I’m excited to introduce three new versions of the Ning Service that we will roll out in July. When we announced two weeks ago that we were going to refocus on paying Ning Networks and phase out our free service, we knew there would be many questions about what the new Ning would look like. Our goal with these offerings — as explained below — is to enhance the experience Network Creators have on Ning, and by extension, the experiences your members have as well.
Since announcing that we are now focusing 100 percent of the company on enhancing the features and services we offer to paying Network Creators and plan to phase out our free service, we’ve received a lot of feedback from Network Creators. We’ve heard from free and paid, business and nonprofit, educators and artists. We’ve been interacting on Creators, reading your comments on the Ning Blog and taking in your tweets. And, we’ve been listening to all of your ideas, suggestions and concerns.
Every day, millions of people come together across Ning Networks to explore, express, and meet new people around their interests and passions. Today, we’re giving members another meaningful way to connect with Ning Virtual Gifts.
This customizable virtual gifts offering is unique in that it can be highly relevant to the activity of your Ning Network. As a Network Creator, you can pick and choose from hundreds of virtual gifts. Best of all, you can add your own custom gifts to the Gift Store. Check out how Lost Zombies is using virtual gifts for some creative inspiration:
The launch of Ning Mini, Ning Plus and Ning Pro on July 20th involves a significant update to our code base. As a result, we will need to take the Ning Platform down for maintenance beginning at 9 a.m. Pacific Time on July 20th. The maintenance may take up to two hours, after which Network Creators will be able to purchase the new plans and begin enjoying new features. Due to the nature of the maintenance, we may not be able to display individually branded maintenance pages. Networks will likely show a simple unbranded error message.
We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Ning Apps, available today on your Ning Network. As a social platform, we’re finding that each interest and passion requires a unique combination of features. Ning Apps dramatically expand the quantity and quality of the features available on your Ning Network, and allow you to engage even further with your members.
Today you can choose from more than 90 Ning Apps, and that’s just the beginning. This number will continue to grow as developers here at Ning and around the world build additional Ning Apps tailored around your interests and passions.
The three new plans – Ning Mini, Ning Plus and Ning Pro – are now live!
I encourage you to take a look at your choices and decide which plan makes the most sense for you and your members. You’ll have until August 20th to purchase a plan, which should give you ample time to make a decision.
As we previously blogged and described in the plan details, your Ning Network now has a custom network ID. Based on input from our Network Creators, we are planning to end cross-network Ning authentication via a Ning ID very soon. This is part of our broader plan to give you more control over your Ning Network design and member experience. As a first step, today we dropped “Ning ID” from the sign-up experience on your Ning Network. This means that when members join, they won’t see the “We use a Ning ID for authentication” text. This won’t impact how your current members sign-in to your Ning Network. Their sign-in email address and password will remain the same.
When we recently announced our new pricing plans (which launch July 20th, 2010), we heard from many of you who were concerned about the future of education-focused Ning Networks. Ning Networks have become a valuable complement to many schools and other educational institutions by helping teachers, parents and students supplement class curriculums; allowing educators and administrators to share best practices; and by helping all these groups bring the vitality and vibrancy of their institutions online.
It’s Day 3 since the launch, and Network Creators who have selected a Ning Mini, Plus, or Pro plan will notice several billing enhancements we’ve made. Here is a quick overview of these new features:
We now offer annual billing so you can pay once and not worry about invoices and payments for the rest of the year. Besides the convenience, annual billing also comes with a hefty discount that’s equivalent to 2 or more months of free services, depending on the plan selected.
Running a Ning Network is a lot like hosting an awesome party. But no matter how rocking it is, sometimes people leave and sometimes you have to kick people out. On Monday, we’ll be introducing more flexibility to the experience members have when they leave your Ning Network, and to the experience you have when you need to remove a member. These improvements will facilitate member management and keep the party going strong.
No one likes spam, especially us. It makes for a less-than-awesome Ning Network experience for members and makes a Network Creator’s life harder than it needs to be. While we’ve been building spam prevention into more and more elements of the Ning Platform, we’re constantly looking to drive more spam prevention projects that make Ning even better. Some of these projects are obvious and others are behind-the-scenes. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate spam on your Ning Network before it ever gets there.