RiotCart.com: A Reworking
So, some of you may remember me (or not, that’s fine too) from my BP project ClothUnderground.com, a venue for WAHM vendors to set up shop and sell their handmade goods…well, it flopped.
However, being the trooper that I am, I have recently decided to have another go at this. I enlisted the brutally honest criticism of both demographics I was after in the first place, WAHM crafters and those who buy their wares, and the results have not been very surprising.
The first thing that was mentioned (and not so gently, may I add) was that the site’s name was too exclusive. I tend to run in the online cloth diapering Mom/natural parenting circle, and chose “Cloth Underground” as a way to give those of us in that circle with pierced faces and tattoos a place to feel at home. My first stroke of genius was “ClothMafia.com” (which I do own, lol), but was warned that some might not like the connotation of the word “mafia”. Shortly after, I found out about CraftMafia.com, though and was glad I hadn’t gone in a similar direction. The “underground” part also seemed to be an issue, simply because it wasn’t descriptive enough of shopping OR crafting community. Anyway, The first order of business with the rebirth of this project was a new name. I wracked my brain for several days for something that held onto the “underground” spirit, but was more indicative of what the site was all about, and “RiotCart.com” hit me like a ton of bricks in the shower the other day. “Riot” gives it that spirit of rebellion and non-conformism, and “cart” is a common word in the community that I’m targeting (competitor’s sites: HyenaCart.com, CongoCart.com), so it ended up being perfect, IMO
The number one complaint about the site setup was that everyone was confused by the main site newsfeed and groups feature. Most have told me that they found themselves overwhelmed just looking at the home page (I had my main site newsfeed set up there) and left. One even told me that she felt as if she were intruding on others’ conversations, and it turned her off. As for the groups, I think that the vocabulary bears a bit of the blame, but mainly, there are already several other large, busy, dedicated forums for those that my site was targeting, so I simply disabled the feature altogether (except for one private group forum for my vendors to share tricks and ask questions away from prying eyes, but that’s beside the point).
The second biggest complaint was that there was too much focus being put on the community aspect of the site, and not nearly enough on the reason we were all there..shopping! In response, there is no longer a main site newsfeed linked to anywhere on the site. The only newsfeed that members have easy access to are those available in the “activity” sub items on their profile (personal, friends, groups (how do I get rid of that?), favorites, and @mentions). I’ve also linked the logged in member’s name in the sidebar directly to their “friends” feed, which seemed like a more natural landing spot than a list of what the member has posted herself.
As for the shopping side of things, I already had a good working sitewide post aggregation system going on using Donncha’s Sitewide Tags plugin, so I actually just incorporated that into the main site and onto the front page, rather than having it relegated to it’s own child blog. The main site index page now consists of a “features” module, where I’ll be posting about cool things our vendors are doing, giveaways, etc., a site news module, and below all of that, the very latest items that vendors have posted to their shops (currently set to 5, but will increase at some point). Since I incorporated the Sitewide Tags blog into the main site, I ended up deciding to create a new custom post type for site news, with categories “news” and “features”, so as not to muddy the waters too terribly. I’ve also installed the WPMU Blog Topics plugin, which will give shoppers yet another way to find what they’re looking for, as shop (child blog) owners will now have a way to categorize their entire shop into topics that I’ve pre-set, which will be great once we get the vendors signing up again.
Incredible feats (at least to me) that have not changed from the old site:
1. Member profile feedback system
2. Original shop (child blog) usage tutorials
Anyway, I’d love for anyone who’s willing to check it out! It’s still very much a WIP and not ready for relaunch yet, but I really feel like I’m headed in the right direction this time. I do have a wealth of suggestions already from the vendors and shoppers that I’m catering to, but I’d definitely welcome the same from those of you here, who are probably a lot more technical minded (I especially need help with the sidebar…I’m drawing a total blank on what to do with that ugly thing!) Balance is nice
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