RSS Feeds and UI Updates

Posted by Danny Choo On Sun 2009/03/29 11:36 JST In Japanese Pop Culture
60 37036 ja

Just want to go over a few updates. The most important is that you can now RSS Subscribe to Member News. The feed also includes my News Items too.
You can also get all updates from Member News in your inbox by email. Folks who are too busy to visit can get updates sent to them instead.
Dont forget you can also get email updates of all my photo articles and news items in your inbox too.

Also wanted to go over a few updates mainly on the top page. If you hover over links in the catfish menu, header menu and many of the "more" links, you will notice that there are now Ref Tags at the end of each link. Ref Tags are tags we used at Amazon to determine exactly which link is being clicked on.
For example the destination /mascot/eng/ would normally show up in my logs as "/mascot/eng/" but I have no idea which link users clicked on to get there. Now that I have Ref Tags, I know whether users are clicking on the animated gif mascots or header menu for example.

Understanding which parts of the UI users are clicking on enables me to get rid of useless unused clutter and continuously improve the user experience.
I've tried heat map apps like Crazy Egg but they dont seem to be able to support sites with a lot of traffic - DC grounds to a halt when I use them.

I'm using anchor tags as Ref Tags as they dont affect SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If I used variables like "?ref=gateway_header" then I need to do another 301 redirect to remove the tag so that I dont affect search engine results - I would get page rank leaks if I didnt do this.

The "more" links are now graphic image buttons and notice more clicks - they used to be text.

The regular Gateway is now two column - used to be 3 column since 2004. The photo article main photo is now bigger and delivers more impact than the previously crummy 400px wide image.

Mirai and Haruka now speak - Mirai is in charge of updating us with some site updates and going through the most popular Member News Items - some gems get pushed off the top page really soon and want to make sure they get the exposure they deserve. Lemme know how useful this is to you. I'm also looking at click throughs with Ref Tags.

Haruka is in charge of sponsor info. Soon sponsors will be able to target messages at users based on what they are looking at. They will also let you know of any special deals that they are offering.
Advertising is not just about taking money from sponsors - its about helping convert users into their customers - a business win x win partnership with the site owner and sponsor. Sponsors are unlikely to continue to sponsor you if you dont care about how many users you send them.
Text targeted messages generally have a higher conversion rate and my sponsors are excited about this new feature.

Mirai and Haruka speak using jquery and are created by the most talented member SG.

The new pie charts are much more scalable now - before using the GD Library. Now they use the Google Charts API.

Have also tweaked the top nav drop down menus and added a site map which I will work on a bit more ^^;


Another huge update is the welcome gateway - you need to to see it. The main image is key and captures what I want new visitors to recognize what dannychoo.com is about.
Instead of sending new users to a completely different page to learn more, a panel now slides open with more info about the site where they are now currently heading off to the Figure Photo Portal, Japan Photo Portal or Everything Photo Portal. UI needs some work but the large format photos have increased conversion of new visitors more than before.

One thing I wanted to ask you is how many of you use that op page of dannychoo.com? For example, I read http://www.tuaw.com/ but dont visit their top page every day - I check the RSS feed instead. I do have a peek at their top page from time to time but do so because I want to check out the UI.
Just interested in knowing this number - my goal is not to get as many users as possible to visit the site - its to increase touch points where users can consume dannychoo.com content which is why I proactively promote RSS/Email subscriptions and will soon be launching mobile apps too.

Running a site is fun and challenging. I need to make sure I'm spending time on not just the content but the user experience too. Imagine a restaurant with great food but cramped dirty conditions (cluttered UI). If you are a site owner, I recommend constantly observing user behavior and getting feedback form your users.

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