Sunday, 1 June 2008

Vottle Vooma

A lot has been happening here in Vottleland. A lot of development and some cool new features. Here are the highlights from this month gone by:

- we have moved to a model whereby there is one class of user now (no more registered VS non-registered users) - there is still a registration feature, but the way it works now, every new user posting an advert is technically registered on the system - our new user model allows easier user maintenance, but most importantly it makes posting and managing of adverts by users a lot more intuitive and does not require a formal registration process for them to create a profile

- new look and feel with things like Featured adverts, Premium adverts, and the new look home page (which now lists all the categories in alphabetical order - not sure what took us so long to go this route) - the challenge here lay in the ability to provide many more categories than any of our competitors and still be able to display all of these in a concise and logical format in single page without having to scroll down through lots of content - and we think we have finally accomplished this very nicely with our on-demand, dynamically expanding categories

- very cool picture zoom feature - this imaging feature enables users to easily move from one image to another using either the mouse or keyboard, and without having to open and close individual popup windows - it will also by default expand very large images to screen size so that the entire image is viewable (as opposed to expanding beyond the borders of the page making large images difficult to see) - it also enables users to expand thumbnail images everywhere on the site as opposed to just the advert view pages - this makes navigation quicker and easier as users do not always have to click through to a new page to get a better view of a potentially interesting advert

- the integration with Netads is now complete and the results so far are encouraging

- we now have corporate banners on the home page (which we start selling from this new month), as well as sponsored links in the top 3 categories - our first test case is going live from this new month with Dial Direct

- the actual advert view page has a new look and feel with lots of cool new icons and a logical new layout - the new layout displays images higher up on the page since it is often the images that catch and hold a user's attention to an advert - also, all user functions for an advert (such as contact the seller, add to favourites, report this advert, etc.) have all been consolidated in a single block near the top of the page and it is much more user friendly

- we have put a lot of focus this past month on improving the user's experience and usability of the site in an effort to keep the user on our site (reduce bounce rate)

- we are still working on improving the structuring of our categories to make them more logical and user friendly - this includes splitting our Property section into two categories (For Sale and Rental) since this category is very large and often difficult to navigate

- we will also have the ability to attach sub-categories to more than one parent category, as some subcategories may logically fall under more than one parent, and users often cannot find what they are looking - for example, some users will look for 'Room to Rent' under Property rentals, others will look for it under 'Accommodation' - this way we can serve the same content easily under multiple logical categories.

- text searches have been enhanced - besides simply searching the body of an advert for the relevant text, we now also suggest categories or subcategories that might be relevant to a user's search in the search results

Posted by the Vottlers