Automatic iPhone redirect and more coming tomorrow

Tomorrow (Wednesday) evening, we’ll be rolling out a brand new release to your Ning Network. This release makes it easier to use the mobile interface for your Ning Network by introducing an automatic redirect for anyone who visits your Ning Network from an iPhone. It also adds some more structure to the way Main Page features display, keeping your Main Page speedy and focused. Finally, this release refreshes the default layout for My Pages to add emphasis on the Comment Wall, making it easier for members to keep in touch with each other. Here’s what’s inside:

Members now automatically get taken to your iPhone interface

It’s about to get a lot easier for members to check in to your Ning Network on the go. Starting tomorrow, whenever members access your Ning Network from an iPhone, they’ll go straight to the mobile interface:

Snapping a mobile photo or video, uploading it from your phone, and then sparking a discussion around it will be easier than ever, making it simple for members to share their adventures as they happen.

Putting your best Main Page forward, part II

Earlier this month, we built in some best practices that help your Ning Network pass the 4-Second Rule. With this release, we’re adding structure behind the size of the Text Boxes that display on the Main Page. Specifically, each Text Box can now contain 1 embedded widget and a maximum of 100K characters. If you have a Text Box with more, you’ll just be prompted to trim things down the next time you click the “Edit” link to change what goes inside it. Additionally, Network Creators will see a warning message if they have more than 10 embeds on the Main Page. We’re also making some minor tweaks to the display options for the RSS, Forum, Event, Birthdays, Photos, Notes and Blog features. Your current layout won’t be affected, but if you click the Edit link next to a feature on the Main Page or your My Page, you’ll see new options for the number of items to display.

Each of these changes is meant to position your Ning Network for success by creating a framework for features that encourages speed without stifling creativity or flexibility. If you’re encountering any obstacles in this transition, we’ll be happy to come up with a solution together in the Ning Help Center.

Giving the Comment Wall on your My Page the spotlight

One of the biggest drivers to your members’ profile pages is their Comment Wall. To spur activity and make it easier for members to communicate, we’re changing the default layout of My Pages to make the Comment Wall more prominent. The Comment Wall will now appear directly below the Activity feed, the Discussions feature will move above the Groups feature, and Videos will move to the left column. This change will only happen on a member’s My Page if he or she hasn’t customized the layout. And going forward, members will still be able to customize the layout of their My Pages to find the look that’s right for them.

And that’s it! As always, we’d love to hear your feedback and we’re happy to answer any questions in the Ning Help Center.

About the Author:

Nick Barr – who has written posts on Ning's Official Blog on Social Networking Sites.


  • Coronado Events

    Very excited about these updates. One other one that would make me SOOOO HAPPY: ability to add repeating events in the Events section. Any chance this is coming soon? Where do we go to post requests for new features (I forgot).

  • Gina Bianchini

    Hey Coronado Events!

    We hear the request for recurring events regularly and we’re looking into when we can make that happen. The only challenge is that it is both a bit harder to do than we’d like and, while important to some of our Ning Networks, there are other features that we want to get out the door that everyone will benefit from. It’s a bit of a catch-22 but something we’re aware of and are looking to find the right solution to address.

  • Insider.com LLC

    How about some work on the chat product?

    It’s sorely lacking in moderating features.

  • Gina Bianchini

    Hey Insider.com,

    Appreciate your desire for more chat features. We’re looking into a plan for chat now and, as soon as we have something, will post it here.

  • _

    please please please enable us to track iphone use! this is vital!

  • ssanjarr

    Stop changing Ning, give us chat moderators.

  • Brian Fløe

    • Better iPhone support? GREAT !

    • Auto redirect for iPhone users? GREAT !

    • It’s unclear what you mean by giving iPhone users easier access to uploading media directly to the network from their iPhone? Does it mean that I will no longer have to promote this option on the network because it will be built in to the iPhone user interface?? (I hope this is the case).

    • Still no way for iPhone users to write blog posts on the go (from their iPhone) ? We like “reporters in the field” it’s gonna make our networks more “buzzin”.

    • I have an idea for the RSS box: give us the ability to merge several RSS URLs into one feed. Still limited with the same maximum posts and detailed view etc. of casue.
    I would like to be able to serve a mix of RSS feeds from different news sites on my front page. This way I won’t HAVE to use several RSS boxes and I don’t really need it. What I want is to serve the internet on a platter so they only have to visit my site :) ))

    …next up Ning Apps ??? YIKES !

  • Glen Doss

    Please move the Profile Information to the top of the My Page. The default layout currently hides it way down the page.

  • Gina Bianchini

    Hey Glen!

    With the new default My Page layout that we’re releasing today, profile information will be moving further down the page. I want to flag this for you now, given your feedback. The reason we are pushing it further down the page is that what we are seeing in the data is that the single most popular feature on My Pages is the comment wall. Now, that’s the good news. The bad news is that by having the comment wall near the top as it is now, the comment wall isn’t used as much as it could be by making it more obvious. And to make it more obvious, we needed to move something down. That something is currently the profile information section.

    We are looking at ways to make the profile information section more prominent while continuing to present the comment wall in its new spot. We’ll keep you posted on our work here and appreciate your feedback on where you’d like to see it.

    Thanks!
    Gina

  • LiveforLondon

    This is Great Nick!

    And the 4 -Second rule makes a lot of sense… ever sice i have reduced my embeds and positioned the Latest Activity right to the Top Centre it keeps my Members on my site for much Longer as they see Activity feeds occuring on a Faster Loading page… along with the return of the Green Online Indicators has seen my Member Sign Up’s Increase Dramatically!

    So thanks for all the Blog Posts and updates…!

    Is their any News on The Status Updats being released yet?

    I think we all just know that these will send our Networks Rocketing!!

    Can’t wait!!

    Thanks, Jeff!

    http://www.liveforlondon.com

  • Gina Bianchini

    Hey LiveforLondon!

    The Status feature – previously blogged about – is coming out around 9/9 or 9/10, so it’s just around the corner!

  • Dave Iannone

    I agree, moving profile information even FURTHER down on a user’s profile page seems distracting…..MySpace, Facebook, etc. all put that information at the top…now we’ll need to tell all users to move it back up if they want it, how many comments will show up? The profile is about the person…putting their activity, then comments, and THEN their profile information way at the bottom seems anti intuitive.

  • http://www.ning.com Nick

    Hi Brian,

    The overall experience for iPhone users should be easier now that they get automatically redirected to the iPhone interface. But you bring up a really good point — I think we should be emphasizing the built-in ability to upload photos and videos from your mobile phone on the mobile interface. As for adding blog posts on the go, that’s not possible yet, but I agree it would be a great feature to add. We’ll round up these key ideas for improving the mobile experience and keep you posted about the improvements we have lined up.

    As for your idea about RSS: it’s great to hear about why you’re using multiple RSS feeds on your Main Page. The good news is that it’s really easy to get all if your news sources into a single feed. Two services I recommend are Yahoo Pipes and Google Reader. Just drop us a note in the Ning Help Center if you have any trouble setting these up.

    Thanks!
    Nick

  • LiveforLondon

    Thanks for Letting us know about the Status Updats in September Gina and Nick.

    The issue that I’m reading about ‘Moving the Profile Info down the Page as a Default’ is a bit worrying, as most Social Networking sites do leave the comments at the Bottom.

    The fact that ‘by ‘default’ the ‘Latest Activity’ is at the Top is Fantastic and should always be left their, as this is what drives people Interactivity on places like Facebook.

    I would like to point out that the first thing our eyes glance at is Profile Info, but thats if Network Creators set up Profile Questions… i don’t do that because the Info should be for each Member to Update about themselves in the Text/HTML Box… and most members Drag their Text/Html Box to the top anyway…but thats not always the case if People have set up a Media Network site, like a ‘Check Box’ in the Profile Questions, ie, model, musician, photographer, etc… plus additional info like’Tell us about yourself’ and so on…

    However, i read in your recent blog post thatl soon we will be able to Automatically leave a comment when people sign up, well that will solve the issues in a big way as we can indicate that Modules can be moved.. so i hope the Auto Commenter can be set up ASAP…

    As for the ‘Status Updates’ then this is the best news ever, as this will drive new members to our Networks when Vistors View with a possiblity of Signing up…

    I think the Profile info should be left where it is…. but as i said an ‘Auto Commenter’ will Counteract this… but it really shouldn’t be Neccessary when things are Fine as they are…

    The Auto Commnter is a great addition as most people don’t read their Welcome email… so we can add info directly on their page, maybe even setting up an ‘FAQ’ and ‘Info’ Page and directing them to that…

    Thanks

    Jeff

  • Gina Bianchini

    Dave,

    I appreciate where you are coming from and this is an interim step to bringing the profile information into a better place long-term. However, the reason for making this change now is to see what the optimal default layout is for driving engagement and relationships among members in the short-term. We will absolutely be monitoring this to ensure that the change doesn’t hurt engagement and relationships among members.

    This also raises a good point that in the future being able to have the Network Creator define the default layout is a good feature to add, so I appreciate it.

    Thanks!
    Gina

  • mommypie

    ACK! While I understand the logic for making the Comments Section more prominent, on a site like mine, the PROFILE info is the MOST IMPORTANT thing on the page! (See the Swap Mamas Profile Questions and you’ll see what I mean.)

    Is there any way to go back to old default if we request it? I know this is a long shot, but it makes a BIG difference for me …

    Thanks much!
    Darcy

  • Minnka

    Am I blind or can you not access your messages now on the iphone ?

    If you can could someone tell me where to find them!

    Thanks :)

  • David McDaniel

    Thanks for the iPhone redirect. Our site uses the Blog tab way more than the Forum tab. Any chance we can pick which of the Tabs show up in the iPhone UI? If not, how to we get to Blogs easily?

    Thanks!

  • Robert

    This all sounds good … but maybe in the future Ning can layout the profile info, latest activity and comments all in tabs… sorta like facebook profiles.. less spaces is used on the profile since it is all in the same place . Am I making sense. ?

    I am looking forward to the release of NIng Apps and status feature…
    thanks for the update.
    Robert

  • Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Darcy!

    I can see why having profile information on the top of the page is important on your Ning Network. While we’ve changed the default layout of your members’ My Page, you can always turn on the ability for them to move around the features on their profile page. Once you turn on this feature – on Manage -> Feature Controls -> “Allow members to adjust their My Page layout,” you should be set!

    Thanks,
    Laura

  • Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Minnka!

    You aren’t blind :) This iPhone version of your Ning Network doesn’t include the message center built in. I know this is important — people love to check their messages! — and hopefully it’s something we can build in to a future version of your Ning Network on the iPhone.

    Thanks!
    Laura

  • Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi David!

    As you’ve noticed, not all the features available on your Ning Network are available on the iPhone version — we were not able to bring in the complete functionality you’ll find when visiting your network on a normal computer browser. In future revisions, we certainly hope to add more features.

    Thanks!
    Laura

  • Robert

    I will have to admit after looking at my members pages with the profile info at the bottom of the page it looks out of place… and my members are getting pissed that it changed.. I got about 4 emails since my last comment on here … I have it so the members can change it back. but they are frustrated they have to go and change it . Can I set it so it goes back to the way it was and save it that way ?

    Why was this a good thing to do …?
    Wouldn’t it be good for Ning to post a poll for the NC’s can vote on these little changes before they are released. . ?

    Any other Social network has the profile info alot more visible. It is what my members read .. each other profiles not comment walls.

    Robert

  • http://www.ning.com Nick

    Hi all,

    Appreciate the feedback about the new layout of My Pages. As Gina says above, this update was driven by the data we’ve seen showing that the Comment Wall is the single most popular feature on My Pages. But because the Comment Wall was a little buried, we saw that we could spur more activity and participation on My Pages by bumping it up near the top.

    We are closely monitoring this change to make sure that it isn’t hurting engagement and relationships among members. And we’re listening to your feedback, too. We’d ask you and the members of your Ning Network to give this new layout a couple of weeks and see if it grows on you — if it’s still not working out after that, please let us know. A lot of good ideas — including giving Network Creators the ability to set the default layout — have been posted here and we’re looking closely at these feature requests.

    Thanks again for your thoughts,
    Nick

  • Thiago Santos de Moraes

    “…if they have more than 10 embeds on the Main Page.”

    I do not agree with this, the “4 second rule” have to stay as a sugestion, not an imposition.

  • Phil Williams

    Hi,

    Just got back from holiday and i’m very disappointed to see this change to people’s profile pages.

    Hiding their profile information by moving it further down the page is counter productive. Often, the main reason people use the comment wall on people’s profile pages is because they’ve read the profile info of a particular member and have seen something that interests them or sparks a question.

    When you say that the comment wall is the “single most popular feature on “My Pages” how do you measure this?

    I suppose i’m asking how you measure the popularity of profile questions being read by member’s versus people leaving comments? I’d bet that many, many more people read profile questions/answers than leave comments on the comment wall.

    The raison d-etre for the ‘My Page’ tab is to tell other’s about yourself. Why then would this info be buried at the bottom of the page and other subsidiary features such as comment walls be moved into more prominent positions?

    I am disappointed that this feature was introduced and rolled out at short notice, and network creators aren’t given a choice between the different display options.

    At the very least, if we aren’t going to be given the option as NCs to choose our preferred option, then at least do a poll so that we can have some say in the way our sites are displaying. I think you would find that a large majority would prefer the old way rather than this new display.

    I strongly ask that you would re-consider this display issue and roll back to having the profile questions either at the top of the page, or below latest activity. If this isn’t possible then please introduce the option for NCs to switch to the old way of displaying profile questions as a matter of urgency.

    Thanks,

    Phil
    http://www.worshiptherock.com

  • Damir Perge

    I agree with most everyone here on:

    1. The profile information should absolutely be at the top of members pages by default. And my first thought also was “When you say that the comment wall is the single most popular feature on “My Pages” how do you measure this?” Obviously member profile is read only, and comments are added more frequently.

    2. Ning is forcing me to change my front page because someone decided to limit the number if items on the front page. Because I don’t want to remove anything I can’t make any changes. I agree your 4 second rule should be a suggestion, not an imposition. I have worked hard creating information and graphics on my front page (not by adding slow-loading 3rd party widgets). I agree that MOST of the sites would benefit from this limit because they are not trained in design, but you have to give others credit. Are you trying to force some of us to seek other applications for our sites with all of these limits?

  • http://www.ning.com Nick

    Hi all,

    When it comes to the structure behind embeds and features on the Main Page, please do drop us a line in the Ning Help Center if these are impacting your Ning Network. For one thing, we’re not trying to erase any hard work you’ve done, so let us know if these changes are an inconvenience and we’ll work closely together to come up with a solution. (And as a reminder, no content or design work is lost with any of these changes.) On top of that, hearing from you about how you’re using more than 10 embeds on the Main Page will help us understand how Network Creators are using their Ning Networks.

    Thanks,
    Nick

  • Phil Williams

    Hi,

    I made a comment about the redirect and asked some questions on the other blog about it:

    http://blog-o.ning.com/2009/09/an-update-to-members-pages-and-making-invites-count.html

    Can these be answered please as i’m concerned that members won’t be able to choose their default view on the iPhone and rather will have to manually click the link at the bottom of the page each time they want to see the proper full version of the site.

    I use an iPhone and think the proper view is a million times better but either way members should be able to pick their preferred view once, and then it remembers it.

    Please can this be answered?

    I’m also waiting on answers to help tickets that I posted about 6 days ago now?

    Thanks,

    Phil

  • Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Phil,

    The automatic redirect will take you and your members to the iPhone interface — what you see when you get to yournetwork.ning.com/m. The only difference from what you see today as opposed to what you’ll see once this is enabled, is you won’t need to type M, since you’ll be automatically redirected to the mobile interface.

    Thanks,
    Laura

  • Susanna Boyd

    Yikes! I’ve had my group on NING bookmarked on my iPhone for so long that I didn’t realize that the main page was redesigned! Our site gets a lot of members to the group area. I can’t figure out how to navigate to groups from the existing interface. I also can’t get to videos! What about our NING network mail boxes — not every comment I want to leave someone is suitable for the comment wall.

  • http://blog-o.ning.com Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Susanna and Phil,

    If you scroll down to the bottom of the mobile version, you’ll see a link “view regular version of this page”. If you click on this link, and then bookmark it, you can use the regular version and not the mobile one. That should do the trick!

    Thanks,
    Laura

  • Forrest Fixx

    XG_Browser_Iphone::issluggishiphoneaction() in /apps/socialnetworkmain/lib/XG_App.php on line 225

    When will Ning be available on the iPod touch?

  • Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Forrest,

    Thanks for flagging this for us. I’m seeing what you are seeing on the iPod Touch, and I’ve asked our engineering team to take a look at this. Hopefully we’ll get iPod Touch users back in action shortly!

    Thanks,
    Laura

  • Ariana Afsanay Di Ly

    While I agree with some of the changes, I have to say I am not pleased with the new limits on the main page. I provide a lot of information and enjoyed the fact that I had the ten text boxes in which I could use to provide information and more. I do not like the fact that so much is being removed and limited to working on the main page and it makes it very difficult to edit without being forced to remove information in which I want to keep.

    I wish that you would Stop making so many changes to the site and application. I worked hard and was happy when I found this application for my site, but I have to say I am considering seeking another application if the changes continue.

    Ariana

  • http://blog-o.ning.com/?author=3 Gina Bianchini

    Ariana,

    The limits on the Main Page were implemented based on the stark data we gathered over the summer showing that the more boxes on the Main Page, the fewer people were engaging on those Ning Networks. This is because when you have 10 text boxes, generally with third party widgets or videos, the page loads more slowly and people leave. This is why we put in place these limits. If we didn’t have to roll these out to ensure that people had a speedy experience on your Ning Network, we wouldn’t have done it. It’s not something that we like to do :-)

    We’re in the process of designing and developing the next generation of Ning Network which we’ll launch in the early part of next year that they aren’t so reliant on doing everything in a single Main Page. With this design goal, the limits won’t be necessary and we can get you even more options for your Ning Network.

    Stay tuned…

    Thanks,
    Gina

  • http://Vipthrills.com Josh

    Love what ning is doing. Maybe someone can help.
    I would like my users to hit my home page when they browse in iPhone. Is there a way to redirect iPhone users to the home page automatically and disable the redirect.

  • Matt

    Tried to access NeuroNetwork on my iphone today. I could not log in. It would not take my password. It just kept going to the same page rejecting it. So I reset my password (which it let me do), and clicked the link that arrived in my email as it said — page not found. I am going to give up soon. Why doesn’t Ning have an app?

  • http://crankensteinsmonsters.ning.com Andre Wheeley

    There seems to be some bugs with the iPhone interface:
    EVENTS listed in the main Activity DO NOT have hyperlinks that WORK!!! Links to people and forums work, but not to events! It seems the iPhone interface assumes that you don’t use Events in your Ning network. :-(

  • http://www.LifestyleBook.com/obstacles Oli Hille

    Great that you are changing the layout of My Pages to make the Comment Wall more prominent.

    Oli Hille
    Author