Just recently, I wrote a post on things I’d love to see for Live Spaces, but I think I put more new features, than I did put about fixing Live Spaces. I’m a Windows Live fan and all, and sometimes I think Microsoft could so much more to make something that exists much more neater, but they just don’t. For some reason. To me, Windows Live is similar to a big puzzle with most pieces in place, but some aren’t positioned right, some pieces can’t be found, and some are just plain wrong. You can see a nice picture forming, but with those pieces that just aren’t right, you just don’t feel you’re getting the whole thing. Once Windows Live gets it all right and everything, a beautiful picture will be in place, and then a lot more people will start using it.
Now the last wishlist I wrote for Live Spaces, I focused to much on putting things that don’t exist, rather than things that need to be made better or fixed first. Why? I don’t know. I just feel like I want to make it up. So here’s a revised wishlist that I wanted to put out.
- Make it easier to move around modules – Moving around modules in Live Spaces is rather sloppy in my opinion. It’s not the same as you can do in Netvibes, Facebook, or even the new MyMSN beta. When you pull a module out of it’s place and try to find another place, there’s a shaded bar that indicates where it’ll place the module when you release the mouse. But it doesn’t do well to show a preview of what space the module will take up, how it’ll look, or anything like that. My solution : Do what every other Web 2.0 site does and give a preview with dashed lines to indicate where the module can be placed and the shape it’ll take up. It’s only just much more cooler.
- Tags, not Categories – Tags are Web 2.0. Tags make it easier to uniquely identify individual posts, rather than dropping it into a single group with many others like Categories does. My solution : Add tagging ability. Then make it easy to search for (public) blog posts on Live Spaces via tags. That way, you can "discover" more neat Spaces and people.
- Spam killing – As a Spaces user, I notice that Spaces seems more targeted towards blogging and photo-uploading (and uploading files), rather than more social aspects like other typical social networks. So like many other bloggers, I think spam is a huge problem on Live Spaces. In the last 1/2 year, I’ve seen a huge jump in spam appearing on my blog. Heck, even long discarded or un-updated Windows Live team blogs have mountains of spam that haven’t been deleted. It really makes me angry. I don’t own this website, and since you can only post things up only if you have a Windows Live ID, I expect this problem to be solved by the Spaces team. My solutions : are to put a limit on the amount of links you can put in a comment (I’m looking at 10), and add a report/flag and block buttons next to users’ display picture. I will NOT let my Space become an advertising hotspot for Chinese spammers.
- Better Statistics counter – The current Statistics feature does a fair job. But of course, fair is the same as great. My solution : Ability to view most popular pages, Daily, Weekly, and Monthly charts/graphs, most common search terms that led to your site, Live Search Map of hits around the world (think Live and Beyond’s Spaces Maps!), page views timeline (like a horizontal line with bars indicating the number of view at a certain hour/day/month). I just think a cooler, graphical way of looking at the Statistics data would be great.
- Individual module customization – I don’t like the idea of "one theme fits all" on Live Spaces. On Netvibes (a start page), there’s a good plenty of choices to outline modules. My solution – Allow the ability to further customize individual modules by different colors, different borders, translucency, fonts, and anything else. Of course, that’s asking a lot, but any way to give power to the user wins my vote.
- Bridging together the Spaces contacts vs. Messenger contacts – I kinda expect Windows Live to include easy synchronization as one of it’s features. Like if you add a Spaces contact, they’re instantly added to your Messenger list and Hotmail contacts. I was wrong. It’s not that easy. Apparently, they’re two separate processes. From what I understand, Spaces is where it’s ok to socialize with other people, while WLM (Windows Live Messenger) is more on a personal level. My solution : When adding friends from Spaces, instead of having two separate choices "Invite as Friend" and "Invite as Messenger contact", I suggest a simple and easy option : "Add as contact". From there, you get two choices : "Add as Spaces friend" and "Add as Messenger+Hotmail contact", where you can put a check in the checkbox next to each option. Then send. That saves time, and you don’t have to go back and check. It’d be also useful to include an option to type a short message as to why they should add you as a friend, so it’s not random.
Comment bulk page – Similar to the statistics page. Sometimes I get more so many comments at once, that seeing the last 10 isn’t enough. My solution : Offer a bulk, paged view of comments on my Live Space, and make it easy to delete comments right on the spot, or send a quick reply to a comment.
- Comment reply – I leave a comment on my friend’s Space, but I have no idea if I get a reply from a person. Not unless I check back everyday, or subscribe to the feed (which I won’t do for every single comment!). My solution : Make a system where if somebody chooses to reply to my comment, I get a Windows Live Alert, or an e-mail, or appears in my newsfeed (or maybe even a notification area!). Their reply can appear under my comment (instead of all the way at the tippy top) so it’s easier to distinguish.
Better NewsFeed – Or "What’s New" as Spaces calls it. What’s New currently does a fair-enough job of gathering friend’s update into one feed. It just needs to do more. My solution : the newsfeed needs to take up a more larger part of the Space home (kill the part where it divides "What’s New" into a promo for doing things on Space. It take up space, and leave a blank part all the way down), include feeds like changes in display pictures, people who confirmed my friends request, when they leave a comment on another Space, and little things like that. I also hope there’s an option where you can put some restrictions on what your friends’ newsfeed can display about you. Also, allow us to select what updates we want to hear more often (like photo updates), and what we want to tone down on (like comments on other Spaces).
- Notification pane – Maybe there can be pane, panel, or bar (similar to Facebook) that can show important notification targeted towards me, which is different than the newsfeed. The newsfeed displays my friends updates, while the Notification pane display something that I might need to check into. My solution : Make a notification pane that displays friends requests, replies, messages, comments on my Space, Event invites, and things like that. Separating personal notifications, from friends’ updates make it easier.
- Make changes without reloading the page – Have you guys ever heard of AJAX? You guys should. Not that Spaces doesn’t (I think). But every time I need to make a change, I shouldn’t have to reload the page to do it, or after I do it. For instance, moving modules shouldn’t require you to go to a special mode to do it (reloads page), and confirm when you’re done (reloads page) like Facebook and Netvibes do. My solution : For things like moving around modules, adding comments, adding friends, etc., the page doesn’t need to reload.
- From banner/graphical ads to text/static ads – Microsoft needs to improve the way they put ads. Take the Facebook route, and don’t put on banner ads. It takes up a big chunk of screen real estate space at the top, can be distracting (esp. when they pop-out with sounds!), and it’s just annoying. My solution : Get into text advertising. It’s just as good, adBlocker won’t block them, and I usually pay attention to these more (especially if it’s local classified ad), and they’re not distracting at all. Or if there just has to be a graphical ad of any kind, make there an option to hide it while you’re on still on the page, like Yahoo! Mail does. Doesn’t Microsoft do this for Facebook with the deal between the two companies?
- Rearranging items on a list – Make it easier. It’s just plain silly to put a number next to each item where you want it to appear. That’s pretty old-fashioned, and doesn’t make Live Space any more easier to use. My solution : Make it easy to rearrange items on a list by drag-‘n-drop. Like you can click along the border of an item, and drag it to the top or bottom. Simple as that. I’m quite sure Microsoft could handle that, right?
- Sending/receiving message on Spaces – If somebody sends a message to me, I can rightfully respond back, right? WRONG. Turns out I can’t. If somebody’s "communication setting isn’t open to everyone", they can send message to you, but you can’t you reply back to them. That’s the most idiotic policy I can think of. So somebody could send me spam by messages, but I’d never be able to return back the favor. My solution : If a user wants to send a message, their "communication setting" needs to be able to accept replies back, or else they shouldn’t be allow to send messages. It’s only fair.
- Share feature built-in – Every blog post and picture should have the ability to be shared via many social bookmarking services. Like an instant button to Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit, Mixx, and other sites instantly. My solution : Adopt the AddThis plug-in which support bookmark sharing to many popular bookmarking sites. Including Windows Live Favorites.
- Better photo-sharing – The sharing is fine, but it needs improvements. My solution : Ability to search and share public photos all over Spaces, a way to upgrade to allow more than 500 photos per month, simple photo editing tools (drag-n-drop to rearrange slideshow order, Picnik tools, photo borders, etc.), jazzier photo slideshows (Slide.com-like, anyone?), uploaded audio via SkyDrive to accompany slideshows, simple title and description editing right on the spot, and I could think a billion of things that could match that of Flickr and even higher.
- More theme customization tools – The Advanced customization tool is actually pretty neat as there’s a lot of ways to customize, but I think the tool should be more easier to access, better-looking, and include more font choices, types of borders (glossy, hazy, curved diagonals, etc.), better transparency tool (slider?), instant live preview if possible (by just hovering), not to mention individual module customization (not affecting all modules).
- Better friend managing – I love how you can manage friends on Wallop. Each friend shows up as a circular icon, and you can drag them around in a virtual space. You can make a cluster, separate individually, put someone you like closer to your own icon, toss people out of the boundary, have people you might be interested lining just outside the boundary, and so on. It’s awesome. I’d like something similar (if not the same), and an easy way to write a personal quick overview, tag them, view their contact card, brief profile, status, delete them, and an easier way of searching through/for your friends.
- Better browser support – I notice that Live Spaces favors IE more than the other browsers, which isn’t surprising. Like on Safari, I notice that leaving a comment won’t show my display picture, or a link to my Spaces. You can’t hover over a display picture to see their latest updates, and customizing modules is a pain! Also, the photo slideshows don’t appear the same. How come every other social-networking site manages to work well in other browsers (sometimes better!), while Live Spaces can’t adapt as well? Simply put, my solution is to work on better browser support. Or if you expect everybody to use IE, the IE team has to do a more compelling job of convincing lots of people to use IE, compared to the other browsers out there. That’s just how it works.
- A jump-to page – An update to my list, John (one of the commentors on the page) said that there should be an option for a jump page for a post. Like from a main Space page, you’ll see a blog post, and maybe a button that says "Click her to continue reading" There’s people who want that, and it should be there.
- Networks – This is a biggie. To me, Live Spaces really isn’t a social network, if it doesn’t have any true networks beyond a simple group of friends. I can’t join a network, and easily find friends from school or in my city. So that’s just ridiculous. My solution : Create networks for schools, regions, and workplaces. Get people to put in their real first and last names so it’s easier to actually find friends and family. Just put in Networks, because it’s more easier to discover old friends or new ones that way.
- Groups – A feature lots of users have been anticipating, but still hasn’t surfaced. My solution : Switch MSN Groups to Live Groups (hosted on Live Spaces). Groups should be easy to create, offer lots of way to customize their page, include a group profile, comment wall, photo and video section, discussion board, member list, links list, and go above and beyond Facebook, Yahoo, Google Groups.
- Classified Ads – Since Live Expo has just about died, how about hosting classified ads where the people actually are? How about (paid) classified ads posted as advertisements for Live Spaces, instead of traditional banner ads? While still allow free ones? My solution : Kill Live Expo, and bring classified advertising over to Live Spaces (where the people are!). Users can choose to post a free classified ad on the Classifieds section (with basic feature like description, price, a few pictures, Live Search Map of area, and contact info), or to get a paid one which can be distributed all over Live Spaces and appear as advertising for the site (instead of the usual busy graphical ads).
- Dating & Personals – Take online dating to the next level. My solution : Kill the whole MSN/Match Dating & Personal services on MSN, make a new one that’s free that includes brief profile, some pictures, facts about the person, facts about the person’s dream date, quick data chart indicating marks where you two match and don’t match, a way to contact by Spaces e-mail, or by Live Messenger IM, add to favorites, block from search, etc. Basically, be like the good parts of Match.com but for free and ad-sponsored. NO silly subscriptions. Also focus on making a teen dating site. The only teenage dating site that’s available is call eSPIN and it’s completely trashy. You need to install toolbars, or try websites to unlock certain "features" for a couple of days. Teenagers looking for some love shouldn’t have to deal with that. Lead the way, and create a teen dating site. Try to make it as safe as possible, and offer tips so people can’t get hurt and blame Microsoft for this.
- Status Message – A status message shouldn’t be hard for Live Space, considering there’s one in Live Messenger. My solution : Allow a status message display box on a user’s Space, and synchronize it between Live Messenger. That way, status updates that you do on Live Messenger, appear on Spaces. Nifty, huh?
- Messenger IM Control/Presence – Allow a Messenger icon to appear next to my display picture if I’m online, away, or anything that isn’t offline. If my friends see I’m online, they can just press the Messenger icon, and chat with me. Nifty, eh? If it’s a stranger, then he/she can chat with me in a Web Messenger that doesn’t show my e-mail or anything. Perfect solution.
- Flash/Silverlight player – WMP 11 embedded on a website is usually very horrible. It takes much longer to load up, doesn’t display well, and stutters a lot from my experience. Switching to a Flash/Silverlight alternative is better for us all. Users can upload mp3’s or videos to SkyDrive, and have an option to display that on their Spaces page.
- Chatrooms – Reinvent chatrooms. Chatrooms don’t have to be an ugly place to go with streaming lines of messy text tumbling across your screen. Give the old MSN Chat a new sleek look, more capabilities like seeing peoples’ display picture, more tools for text input (bold, italics, font size/type, etc, like an IM), more categories, themes for each chatroom, easy way to manage multiple chats/chatrooms (tabs?), and Silverlight it. Just try to make chatrooms cool again.
- Music Playlist (Zune integration) – I’m think of an application/module where you can share your own music playlists of your favorite songs, and people who use the Zune or Zune software, can easily add the playlists onto their Zune software. It also works great if you have a Zune music subscription. The Zune Card sort of does this, but I’m think more directly just a playlist with a list of fave songs. Other people can play a preview of each song on the list streaming from Zune.net.
MyShelf (a made-up app.) – I want another neat custom module where I can display some of my favorite books, music, and movies via shiny reflective thumbnails, on a virtual shelf. You can hover over each thumbnail of each media, and out pops the a little pane with the title, your brief thoughts, and maybe a link to buy it somewhere. Just another way of making your space more of a person characteristic of yourself.
- Calendar app. (Live Calendar integration) – I want a square calendar app. right on my Space. I’m thinking a module that display the month’s calendar, with the days I marked events to be colored according to the type of calendar I marked it (personal, work, etc.), and when a mouse cursor hovers over it, out pops the brief info. about it. As well as an option to subscribe to my calendar, or add a particular day to your Live Calendar.
- Public Events – There should be a page showing upcoming public events that are being hosted. The page could contain upcoming events, which can have an overview, location info., Live Map of the area, picture/video, any important links, add to calendar (Live, iCal, whatever), and maybe the ability for users to say that they’re attending. This could be an extension of Live Local (formerly MSN City Guides). Live Spaces Events (the current one) is rather weak to me, and won’t attract much but a few girly-girls who like frills, or maybe a guy that might try it just once and never again.
- MyWorld (virtual 3D world) – A virtual online world. Every user can make their own avatar, has a provided pad which they can customize with stuff, and the ability to walk around in an open world environment where users can create up to a certain point. MyWorld can be available on a web browser, desktop, or even the Xbox. Certain things can have a price like accessories, dwelling upgrades, etc. It’d be wonderful if there could be realistic high-quality graphics, easy chatting, nicely customizable environments, lots of choices, and easy to use. Virtual worlds are the next big thing.
- Games – More on the casual gaming side, and the ability to play with you’re online friends live. I’m thinking this is yet another MSN property that could switch it’s roots over to WinLive. Give MSN Games a new WinLive look, bring interactive social games to play with friends, and keep the game rental service. Gaming as a social networking feature would be awesome.
- Video-sharing – To cut it short, I want MSN Video to become a part of Live Spaces. Again, I’m trying to keep with theme of making Live Spaces an all-in-one internet destination, and video-sharing is a big part of it. I’m thinking that MSN Soapbox could move over to Live Spaces, get a brand new WinLive-esque UI, give every good feature there is possible, and bam. You’ve got a brilliant video-sharing site that could rival the likes of YouTube. If all the other reasons on this list ever get done.
- Polls – I’ve always thought that maybe Windows Live should jump into the poll-sharing/making market. It’s really untapped in my opinion, and there isn’t a "real" special site for people to make cool-looking (and working) polls with a bunch of features and all that. So maybe Live Spaces could have a poll section where users can make polls, share polls, vote on polls, embed polls, and be able to view their poll data in the form of graphical bar graphs, by region, gender, age, and other demographics as well as a bunch of other neat tools that make polling more fun than ever. As long as it looks cool, works great, and there’s a bunch of nifty tools, it can become a hotspot for users to make polls.
- Miscellaneous gadgets – I’m not saying anything big, but I’m hoping some professional coder at Microsoft can make a smooth running poll gadget, Where I’ve been gadget, (personal) countdown gadget, among other gadgets that need a more professional touch, than a run-of-the-mill developer who’s trying to put ads into it.
- QnA – A rather simple one. I think Live Search QnA belongs more on the Windows Live side, because QnA is more community oriented, rather than search oriented. Live Space users everyday could go to QnA on Live Space to ask, answer, and vote on questions and discover neat tips, information, and whatever there, instead of an off-placed site. Live Search could still tap into QnA to search there, I just think that QnA should move over to Windows Live.
- Enhance Guestbook – Guestbook is pretty nice, since it adopts a lot of neat input tools in a single toolbar. But I’m hoping for more nifty features, that’s more on the Facebook level with alerts when somebody comments, Graffiti (doodled art), Photos, Videos, Music, Share Link (like Facebook’s that bring up description and current pictures on site), Record Video (from webcam), etc. More features, means more power for the user.
Now hopefully, this information isn’t too hard to sift through and read. I bolded the main points, and underlined what I’m looking for. I put some hyperlinks on where I thought it’d be helpful to indicate.
I’m trying to envision Live Spaces as the next MEGA community/social-networking site, combining traits of both MySpace and Facebook (mainly Facebook). It could be considered "too much" for an all-in-one destination, or it could be awesome as long as it’s not too overwhelming and crazy like MySpace is. While at the same time, being more customizable than Facebook and offering pretty much the same features.
Now all these fixes/features probably seem like a lot, and there’s probably some points you’d disagree with. But I think if the Live Spaces team tackled every point on the list, then that’d be great, and I think you might get more users as well. But doing nothing, and small updates once in awhile aren’t enough in my book. Other sites seem to update twice as fast or more, and there’s a reason why they’re popular, and Live Spaces isn’t the hotspot.
I’ve made a few of my own sketches. Nothing in particular, but just the basic header and ideas in my head:
Hopefully, this will further help the Live Spaces team know what they should be improving on. Any other requests? Add a comment.