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Steve - 2007-11-26 16:44:52
I am a relatively newbie to OOP and phpclasses.org and I know this is not entirely the correct place to vent my grievances but I just find this site quite frustrating to use, which prevents me from sponsoring it in it's current state with any premium service that you might offer.
This was highlighted just now by my interest in this new service, where I could see someone in my area but had no ability to contact them without paying. I feel this could be a fundamental flaw - there are dozens of free services out there (even if they have a smaller reach) that I can and will turn to.
I understand the need to turn a profit when running a website such as this, but please realise the wasted potential. I am the type of person who would be quite happy to pay $5 a month or whatever for some premium services, and yet no amount of enticing will convince me to pay to merely contact someone. It is perhaps the cornerstone of this service but it hardly seems worth paying for. So I have problems with the structure of this service but I have more problems with basically the phpclasses itself (and it is such a shame!)
Lets start with the interface.
Please do something about it! I have to contend with in my opinion a horrendous layout, barrage of popup and embedded advertising and weird stuff - like why have you changed the default link behaviour so that the standard action to open a link in a new tab opens the new tab, but also redirects the current page? It's just not right!
Sure things work, but sometimes (often) it is very difficult to navigate. I have been using the internet for about 17 years, and yet it took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to search and view class source code. That was sheer determination, but you know how people will generally make a decision about a site within 10 seconds.
I hope you believe me when I say I am rarely the ranting type of person I just feel so strongly that this site could be so much more, and i'm sure alot of people agree.
Time to stop ranting - alot of people would have no problem paying for a service, but there needs to be a sense of community, some tools we can use to communicate with one another. On a side note please please seek the services of usability/design gurus for this site!
Gold Coast Australia
Manuel Lemos - 2007-11-26 19:50:37 - In reply to message 1 from Steve
Steve, thank you for writing and expressing your points of view.
It seems there are several misunderstandings. Let me clarify.
The premium subscriptions provide a package of several services. Having access to the contacts of all listed PHP professionals is just one of the benefits. All the services are detailed in the premium services page:
Even if you do not pay to become a premium subscriber, you can have access to the contacts of featured professionals. Featured professionals are those that have premium subscriptions.
It would be unfair to professionals that have paid premium subscriptions, if the site provided the same benefits to those that have not paid. That is why non-featured professional contacts are not exposed to non-premium users.
Some job agencies charge at least one month salary to hunt professionals that meet your needs. I hope you agree that the site is trying to make it fair to everybody while providing a service that benefits professionals and businesses willing to hire them at a very low cost.
As for your complaints regarding advertising, everybody agrees that it is not pleasant. It slows down page loading and is often very distracting.
Unfortunately, advertising is absolutely necessary to keep a busy site like this financially viable.
Maybe other small sites that are not very busy would be able to survive with costs covered by their owners.
This site receives over 15,000 PHP users a day in average. It takes a dedicated server with plenty of RAM and CPU to keep it up. Advertising revenue is absolutely necessary to at least make up for the costs of operation while paying people to work on it in full time.
Fortunately, having access to the site pages without advertising is one of the benefits provided to premium subscribers. The pages load much faster. You may have an idea watching this video:
Another benefit is the access to the AJAX based internal search engine. The results appear split in tabs divided by site section. Switching to a different results page clicking on a tab, just updates that section of the page very quickly instead of the whole page. The search result pages do not present any advertising either. Not to mention the recorded searches facility. It is much better experience, believe me.
Watch this video to see how it works in practice:
There are other benefits for premium subscribers as I have mentioned. You may learn all the details in the premium services page.
I believe that the cost of USD $5 a month (or USD $4 a month if paid annually) is still very low for the benefits that it provides. But I also respect people with different points of view, especially when they go through the effort of letting me know about their opinions, as you just did.
Most of the premium subscription benefits were suggested by the users. The premium services offer is evolving over the time often based on user feedback.
I would be glad if you would like to express what other benefits you would like to see to convince you it is worth paying.
Steve - 2007-11-27 02:49:46 - In reply to message 2 from Manuel Lemos
thanks for your prompt response, you have definitely demonstrated to me the added value of being a member, worthwhile just for the advertising removal! In my haste I obviously have not read what my $5 a month will give me.
I think content wise and feature wise this site does everything I want, and is clearly the best site in the world for PHP classes. It really just comes back to the "look and feel" that takes away from my experience and makes me not want to subscribe.
I feel as though a bit of styling and a continued improvement of business networking tools would make this site the epicenter of PHP business on the internet, and I would be happy to pay $5 or more.
Manuel Lemos - 2007-12-05 04:00:24 - In reply to message 3 from Steve
Yes, the premium services will continue to improve to address requests from users willing to pay for them.
Just last week a new installment improved the PHP professionals directory service to let professionals see how many times their profiles are being viewed, as well how many times potential employers were let to the professionals business home pages or got their contact e-mail addresses.
This way, premium subscribers can verify whether paying to get priority listing effectively provide better exposure to eventually get more jobs.
More enhancements will be announced later this month.
I just am not sure what you mean by 'the "look and feel" that takes away from my experience and makes me not want to subscribe'.
The site "look and feel" for premium subscribers is already much better. Not only it does not show any advertising slowing down the page loading, but it also feature other enhancements like for instance AJAX based search pages that quickly refresh without page reloading and split page results in tabs according to the site sections the pages belong.
Here you may watch a video that demonstrates this:
Other look and feel enhancements are made available to premium users.
If this is not what you mean, I wonder if you can clarify how the look and feel enhancements you would like to see. Otherwise, I am not able to guess what you have in mind.
Steve - 2007-12-05 05:23:53 - In reply to message 4 from Manuel Lemos
i'm no designer and so I can't offer much in the way of design improvements, but just off the top of my head:
- more css layouts
- a non-grayscale color scheme
- arrange the page elements into a more familiar standard - eg. 3 column layout
if you browse through many of the sites linked from this thread, you should get an idea of what I mean. I'm not suggesting phpclasses needs to win any web design awards but it could be alot more inviting.
Manuel Lemos - 2007-12-05 05:54:54 - In reply to message 5 from Steve
Oh, I see what you mean. It seems that what you are talking about presentation and aesthetic changes. Those changes are subjective because they depend on personal tastes and preferences.
It is a problem that is impossible to solve without eventually upsetting other users. In general there is no consensual idea of what is the right visual design for a site. What is right for you, maybe wrong for others.
Therefore it was decided a long time ago that the site is not going to switch from the current design to another specific design.
What was thought is to offer a way to create new design themes that the users can choose from or even create their own.
The idea is more complex than this. Here you may find more about what is the intention:
Unfortunately there is not enough time to implement this and other planned site features right away.
Therefore it is necessary to sort the priorities and implement first what is requested by the users that demonstrate to care more about site.
Right now, the main priority is to finish the plan for the PHP professionals directory, which includes letting the PHP professionals tell what are their skills and let the potential employers find the professionals with the skills they need.
After that I intend to start a poll and let the users decide which features should be worked on first. In this poll I intend to only let the premium subscribers vote, as they are the ones that demonstrated more care about the site, for instance by paying for the subscriptions.
Until then stay tuned with upcoming announcements in the site blog.
Feel free to post other enhancement suggestions you may have.