Most Important Upgrades for Ning:
Assuming that all goes well with the current roadmap, this is what I would personally like to see slotted into the next product roadmap. I’ve created a list of what I personally believe are the most important upgrades that Ning networks as a whole would benefit from. Of course many people will disagree with this list because their favorite feature might not be on it or they might disagree with the order of importance. My only message to them is to try and understand that not all one million of their requests can be fulfilled and not everybody will agree with one another. So without further ado, this is my list of the most important upgrades for Ning in a general order of importance:
1. Continued Security, Speed, Reliability, and Consistency
Reasoning: Technically, this is not an upgrade and should not actually be written on the next roadmap. However, there is nothing more important to Ning than this. Not a single upgrade to the platform would matter in the slightest bit if we don’t have secure, speedy, reliable networks that were consistently updated. There should never be any security risks with our networks, no matter how big or small. Our networks should load fast with as little downtime as possible. The platform should continue to be updated on a regular basis, as these roadmaps already do for us. Without all of this incredibly important stuff Ning does behind the scenes to keep our networks up and running, nothing on the roadmap would even matter to us. So Ning, don’t ever let a new feature get in the way of what really matters to us: A secure, speedy, and reliable website that we can trust to be running day and night.
2. Fix the Old Before Adding New
Reasoning: You shouldn’t add new features until the regular features are 100% polished. Why should we charge for memberships when there are so many things we can’t do with the basic features we already have? Gifts should not cost money for creators and should be much more customizable. Events should be recurring. We should be able to have forum signatures and turn discussions into “stickys”. The video and photo size limits should be increased. We should be able to tag members in videos, photos, and statuses. And a million more of the features we already have on our networks are in need of updating. There are seven huge features that I have on this list that would help our networks so much. But they wouldn’t really help anything if the small stuff we already have hasn’t reached its maximum potential. So Ning, fix the old before adding new. Go back to the videos, photos, forums, blogs, groups, events, leaderboards, gifts, notes, and pages before adding anything extra for us. It definitely won't put you on TechCrunch, but it'll make your customers much more happy and your product much better overall.
3. On-Network Notifications
Reasoning: So you’ve just posted two discussions, a blog, a video, and a photo album on your network. Great! I’m sure you’re going to get quite a few comments, replies, and messages for all that. The problem here is that you have to actually open up a new tab and go to a separate website just to keep track of what’s going on! This is ridiculous. First of all, you should never be forced to leave the network, especially just to keep track of your own activity. Second, the majority of people (especially the younger generation) do not use email any more. I’m not saying that email is dead; I’m merely suggesting that because there is such little need for email these days that most people don’t use it. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are some of the world’s largest websites and you can keep track of everything right there on the website. No need to leave. So Ning, don’t make us leave the actual network and go to a different website to track our activity! That is barbaric!
4. Ning Chat Upgrade
Reasoning: Do I really need to explain? Every single employee at Ning Headquarters, even the 16-year-old kid mopping the floor, knows that Ning Chat is in need of an upgrade. It is the single most requested feature on Ning Creators, no doubt about it. And the funny thing is, it doesn’t really need much work. All you have to do is give us the ability to customize colors and make new messages pop out. We’re not talking about a complete rebuild. We just need the basic essentials of chat. If anyone needs anything more than that, they can invest in Skysa or Wibiya. So Ning, don’t leave the most basic feature of a social network looking like crap! Fix the chat or continue to lose customers.
5. Customer Support Upgrade
Reasoning: Unless you are a Pro network creator, you aren’t getting respectable support from Ning when your network encounters a problem. Your support ticket will not be responded to for a few days, possibly even a week, and this is unacceptable. No matter how great Ning’s features are, they are meaningless if our networks break and we can’t get the help we need. Ning’s customer support makes them look like a weak company and is most likely the main cause of NC’s leaving Ning. My advice would be to either staff more customer support representatives or create a phone support service. Whatever you do, customer support needs to be improved by well over 300%.
6. Invitation Leaderboard/Referral System
Reasoning: The member count of the average Ning network could easily double within a week if Ning implemented some sort of an invitation leaderboard or referral system. This has been requested before several times. If current members were able to move up a leaderboard when their friends joined the network, they’d be very pleased. They’d invite as many people as they could, especially if they earned rewards or prizes from the network creator for being the top inviter. All it takes is an addition to the current leaderboard feature for tracking the top inviters. Members would enjoy moving up this leaderboard and gaining popularity on the site and many many members would join.
7. Content Manager (Mass Feature and Delete)Reasoning: Ever tried to feature or delete a large amount of items on your network? Not fun. We need an easy way to feature, unfeature, and delete all types of content on our network. I suggest building a “Content Manager” where we can view all content on the network categorized by time, member, and type of content. This is crucial for networks that are spammed with large amounts of content, need to feature a large amount of videos, photos, etc, and want to delete unwanted content.
8. More Control over Moderators’ Roles
Reasoning: If you are a Ning creator and give a member control over the Members feature, they could easily sabotage the entire network in minutes. They could delete all the members or even steal all the emails and create a network of their own. Moderators have way too much power! I wouldn’t let my own mother have this sort of power because it’s just so easy to accidentally delete everything. Even if you don’t give a member control over the members, they could delete or edit videos, photos, blogs, groups, events, and discussions leaving your network a disaster. So Ning, please give us limits on what moderators and admins can do. They are just way too powerful and our networks are too large for us to handle on our own.
9. Subscribe to Members’ ContentReasoning: I have over 100 friends on my network, yet I have no way of keeping track of what they are doing. They post really interesting videos and blogs, yet I have to search all over the place to find them. Don’t you think I should be notified when they post certain things? There should be a clear “Subscribe” button on all members’ profiles. You should be able to choose which features you want to follow from them and have notifications of new content sent to your email (or Notifications box as seen in feature #1).
So that's my view on what Ning needs to update in the next roadmap. You may disagree and that's fine with me. I just wanted to share my view on what Ning should focus on next. The main thing I want to highlight here is that Ning needs to update the old before adding new. Once that is complete, numbers three through nine on this list should immediately be worked on.
What do you think about Ning's future? What are your top requests? Leave a reply with your opinion. Let's give Ning a sense of what we want from them :)
We need to be able to feature, unfeature members with some sort of bulk system instead of having to visit each profile to feature, and then revisit to unfeature.
We need to see a master list of all blogs (like we currently have with our OWN under "Edit Blog Posts") with an option beside them to feature or unfeature, instead of having to visit every single blog to do it.