Lifetap Volume 1, Issue 19 – Feedback and the Future
In an effort to increase transparency and create a more open dialog with our readers, today’s issue of Lifetap will discuss some pending updates to Ten Ton Hammer and give our readers an opportunity to help shape the future of the site. If you’d like to have your feedback considered for our next major site update, this is the perfect time to let your virtual voice be heard.
Longtime readers of Ten Ton Hammer have no doubt picked up on the metamorphosis the site has been going through over the past few months. For those of you who have only recently become aware of our network, the first major changes (at least on the surface) began this past June when we launched the current, revamped version of the site.
Since this was our first major redesign in quite some time, I didn’t want to assume that we would achieve the complete vision for our latest transformation all in one pass. Instead, the current version of Ten Ton Hammer really represents more of a foundation that we can then continue to build and expand upon.
That building and expansion is what I’d like to talk about today. For those of you seeking tales of my wacky in-game antics or thoughts on current or upcoming MMOs, that stuff will resume tomorrow. In fact, since today’s issue of Lifetap is all about transparency, I can tell you the next two topics I’ll be covering in Lifetap this week: Consequence in MMOGs, and hands-on impressions from Elite: Dangerous.
In late July we released our first major update to the new Ten Ton Hammer. I’m currently hard at work behind the scenes on the documentation and design pass for our next major update which will be far more impactful and bundles in a lot of improvements and new interactions on the user experience level.
I’ll be able to share more of the specifics once we get closer to release, but for now I did want to provide a brief overview of some of the things we’ll be adding or improving with our second major update.
For those of you taking the time to read today’s issue of Lifetap, you’ve no doubt picked up on the fact that our core writing team each author unique columns on different frequencies. This not only gives you us an opportunity to write about topics we’re personally interested in, but it also provides our readers a means of following or getting a better sense of who we are as individuals and the types of games each of us regularly play.
While the current setup is intended to reduce friction for finding or following specific things like these columns, some pieces of that system aren’t quite as intuitive as I’d like them to be just yet. For example, if you wanted to view a feed of all previous issues of Lifetap, you’d need to do the following:
1. From the More navigation drop-down, select Columns
2. At the top of the Columns page, toggle the filter for Lifetap (or other column) to filter the page
While a very simple process, I think it could be made even more direct. So one of the things we’ll be adding is more direct access to feeds for a given column. This will be accessible right from the landing page, or within a given article.
This leads neatly to another new addition I’ll briefly touch on…
Intelligent Recommendations and Custom Home Page
One of my goals has been to improve upon how we recommend additional content to our readers. When we launched the new version of Ten Ton Hammer back in June, we laid much of the groundwork to allow for this to happen. In the months since, we’ve continued working in the background on putting together the additional systems that a proper recommendations system would require.
The results of these efforts will serve as the centerpiece for our next major update. This will come in three forms, each one scaling a bit in terms of direct input or feedback from the user.
On the one end, our site will – over time – begin suggesting content based on user activity. If you’ve ever spent much time on Amazon, think along the lines of the Recommendations system found on that site for active users.
To push that concept one step further, we also want to give readers an opportunity to more directly influence what appears in custom feeds or recommendations. So in the columnist revamp outlined above, it will also bundle in the ability to follow a specific author or column. This would give higher priority over any automated suggestions to the things you tell us you like and want to see more of, be it columns, games, types of content, or other options.
Pushing to the third tier of this system, for users who want to transform those opt-in favorites into a custom version of our home page, we’ll give you the option to do exactly that.
I’ll be sharing a lot more info on how all of this will work as we get closer to release, along with some of the other design improvements and includes for our second major update.
That leads us to the final thing I’d like to cover today: user feedback.
While I’m constantly brewing up new ideas and design concepts from the confines of my secret underground laboratory, I don’t assume to have all the answers as to what our readers want. A few of you have sent us some excellent feedback on the newest version of the site, but today I’d like to extend the opportunity to let me know what you might like to see added, altered, or improved upon with our next update.
Direct feedback on likes or dislikes of the current site or the concepts for our second update outlined above are certainly welcome. I’m also open to any additional feedback you might have on how we could serve our readers better. At the end of the day, we run this site out of passion as massively multiplayer online gamers, but we do so as a service to the industry and its equally passionate fans.
If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, you can do so in the comments below, or you can also email me directly at sardu[at]tentonhammer.com. All types of feedback are welcome – this is your chance to help shape the future of Ten Ton Hammer and have a direct impact on our mission to be the best MMOG website on the planet.
As always, thanks for reading. More info will be available on Update 1.3 as we get closer to release, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to your feedback!