Autodesk forums return – what do you think?

Congratulations to the tech team behind the Autodesk forum software for getting the redesigned forums back up well ahead of schedule!

The new forums look very different. My first impression is that it is a standard-issue Autodesk “progression” – it looks prettier but doesn’t work nearly as well. Huge swathes of screen space are wasted for graphic impact (no, I don’t mean the long-dead Autodesk attempt at PowerPoint). Big fonts, huge header, even bigger footer, lots of pretty white space. Yet what is there contains less useful information. On a 1920 x 1200 monitor, I can only see four threads within a forum before I need to start scrolling:

What I can’t see is if there have been any new posts since my last visit. To do that, I have to enter each thread and do a lot of scrolling (again, because of the highly inefficient information-to-screen-space ratio) to get to the end, then try to remember whether or not I had already read the last few posts. I can’t even just hit [End] because that gives me this:

How efficient is that? Signal to noise ratio: 0%. Compared with the old forum where I could see the headers for a whole bunch of threads and scan the number-of-new-posts column in a second or so, I now have many minutes of clicking, scrolling and frustration ahead of me. Like I have nothing better to do. Every click counts, remember.

Typical Autodesk. Marketing appeal over user efficiency, every time. All sizzle, no steak.

What do you think? Have your say here, on the Community Feedback forum, and/or even on dear Autodesk.

11 Comments

  1. I’m not a fan of excessive white space (the empty space around the text). I’m scrolling way too much on current web pages that are in vogue today, unfortunately, the new version of the forums has upped this factor from the previous incarnation.

  2. How many years have passed since Autodesk abandoned NTTP? Remember the efficiency? How speedy it was to download all new messages for lackadaisical off-line study and response? How a single topic could display 150? messages on screen? Hard to imagine a company would destroy a capable toolset and alienate a percentage of their users. When will the current groups become available only to current subscribers? And will another 7% cash penalty quickly follow? Or will you be required to access the groups through a cell phone – a paid 986 number? Like phone sex. Without even the hint of a promise the customer will have a happy ending.

  3. steven-g

    NIce write up just about hits the nail on the head, I remember the last time (2013) the forums had an update and one of the big cries then from users was the amount of wasted space, I’m still waiting for lots of improvements that users requested back then, with the all too familiar reply from Autodesk “thank you for your valued input, we will look into the issues and get back to you”. I give it maybe 2 or 3 weeks and people will just stop making comments and learn to live with the new look.

  4. Josef Wienerroither

    The new design and usability is about as bad as i expected a forum redesign to turn out in the current state of online trends. It’s the same bad, maybe currently fashionable ( or already old again ? ), dumbed down web-forum scheme that was enforced on the Unity forums a while back back. After a major outroar in the Unity community , Unity reverted the decision and reactivated the old, maybe slower but better forum software. Nothing i’d expect from Autodesk though…

  5. I have not studied the “new site” but for only a few minutes, but it seems as though this is nothing more than an undesired (by most) face life via a new style sheet.

    I don’t see that any of the “ideas” from the “Ideas” page actually made it into production.

    Ironically, the old “Ideas” forums had the “ideal” posting method where you had access to the full editor **without** having to leave the page you were replying to. Just like the Quick Reply, but with full controls and HTML tab.

    I do not recall a single “idea” made by a user that said “We want more white space, and more scrolling and more clicking”.

    Just another chapter in “Autodesk will do what it wants to with little regard for the wishes of its customers”.

  6. James Maeding

    I’m struggling to figure out what they “solved”. Must have been really important given the bad side effects. Wish they would choose a few of us to test along the way, I would have for free and they could have found a possible ally.

    1. Josef Wienerroither

      I can’t see anything they “solved” with this forum revamp either. In my initial comment above i wrote something about that maybe the new forum software would make the whole thing load quicker. But as i experience this now, the Autodesk forums are as sluggish as ever. if not even slower. So the whole point of the forum relaunch is not visible to me …

  7. BlackBox

    … It’s really quite terrible.

    The time & resources that must be wasted on this stuff must be immense.

    I used to believe one must be a meteorologist to constantly get things wrong and still keep your job… Apparently, one can also work for Autodesk? Huh.

  8. Griffin

    Like all things Autodesk, it needs be looked at from the correct side.
    Low info density, slow loading and horrible navigation translate into:
    “The forum redesign is a great success, we have increased user engagement”

  9. Actually one thing they did get “solved” is that now the forums are more tightly integrated into the “Autodesk Knowledge Network”. All with a common look and feel.

    Years ago, when you went on an Internet search for information about an Autodesk product, you might land at one of the old “knowledge base” articles, which were, at the time, golden. You knew they were authored by a knowledgeable person with insight into the issue.

    But now, the “Autodesk Knowledge Network” contains some articles written by people who are NOT knowledgeable on the subject, and with the integration of the customer forums, it’s way too easy for a newbie to stumble across some info that is totally bogus because it’s just some random post from another user.

    But I suppose it’s adapt or die, so we move on.

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