To display the message list in the top right of the main forum page, and to make it look like Outlook Express is fairly easy to do. But because I no longer have the scrollbars on the right, a different mechanism than used in OE for navigating the pages of messages is required.
I really need to figure out how and where to put “page n of m”, “next”, “prev”, “first”, “last” links plus other view options (show entire forum or just the thread, order to show, etc.) To decide what’s best requires looking at what everything else uses. Other than looking at how the various Forum software does it, there are also some other popular sites that people navigate around, such as Google’s navigation on its search results, Google groups, or web-based genealogy forums such as RootsWeb’s/Ancestry’s message Boards. Then there are newsreaders and all sorts of other mailing lists online or otherwise that can be looked at: a fun diversion which helps outline all the possibilities so I can decide what user interface I like best. I also check their methods of replying to messages and the interface there, even though I won’t have to make too many design changes to that part. Print out about 20 different pages to compare them side by side and decision-making becomes fun.