Full Review by Twisted Fairytale
You can access Discussion Hub to see for yourself what it looks like, by clicking here.
First Impressions & Appearance – (17 out of 20)
This isn't the first time I've reviewed Discussion Hub, so I'm glad to see improvements! When I first step through the portal to Discussion Hub, I'm greeted with a dark, soft theme that is very aesthetically pleasing. Every forum has its own, custom icon that relates to what the theme is about, which is always a plus when navigating a forum. It really adds to the aesthetics. Overall it is just a nice-looking theme, but there are a few very, very minor aspects that I would like to point out to help Discussion Hub improve.
First off, something doesn't sit right with the contrast between the category headers and the background. The rest of the theme seems to set a little darker color scheme, and it feels like the category headers go a little too lighter than the scheme. Now, like I said, this isn't a huge deal, it's just taking my eyes a bit to adjust. So, like how I try to fix everything, I opened up my nifty Inspect Element and took a swing at some adjustments. This is what I came up with:
In my personal opinion, I think the second color matches the scheme that the rest of the theme sets. However, that's just my opinion. I would suggest some change of that though, so play around with it yourself! Like I said, it's something small, but it's improve-able!
Speaking of minor color changes, there is one area of Discussion Hub that my eyes do not
want to focus because of the difference in hues. Here:
The red text stands out, yes, but it's actually less readable because my eyes skim over it, being unable to focus it in with the rest of the colors. My suggestion: Tone the red down a bit, make it a little darker. That way, it blends in with the theme a bit and is actually easily readable.
Now, these were minor changes. To get back to the overall theme, there isn't much to say that it's great. It's almost simplistic with no major colors blowing all over the place. It's something I would like to use on a board if I had one that required a dark theme. Because I actually had to get very technical to give suggestions, there isn't much wrong with Discusison Hub's theme, and I believe it serves it's purpose very, very nicely. Seventeen (17) points to Griffend.. wait.. Discussion Hub!
Site Layout – (14 out of 20)
Discussion Hub features an out-of-the-way floating top bar which holds the portal to many vital areas of the site such as links to the index, user alerts, User Control Panel, and log out. Below, the logo takes a prominent stance as it overlooks its kingdom below. The main menu bar is filled to the brim with links, some better coded and placed than others; and some with the importance of which is debateable. Actually, let's go into that. Discussion Hub really seems to like its menu links. For one, there are Facebook / Twitter links, not inches away from the same links on the sidebar. I would suggest, urge, push, whatever, that you only stick those links in one spot. It just looks better. Also, there is a search button and
a search box. Another one of those: one or the other. It relieves the clutter and such. So really Discussion Hub needs to sit down and decide what to boot on their menu, because they definitely need to clean it up.
As the main act of the show, the index listing makes its appearance where it is finely organized and showcased. The index boasts beautiful organization and placement of each forum in its designated category. I don't get the sense of one forum being out of place.
Taking the index listing head-on is the sidebar, found just to the right of the beautiful forums. Sidebars are sometimes frowned upon by administrators and designers, but I believe Discussion Hub's sidebar is just about perfect in its content. The "Find Us On" and "Howdy " boxes seem decent enough, though I personally would swap their positions. The one box that I have a problem with is the "(c) Discussion Hub 2014" box. I understand that Discussion Hub can be proud of obtaining a copyright, but it is certainly not something to flaunt and take up a whole box on your sidebar. Such copyright can easily be displayed at the footer of the forum, out of the way. Other than that, I believe the sidebar is constructed beautifully with useful information.
Finally we come to the bottom of the Discussion Hub empire. The board information is just the same as any other community. Online users, Who has been, blah blah blah. However, I see that Discussion Hub has moved the forum statistics up below your index. Good move! It keeps the footer small, and beautiful.
Overall, the layout of Discussion Hub really leaves nothing to be desired. There is only one "hiccup" I mentioned, which was the copyright box on the sidebar. In addition, the links on the menu seem to be formatted with extra padding on the left than on the right, which creates a lopsided effect after the Home button. Other than that, I have no complaints about the layout!
Statistics and Activity – (16 out of 20)
Let's take a look at the Discussion Hub simplified statistics:
As a general discussion forum that has been around for a good while, there isn't much to be desired. In addition, I took a quick glance at the complex forum statistics and found that Discussion Hub gets about 46 posts a day. That may seem low to some people, but it's the start of something great.
Just about every one of Discussion Hub's forums is active, with all having a post within the least past two days. Most are even more recent than that. Discussion Hub has accumulated an admirable amount of activity, but still can soar higher. Therefore, sixteen (16) points for activity!
Content – (14 out of 20)
As a discussion forum, the content of Discussion Hub solely relies on it's members, and staff, to create valuable discussion topics. From what I can see, there is valuable discussion going on just about everywhere around the forum. There is a good bit of activity in "Forum Games," but not as much as one would find anywhere else. The members and staff seem to create some great discussion topics, but what is lacking is quality responses.
Now, this isn't something you can really control, per se, but many of your members and V.I.P.s leave comments that are less than three words. Yes, they answer the question asked, but that's not much discussion going on. Even if they are less than three words, they don't really contribute much to the conversation, which brings down your quality of overall content pretty significantly...
For the administrators of Discussion Hub, they contribute to the content by what sections they create and open up for users to communicate in. One of the newest additions I've noticed is the groups. After exploring a bit, the idea grew on me, and I like it! It provides more interaction between members who are in the same group, as well as encourages participation all around the website. It also gives members something to do, other than just sit around and stare at their screen until the next post.
One suggestion I would like to give is to perhaps poll your users on what they want to see further in the forum. Open up a topic to suggest more discussion areas or future updates. That way, your forum is always growing and improving, based on what your members want to see.
Overall, there is a beaucoup of space for members to discuss what they want, and they responded very well with that space. There are great discussions occurring, and the administrators are doing an amazing job encouraging such discussion. Sixteen (16) points for content. Keep it up!
Spelling/Grammar & Professionalism – (16 out of 20)
There isn't much for me to go on here, except for the content posted directly by Guardian and Kingcool, since they are really the "faces" of the forum; in addition to the forum itself. I want to touch first on the forum descriptions. Professionalism is often viewed by uniformity, and I wish I could say the descriptions were uniform. Unfortunately, half of Discussion Hub's descriptions contain periods at the end, and the other half doesn't. I get mixed vibes from this, since they're not all the same. It's something very minor, but something I would change quickly since it's not that hard.
One aspect that is holding Discussion Hub back on its professionality is something very simple called username effects. I'm speaking specifically about the Administrators (can't tell if VIPs have it or not). The Administration has a orange name with a neat little red glow. While that's pretty cool, it presents a laid-back atmosphere, but also a bit childish. I mean, Discussion Hub already gave the the vibe of laid back, so I'm not sure how much you really want to be "professional," and I wouldn't suggest it to all forums, but if you did, the affects would have to go.
In addition, the administration seems to write very well-worded posts and announcements, so I don't see an issue with the administration's professionalism; especially since Discussion Hub seems like such a laid back forum. I understand this was a very short section, as it usually is. Overall, there are very few spelling mistakes all around, and there are only minor flaws here and there conflicting with your "professionalism." Seventeen (16) points for spelling and grammar!
Total Score - (77 out of 100)
Discussion Hub is a beautifully built discussion community where I believe anyone could find a good "lounge chat" if they wanted, along with a receiving member base and increasing activity. To the administrators: keep it up! You've got an amazing forum with a lot of potential. Discussion Hub has always been one of my favorites, honestly!
- Beautiful community built with tender, loving care.
- Loads of content space for members to discuss.
- Awkward copyright box on the sidebar.
- Cluttered menu bar.
- Lack of quality member responses.