Greetings, all, from the Great White North!
It's been a busy last couple weeks here, so I thought I'd better get my act together and get back to the Magic Bookshelf. My greeting notwithstanding, we have no snow up here yet, but they say it might come next week. Any of you down in the warm places interested in a house guest for a while? I promise I'll clean up after myself and not eat you out of house and home...
New Security Feature - The Captcha
But seriously, I thought I'd cover a couple upcoming site features first. Early next week, we'll be introducing a new security feature that you may have seen on some other sites. The idea is to prevent 'bots' (automated programs) from using our Community to deliver unauthorized commercial messages. The feature is officially called a "captcha". It's a little box that appears with letters or numbers that bots can't read but humans can. Here is an example of one: Now, we know that some of our users' eyes might not be what they used to, so we chose numbers. My eyes are fine, and I have trouble reading some of the letters in the captchas on some sites, but I have no trouble reading our new ones, so hopefully you'll feel the same. We regret that this is necessary, but we know you already get enough garbage and we want to do everything we can to prevent you from getting more.
Upcoming Changes to our Free Designs section
We're also getting set to launch some changes to our Free Designs pages. Users will soon be able to search for free designs by keyword, category and even design contributor. The search will be available to all users of the site, although not all the designs that turn up in all searches will be available to non-Club members. I also have some good news for those who have been asking why we haven't added to our collection of over 6000 free designs in a long time. Within the next couple weeks, we'll be launching a new feature of Ann's Club, whereby Ann's Club members will have a section where new free designs are added every week. I suppose these designs can't technically be called completely free, as they will only be accessible for Ann's Club members, but these new features took a lot of work and we're hoping our users can understand that, in order to continue to improve the experience of the site and offer as much as possible to those on a budget, we have to try to make sure that these new services can at least pay for themselves.
Is our Community Tech-Savvy?
One of the original purposes of this Magic Bookshelf blog was not only to provide a guide on how to use the "techie" features of our Community, but also to inform readers about the larger tech world in general. I attended a conference yesterday at which many interesting new ideas about how to use technology were being presented. One thing struck me though, as I kept looking at these great ideas - many of them were being presented in a way that would not have given them much traction with our users. Surveys that we have done of our userbase show that 97% of our users are women, and 70% of those are over 45 years of age. We now have almost 300,000 regular users of the site, and my sense was that, even though some of these great new ideas that I was hearing would have had huge benefits to many of our users, they weren't presented in language that our community would necessarily understand. Don't get me wrong, we have some extremely tech-savvy users in our Community, but judging from feedback we get, they still represent a fairly small minority.
What Do You Want to Know?
With that in mind, I think there is room in this space to cover a few more general areas that the section of our users who aren't so tech-savvy might want to know more about. In other words, what are the things that your kids or grandkids are talking about that you'd like to understand better? I've put a list of ideas below, but it is by no means comprehensive. Please feel free to add anything about which you are curious and I'll do my best to cover it.
- Social Networks like Facebook and MySpace
- RSS readers like iGoogle
- Instant Messaging/chat
- Widgets and Gadgets
- Photo sharing sites like Flickr and Photobucket
- The iPhone, Blackberry or other smartphones
- Blogs that talk about technology and new ideas
- Online games (Final Fantasy) and online environments (ie. Second Life)
What Do You Do Online?
To that end, we'd also like to know where you're spending your time when you do go on the computer. Is it just for your hobby (ie. searching for information, shopping) or do you do other things online. I recently read a fact that absolutely shocked me - there was a study that showed that a specific demographic had overtaken teenage boys in playing online games. Can you guess what it was? Women over 40! This is something I would never have guessed in a million years. So, I have to wonder what other shockers might be out there. What do you do online besides things related to your hobby. Do you play games? Do you get your news online, or bank online? Do you use music or video sites? Or are you just happy with knowing how to do a search in Google and pick up a few things from an online store? I'd love to know.
So, please, for those of you who are curious and want to keep current with what's happening online, what would you like to know more about, and for those of you who already spend a lot of time online, what else do you do?
To leave a comment, just make sure you're signed in, type your comment in the field below and click the 'Add' button. Hoping to get lots of comments...