Update: Please provide feedback on how popping out chat should work, asked here.

If you've looked at the Ning product roadmap recently, you've noticed that some Chat improvements are on the way. We've started to work on Chat, and wanted to share what we have in mind and get Network Creators an early chance to share their feedback.

The biggest changes we have planned are:

  • Redesigning Chat in HTML and Javascript, instead of today's Flash-based chat. It will work on iPad, can be customized via CSS and will be translated in the language editor.
  • Redesigning Chat into separate "panes," whereas today's chat a single "pane". New private conversations appear as tabs within the Chat pane, instead of appearing as new panes.

Here is today's Flash-based chat:

And here's what Chat might look like (click on the image to see it bigger):

So, unlike today's chat, this new Chat format would mean that:

  • When someone starts a 1:1 conversation, the chat would instantly pop up (and pop open), so it would be very hard to miss.
  • You can talk in 1:1 conversations and in the main chat room at the same time (not possible without changing tabs today)

There's a lot to process in looking at this new design, and there have been a ton of discussions on Creators about Chat. We want your feedback, though, about the overall design and functionality.

A few of big questions have come up that we want to pose to you:

  • Do you think this new overall design works better than today's tabbed chat?
  • Would you be disappointed if this redesigned chat just existed in your network's footer, not in a module or full page as it does today?
  • Are you satisfied with the general size of the main chat window? Do you think you'd still need to pop it out in case the discussion becomes so active you need more screen real estate?
  • How important is being able to pop out the main chat room, or 1:1 conversations?
  • How do you feel about the sounds in chat? So long as users can turn sounds off, should a sound be played every time a new message is posted? Even when chat is minimized?

We'd love your feedback on these issues, as we start to develop chat. Down the road, we'll get into more specific feature additions, but for now, I'd like to keep this discussion focused on the big design/behavior issues I've raised above.

Thanks!

Tags: chat

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Replies to This Discussion

In our case we use the chat only once a month. We have a special chatsession with a known person. At that moment there are over 100 active chatters. In this case the chat will be much to small if there was not a way to make it bigger.

 

It looks great by the way.

I also like the idea of allowing chat to live on it's own page. For us it works to keep focused on chat itself without other things getting in the way.

Rowald and Tim,

Thanks for the feedback! Do you think that being able to pop chat out into a new window would satisfy your needs?

/Evan
Ning Product Manager

Evan - perhaps, but here is how we have it currently - Chat Page

For us we are able to offer a description of what our weekly chat is all about, and also offer a calendar of upcoming topics. By having it on it's own page it allows those that are participating to really be engaged. The weekly chat goes a long way in us having an active community to begin with. I would like to see a pop out option, but the isolated page has really worked well. Thanks for hearing me out. Regardless- we are all excited about chat changes. I also agree with a few others that if there is anyway to add video into the mix then you will be giving NC's something really good to grow their communities.

Tim,

Makes sense. I'm hoping we'll be able to accommodate as many use cases as possible, though I'm not sure we'll get all of them. If it's OK with you … I just joined your network, could you let me know when your next weekly chat is? I'd be really interested in observing to see how your members take advantage of the full page chat.

/Evan
Ning Product Manager

That would be great for us.

Andrew,

We've found that people do seem to want to have multiple conversations at once — and are capable of doing it. So the value of the subpanes extends beyond just the initial moment the user notices the conversation.

If you wanted to see content behind the panes, you could scroll down the page, or minimize the panes. Thanks for your feedback!

/Evan
Ning Product Manager

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, PLEASE DO LEAVE THE AVAILABILITY TO USE THE POP OUT CHAT OPTION OUT. THIS OPTION I A UNIQUE OPTION THAT YOU WANT FIND ON MANY CHATS ON THE INTERNET. I REALLY REALLY WANT THE OPTION BECAUSE ITS VERY USEFUL FOR ME AND I BELIVE FOR MOST OF US. ITS REALLY GOOD TO HAVE A POP OUT CHAT WINDOW ON ONE OTHER SCREEN OR OUTSIDE OF THE BROWSER, AND AT THE SAME TIME TO NAVIGATE ALL OVER THE SITE PAGES WITHOUT GETTING INTERUPTED. PLEASE DONT UPGRADE THE CHAT WITHOUT LEAVING THE OPTION TO USE THE POP OUT CHAT WINDOW.

yes, I like the format of Facebook's pop-out chat.

 

Hi Evan,
This is good news. I've been paying for a Skysa bar so I can have a decent chat and IM. 

I like the new design, but will there be a way that we can change the colors to be compatible with our site?

It would be fine with me if it were only in the footer if it was marked clearly. One of the problems with the flash chat is that it is difficult for new members to see that it's there and don't know to open it.Personally, I prefer to just have it in the footer so that people can navigate the site and still remain in the chat. 

I think the size is fine. A pop out with be nice, but I wouldln't be to oupset if it didn't..

Sounds are very important. I have had a lot of members get upset and leave the site because nobody responded to them in the chat. Many times there was no sound even if it was set to sound and every time the page was refreshed, the sound would automatically go back down. It needs to be set to high as the default and then let members turn it down if they choose to do so. It would be nice if there were different sounds for the IM and the group text. 

 

Hey Cherry!

As part of moving Chat into HTML and Javascript, it will be customizable via CSS — and we might even try to, at least to some degree, try to make chat include some colors from your theme. We're not yet sure whether we'll have controls in the design studio for easy color change, but anyone comfortable with CSS should be much happier with the new chat.

/Evan
Ning Product Manager

Hate to sound selfish, but that's good enough for me, Evan. Long as I can customize it via CSS, I'm happy.

 

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What's Up With Ning 3.0?

Click here to share your thoughts on what features we should develop next! - Survey will close Friday, 4/25

Projects that the Ning 3.0 Team is currently working on: 

Articles - a new way of organizing longer content pieces. Released 4/16.

Activity Feed Updates - options for more content in the activity feed.

Forum Notifications - ability for members to opt into receiving notifications of new discussions in forums. Released 4/9. 

APIs - The ability to create new members and content programatically.

For more information on what's next, visit the Product Roadmap

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