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MyBlogLog User Interface Gets A Facelift – Is It A Good Thing?

If you’ve been following the MyBlogLog blog and read the entry on the latest changes, you’d notice that the interface has undergone a number of changes:

Mybloglog

With the change, MyBlogLog has moved from being a blog aggregator to being a Web 2.0 content aggregator of sorts. It’s supposed to be able to pull in updates from twitter, myspace, jaiku, flikr, linkedin, etc (a total of 43 services) and present them in a “New With Me” tab.

Oh yeah…where all the information used to be presented in a simple screen with all content visible above the fold:

old mybloglog

(An old MyBlogLog screen), the new interface means you’ll need to scroll down to look at the content…

There’s a chorus of “I hate it, can I switch to the classic (ie original) interface” and that reasonates with me somewhat.

Granted, MyBlogLog’s Ian Kennedy and the MBL development team have spent some time working on this, but I’m wondering if MBL users had been sufficiently polled to the changes…

Is it a case of Yahoo! developing what it THINKS its users want, or are the changes what MBL users have been clamoring for?

As one of the earlier MBL users, I’d looked at the service as a blogging service. I ignored the other add on stuff and the most useful elements were the “recent visitors” widget I’d put on my blog and the Pro Stats (a sort of lite analytics package for your blog).

So here is my wishlist:

  • Let me fix my own space!: Give MBL users the ability to customize their profile, have it like a Squidoo lens where you can drag-and-drop modules.  If the Web 2.0 widgets are not popular, just drop them. I hate digital clutter as much as the next users…
  • Evangelize Before Conversion: This is something that Steve Jobs has done a smashing job with the iPods and iPhones. If you want to get something out there, go beyond just a mandatory install on the user’s interface, it will just p*ss people off… Why not do a series of tutorials, do an online launch, recruit internet celebs like iJustine AKA Justine Ezarik to promote the thing?
  • Solicit Feedback: Although it’s great to have a corporate MyBlogLog blog, I don’t think a blog comments section is the best way to conduct a dialogue with your users, especially since Web 2.0 services live and die by their consumers (it’s social marketing, isn’t it?) Put up a vBulletin forum somewhere, conduct a focus group, make active use of your existing advisory group or set up a new one…

When I was interviewing dotcoms earlier in my journalism career, I was pretty shocked at the amount of navel gazing that many of these dotcoms were engaged in, their eyes weren’t on the road ahead at all. So while, it’s great to want to change the world with the latest and greatest…sometimes users just want something simple (like an easy to use spam reporting system, MyBlogLog, without having to go through the hoops of logging in and filling in multiple forms… A web usability study or focus group would take care of this…) and they’d be happy.

Yahoo! was and is one of the web’s pioneers in my eyes and part of their existing predicament has to do with failing to listen to it’s users feedback and a slowdown in innovation in the last couple of years.

I’ve switched to using facebook since late last year, but I think MBL still has a chance to capture mindshare if it takes active efforts to put it’s ears to the ground and move in the same direction as its users.

4 comments on MyBlogLog User Interface Gets A Facelift – Is It A Good Thing?

  1. DamnSmiley
    March 14, 2008 at 12:31 am (4503 days ago)

    Yea sure i like the new design face but im not sure if the messaging thing is still available cos it has been ages i used mybloglog i will make out time tonight to look around more. Good stuff!

  2. Ian Kennedy
    March 14, 2008 at 2:29 pm (4503 days ago)

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your thoughtful review and pointers on how we might do this better next time. Shame on us for not bringing in some feedback from the advisory group which Robyn worked so hard in getting set up!

    The design was informed by some early research we had done (Yahoo has these great user research labs, one way mirrors and everything!) when we were still thinking through the concept several months ago. In a perfect world we would have gone back out and re-tested our mockups as we got closer. It is still very early days for this feature and we’ll continue to monitor feedback as it comes in to perfect it.

    I could have done a better job on the evangelizing but it’s so hard to get a hold of those famous people! If you know anyone that wants to get sneak peaks of stuff to help get the word out post-launch, send ‘em my way!

    Keep the feedback coming.

    Ian

  3. Andrew Wee
    March 14, 2008 at 4:50 pm (4503 days ago)

    Hi Ian,
    good to hear from you and it’s reassuring to know that MBL is proactively monitoring the net for feedback.

    I think it’s great to solicit user feedback and I’ve been following Yahoo! since ’97, and MBL since it’s early days, so I know that there’s a lot of potential in the beast, even with the sometimes tortuous process of having to login to Yahoo! to access my MBL account.

    Maybe a couple of usability tests with subjects in various demographics – eg. savvy bloggers, older folks, will give an idea of what the best configuration would be?

  4. A Week In The Life of A Redhead
    March 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm (4495 days ago)

    The redesign gets a thumbs down from me, and ever since the change I have stopped getting new members. It is too much hassle, too much click through, so I have moved on to work my networking elsewhere. I’ll probably leave their widget on my site, since many of the bloggers from MBL are wonderful, and I wouldn’t want to stop seeing their great faces on the sidebar of my blog.
    Thanks for the article on a topic which is bugging me.
    Sincerely,
    Catherine, the redhead blogger

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