Steven and Winnie (winniewong) wrote in lj_design,
Steven and Winnie

Behind the Beta Site Scheme

Thanks to everyone who gave the beta site scheme a try. Even if you had to turn it off because it was too buggy, we are really grateful that you gave it a try and sent us your feedback. We are going to post a summary of the information to lj_design shortly.

In the meantime, as promised, here's some of the ideas and thinking behind the Beta Site Scheme...

Consolidating Identity
We wanted to create an obvious area for personal identity and ownership. This is something that exists in our other site schemes, and it's a good thing to maintain. We put the key information about a person together (the username & userpic). We also grouped the account link with this area because it's so closely associated with the idea of ownership. Playing off that idea, we decided to try positioning this information in upper left hand side. It allowed us to preserve left aligned text, which is typically easier to read than right aligned text, and also gave identity a higher visual importance. We know that there are users who have multiple accounts, and there are also users who access LiveJournal on public computers. In these cases, knowing at a glance if you are logged in, and as who is pretty important.

Very closely related to the identity is the concepts on LJ that are meant to be shared with others. The links to the right of "View Your" grouped these concepts together. In this case, a user's journal, photos, profile, and memories. We were on the fence about whether or not the Friends Page belonged in this group. Though it's sharable, it's overwhelming value is to the individual. Your Friends Page is most useful, valuable, and personal to you. In that sense, the Friends Page can be viewed as are area the individual owns. However, all the content is generated by other people. It's a tricky concept to work with, so we decided to include it, and monitor the feedback. (burr86 will talk about that in another post to this community.)

Management Links
The management functions are located in the menus. We grouped the functions around the most common concepts on LJ. These concepts were identified in our early brainstorming sessions. Most of LJ's functionality can be grouped under these concepts. We could've approached this several different ways. By conceptual object, I mean things like Journal, Scrapbook, Profile, Friends, Communities etc. (Nouns) We could have also grouped them by action, for example, Manage, Design, Explore, etc. (Verbs) Each approach has it's strengths and weaknesses. In the end, we decided on a bit of a hybrid approach, feeling that it struck the right balance between consistency and usability.

Frequent Tasks
Not all links in the menus are equal. For those links, we wanted to create an area that exposed them, so that new users would not have to look for the links, and so current users would have ready access to them. The Post link is a good example of this. We set aside an area on the right side of the site scheme and gave it a different graphic treatment. You'll notice that we've repeated the Friends Page link in this area. Friends Page is a frequently used link, however it's already available on other areas of the navigation. We decided to include it in both areas during Beta, and monitor feedback.

The mini-sitemap
There's always going to be links that users don't access all the time, but don't want to look for them when they do. We wanted to make these available in the site scheme, but not have them distract from the key tasks that people use on a daily basis. There were a few links that fell into this category. A good example would be the Feedback link, Downloads, and the Gift Shop. These links aren't used daily by most users, however, if users want to send us feedback, we want them to be able to find it.

Other pages
There were some pages that were redesigned to work with the new site scheme. Most of the changes are pretty functional, like consolidating all of our downloads onto one page, or making the Account page a bit easier to read. The more interesting change is the Explore LJ page. We went around the site foraging for stuff that we already built that would help users find communities, journals, etc that might be interesting to them. The result was this.

Also, we wanted to make it easier to contact us, so we combined all of the official communities and email addressed onto the Feedback page.

Speaking of Feedback
We've been getting a lot of good feedback from everyone using it. Support is helping me sort it all. Last we checked, there were about 600 feedback submissions. I'll let burr86 post a summary about the feedback. Stay tuned ;)

BTW, we're turning comments on in case anyone wants to discuss the design process, however if you have found a bug or have other feedback regarding the design, please continue to use the feedback link that is built into beta site scheme. — Thanks!
Tags: site scheme
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