post draft update

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 05:07 pm
charmian: a snowy owl (Default)
[personal profile] charmian
In the latest DW news post, a new draft of the update journal page has been introduced! I think it's a big improvement on the last draft, and it's great that we can collapse all the things we don't need, like how it is in WP. The main qualms I have with it are that the text box still feels too narrow, and it would also be good if there was a way to disappear the boxes instead of collapsing them. However, I don't have many strong opinions about the update post page because I basically use only two features on a regular basis: tags and access lock. As you can see, I normally don't even change my icon. So I felt, that as long as the boxes were collapsible so I don't have to see the things that I don't use, it would be ok. However, some people brought up some good points about complexity:

from here:

It's got an on/off switch for everything including the kitchen sink, with collapsable menu upon collapsable menu requiring clicks to conceal or expose functionality that only a handful of people will need.

If our target audience is LJcode power users, let's just come out and say it. Diversity statement or no, when the site's interface looks like this we're making it very intimidating to new users. And I know Dreamwidth serves a different niche than Tumblr or Posterous, but it seems like it requires a lot more effort to do basic things on Dreamwidth than it does almost anywhere else.

Between invite codes and privacy filters, I wonder if Dreamwidth's real "killer feature" is insularity. And I don't mean that as an insult.


I think this is a pretty good point.


If the issue is that it is too intimidating to newbies to see that much, maybe the default setting should be that some of the options are collapsed or absent (or maybe hidden behind a 'more options' link, or maybe there should be a simplified setting as well.

Tumblr's update page, actually, is really simple and clean. I don't think there they have any problems with intimidation. But in general, Tumblr offers fewer options than an LJ code site. (although it has some features which LJ code sites currently don't have) Posterous's update page is also stripped down. (I think they should have the more options tab open by default instead of media, though, and I really like how it takes up the whole page.

Both Tumblr and Posterous were created post-Wordpress and are implicitly designed to be simple. LJ.... isn't really designed to be simple.

As for whether DW's target audience is LJcode power users: I doubt it is, but if it is, the site is going to have a problem when it runs out of LJ users who want to switch. Also, LJcode power users are quite a finite group, and if LJ continues to decline, in the future this will be a shrinking pool.

However, I personally continue to think that the invite code issue really contributes to the insularity by encouraging only people with a really strong reason to use DW to join. To join now isn't an insta gratification thing, and requires a lot of hoop jumping. However, I've talked about this issue before, so I'll spare you all, ha.

I don't think, however, that many users really feel that the invite codes in and of themselves are a plus, let alone a "killer" feature. Filters and access locking are definitely a plus, and LJcode sites continue to do this in a more modular way than most blogging sites. However, many of the users who wish for this use Facebook anyway. (I also wonder what if they code a pan-site version of this using Disqus?)

I was reading a blog post also, that said that the "killer feature" is overrated, because if a feature is really THAT great, the competitors will simply clone it. If this is really the killer feature of LJcode sites, if WP MU or Tumblr or Posterous were to include it, then LJ would suffer a mortal blow, right? Is this then implying the reason LJ is around is that no one else has implemented it?

I sadly can't find the article, though I've been searching for it, but anyway it said that other things, such as design and usability, are also very important.

Date: 2010-08-13 02:14 pm (UTC)
sub_divided: cos it gets me through, hope you never stop (Default)
From: [personal profile] sub_divided
This looks really good on a mobile screen! All the fields line up under the "post entry" field, which takes up the whole screen. No more scrolling back and forth!

Now if Dreamwidth would just come out with a journal style that is smartphone friendly - ie wraps text to the size of the screen - I can start really reading Dreamwidth regularly (I do most of my reading from my phone during my commute, these days).

I'm in favor of putting all the options on the page, including the ones I doubt I'll ever use ("crossposting" and "scheduled posts"). There are some options, like "set who's allowed to comment", that I use very rarely but have used in the past - and if they're not on the page, I won't remember where they are. XD Putting the menus there also informs people - the "non power users" - of what their options are.

However, if more posting options are added in the future, it might be worth rounding up all of the obscure ones under one "advanced posting options" collapsible box. Or maybe make entire categories collapsible?

Date: 2010-08-13 02:29 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
if Dreamwidth would just come out with a journal style that is smartphone friendly - ie wraps text to the size of the screen - I can start really reading Dreamwidth regularly

Curious, I use DW on my smartphone regularly, with both OperaMobile and the built in Nokia browser, and have no problem with this. Admittedly by style is all my own, but I also have no problems on most other journals (except the quickreply box not being hidden and being at the top of the page).

Favour, can you, when you get the chance a) look at my style see if it works for you, as I use different standards to define column width and b) let me know what phone and browsers you're using? If possible, try a different browser?

I'm not an expert at designing for smartphone, partially because I can only afford one and mostly because it's a new field and we're not used to it at all, but it'd be good to make the site mobile friendly wherever possible.

Date: 2010-08-13 02:45 pm (UTC)
sub_divided: cos it gets me through, hope you never stop (Default)
From: [personal profile] sub_divided
Most styles display without breaking, the problem is that when the pages are zoomed up to text-readable size, they're too wide to fit on the display screen! So what I am really looking for is a style that will wrap to the size of the screen.

Yours is narrow and scales fine. :) The comments to posts in your journal are also very readable.

The comment-reply field, however, is a wide rectangle no matter what style the journal is in. When it's on my mobile screen all at once, the text is tiny, unless I rotate the screen - and then I can't use the keyboard. So that's a pain.

I'm using the built-on browser on my Palm Pre.

If Dreamwidth devs see this, and make a style that scales to the size of the screen (or does such a thing exist already?) - please, please let me know.

Also, if Dreamwidth devs see this, thank you for the new update page, I love it!

Date: 2010-08-13 02:54 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
K, I think mine'll work better because I scale using percentages for column width, whereas the preferred site method is to use EMs, I'll have a play, definitely ought to have an @media stylesheet for some styles (and learning how they work is on my list anyway).

I wonder if anyone has created a browsercam for mobile browsers so I can see a good guess at the result on my laptop. I'll go dig over the weekend. It might, however, just be a Palm issue, I know nothing about their browser so it might be doing thing in a non-compliant way, will let you know if I can.

Date: 2010-08-13 07:10 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Did a bit of digging to figure out why Wordpress blogs display fine, it turns out that a wp.com hosted blog calls its layout stylesheet for 'screen' media types only, so a browser that identifies as 'handheld' doesn't even bother downloading it.

That's a really nifty trick, and I will suggest it, given they're putting stylesheets to load separately anyway, it should work easily and would solve the problem.

I think though that custom colours &c should still be loaded, not just plain white on black, you have a preference?

Date: 2010-08-13 02:34 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
whether DW's target audience is LJcode power users: I doubt it is, but if it is, the site is going to have a problem when it runs out of LJ users who want to switch

I think it currently is, and I agree with you that it'll lead to long term problems.

However, I am thinking that it's target audience is probably power users from many different blog platforms. There are a lot of people that blog elsewhere currently that I think I can get to switch when the featureset is there for them (most of the features needed are listed as planned improvements).

When the site's ready for it, I plan a mass recruitment drive to get Blogger users to move over, several friends use Blogger, and even with the new improvements it's still miles behind overall.

In which case, having a posting interface that works best for power users isn't a problem, as most of the people that're likely to switch are likely to be power users.

I do think there ought to be a 'lite' interface though. But there already is for the update page, it's below the fold on the logged in homepage, perfectly adequate for most tasks and users.

Date: 2010-08-13 07:17 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
I don't think the deliberate audience is other power users, but I think that's what's going to happen unless it's deliberately countered.

Essentially, I don't see DW picking up that many people that are completely new to the idea of blogging. I suspect it'll pick up some, but not many. Everyone else will transfer in from elsewhere, initially LJ, but eventually anywhere, if we get things right.

And yes, people transferring, especially from other platforms, will want more interop, that's fine, it gives me a bigger stick to prioritise interop over other design goals (at least, for the stuff I can't do myself, which is currently most of it).

With the built in aggregator (and the feed syndication feature works better and is less buggy than LJs by a long way), privacy and similar I think we have a bunch of good USPs, and while they're all copyable by other platforms, the integration of all of them makes it a lot easier overall.

And I guess I don't think they'll all be 'power' users, but I do think they'll be more experienced users, and the design and dev side'll definitely be led by the more power inclined, which can be a drawback, as this discussion highlights.

I love the new update page, everything easy to find and in one place. I don't relate to people who find lots of options in what to me looks like an intuitive layout confusing or offputting.

That a lot of people, including people I respect, say it is a problem for them, is a bit weird to me. But it's important we sort these things out.

Perhaps beefing up the 'quickpost' on the homepage, with the new update page being specifically aimed at those who wannt all the bells and whistles?

Date: 2010-08-13 10:50 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
True, but I'm thinking of who we're likely to attract, and the featureset we have is going to tempt the sort of person who can handle export/import, etc. Those on a simple platform that want more out of their blog, basically. And yes, interops needed more quickly if the site wants to actively recruit users from off site.

But yeah, I'm definitely not, hence the discussion is needed, I'm now opening a text file to jot my suggestions down as I did another run last night and I know I forgot a couple. We're much more likely to get the stuff I want, than we are to get the stuff that less vocal users want, still speak to people that comment in suggestions but won't actually submit ideas.

And yes, the quickpost being on 'home' means it's less visible, unless we train and/or rename. Can even have a quickpost page that then translates into the full page if needed...

Ooh, that could be a good idea actually. I rarely go anywhere except my own journal and reading page, but I do have the navstrip.

Date: 2010-08-14 03:31 am (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
I think people don't really choose DW or LJ code sites based purely on the feature-set. They choose them because of the people who are here and the content.

Currently. Yes. But if DW is to move beyond being another LJ knock off...

And the sort of people interested in the content vary immensely, most of my off site readers come for the politics. There's a lot of potential to build up a network there given the limitations of current solutions. They'll come for the features, if we get them right.

I've no idea how many use it, I actually went to look and see if it was there as, having never used it myself, I wasn't sure it actually existed. Looks a bit too limited, but good enough for most people I'd say. Very reminicent of the WP quickpost feature on the dashboard, but a bit more hidden.

And yes, an S2 post module might be good, my current WP.com layout has one, and while I'm not currently using wp.com at all, it's nice that it's available, might work for me in the right circumstances.

Date: 2010-08-16 06:14 pm (UTC)
daweaver:   (Default)
From: [personal profile] daweaver
I think people don't really choose [Dreamwidth] or [Livejournal] code sites based purely on the feature-set. They choose them because of the people who are here and the content.

Absolutely. Content is queen, the local community are the knaves, presentation is the courtier. Why do so many people go to Facebook? Because of the content. Never mind the update page or the interesting approach to privacy, it's all about the stuff.

Later in the comments thread, invitation codes are discussed. They are at least as much a social question as a business one, if not more so. Codes are a clear and obvious and quite deliberate barrier to engagement, and I think they encourage just the sort of bunker mentality that was addressed in the original quote. I would very much like to see a trial period of open registration, a brief period where anyone can get one of a limited number of accounts, and see what happens.

Date: 2010-08-13 10:57 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Barrier, true, but if we dump invite codes, there'll be other metrics, and I suspect the number of people that sign up, get to the current update page and then never get any further will be big. It was on LJ when D was stil working there, if you haven't seen it 'Fey linked to it from no_lj_ads several years back, think it was a discussion in Az's journal. Basically, the usability scores for LJ were terrible, huge dropoff in taskflow, and they only got through the fixes partially when everyone got fired.

DW is better, but a lot of it is inherited problems.

So even if we dump invite codes (which I'm ambivalent about and once we're past open beta it's a business decision for me, if there's a discussion about what it'll do to 'the community' I'm on the 'bring in some new blood' side but not strongly enough to lobby), the taskflow and UX needs to be good, currently it's OK, and better than LJ, but to answer the 'how good' question you need to know what the core target new users are going to be.

And that's a whole can o'worms.

Date: 2010-08-14 03:38 am (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Oh, for sure, invites are a barrier, I'd rather they weren't there, but it has to be entirely a business decision to dump them, and I hope they feel able to.

And yes, it should be as good as possible, it's so much better than LJ is already, and way better than it was.

I've given up on following LJ business decisions, only there for the content these days.

The can of worms I'm thinking of is the sort of fuss from when you posted about Facebook users; I want to bring in people from off site, lots more, but many existing users like it as is, or with just their type coming over. Hence a can of worms.

My ideal recruiting area is Twitter users not FB users tho, definitely want OAuth for external users so people can comment as Twitter accounts, and easily share stuff there, etc. FWIU, Twitter's a lot bigger this side of the pond than the US, but it's still big, and I've already got friends using awful twitlonger services and similar. Recruit the current microbloggers that want more...

Oh yeah, my memory is weird so I had to go look up the post, this
http://community.livejournal.com/no_lj_ads/48663.html

linking to this thread
http://azurelunatic.livejournal.com/5357600.html?thread=8801824#t8801824

4 years ago. Talking about the update page redesign. Plus ca change...

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