Yesterday, I went through the top survey suggestions related to the site’s content. Today’s topic is everything else, from usability to new features.
Feature the archived stories and threads a little more prominently. There is some great information in those old postings that many don’t know exist.
Good suggestion. I may dust off older entries more often. Also, you’ll see more “related entries” at the bottom of new posts.
Create a better filing system for previously asked questions. Make these backlogged questions easier to locate.
Make browsing the archives easier.
Number the Q&A pages or create a better system to get back to the postings (other than hitting “back” forty times).
The archives kind of suck, particularly considering they used to be much pimper before I changed servers. Improving the archives interface is one of my highest priorities, geek-wise. I can’t promise any timeline, though, because my Actual Job has to come first.
Post all of your scripts, even the ones that have not sold.
More screenwriting samples from other professional writers.
Have John highlight his favorite screenplays and why he likes them.
I’m a bit limited when it comes to posting certain scripts, what with copyright and all. But I’ll see what I can do. In terms of my unproduced spec scripts, I’m reluctant to expose material that I think one day might still get made. But I’ll certainly consider it.
More links to other good screenwriting sites.
Create a more detailed links page.
I’m slowly adding more links, as I come upon sites that I think are genuinely helpful. To me, sending a reader another site is a tacit endorsement of the other site’s content and viewpoint. I don’t exchange links cavalierly.
Create a forum where visitors can discuss different screenwriting topics. John “head honcho” August could add his thoughts, but otherwise wouldn’t be forced to do much. Maybe a few trustworthy people could moderate the forum.
Create a message board for users.
I’ve resisted message boards and forums for a few reasons. For starters, there are already plenty of good screenwriting message boards out there. Wordplayer, for instance, has worthy discussions despite a byzantine interface.
Second is the headache of adding another layer of technology. I’ve checked out the various message board systems — and even done test-installs on the “dummy” johnaugust site — and some of them (like phpBB) are really elegant. But even great software takes time to set up and manage, and that’s time I’m not writing.
Finally and most importantly, I don’t want to be a cop. I’ve been in too many message board situations where a few individuals dominate the discussion, and inevitably the system administrator has to step in and ban a user. I’d like to maintain the illusion that this site’s readers are perfect ladies and gentlemen who never bicker or call each other names. Keeping the discussion constrained to comments on posts lets this fantasy be.
Add a monthly podcast.
I’m generally the first one aboard a technology bandwagon, but I’m sitting out podcasting for the time being. I can’t imagine I’d speak anything more interesting than I’d type, and you really don’t want to listen to me pontificate about screenwriting while you’re on the treadmill. Do you? Just the image makes me uncomfortable.
Add an interface that allows users to spell and grammar check their posts, as well as edit them after posting.
As the one person who actually reads every comment, God knows I’d love some spellcheck goodness. I’m looking into it. In the meantime, you can do what many do: compose your answer in Word, or whatever program you like that has good spellchecking, then copy-paste your answer. You can also visit spellcheck.net to do the same thing.
Straighten out WordPress errors. Sometimes a link dies out and goes to a WordPress screen instead of the linked page. Also, possibly some better bandwidth for peak viewing times.
When you see the WordPress screen, that’s actually an indication that the underlying server is rebooting. The hardware problems have been a big frustration, both at the old host and the new one. We’re on a new server now, so the reboots should hopefully be a thing of the past. Also, pages should load a little more quickly.
Create a way for comments to be threaded.
Threaded comments is tough. Considering the average number of comments per article is less than 20, I’m not making it a high priority.
Check out chuckpalahniuk.net and see if there’s something there to emulate.
Not really. Thanks, though.
Keep the full Atom feed going.
Let me know if it’s not. I subscribe to all three, and they seem to be working a-ok.
Have a flexible page width.
Fix the layout. It’s a bit on the clunky side.
Um, thanks. Without getting into too much design philosophy or CSS-babble (which I’m trying to do less of), there’s a reason why I went with the single floating column. When the layout breaks — such as when a reader pulls it up on her cell phone — it’s still readable, whereas many websites turn to mush. The content stays on top, while the sidebar falls to the bottom. Ditto for screen-readers, and search-bots. The current consensus seems to be that the floating column, while not thrilling, is the best solution out there.
As with yesterday’s column, I welcome any feedback on any of these topics in the Comments section.