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February 6, 2009

Nokia Conversations gets a makeover

GLOBAL – Hello folks. As you can see, we have completely redesigned the Nokia Conversations site. Our stories and videos are still the same, but there were a ton of reasons we needed to change the look and platform of the site for the better.

What I’d like to do, once you click through, is show you some of those things (and give you a warning of something that broke badly)…

We’ve been highlighting videos in our right side-bar since the day one. Many are from our YouTube channel, but many are also clips created by other people that we think you’ll find interesting. In the past few months, we’ve gotten more into video and wanted to highlight them more. So we rigged up a nice video box on the right with a larger space for videos and a list of some that we showcased recently.

Oh, and there’s a bug here somewhere. We’ve received reports that this video box doesn’t work or work well with folks in Firefox 2.x. We’re looking into it. As far as we know, it works well in other browsers.

We were using Google Site Search before, and that was fine. But, as happens when you are able to do more, we’ve moved to a better search tool. What’s cool about this one is that  it displays article titles that match your search term. I suppose we need to brush up on our title-writing skills (or at least, I do).

Participation enhancements
We’ve spruced up some parts at the base of our posts. We have a collection of buttons to make it easy for you to share or bookmark a post. We’re still debating the final list of buttons and their actions, though.

We’ve also automated the “related posts” part to link posts across the site, making it easier, of course, to find stuff related to what you are reading.

And we also tweaked the comments area, trying to see how things work with threaded comments. Threaded comments allow you to reply specifically to a comment someone made. Just hit the “reply” link under the comment you want to reply to. We’ve also added support for profile avatars (say from Twitter or Gravatar). Just for fun.

We made a little space to highlight the more popular posts (based on comments). It shows the most popular over the past two weeks.

Tags were a big reason we switched to our own platform. Tags allow us to make it easy for you to find stories, organize articles, and feed news to whomever we work with. This little tag spot shows the top tags we use. And now that we have a proper tagging system, we’ll be using this more.

Some other columns
We tried to map the old site as much as possible to the new site. Three parts that are still here, but moved a bit, are the “Category,” “Where to find us,” and “Sites we follow” parts. There is a bit of a debate in our team as to how best to display the info we want to display. So these columns might change a bit. Is there anything you’d like to see there? Let us know.

Yeah, there are a ton of things changing at the same time. And it’s surprising that it happened as well as it has, so far. So as with anything these days, we’re playing around with things as we use it. Now that everything is up, we are testing, tweaking, adding, removing, and so on (just like when the site launched way back in April 2008). So please let us know below what you think and all and what might be missing or broke.

And speaking of broke….

So what’s broke, Charlie?
Sigh. Of course there are a few little things here and there that we’re working on fixing or tweaking for look and feel. The two main things that are bugging me are the video box bug in Firefox 2.0 and the RSS feeds. I told you about the video box already, but it is the feeds that might bring the most attention to this site update.

In the process of updating all the feeds, moving the source feed from one platform to another, I royally borked the main feed. All the other feeds updated fine, but of course, the one with the most subscribers I managed to mess up. There was a bit of a misunderstanding on my part in Feedburner (where we serve our feeds from) and I ended up pointing the old main feed to the new main feed and vice versa in an endless cycle. I’ve put in a ticket at Feedburner to sort things out. We’ve also started investigating how to fix it on our end, maybe a work around.

In any case, the main feed is down for foreseeable future until Feedburner gets back to us. Sorry.

But, the good news is that there are no serious issues other than that and we’re gearing up now for the Mobile World Congress. More on that later.