FTW: Does it do the job?


The FTW staff hard at work

EDIT: I'm already starting to make some changes to the site. Expect more over the next week as I get the rest of the changes made.

I got an email the other day from a reader that got me thinking about some of the elements here on FTW and how "important" they are to you readers. So... I decided to post this to get some honest feedback about the site.

I'm trying to to figure out what is most important here, what should stay, what could go, what gets used the most, what just gets in the way. The end result is I can tailor the site to keep it running as fast as possible (load times) and include the stuff that gets used the most while dropping those things that are just in the way.

Here are my questions for you all:

1. Is the search feature at the top important enough to stay?

2. Does the scrolling feature on the blogrolls really matter?

3. Do the LinkedWithin summaries at the bottom of the posts help any with finding other cool things on the site?

4. Is there anything you think should get the axe?

5. If you could add something specific, what would it be?

6. Is there any other way you all would prefer to hve something displayed? Different format, location, etc?

7. Anything you can think of that I need to know about that would help me improve the service here now?

So let's hear it, and be honest. Don't worry about my feelings, I need to know what you all think about elements on the site. If you would rather email me your thoughts, I'm perfectly fine with that too. While I might not be able to change everything suggested, I'm certainly going to take the comments I do get seriously.

UPDATE: This post is fairly old, but it's still fun to look at back at where you've been and what you're doing with your blog.


Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

34 comments:

  1. I don't look at any of that stuff. I use Google Reader to read FTW (which I love, by the way). I think it'd be far more useful to remove all the extraneous crap from both sides (just let us search at the top and at the bottom). Once or twice a week have a post dedicated to another site you really like (like 40k Battle Report Blog).

    Just my two cents.

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  2. Here's my answers:
    1-No get rid of it.
    2-Again no. If people want their blogs to get seen they should blog more often to stay near the top.
    3-Never used them myself but keep them, if they help just one person than they have served you well.
    4-Don't think you need the recent comment part at the side or the GW news, people can get that from GW.
    5- May sound silly but what about a nice title banner? The top of the blog just seems empty to me.
    6-The followers should be higher up the blog, these are the guys you're trying to reach and let they are relegated to almost the bottom. I also feel the adverts are a bit over powering, maybe move them down the blog abit and move the member projects up?

    Hope this will help you?

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  3. 1 - maybe move it to the bottom? I have no real opinion on it.

    2 - Keep it, I hated it when it went away. It makes checking blogs I don't RSS (not an area of interest to me, but they do have news or reviews etc) or new blogs so much easier. I have also checked out blogs I've not looked at for a while.
    With the huge number in the rolls, the 'see all' option was too cumbersome to use to be honest, especially if you only wanted to go down seven or so.

    3 - don't hurt, and I've used them occasionally.

    4 - the top ten posts at the bottom of the page make it longer than is really necessary. Something to shorten the page overall when just on one article - for instance it takes 9 page downs to get from top to bottom of this page alone, and I have no need to look at anything below the book review header where this comment box is.
    I've honestly never noticed the links there under the books - nothing specific but they're below the blogrolls and most articles, so I just don't look down there (not that I can talk with my 3,000 word posts, but you get the idea).

    5 - nothing to add.

    6 - kinda answered that in 4 already

    7 - do a roundup of new blogs you've added to give them some exposure? Guys like Ian who RSS FTW would be missing out on seeing the rolls so that'd help somwhat.

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  4. 1- yes it helps me dig up info from this site
    2- it helps me find blogs that havn't posted in the last 2 hours
    3-use them all the time definetly keep but make it a smaller amount if possible
    4- recent comments book reviews link gw news and recent posts
    5- hmm nothing really probably something I'm missing something small though don't worry about it
    6-hmm the blogroll could be moved but I don't know where

    besides a million spelling errors I hope this helps.

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  5. 1. Never used it, I think of FTW as more a magazine than an encyclopedia.

    2. Used it once or twice, the older method looked nicer and was fine though.

    3. Definitely, I regularly end up hitting other pages because of them

    4. Nothing comes to mind

    5. More emphasis/organization on tips and tutorials?

    6. Fine as it is

    7. Nope, and thanks for your time.

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  6. 1. Nope, probably not too useful.
    2. It's fine, no problems there.
    3. Haven't used them a lot, but they're nice to have, just in case.
    4. Something should. I'll expand in point 7.
    5. Can't think of anything useful at the moment.
    6. The layout is fine. The only thing that's a bit off is the search bar. If you are intent on keeping it, I'd try to make it smaller and add it to the top bar.
    7. Recently I noticed FTW is working _really_ slow at times. For example I cannot use mouse gestures in Firefox on it at all, the entire browser goes into zombie mode and that's sure not a problem with my pc.
    Not sure when did it start though, so I can't say what could cause it. probably the huge ammounts of widgets. Perhaps some time soon there will be too many blogs on the blogrolls.
    Not sure if anything could be done about that, other than just not displaying some blogs, which obviously isn't a good solution at all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. 1. Yeah, its handy to be able to find posts on specific models quickly

    2. Nah, agree with Silar

    3. Yep, they're great

    4. GW news, thats easily obtainable via twitter feed

    5. Maybe a swarm for tags like on YTTH? Where number of posts is reflected in size, could also be an alternative to the search bar?

    6. Nope

    7. Just that I have noticed the load time stretching out recently as well. Assume its the number of blogs being loaded in the roll.

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  9. Right, sorry for the messy previous post. Started typing, did some other stuff and then came back to post it up without removing some of the notes I'd added at the bottom. Let's try this again;

    1 - Never used the search function, though I can see its uses. Perhaps move it down a bit to a less prominent spot?

    2 - Love the scroll function as it provides exposure to a broader range of blogs without effort (from the viewer, I know from experience it can be hellish to get those damned things to work). In all honesty this may just be a laziness thing on my part, especially since when they were gone I still managed to get my fair share or blog entries in every day.

    3 - I like them, though I do have a tendency to 'wiki'-read. So having links and suggestions to other relevant materials on certain topics can be very helpful.

    4 - Not sure here, though not everything is of particular equal interest to me I do see all of it adding to the site. Personally I'd like the middle-posts section to be a bit wider, but that is hardly possible if you keep all the other useful stuff on the site (which in my opinion you should).

    5 - Very solid content everywhere already, the only thing that comes to mind is that the download and tutorial sections could benefit from having their own page (without sidebars) so that all the cool stuff in there could be organized a bit easier.

    6 - Not really, stuff looks and works great. Though it generally does take 3-4 seconds for the site to load, which is hardly anything to complain about.

    Just my five cents of course, best of luck figuring it all out mate!

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  11. 1. Never used it, no opinion
    2. Love it, hated when it was gone.
    3. Super cool
    4. Recent comments/ Recent posts over there on the L side seems redundant to me
    5,6,7 Great job, Ron. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  12. 1- Yes keep it but it doesn't need the top spot.

    2- Yes as I and probably others don't check FTW frequently enough to notice all the posts from all the blogs.

    3- Yes they help find stuff quickly when I just want a random read.

    Don't know on the rest. Hope this helps.

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  13. 1. Is the search feature at the top important enough to stay?

    No

    2. Does the scrolling feature on the blogrolls really matter?

    Yes, much, much easier to navigate.

    3. Do the LinkedWithin summaries at the bottom of the posts help any with finding other cool things on the site?

    I have found cool things but they are very rarely related to the article that they came from. I think this could go.

    5. If you could add something specific, what would it be?

    I'd actually expand the top ten to a top twenty. I've found some really nice things on that and most of my following has come from it.

    6. Is there any other way you all would prefer to hve something displayed? Different format, location, etc?

    I would consider giving the blogrolls their own pages (keep 'em in the sidebars but give it an option to open a new page) as this would make it easier to browse.

    7. Anything you can think of that I need to know about that would help me improve the service here now?

    Keep soliciting content from your bloggers, the collaborative posts have prompted some excellent work.

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  14. Please keep the blogroll scroll!

    ReplyDelete
  15. 1. Is the search feature at the top important enough to stay?

    Yes. It's helpful for finding that tutorial you need to use.

    2. Does the scrolling feature on the blogrolls really matter?

    Yes, I often found myself bumped from the top 5 within a half hour of posting. When the top 5 was instituted my FTW traffic was cut in half. Now that it's back it has gone back to normal levels. If you want to reduce the clutter, perhaps delete blogs that have gone for over 6 months without an update. Maybe post some kind of warning first. They can always rejoin if they get their blogging mojo back.

    3. Do the LinkedWithin summaries at the bottom of the posts help any with finding other cool things on the site?

    Not really, I think you can chop them.

    *skip a few*

    7. Anything you can think of that I need to know about that would help me improve the service here now?

    For me, FTW is all about the links and the blogs. I enjoy coming here and scrolling through the blog rolls, finding new blogs and content, catching up to where I was the day before. I also enjoy the repository of interwebs knowledge. That to me is what makes FTW great.

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  16. WOW, thank you everyone.
    I've written your comments down and I've already got some plans. This has done two things so far:
    1. Confirmed a few things I suspected.
    2. Brought a few things to light I hadn't thought of.

    Seriously, thank you guys.

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  17. 1. Is the search feature at the top important enough to stay?

    I'd put it in the right column. Search might be nice, especially for some, but the articles are #1 and should be treated thusly.

    2. Does the scrolling feature on the blogrolls really matter?

    The blogrolls... bother me. There are a lot of blogs and that makes the whole thing cluttered. Next we have the post seldom/often problem. I rather see people who post seldom get more exposure for a longer period of time than the big guys get tons of exposure.

    I have given it some though, but am a bit too braindead at the moment to fully articulate all of it, but the main plan would be to have links to the "big boys" and teasers that stay up a few days for the post seldom crowd, because they need the traffic and exposure more. I like to stumble upon something awesome now and then and post a nice comment and give a kindred spirit a little extra motivation. Yes, a very rant-like answer. Hope you did get something out of it anyways :)

    3. Do the LinkedWithin summaries at the bottom of the posts help any with finding other cool things on the site?

    I like your posts on a certain topic where you include links to similar things better. I honestly almost never press those links and they take up quite a bit of screen real estate.

    4. Is there anythign you think should get the axe?

    Everything :) Try cleaning everything up until there is *just* the blog and then think about what you want to add to that. My guess (and it is just a guess) is that things accumulate like over time, and unlike the bitz box more is not better in web design:)

    Wow. I just took a good hard look at the contents in the left and right column. There is quite a lot of things there to say the least! I guess I just filtered it out. I can recommend using some tool, like Google Analytics, to see what links are pressed and which ones are not. Might be illuminating.

    I would put everything FTW at the top. The logo, the get the logo, how to become a member, etc. That should be prio #2 after the blog posts (which btw is totally completely awesome!).

    #3 should be other FtW member's projects. But one thing that struck me was that there was a fair amount of banners. Why not group them and display a group at a time randomly? I dearly hope there is some pre-made blogger widget or similar for it. Think of it as ads. You don't want to show all at the same time but rather spread them out a bit. I personally really like the idea.

    Links etc could go to a static subpage perhaps? Yes I like the web minimalistic:)

    5. If you could add something specific, what would it be?

    Maybe a weekly "Ask Ron (or suitable guest writer)"? I think you have something similar started where you ask questions, but it would be nice with one where you (or again some guest writer) concentrate on just one question. Loved the tutorial on the shoulder-pad btw, it pushed me even further towards trying to greenstuff more!

    "Pimp my mini". Have people send in pictures of one of their minis and then you (or a guest writer that is suitable for the specific mini) gives in depth suggestions for how to improve it, maybe with some links thrown in. Then we want to see the results of course, people better take the advice and have pictorial evidence!

    6. Is there any other way you all would prefer to hve something displayed? Different format, location, etc?

    Just less at the same time, maybe incorporate the FTW logo colors a little more and (I just noticed when scrolling up) please no blinking banners. I just realized that I am missing out on good content because of information overload.

    7. Anything you can think of that I need to know about that would help me improve the service here now?

    That you run one of the best blogs out there and the quality of the writing and the subjects are great. Master Darksol and your tutorials are my favorites. THAT is what makes me come back.

    Looking forward to see what you come up with :)

    Cheers,
    John

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  18. I'll start by mentioning that I didn't read any of the previous comments so as not to bias my response. Here goes:

    1. Keep search. It doesn't hurt anything or slow the page and it will be useful to someone. I've probably used it at least once myself.

    2. For the love of all things made with peanut butter please make the scroll bars go away. It's too much data and kills the load time of the page and makes my browser cry. Also, I really like peanut butter.

    3. I've never clicked one and, thanks to sites like Amazon, I've come to largely ignore them.

    4. Nothing off the top of my head, no joke intended.

    5. Nothing here either. FTW has such a breadth of content that anything you're missing is covered in the blog roll.

    6. Meh. It's a busy layout but without putting a lot of work into a custom template I think you're fine.

    7. Nope. With the exception of the Return of the Scroll Bars (cue music!) I love the site and the content it provides.

    Just make sure you're focused on the primary function for the site -- whether that's the dissemination of the primary content or the blog roll.

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  19. 1. Personally I don't use the search option, but some people might like that kinda thing??

    2. If I've some spare time I tend to have a glance and see if anything takes my eye,

    3. in a nutshell - Yes! LOL

    4. dunno on that one?

    5. member of the month/week? they could write a special guest on something that they are nice and frothy about ;)

    6. nope

    7. nope your doing a grand job, keep going!!

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  20. 1. Search is a nice feature, but could be moved and maybe smaller.

    2. Scrolling is great for new readers. Long time readers might not care, but new readers can see what's going on here.

    3. Summaries are a nice feature, again for newer readers who might not follow everyone else.

    4. Recent comments and GW news isn't required.

    5. I think you should give tutorials you make their own section to stand out, instead of being filed away with everyone else's.

    6. Links, Favourites and Book Reviews could be moved to their own pages to declutter a little.

    7. You're doing an awesome job!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I just use the blogroll scroll thingies.

    They are the means by which I maintain contact with the FTW blogosphere - short of becoming a follower of every FTW blog, the blogroll scroll thingies are the only tool that enables this.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The blog is awesome Ron. Never forget that.

    But the ads seem to take up alot of space. I like Flekkzo's idea of having just one spot for 'ad banners' and then rotating them.

    Messanger

    ReplyDelete
  23. 1. Is the search feature at the top important enough to stay?

    No

    2. Does the scrolling feature on the blogrolls really matter?

    Yes, I use this a great deal.

    3. Do the LinkedWithin summaries at the bottom of the posts help any with finding other cool things on the site?

    Not often, to be honest.

    5. If you could add something specific, what would it be?

    I think the page as a whole looks very narrow in my browser (Chrome). The actual content only takes up around a third of the width of the browser, and even the content + two sidebars only takes up two thirds of the content. I'd consider using that space more efficiently, and strongly consider moving to a one sidebar system - it's a bit cluttered as is.


    6. Is there any other way you all would prefer to hve something displayed? Different format, location, etc?

    As above, moving to one sidebar and widening the main content column would aid readability greatly. I also think eliminating some of the sidebar material might allow you to include a few more posts before the end of the page - at the moment I'm clicking next very quickly.


    7. Anything you can think of that I need to know about that would help me improve the service here now?

    Keep up the good work!

    I think the GW news could go, and the ten most popular posts ever at the bottom - a link to this would be just as useful without cluttering the page.

    Changing the width of the left hand column so that all the links are on one line would also make the page feel a lot less cluttered.

    ReplyDelete
  24. 1. No

    2. Yes (VERY IMPORTANT) - The time of day the post was made has a big effect on where it shows up in the list. You make a post every day and never be seen.

    3. Yes

    4. Ad's, I hate them.

    5. Not sure, I have a headache right now and am not feeling very creative, sorry.

    6. I think the pictures on the blog rolls should be removed. They're great, but when scrolling trough they tend to be the main focus and good posts that may not have a picture get skipped.

    7. I think you're doing a fantstic job, but please refer to to #5.

    ReplyDelete
  25. And yes, as Tomas said, it is a little narrow... I'd stretch it to Blogger's max width. (Where my blog is set)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Here are my questions for you all:

    1. Is the search feature at the top important enough to stay?
    Haven’t really used it would rather look back through the blog as you don’t know what you might find!

    2. Does the scrolling feature on the blogrolls really matter?
    Some times as I use it, though I guess others on various media don’t.

    3. Do the LinkedWithin summaries at the bottom of the posts help any with finding other cool things on the site?
    I find them very useful as they are what catches my eye to older posts as otherwise I might not see them with the newer layout of the blog.

    4. Is there anythign you think should get the axe?
    nope

    5. If you could add something specific, what would it be?
    First off I think you need a big banner! A nice art marine with a coloured background, I have the idea, just not the skill!!
    I think the reviews section needs to come back for the links at the top. Was good to get some reviews and articles for sellers, item and of course books ;)
    It might also be interesting to insert a followers section in the top bar, that way any followers that have decided to follow you can have a link to their blog published, it may be worth suggesting that option for your followers on the option they list yours in a similar manner.

    6. Is there any other way you all would prefer to hve something displayed? Different format, location, etc?
    I think moving the FTW followers between recent FTW contributions and the FTW bloggers options might be a good thought.

    7. Anything you can think of that I need to know about that would help me improve the service here now?
    Nothing your one of the best blog masters about

    Laters
    Millest

    ReplyDelete
  27. Scrolling feature and search box unnecessary but search box could be useful if trying to find something specific

    Link within is gr8 - must keep

    Flekkzo's ordering is good

    ReplyDelete
  28. 1. Is the search feature at the top important enough to stay?

    Never used it.

    2. Does the scrolling feature on the blogrolls really matter?

    I use this a lot and end up looking at things I'd otherwise never see.

    3. Do the LinkedWithin summaries at the bottom of the posts help any with finding other cool things on the site?

    Have not used these yet.

    4. Is there anythign you think should get the axe?

    Nothing jumps out as needing the axe.

    5. If you could add something specific, what would it be?

    6. Is there any other way you all would prefer to hve something displayed? Different format, location, etc? ..

    I like the idea of the blog field being wider.

    7. Anything you can think of that I need to know about that would help me improve the service here now?

    The Blogroll and the weekly top ten are probably favorite features followed by the plethora of tutorials. I enjoy works in progress as well as cool finished stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  29. One thing that I'm really noticing missing is an easy way to find old posts - for instance I was just about to look up something a link that was in an old top 10, but without tags or a search there's no way to get to all the T10 posts (or all the sculpting or such) without trawling back pages and pages.
    Google isn't helpful as it caches the blogrolls so you can get heaps of weird returns.

    But still, overall the new 'streamlined' FTW is very slick, and the wider columns (they are wider aren't they?) make reading easier on the eyes.

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  30. 1. I've used it once or twice, but I could live without it. Tech-savvy people can always use google to search your site if necessary--but then again, it doesn't take up much space.

    2. Definitely. When your blog didn't have this feature (instead had a "click for more"), I rarely read anything except the most recent posts--because when you expand the options it's just information overload, and forces me to scroll too much.

    3. I rarely use them, but conceptually I think it's a good idea.

    4. Maybe not entirely, but the banners on the front page for other companies might not need to be so prominantly displayed. I also don't take much from the Rogue Trader Fridays segment, as it's mostly just a copyrighted image clipped out of a GW publication, with little insight. It just doesn't add much to the site IMO.

    5. Some way to pull images from Wordpress blogs in the blogroll would be great--though I haven't figured this out myself. Other than that, I liked the blogger spotlight you used to do.

    6. I guess I answered this above about banner ads. I'm not sure they need to be so prominate.

    7. You do a fantastic job.

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  31. Thanks guys, I'm still making some smaller adjustments to the site.

    I do appreciate the comments.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Keep the search field as its one of the only way to really have a chance to find anything otherwise you are sifting through years of posting.

    Otherwise a lot of that stuff could probably be removed as I doubt it gets too much use.

    I read pretty much all the posts through google reader as it brings all my blog stuff together, I admit that I only actually visit the site in person when searching for older posts that I wish to refer back to.

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  33. Andy: I understand, I get a number of updates from a reader as well. Unfortunately, the search bar does slow the site down considerably.

    If I can find another search feature that does not slow the site down, I'll be adding it.

    ReplyDelete
  34. 1. To be honest i've never used it so at least for me it's not important.

    2. Yes, I like being able to scroll and see some blog posts that may be a litle older

    3. I find them helpfull.

    4. Maybe the search feature.

    5. No ideas here, sorry.

    6. To be honest I pretty much like the format as it is. I'd prefer a brighter background but that's just personal preference and nothing major.

    7. I quite like the site as it is. No ideas here too.

    ReplyDelete

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