Daily Elysium: State of the Site (Month 5)
Gamers With Jobs went online the afternoon of January 8th, and I'll tell you this: before anyone else visited it looked significantly different. Staring at a blankly formatted page with a few sentences tossed randomly about, Certis and I wondered what we could possibly add to the gaming community. As we fiddled about in our newly created virtual playground struggling for a coherent format, I decided early on that one of our founding prinicples would be to keep the levels of communication flowing between ourselves and any readers we might generate. This seemed like a pretty easy deal, since we only expected to have as many as fifty or sixty regular readers by July. That's not exactly how it turned out.
Now, six months later, looking back on the five months before, I'm pretty darn pleased. I think we've reached the end of our birth phase, accomplished the first set of goals we set for ourselves. The forums are alive, vibrant, and full of great discussion. Further, we managed to those forums integrated in a form with the front page. We've made some great contacts with developers, publishers, and PR folks so we can continue to provide increasing coverage including previews, reviews, and interviews. We've incorporated a screenshot gallery. We've got the feel of the site down to something that feels both functional, familiar, and easily readable. We've got some great people contributing, and we feel like we've found our own voice.Now, the fun starts...
But before we get to the fun stuff, and continuing that promise of being open with our reader, I guess I should probably say something about the ads you might have noticed over on the left side of the page. The decision to include advertisements to offset hosting costs was not a pleasant one, but with the steadily increasing traffic we receive it's something we needed to do. Let me give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
- For those who don't want to hear about the ads, scroll down a few paragraphs...
In April, Gamers With Jobs received 250,360 pageviews - note, before you get too excited that's individual pageviews and not sessions or unique hits. Still it's a pretty solid amount, not Penny-Arcade level by any determined stretch of the imagination, but well above our projected traffic. In May we received 353,620 pageviews, and so far 3/4 of the way through June, we're already above 300,000 pageviews, and heading fast toward 400,000. Compare that with January and February, where we hovered around the 150,000 mark and you can get an idea of how things are going. As we increasingly add screenshots to our articles - the screenshots from our recent Galaxies article were accessed over 2,000 times - and then pump those jpegs through our bandwith, it's not hard to imagine how costs can begin to increase.
Now, I'm not telling you all about this to generate some kind of sympathy, or even to encourage you to click an ad. We knew, or at least could have imagined, what we were getting into when we started. I'm just trying to illustrate that those ads are not on the sidebar just as some get rich quick scheme.
That said, we've left an option for people who can't stand seeing advertisements on websites. You see that little minus icon next to 'Support GWJ'? Click that and the ads will minimize themselves right out of existance. That's right, in our search for an advertisement system, we found a set up where people who don't want ads can just flat out get rid of them. We know that's important to people.
We also made certain to try and incorporate an advertisement scheme where the content of those ads made sense to the site, and might actually be something you'd be interested in. The ads read the content of the pages and tailor themselves to that content, so over time the software should get increasingly better at bringing relevant ads. For example, I noticed in Pyroman's recent forum post seeking ideas about what kind of television he should buy, that the ads for that page had smartly listed offers for televisions. I was pretty impressed by that. Also, since it's through Google, the ads broadcast are monitored for reputability and held to a standard, so you can feel confident that you won't get inundated with pop-ups - which remain anathema to us - or scam links when you click.
Anyway, we're not asking you to hyper click everytime you visit GWJ. We're only saying that if you're looking to help support GWJ, and you find something in the advertisements that tickles your interest, then making that extra click helps. If ads bug you to no end, then we'd rather have you visiting the site than feeling irritated with it, and you should minimize that window posthaste. We think it's a pretty fair system so far (if that changes, it's gone), and we welcome your feedback.
Enough about the damn ads. Let's get back to the fun stuff...
Here's something fun. Our big articles of the past 2 weeks, our preview of Galaxies and our Everquest 2 interview, have become our most successful articles yet, each generating well over 5000 visitors. As always, it's not really those 5000 hits that do much for me, but the fact that we've convinced a small percentage of those people to stick around, and even sign up with our forums. This has always been a community site, and always will be. The idea is not to generate massive hits or become a link farm, but to encourage people to visit once and try to get them involved with the site's community. It's a much harder path, but a much more rewarding one. I enjoy seeing a new name in our forum far more than getting a boatload of transitory hits on any given article.
So what's next? Well, first we're still trying to increase the daily output of the front page. The easiest way to do this would be to dump news into the empty spaces, but that's just not a tack we're going to take. It's vital to us that the vast majority of content be original, something that you're not going to get in exactly the same way somewhere/everywhere else. To that end we've invited a few people to write about a few topics, and we're considering adding to the staff. In our search we are making a serious effort to find people who enjoy writing articles, who have something original to contribute, and who generate readable, fun, interesting, and thoughtful content.
Additionally, with our increased readership we have an ever increasing ability to make interview and preview requests. That means you can expect to see more of those along with our regular and Conference Call reveiws in the future.
I'm pretty happy with the site's functionality, and the layout has grown on me over time, so I don't expect any vast changes to the face of the site. Of course, we're always on the lookout for ways to improve, but we're not actively seeking strong redesigns anymore. Strictly speaking, the thing I'm most interested in focusing on from a site management perspective is increasing and encouraging the forum community. I just can't thank those who've participated in the forums enough nor give them enough credit for making it a pleasant and mature place to have a conversation.
As always it's been a pleasure working on this site in every possible capacity, and thanks for visiting Gamers With Jobs.