Rearrange the logged-in homepage
Make the logged-in homepage more appealing by modernising the UI, showing more relevant and dynamic content near the top of the page, adding pointers to help new users, and grouping notifications in the right sidebar.
Today I looked at the Dreamwidth homepage and thought about what it might look like to a new user who's recently signed up, especially those who might be coming from non-LJ-like sites. (In this case, I was thinking of Google+, but it probably holds for other sites as well.) It occurred to me that the page looks a little lifeless and doesn't really point people at the stuff they are most likely to need. At the same time, I know that I (and some friends I asked, also long time LJ/DW users) don't really use the homepage, but head straight for our reading pages or the update page. I'd like to see actual stats on this, but I suspect this is a common pattern. So, what I'm going to suggest is mostly intended to be useful to newer users, but I hope it won't horribly bother older users who regularly use the homepage.
Currently the page shows:
<user name="dw_news"> update
Quick update form
Tag cloud (your own tags)
Community management (required actions)
Your current theme
Here's what I'd like to suggest:
Quick update form
Reading list (see notes below)
People/content discovery (see notes below)
Themes (see notes below)
DW news (link only)
Here's my justification.
1. READING LIST
Firstly, most other modern social network stream-like sites, these days, have your "stream" on the front page when you login: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. New people, especially, are going to expect to see some action on the front page. A lot of new DW people I talk to don't really understand about the "reading" page and how awesome it is. So I'd like to put some of that stream of posts right in front of them, and explain why they want to go to the reading page for the full experience.
Here's what I think it should show:
* ~5 recent posts, in short form (userpic, user name, date, subject, first couple of lines of the body, comment count)
* "See more on your reading page. Your reading page lets you see all your friends' posts, etc etc..." (i.e. a short blurb about why the reading page is where the action's really at)
2. PEOPLE/CONTENT DISCOVERY
New users often seem to wonder how they can find stuff on DW. It would be good to have a bit of information with some pointers here, including eg. "latest things", searching the directory, promo communities, stuff like that.
We currently show your current theme on the front page. Yawn. People generally know what their current theme is! But why not combine this with promoting new themes? Widen the "theme" box and stick it at the bottom of the main content column, and say "You're currently using theme X. Did you know DW has hundreds of themes to choose from, that you can use to customise your own journal and reading page? Check out themes Y and Z!"
I'm going to collapse "DW news", "Birthdays", "Inbox", and "Community management actions" into "Notifications" here. These are all things that are like "Hey, this is a timely new thing you might want to pay attention to." Grouping them would be a good idea.
I think that the "DW news" thing should be reduced to a smaller link. People get the news notifications by email anyway (by default), and many have them on their reading lists. A notification that says "hey, there's a newish one" might be helpful but it doesn't need to sit there taking up prime real estate for weeks.
The rest should be obvious -- birthdays, inbox, community management, etc. All things you probably want to know about as they happen. Putting them all near each other just seems like a sensible UI choice to me.
5. ACCOUNT STATS AND TAG CLOUD
These just seem to be taking up real estate without serving much purpose, IMHO. The account stats are duplicated on your own profile page, and the tag cloud is duplicated on most people's themes (in the sidebar or wherever). Lose 'em.
I'm sure people will want to pull all this apart and put it back together differently, and I have to say, I'm not deeply committed to any particular part of this proposal, but I do want to reiterate the main point: the logged in homepage should be rearranged to be more dynamic and appealling, and to point new DW users at DW's best features and help them find their way around.
Potential drawbacks: I'm sure there are some people who are very fond of the current layout, who'd be disappointed with this. I can't really think of any other drawbacks.
Implementation: This is mostly a UI rearrangement and shouldn't require a lot of new functionality under the hood. I think it should be relatively straightforward, though it would require a few design iterations to make it really good. (I know it's not as complex as the new posting form's redesign, but it might be nice to do the iterations in a similarly public manner.)
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 61