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What is the fuss?

I clicked on the petition large icon on kernezelda's thread and followed it to a very confusing diatribe about the changes that are going to take place (and have taken place) on live journal. I wanted to comment on the hoopla.

I am a lazy soul. I rather like the revised layout of the customize section of live journal. It clarifies where to go for what types of changes, clears up confusion of those myriad check boxes, and makes it easier for newbies to create their own blog space. It leaves the advanced features alone for those who know how to use them, but opens up the masthead to the masses, if you will. I like that. I think that ranting about change because it is change is truly annoying.

On the other hand, the fact that it seems that the parent company of Live Journal is siphoning off "older bloggers" to a new service called Vox that looks pretty dumb to me. The qualities of the site are cute and very media-driven whereas live journal is extremely word/text driven. I don't know why they are positioning live journal for younger bloggers and vox for older bloggers except that this day and age needs to segregate everything into little places. Vox is positioned as a more secure and private area whereas Live Journal is more wide open.

So, if the petitioners wish to make themselves clear, they should re-write the petiton so that it makes sense because I couldn't figure out what was going on until I followed the various links and read the diatribe that started it over here at lj_design.


Don't feel bad. I had no clue what the hoopla was about. I saw ranting and raving about LJ being made like MySpace (which, from my perspective would take some serious tweaking of how the layouts work since the few sites I've been to on MySpace seem to be a random hodgepodge of stuff with no rhyme or reason). I also saw fuss about them courting younger folks with the new ad-supported version. Well, there is nothing out there that forces you to friend all the teenagers that come to your little corner of LJ.

As for Vox, I understand LJ (mostly), and the people I'm interested in are here. Why would I want to move? Just looking at it, it's very cluttered. On your regular page, some of your personal info is there (I guess that's nice in that you don't have to click a profile to get some of it.) Then you have all the little baby icons of friens. The Neighbors page is more annoying with the icons and the books.

I will say that I like the tags being prominently featured. I have a hard time with tags on LJ. I tag something, but for me to go back and look at the posts with a certain tag if I haven't used it in a while is a pain. I have to go into the 'manage tags' and then I haven't found a way to use tags on other people's sites. Why have tags if we can't look up info by tags? It's too much of a pain for me to go back and create 'memories' of every freakin' post. Oooh wait, I figured it out. But there's no auto shortcut for this. *rolleyes* If you type in http://username.livejournal.com/tag you can see a tag listing and frequency. :D How hard would it be to make that an option somewhere so you don't have to hunt all over creation for it? It was a 4th level help window find.
I agree with you about how odd some of the design of lj can be--it grew like topsy and being Open Source in origin, had a gazillion programmers working on it managed by a committee. When it got sold, I suppose that the Movable Type folks saw the mess and decided to do something about it. I can't fault them.

I also agree, who is forcing anybody to friend anybody? That is the beauty of live journal--communities of like-minded folks speaking to each other and then reaching out and bringing in other thoughts and views. The more diversity of view points, the more interesting. But I stick mainly to folks with my interests.

Maybe by working with Live Journal they will reposition live journal with ads vs. live journal paid memberships and then have Vox for the more visually oriented bloggers. There is a place for all that media sharing.
I find the Vox layout really strange from a UI design perspective. There is a lot of what I'd think of as one-time-only or rarely-used information and links displayed on every. single. page. It's really cluttered, and probably about 85% of the time you are on the page, you aren't going to need it; the other 15%, you're probably better off making that extra click to another page that will give you the functionality you need. That's much more targeted use flow. For example, when I'm looking at my friends page, I want to read my friends' posts; the Vox site relegates that part of the page to a narrow column on one side, and clutters the rest with a bunch of links I don't need when all I want to do is read my friends' posts.

I think a lot of the concern over SixApart's recent moves stems from a perception that they think most LJ users are teenagers, and are actively seeking to develop more "teenage"-friendly features. And I can speak from experience, based on stories a close friend of mine told me about interviewing at SixApart, that they have a very entrenched idea that many LJ users are teenagers and young-twentysomethings, and that that's the market they need to pursue. They seem to be seeking better data, and hopefully they'll get it, because my own suspicion is that users with active, paid journals trend a little older than that. I've found the recent changes to LJ functionality to be a mixed bag; a lot of it is stuff I don't use, some of it seems helpful, and I'm not that happy about the proposed new userinfo page. In general, I prefer a relatively clean, text-based approach to this blog thing and am concerned that LJ seems to be moving away from that and towards more bells and whistles.
That is exactly what I meant by the media-heavy approach on Vox vs. the text-based approach on the LJ. It is funny that they would equate text-orientation with teenagers. I'm 50 and am the mother of a 16 year old and 12 year old. The 16 year old is pretty net-savvy and doesn't go near myspace.com but does write a lot of fan fiction and sticks to anime/manga and Buffy sites. So if SixApart wants focus groups to figure out who is using the lj, they should form them and I'm sure that the extremely verbal lj folks would participate.

You are absolutely right in your perception of Vox. My take on it was that the layout was juvenile. They certainly did not study human interface design. I am like you. When I want to read my friend's threads, I want them front and center. I do wish they were tagged better and that the lj was searchable by tag (as LT said). But overall, I'm satisfied.

That is very interesting about the perceptions of the SixApart folks. Movable Type is very tough to program (I've tried) so they might be super geeks who don't understand the bloggers on live journal who are more diverse in their interests and certainly seem to be more visual in their talents, but still geeky enough to venture into the Advanced Customization world.

We'll just have to see what falls out. I'm not going to Vox. I don't use the lj enough to go there. The layout annoys my sense of design.
My take on it was that the layout was juvenile. They certainly did not study human interface design.

While I'm a technical writer and most of what I do involves documentation, that documentation is intimately tied to UI flow, and most of the companies I've worked for haven't had dedicated UI design resources (my current company has too few), so I have spent a lot of time wrestling with engineers over UI design and advocating for users. This is not uncommon; providing input to UI design is an unspoken part of most technical writers' job descriptions. I'm no expert, but the Vox layout made me go, "Aieeeeeee!" It's been my experience that most developers value interconnectedness; they want to write software that lets you do anything from anywhere. This gives rise to a ton of usability problems, and can make documenting procedures and workflow a nightmare ("to do task X, follow these steps from starting place 1 OR these steps from starting place 2 OR these steps from starting place 3..."). That interface screams "I was built by software engineers!" They seem to have graphic designers, but it really doesn't look like they've consulted anyone with real UI design expertise.

I don't think most people are interested in moving. It's effort, you've usually already got an established reading list/set of friends and unless they're all moving wholesale, there's a huge incentive to stay. I think a lot of people are concerned that SixApart is going to abandon the LJ service, but the example people are pointing to (one of Brad Fitz's early projects, sold off and abandoned during the dot boom/bust) is not a good case study for a paid service with millions of users. It's possible they'll make LJ so annoying that lots of older users will want to leave, but they'll have to come up with a less annoying alternative than Vox if they want people to migrate.
Thank you thank you thank you for this clarification! I was so completely baffled at what the whole hubbub was about.

I'm so completely unobservant about these things that I haven't even noticed any of these changes, really. At least, I haven't come across any unpleasant changes.

However that bit about trying to get "older bloggers" to go to Vox, saving LJ for the young'uns just seems ridiculous. Personally, I love the massive spectrum of ages, lifestyles, personalities, etc. that is apparant on LJ as it is now. As many have mentioned, I doubt that there will be much of a move to Vox, simply because there's already communities of people built up here and it would require a mass moving for many to switch.
As an "old folk" I have determined recently that it just pays to admit that I haven't a frellinig clue what something means. I used to pretend, but in the long run it got me into hot water. So, this petition was written so weirdly that I had to comment.

I agree with you and everyone else, LJ is home and why leave? What's the incentive. It is sort of like UPN and WB merging into CW and then kicking out all the shows that kept both groups watching. Stupid plan.