The forum was first designed to have different sections according to the universities campuses, and within them have relevant topics that suit that campus. So for example Harrow Campus —> computer science could have a topic called Programming and under this users could post questions. However after some serious considerations we realised that it will be easier to not have separate sections as it will over complicate the forum and just make the forum more congested.
To overcome this issue we made the forum have overall topics throughout the uni oppose to having topics according to the campuses. So instead the sections would just show relevant topics that whole university campuses would go to rather than selecting their campuses and thens selecting a topic.
Prototype design 1:
Prototype design 2:
Protype Design 3:
After some valuable constructive criticism and feedback we found the following issues:
- The Westminster logo should not be used as it not official university product and will be against the marketing department.
- The colours scheme of the forum should not mimic the universities colours as otherwise it will make students avoid using it
- Realised that the forum needed a makeover. So we changed the theme to give a more upbeat look and this is the progress of the new forum interface so far…
NEW DESIGN SO FAR:
After creating the forum we showed it at the twoler meeting. Some of the feedback we got from the meeting was that the forum should not follow the same layout as the university, but instead It should be unique and stand out so the students would be more keen to use it. We also created a Questionnaire to get valuable feedback from everyone:
Below is the questions and some answers we got:
1. Currently we structured the forum by campuses, do you like this structure?
The ordering of the campuses, why are they in that order? which campuses are larger, shouldn’t they be at the top?
You might wanna think about activities on each campus rather than looking so formal, something fun in each campus.
child boards? can you rename “child boards” to something else?
The name “Westminster Forum”, something a bit more catchy perhaps?
2. Should we stick with current theme we have for the forum?
No, it looks to formal and the uni marketing team will prob have a fit if they saw it. I liked the other theme you did, the black one with the funky colours. You wanna make it look less official uni property and a site done by the students, for the students.
3. Other than the current sections, what new sections would you like to be added on to the forum?
Have a look what other university forums have on theirs like http://www.londonstudent.co.uk/forums/index.php
they also have a UoW page http://www.londonstudent.co.uk/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=39
A Twoler competition section – a must for any UoW forum
4. Should we allow external users from outside the university gaining access to the forum?
Yes, because it will allow perspective students to ask questions…. that could be a new section?
No, because you’ll have more chances of people trying to flog stuff on there that shouldn’t be on there, other uni students poaching ideas etc etc.
However, if it’s gonna be available to everybody the chances you have more people using it because the content added will be greater.
5. What additional features would you want the forum to have?
Competition functionality so you can run a competitions if you wanted, or if anybody else wanted.
Can you embed youtube video’s or pictures etc on posts?
6. Some tutors/staff may have links from outside university should they allow student information to be shared for job opportunities?
Staff and tutors should be aware of what, if any, info can be shared about the students. Data protection acts come in to play etc etc
Don’t know what exactly you mean by the question, clarify please.
7. Suggest topic names, how they can be improved
Twoler competition topic and it should be right at the top of the forum
Forgot to mention that you have some competition in the form of UWSU facebook disscussion pages. There must be other places as well.
We changed the original header to have our own forum header as shown below:
The orginal logo when posting icons was also changed:
The button tab was changed to fit in with the colour of the university.
With the current drupal forum it had some major limitations that stopped us from making changes to it. Some of the limiations were;
- The graphic were very simple
- The child board would keep showing underneath the main topics that was a hassle
- The interface of the forum was not very appealing and did not follow the standards of most forums
- It did support any flash components and other stuff you would find in forums such as code tags. Some of these could be installed through modules but not all were available.
After some reseacrhing we found this module called SMF (Simple Machines Forum) Integration. This module allowed us to install a smf and intergrate it with drupal.
We had to first create my SQL database as shown on the screen shot below:
we then downloaded the SMF module from the website:
we then uploaded the SMF files into the domain were the website will be hosted to:
As the current design is a template created by another author we do not want to use their colour scheme and the logo, icons etc. We are trying to get the look and feel of the forum to go with the look for Westminster university. To do this we had to go inside the theme and layout settings and change the .CSS style sheets and customise it to our requirements. Below shows an example of this: