So, I've started the process of redesigning the site from the ground up. The site as it stands is very much "old school", and is in a web format that is becoming more and more antiquated and abandoned. And, by abandoned, I don't just mean web designers. I mean web users and visitors, too. Slick interfaces, AJAX, and other features that no longer require the complete reloading of pages are the draw, and honestly, rightfully so. Also, social media has taken a strong hold and has fast become the way in which we as a society prefer to deal with our interactions on the web.
To that end, I'm working on a re-envisioning of Side 7. The focus of both the way in which we run the site and the site's design will always be about the art; art first, supported by the artist community. But, with that said, we can change the way in which we present those features, and give users easier and more intuitive ways in which to interact, share, and participate on the site.
All of the current features will remain, although some of them may evolve to a more efficient or design-compatible format. All of the data and uploads will also remain and be migrated to the new format.
There are a lot of things that I'm hoping to be able to do with this reformat, and to be honest, I hope it breathes new life into the site. I am under no illusions that Side 7 will ever be as big as other art sites, nor do I expect that it will ever have the funding or support that they have. However, I made a promise a long time ago that if even only one person still finds value in the site, I would continue to maintain it. Right now, that number can be counted on a singular hand. And, the site is back to a one-person crew, me. But, maybe this effort will rebuild the attractiveness of the site, and the sense of community and interaction that it once had.
To that end, I'm taking a page out of the book used by many an MMO: micro-transactions. Side 7's account structure is changing. Here's a very rough, basic run-down on how things will work:
Non-basic features on Side 7 will be available for acquisition for a certain amount of Account Credits (whose name might be changing, I haven't decided). Once acquired via Account Credits, the feature is available to your account forever. Free accounts (1 Star) will have access to the basic features, only.
5 Star accounts will become monthly subscription accounts that gain access to every feature on the site, instantly. But those accounts don't "own" the features. As long as the 5 Star subscription is maintained, full access is maintained. If a 5 Star account runs out, it'll convert to a 3 Star account, which will basically be a 1 Star account with a small set up added features included. That account will never drop back down to a 1 Star account. Any features that weren't acquired through Account Credits, or through the 3 Star account, however will no longer be available until acquired or a 5 Star account subscription is renewed.
I hope that's not confusing. But, it works for MMOs, and there are a lot of business models surrounding that structure that will make things easier and more affordable for users. Why buy features you'll never use? Get just the ones you care about, for a far smaller fee than a subscription, and not worry about continual payments. Also, this gives us the ability to run specials and discounts on certain features frequently.
Either way, this is a big project. I have a project plan in place, and if I can work on it steadily (probably unlikely, between 3 kids, school and work (when I find it again)), will likely take 6-9 months to get the first phase launched. I'm still looking for a reliable, dedicated Perl programmer who I would be able to delegate some of the work to. I do need that help.Your comments and questions are welcome. I invite any feedback on this. As always, I can be reached via Instant Messenger: (AIM) armitige3, (Yahoo! IM) badkarmas7, e-mail: badkarma /@/ side7 /./ com, and via the Side 7 forums and private messages.