+ = EVER?
I wouldn’t even consider Live Spaces a ‘social networking’ site. Part of the reason why, is that most people don’t even see it that way. Here’s my reasons as to why Live Spaces will never be a social networking site:
- You NEED to have a Live ID account – With Facebook and MySpace and other sites, you can use any old e-mail address. With Live Spaces, you NEED a Live ID. A lot of people have one (Xbox Live users, foreign countries) but not everyone has one. Or wants one, and making them need one in order for them to use the site might come off as an annoyance and they’ll look for a different site. So either Live Spaces completely drops that requirement, OR allow any e-mail address to be used, but Live ID accounts have more extra features and goodies associated with them. And giving them a good list of reasons why going for a Live ID might entice users to go for one. That would be the smart thing.
- No Networks to join – That’s the thing that doesn’t make me consider Live Spaces even a social networking site. There’s no place for users to connect to each other on the site. It’s up to you to hopefully find a local friend by other means than on the site itself. Like by asking via IM, e-mail, or whatever. But you would rarely ever find a friend using the site itself. Sad. My solution would be to simply make a place for networks to exist. 3 main ones that users can join (and stay with): Education (the school you’re in), Workplace (maybe a legit. company who put in their own network), and Region (city, state). Facebook does that, and it’s really neat the many people you can find from these networks.
- No Groups to join – Another social aspect down in the dumps. There are rumors of a Windows Live Groups, but until we see something, I can’t tell if it’s any better than MSN Groups (which seriously has issues and needs updates). Looking for included features like a discussion board/forum/threads, group profile (direct info. about the group), area to post photos, area to post videos, area to post news, general messages area, assigning group admins/officers, private/open groups, place to post files, way to alter the group’s site look, etc. All those essentials have to be in a group to make it a good one.
- No social applications/gadgets to use – In the first place, there’s not many social modules (Live Spaces uses ‘modules’, equivalent of Facebook applications). In the second place, there’s not even many good Live Spaces gadgets. So that kind of makes Live Spaces rather boring. Really. I mean what’s there to do on Live Spaces with your friends? You can add them, but then what? Live Spaces introduced the Guestbook feature where you can leave messages, but there’s not bonus features users can put in like the ability to doodle, or record video messages via webcam. Otherwise, the only ‘social’ modules are your friends list and your profile. Which is rather lame. Live Spaces first has to create networks and groups (in a way that’s good and solid), and entice developers to build great social modules (if the API’s allow good enough developing). Or better yet, actually work on creating them yourself as well and putting some integration with WLM, Live Hotmail, and other popular Live/MSN properties.
- Site might take a while to load – For some people, Live Spaces can be rather slow. For people like me, I don’t even notice. But I do hear complaints how the site can be rather slow to load than other sites, and that’s one thing Live has to fix up on. Maybe use better code or scripts or whatever website makers user? Just improve the site’s overall speed with less loading. I think the graphical ads at the top of free Live Spaces contribute to the slowdown. Also, when try to add changes (such as moving modules around, adding gadgets, etc) the page takes a while to load.
- Use of graphical ads over text ads– One thing I love about Facebook is the use of text ads over graphical ads. Graphical ads slows the site loading. They can be distracting also, especially if they make noise, react to mouse cursors, and especially if they pop-out (not pop-up) by cursor rather than clicking. Either ways, most people prefer to see a text ad than a graphical ad. Graphical ads have even made some people download add-ons to block Flash banners of all kind. So how about switching to nice clean text ads on the page (preferably only when searching or at least not at the very top) instead of distracting annoying graphical banners? Do that, and I might actually click on text ads that I might find interesting.
- Not much of a place for users to build/share their customizations – There is Live Gallery but I still find the site rather too modular and non-friendly, and there aren’t separate place to post things other than gadgets. Maybe Live Spaces could allow users to create unique themes, upload photos and crop out display pics, with the addition of better gadget-making tools, and post them up on Live Gallery. The Live Spaces section in Live Gallery can have 3 separate sections for users to create and post stuff : Gadgets, Themes, Display Pics. And any other way for users to create/modify Live Space and post them on Live Gallery would be great too.
- Page modifications could use more – Modifying your profile page can be a hassle on Facebook, but it’s much more customizable in MySpace and Live Spaces. Live Spaces can improve on the moving of modules. I would love to see modules moved with more simplicity like Netvibes, where you can move around modules at any time (not in a special module-moving mode), where you can pick-up a module and scroll quickly along the page where you want to move it to (currently you can’t scroll at all – you have to pan towards the bottom/top and that can take a while if there’s lot of modules, or big ones), and dotted lines appear EXACTLY where you might plan to move it to – so you don’t mess up. I also wished modules could be completely scalable, where they don’t have to fit in a certain column. Or at least be able to be stretched/compressed in 2 or more columns, or 2 or less columns, without having reduced functionality. Also, when you’re doing advanced options to tweak your Space, can we get more of a Live Preview-like thing, similar to how Office 07′ works? And how about a nice big ‘undo’ button, in case we don’t like the one change we made, but still be able to keep other changes made, and not have to exit and start over again? And can you somehow work on making the color selection tool more better, where you can pick exact gradients, and shades directly via the page, instead of a new window? Just making modifying less of a hassle.
- Getting rid of the misconception that Live Space is all about blogging – because Live Spaces (at the moment) is really all about blogging. At least that’s what it seems more designed for.
I doubt Live Spaces will ever be really a social networking site at all, or grow large enough to be recognized. Who wants to say ‘Live Spaces’, when ‘Facebook’ and ‘MySpace’ sound shorter and cooler?
So while Live Spaces continues to be my blogging site, Facebook will be my social networking site.