PROFILE NOTE: Eric Odom is the community architect and lead developer behind the Grassfire Social Environment at Grassfire.com. You can contact/connect with Eric with any questions or comments about GF Social on his official GF social profile by clicking here.
All members will now notice a massive change in our design and layout. This occurred in preparation for a plethora of new features being planned for implementation in the very near future. Check out our 2017 Roadmap for some updates on some of what’s coming.
The change was also made as we begin heavy modifications to address the following:
It’s no secret we’re running a little sluggish. Our average pageload time is 2.6 seconds, which in 2017 is far too long. Why is the site lagging in the speed tests?
Answering that question isn’t easy so I’ll try to summarize it. We have VERY robust servers able to handle an extraordinary amount of bandwidth. We run on a cloud based network that can vertically scale, in real time, with nearly no limitations. Capacity isn’t an issue for us. To prove this you can visit one of our sister sites at RealAmericaTV.com, a site that runs on the exact same servers. Over there our average load time is less than a second.
The reality is that Grassfire.com is a very, very big website. What you see on the front-end is only a small part of the picture. There is a TON of code interacting with the database on the backend. Every single time a page loads, for example, the database has to compute a wide range of outputs. Things such as friend connections, notifications, online users, messages, status updates… and on and on it goes.
Plus, there are more than 50,000 images hosted across the website. Many of which are called up at any given second depending on who is logged in and what they’re looking at (user image galleries, for example).
So the new version of Grassfire is the first of many steps aimed at optimizing our site. The new design is very minimal compared to the previous version. This will help as we begin a phased set of steps designed to get us down under 1.5 seconds on the page load time.
-Homepage/Landing Page Design
Our previous homepage was a little unappealing generally speaking. It didn’t quite provide a good look at who we are, what we’re about and what the site is. Version 3.1.3 heavily addressed that by phasing in a slew of new components that provide a much better overview of what Grassfire.com is.
Check out Grassfire.com to see the new version in action.
-Better Activity Stream
Version 3.1.2 utilized to activity streams. One that, in theory was supposed to be a community hub with basic features while the “personal” activity stream including more functionality. This wasn’t really ideal as it was confusing and… why have an activity stream that couldn’t do all of what the activity stream can do?
The community stream was scrapped and replaced with the more detailed stream, bringing the site to a network with a single stream of activity.
It’s important to note that the more we grow, the more challenging the stream will become to follow. This is why it’s important to create friend connections and get plugged into groups. That way as the site grows you’ll be able to better categorize what activity you see and consume it in a more logical manner.
You spoke and we listened. The fonts were hard to read for many. We had different sized fonts and different styled backgrounds for fonts on different sections of the website.
This version stripped out most of the theme bulkiness and streamlined styling across the network. We now have better fonts, better sized fonts and similar font sizes on all sections of the network.
A WORK IN PROGRESS
While this version certainly brings about some much needed change, we’re aware there are still quite a few kinks that need to be ironed out. There are still some issues in the mobile version of the activity stream, for example, and a slew of other odd quirks the site seems to want to hold on to for dear life.
Rest assured knowing we’re working on all of it.
Good news is we’re making progress, we have a mobile app coming and a ton of updates on the way. Click here for a preview of what’s to come.
Thank you all for being patient as we build and grow for 2017 and beyond!