Gina Bianchini
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As most of you know, we’ve been working on one of our bigger releases here for awhile now. It was supposed to go out the door tonight last week. The release is now slated for Saturday, September 27th when we’ll take a 30 minute planned downtime at 10:30pm PDT.

This release includes three key improvements:

  1. A new message center in your network
  2. An iPhone interface fully customized for your network
  3. Simplification of the Main and Profile Pages and consistency of features generally

The first two projects on this list are looking great, although they have a little more polish to go. The last project is the one that has turned out to be a bit bigger (and better!) than we initially planned. However, since we first talked about our simplification and consistency work a few weeks ago, we have gotten a ton of great feedback from you that we have been incorporating into this release.

As we started this work, we made the decision to finish it, despite the fact that it was going to take us a bit more time. This is the reason for the delay and here are a few of the things we’re doing with it…

We’ve updated the profile page to retain a few things that you wanted.

  • There is a single title of the profile page and it will behave the way the title of the page behaves today. It’s just moved to the center column.
  • The links to that person’s content will remain on the left column and continue to include the count of content added.
  • This link section will now show all the features available on the network, not just the features that this person has added already. If the member hasn’t added any content to that feature, people visiting the page will still see the link, but it will be grayed out.
  • There is now a 10 pixel vs. the current 5 pixel margin between columns and sections.

The biggest change in this release on the profile page is that the profile page will now be the only page on a network that will display a member’s chosen appearance. Currently, the member’s theme is displayed on that member’s blog, My Settings and friends pages as well.

In turning the blog into its own tab in this release and restructuring navigation for better usability, the different themes created a confusing experience. As a result, the blog and friends pages will now take on the theme of the network, not the member’s.

Second, we’re making your entire network more consistent and easier to use.

As we showed off in an earlier post, here’s the new, simplified Main Page:

Here’s a partial list of the things we’re tackling as part of this work:

  • Increasing the width of the gutters (the space between columns) from 5 to 10 pixels. Check out this discussion for more information.
  • Standardizing the titles, navigation, text size, spacing, and display of text and images across your network. As a result of this work, you should notice subtle changes in the layouts and titles of your network features. This work will make browsing between features much smoother for your members.
  • Standardizing the display of featured content across feature homepages. We’re making them a bit smaller so they are more proportional to the rest of the content on the page.
  • Standardizing the browser information provided and displayed across pages. This should also help in a small way with SEO ahead of our simplified URLs coming in early November.
  • Standardizing how the Manage Pages behave. This may take a bit to get used to if you are a heavy Manage Pages user today, but Manage Pages will now consistently keep you on that page after you save changes so that you can keep making changes. This will now be in the following week’s release.
  • Moving the Manage Forum link to the Manage Page. This is where Network Creators expect to find it, so we’re moving it out of the navigation on the Discussion Forum (also to standardize on the titles and navigation across features) to the Mange Page.
  • Reorganizing the default tab ordering to anchor the most popular features closer to the left where they are easier to find. You can always change the order with the Tab Manager.
  • Adding search and pagination to the new blog tab that goes to everyone’s blog posts page, renamed “All Blog Posts” to be consistent with other features. We’re also updating the navigation across the blog feature now that it will have its very own tab.
  • Adding member images to the blog module on the Main Page of your network to be consistent with how discussions are displayed.
  • Adding the option to display Groups on the Main Page by Latest Activity to be consistent with the sort options on the Groups Homepage. This will be cached so the latest activity may be the latest activity from 10 minutes earlier.
  • Displaying featured members, if you have them, on your Sign In and Sign Up pages. Currently, these pages show latest members, which on a network growing rapidly means that most of the avatars are the default gray man. If you don’t have featured members, the display will default to latest members.

All of these things are small and should be subtle changes that make your network just a little bit better as you and your members surf it. We think the delay will be worth it and appreciate your patience and flexibility while we make your network even more awesome with this release.

Thank you!