We know that it hasn’t always been easy for visitors to The Student Room to understand what it is, who it is for and why this community is special. That’s not a good situation, so on this new homepage guest users will see a much clearer and friendly message that we hope will help everyone from students to parents to journalists and politicians understand how this welcoming community supports students and is a lot of fun. It also shows much more obviously to guests the number of members and those currently online, notice how close to 1 million members we are!
The ‘Homepage feature’ area at the top of the site has been updated to a new more flexible carousel system. We’re calling the individual content boxes pods and these can be shuffled between using the arrows on the left and right.
Pods will be regularly updated and we’ll be creating fun, interesting and useful content that helps support members with their decisions, exams and life generally. In each case our new editor will be drawing out the community perspective, highlighting your opinions. The pods will always link into the Student Room and we’d very much welcome your ideas for future pod content.
Guests will see two layers of pods staked on the homepage (log out and have a look) members will see one layer that scrolls. For members this means your watched threads will appear higher up the page.
Till now the Student Room homepage always expanded to fill the full width of your browser window, regardless of whether you use a tiny computer screen or a massive wide screen job (lucky!). It was very difficult to get the homepage looking good for those extremes. The nifty solution is that we’ve moved to a fixed width so whatever size screen you are using the width will be fixed to the optimum for layout.
The rest of the site remains flexible width and so it feels like the page 'jumps' a little as you move between the two. We'll sort this out when we update the header across the whole site in a month or so.
We’ve added a new advertising unit to the homepage and across the site. We call it the weekly spotlight because it runs for a week - genius naming! It links off of The Student Room to the websites of the organisation advertising.
With the fixed width homepage design users with higher screen resolutions will see borders down the side of the page both on the left and right. Occasionally (up twice a week) an advertiser will use this space to promote a relevant product or service. It’s a big space, we know that, so we’ll make sure that any advertiser wanting to run ‘wallpaper’ across the homepage will be reputable and someone that fits with the values of the community.
We won’t be going live with this on day 1 so you’ll just have to imagine it for now.
Why we’re excited by these changes
The Student Room has come a long long way since it was set up by Charlie (D) back in 2001, it’s evolved and it needs to keep evolving so it looks relevant and useful to new students that stumble on it for the first time. The new homepage is the first of a series of updates on the horizon and with each update our objectives are clear:
1/ Make the community more accessible
2/ Make the community easier to use
3/ Get people more involved
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