The Board

Building social software for humans

Some time near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, my friend Alex and I started building a lightweight social media application we've called The Board. Inspired by forums and BBS of yore, with the usability improvements of modern interface design.

The Board's Homepage The Board's v0.2 homepage


Our main motivation was frustration with the existing social software offerings. It's no secret that large networks like Twitter (now X), Reddit, and Facebook et. al have a reputation for producing toxic spaces. These networks are also maintained largely through advertising revenue, which rewards designing the platform for user engagement and retention, typically at the expense of user well being.

After some initial brainstorming we decided on a few things that would The Board unique, and most importantly something we wanted to use.

The Board's Invite interface The Board's invites

Visual language

When revisiting the look and feel after the first major iteration, I had a lot of difficulty deciding on a key color that should represent The Board. My main concern after a few experiments was a lack of personality and individuality. The solution for this that we eventually came to was to design the entire interface in a limited color pallette, and create a set of themes users can choose from.

The Board's Themes The Board's theme selector

Themes only need 3 colors defined, and we have a script that will generate a theme from just 2 colors, the foreground and the background. One of the big benefits of this spartan design language is that it makes layout and alignment issues in the design very obvious. Contrast is also much easier to check, and visual accessibility has been improved significantly since the original design.

The low color, minimal design also gets out of the way of posts, so the content shines and isn't overwhelmed by the UI.

The future

While we've made it pretty far with our currently running instance, we have already started another large rewrite to accommodate new features. You can follow our progress and learn more about our technical plans for the future at our repo on GitLab.