Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience


  • Hello. I suggest making small improvements to the mobile menu to improve the user experience. The desktop menu is modern and convenient, but the mobile menu has certain inconveniences. I propose to fix the mobile menu so that it is more convenient and modern, as in the best platforms.
    In the left side menu, leave only the navigation buttons, and in the right side menu, replace the message block with the search, notifications, messages and profile block, as in the desktop menu. This way navigation will become more convenient, the search icon will not be hidden from the user and navigation on the forum via mobile devices will become much more convenient.
    new menu.png
    I asked this question on github (https://github.com/NodeBB/NodeBB/issues/9653, https://github.com/NodeBB/NodeBB/issues/10130). I would like to know the opinion of the developers and the community


  • @volanar I, too, think that the general layout should change...

    Rather than a discussion bubble, I should see my avatar on the right side, and clicking on the avatar should open a panel with several tabs/options...

    Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 3.30.12 PM.png

    I think profile options and/or settings should not be on the left side and it should be allocated for navigation and notifications only...

    I also agree that a search option could be put next to avatar and could open a search box in the place of "logo" when clicked.


  • @crazycells said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    @volanar I, too, think that the general layout should change...

    Rather than a discussion bubble, I should see my avatar on the right side, and clicking on the avatar should open a panel with several tabs/options...

    Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 3.30.12 PM.png

    I think profile options and/or settings should not be on the left side and it should be allocated for navigation and notifications only...

    I also agree that a search option could be put next to avatar and could open a search box in the place of "logo" when clicked.

    The search icon must be displayed in the mobile menu so that users use the search more often. But do not hide notifications and chat, you can repeat the mistakes of the old interface. For example, in the facebook, all these elements are present in the mobile interface.


  • @volanar I'd agree to and support this. Flarum actually has this functionality as an extension. See this https://discuss.flarum.org/d/28216-mobile-tab

    Whilst I love NodeBB, it does need a more modern mobile experience in my view


  • Considering that the majority of people surf the web with mobile devices, I think that NodeBB's mobile theme should be adjusted to be suitable for the era. Actually, there is nothing missing in the NodeBB mobile theme. just their location is wrong. Replacing them shouldn't be too hard.


  • @kurulumu-net said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    Considering that the majority of people surf the web with mobile devices, I think that NodeBB's mobile theme should be adjusted to be suitable for the era. Actually, there is nothing missing in the NodeBB mobile theme. just their location is wrong. Replacing them shouldn't be too hard.

    It's true. I completely agree👍

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    @volanar said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    Considering that the majority of people surf the web with mobile devices,

    So is the "conventional wisdom" propagated by the mobile device industry so as to light a fire under developers' arses about ten or fifteen years back. Do you have stats for your forums to back this up? Maybe you do. But such is not the case with mine. Least wise w.r.t. registered users. Which is not to say that a mobile is insignificant. Since I do not run ads or any other efforts to monetize my forums, the mobile "drive by" hits/impressions are far less important to me than registered community members. And while I am on the subject: there is a huge disparity between "quality content", i.e. posts that contain potential to engage ongoing discussion as contrasted with the low value "me too's" oft times typical of mobile users. I mean, let's face it, if you've got something of substance to say, are you really going to fight with a mobile UI or use something with an actual monitor and keyboard? Hmm... 🤔

    As for the "chat bubble" itself, I have a strong preference to leave it as it is. Leastwise w.r.t. desktop/workstation devices/screens. More sub menus => more clickery, less discoverability for those who may not be "Mac" inclined visual types.

    A larger point here: We should question our assumptions from time to time lest they make a proverbial "ass out of u and me".

    My $0.02. Let the flames begin... 🔥 🔥 🚒


  • @gotwf can I see your website please? just curious. I do agree with you about content quality. That is also what set us apart from others... all other related subject forums turned into "facebook groups", whereas we advanced quite well...

    But I have to admit that NodeBB is an important part of the journey... (Thanks @julian and @baris 🙂 )

    5 years ago, before switching to NodeBB we were using VBulletin, although we had no metrics at that time, we had many comments about mobile-friendly switch... that is why we decided on NodeBB. Right after the switch, I remember that we used julian's this plugin:

    https://github.com/julianlam/nodebb-plugin-clicky

    it was giving all info about the users and there was one month free trial, we have seen that 30-35% of the users were mobile (do not forget that this was 5 years ago, when we have just switched) ...

    But after NodeBB and 5 years later, and of course nowadays everyone has a smartphone, our users base is 65% mobile according to google analytics (last 7 days data). I have to admit, I definitely prefer the desktop version of the sites, it is way more convenient for me, but I also acknowledge that this is not correct for the majority of the people (or users).

    Screen Shot 2022-01-21 at 12.50.50 PM.png


  • @gotwf said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    So is the "conventional wisdom" propagated by the mobile device industry so as to light a fire under developers' arses a ten or fifteen years back.

    I think so, yes. If this wasn't the case, sites wouldn't be built as "mobile first", which is the modern and accepted industry standard.

    @gotwf said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    Do you have stats for your forums to back this up?

    Yes. Most of my users are mobile devices

    @gotwf said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    if you've got something of substance to say, are you really going to fight with a mobile UI or use something with an actual monitor and keyboard?

    With the onset of Swype plus Google Keyboard, I can easily type something aligned to "War and Peace" using a mobile phone with surprising accuracy. Admittedly, I (of course) much prefer a PC - I even dislike laptops, but the mobile device is here to stay, and is inherently more popular as the device of choice. If you present a site that has a poor mobile experience, it's an instant turn off for those who prefer this medium - which is a good sizable chunk of today's market.

    @gotwf said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    As for the "chat bubble" itself, I have a strong preference to leave it as it is. Leastwise w.r.t. desktop/workstation devices/screens. More sub menus => more clickery, less discoverability

    Certainly agreed for screen sizes over 1200px, but absolutely should be considered for viewports up to 767px.

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    @crazycells said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    That is also what set us apart from others... all other related subject forums turned into "facebook groups", whereas we advanced quite well...

    Alas, such was/is not the case for my forums - we lost the war of attrition to a competing Facefart Group. I only keep them up for historical value at this point. Sad. Not to mention embarrassing. I could maybe have "saved them" if I were a NodeJS developer and rolled out some custom functional plugins. Oh yeah, banning hate politics likely put quite a few nails in the coffin. ⚰

    As for the breakdown of mobile versus "conventional", I expected to see the same, based on preconceived "common wisdom". Then I tossed up a Matomo instance and saw a different picture. At least among the fewer and fewer members who posted more interesting stuff w/a bit of substance to it. Conversely , the mobile user dominates the lookie-lou's and quick drive by posts.

    @phenomlab said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    Certainly agreed for screen sizes over 1200px, but absolutely should be considered for viewports up to 767px.

    Cool that NodeBB is blessed with a nice adaptive UI, eh? 😉

    Caveat: My members are a bit older and not necessarily "tech types" so that may account for the workstation bias among registered members.

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    @crazycells said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    can I see your website please? just curious. I do agree with you about content quality.

    Uh, yeah, missed this bit...

    A few examples of threads I consider "high quality":

    That last one has become pretty much THE definitive source on the 'net on that topic. Lots and lots of hits from all over world yet - or at least last time I looked. 😜

    I guess my forums were not a total fail in that threads such as these:

    motivated change amongst the competition in the form of allowing much higher quality images than previously and fewer/no advertisements (e.g. Mountain Project Forums), wh/used to distinguish us from the "competition"

    And I guess while I am at it, I should point to the prior community my forums were supposed to replace - a long running community of almost two decades before being taken over and destroyed by hate politics: SuperTopo Forums and copyright violations. The latter of which resulted in some big lawsuit so the operators summarily deleted all images. This combined with post by users who were banned being deleted made for pretty spotty review of long running threads that referenced them. Hence I had to enforce the no politics rule, defying expectations, and likely prompting many to jump to the Facefart group but I was simply not going to host that 'chit.

    Speaking of expectations, the "old" ST forums were such that people posted to long running threads with massive topic creep. Endeavoring to have even minimal information hierarchy rubbed many of these independent rock jock types the wrong way because nobody is going to tell them what to do, nor how to do it... After 18 years certain behaviors had become deeply ingrained. Change was tough, but after some months, most feedback was that it was for the best. Nevertheless, many still missed and longed for "the good 'ol days".

    Alrighty, 'nuff w/the sour grapes.

    Edit: As long as I am driftin'... for those who may have missed it @Julian-H-Lam posted up a bee loggin' post a couple years back that is pretty spot on:

    I would love to have a long running, meaningful conversation about how the heck any of us small operators are supposed to survive the evil Meta, Inc.


  • @gotwf said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    I would love to have a long running, meaningful conversation about how the heck any of us small operators are supposed to survive the evil Meta, Inc.

    I'm more than happy to host that discussion over at sudonix if you want to start the thread 👍

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    You might be able to address some of these issues to some degree of satisfaction with custom CSS and possibly even javascript in a theme fork, but I'll defer to those that know on the javascript point.

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    @phenomlab said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    I'm more than happy to host that discussion over at sudonix if you want to start the thread

    I'd rather discuss it here - larger community affords more opportunity for greater input. Maybe @julian or someone with mod bits can fork this thread?

    Or not. Cuz I have discussed this with more than a few folks and we all pretty much end up chasing our tails. How to maintain parity, much less beat, a stacked deck?


  • @volanar I agree with you: the search function should be visible directly. 👍


  • @gotwf said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    @crazycells said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    can I see your website please? just curious. I do agree with you about content quality.

    Uh, yeah, missed this bit...

    Thanks for sharing @gotwf , you have a very good forum.

    Am I right to assume the audience of your forum is rather limited (university folks) than general (general public)? I guess that explains your argument because I can see those folks are spending more time in front of the computer than using phones to browse the forums.


  • @crazycells Even if users rarely access from mobile devices (which I doubt), this does not mean that the mobile menu should be inconvenient. Or am I wrong?


  • @volanar you're not wrong. I agree.


  • @volanar said in Minor improvements to the mobile menu for a significant improvement in user experience:

    @crazycells Even if users rarely access from mobile devices (which I doubt), this does not mean that the mobile menu should be inconvenient. Or am I wrong?

    Yes, of course. I was just explaining @gotwf 's perspective 🙂

    I think most forums have more general audience/public, therefore in most forums I am sure mobile users will pass desktop users in numbers.


  • @crazycells I think the more convenient the forum, the more users will stay on the forum. For example, in e-commerce, the positioning of elements is very important. If the layout of the elements does not meet common standards, then the number of purchases will decrease dramatically. Usability is one of the main factors for the success of the forum. No one wants to deal with an inconvenient platform


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