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RiotCart.com: A Reworking


  • justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    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 :)

    http://www.riotcart.com

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 31 total)

  • Roger Coathup
    Participant

    @rogercoathup

    It’s good to see a site that’s concentrating on usability and the tasks your users want to perform… Purpose rather than technology driven. Good luck with the venture.


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    Thanks :)

    And yeah, what good are bells and whistles if your users are confused by them?


    Tammie Lister
    Moderator

    @karmatosed

    “what good are bells and whistles if your users are confused by them”

    That needs making up into a t-shirt as a phrase :) I totally agree though and to me that’s one of the key things and community site design has to reflect.. the community and their needs.


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    That would be one of the nerdiest tshirts in history. And I love it xD


    modemlooper
    Moderator

    @modemlooper

    Good info to consider in the development of BuddyPress UI/UX.

    @justbishop That’s a very interesting post, and raises a valuable point in the creation of community sites, it would be nice to see further discussion flowing from your initial post.

    Your re-working looks as though it makes a lot of sense, I’m thinking you’re going to have much better results :)


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    Thanks guys :)

    And of course I can’t just be happy and leave things alone…I already have some ideas for rearranging the home page, lol! I’m thinking about making the news less prominent, doing thumbnails only in a grid of the latest items posted, and also moving the stuff that now resides on the “Shops” page to the home page somehow.

    You could definitely make the news less prominent, perhaps half the width and use the other side for mission statement or use it has a featured ‘shop’ or ‘shops’ that you could offer for a small premium?


    modemlooper
    Moderator

    @modemlooper

    I suggest you thoroughly look at this service. http://www.shopify.com
    When you see the front page you know in 2 seconds what the site is about “create and online store”

    I’m confused with your site. Is it a blogging community / social network about WAHM sellers or is it a marketplace? I think you need to pick either. Not that you can’t have a social aspect to a marketplace but activity streams seem wrong.

    BP includes everything OOTB but I think you could do away with 80% of the functionality. No activity stream or groups unless you cut them down to be support forums but I would use bbpress instead.

    I’d also redo the entire profile. As is, BP profiles are what you’d expect from a social network and not an about this seller page.

    Just some thoughts, good luck!


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    @hnla: yep, my plan is actually to leave the features area where it is now (where the green “I recycle” logo is), and replace the news block with thumbnails of the latest shop items, similar to what is seen at the bottom of Etsy’s main page: http://www.etsy.com. My “features” area is actually meant to show 2 linked graphics at a time, which lead to site news posts that will be about cool events RC vendors might be holding, or a product giveaway that one of them might want to do through the site. Those will not be “paid” ads, but stuff that is written about to highlight sellers that are helping the entire site out with something they’re doing, KWIM?

    @modemlooper: I see what you mean about Shopfly, but I’m going for a setup more like Etsy’s site (also check out http://www.hyenacart.com, though the styling doesn’t particularly appeal to me at all)…less a hosting sales page and more of a shopping portal. To clarify, RC doesn’t actually involve blogging (at least posted to the main site) by the WAHM vendors. The system I’ve got set up DOES use WP blog posts on the child sites for the posting of items, so in “our” vocabulary, blog post = item. The profiles on the main site are for anyone who wants to sign up, whether they’re vendors or not, and is mainly for the purpose of keeping their personal wishlists of items across all RC vendor shops (child sites) The personal activity streams and profile update abilities are just icing on the cake, and there for anyone who wants to kind of hang out with like minded people while they shop. That’s definitely something I’ll ask my users about, though (whether they’d like to get rid of that stuff as well).

    ETA: and I’ve made progress on the sidebar! I think I’m happy, except for the avatar area for logged in users and the form area for logged out users. Not quite sure yet what I’m doing to those.


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    front page post-makeover makeover is in progress, but the top part of the page is the way it will stay, I believe :)


    techguy
    Participant

    @crashutah

    I have to agree with modemlooper. When I hit the landing page I don’t know what to do. I like the look of the site, but it’s not clear what I should do or where I should click. Some clear “Sell Goods” and “Start Shopping” sections would be good, so I could know that those are the 2 things you want people to do on the site. At least, that’s if I understand the site correctly.


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    Hmmm…well, the bulk of the front page is now linked images of items to buy, with a “new in the shops” graphic to signify them as such. I changed the “open a shop” header menu item to a more direct “SELL”. Does that help at all? I tried to keep all of the shopping stuff that you can do w/o logging in in the header menu, and the more profile specific “call to action” links in the sidebar *shrug*

    I’d welcome any ideas!


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    Would a logged in/out conditional blurb (shown only to logged out users) right above the newest items block on the front page with a message about what the site is about be helpful?


    techguy
    Participant

    @crashutah

    Yes, I think a blurb of some sort by the new items would make sense. Even just a “Start Shopping – Click on The Newest Products Below” would help. I’d also move the “New In the Shops” image to the left of the new items. I think that will help people understand the images at the new in the shops.

    I’d also add a section below the newest items and above the “Happening at RC” which says something like: Start a Shop. Next to that you could have some bullet points about why they should start a shop:
    -Social Shopping
    -Free Shop
    -Etc etc etc
    You might even want to make this conditional for only those that aren’t logged in. If they’re logged in, maybe that could be a list of functions that shop owners can do:
    -Add a Product
    -Promote Your Shop
    -etc etc etc

    I hope this helps.


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    Yes, that totally helps! Thank you :D


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    OK, how does that look now?


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    Someone on WP.org noticed some positioning weirdness in IE. The header ad area wasn’t over to the right where it’s supposed to be, and the main nav menu under the header was on 2 lines instead of one. I think I fixed these issues, but can anyone using IE confirm?


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop


    modemlooper
    Moderator

    @modemlooper


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    OMG @modemlooper, thanks for letting me know about that! My husband and I would be jumping around the room squealing right now if our Daughter wasn’t napping!!!


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    Have done a makeover on my index page. Any critiques/suggestions welcome!


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    And again! This time, a TOTAL overhaul, including a major color palette change. It is still very much a WIP (isn’t it always”), but if anyone has thoughts on the index page, I’d love to hear them. That, the item search results page, and the shop directory page are looking great IMO, but I can always use objective [constructive] criticism :)

    http://www.riotcart.com


    Alan
    Member

    @uloga

    looks good ,nice and clean,good job :)


    justbishop
    Member

    @justbishop

    Thanks @uloga :)

    Anyone have an opinion on the dotted line under page titles? I’m second guessing them now…

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 31 total)
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