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I Heart DNN Design Perspective: Ideas

By Anthony Overkamp

What we’re going for

Starting off this project, we set out to build a social-rich site for the passionate DNN community. Most of us DNN Folks already spread our love of DNN all over Twitter, LinkedIn, DNNChat, and countless other places. We were looking for a place to centralize that love for DNN. Knowing that there is already adoption for all the other social tools out there, it was a challenge to think of reasons for users to want to use our site over, or in addition to their favorite social media outlets.

To convince users that I ♥ DNN is the site for them, we needed to give them as much interest and control as possible. We didn't want to design and build only what we thought was best, but build a site with the community, for the community. We want you to tell us what matters to you, what you want to see on the site, and be an equal part in forming our community.

Enter Ideas

Our next feature, or really the first main feature of the site is implementing DNN Social Idea tool. We are inviting users to tell us what they want to see most out of the site. Letting the community steer us towards what they think will help make this the best community site it can be. I'm sure we all have some great ideas, but we will have to start one nibble at a time.

Maybe you want to be able to message others on the site, or maybe you're looking for a blog feed. How about a gallery of great DNN websites, or tips for making better modules? Tell us what you want to see and let's build this together!

Design Challenges

Since this site is a passion project, we wanted to set out to make something unique and really let the design develop first, not design around the tools. We were really happy with the functionality that the Ideas module provides, but found that the implementation wasn't as flexible as we had hoped. Since this is the first release of DNN Social, we knew that we couldn't expect complete flexibility, and look forward to the improvements that will come in the future. We would have loved for the module to have been in a few more pieces, so that we could have spread out the experience and funneled the info a bit differently. In the end, I was able to use some CSS magic to hide features and move them around.

However, there were some changes that I wanted to make that I couldn't do with CSS. Some of the markup within the module didn't lend itself to my grand vision, and we had to make some compromises on the layout, especially in the list of ideas. That list is marked up as a element, so the options to rearranging in CSS were very limited. This was especially a challenge when applying mobile styles, since we couldn't stack content or move elements easily for smaller viewports.


One of the other challenges we were faced with is the nature of how the module works. Wherever you have the ideas input box, the content that is generated stays related to that page. What we originally had hoped to do was have a callout for entering ideas on the homepage with a list of top ideas below, but ultimately redirect all the ideas to the main idea landing page. Unfortunately, since the ideas are tied to where they were created, clicking on an idea that was submitted on the homepage results in the detail being revealed there in the same pane on the home page. The best choice we could make at the moment was to remove the submission callout on the homepage, and try to direct users to the ideas landing page. Again, if the module was a bit more granular, perhaps there could have been a bit more flexibility here. Although it is a minor loss in what we wanted from the design, the site still functions. It would've been nice for users to have access to sharing their ideas right on the homepage, and as we see and hear more from the users, we may have to find a way to get it back there.

Overall the idea tool is very nice; most, if not all, of the actions feel intuitive and there are good class hooks to jump in and add the style you want. Having the module be separated out into smaller pieces, or offering satellite extensions (like an ideas feed, or suggestion callout) could improve the user experience on the site, but really that is more of a site's strategy and approach. Being able to subscribe to ideas and follow the conversation is great, and gives community members a really nice place to make their vote not only heard, but to also interact with contributors directly.

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