Soon, everyone who's not logged in while browsing the site will start seeing LiveJournal in the new Horizon scheme (we were planning for Thursday, but we've hit a few snags), and in a few weeks, anyone who hasn't explicitly chosen one of our other site schemes will probably also get changed over. (We're not storing that information quite yet, so if you don't want to automatically be changed over to use Horizon in the future, wait until the default logged-out page starts using Horizon, and then go to the Browse Preferences page and select the scheme you'd like to keep.) We'll be keeping the other schemes available for people who want to keep using them, but we won't be updating them to include new links and features -- we just don't have the time and resources to support four different versions of the navigation scheme.
So wait, why redesign?
A bunch of reasons! Including:
- Our existing site designs were starting to feel the pressure of time -- we've added a lot of features since we designed them, and it was starting to get difficult to shoehorn those features into the various menus. The Horizon scheme is designed to be expandable over time, as we add new features.
- Many, many people have reported that it's hard to find features under the existing site schemes, because the division of the menus isn't logical. To build the menus for Horizon, we got the whole staff into groups and set out index cards with all the pages on the site, then shuffled them around until everything fit into logical groups. Then we pulled out the most frequently-used tasks, and the ones we felt defined LiveJournal as a service, and built the menus around them. We've been listening to feedback from our beta testers and tweaking the menus ever since.
- We wanted to fix the usability problems with the existing site schemes. For instance, with XColibur, when the submenu appears on hover, one tiny little mouse twitch and you lose it again. Ouch.
- We wanted to have a prominent link for our notification system's message center, right up in the top of the design. What notification system? Oh, stay tuned to news, because it's pretty much the best thing to happen on LJ since the advent of the friends page... (Our permanent account holders are already getting a sneak peak, and in the coming weeks, we'll be launching for everyone. We can't wait.)
Where can I find out more?
The lj_design community has a series of posts about the new design, including more information about what we're trying to accomplish and possible plans for future changes or additions. Take a look if you're interested in learning more about why we made the choices we made.
What if it doesn't work for me?
We've done a lot of testing, and we've fixed a lot of bugs that came up in various browsers and resolutions. We think we've gotten most of them, but if you're still having problems, please open up a Support request with as much detailed information as possible about your browser, operating system, screen resolution, and what problems you're seeing.
(If you just think it's ugly, not broken, we're probably not going to be much help, but we're quite happy to listen to why you think it's ugly. You can email feedback @ livejournal.com.)
Why should I use it?
Because it'll walk your dog and take out your garbage for you! ...Okay, no, that's a lie. But we think -- and beta feedback agrees -- that the number one advantage of using the new site scheme is how easy it is to find things. It might take you a few days to retrain yourself where to look for things, but once you do, we think you'll find that locating links to commonly-used tasks is suddenly a lot easier. (For instance, no more flailing around and trying to remember where the link to edit Friend groups is. That's been annoying me since about 2003.)
So if you want to try it out, or just want to see a screenshot of what it looks like, head on over to the Browse Preferences page and give it a test drive.
Stay tuned to news for our upcoming feature announcements -- August and September are going to be pretty busy -- and keep watching lj_biz, because I plan on making posts like this, explaining what's going on and why we're doing it, for many of our new upcoming features. Happy Wednesday!