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Old Dec 12, 2012, 11:27 AM   #1
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pgiguere1's Avatar
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Montreal, Canada
Forum theme and icons feel outdated. Time to ditch vBulletin 3?

I always find it weird that MacRumors has so much active forum members (773k, not counting the ones lurking and not signing up) and revolves around a tech company that puts so much attention to design, yet every time I come here I feel like I'm looking at some old inactive forums from a decade ago.

The template and color scheme don't look very good, but not that bad either. It's minimalist enough that it doesn't show its age. I don't think that light grey and lavender go well together, but I can live with it.

I think that the worst offenders are actually the icons.

Starting with smilies:
Also, those formatting options icons:
And those various icons:

Those simply don't look like they belong on a tech forum from 2012.

From what I understand, MacRumors uses vBulletin 3 for the forums, and they're still using the default template which has been designed in 2004. They seem to have some control over the theme colors and icons they use (that Apple logo smiley probably wasn't there originally) but I don't know to what extent. They're probably limited to using .gifs and CSS2, which doesn't help the situation.

Perhaps the best idea would be to simply upgrade to a modern version of vBulletin.

Here's what the default theme in vBulletin 5 looks like: (Click to enlarge)

Thumb resize. Thumb resize.

Thumb resize. Thumb resize.

That already looks a lot more modern, and if you want to customize it further more, there are loads of options in the admin control panel. You can also upload your own PNG icons / smileys which will of course look better than those old gifs.

However, vBulletin 5 is not officially released. You can already buy it ($209) and use one if its final beta releases, but the gold version is only expected in the coming weeks. That may be a good opportunity to upgrade given that upgrading from v3 to v5 directly is supported and that this has to happen one day or another. New vBulletin versions only come out once in 4 years and I certainly hope they won't keep that outdated theme on MacRumors until early 2017...

It seems that MacRumors has some pretty decent designers seeing their recent banners on the front page (Christmas sales, Pre-event roundups, etc.) and I'm sure they could come up with something beautiful if they weren't limited to using old standards like CSS2 and GIFs.

Of course, upgrading to a forums platform that is 8 year more recent will also bring lots of new functionalities, not just a more modern design.

What do you think?

Am I the only one getting tired of this outdated forums look or would you also like to feel like you're actually looking at a highly-active Apple forums from 2012, not 2002?

Last edited by pgiguere1; Dec 12, 2012 at 11:49 AM.
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