Navigating through forums is quite self-explanatory and makes finding a specific topic of interest easy for users. Categorical choices narrow the content search until a user is presented with a list of threads, posts by contributors, which they can scroll through and choose from. The search does not take long for users and threads are accessible within seconds, depending on the proficiency of the user.
The first step in navigating a forum is finding it. All three forums researched in this report, WomenandHome, Bassrecourse, and Gamespot are connected to a mother website. Most forums are connected to a mother website and on the website’s main page the forum drop-down list will be readily accessible. These drop-down lists are comprised of various forum categories. If a user clicks on the forum heading and not a category they are taken to the forum’s main page. Here forums differ in layout and thus differ in navigation. The differentiation in navigational methods is no happenstance by the creators. Being that forums are centered on a general topic they tend to attract a specific member base or demographic. The forum’s navigational methods are going to be geared toward their users.
WomenandHome did not give a drop-down list of categories but once a person clicks “forums” they are directed to the forum page which provides a list of categories. The category options are listed lower on the page and requires the user to scroll down to find it. The top section of the page same on every page of WomenandHome and it is used to advertise the website’s magazine, promote users to create a forum account, and inform users about the forum. Professionals will say that scrolling is bad on a website and users should be able to readily see there next destination. Scrolling discourages passive users who are rapidly travelling from one website to the next. So why does WomenandHome make users scroll? Well, the forum is relatively small with 6,487 users and only 82 members. It makes sense that they would take every opportunity to recruit members. Beyond this navigating WomenandHome is similar to all other forums. Choose a category then pick from the list of threads pertaining to said category.
Bassrecourse uses its forum’s main page to expand on its drop-down list. It provides all the categories in the drop-down list as well as more choices. It also gives more in-depth options for certain categories allowing for more specific searches for users seeking specific information. Being a bass fishing forum Bassrecourse is sponsored by many sportsman companies but it keeps the brand advertisements along the right hand side of the page, allowing users to easily see the content they are looking for. With over 58,000 members Bassrecourse is a well-established forum that isn’t concerned with attracting scores of members. Instead it focuses on giving users readily available information and being specific with content. Bass anglers are particular people using specific strategies to maximize the number of fish caught. It makes sense that they would be as particular with the information they seek online.
Gamespot has the more complicated forum main page to navigate but this shouldn’t surprise anyone because it is a video game oriented forum. This means its members are going to be tech-savvy people that can navigate complicated or cluttered pages with ease. Gamespot uses its forum’s main page completely differently than the other two forums. Content on this forum is very oriented toward trending topics and what is currently popular. New games are constantly coming out and contributors will want to talk about them as soon as they are announced. Gamespot uses its main page as a continually updating “Recent Discussion” page that shows users then newest threads. This gives users a good incentive to regularly check the forum. If general reading is not the user’s objective there is a drop-down list provided in a column on the right hand side of the page. There are twenty-seven different categories in this one drop-down list. With the variety of video games many categories are needed to cover the spectrum.
Across the board mother websites and drop-down lists are popular to forum navigation. An aspect unapparent to many users is the layouts of forums are designed with members and users in mind. The navigation of forums should be most efficient for people interested in them.