The Ning Design Studio gives you an incredibly intuitive way to customize and transform your social experience. […]
In the Themes panel, you can choose from 70+ themes (at launch). Click the “My Themes” section to enable any theme you’ve published in the past.
The Layouts panel lets you pick a 2-column or 3-column layout, and customize the placement of your site’s sidebar and navigation. The increased layout flexibility also means it is easier than ever to plug in ad units in a variety of sizes. Expect even more layout options down the road. (Official Ning Blog)
While the new DIY layout will help make Ning more appealing to the masses, Ning is also allowing users skilled in CSS to create brand new themes from scratch, allowing bloggers and businesses to stand out from the crowd with a unique template.
Although they do offer users the ability to blog from the Ning platform, the company has previously made moves to court WordPress lovers (as long as you self host your blog that is).
Ning’s is planning on launching Design Studio soon (February 9th to be specific), and it will be interesting to see if their DIY social networking service becomes a hit for users seeking to build their own “mini-Facebooks” online.