LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT US:
AboveTopSecret.com is the Internet's largest and most-popular site for the examination of a broad range of "alternative topics" that range from UFOs to conspiracy theories, politics to paranormal, and so much more. Our site features primarily user-generated content on a broad range of "alternative topics" that can range from highly provocative political scandals and conspiracies, to intensely interesting extreme science.
Over 80% of our daily visits are from non-members discovering our topics through search engines and links on other sites. As a result, we deliver less-complicated (as compared to typical "discussion board designs) pages to those who are not logged-in as a member. Once logged in, the look and feel accommodates typical discussion board fare such as avatars, content ranking, and social networking features.
We are very-strict about the participation of our members, and do not allow swearing, insults, illegal topics, trolling, etc. Our policies insist common every-day social graces and manners from our members so that the flow of discussion focuses on the topic and not the exchange of insults and one-upmanship.
HERE IS WHAT WE NEED:
We're looking for a comprehensive redesign and re-imagining of the structure, function, and performance of a large discussion board that attracts significant amounts of traffic from non-members. The core attributes of the brand identity must be maintained (logo, generally dark backgrounds), but updated to contemporary web design sensibilities.
Three pages in this assignment:
(1) Primary Site Home: http://www.abovetopsecret.com
This page contains a summary of the most important and most active topics currently being discussed. This page was created as a means to provide visitors quick access to current content, who may be unfamiliar with a discussion board structure. Photos are almost always not available as possible companions for content, and will not be in the future. Your design must not rely on "newsish" photography to draw attention to the topics, as this page is auto-generated every 10 minutes, and human intervention is not yet possible.
(2) Discussion Board Home: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/
This is the current evolution of the core discussion board home page, and is a top destination for logged-in members. The icon system, used to represent the various discussion forums, has been a key component of our identity, but is open for reexamination and redesign. If you propose a redesign of the topical icon system, illustrate your system with no fewer than the first two rows of forums.
(3) Discussion Thread:
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thre... (non-member example)
http://stuff.abovetopsecret.com/memberex... (member example)
These are the most-important pages, the actual content that attracts visitors. Your assignment is to provide a design alternative for the non-member page only (the member-version page is provided as a reference). The system currently displays twenty posts per page, and any alteration of that number must have an exceptionally compelling design rationale (as our content is very-well indexed as-is).
YOU WILL HAVE AN ADVANTAGE IF:
(1) Your design illustrates exceptionally progressive ides for the functional evolution of a discussion board
(2) Your design represents an evolution of the core brand, while maintaining the existing logo
(3) Your navigation system provides simplified access to the broad range of features and content
(4) Your design portrays a look-and-feel system that demonstrates an easy translation into multiple products
(5) Suggest interesting new functionality we've never considered
*** Submissions as a single PDF file of your design, with your notes/descriptions is highly desired.
OUR TARGET AUDIENCE IS:
The target audience is exceptionally broad, and should be considered to be the general browsing public that would otherwise visit news web sites regularly.
WE LIKE THESE DESIGNS:
Nearly all high-traffic social networking and user-generate sites represent design concepts that should be considered. However, we are looking for ground-breaking ideas that elevate the genre to a level compatible (or beyond) with our high standards of manners and conduct.
WE ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE THIS IN OUR DESIGN:
Nearly all professional web-designers will balk at the amount of advertising on our content (thread) pages. Over time, we've been very successful at presenting a fair value proposition to our visitors and members -- a slightly higher-than-normal number of ads in exchange for a high-performance site with very interesting content. Your proposed design must accommodate the current level of advertising shown on our existing pages.
The new design must accommodate skins/wraps for ads and internal promotion.
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