Suggestion: Enhanced possibility to personalize your blog-environment
Short, concise description of the idea
Introduce new forms of advertisement, interaction with other social networks and features without becoming a Facebook clone and/or losing class.
Full description of the idea
Allow paid and permanent user to personalize their blog by deciding which features they want to be informed about on lj. Possibilities for that:
1.) Possibility to customize the homepage by choosing which information boxes appear and which don't.
Seeing a list of upcoming birthdays might be desirable for one customer, community introductions or advertisement for the Game Center not so much. Another user might think differently.
By posting new information (e.g. about the Game Center) on the starting page per default you ensure that every last user is informed about new features. By adding the possibility to deactivate all further information about a certain subject via direct link to a new option under 'Settings', you provide more service to a paying user, thus making a paid account way more attractive than it is now.
The option could be implemented under 'settings' as a checklist similar to 'Notifications'.
2.) Possibility to enable/disable the notification bar on top of the page permanently for paid users.
Instead, the option to receive notifications about upcoming maintainance e.a. via E-Mail could be implemented under 'Settings' --> 'Notifications'.
3.) Enabling users to opt out of new features without a trace. Recent examples: x-posting to facebook and twitter, the header-design-contest issue.
Due to the inability to opt out of the facebook/twitter-feature from the beginning, a lot of paying customers left lj for good and established themselves (and, in some cases, quite a number of their readers) on other blogs.
Main concerns were personal security and the inability to opt out without a trace, as the respective selection menue remained active when writing comments or entries - whether the feature was enabled or not. The feature satisfied a lot of users, but others were rather unhappy about it, to put it politely. Enabling users to opt in or out without seeing traces of the feature in case they don't want to seems to be the way to go and would probably have prevented a lot of anger and customer losses in the first place.
I would suggest the same for the lj-header. Allowing paid users to customize their own blog in great detail and then forcing aesthetic choices onto them which might collide with their taste seems to be an odd contrast. Allowing them to opt out and keep the classic lj-header would be a first step, allowing them to customize the header or keep a header-design-winner they adored would be a good follow-up.
This option could be implemented under 'Settings' --> 'Display'.
- 1.) Paid accounts would become more desirable.
--> A lot of people chose paid accounts to have more options to customize their journal (more layouts and icons) or to get rid of advertisement. Why not provide even more options to make paid accounts more attractive? Others chose a paid account to blog ad-free. And since a lot of the things declared as 'information' look more like advertisement lately (Game Center!) and leave a large number of your customers displeased, the suggested changes would kill two birds with one stone.
2.) Offering opt out options for new features would allow to enrich and diversify livejournal without giving up on the qualities that drew so many users here in the first place.
--> Instead of giving the impression that SUP is aspiring to make LJ into nothing more than a facebook-clone with larger text input, the suggested improvements would allow lj to remain innovative without cutting off its roots. It could grow in depth rather than trying - and maybe failing! - to become something new.
3.) Let features be understood as service, not as infringement of your customers' personal space.
--> Those who generally like the idea of new features will still choose to be informed about them. Those who despise some of them will be appeased by the opportunity to opt out. Everybody can be happy, no?
4.) Re-establish livejournal's reputation as customer-friendly place in which the person is important, not the money he/she generates. This might be a lie, but it's a nice one that keeps customers happy and draws in new ones.
--> Short-term: This will generate less money.
Mid-term: It will draw in more customers and prevent established ones from wandering off with their readers, friends and communities to different providers who respect their customers' wishes for an ad-free blog environment (dreamwidth, to name the currently most popular alternative).
Long-term: it will restore lj's reputation as a customer-friendly place and preserve both the history and diversity livejournal prides itself with by gaining new customers while keeping the older ones happy and productive.
- 1.) It might take longer until a new feature brings in enough money to pay off well. Some might never do. Thus, new features would need to be more carefully selected than before.
2.) The changes would need to be implemented, which might or might not be a problem.