Since the beginning of December, around when henrylyne was hired, I've been working with our designers to try and remove some of the low hanging fruit. Basically shooting for resolving some of the high-impact and low-time required usability issues. Henry has been doing most of the coding as an intro to the LJ codebase as well. So in the end working out quite well, he learns, designers make things better, and I guess I talk to people and make sure stuff happens.
The friends page, as many of you know, is really just a fancy aggregator. It is not really too different than an offline desktop news reader, except for how it is positioned. I think it also came into existence far before most RSS news readers today. One of its huge pluses is that you can also add syndicated feeds to it, thus making it also your desktop news reader; at least this is how I use it. Unfortunately, many users do not know about this functionality that we provide. As such, one of our goals is to start surfacing more and more of the syndicated features we all take for granting to the general populous of our user base. The first step in doing this is using common wording and imagery for syndicated accounts. This was seen in our push as we replaced the old syndicated account satellite dish with the now standard RSS feed icon. While I understand that this icon also has behavior associated with it, of taking you directly to a feed, we feel that this image which is easily recognized by a wide variety of users is quite important. While I definitely want to readdress the issue in the morning with design, making sure we are not using it in a way it should not be used, it is a step I feel we have to take. We do plan to look at all of our account type icons, but I do not know what time frame this will be done in.
Time and time again I've seen people who do not know the trick of clicking on the userpic on a userinfo page to view all of a user's pics. While we are working on a full redesign of the userinfo page, and even have a wireframe which Henry is working on implementing, this is something we'd like to do much sooner. Clicking the default userpic, as you all know, is a great feature, but is quite hidden. I had one user comment to me saying the link isn't needed as people will learn to click the userpic from friends or reading FAQs at some point. This is a mentality which just doesn't jive with improving usability and welcoming new users. We all know LJ has tons of "hidden" stuff, and is like a maze you work through, but it really presents a crappy experience for new users. So while this link may be a bit different from others on the page, it isn't permanent either.
Nudge, not a lot to say about it I don't think; seems you either love it or hate it. We now, has been pushed live, do not allow nudging someone who has updated within the past week. We also don't allow nudging except between mutual friends, so there shouldn't be a problem of random nudging. While I understand it further overloads the friends concept we've built, we feel it is better than adding yet another option. Jesse has committed the ability to disable nudge on your account this afternoon, though I am unsure when it will be put live.
If you haven't noticed, the interest search results page has changed its display of user results quite a bit. The idea here is that a bulleted list of usernames really isn't very useful in terms of discovery. Rather, we need to provide information about each user if you want to be able to make a decision about who you are interested in learning more about. We do however understand that it has some issues right now. This morning I met with jamisononfire and technopatra in terms of reworking some of these issues. Our plan, which I've committed parts of, is to make the text smaller, sort by time last updated, paginate somewhere between 50 and 100 users per page, as well as tweak some other display issues. This should allow you to see the most active users with the given interest as well as offering quite a bit of interesting information about each user. This style of search result display will also be reflected in the schools directory and directory itself once we refine a few more of these issues. We do plan to do a complete overhaul of our search functionality, so once again this is designed to be a fairly small code change designed to make search results much more usable.
So we're listening to all of your feedback, but also ask that you please bear with us. While we can't be perfect 100% of the time we can react quickly when things need changes. Hope I didn't miss anything and I hope you have a better view into some of the changes that recently went live. We're also, well crucially is, working on getting a new bug tracking system live to replace Zilla. We have decided to use Request Tracker instead of BugZilla, but I'm sure more will be posted on that when it is live.