What to work on next?

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 13 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #2165

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    OK, now that I got my major concerns addressed, I’m in a position of prioritizing my next Hillrunner.com projects. In the past, I always made an executive decision on what gets top priority based on what I felt would best serve Hillrunner.com and its visitors without asking for input from the visitors. This time, though, I thought I would solicit some input that, while not completely deciding priority for me, I will use to guide my decisions on priority.

    I know this may seem a little unusual. Typically, websites keep changes quiet until they are ready to be released. This protects them in case an idea is found to be impossible to do or in case it will take longer than expected. However, I am going to trust that you all realize there is no precise timeline on most things involving this website and there is not even a promise of completing things when I am this early in the process. I will work on things as time permits and they will get done if/when I find enough time to get them done. If this was my full time job, I could give more definite timelines but this is something I work on during my limited free time.

    On that note, here is my list of things I am considering slotting for time in 2005. Of course, some things in this list won’t get done in 2005 and some things not on this list will likely get done. Tell me what you feel would improve your Hillrunner.com experience the most, the least, and what may detract from your Hillrunner.com experience. Based on your response, along with other considerations, I’ll prioritize things or, if called for, remove them from the list.

    Revamp the forums: The makers of the software the forums are currently running on will some time this year be releasing an updated version that they say will have a lot of new features. Would you like new features on the forums or should I not mess with what we are comfortable with? I could also go out and search for new software but feel like we all have built up a comfort level with this software. Thoughts?

    Modify the forums: Back when the forums first went to this software, I received some advice on how I could make the forums better. I believe the main one that hasn’t been done at this point would be to modify profiles to include two new sections: PRs and running profile. At the same time, I could remove things like the interests and occupation sections. I didn’t have the capability or knowledge of the software to do so at the time. Now, I do.

    Improve RSS: The big thing in 2004 was to get RSS feeds up and running. Now, I’m looking at how I can improve the three feeds that currently exist.

    Alternate interface to Running News: Through the links from the homepage and the RSS feeds, users are sent directly to the forum pages. This looks a bit unprofessional. I was thinking of creating alternate interfaces specifically for the news articles that would give it a more refined, professional look. The forums interface would of course still be available.

    Remove the Links section: I realize this may be an unpopular move but I’d like to throw it out to see how unpopular it is. Maintenance of this page is a constant battle and I’m not sure, based on the numbers I’m seeing, if my time is being well spent. Another alternative would be to greatly reduce the number of links and focus on what I feel are the best of the best.

    Focus more on articles: I’m actually relatively close to releasing a new article but this would be the first in some time. Should I focus on writing more? As a sidenote, if anyone has a topic they would like me to write about, feel free to share.

    Revamp the store: This section has fallen into disarray a bit over the past few years as I focused on other parts of the site. Over the past month or so, I have been trying to build it back up a bit but it could use much more work.

    Add calculators: I’ve heard some requests for more calculators. Interestingly, people ask for more but they don’t tell me what they want. Would you like to see a calculator on Hillrunner.com that currently isn’t here? If so, what should it be calculating?

    Revive the newsletter: Some people have asked me why the newsletter has died. It was for two primary reasons. First, the CAN-SPAM Act held certain requirements that I couldn’t meet with my existing mailing list at the time. While it was an opt-in newsletter, I did not permanently keep a record of those who requested the newsletter so I would not be able to legally prove that everyone receiving the newsletter had requested it. Second, it was a struggle to come up with an article every month for the newsletter. One thought is to remove the article and discuss hot topics on the forum, attempting again to increase forum participation.

    Formatting: Is it time for a Hillrunner.com facelift? There are a few pages I want to work on. While I’m at it, should I give the site a whole new look or do you like the current look of Hillrunner.com?

    Others? Feel free to share your thoughts of how I can make your Hillrunner.com experience better. I’ll take any suggestions into consideration.

    There are of course other things that I am always working on, such as my consistent efforts to make the site more stable and faster, that I am not mentioning because they are non-negotiable. When I find a way to help the site load faster or to lessen “Page not found” errors (almost always caused by outdated links from other sites) these always take top billing.

    If you have any questions about the ideas I expressed above, feel free to ask.

  • #17408

    Bart
    Member

    There are a few features on your site that I don’t use, but I’ll give my opinions on those that I do utilize.

    Revamp the forums: I like the current software. It’s easy to use, and the quote option and format makes it easy to follow the thread. I also like the preview/edit screen.

    Modify the forums: I like the idea of adding PRs and running profiles to the member’s profile.

    Remove the Links section: I rarely use the Links section; however, the one section that I do use and enjoy having available is the Race Calendar section. As a member of the military, I travel occasionally, and I’m subject to transfer on a regular basis. It is easy for me to have a single source to find races in other parts of the country. While I could probably find this information when it’s needed, it’s convenient to have it listed at one location.

    Focus more on articles / Revive the newsletter: I enjoy the articles, and I liked receiving the newsletter. Because of the legal requirements on e-mailing the newsletter, a thought would be to just post the newsletter online and mention it in the Forums. That will allow anybody interested a chance to read the newsletter, and we could discuss the newsletter articles by posting a reply to your Forum post.

    I would enjoy an article on hill running/training. I see that a few people have posted on the forum that they do their hill repeats on the treadmill, which seems to me that it will help in running uphill but won’t help with any downhill running, which can really beat up the legs during a race. Also, I’m running a flat half marathon at the end of February, and I’m seriously considering skipping hill repeats and doing intervals instead. To make up for the lack of hill repeats, I’ll make sure I include some hill running in my long and mid-long training runs.

    Formatting: Personally, I think the formatting is fine. The regular visitors know where to find what they’re looking for, and it’s easy for newcomers to find what they want. In my opinion your time would be better spent working on getting the content to where you want it.

  • #17409

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Bart, thanks for the input. A few return comments, just to get people’s thoughts flowing:

    Bart wrote:
    Revamp the forums: I like the current software. It’s easy to use, and the quote option and format makes it easy to follow the thread. I also like the preview/edit screen.

    I’ll take that as a vote for not looking for new software. After looking around a bit yesterday evening at what’s available, I’m leaning heavily that way. As for the new version of this forum software that is supposed to be coming out later this year, I’d have to assume that the basic functionality that we have now will still be there. If not, I’ll probably hang on to the current version as long as reasonable. My thought is, if there are new features added such as threading, I’d like to give it a shot. I guess I can consider floating this idea again once the new version is available and I know more about what it will offer.

    Bart wrote:
    Modify the forums: I like the idea of adding PRs and running profiles to the member’s profile.

    So do I. Once I get the software reasonably secure from spammers, I may make this my next forums related project.

    Bart wrote:
    Remove the Links section: I rarely use the Links section; however, the one section that I do use and enjoy having available is the Race Calendar section. As a member of the military, I travel occasionally, and I’m subject to transfer on a regular basis. It is easy for me to have a single source to find races in other parts of the country. While I could probably find this information when it’s needed, it’s convenient to have it listed at one location.

    I had a feeling this would be the case. Out of curiosity, how many broken/outdated links have you noticed in the Race Calendars section? This and the Personal Pages section are the two that I’m most concerned about keeping updated.

    Bart wrote:
    Focus more on articles / Revive the newsletter: I enjoy the articles, and I liked receiving the newsletter. Because of the legal requirements on e-mailing the newsletter, a thought would be to just post the newsletter online and mention it in the Forums. That will allow anybody interested a chance to read the newsletter, and we could discuss the newsletter articles by posting a reply to your Forum post.

    I’ve been toying with ideas. One sounds very similar to your idea. Maybe I’ll try it with the next article, which may or may not show up this weekend.

    The main thing about a newsletter and the reason I had one in the first place is that it gets to people who don’t regularly visit the site. Even if they don’t visit the site, they still get the newsletter in their inbox. If they see something that interests them, then they can go to the site to see more. Basically, it brings in more people. However, I’m now left wondering if a relative handful of occasional visitors are worth effort involved.

    Bart wrote:
    I would enjoy an article on hill running/training. I see that a few people have posted on the forum that they do their hill repeats on the treadmill, which seems to me that it will help in running uphill but won’t help with any downhill running, which can really beat up the legs during a race. Also, I’m running a flat half marathon at the end of February, and I’m seriously considering skipping hill repeats and doing intervals instead. To make up for the lack of hill repeats, I’ll make sure I include some hill running in my long and mid-long training runs.

    This is a must. I have to get some hill training and racing articles done. Thanks for the reminder. To your situation directly, I would remind you that the strength from hill training is beneficial no matter the course you’re running on. Even when training for track races, I hit the hills and believe they are very beneficial. Of course, there are more types of hill training than just repeats.

    Bart wrote:
    Formatting: Personally, I think the formatting is fine. The regular visitors know where to find what they’re looking for, and it’s easy for newcomers to find what they want. In my opinion your time would be better spent working on getting the content to where you want it.

    I’m basically debating whether to continue on with minor modifications like I have been making all along or to go with a major overhaul, the last of which happened when I transitioned the site off of frames. I do have to go into every non-forums page for some behind the scenes work, so I just wanted to throw the idea out since I’m going to be in the code of every page anyway. It sounds like your vote is for minor modifications at most.

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