I am the VP of User Experience at Lithium Technologies, and I have the privilege of announcing the upcoming redesign of Lithosphere.
What is new? Glad you asked. Simply: Our objectives have been recalibrated and the redesign will showcase them:
Lets go step by step on how we are going to accomplish this. Please come along:
1. Demonstrate our customization capabilities
As you may know, the biggest achievement from Lithium version 8.x to 9.0 has been the adoption of modern standards in the presentation layer of our communities. That is: Our front-end now features no tables and legacy markup, and instead, lots of semantic content and CSS-driven layout. In layman terms: Our content is completely detached and independent from our presentation... we are not shackled anymore by the platform and can now make anything with the later. And we intend to wow you indeed. Everything will be rethought: From a home page that provides more content hierarchy, form a global navigation that highlights what truly matters and hides what is not needed, to Blogs that feel like a platform for expression (not just a regurgitated forum), to Ideas and Forums that feel more clean and legible than ever before.
2. Improve the experience of our site
You will see that Forums, Ideas, Forums, Home page, all feel differentiated and customized to their purpose.
You will see that those links you rarely used are now gone to reduce noise, and those you always clicked on are more relevant are now more prominent, to increase signal.
You will see that the tools are more informative (like rollovers in Kudos) and that move out-of the way when not needed (like Message actions, that only appear when on rollover a particular message).
You will see that you will clearly recognize where you are at any given moment, that you instinctively will know what you afford to do, that you are aware where you came from and you will easily map the choices where you can go from there.
You will see Related content always cross-pollinating Forums, ideas and Blogs... So you can get the best out of each.
3. Insure that our community feels dynamic
We are holding a few surprises here, but you will soon enjoy real-time metrics on the activity and buzz of each page you are looking at (The "Pulse" of every post, analyzed for all to see!) You will discover a home page with a timeline of who is enjoying the same "Lithosphere moment" that you are, feeling more like an active community site with news feeds, recent activity, etc. Also, our blogs will feel more human, with a design that emphasizes the voice of our top authors. In general you will discover little details everywhere (some long requested by you) such as relative dates ("15 minutes ago" versus "03-11-2009 03:40 PM") to give you with a better sense of freshness and relevancy. Your profile will be more accessible, and the ability to see basic information of any community member will be instant with exciting rollover panels... But enough of this, we will let you discover the rest on your own.
4. Rebranding of our company and services
Lithium is not taking 2009 quietly. We are so proud of our new Lithium 9 engine and powerful new services such as Lithium Insights, that we want to celebrate it in a big way. Our logo still functions just fine, but our colors will go BOLD and confident. I warn some of you: It may take some time to digest... But the goal is to say something different out there, something that is both relevant and exciting (who said that usefulness had to be plain and boring?). We promise you excitement with a range of new colors that are not only refreshing, but navigationally informative: Giving you clear hints of where you are, framing that which requires your immediate attention or pushing to a second plane what is only contextual and supportive to your main task. We are also revamping our avatar collections to a more up-to-date design (more on that on a separate post).
5. Encourage more of your participation!
We are extremely thankful for the veterans that come here every day to participate, but for any new guests (send them our way!) we intend to welcome them into a site that is more clear to understand from the get-go on first approach: With a careful balance between data and editorial... With clear navigation and way-finding markings throughout the site. On each page there will be clear call to actions and these actions will be prominent and easy to understand.
In one word: The new Lithosphere will pave the way with exciting ideas you will be able to recreate with your own communities.
[If you find this new dialogue on Community User Experience worthwhile, we will be back with more commentary and opinion on how to improve your own design efforts in community-building]
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