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What do you think of these TINS website changes?
amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

I'm trying to make TINS more popular, so I'm making some changes to the website. It's all an experiment, and I'm not much of a marketing expert. So your suggestions would be most welcome.

I'm currently addressing the problem that the TINS website isn't much of an advertisement for the event. If you already know that you want to participate in TINS, then it's perfectly functional. But if you stumble on the site without context, then it looks pretty dead. No way to find out if there are new events planned, no way to subscribe to new events...

I want the front page to give more useful information to random new visitors. So as a first step I've added this block:

{"name":"612494","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/2\/b\/2b87eb419d6d478d594a88507e1042ce.png","w":837,"h":536,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/2\/b\/2b87eb419d6d478d594a88507e1042ce"}612494

It lists upcoming events, plus a way to subscribe for announcements, and a way to contact me directly.

I've also opened up the tinscompetition google group, mainly as a way that you can get notified by email of new events. It used to be completely private, but now it can be browsed and you can sign up (if you have a google account). TBH google groups is pretty annoying: they don't make it easy to just enter you email address and sign up, you have to have a google account. And they've turned it into this weird mailing list / forum hybrid. But I suppose it does the job for now.

I don't know if you all think the site is pretty or not, but I've decided not to make changes in the overall visual design of the site. I want to focus on functional/usability/marketing improvements that could bring in new participants, but leave it as is visually. I know it looks programmers-art-ish, but as far as I'm concerned that's all part of TINS. I don't really want to change that, not yet at least. Okay, maybe a small tweak, here and there, but no big visual redesign.

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2020

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
avatar

It might help to add a brief description of what TINS is beneath the top logo. If you stumble across the homepage without knowing what TINS is you will most likely conclude this site isn't what you're looking for and move on. It might be worth crafting a new home page that emphasizes what TINS is all about, that it's free and open for all to participate, etc.

An "all-in-one" homepage that answers the who, what, where, when, why and how instead of having separate pages to detail all of that might help to attract attention. And it will probably improve search results to have all of the related words on the homepage. It might also be worth comparing it with other popular events (so that searches related to those other events might draw some curious people to the TINS site).

A relatively short news section implies that the site isn't very busy. I would know. I wrote that content like 10 years ago. :P News over the years is probably lost, but perhaps you could backdate the news with short blurbs about past events to show how long it has been going on and approximately how big it is (without discouraging participation). Append: It also can't hurt to state that you're trying to grow the event right there on the homepage too.

Edgar Reynaldo
Major Reynaldo
May 2007
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A bunch of the TINS pages are coming up blank, especially the redirect from the main page to the news page.

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

bamccaig said:

It might help to add a brief description of what TINS is beneath the top logo.

Good thinking! How about this?
{"name":"612495","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/1\/4\/14112c7b53b4a433201c987e3a866b88.png","w":510,"h":189,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/1\/4\/14112c7b53b4a433201c987e3a866b88"}612495

Quote:

A relatively short news section implies that the site isn't very busy.

Well, the news posts go back more than a decade, so I could do that. But even the whole news history is still pretty boring. Just a series of messages "Hey, new competition is starting" "Hey, here are the rules" "Hey, here are the results"... It might be more interesting if I mix the logs in between the news.

Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions, I'll try to implement them in the coming days.

A bunch of the TINS pages are coming up blank, especially the redirect from the main page to the news page.

With some debugging on IRC we found out this is due to the use of webcomponents, which is only supported from firefox 63 and up. I'll add a polyfill to support older browsers. (edit: looks like this problem is fixed. Thanks for reporting)

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2020

GullRaDriel
Member #3,861
September 2003
avatar

Good job for the update.

Looks good to me, and the upcoming section is good add too.

Well done :-)

"Code is like shit - it only smells if it is not yours"
Allegro Wiki, full of examples and articles !!

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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I want to focus on functional/usability/marketing improvements that could bring in new participants, but leave it as is visually

Oh man, I have so many points. I'll pick 3 and give a bonus.

What you want is a "landing page" with a clear "call to action" and you want to collect an "email list". (The landing page would be your home url of your site, in my estimation of the current stage of the site)

A landing page, is essentially a focused page for new visitors. You talk about what your product is (game programming competitions), why it's cool and worth doing (improve your programming skills, meet like-minded people, appease boredom), and a call to action, a clear, distinctly simple thing to do (sign up for the newsletter, create an account).

The less focused a landing page is, the less effective it will be. If it's doubling as a news feed, for example, you're talking to two different audiences. For something like this, you might consider expecting existing users to log in, and show a news feed and updates in there. Having a more focused landing page also means if someone is searching for "game programming competition" your site will come up.

It's important to keep an email list because you want to be able to reach out to your audience with news, rather than expect them to reach out to you. People forget about things they have been interested in, no matter how much they like it. Email still remains the most effective way to re-contact.

The last, more advanced work is to get into tracking visits and monitoring site metrics. Number of emails collected, number of organic hits (hits direct from google), and overall page loads are good to collect data on so that you can see if the work you are doing is reaching anybody at all or if it's a waste of your time that should be spent elsewhere. I suggest using Google Analytics, it's relatively easy to setup, pretty sure it's free. I also suggest keeping an eye on the number of new signups/emails you get and check in on it on a weekly basis.

[Edit:] Doing some googling on landing pages, I see a lot of mixed guidelines and some extreme examples I wouldn't suggest following. I suggest taking the approach of soaking in the general principals as much as possible from different sources, and then apply them to your specific audience and product.

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

What you want is a "landing page" with a clear "call to action" and you want to collect an "email list".

Ok, but you realize that one of the new things I just introduced here is that the mailing list is open to the public? I mean, you write about it as though you aren't aware of its existence...

Quote:

The less focused a landing page is, the less effective it will be. If it's doubling as a news feed, for example, you're talking to two different audiences.

I think I understand what you mean about focus, but I think you are elevating the marketing campaign to a goal in itself. But of course the marketing is only a means to an end: namely, having engaging and lively game jams. That is the primary purpose of the TINS website.

The way I picture it is this: when people hear about TINS, they will invariably end up checking out the site. There should be something there to satisfy their curiosity. Something about past events, some interesting videos to watch or logs to read. If you want to use marketing terms, then think of the buyers journey. I'm thinking about the 'interest' stage where people are still figuring out what TINS is and if it's something for them. That's where we are now. Then in the next stage, people might consider responding to a call to action.

Having said that, of course I will implement some of your suggestions. So yes, there is a mailing list (I'd like some feedback on how easy you find it to sign up, I'm not too fond of google groups). And I'm adding some extra monitoring to the site to see how traffic improves over time.

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2020

pmprog
Member #11,579
January 2010
avatar

Would it be worth registering your jams on Itch.io?

https://itch.io/jams

I know it gets fairly cluttered, however, once people know about it, they can follow your account, and they'll see the new jams as they are put up.

I missed this jam because, well, I didn't see anything until after the event (and I hadn't visited these forums for a while)

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

I've registered on itch.io in the past (in 2017 IIRC), and I might do it again. But to be honest, I think it's a dogs breakfast and there is no way to stand out. Be honest, would you have known about TINS if I had added it there?

If you want to be notified next TINS, then I recommend subscribing to the mailing list :)

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2020

pmprog
Member #11,579
January 2010
avatar

I would if I knew your Itch account, because I would follow that.

That's how I hear about the GMTK and "A Game By It's Cover" jams... Despite the fact I sign up, but never finish, and frequently, never start.

But yes, just trying to go find a jam on Itch is virtually impossible, unless you can get listed in the "Featured" tag.

I'll probably go check out the mailing list.

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

@pmprog, Well, I do have an itch.io account...

https://helixsoft.itch.io/

I suppose I could announce the competitions there. But then you'd get updates about my games as well, wouldn't that be a problem for you?

It would also muddle the "clean" message I have on my itch.io page right now.

edit:

I've decided against using itch. Even if I created a separate itch account, you'd still end up with the competition being in a half-way world between the itch website and the TINS website. The compo would look pretty dead and unattractive on itch, unless I ask everybody to sing up on both sites. I can't see that working very well.

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2020

pmprog
Member #11,579
January 2010
avatar

Yeah, don't feel you have to use itch, it was only a suggestion.

Oh, and no, getting updates about your games isn't a problem for me :)

I'll try and remember to keep my eye on the TINS site, on the chance I might actually accomplish anything :)

So far, I've joined about 8 jams on itch, and actually submitted 0.

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