Last year, we did something a little different than we have in previous years: We published a public Product Roadmap. It was a big success. It bolstered direct customer-company communication, and it really helped Network Creators know what was coming next.
It was an ambitious roadmap, and by year's end we had finished all but one of the projects we initially listed on the roadmap (we're still working on Mobile improvements; it expanded in scope and became larger). All told, we completed many more projects in 2011 than we did in the two previous years combined. In fact, we actually added additional projects to the 2011 roadmap as the year went along, making it our biggest year of improvements ever. (All of those additional projects were based directly on the suggestions we received from people right here on the Creators Network. We get a ton of feature requests from our most dedicated customers.)
We're going to keep up regular roadmap updates for 2012, although this year we're going to do things a little differently. We're still going to keep you updated about what we're working on with our Product Roadmap page, but we're going to shift to offering a more "living" document that shows 1) what's already in partial release, 2) what we're working on now that's not yet released, and 3) what's still in the planning stages. The goal is to update it frequently as we go along instead of offering one giant laundry list of features. We want the projects we're reporting on to be focused on high quality — incorporating lots of feedback as we go along from Network Creators so we can be nimble and adjust what we're building based on your valuable input. And, we'll be adding to this roadmap as we complete projects throughout the year.
With all of that said, here's what we have partially released, are working on, and are still planning…..
Activity Feed: If you haven't seen it yet, we also recently added "Top News" as a beta in the Ning Labs section of your dashboard. Among other things, this feed pulls in Facebook and Twitter account posts into the Top News activity feed. We'll be making additional visual improvements to this feed, implementing some real-time abilities for new activity items, and moving this feature out of beta. Check out the latest set of improvements we released last week. There's more to come on this project that will help increase engagement on your network.
Member Categories + Badges: We know a lot of Network Creators want to create different levels of membership for their network. We'll be adding the ability for you to assign members to custom-made categories. The work on this project kicked off earlier this week with a reorganization of the member roles and moderation data to make finding and filtering members easier. Next, we'll roll out the ability to create and administer categories in this area. This project will also include a way for you to create custom badges (!) using your new member categories. This will be an excellent way for you to reward or identify admins, featured members, or just plain special people on your network.
Working On It
Mobile Update: Not everyone is aware that there is a mobile version of every Ning Network. (It's located at networkname.ning.com/m.) If you are aware of it, you'll be very happy to hear that we are working on a redesign of this mobile interface that will be a giant improvement. This is one of the largest projects we've undertaken to date, and it's vitally important. We want to get it right so that Network Creators won't just have a better mobile experience to offer their members, but will have a way to configure and customize the mobile version to really fit their network. (We'll be posting about this on Creators and accepting volunteers for the beta group.)
Help Center Redesign: Our Advocacy department is most excited about their revamp of the Help Center. It's time for a refresh of the content, the look, the advice — all of it is currently in the process of being redone to be more friendly. Let us know if there are specific resources you'd like to see in our updated Help Center.
Blog Update: The blog functionality on your network is ready for a re-do. We've gotten a wealth of feedback from Network Creators about what they'd like to see done differently with the blog feature. We have a lot of work planned to make the blog more powerful and much more visually appealing. We'll share more details as this project unfolds.
Sign-Up Controls: We'll offer expanded control over sign in and sign up options that will allow you to, for example, have an "open registration" during specific times and "closed registration" at other times. If you're more interested in using Ning as a publishing platform then a community platform, you will be able to turn off all "Sign-Up" links and messaging visible to non-signed-in visitors.
New Commenting Options: Provide the ability to allow non-members to join in the conversation by using third-party commenting services (e.g., Facebook comments).
How we move forward
One thing we want to do is invest more resources in beta testing and iterating on the design of each new feature -- very similar to what we did with the recently updated Chat. We started the complete Chat revamp with an early announcement about the upcoming feature, followed it up with the creation of a small test group, gradually opened up the beta to more people, announced our progress along the way multiple times ahead of final deployment, and then rolled the feature out to everyone. It was one of our most successful product launches, and it incorporated lots of opportunity for the most engaged Ning Creators to provide feedback. Being laser focused on one project at a time (rather than being more generally focused on a giant list of projects) helped us make chat even better than we had originally planned. We'd like to pattern more of our releases after that one.
We still plan to innovate in a big way, and, as always, there is additional work going on that's not reflected in this product roadmap. For example, it may not be apparent that over the past year we greatly expanded language support for our marketing pages (Ning traverse le monde! FYI: We'll be re-translating French and German soon), reorganized and consolidated domains, adopted new behind-the-scenes web services that make things run more smoothly, and a whole lot more. We continue to grow and become stronger as a platform when we do these types of essential but less visible projects. Building out all facets of our business — and not just the forward-facing product features — means a more reliable and robust product.
We'll be continuing the conversation here on Creators about these projects going forward, so look for ongoing announcements about beta access and updates on our progress. If you didn't find your favorite request in this update, we'll be updating the roadmap regularly with new items. As always, thank you for all of the suggestions and feedback!
Ning is the only platform wich has a picture visualization thah SUCKS!! All other platform have a perfect display of images with popup windows (for example blogger, wordpress, flickr, also FB!!! ecc) It would be very useful, once you choose to see a full size view of a photo, that the image was centered in the screen and you could choose a background color, as in the screens below
Other important suggestion. Now the limit is to insert a photo of 10 Mb per image. This limit is very large for the web and it would be enough to have a limit of 2 Mb. I would like to decide what limits to impose to not allow the members to insert pictures that are too big, I repeat, besides being useless, large photos overload the server and make us pay more.
Last, but not the least, I'd like, in the future, to have a larger body width in my social network.
Badges: Really cool!
Actually I did this in my community already on a small scale by manipulating the badge into members photos and such sign out a specific group I call "mentors". Real success! The guys with that state really helped with the community and put in lots of effort.
If it would be possible to add an activity based badge, then we are already in gamification, which in general motivates people more.
Thanks a lot and waiting for this feature!
Broadcast by USTream
There is no thumnail when you publish a video from USTREAM.
We I have been attending Roadmap forum but there is any place in wich I can figure out about UStream thumnail will be in the program.
Will you please just tell me if there is in the list of updates?
Is important to mention that when we broadcast is totaly public, so it will not be a matter of privacy.
I think more and more TV brodcasters will be more necesary for improve networks so please just tell me if it considered at the 2012 roadmap.
Thanks a lot,
i got a request from a member to add integration for taptotalk i guess its a iphone/android app that reads and replies to forum posts by voice i dont own a cell so know nothing about it
but i think its a good idea as far as accessibility to blind etc if that is what it does
it is a accesibilty program for disabled individuals with limmited or no speach or communication skills
cerebral paulsy as an example
so the accessibilty factor alone would be well worth it
i'm disabled myself and we have several disabled members, death, blind, cp sci you name it so this would be a big help and a step forward for ning to take accessu=ibility factors more into concideratioin. it would lead the way towards developing networks around accesibility and disability issues
There is one thing I would very much like to see added to this list, it's all to do with email. The box for selecting members to email is very small and tedious. If you are friends with everyone just about on the network, as I think most NC's are so members can get in touch, then the small selection box is a bit of a knightmare. Luckily I only have just over 500 members but I would hate to think what its like to have thousands when you have to scroll through the tiny icons in the list then put a tick in the box of the selected members you want to send the email to. For example I have a list of entertainers on my site so I either have to visit each profile to send the email or compose one in my mailbox by scrolling through the list, tick the box by each one,scroll some more then sending the email, it takes forever. I hope when we have member categories that this will be shown in the email section so you can just select the group in the categorie you would like to send the email to, maybe something like we have in groups where you can send an email to the group. If not possible could the email selection box be made bigger.
If you as an NC could goto the members page and have a tick box by each one there that the NC could tick to then compose a message that would work great, so next to where it says add comment you could have send email and also a selection box in case you wanted to select a group of members.
This shortcoming of the compose message window makes it almost unusable, if you have to send messages to multiple persons from a long list of friends.
Many times I decide to revert to conventional email and shun Ning email for this reason.
One very effecctive way around this would be to have a text input box where you can directly type in your friends' names, supported by autocomplete function, as in Facebook or LinkedIn.
i have 1 suggestion a very small one that should be easy but would be massively beneficial
perhaps the simplest update that would have the most drastic affect on every network
a simple copy paste "link to this" box under all content with varius link codes
just like photov]=bucket has so you can easily copy paste links from ning sites into blogs pages forums using html bb cio]ode etc
it would mnake backlink building automatic as visitors easily link to your content with no skill needed simple cfopy paste ease
and would encouragealotmore deep linking to pages deeper into your site a big site could see exponential link prp]opegation throughout the net which will increase earch enjgine positioning and trafic
it would be a real simple update to implement.. a project that could be completed fairly quickly and not requite a large team to work on it for months.
but the benifit would be nearly immediate once implemented.
An incredibly high priority for many of us is the ability to change the 'Group Creator' to 'Group Manager/Host' along with the ability to take away admin capabilities from the person who set up/created the group and change whose name and picture is shown with the group information (as per who is actually running the group, *not* the person who happened to create it in the first place) Please see the discussion "WE NEED THE ABILITY TO CHANGE THE CREATOR OF A GROUP" for more details http://creators.ning.com/forum/topics/we-need-the-ability-to-change...
Also the ability to move discussions and blogs around our site is a highly important function that will enable us to actively manage our sites more efficiently. Please see the discussion "MOVING DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN FORUM CATEGORIES AND GROUPS" to see just how many of us *need* this function!! http://creators.ning.com/forum/topics/moving-discussion-topics-1
And lastly, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE can we have a column added to the member dashboard that shows us when a member last visited/logged in/signed in to our site. At the moment the only way to get this information is by exporting the data. This is long and tedious. We should be able to see this information 'at a glance' on the member dashboard (Dashboard -> Members -> Management).
All of these are a priority for a very large number of us. Please put these things on the roadmap!! PLEASE!!!
Yes, yes & yes please!!! to all three of these things. controlling the group host/manager is a critical issue for us....
Great 2011 Ning. I use badges and chat much more than I ever thought. In 2012 my number one (and realistic) wish is the ability to search events and then have the most recent events list first. Maybe someone knows how to already do this.