NEW PLATFORM STRUCTURE for our Community
Hello wonderful people!
I decided to dedicate my Design Bachelor Thesis to the Topic “Online Community / Collaborative Research & Design”.
Focus will be to improve/find a better solution for the platforms of our (Precious Plastic) Community!
To describe in a few words:
This Forum contains so much valuable information, so much potential, but – like in every forum – there is a lack of overview, so things get lost, same questions get asked several times, it’s hard to keep track etc.
There is also a high demand and potential for (local) exchange and collaboration, so I won’t force myself to stick to the format of a forum but imagine it more as a platform for collaborative research & projects, with a good structure/way to find information and work with it.
As the outcome should work for YOU, the whole Community, I am hoping to get a lot of your feedback and ideas, so we can TOGETHER work on a solution which suits our needs. 💪
Aim: Design a new structure & user interface for our Community.
Outcome: Probably (as a start) an interactive prototype of the platform(s), and then see where it goes.
WHOEVER INTERESTED in clicking his/her way through my (maybe a bit chaotic) thoughts, feel free to TEST THE PROTOTYPE here:
➡️ Precious Plastic Platforms – FOCUS on the FORUMS (including map etc.)
💡Share your feedback with me, what aspects you like/don’t like and what other ideas you have!
💬 You can even comment it IN the draft (you will have to create an account though).
☝️Bare in mind: this is all work in progress and a lot of trying-out. So don’t be irritated by visuals/layout or weird links.
UPDATE (Dec 2018): Topic closed – We have a webteam now, creating a super powerful platform! 🙂
For anyone interested, here my THESIS 📖
FEATURE 1: THE MAP
The Map is THE powerful tool
– to see what’s happening GLOBALLY
– but also to search and find things LOCALLY at the same time.
To get the most out of it, we’ll have to add a more detailed filter/more categories.
From locations and people to resources, materials, components and projects, events…
In best case all the items from the map would be connected to items/offers/requests on the bazar and to relevant profiles/topics/events in the forums.
[Have in mind: This is just a rough draft and more about rough content than design/details for now.]
Hey @katharinaelleke !
I would rather go option B for the following reason : the more complexe the architecture, the more people will get lost.
Also, just tossing an idea like that, but it would be awesome if subjects could be emphasized considering the “advancement” of the user.
For example: a new comer on the forum would have more info on research on plastics & building the machines. Then once the user went through let’s say 5-6 topics on each of those 2 mentionned subjects, a new part of the forum would be emphasized with a logical follow, maybe the collecting & cleaning process (just an example).
If i’m saying that is because it seems that many people arrive here thinking everything is easy & served on a platter (for example transform all plastic waste into 3D Printer filaments only); If i am correct, the aim of the guide in the download kit for instance is to really encourage people to see the supplied info as a base for RESEARCH
added somes comments on the beta forum you updated; peace !
TIME FOR AN UPDATE
Heello! Sorry, somehow never found the right time to share my progress.
So in the past weeks I:
– researched on teamwork and learning platforms, forums etc.
– gathered a lot of stories & feedback from community members and
– brainstormed what the community is about and what it does and need
– also had a look into if & how we could make use of AI (artificial intelligence), or rather NAI (narrow AI, a “simpler” form which is quite commonly used in search engines, chatbots etc.)
– did a lot of wireframing, trying out different structures & contents
Long story short, I’ll just sum up a bit the main things.
ALL IN ONE
First of all, the starting point is that all platforms (bazar, map, forum) are embedded in the PP website. No more links to other websites & tabs. (In the future maybe also ONE account for everything, but for now it also works as it is I guess).
The MAP would be either an extra section or within the Community section (although I have the feeling it should be extra?).
You can just try clicking on things and it will show you existing links, so go ahead and click your way through it!
Am currently trying to figure out:
1. In which MAIN TOPICS, CATEGORIES/ SUBCATEGORIES we can split up.
Would be happy to get your input here, it’s kind of tricky to cover everything without making it too complex.
(For this it’s maybe easier to comment in this GOOGLE-DOC.)
And also what aspects you’d like to have in the summaries – showing Results, FAQ, Top Topics, Contributors, Links,…?
2. How to best visualise it.
– OPTION A: Better to show a very quick content overview where you have to dive into more details by clicking your way through it?
👍 Easier to “digest” (not too much information) & “straight forward clicking”
👎 More clicking, maybe not instantly knowing the content of each area
– OPTION B: Or rather show more content (subcategories) earlier?
👍 More information to digest in the beginning, maybe confusing
👎 Less clicking, because you see more content
Any other suggestions?
Hey @katharinaelleke !
I only saw now you had made a proto, it’s very nice !!
The overall design makes it much more easy to navigate and adds so much content and link between the contents ! (i put a couple comments)
The only downside i could bring on the forum part is it tends to go very deep into detail, just curious how the auto filter will work (meaning the photos & topics that refresh depending on where i am
(ie : Forums _ Activities _ Precious Plastic _ Finances)
Nevertheless, the work done is AMAZING; you are (to my eyes) bringing this platform to a WHOLE new level !!
Lots of love !
@siemenc thanks for your feedback, really good to hear!
I am using Sketch with the Craft plugin (super nice!).
Thanks for asking about it, that reminds me that I actually wanted to share my prototypes here anyway!
WHOEVER INTERESTED in clicking his/her way through my (maybe a bit chaotic) thoughts, feel free to TEST THE CURRENT DRAFTS here:
💡Would be suuuuper happy for some people to try it out and get some feedback, what aspects you like/don’t like and what other ideas you have!
💬 You could even comment it IN the draft, that would probably be very useful as well (you will have to create an account though).
☝️Bare in mind: this is all work in progress and a lot of trying-out. So don’t be irritated by visuals/layout or weird links.
TESTING with people is on top of my list (doing it every now and than with my flatmate, but have to get more people on board). Trying to fill in more content this week, to have more for a “proper” testing.
Ahhh this looks so promising.
I’m wondering whether that information should be part of the “machines” tab or perhaps have an obvious link from there to this information. I think a lot of people also just download the files for the machines without looking at, or knowing about, the forums. Once they get started and run into issues they might turn to the forums asking for help or searching for solutions which already were out there from the beginning. I guess it would have been better if they were aware of those problems/solutions before getting started.
What software do you use to make these mock-ups? Is it possible for somebody else to go through those different tabs and information like an end-user would be doing? If so I’d recommend testing the ideas out with a few people (current forum users and potential new users) over skype while they share their screen. I think you can get a lot of useful feedback from just looking at what they can and cannot find. And better to have this information before spending a lot of time implementing something that turns out to work completely different.
“most of the answers ARE ALREADY THERE, but people can’t find them (easily)”
This is so true and goes also for the entire internet in general. I think you’re on to something here though. It almost seems like you’re steering towards a more user-friendly wikipedia (which has a lot of TLDR-pages). If the content could be automated somehow that would be suuuper useful, but I’m sure there’s quite issues to overcome with trying to automate this.
One more improvement suggestion (not sure if it’s related to your work right now): Being able to quote somebody, or just a part of what somebody else is saying and responding to that.
So when you come to the forum, you would first see a visual overview of ALL categories, then directly know where to search for your information and discover nicely filterable summaries.
Currently working on the content&structure, what exactly should be included in the summaries.
Once this is done, the design part will start (layout, graphics&illustrations etc.)
Please feel free to give me your thoughts: Which information would you like to have included in such an overview?
(CLICK ON IMAGE!)
Great input @yuri-fabris!
Very good points! Indeed it would be nice to have a formal and easy way to document the progress, also big on our list. 😀
And yes, addressing/assigning questions to (a group of) people with specific knowledge/experience would be cool as well! (Quora has that and it works quite well).
I also thought about categorising not only the topics but also the replies/comments. So that you can also filter by type of comment (like question, information, appreciation/like or critic, link to another topic/website or referring to other users).
I think the forum should have types of publication, because it shapes how people create content on the platform. I can think of three: processes, discussions and ideas. I’ve already shared my view on processes in my previous comment here, now let’s talk about discussions.
A discussion is a something people debate over and say whether they agree or not. For improving this, I suggest the implementation of ConsiderIt. This concept helps to measure the community opinion about a certain matter (the author can be questioning or claiming something), for example: “Is plastic an adequate material for making building blocks?” “Is PVC safe to deal with?” “Plastic pollution is not a problem, don’t worry ’bout it bois“. Take note that I’m kidding in the last one. Each discussion should contain a title and a summary.
I’ve integrated it myself into this app last year using Meteor and ReactJS. The avatars positioning is quite complex but who cares I have all the code here lol, I can help out implementing it o/
Finally, an idea is the simplest type of publication. It is just like publications are now: a title and a summary. It would be used for everything that is not a process nor a discussion.
Hello! This is my first publication on the forum, yaaayy 😀
When I first viewed the platform I immediately felt the need for a more structured way of documenting a process. A process can be a research, the ongoing of machines building or whatever else is developed over time and can produce a unique conclusion about a subject.
I mean, there should be a formal way of sharing experiments, describing steps taken, materials and tools used, difficulties faced, findings and conclusions. So that others can learn from and even reproduce it anywhere over the world.
A way of solving this can be implementing a timeline, in which the author of the topic would add new information as their experiment develop. It is similar to what @jegor-m did and @davehakkens pointed out above, however the timeline should be a feature of the forum. Currently, the authors update their processes responding to their own topics. For now, it is not really a problem, since the community is incipient and topics don’t grow much, but imagine if @jegor-m publication had over 700 responses from other users, how would one find quickly what @jegor-m had learned?
Wrapping it up: the sharing of experiments should consist on a timeline, in which updates have a type (comment, impediment, finding, conclusion…) and comments from other users are nested within, so questions and interactions would be categorized by update.
An impediment should trigger collaboration from others. When composing an update of type impediment, the “Alert” section should be displayed. This section would contain checkboxes for “Locals”, “Machine builders”, “Researchers” etc… so specific people would be notified in-app and by email that someone needs their help. For instance (imagine a beautiful form with beautiful text inputs and checkboxes in which the user inputs this):
Content: I need to laser-cut some aluminium for my moulds. Does anybody know of a company that does this kind of service near Itanhaém, Brazil?
This idea is inspired in a TradingView’s feature. Have a look clicking here.
FEATURE 2: SUMMARIES / DOCUMENTATION
It is great to see all the experiments and work in progress, but it’s very time consuming to find a specific information or even only get an overview of what there is already.
So, I thought of having ONE visual overview of all subjects/categories which are being discussed and developed in this forum (again, ignore the visuals for now, just working on content now).
And then within the categories, before coming to all single posts, you would find “AT A GLANCE” summaries about the most relevant topics – gathering all experiences and information in ONE overview (like “moulds” or “costs” etc…), a bit like in a wiki.
No work in progress, no discussions, just “community facts“.
This would be either done by people (manually) OR some form of AI (artificial intelligence) plugin – there ARE some out there, it’s only about finding the right one and how to apply it.
Coooool topic @katharinaelleke. 💪
In a way quite powerful software. But very hidden from the rest of the world and a bit over complex. You really need to learn them.
Overall i like forums, or forum style because they can really document a process. Like jegors or flo topics. This kind of documentation is almost timeless and usefull for basically everyone that starts with plastic.
I think its an powerfull way to share knowledge and learn from eachoher, but the platform could be better at it.
iFixit has a good way of documenting using software they developed themselves called Dozuki
And then there is the element of just talk, exchange quick information. This is less timeless and looking back at this information 1 year later is often kinda useless. But a powerfull way to get a quick answers and move forward on that moment. Slack/Whatsapp/discord would fill this gap.
At the moment this is often set up by people locally themselves. Using software they use there anyway. Like Discord in France, Viber in Taiwan or a big WhatsApp group here in Chile.
I would say a key element for Precious Plastic is to document the knowledge.
There is still so much to learn when it comes to working with plastic. Its powerful to create a place on the web with many examples/lessons/possibilities on how to work with plastic created by people from around the world.
Thats on top of my mind, i’ll keep following and pooping ideas if i have them!
POSSIBLE FEATURES / DEMAND FROM THE COMMUNITY
Also went through all the topics containing ideas/requests for the forum.
Gathering these ideas/requests from the community + my thoughts, I’ll try to include or improve the following features:
– Private messaging (single, groups, attachments,…)
– Filter/Search Function
– Calendar for events (exhibitions, presentations, cleanups…) and more
– Better Flow/Connection between Precious Plastic Website <> Map <> Bazar <> Forum
– Workgroups (helping people to start and organize teamwork on projects/topics)
– Overview over Topics/Issues > SUBCATEGORIES
– procedure/appearance for Topic/Project Updates
– App (?)
Here the main things more visual (at least whats on my mind right now):
So, I’ll just shoot out the things I have in my mind.
Starting with this list of all our Community topics (trying to keep it as updated as possible) I started a while ago to get a feeling for the most common issues etc. (trying to keep it more or less updated).
Adding a couple of filters helps a lot to find appropriate topics to a question/topic!
I think this is in general a crucial part (search function, filter) for platforms like this, where a lot of information is gathered and exchanged.
I’m afraid you can’t use the filter as a reader, but at least you can use the search function and comment the document 😁
I like the small sidebar for workspaces on the map, it also fits machines builders. It’s not hard to do (ok ok, actually, I never messed with WordPress but with other technologies, it is not complicated).
I’ve added some comments on your doc @katharinaelleke.
Aaand, I’m all about option A. There is a thin distinction that needs to be made here.
@imuh, I do agree that the first design is more complex, but it is only for developers to make it. What is more complex UI for a user to navigate through and quickly and instinctively find information: showing everything at once or funneling it down as his/her interest goes?
By sticking to option A, we are asking the user whether s/he wants something or not. Do you want to know about “Cleaning“? If so, you will get a set of subcategories about it and if not we won’t show you these things because you don’t need it.
And I don’t want all the information, I want the information that I need right now. This is how I think in the day-to-day.
It gets worse when I want to switch subcategories… it is a lot easier to spot one item amongst seven than it is to spot this same item amongst thirty. And in case the categories and subcategories big list never get removed from the page, it includes scrolling down and up because it has a lot of height. If it does get out, then you have to go back on the browser history to see it again while option A can stay there all the time and enable instant switches.
These are my thoughts. I think option A is quicker and simpler than option B.
Thank you @flo-2, happy to hear! 🙂
@yuri-fabris, indeed I had that in mind as well – actually pretty much EXACTLY how you described it 🙂
It would definitely be nice to have an extra page for all the workspaces/projects.
One option (don’t know how complicated to do) could be that for PP workspaces and other projects there could be shown a small summary on their Map Pin, directing to both Bazar Profile as well as Forum posts.
Currently not focussing on that, but it’s on the list!
Feature: Recent Topics – Copied.
Actually, @siemenc, the more “condensed” version of the forum is exactly what I’m focussing on right now. So, one main issue why this forum thing has been in my mind for a long time is the fact that it can teach so much about materials, machines, techniques, outcomes etc.- most of the answers ARE ALREADY THERE, but people can’t find them (easily).
So I would like to find a way to make overviews/summaries of every important/most discussed topic/category, so that you could see all the useful information about that topic at a glance.
Let’s take the example of the subject “CLEANING PLASTIC”:
⚡ There are more than 15 Topics with pretty much THE IDENTICAL question/subject: HOW TO CLEAN YOUR PLASTIC for further processes.
⚡ Even within one topic, you have to spend a lot of time scrolling while trying to discover the USEFUL information in all the replies with comments, ideas and questions.
I went through all the replies filtering their content into the following categories:
– INFORMATION / Experience
– IDEAS / Thoughts
– APPRECIATION / Like / Thankyou
– LINK (to other topic/website/video)-
– (and EXCHANGE / people who want to connect)
And I gathered all of it, summing it up into one overview.
Including the information:
– Main questions
– All Images/files
– All Links
– “Contributers” (people who gave a lot of input/ideas)
– And of course a summary of the CONTENT
This summary would enable everyone to see every main information at a glance, but you could still click on every information in it and it would link you to the source, to every individual topic/reply, so you can see it in the context.
HOW TO REALISE THIS?
BEST CASE would be if we can use some sort of AI plugin/some code which makes those summaries for us! Does anyone know anything about that / any wordpress plugin that could work like that / help us implement it?
Otherwise we would have to do all the summaries ourselves (whole community) and try to keep them updated (less “artificial” but much more labour intense).
[Somehow these GIFS don’t seem to work properly (?) CLICK on them to see everything :)]
I also like your idea with ConsiderIt – could be customised so it can not only be used for opinions, but also something like gathering all the different experiences like costs.
Great work @katharinaelleke!
FEATURE 3: BROWSE/SEARCH
ADDRESSING THE CURRENT ISSUES:
NO PROPER FILTER/SEARCH FUNCTION
MULTIPLE POSTS FOR THE SAME QUESTION
First browsing around to see what there already is, you could find:
– the amazing summary with all community facts gathered
– then single posts and all photos/files gathered
– and maybe also MAP pins/ BAZAR items/ experienced MEMBERS to this topic
Now having a specific question and using the ASK/SEARCH function:
– you would get suggestions for facts/topics/pictures/pins/events which match the your words
– only after having seen the suggestions, you’ll be able to post your question
> Could avoid all these IDENTICAL questions.
And posting the question, it will again suggest tags/categories etc. based on the words you typed in already.
> Could make posts more FILTERABLE from the beginning on.
I agree with @yuri-fabris and am in the option A-team. I think it’s simpler and less intimidating at a first glance. You could possibly provide those subcategories when you hover over the categories, to prevent more unnecessary clicking.
I would like to throw an idea about a continuation of the [NEW] Create your own project thing.
After gathering resources to implement a project, the project could have its own micro space on the website to freely (I mean the freedom thing) share what they started doing.
It could be a mix of Instagram and Facebook pages. Updates are based on images and videos (all about showing things) in a grid view, which is great to summarize the content, and on the project page the visitors would also see everything related to the project: bazar items, events, users working on it, map pins, tutorials, links to external social networks etc etc etc.
This idea is about linking and centralizing the information about every project and the community overall. Outside social networks make things dispersed and the forum-style is making things get lost.
**Users can create project pages and add others to help manage it, just like on Facebook
**These pages wouldn’t be able to participate on the forums, only users can
**It includes a feed feature where the user can choose to view updates only from the projects they follows, only from their country or worldwide
Quite possibly you are already thinking about something related. Let me know what are your thoughts on this!
I’ve had a look at it and added some comments to it, hope it helps. There’s some very good ideas in there! Do note that you shouldn’t just rely on my comments as being the truth :-p . Some stuff is basically just my opinion or me just writing down what I’m thinking without perhaps considering other aspects. 😉
Exactly, saving specific replies! Sometimes there’s just one reply with specific useful information in a topic and not having to scroll through the whole topic (which might already be a similar topic to another topic you bookmarked) helps a lot.
Another quite nice feature on Discourse is the ability to see which topics you’ve looked at before. So in the topic overview you get an icon next to the topic which says how many new messages there are in that topic since the last time you’ve read the topic.
Also, in the list of topics there’s a small dividing line which shows which topic was on top the last time you were there. Any new topics or topics with new activity since the last time you visited will be above that divider line.
Very interesting and nice work @katharinaelleke!
I think that last image you created would even be more useful if you could filter according to location as well.
I didn’t read everything here, so sorry if I’m repeating stuff here but I think Bookmarks are suuuuuper usefull. Another forum I’m active on uses Discourse and they have this possibility. The downside with their system is that you cannot put your bookmarks in categories, so trying to find back a topic or post that you bookmarked can be tricky.
I also really like the “latest images” on the Activity page here (since V3 I think?). It’s nice to very quickly see what people have been up to.
This topic also reminded me about an open source hardware platform I had high hopes for a few years ago, when I was doing my graduation project about open design. Had to look for my thesis to find the name: alchematter.org . You can have a look on this video explaining the original intentions and way of working of the website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcPcI7gtN4o There’s quite some useful ideas in there. (Unfortunately there hasn’t been made any progress since 5 years.)
I think the tricky part, with lots of functions is to keep it simple and don’t overwhelm new users with too much input.
And some less important details which I’d prefer: I think in general there’s a lot of scrolling happening on the forums here: a lot of blank space & big spacing between lines of text. I think this might be a personal preference so it would be great if there would be the option to have a more condensed version of the website. Oh and a dark themed version for late night forum-checking. 😉
Same for SHARING things.
It would suggest you summaries/topics/events/etc. where your information might fit in, so it all stays together within one “area” (or maybe you realise that someone else already shared the same thing).
So far for now (many other small adjustments and ideas here and there, but these were the main aspects).
Will have to focus on one feature now, as it’s already only 6 weeks left 👀
Map would be super interesting, but it might be the summaries/documentation I’ll try to further work out.
Happy to hear more feedback/ideas from you guys!
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