Small changes with a big punch coming next week

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Update: This release is live as of 11/16. Thanks!

punch yellow

One of the more interesting challenges of growing a social platform with a base of passionate Network Creators is how to communicate the less visible success factors that make a Ning Network a hit. In the case of performance, the data is black and white: if your Ning Network is light and fast, you will grow. If it loads slowly, it won’t.

Performance optimization is also one of those funny things that require trust and a close partnership between you and us. Namely, we must make your Ning Network as fast as possible while still balancing giving you as the Network Creator the flexibility to add all the things that make your Ning Network the exact right social network for your interest or passion. These include third-party widgets, videos, images and especially your own design.

Layer on top of this the fact that Ning Networks exist for every purpose under the sun from lightweight entertainment to support, business networking and professional content across the globe and whatever change we make will be disruptive for someone, even if the feature is used by a small number of people.

For example, the limits to the number of text boxes and types of content you could add to your Main Page this summer weren’t designed to limit your creativity, but to ensure that you could grow your Ning Network into everything you wanted it to become. Speed is the secret component to making this a reality. Any great product needs to be fast or it is not great. And we want your Ning Network to be great.

To this end, over the past month, we’ve identified a set of small changes to the experience on your Ning Network that will pack a huge punch on making your Ning Network fast for members around the world.

Here’s what we’re changing this Monday, November 16th:

Content visible to “Friends Only” won’t show up in Main Page Latest Activity. You’ll still be able to see this content if you click through to your friend’s My Page, but it won’t be an option on the Main Page Latest Activity.

You’ll see a “Send a Message” link instead of an “Add as Friend” link on the detail pages for content. If you click “Send a Message” when the person isn’t already your friend, you’ll be prompted to add them as your friend first.

Pagination is changing to “Previous” and “Next”. When you’re checking out photos or another feature with more than one page of content, you’ll see buttons for “First,” “Previous,” “Next,” and “Last” rather than a button for a particular page like “19.”

Strange as it seems, this set of small changes will pack a punch from a performance perspective. As we get data on the improvements we’re seeing after these changes, we’ll look to share them here on the Ning Blog for all to see. In the meantime, as we get close to the final date of launch, we’ll post it here.

Thanks!

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37 thoughts on “Small changes with a big punch coming next week

  1. Ivan

    Hi,
    Can anyone help me? I just signed up for ning in the last hour and am already incredibly frustrated – I must be pretty dumb but I just cannot see how I find a network to join! The help section tells me how to join once I’ve found a network but not how to find it in the first place. Reading the comments above, it looks as if I’m not the only one with this problem. I see most of the comments are regarding pagination and they have elicited responses (I hope it’s now sorted for all you long-time users) but no-one has responded to the guys asking the question I’m raising. Is anyone prepared to help a newcomer?
    Thanks

  2. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi all,

    We’ve pushed out a release that will update how pagination works on your Ning Network. You can read more about the release and provide feedback here.

    Thanks!

  3. jessica

    This new pagination is very difficult. Ning already is set up oddly so if i want to see the last reply that someone made maybe 15 pages back i can’t just hit “last reply” or (insert page number here) i have to click “previous” until i get to my page. I fail to see how that is “faster” than simply clicking the exact page number you want to read?

  4. gotjamn.dk

    Great job Ning, love the new improvements. Keep up the good work, you guys have been putting down alot of new stuff the last couple of months, great to see action being done!

    gotjamn.dk

  5. Gene Keys

    Please return to the number pages instead of the next and previous – it is NOT user friendly especially if you have a large network!

  6. Laura Oppenheimer

    Thanks for providing all of this feedback. The articulation of when and why you use page numbers to navigate has been really helpful in analyzing the feedback since this change went out.

    We’re going to do a small release as soon as we can that will update how pagination works.

    “We have a new design that should address your primary concerns while maintaining speed across all Ning Networks. Namely, this new design will call out the page number you are on, the total number of pages of content, and a Jump To page option. It will be implemented for all views of content other than comments on individual pieces of content.”

    Feel free to follow up on the Creators for more discussion!
    -Laura

  7. Lindsay Sirius Black

    After experiencing the new version of the Ning sites, I have to say that I dislike the changes, namely, the one that takes away page numbers. I discuss on a 5000+ page thread, and many conversations go on at once. It is difficult to keep track of them, because the thread is so active.

    I don’t understand why you did this, but please change it back!

  8. D.

    This latest update is very frustrating. Not at all speedy, especially in large groups where several conversations are going on in any one particular thread. Information is hard to find in specialty threads where the page number is the reference. Could there possibly be a way to allow some groups to decide how they want to run it? As far as whether or not to have numbered pages at the bottom.

  9. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi вяσκєи нєαят ©(Lizzy),

    If you are still seeing issues with replies on forum posts, can you drop us a note in the Ning Help Center? We aren’t seeing widespread reports of any lingering issues, so it might be something specific to your Ning Network that we should take a look at.

    Thanks!

  10. вяσκєи нєαят ©(Lizzy)

    Hi I am having major problems with the whole reply thing on all the pages. The numbers were much better and they didn’t mess everything up like they do now. All of the pages on my site are messed up and i know other sites that are having problems.

  11. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi beeswax,

    While we post a lot of interesting content on the Ning Blog — and always encourage, read and track all the feedback we receive on the Blog — we launched Creators as a place for Ning Network Creators to be able to discuss issues and new releases candidly.

    Feel free to continue commenting here, but for a more robust format for discussion that will allow you to actually discuss things instead of merely commenting on them, I’d suggest taking a look at Creators. If it isn’t for you, and you prefer to continue commenting on the blog instead, that’s OK, too.

    -Laura

  12. beeswax

    Gina writes: “It turns out that only a small percentage of people click through past the first page on any list of content, and an even smaller number click past the second page.”

    What I get from your response is that you’d rather make the network easier to use for people who don’t really use it.

    Meanwhile, your ACTUAL USERS, who spend lots of time here READING THE THREADS, are out of luck?

    And if we want our comments taken seriously, we have to be site creators to “join the discussion”?

    Very “unfriendly” if you ask me.

  13. Powerful Intentions, Inc.

    Again, I very much Appreciate NING…

    AND

    The Pagination Change is a change that really HURTS our community and changes many of the intentions we have for it.

    PLEASE either reutrn it to numbered pages or something even better so that people can get to any page on a thread with ease, as this new way completely limits the value of our forum threads.

    Thanks!

  14. Knaldskalle

    I guess you meant it when you said “big punch”. Little did I suspect that the “big punch” would be aimed at our collective bellies. The new pagination system (I’m being kind in calling it a system) is incredibly confusing. If I click “last reply” to find the last reply in a thread, I’ll have no idea where in the thread I am, unless it’s the first or last page. Sure, I can look at the URL, but my browser’s address bar is simply not wide enough to cover the end of the URL, which is where the page-reference is located. I have to manually go to the end of the URL to get this information.

    This change may speed up the load times on your networks, but it will also reduce the amount of time and effort people will put into it, since the networks have now become a lot less welcoming.

  15. Robert Cool

    Our members have not liked the change to “First, previous, next, last”, especially those who log in less than every day.

  16. Damany

    Love the new changes it was really needed, thank looking forward to see improvements done to the chat room where people can use different text different size font colors on more.

  17. Slappy

    Can we make the first, previous, next, last vs. page numbers a group preference? I do not know who may like the new change but I know in our group large threads are common and it is cumbersome to have to flip through each individual page. Honestly I can’t imagine many people will have the patience needed to tolerate losing the page numbers where they can jump right where they know they were in a thread and never miss anything. This makes using Ning much less enjoyable.

  18. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Paul,

    I just took a look on my own Ning Network and it doesn’t look like you should have any issues deleting latest activity items resulting from comments. If you are still seeing this — and you’ve cleared your browser’s cookies and cache and then signed back in — let us know via the Ning Hep Center and we can take a look.

    Thanks!

  19. Paul Moore

    Any special reason that the ability to delete ones comment posting from appearing on “Latest Activity” (home page) or users web page where the comment was posted? Prefer not to have the activity displayed and have the choice of leaving it or removing it…Thanks!

  20. beeswax

    This new pagination change is terrible.

    As a daily user who usually only gets to check in once a day, there are many threads in which I need to be able to jump back ten or more pages to find where “the conversation” left off the last time I was there. Now I’ll only be able to SCROLL, slowly, to try to find my friends’ comments.

    In the Netflix Movie Fans Network we have many threads with tens, or even hundreds, of pages, with hundreds or thousands of posts. I am used to being able to “browse” by jumping to the last page I already read, rather than having to scroll through EVERY PAGE. With this “improvement” we can’t even tell which page we’re on, or how many pages have been added in a day, let alone jump to a specific one directly.

    For someone like myself with limited time to spend, knowing if I have two or three pages to read, or TWENTY, often makes the difference in knowing whether I CAN spend the current moment available in “catching up.”

    I can’t believe I’m the only person using Ning who has other commitments on his or her time! Where is the common sense and practicality of this disruption? This change makes the network very user-unfriendly.

    IF, as you say, “very few people” use pagination, then you need to at least be able to allow site creators the option of retaining the more convenient method. People who actually USE the network should be able to USE IT, rather than making it “punchier” for the people who drop in to look at the first page of a thread and then drift away.

  21. Alby N S

    .
    Pagination is changing to “Previous” and “Next”

    This is not a good idea..!!!!

    It may increase performance… its okk.. i can understand.. but for people like me who are at ning network for discussion in forums this is a very boring and bad idea… taking lot of time…!!
    We are very fast with our replys at peak time… sometimes it may cover 10-20 pages in 5 minutes….
    If i posted a reply 5 minutes ago and i want to see replies for me now the only way for me is to click and click and click previous or guess the page number..!!!!!!
    it takes minimum 2-3 minute.. and at the time this discussion may go far away and i can only be a spectator…!!!!!!!

    We also always want to check our previous comments for copy pasting it to certain replies….

    U can limit page number to 4 or 5.. but completely avoiding it make no sense… how could we know the page number.. ? so u want us to guess and type it in address bar..?

    This makes the forum so difficult and i think the discussion part may be going bad…
    now itself i am tired of your new change… i just signed out… cant bear it…..!!!

    “my discussion” part and “last reply” is not working now..!!

    .

  22. thatboy

    As a Ning user, I also have to say I think this new pagination change is terrible. In the Netflix Movie Fans Network we have many threads with 40, 60, even 100 pages. Many members jump back and forth 10 or more pages. With this “improvement” we can’t even tell which page we’re on, let alone jump to it directly. I’ve been less than thrilled about many recent changes, but this is the worst so far. It makes it very user-unfriendly.

  23. Dawn Renae Rarick-Kollman

    Hi! I like some of the changes, though I liked the old Ning best. However, I was wondering, I can’t find the place where I can search for more networks. Can someone please tell me how to find them?

  24. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for flagging these concerns. From both feedback here and on creators.ning.com, we looked in how frequently pagination is used for browsing. Courtenay did an excellent job explaining what the data on pagination shows on Creators. She writes:

    “We looked at this in detail, since it was a concern for us as well, but it turns out that only a small percentage of people click through past the first page on any list of content, and an even smaller number click past the second page. The main user of pages beyond three are really just indexing systems, like google’s (and the changes we will be rolling out do not affect google’s and other search engine’s ability to index your content). This makes sense – people have a limited amount of time to look at content and this is not an effective way of browsing, so having the page counts doesn’t help that much and it has significant performance impact.”

    For more explanation — and a better format for engaging in discussion — check out the full thread here.

    Thanks!
    Laura

  25. Jeff Pritchard

    I also have a site with over 12,000 photos. Is there at least going to be a current page number, a total pages and the option to goto a page by number.

    Please, please, please don’t tell me all they will now see is First Previous Next and Last. That would be absolutely horrendous.

    As and admin I regularly work through photos looking for some to showcase. I know where I am up to by the page number. What the heck will I do now. Pot luck?????

    DON’T do this, please.

  26. Phil Williams

    Hi Gina,

    Thanks for the update – sounds like we’ll some great improvements in page load times!

    Just one question – are you saying that when viewing anything – e.g. photos, videos, forum discussions, members, etc, – we won’t be able to skip to a particular page?

    I’m just thinking that i’ve got almost 1000 discusssions, 1000 videos, over 5000 members and over 6500 photos, and I can’t imagine members wanting to click ‘Next’ more than a few times. How will they ever discover, say, the forum discussions that weren’t started recently?

    I’m just thinking from a usability point of view that it’s going to be very hard to navigate through lots and lots of pages.

    Sorry if i’ve misunderstood…

    Thanks,

    Phil

  27. Lester Orman

    I just logged in to find that the ‘search networks’ and ‘my friends’ has been
    withdrawn.
    All there is at the top to choose from is HOME MY NETWORKS SETTINGS.
    The HOME page has the update blog and a list of my networks to the side and that is it.
    Not only can I no longer send out invites, I have got no hope of anyone
    finding my sites by searching the Ning circuit as that facility is not available either.
    I cannot go to my friends list to recommend because that is gone.
    What do we do now for members.

    Sincerely

    Lester.

  28. The PL Team

    Question, what about photo galleries on sites like ours with THOUSANDS of pages?

    We kind of like seeing: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…4169, 4170, 4171

    As members browse thru they get to see the content in the middle, if we just have:

    “First,” “Previous,” “Next,” and “Last”

    Lots and lots of content will never be seen. Is there any way that you could please give NCs the option to set /Photos to display in a random mode? We’ve asked for this since the original Creators forum. We’d love the option to give maximum exposure to the hand filtered content on the site!

    -dc

  29. Lester Orman

    A network grows faster with being able to invite friends.
    Since the withdrawal of the invite facility, network growth has virtually
    come to a standstill.
    Finding I have an e mail saying I have a member to approve is now
    the exception rather than the rule.
    The withdrawal of the invite facility is having a negative impact.

    Sincerely.

    Lester.

  30. Josué Lafolle

    Hi, i like this release.. i think that i will be better that in the latest activity the activity by default… but if i have a photo that only my friend can see, only my friends can see it in the latest activity…

  31. Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Dave,

    These changes will be translated for non-English Ning Networks, so you shouldn’t need to do any custom changes in the Language Editor.

    Thanks!
    Laura

  32. Samantha

    …If the People dislike the change and ask for the old Ning back, will you consider changing it back so that the People can experience Ning the way they wish to experience it?

    Respectfully,

    Samantha

  33. Dave Andrews

    Thanks for the update.

    How will the text changes that are done in English effect ning sites built in other languages? Are you guys doing the translations and updating it globally?

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