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Messages - Commander Gizmo
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Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 31, 2011, 05:26:00 pm »
I also looked at the staging area.  I was preparing a response with some demo images but, as it turns out, Mathias's post covered it much better anyway.  I completely concur with Mathias's first 4 points.  I can see pros and cons to getting a larger user base now vs later.

Chelu, Mathias is right.  You need more flair and pop to your site so it feels fun instead of drab.  It needs to add energy to the project and motivate your users.  It does none of those things right now.  If someone is told about it or finds it on google, they are probably not going to look around very long before they form their first impression of dullness.  Inaccurate or not, they'll never learn the truth if they aren't motivated to stick around.

32 makes a good point as well, even if he can't pick a good forum name.  You would likely get a great deal more response from the forum communities you are connected with if there wasn't such a huge distinction between the community and your site.  There are lots of ways that have been used in the past to close this gap, and there are probably plenty of new and innovative ways as well.  A few suggestions after a quick brainstorm:
  • Theme Matching
    You could set up your site to allow for multiple themes which, with your partner site's permission, closely follow that of the partner site.  This would make the transition very seamless, but obviously has many challenges and a ton of work is involved.
  • Postmortem
    You might start a thread with the idea of reviewing what was liked or disliked about quack quack, your only completed board.  You could also invite comments on the artwork itself.
  • Board Specific Threads
    You could start a partner site thread for each board you start on your site, or at least the boards you think they'd be interested in.  Having discussion within the community about a board in progress spreads awareness, encourages community interest, and helps greatly to knit the partner site and your site together into one community.  It may also demonstrate what progress is occurring, thus driving further progress.  Having only this thread about the inner workings and theory behind your site doesn't really perform any of those tasks.
  • Ask Them
    Why not start a thread asking the community what they want to work on?  Perhaps the right type of board will generate more response.  The folks here might prefer a particular palette or theme for example.  I realize that is what this thread is kinda for, but it can be intimidating for someone to make a suggestions about what type of board they want when there is so much backend and UI discussion going on.

Welcome to the World Wide Web
Unfortunately, the truth is that making a cool site that attracts tons of users on it's own is very rare and usually takes a very long time.  Strong communities on the net don't usually just happen on their own.  Now that you are a webmaster, you need to be a salesman for your site.  You have to network (good start with the partner sites!), create buzz, and generally spread the word.  Since you have chosen such an unusual and unique name for your site, you have some extra work to do to get the name out there.  Is your site using search engine optimizations (SEO), and is it linked to from any blogs, news outlets, or youtube?  Who knows about it, and who do you want to know about it?  You may consider searching out some of the larger artist enclaves round the 'net and approaching them to become partner sites.  The bottom line is a cold hard fact: Someone has to take time away from development to build the community.  And unless you can find someone else to do it, that someone is you.

Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 29, 2011, 05:59:07 am »
Somebody make a youtube video of quack quack coming together and write a blog post or 3 about it quick!  That should stir up some attention.  I would, except that I don't have a blog and I'm up to my chin in travel plans.

Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 26, 2011, 06:26:10 pm »
A few more suggestions, because it's easier than actually implementing them:

  • Beef It Up
    The interface seems too minimal.  It almost feels like the site is empty or being swallowed by the void.  Perhaps the following suggestions will help?
  • Categories
    The boards could be sorted by categories, such as Skill Required, Pixel/Painting/Theme, Progress (percent completed), etc.
  • Board Description Wrapping Text
    If the text over the thumbnails wrapped around the status text things would look much more fluid and much of the wasted 'void' space in the layout would seem to disappear.
  • Color!
    I like dark base colors on a site as much as the next guy (more probably), but Tzigla's home page could do with a splash of color.  Not so much that it detracts from the board thumbnails though.  It needs to say, "Come on in and join the fun!"  I'm guessing some brighter elements would make it feel more active and vibrant.
  • A Drop of Community
    A listing of the most recently added users or a stream of the most recent events (+comments?) would add a lot of community feel to the homepage while also making it feel active and busy.  A global chat box would probably be too much, but maybe it's worth consideration.

  • Grab'n'Pan
    I would love to see a way to grab the board and drag it like you can in PS.  Those scroll bars are pretty annoying.
  • Pop Out View
    It would be cool to have a button that triggered a 'pop out view', shrinking or expanding the board to the largest possible size that will fit in the browser window without cropping any of the board.  This would be a great way to view the over all board and take in the entire masterpiece.

Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 25, 2011, 09:46:51 pm »
Two more interface suggestions for you.
  • Create a toggle button to hide the side bar with the event stream.  This allows a much more epic view of the actual board when desired, and helps when on non standard resolutions (like my tablet/phone).  You might also make he width sizable using the mouse. (Hello jQuery!)
  • Create a slide out selector list of the boards when viewing a board.  It would probably work best with smaller thumbnails and the text names or maybe just the text names.  If a person is interested in several boards, it might be nice to switch back and forth, or check for progress quickly once the thumbnails are automated.

Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 21, 2011, 05:24:29 am »
I think a few of your ideas might be possibly the responsiblity of the moderator of the board.

For example, I like your idea of structured boards.  If a rough image, much as you demonstrated, were placed as the background texture and the moderator simply enforced the requirements, wouldn't it work as the system is now?

Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 20, 2011, 07:08:17 am »
re: remember login: Interesting idea. But I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of automatically trying to log you in on the provider site. We might make our cookie permanent cookie tho. But this would create problems when you change your avatar, as we won't be able to know about it.

Forgive me if I am stating the obvious or running down the wrong path with this one.

I was actually thinking that you would basically store a cookie on my system and then, upon returning to your site, you could use the cookie to match me up to my last used user in your database.  Said database could store the site I last used to log in to Tzigla, which data could then be used to simply simulate my having clicked the button for said site.  The difference over my actually having clicked it is that upon a failure to find me already logged in to the partner site, you simply recognize me as a guest and let me worry about what buttons to click.  Or perhaps you can't prevent the partner site from showing a login screen?  In that case, you could simply have your own 'stay logged in' feature which removes the need to re-authenticate upon returning to the site for x number of days (two weeks?).  I can always sign out if I want to log in as someone else.

On the other hand, I may just be lazy.  The need to click a separate item to log in each time you click a link to Tzigla is certainly, at least in my mind, a big reason it doesn't feel like a smooth transition from Pixelation.  Thus it may have a rather large impact on how much your site is seen as an extension of this community or a separate entity.

Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 19, 2011, 11:20:56 pm »
Another common feature with dynamically updated sites is highlighting where changes have occurred since your last visit.  This can be accomplished quite easily by storing a time stamp per board when a user last updated the page and comparing it to the time stamp of the last change.  A simple icon or border color to denote which boards have changed since the homepage was last loaded would be sufficient IMO.  Highlighting comments which are new since the last visit via a brighter text color would also be convenient.

Additionally, using a cookie to remember that a user has logged in between visits would be nice. I have my pixelation account set to stay logged in, and it would be nice if tzilga respected that choice as well.  Since the site that the user uses for authentication can worry about keeping me logged in, it seems to make sense that your site only has to either bind my session to my login credentials, or remember how I was logged in and attempt to renew it when I return.  If I have the option set at my authentication site, the attempt will work.  If I am not logged in, you can fail back to a guest status.

Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 19, 2011, 10:20:52 pm »
Might I suggest a better background color/texture for pixel board then?  It would also set them apart from the painting boards as well.

Challenges & Activities / Re: Tzigla Rocks!!!
« on: January 19, 2011, 09:25:12 pm »
Just my two cents: It might make hiding the center of each tile look better if, instead of black, the background for the board showed through.  Much less intrusive.  Then it appears that the portion of the tile visible is added to the board, not just peaking from behind a block of color.  The eye is drawn to the positive addition of color, not the negative black void that appears to be interrupting it.  It's all perspective really.

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