Please test the future of CC Forums

When I joined College Confidential as a Community Manager it was clear the company faced some important challenges. Our distinctive feature, the CC Forums, had reached a plateau in terms of activity. We’ve been working on events such as AMAs, the Student of the Week and webinars about topics that we believe will be of interest to members of the community. But we’ve also been looking at improving the way the site functions on a technical level.

Today is a day I’ve been looking forward to since I first joined CC. Today I can finally introduce the future of College Confidential Forums. If you want to see for yourself, I invite you to head over to the test site. Use the same email and password you use to log into this site and poke around!

We think the new site sets a solid foundation for community revival. I know change isn’t always welcome, but I also have heard many reports of problems with the existing site that we just can’t fix. A few months ago, we added a forum index so that people could once again see all the subcategories in one place. That was, at best, a stopgap solution. On the new site, the categories are all visible from the home page.

There are many other improvements that I hope you will discover for yourself. But I do want to point out a subtle change that we think will make a big difference for how the site feels to new visitors and longtime members: it’s a lot faster to load. In my tests, the new site takes half the time to load as the current site and it’s even better on mobile devices. That might not seem like much, but studies show people don’t wait around for slow sites.

We’re asking for help from you, the CC community. We already showed the site to moderators and a half dozen beta testers. Based on their feedback we made some adjustments already, but we’d like your help before we switch over in a couple of weeks. Please log into the new site. For the moment, our top priority is fixing any bugs that prevent people from logging in or posting. By the way, posts on the beta site are temporary and will be removed before launch.

Please leave any feedback for me below.

I still think there is too much white space within the topics. I brought that up when I was beta testing. It looks better (I think) but still too much scrolling needed. Interestingly I find it much better on my phone than on the desk top.

Wow @CCadmin_Sorin… I have taken a look at the new site on a large desktop monitor and it looks a little “busy” with so much to look at, but it also looks like an unbelievable upgrade. So far, I am not seeing any “lagging” which makes a huge difference when looking through posts, but the biggest improvement I see so far is the upgrade to the search functionality (it looks like it works) which has always been a cause of frustration for me on CC. I am a member who has no problem with changes when I can see benefits, so I like what I have seen so far… I am curious of the experience of those CC’ers who use the site on a mobile device? Thanks for sharing.

Just checked it out. Wow. You can see a lot at once. And yes, very quick to load. I’m intrigued!!!

The good news is that about 50% of visitors are on their phone or tablet. I did record your feedback @momofsenior1, but we didn’t have time to consider any changes. Our main priority for the moment is making sure people can log in and the new site doesn’t break!

I like the organization. I saw the International Students section and it made me think that a Latinx student section would have been helpful in our journey.

Based on our own testing, the new mobile version is significantly less laggy, @ChangeTheGame. One of the reasons I like the new platform is that it was [built with mobile in mind](What is Discourse? | Discourse - Civilized Discussion). That’s especially important for this generation of college student. (My son is deciding what sort of device he wants to take to college. Right now he’s leaning toward an iPad.)

In general, this new beta layout is a better layout. However …

Thread pages on computers still waste a lot of blank space.

Is there a dark mode?

For forum sections that have a lot of subforums like the Musical Theater Schools and Colleges and Universities, could they be arranged so that the list of subforums can be opened or closed by the user?

I would recommend that the list of forums be ordered to put the most used forums (with their subforums) up top. For example:

College Search & Selection
College Admissions (and move the Specialty College Admissions subforums here)
What Are My Chances?
Parents Forum
Financial Aid & Scholarships
SAT and ACT Tests & Test Preparation
College Majors
Transfer Students
High School Life (and move the IB forum and Prep Schools subforums here)

Colleges and Universities probably belongs high in the list, if it can be made so that the large list of colleges is closed but can be opened (since it is long, it can “hide” anything listed below it if it is open).

They did have the list of colleges at the top, but it was open, so you had to scroll through the whole list to get to other subjects. It would be great if it could be closed.

There is https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/hispanic-students/ , but it seems unnoticed under “Specialty College Admissions Topics”, which is not that visible in the current layout and even less visible in the new layout. Recommend that all of the subforums currently under “Specialty College Admissions Topics” be moved to be subforums under “College Admissions”.

I’m hoping that everyone looks at the new platform and makes comments, even if it’s just, “I looked and it seems OK.” CC has listened to users and is making beta testing open to all, so please take advantage of it.

“We didn’t have time to consider any changes.”

Then why bother asking for beta testers?

Definitely more responsive and now it’s easier to find specialty forums.

Very first impression: not faster to load on android tablet. And a 5" ad banner across the bottom, obscuring part of the index. I back paged from one sub forum and also slow to load.

I don’t use the index. I go for Latest and Bookmarks. How do I find Bookmarks?

The number one thing we are testing is that people are able to log in and use the site. We have a long list of things to work on once we are sure those basics are handled. (So I didn’t mean “any and all changes”. :wink:

The main page is pretty crowded and seems much harder to find what I am looking for. Like lookingforward, I go to latest and bookmarks.

The forums are really busy looking. Are the colored icons for the posters really necessary? It is just easier to see the name of the poster and the latest replier. The colored single letter or photo could be anyone and doesn’t really add to the experience.

ETA: I like the timer for how long it has been since the last post.

Just trying it on android cell. What loads is an index with several threads listed under each. Means I have to scroll down hunting for what I want. Or take the extra step to click “categories,” then Latest. Why not just category titles? One could click there and then see the thread list.
Again, where’s Bookmarks?

Not at the moment. There is an option to have different themes, but we haven’t designed them yet. It’s likely to be a 2021 project.

This is a good suggestion. We heard variations on this during the beta test, but we still need to do some more research in how to implement it.

Forum organization is definitely a priority. Most-used is a reasonable way to order things. But I also think some important categories are missed because of the way they’ve been displayed in the past. So some categories should probably have more activity then they do.

For the moment, we have the schools at the bottom of the list and we added a “School Forums” tab next to “Top”. It does seem like letting people hide and unhide the subforums would be a way to put the list of schools at (or near) the top of the page without inflicting a long scroll to see the rest. Thank you for the feedback!

Recommend doing some testing on various browsers with dark add-ons (e.g. Dark Reader) to make sure that everything is visible under dark browsing. Some people may not like looking into a flashlight that a white background is like.

@lookingforward: If you tap on your avatar on the top right of the page, you should see a bookmark icon. We might be able to make that view more prominent on the site. I’ll check with the team.

Since there are so many types of Android devices, could you let me know which tablet model you have?