26 мар. 2009 г.

Facebook responds to redesign concerns; Changes are coming

After more than a million Facebook users expressed their dislike of a recent Facebook redesign, the social networking site said today that it plans to make some changes, enhancements and other tweaks in response to user requests and concerns.

In a blog post that acknowledged “thousands of e-mails, Wall posts and comments,” the company said today that it plans to incorporate more control over the news feed and highlights, as well as other features. More importantly, the company is responding to concerns that users are having trouble navigating the site. In the blog post (pasted in its entirety below), Facebook’s Chris Cox, wrote:
It’s important that you are able to find everything you’re interested in, or we’re not succeeding in giving you the right level of control. We’re currently working on a few design changes to help you find these things more easily, such as:
  • Moving requests to the top of the right column – Friend requests and event invites will be more prominent.
  • Easier way to create a Friends List filter – From the filters on the left, you will be able to create a new list of friends with which to filter the stream.
The company also took a moment to note that change can be hard for some people. “We keep in mind that there are 175 million people on Facebook, and everyone uses the site differently,” Cox wrote. In fairness, a few of my Facebook friends - but, by far, the minority - have said they like the new design.

Here’s the official blog post:

Since we launched Facebook’s home page design, we’ve received thousands of e-mails, Wall posts and comments from you along with direct feedback from all of our friends and family. If you’ve already given us feedback, thank you. Hearing what you have to say, whether criticism or praise, helps us build a product that serves you better.

Whenever we build something new or tweak something old, our motivation is the same: to help you share with the people you care about and find out what’s happening with them. Before we launch any new product to all of you, it first must pass a process of design, development, and testing with a more limited user audience. If those results are satisfactory, we then release it for all of you to use. We know that no amount of testing is as valuable as what you have to say. For this reason, we will always look to you, our users, to tell us what is working and what isn’t so we can continually make improvements.

Here are the top four things we’ve been hearing from all of you about the changes, and the areas where we’re focusing on improvements immediately and over the next several weeks.

Add more control and relevance in the stream
One of the great parts of Facebook is the ability to share and consume different types of content, such as like photos, videos and notes, all in one place. We’ve heard from you that you want even more variety and control in your stream, and for it to update automatically. Some specific improvements we’re making:
  • • Live updating – One of the most common requests is the ability to see your stream update automatically. We will be adding the ability to turn on auto updating in the near future so you no longer need to refresh the page.
  • • Photo tags – In order to surface more photos you might like to see, we’ll be adding photos tagged of your friends to the stream. This will happen in the coming weeks.
  • • More choices for applications – We’ve heard feedback that there is a lot of application content appearing in the stream. We will be giving you tools to control and reduce application content that your friends share into your stream.
Currently, the content filters on the left screen allow you to select the types of content you would like to see. Over time, we’ll continue to give you more control over what’s in your main stream and how you consume it. We have the eventual goal of building filters that summarize this activity so you can see a more condensed view of what’s been going on. We’re also thinking about ways of filtering out some of the Wall posts and content directed to specific people to focus more on posts shared with everyone.

See more Highlights
Right now, we’re making improvements to the Highlights section on the right-hand side of your home page. Highlights will update more frequently and will show you more content throughout the day to mirror more closely the content that the earlier News Feed provided.

Find things more easily
It’s important that you are able to find everything you’re interested in, or we’re not succeeding in giving you the right level of control. We’re currently working on a few design changes to help you find these things more easily, such as:
  • • Moving requests to the top of the right column – Friend requests and event invites will be more prominent.
  • • Easier way to create a Friends List filter – From the filters on the left, you will be able to create a new list of friends with which to filter the stream.

Application bookmarks continue to live in the toolbar at the bottom left of the page. You can quickly access your groups, events and other favorite applications from the bottom bar on any page.

Old vs. New
Since Facebook started in 2004, we’ve been through several redesigns. Each was built with the intention of making it easier to share and understand what’s going on with the people you care about. Redesigns are generally hard to manage, in part because change is always hard and in part because we may miss improvements that any individual user may like to see. We keep in mind that there are 175 million people on Facebook, and everyone uses the site differently. We listen to feedback from our users, data on how the site is used, and our intuitions as builders and designers to create the product that provides the best experience across the board.

With the recent home page changes, we’re trying to present the right balance between what’s happening right now and what’s interesting over a longer period of time. We realize that both are important and getting them both right is crucial for the product to work. In the last few weeks, you’ve seen us shift the main emphasis towards real-time conversations and updates as the entry point to Facebook. We’re working hard to make this stream more valuable, and also to build out the richness and relevance of the Highlights section.

Your feedback means a lot, and we sort through everything we receive. The best way to give us direct feedback – to ensure that we can consolidate it – is through our feedback link. In the meantime, thanks for your support.
About Autor: Sam Diaz is a senior editor at ZDNet.
Source: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=15185&tag=nl.e550

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25 мар. 2009 г.

How to Spring Clean Your Website

Spring is a wonderful time of year but it might not be so wonderful for our online business. The weather is getting nicer and people are spending more time outside, away from their computers. One way to get more people to come to your website is to do some spring cleaning and I don't mean your house! Our websites can get stale and outdated if we do not clean them up periodically.
There are lots of things you can do to freshen up your site and bring new life and new customers to your online business.

1. Add a new section filled with resources, information and maybe even some special deals for your customers. Use relevant keywords to improve your ranking. For example: if you own a home decor business, offer decorating tips and advice. Show people how to decorate on a budget or how to redecorate with things they already own. By providing information and resources along with your products, you are giving people a reason to keep coming back. This is how you build trust with your visitors and get more sales.

2. Remove all dead links, outdated information and products. Nothing is worse than going to a site and finding links that don't work or information and/or products that are no longer useable or helpful. Go through all the links on your site and freshen up the content to offer up to date information!

3. Give your homepage a facelift by adding new graphics, text, etc. Redo your banner and give it some new life. Take out the old graphics and add some fresh new images. Research your keywords and revamp your text with some effective keywords. Write a new introduction to your site detailing all your new additions.

4. If you haven't yet tried blogging, read up on blogging and zap some life into your site. Some free blogging sites are Blogger and WordPress. Blogging is a great way to improve your search engine ranking while expanding your network.

5. Update your product line. Add some fresh new products and offer the old products at clearance prices. Have a Spring Sale and liven up your sales! Keep those customers coming back for more!

6. Add a What's New page so you can let everyone know about all your updates now and in the future. This feature could get more people to return to your site to see What's New?

7. Research the colors used on your site. You may find changing the colors of your site can bring a whole new life to your business.

8. Put a small survey on your site. Ask your visitors what they would like to see and what type of products they are looking for. Getting the information straight from the horse's mouth could do your business a lot of good. Offer your visitors a small gift for answering the questions on the survey.

9. Renew your goals! Make new goals and write out a new business plan. Learn from your experiences, good and bad, and improve your plan for success.
Spring is a time of renewal, revitalization and reenergizing! Our online businesses are no exception!

About the Author: Terri Seymour (also known as "The eBook Lady") has over ten years online experience and has helped many people start their own business. Visit her site at http://www.seymourproducts.com for resources, $1 resell ebooks & software, free tutorials, affiliate programs, free ezine and free business ebook with Master Resell Rights.

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18 мар. 2009 г.

Facebook Connect launches desktop and iPhone integration

I think Twitter is so useful because it has many ways of updating: text message, desktop apps, web interface. Starting today, you can update your Facebook status via Seesmic’s desktop AIR app.

Interestingly enough, Seesmic owns Twhirl, so why wouldn’t they make it look just like the Twitter version?

I probably won’t use this desktop app because of the duplicate content on Twitter. A lot of people feed in their Twitter to Facebook status.

Look at Seesmic for Facebook and Twhirl for Twitter side by side:

Now your iPhone apps can have “friends”.
For example, Tap Tap Revenge 2 uses this new feature. You can play against friends, view social leaderboards, and post to your news feed. A few more games are launching with this new Facebook Connect (techmeme) for the iPhone, so keep an eye out.
UrbanSpoon is going after Yelp with their new iPhone Facebook integration. When you share your thoughts on the UrbanSpoon app, it broadcasts that to your Facebook friends. As you browse UrbanSpoon, you can also see what your friends like.

Flixster’s new iPhone app allows you to discover new movies that your friends like, find friends that want to see a movie, and keep track of what you want to see.

The web has made us way more social.

The new Facebook homepage redesign is hard to get used to, but believe me, it’s more interactive. The Twitter-like news feed updates automatically, so you can just sit there all day and see what you friends are up to.

Facebook Connect is the absolute best way to unite a community. You can goto a site with Connect installed, login with your Facebook credentials, and not only comment on the blog, but also have the story published back on your Facebook page. The social web just feels more natural because of Facebook.

Having to login with your Facebook credentials feels safer to people. TechCrunch, since installing Connect, has had more unique comments than ever. Geni has over 9 million family trees because of Connect.

Facebook also is working directly with Apple to make iPhoto more usable with Facebook.

Right now, Facebook is limited technically, but there is a fix. You can only have 5,000 friends, but you can have unlimited fans. And fan pages look like profile pages now.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a perfect example. His brand Wine Library TV has a fan page, and I bet that’s a better page for him to guage his audience because it’s unlimited.

Keep your eye on Facebook because it’s a bunch of young people doing really interesting things. They are moving away from this “walled garden” to a more open platform.

Andrew Mager is an associate technical producer at CBS Interactive Business. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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Is privacy dead, or just very confused?

Personal information is a form of currency. Privacy is not a substance. It’s not something you can trade, or give up. People are willing to trade a little bit of privacy for a better user experience.

Why would anyone want to use Twitter? Who cares what you ate for breakfast?

Marwick says some CEOs say they will not hire people unless they have a Facebook profile. There is social value in taking part in the conversation. If you’re not participating in this conversation, you are missing out. Lots of people also use social media to reach out and get help.

The more information you put out there, the more data is out there for marketers. These are my favorite books on Amazon, my favorite songs on Last.fm, my favorite books on GoodReads, etc.

All of this information is aggregated, and this was not possible 10 years ago. Once you make the info public, should it be available for anyone to use?

Online, history is the equivalent of the body. You have many public “faces” online. With Twitter and Facebook, you have such a huge audience, and you have to form your message very specifically.

How can we start to develop technologies that give ourselves a mirror of ourselves? We also need to figure out to design online spaces so you can tell how private it is, says Donath.

In the 1970s, Americans at every level were deeply concerned about their rights as citizens and consumers. There was a movement to protect personal information from abuse from the state. It’s illegal for the FBI, for example, to share personal information of yours with the NSA without first informing you.

It’s important to have a historical perspective to see what’s normal. Years ago, no one had privacy. People lived in huts and they knew everything about each other.

Every social context has it’s own flow of information. Your doctor can’t disclose personal information with their best friend. New technologies allows these contexts to flow into each other.

Pro tip: if you put a lot of stuff online, people think you’re actually putting everything online. Then you can hold back and kinda have a private life.

Should the default for information sharing be opt-in or opt-out. Good article in NY Times about that yesterday.

You should be in total control of your online presence. It’s your data, but more and more, companies like Google and Facebook are so overbearing that you feel like they own it.

We need to sit down and make laws and norms that even people with no former knowledge of digital data can know control their data.

We don’t live in a world in which we are immediately faced with living in an environment where if you say something wrong, the government can put you away. But there are many places like that in the world.

Panel: Siva Vaidhyanathan (UVA), Alice Marwick (NYU), Judith Donath (MIT), Danah Boyd (Microsoft)

Andrew Mager is an associate technical producer at CBS Interactive Business. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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12 мар. 2009 г.

Lawmaker wants Google Maps to blur certain buildings

Imagine if all the hospitals, schools, churches, and government buildings that appear on online maps were nothing but blurs.

That would not only reduce the usefulness of things like Google Maps and Google Earth, but it would be a huge undertaking for Google and would probably violate the First Amendment.

But that's exactly what California Assemblyman Joel Anderson, a Republican from El Cajon, is proposing in a measure dubbed "AB-255."

The measure would apply to Web site operators and online services that make "a virtual globe browser available to members of the public" and fails to define what that is. It also specifies that a violation would constitute a criminal offense with fines of up to $250,000 per day.

So, all the government agencies that use Google Earth and want the public to be able to find their buildings could conceivably be in violation as well.

As justification for the proposed censorship, Anderson is citing terrorism.

"We heard from terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks last year that they used Google Maps to select their targets and get knowledge about their targets. Hamas has said they were using Google Maps to target children's schools," Anderson told Computerworld. "What my bill does is limit the level of detail. It doesn't stop people from getting directions. We don't need to help bad people map their next target. What is the purpose of showing air ducts and elevator shafts? It does no good."

Google spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo told Computerworld that the company hopes to talk to Anderson about the proposed legislation.

Privacy complaints have led Google to blur images of official buildings in several instances. The U.S. military banned Google from taking street view images from inside military bases and in 2007 India asked that certain government and military buildings be blurred.

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