These are screenshots of a topic/thread on the new site, as well as various features and elements.
The first is a full-length screenshot of entire sample page (so the file is quite large, about 1MB):
I've taken the advice given by James as well as various others into account, and (compared to the previous example) tried to improve the contrast in some problem areas such as the inactive tabs and the footer. I decided to add a subtle glow below the tabs/logo region of the header to enliven and warm up the colors a bit. In case anyone has a concern about the color of the inactive tabs - I have a version with brighter tabs, and tested it with everyone I could get to look at it... they all preferred the version shown in this example over the brighter inactive tabs, however I'm open to continuing to try additional versions.
The following two smaller images are from page 2 of the topic. At the top left of sub-pages of a topic, there is a toggle link which causes the text of the initial post to be displayed for reference if desired:
A few other items worth pointing out/explaining:
- There is a "Mark as Answered" link in the left side of a topic's primary post. This option is visible to the original topic's creator and the staff/moderators, but not other users. When making a forum topic, a checkbox is available that lets you mark the topic as a question (as compared to random talk or whatever). When checked, the topic will additionally be included on a separate "Unanswered questions" listing, so those looking to help someone can browse the list (down the line I hope add a user points system to incentivize helping other people, the earned points being possible to exchange for... well I haven't got quite that far yet haha). Once a question has been answered, the user (or a moderator) can click the "Mark as Answered" link to toggle its status instantly with AJAX (or if clicked accidentally or if the question needs to be re-opened, clicking again reverses the change).
- I've added tabs for "Community" and "Groups". The Community page may be something I'll actually wait until post-release for, but down the line will be a central section bringing together the latest and best from all the various facets of the community, art, information, blogs, etc. This isn't a big priority for the moment. The Groups on the other hand will be part of the initial release. This will harness Organic Groups - I'll tell you more about this a bit later (in the mean time, there are some example links on the project's page to sites that use it).
- I've removed a few of the icons that were listed alongside "Post new topic" and the other links in the previous screenshot. Instead, I've decided to unify a collection of important links to provide quick access to the majority of a user's personal "stuff" on the site, making these links available at all times throughout the site, in the same place, at the top right of the screen. I've labeled this the User panel. This top right corner (and the menu below it, described below) is essentially meant to be "the" place where a user can look when the want to do something (such as create new content) or find something (bookmarked pages, friends, messages, etc). The remaining custom icons for Post new topic as well as one for posting a Poll have been remade with improved sharpness.
- Directly below the User panel, the "local menu tasks" appear. What shows here depends on the context and the permissions of the user. If a user is the creator of a given page, they may have an Edit option here. Depending on the type of page (e.g. besides forum topics) additional options may appear here. Moderators/admins will see Edit at all times, as well as a variety of other options such as a link to send the current topic into the Featured Discussions listing. For those familiar with Drupal and curious - I've done away with the View tab.
- I've changed the Search forum topics link to "Search discussions" since the link will slide out a form that searches both the forum as well as group discussions.
- The Post reply form includes buttons for easily inserting or wrapping selected text with HTML. Basic HTML tags are permitted and filtered, no more BBcode. Clicking some buttons opens a small modal dialog box for entering the required data, and other buttons (such as for Headings) toggle a clickable preview of the heading sizes. There is also a Preview button with which the post can be seen instantly in rendered HTML, to screen for accidental errors. I don't have time right now, but I'd like to spend a little more time down the line either finding or making some of the buttons better (since it's a bit mix-and-match right now... though the original buttons were horrendous haha).
- Avatars are 100x100px (larger images can be uploaded by the user, and will be scaled and cropped automatically if needed). There is also a selection of default avatars I made for people to choose from (more can be added as well). Old NS avatars won't be coming along to the new site, as most are significantly smaller than 100x100.
- There's a Private Message system, and a link below each user's avatar/name to send them a PM.
- The first post in a topic is highlighted in blue. Subsequent posts by the topic's author are also highlighted in the same way.
- Users can "Report" posts as abuse, spam, etc. Moderators are shown a list of flagged topics, comments, and users so they can act accordingly. See a small screenshot.
Anyhow, I hope you guys like it, and as always let me know your feedback and ideas.