We're happy to report that by the end of this week a new mobile experience will be rolled out to all Ning Networks. This upgrade is a complete re-write of the old Ning mobile experience. It's built-in, completely free, and offers a lot more options for driving activity.
The contrast between the old and new couldn't be more different. The old mobile interface was originally released around the same time Apple unveiled their App Store. We've been upgrading the mobile version regularly over time, but we knew it was high time for a thorough rebuild and redesign. We chose future-friendly HTML5 because it allows us to create a great-looking experience across numerous mobile devices. We were able to create something that's high quality and that provides a frictionless experience for users. And it's an excellent base for adding more to the mobile version down the road. Let's take a look at a few things the new Ning Mobile offers.
The old and new are radically different, but the look of the new probably won't throw you for a loop. It's designed in a familiar app-like way. It provides the same kind of swiping and tapping gestures most people are used to performing with their iOS and Android devices. It's optimized for smartphones so your members can access it easily with the devices they already use every day. You won't need any advanced design skills or a $100 Apple App Store developer's license to publish, either. The new mobile version will be consistent and running in the background all the time. Most important: It's very stable.
While the old version didn't provide many options for customization, the new Ning Mobile lets Ning Creators choose which features and pages they want to appear — in the order they prefer. There's also many more features available in the new mobile experience. You can add pages to display Latest Activity, Members, Blogs, Photos, Forum, a member's Profile Page, Groups, Events, an RSS feed, and even custom HTML pages. This greatly expands a Ning community's mobile presence and possibilities, and we're excited to watch as the entire Ning Platform adopts this new mobile version.
Most of the administrative settings will probably be pretty self-explanatory. A few details to keep in mind:
As always, we're big fans of our customers' opinions, so let us know what you think about the new mobile version. How have your members used the mobile version of Ning in the past? What can we do to help make their mobile experience even better going forward — and make your community even more vibrant and active?
Are you going to add more features later?
Undoubtedly! We've included as much as we could with this initial release. It includes a whole lot more than the old version ever did, but the new mobile interface will still not contain every detail of your Ning Network. The most-used features are included, but we may add more features over time. For example, adding chat or private messaging capabilities are requests we've heard from Network Creators.
Can I customize the design using advanced CSS?
One major goal of this project has been to make the viewing experience as standardized, compact and reliable as possible, so there aren't any CSS design alteration options at this point.
Can I change some of the wording of the interface?
Yes! Many new language strings for the mobile version have been added to the Language Editor, so chances are you can change the wording where you like.
Can I run ads on my mobile site?
We'll be rolling out an optional ad solution for Network Creators shortly that will include the ability to run Ning Ads on the desktop and mobile versions of your site.
Will tablet users see the same thing as smartphone users?
We've initially chosen to point tablet users to the desktop version. However, we'll be watching usage by tablets carefully, and we may change this in the future and provide an option for you to control this detail.
Can my members upload photos?
This depends on your phone or tablet computer. Many mobile browsers include the ability to upload photos, but the iPhone and iPad do not currently include this capability. However, Apple has indicated that the upcoming iOS 6 version of their software will include the ability for the mobile Safari browser to upload photos. Apple has said this upgrade will happen this fall.
Can I create my own Apple or Android app?
We've focused the Ning Mobile project on designing the mobile web interface, but if you do want a specially branded app, we heartily recommend our third-party partner, ShoutEm. They make beautiful apps for networks that require a higher level of branding or a specialized member experience.
I like everything about the new mobile except I can't change the white color background. Will Ning offer the ability to change the text and background colors outside of the header area? I don't need CSS but I do need the color change options like offered in the header area. My site is dark colors and the white doesn't fit my site appearance.
Hey, Chris. No plans to change that right now, but we'll try to gauge interest for that kind of change. We've been pretty set on uniformity and consistency with this design.
Hey, Oliver. I haven't heard of an error quite like that. If it is at all possible, we'd love a message to our Support team from your dashboard. We can assign someone to do some in-depth testing.
I've enjoyed this new upgrade Eric, it's terrific :-)
Dear Ning Team
Greetings. Thanks for the amazing work. As usual I continue to be impressed by your constant innovation and also continuing to communicate and solicit input from NC.
A few comments/questions:
1) Ning did create an iphone app a while back for us to manage our networks. I haven't been able to login to the app for at least five months. Should this app still be functioning?
2) Mobile Ads - I did create a Google Mobile Ad and put it on my mobile network under html. I have two qusetions here. One is will there be a way network creators can embed mobile apps directly into mobile pages (such as groups, discussion, etc.) as this will be critical. I know you're testing glam ads, but as many others have written we need much more detail here and would also like to emphasize how important is it for many NC who also run their own ads directly with advertisers (as I am doing) to be able to place ads on mobile networks and not only rely on Google or Glam. If you could provide some details on how to do this currently or what will happen in the future would appreciate that.
Hi, Craig. Mobile pages can be renamed by editing the text in the Title bar in your network mobile settings. If you do not change the titles of pages, they will remain My Page, Groups, Videos, etc. by default.
Activity feed on mobile is the closest equivalent we have right now to a home page on our mobile networks. I do see your need to a more advanced homepage, but for now, I have all my blog posts/comments, group activity all in the news feed for this very reason. If you wanted, you could make an RSS page in your Mobile and link to it, a specific group and that would sort of be an activity feed of the discussions. This will be more difficult to do, the more groups your network has (as it will be more cluttered).
To see what I mean, you can see my mobile network at http://meetreef.com on your phone.
Hey, Craig. Sean pretty much nailed the answers to these questions.
I don't know about providing a more advanced main page for mobile. Don't think that is in the plans at this point. I think that the goal was to provide flexibility in choosing which page you want to put up as the main page over a more complex main page. Of course, you can create your own main page with HTML, so give that a go. If you use an HTML page as the main page, just want to put in a word for not specifying a width in pixels but using 100% width so that it sizes to fit all devices.
You mention that you aren't seeing the menu on the HTML page when it's set as the main page. I am not experiencing the same thing. I can see the menu on my HTML main page. I just tried your site, and I think it's working as it should. Maybe I'm misunderstanding?
I know some people are intensely interested in running all kinds of ads on mobile, but I really don't have more info to share about ads just yet. I think that the ad locations will be across your mobile site and not just on the main page, but I am still learning some of the details and will learn more as we run the private beta. I'll do my best to provide as much info as I can as we get closer to launching Ning Ads.
Eric, Thank you for sharing slightly more on ads. It goes without saying that i hope Ning meets the demands for NCs to use their own ads on mobile, not just those on offer from Glam.
I am also noticing that the desktop view menu option doesn't seem to be showing up for me when I visit the html page on my mobile network (which I have called the home page). It does show up when I visit other mobile pages such as groups.Is there someway to add the desktop page menu item to the hmtl page (my mobile home page)?
We may not be showing the menu item here because there's no desktop equivalent to a mobile html page, but when it's the landing page obviously we should provide an option to go to the main page of the desktop version. Thanks for letting us know about this.