Not too long ago, we laid the groundwork for our member categories feature by streamlining the management of your existing and prospective members. Now, we're almost ready to roll Member Categories out, and we wanted to give you a preview of the feature and get your feedback on its functionality and a few improvements that we've added along the way.
Create up to 50 categories and assign members to them. All of your members will begin in the default category, called Members. You can create and edit new categories via the Member Categories tab in the Member Management section. A couple of important limitations to note up front: the default category can't be edited, and members can only belong to one category at a time.
When you create a category, you have an option to create a listing page exclusively for the members in that category, and you can create listing pages for up to 5 10categories. When you do this, a new submenu item for the category will appear in the submenu items for Member pages. You can choose the text for the submenu listing, so that you can pluralize or customize it. This is a great way to highlight specific members on the network.
Image and Text Badges
Each category that you create can also have an optional image or text badge that gets added as an overlay on a member's profile picture. Whether you create badges of honor or badges of shame, this is an excellent way to identify admins, reward special members, or just make it easy for visitors to identify different types of members. Text badges are based on the category name, and can be placed at the top or bottom of the profile picture. You can set the text color, background color, and the background opacity for each badge.
Images badges can be positioned in one of the four quadrants of a member's profile picture. We've included 22 badges to get you started, and you can upload and manage up to 50 of your own custom badges.
Text and Image badges will appear in most places in your network, but not everywhere. Right now they won't appear in Chat and in a couple of other places, like the profile images on sign in and sign up pages.
Designers and Network Creators who are comfortable with CSS will be pleased to know that each created category is associated with a CSS class that we're adding to the #xg_themebody div in profile pages. This means you can create CSS styles that will be applied to the profile pages of members in a category. This will let you do things like adjust the background or color scheme of every member of your network who's in a specific category.
Once you've assigned your members to categories, you can use new functionality in the Broadcast Message feature to send a broadcast message to just those members. Choose any category you've created and proceed from there. The current broadcast message includes a subheader with the words "A Message to all members of Network Name". Now that you can target individual categories for messages, that text is no longer accurate, so we'll be removing it with this release. If you like that message and want to retain it, you can add it in manually like this:
<h3>A Message to all members of Network Name</h3>
We're currently targeting Thursday for this release. We'll update this post if that changes. We're excited to see how NCs will use Member Categories, and we'd love your feedback. There are a few enhancements we may add to member categories like the ability to connect a Paid Access subscriber list with a category. There are also a few longer term things you've already told us you want, like category-specific feature permissions (e.g., Blog-only members). Let us know in the comments how you plan to use Member Categories, and once it's gone live, let us know how we can make it more useful for you.
The reasoning is strategic. Allowing members to be in multiple categories might broaden some uses of categories, but it will also restrict others, and it complicates various interactions. Because this is an initial release, we are keeping it simple, and that means a member can only belong to a single category. As the feature gets used, we'll get additional feedback from network creators, and we'll look to evolve it in ways that will allow it to be as broadly useful as possible to the very diverse set of networks using Ning.
In terms of your example with Groups, wouldn't that be more simply solved by allowing members to be added directly to a group by the Network Creator or Admin?
Many thanks, Phil. Good to know your thinking; I'll be there, ready to use it if/when it evolves.
"...added directly to a group by the Network Creator" -- exactly, I really wish I could do that for members who have joined a committee, for instance. Is it possible? Will it become possible?
Excellent news. I was struggling for this feature and I have just finished my small project for my network to implement this kind of feature.
How will this affect SEO?
I don't think it will have much impact. There are a couple of potential effects; the first comes with using a text badge, since the text in the badge will appear more often on the site. The second is with the listing pages for various categories, which will be in the format /profiles/category/category-name
Will this place the badge images on the members profile pics like the NING team members have here ?
Yes it will. For image badges you can choose one of 4 corners, and text badges can be placed along the top or bottom of the profile image.
AWESOME Stuff - can't wait to try it out
I don't understand fully how this will work - but great feature thanks Ning.
You say "default category can't be edited". So what will be in the default category ?
Also I am assuming :
1. I'll be able to tag a member in a specific category and assign a 'badge' to show that category.
2. Will I be able to assign Menu Tabs to specific member categories ?
3. Will I be able to assign access to specific pages to member categories ?
4. Will I be able to send broadcast messages to selected member categories ?
5. Will I be able to charge different categories different prices for membership (eg Gold, Silver, Bronze ?)
That is the sort of useage I envisage. Will I be able to do these sorts of things ?
You will be able to do 1, 2 and 4 in this release. I don't fully understand what you mean by 3. If you mean can you restrict the features that a specific category of members has access to, then no, you won't be able to do that in this release. As I mentioned though, that's one of the things that we'll explore in the future. You won't be able to charge members to belong to a category, but we're also looking at making it easy to hook up a paid access subscriber set to a category.
The default category will consist of all of your current members and any new members who join.
You'll be able to try it out soon, George. Stay tuned!
This is a great update, my members would love it. One question.. Will the featured members be a category? It would be nice if the featured members get a badge.