Here are three very straightforward forum examples that I think are better designed. Click through a few levels on each to get a sense of things...TypophileStones Throw RecordsAustralian INfront
Now, I don't mean to say that sf should look exactly
like these, but they are good examples that show a level of sophistication that the sf forums are currently lacking. The functionality, as you see, is similar. They are all, after all, online forums.
The visual presentation, though, is cleaner and gets out of the way of the content (more so than sf). The typography hierarchy feels more considered. I don't think anyone can argue that these examples are difficult to navigate. In fact, I would say that they are easier to navigate than sf's current state.
When I go to the Typophile forum I feel like I am at the Typophile
forum. When I go to the Stones Throw fourm, I feel like I am at the Stones Throw
forum. When I go to the styleforum boards, I feel like I am at a visually cluttered vBulletin forum
with the name "styleforum" in the upper left hand corner.
To me, it's sort of like comparing an off-the-shelf suit that maybe doesn't fit quite right, to one that has been fit and tailored for a particular body. The small details count.
Again, no disrespect to anyone here. I mean well. I just think that the sf visual presentation could feel more intentional; more tailored to its audience and its great content.