the same place as the jester hat. So there’s no functional need for it (other than branding, which is, I suppose of some value). Just give the location in the banner all of the time. That way, when you initially read a new page, you at least have some idea of where you are. And I’d swap the sizes of the fonts - put the location, the board name, in the larger font and maybe let the topic name stay just below the banner line as you scroll. Yes, that loses a line. But on a desktop, there’s plenty of real estate left for reading, and on a mobile device generally used in portrait orientation, it’s still just one line.
Getting back to where this started, there’s still a sense of lostness because every page looks the same. Topics (posts) on a category (board) look the same as search results across many categories. Which look the same as reading a topic. On the old boards, the list of posts looked very different from reading a single post or a thread of posts. That’s a useful visual cue to help convey your current location. And that’s missing on this new platform.