Thanks for all suggestions made with regard to additional features that you think should be added onto this site to make it more useful.

Session Listing : This was a suggestion from a member that we try and incorporate a simple session list. It's working well so far with lots of sessions listed. It's up to the members to update and let us know if sessions have ceased. 300 sessions worldwide listed to date.

Member Map : This was always something that we were planning. We do have the option to automatically import all member data onto the map but have instead opted for members to have a choice on this matter. Therefore everyone has to register themselves. It will therefore take a while for the map to be populated.

This map creates endless possibilities because in theory music pubs that host sessions could register as well and keep their profile up to date on Tradconnect. In doing so when members travel the world they could have a map of every town with the music pubs/sessions listed. They could then simply check the pub profile to see what days the session were on.  How cool would that be. A musical map of the world.

Pro Musician Noticeboard : We had an email from a professional musician asking could we have a notice area on the site where professional musicians could advertise for/seek other pro musicians to fill in at short notice at a gig. We will have a look at this.

Do members have any other ideas/suggestions of things that they would like to see or that they think would be useful. We will try anything ( within reason ) Some ideas work, others don't. If they don't work we can delete them and try a different angle.

Post you comments below.

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To be honest, I (and others have mentioned this to me, at least, as well) might participate in this site more if there was simply less stuff on the front page and the site were easier to get around.  Every time I come here, I open the website and there is an overdose of information and I kind of go "aughhh!" and run away.  If there were a way to simplify the front page and just have links to all the other features, but without all the previews and zillions of little boxes everywhere, I think that would be really positive. 

Other sites like Facebook are going in this overload direction as well, which is rubbish.  The Timeline for one is horrible.  Fail, Mr. Zuckerberg. 

At last. Some feedback. Thanks Emily. Understand the point made. We tend to use the front page to promote new features such as "Member Map" and "Hire Me" After a while they will go in as a sub tab and dissapear off the front page but at start up they need exposure in order to get some traction.. What other bits would you take off the front page if you had the choice ?

Would be interested in other members feedback as well. Tell us what you like or dislike in as positively critically a manner as you can muster up.

Hi Tony and Emily,

I have to disagree with Emily. I visit TC EVERYDAY!!!! [Says alot about my life {: ( ]

I like it that when I sign on EVERYTHING is there!!! All I have to do is scroll down and do a quick check to see what interests me. I visit alot of discussions and groups; check out video and audio postings; coordinate related stuff that I might miss if I needed to click into whatever, wherever; see posted photos (I am a photographer & videographer by profession and really appreciate the postings); events; blogs; the "Magical Mystery MAP" (what a great addition!!! I could zoom in and see who's around me or visit someone on the other side of the world and check out where they live/play on Satellite prompt); etc. I don't have any problems getting around the site,.... and the "zillions of little boxes"???? (C'mon, there aren't that many!!!). It's all there!!! Maybe to satisfy those with Emily's objections a link could be created where they could click on an "abbreviated version" of the main page (don't want you to go "AUGHHH!" and run away, Emily!!! We need you!!!)

Since joining, I've been amazed and very pleased with the growth of this site. There's always something that sparks my interest. My only objection???? (and maybe not mine but my wife's) is that I spend ALOT OF TIME on this site. The hours just fly by. Cheers Tony!!! Cheers Emily!!! Hope you're both smiling!!!

Danny

I also have a problem with the diversity of the site, there's too much to do, there are too many places where members can lose themselves and hence the members get diluted,  this in itself wouldn't be a problem but when you only have 2300 members, you need to concentrate them in a few areas in order to get interactivity happening (it's the interactivity virtual and real that will be the success of this site), take the pub scenario it's much better to have 20 people in a pub that can accommodate 10 people, than 20 people  in a pub that has room for 200

I think the member map is an excellent idea and long term it could be something that works well

A similar geographic approach for sessions would also be great with a proper database of sessions behind it (which users need to maintain).

In relation to the discussion board, I find that I have to do a bit too much clicking and scrolling... and then once the clicking and scrolling has finished there's not a lot happening. 

But keep the faith, the tradconnect idea is a valid one, it needs time...

After reading John's comment on the "problem with the diversity of the site", I have to concede that the most important thing to consider is the "will of the masses". Unfortunately, with only three comments that would be difficult to figure: What is the best approach to help this site grow and develop??? So far (as far as my own opinion), everything done with this site (since I joined) has been a positive addition. Numbers have grown!!! Diversity with groups, discussions, photos, events, sessions listings, blogs, the MAP, etc. have all had a dramatic effect on what this site is and has become. My suggestion in my first comment might be able to be reversed: Make the home page more appealing and navigable for everyone by eliminating the "overwhelming aspect of it". Personally, I still like it for the reasons stated in my first comment, but this site MUST be appealing to the majority of members (old & new) in order for it to grow. I don't know how to get more of a response from the members (Questionaire instead of a discussion????), but the idea that some folks are "diluted" (John) & "overdosed" (Emily) may be something that needs to be considered. There's an expression: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!" which addresses peoples' reluctance for change, but then there's the expression: "The squeaky wheel gets the oil!!!" > the annoying noise demands change. Then there are the apathetic that wonder, "What's this???,....Who cares!!!!" Whatever is decided will not cause me to abandon this site. I'll figure it out!!! Good luck deciding what to do, Tony. Cheers everyone,

Danny 

Hi 

Thanks to you all for your comments. Feedback is good as it forces me to think about issues and to then try and articulate them back in a manner that is hopefully understandable. Apologies for the length but I will deal with various points made.

Lets deal with the Main Page layout first. Layouts of the Main Page of most sites generally follow a two or three column layout. We have gone with a three column layout. Now there are four modules that I think are critical to the home page. The Music Player, Latest Blogs and News, Member Map and Latest Activity. All of these need to be located in the center column to work best and all provide an important function. With the decision made to put them in the center column the decision then is what do you do with the two external columns. With these in the centre column you can see that the centre column is quite long. It would look a bit odd if we left the left and right columns blank.  So following the lead of sites like www.rollingstone.com www.nme.co.uk and www.hotpress.com we fill these columns with videos, top content, groups etc. In effect this site is no busier than others and follows the lead set by the likes of Rolling Stone which is a publication that has a lot of money and has given it a lot of thought. We would actually have less modules than most sites. I have also received a good few email from people commenting on the fact that there is a lot of activity on the main page and they like the site for this reason.

Now we are not just filling the main page with content for the sake of it. It must also be remembered that the main page also provides the function of giving you a glance at a lot of information in one go without having to click. Latest activity with its scroll bar gives you an update of all additions to Tradconnect in the last couple of days. The main page give an immediate snapshot of all activity without clicks.  If you then wish to enter the site further you can do so, implying you have time and thus should be able to navigate about the site at leisure.  Layout therefore is to a very high and accepted standard. Having only links to content behind it would mean that you would have to press every link to see what had been added. As it is you can open the site and without a single click see everything. Some members want a quick in and out, see whats going on and move on. This is fine. Others may spend a little more time, adding events etc. Others get more involved adding content, commenting etc. All to their own as they say.

On the issue of diversity it is the members in the main who provide the diversity. I view Tradconnect a bit like a market with lots of stalls. Members visit, like the activity and think that this would be a good place to set up a stall. In this instance the stall is Groups dealing with Whistle, Concertina, Guitar etc. This does separate the activity and in the short term probably does dilute the members a bit. However the Latest Activity feed on the main page draws it together again. However like most markets that I visit on a Saturday in the real world I know the stalls I want to visit ( usuallys CD's and books ) or on Tradconnect Fiddle Tips, Hire Me or whatever groups you like. Like a real market on some days I will go straight to the stalls I like, get what I want and leave. Other days I might stroll around, no destination in mind, see what people are up to and leave. It depends on my time constraints. Our discussion forum is therefore spread over the main forum and the groups. This is both good and bad. Good insomuch as it gathers the discussions by instrument building a good longterm resourse and bad as it detracts from the main discussion forum and as John says, dilutes it a bit. In essense we are a busier site then most all be it that the discussion is split. Yes an issue, but one that will change as time goes on.

On Tradconnect if I like a group I join it and it is then listed on "My Page" helping me to get there in two clicks. This saves me trawling through the Groups Tab.  These groups will grow. There is nothing to stop a band like Lúnasa or Dervish setting up a Fan Page Group on the site where they post all events, updates etc. In fact there is nothing stopping any amount of people setting up groups for festivals, music schools etc. If you like these bands/festivals you join the group, it shows up on your My Page and you have easy access to it. As a result of the above my task then becomes one of putting order on the growth of the site and directing people to the issues that I think are good and the only place I can you this is on the Main Page. 

Finally it is worth stating that the heart of Tradconnect is about connecting people not solely online but also offline. Our second objective is to connect professional musicians with their audience.  I want Tradconnect to be a site with real people connecting and not some cold faceless, soulless corporate entity. When members answer yes to that all important Profile Question "Do you want to connect with others" then they are opening up a world of possibilities. This I think sets us apart from other sites and I for one have had the pleasure of meeting up with members from the UK and USA and welcoming them to our session in Dublin. The same I hope would apply to other cities and if I travel to New York or Colorado I will be definitely emailing members in those cities saying whats going on guys, where are the sessions, can I meet up with you. I state this because this is the core of the site and is what gives it a heartbeat. For that reason we insist members join with a real name not a handle. This is also why the Member Map and Regional Groups are important as the site grows. 

To achieve the above objectives we need to create an interesting enough site, that brings people here and encourages people to stay and connect. All of the other content on the site is a way of supporting our dual objectives, of getting people into this room ( Tradconnect ) and then seeing what we can do with them once we have then in here. With 2,400 members at present we are doing well but the goal is to get that up to about 10,000. Then we can really achieve something and the benefits to members will increase ten fold. In the interim people have to stick with us. Realise that with the best will in the world we can't please everyone. Some people use us for 10 minutes a month, others 10 minutes a week and others for an hour a day. I would therefore encourage anyone reading this to invite as many people as they know as it then become a self full filling destiny of more connections, content, activity etc.

The above sounds like a defensive answer but the more I thought about it the more I reaffirmed our initial ideas which can sometimes get lost. Thanks to yourself and others for giving us a wake up kick. All the best ideas on the site have been proposed by the members.  Session listing, Hire Me, Album reviews. If we can accommodate the needs of members we will try to do so.

Hi Tony, a while ago I might have disagreed with Emily (it seems I normally do ;-) ) but I do begin to think she is right. I think the member map is a great idea, but it is beginning to irritate that it causes 'drag' when I arrive as it takes a while to load. The same is true of the other material - it takes so long to look around/down the page to try to identify what is where and what has changed.

I think the front page does need to be cleaner - it can be quite off-putting. I take your point about a market place - but markets too can appear chaotic and off-putting to begin with. What about a street of shops, where you can see what they sell and what they have in the window, but you need to go inside before you can see the full range of wares?

Especially when I don't have much time, I would like to see the front page all in one go on my screen, to see what is new at a glance, rather than have to wait for the map to load, and then go scrolling around. As a regular visitor, I do know where to go for things when I need more detail.

I think you're doing a great job here, but I must admit I do now think twice about opening the site because of the sheer practical issues involved in doing so. Partly a product of your own success?

 

cheers,

Ian

Hi Tony,

Yes, the MAP & the PHOTOS do take a few seconds to load (signing in or clicking Main Page). Yes, it is a trifle annoying, especially if I'm anxious to get to something (but it's just a few seconds - TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK!!). But for someone tuning into the site for the first time, both are great "come-ons" (WOW,.....LOOK AT THIS!!). As you said Tony, "Ye can't please everyone!!!" Cheers,

Danny

You are right on the Member Map Ian. As more data is added to it , it will slow the main page load down so it is my intention to leave it as a sub tab on the main navigation bar with maybe a static image on the main page, that can be clicked on. On the other issues I am going to start doing a tidy up of the main page over the next short while and some content will dissappear. I'm thinking that members would not mind if for example Events and Top Content were omitted ( appearing only on the main navigation bar ). Maybe a couple of other modules as well. Lets see how it goes. Thanks for your comments and I would love to hear what other members think so that we can get this to the best it can be within the constraints that we have to work with.

The other thing that I find awkward is that new replies on a thread appear underneath the post that someone replied to, rather than at the bottom of the thread (i.e. as happens on Chiff and Fipple or thesession.org).  I think the message boards would be easier to use if new posts always showed up at the bottom of the thread.  As  things stand now, I think discussions which receive more than a handful of posts are really hard to follow, so I don't.  I thought of this as I was looking at the session frustration thread today and gave up, as it was far too much work to sort out the flow of the discussion.  I don't want to work that hard when I'm footering about on the web.

Yes, I agree with that too. Blimey that's twice we've agreed in one lifetime! :-)

I think the main page could look a little less cluttered without removing any content if the center column was a variable width.  Right now, it seems that all three columns are fixed widths. Thus when I'm viewing the site on a wide screen, or any higher resolution monitor, there's a bunch of empty space on the right and left edges.

 

If the left and right columns were narrow fixed widths and the center column was undefined so it could use whatever width remains, then on a larger monitor you would see a nice wide center column, and the left and right columns with all their "stuff" would be relagated to the outer edges of the screen.

 

All that aside, I'd vote to replace the "latest activity" bit that flows ever downward in the center column with a simple "top 10 discussions" list of topics. If each entry there was a link to the discussion itself, you could easily go see the details without seeing a bunch of disjointed or dissimilar replies in a list.

 

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