Our main goal was to make it more user-friendly and scalable. Read on for some of what we changed and why.
We split up the Customize Area into a 2-step process, with the second step being optional:
1) Choose Journal Style, and 2) Customize Journal Style
Choose Journal Style(screenshot)
One of the faults with the customize area has always been that you'd have to open another page to preview themes, and even then, not all of them had previews. And if you wanted to see how it would look on your journal, you'd have to apply it first.
Now, we have previews – thumbnails *and* the option to see how it looks on your journal without setting it as your style. You can also preview themes that aren't available to your account type, and see which level you'd need to upgrade to in order to use it.
We also did away with the layout/theme drop-downs because it didn't scale well. Some of those drop-downs (like Expressive's themes) are already really long, and keep getting longer. It's also hard to tell from a name what it will look like, or to find a particular style you're interested in.
We sorted all 600-something themes into categories (some of them may not be in the correct ones yet; we're still cleaning this up). We also added in the ability to sort by designer – if you like your theme, and want to see more from a particular designer, you can also do that now.
note: If you're currently using the "(Layout Default)" theme of a layout, you'll find that the layout now has its own name. If you're using "(None)", it's now "Unstyled". The different faces on Cuteness Attack are now individual themes.
We pulled out the column selection from the old Custom Options tab to make it more visible and easier to change your page layout. For Plus users, you can also change your ad placement from here now, instead of going to the ad preferences page.
We hope that these changes will help make it easier for you to find a style for your journal that you're happy with.
Customize Journal Style(screenshot)
For the Custom Options section (now "Customize Your Journal"), we wanted to make the wizard options easier to digest. It's great that there are so many different properties that can be customized (more in some layouts than others, Smooth Sailing for example), but all the text on the page is hard to scan through, especially when it's multiple screens long.
For the most part, these options are already grouped logically (all the header color options together, all the entry color options together, etc.); they just needed to be a bit more obvious at first glance. We added in headings to help facilitate this, and made each section collapsible.
For consistency, we pulled the top options from Presentation that are available to every layout and placed those as the basic display options. The rest are specific to each layout. In a future release, we plan to go through all the wizard options in each layout, and make the nomenclature consistent across. (for example, " display userpics" vs. "show user picture icons " or "sticky post" vs. "introduction box")
Nav Strip, Mood Themes, Links List
Because the Navigation Strip is part of the journal, we brought that in from the viewing options page, and also moved the custom colors option out of the Colors section and into the Navigtion Strip section.
We also added an on-the-fly preview for Mood Themes.
And we're bringing in the Manage Links List module to the Customize Journal Style section, instead of linking to the page. (It's still a link to the page in Beta, but it will be brought in)
We hope that these changes make it easier for you to customize your journal style and find the options that are available to each layout.
note: We changed it so now each customization you make using the wizard applies to the current theme instead of all themes within that layout.
Advanced and S1Our usability research showed that users would click through all the tabs in the old customize area, thinking Advanced would be more advanced custom options or CSS, not advanced advanced – custom S2 layers. We renamed it to Developer's Area, and linked it off as a separate section rather than keeping it as part of the customize area (but haven't made any other changes). Any custom layers you have created (or will create) will still show up in the Select Journal Style interface.
We also broke off S1 to show that it's deprecated. You can still use it, but this style system is no longer updated (and hasn't been for a while).
Go try out these changes, and let us know what you think on this post in lj_feedback (comments for this post are disabled so we can track all feedback in one place). Do you like it? Hate it? Be sure to let us know why.