After Hours

Behind the scenes: The good, the bad, and the bottom line

Senior Product Manager Brandon Seltenrich discusses TechRepublic's mobile momentum and what's in store for upcoming "behind the scenes" posts.

Taking a queue from our sister site, CNET, I'd like to break this week's post into three sections: The Good, the Bad (or Work In Progress), and the Bottom Line.

The Good: Mobile

As a part of our recent redesign, we completely revamped the mobile version of our site to make it more accessible for quick, on-the-go reading from any device. The stats show you approve. Visits to TechRepublic's mobile site have increased by over 250% in the past month, and we expect this trend to only continue to grow in the post-PC era.

Giving the mobile version of TechRepublic a facelift is only the first stage in our efforts to help you bring us along, no matter where you are or which device you carry in your pocket. Pretty soon, we'll be launching the first releases of the TechRepublic Android and iPhone apps. Similar to the current version of our mobile site, the initial versions of our apps will allow you to keep up with all of the great blog content we deliver, right from your phone or iPod.

The second version of Android and iPhone apps will greatly expand their functionality beyond just consuming blog content. I'll save the details for another post as we get closer to launching version two. We're very excited about our mobile momentum, and we look forward to getting your feedback on version one when it's released.

Work In Progress: Forums

We changed things. You told us what changed for the better and what changed for the worst. We listened. You want answers, not more hyperbole.

As I discussed in my previous post and its comments, we have a good number of options -- big and small -- available to us. In my post next week, I will lay out what we plan to do to improve your experience in the forums and when you can expect to see some of those changes.

The Bottom Line: Help using the new site

A lot of the recent feedback that we've received runs along the lines of "How do I do this?" or "I used to do X this way on the old site, so how do I do it on the new one?" Our editors are here to help and have created a series of FAQs to get you pointed in the right direction.  Additionally, the mistress of all things TechRepublic Out Loud, Sonja Thompson, has created a couple of video walkthroughs on TechRepublic's Q&A section and voting capability.

If you've looked through the FAQs but couldn't find the answer you were seeking, let us know in the discussion thread below so we can help post updates. You won't just be helping yourself, you'll be helping everyone who uses the FAQs.

9 comments
seanferd
seanferd

so I'll just quickly note that TR has multiple existing laundry lists at its disposal, and leave it at that. Thanks for the update, and best wishes to you in your endeavours.

Jaqui
Jaqui

go sign up for account on another site in order to have my avatar showing? NOT! I do NOT buy into this bs of "consuming" web services. not when I can't access the Q&A at all, because f idiotic EXPANDING ads that have a box COVERING THE QUESTION for me.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 like.author.displayName 1 Like

It's part of making the Site more useful for Mobile Devices. Increase the Bandwidth required so that the people using it end up paying more for the service that they want. Use Flash so that the Mobile Batteries do not last as long and require more hardware to charge or new batteries/Handset more often. Sounds like the new owners of TR are in the Business of an Mobile Service Provider and want to sell more hardware. ;) TR is defiantly not what it was and at the moment I can see much in the way that they are improving the situation to the Pre Downgrade Site of several weeks ago. Col

jasonhiner
jasonhiner like.author.displayName 1 Like

It was 2008 that CBS bought CNET Networks (which TechRepublic had been a part of since 2001). Today, it's the same people that have been calling the shots on TechRepublic for years, and CBS has set no new mandates for TechRepublic, other than continue to produce great content and attract more users. Since the recent relaunch, the number of daily unique users coming to TechRepublic has nearly doubled and has reached at an all-time high in March. A big part of that is that we've made the content easier to find and navigate and much better optimized for search engines and our popular email newsletters. The activity in the TechQ&A has jumped big time and the changes we've made there (helping people find similar questions before hitting submit) has increased the quality of the questions being asked. The one area that we still need to improve the most is, of course, the discussion threads. No one is totally happy with the format and it's the one thing that we're discussing the most behind the scenes and preparing to improve. However, the current changes were made by the same people that have been working on TR for years, along with some great new team members we've hired to help (like Brandon). This launch was a combination of some major backend improvements (for scalability/reliability and the ability to make changes and updates more quickly) and some clean-up, simplification, and movement toward modern standards on the front-end. In terms of activity level in the forums, it dropped off after the relaunch (it always does), but it has recovered to the pre-launch levels. The difference is that more people are participating. It's not just the same 100 people talking and everyone else listening. That's not a bad thing, but we also realize that we've made it harder for our power users to follow their participation and we've made it a lot hard to navigate big threads -- and those things ARE bad (I continually harp on this a lot in our meetings about this stuff). We're just imperfect human beings trying to make things better. We'll keep at it.

Jaqui
Jaqui

say it's busier, but the change this last time only continued to increase the navigation issues with the discussions. before it was changed the ONLY way we found half the discussions was the posts from my contacts. the newest version has taken that from us. and I literally cannot take part on the Q&A section with the new format. the expanding ads, even when collapsed, have a blue box covering the question. cannot see what is being asked.

Jaqui
Jaqui like.author.displayName 1 Like

and we all see how much more the new design has driven people away from participating. CBS Interactive liked how vibrant the community was, or they wouldn't have kept it around with the acquisition. yet the changes are killing that which gets them the AD REVENUE they want, page hits from the ACTIVE community. seems they want to turn TR into another dead, useless, site.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen like.author.displayName 1 Like

The ability to set global preferences for the email updates has gone away. The new method is, at best, clunky, and the default settings of HTML and "Weekly" make no sense at all to an active peer. Is it possible to change the default options for email updates from HTML and "Weekly" to Text and "Daily"? Or add that setup to our site preferences? (It's only three fields, after all... ;) ) One more thing to think about...

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