Site software priorities -- aesthetic alterations vs. repairing functionality?

(Yes, this is a rant.  "Suggestions" are implicit in my complaints...)

I am curious as to where the rather long list of known and reported bugs falls with respect to priorities regarding the I'bles server software.

For the past few weeks, it has been clear that I'ble staff are "experimenting" with altering the appearance and available features of the sites pages.  Switching information around, removing primary category links, eliminating classified lists within categories.

Certainly developing and deploying new features, which add value to the site and thereby (hopefully!) increase revenue, should be a high priority for limited staff resources. 

However, it doesn't seem quite so obvious that removing features, or tweaking things like font size and color (which for accessibility should be under control of the browser, anyway), really deserve precedence over repairing problems that have been known for months or years.

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rachel7 years ago
These are very good points.  I am really glad you posted this (and sorry you had to).  This post has sparked off quite a bit of discussion here at HQ as to the details of how to improve our communication.  That discussion isn't over yet so I can't comment on that now, but it has shaken things up for sure and you will see improvements.

Regarding the bugs vs. cosmetic improvements.  We are still seriously working on ways to encourage Pro subscriptions and longer site visits.  The theory is, if things are easier for new visitors to find, they'll stay longer and maybe sign up for Pro.  The recent UI changes have been based on a bunch of research we have done regarding what users actually click on, where on the page, how long they stay, and so on.  So it's not just, er, wankery :)  Additionally, there are some slightly larger changes that are coming soon... I've poked Eric to start letting you all know about that as part of the Better Communication discussion mentioned above.

Secondarily, there are still some issues with the Pro payment system... the service provider we use does not, unfortunately, have a very complete testing system so we have to try certain things out in production and see what happens.  This is a very long test cycle so it moves very slowly.

Finally, we've been short one developer for several months now.  I'm happy to say that it looks like we may have a new front-end developer very soon; once that's finalized we'll introduce him.  So with some luck we should be able to move a bit faster going forward.

Still. We do need to get on the bugs more, you are right.  We've been remiss on that, and I'm personally going to promise at least one old bugfix per release for the next few months.  What is your most annoying bug?  I will do that one first.
These are very good points.  I am really glad you posted this (and sorry you had to).  This post has sparked off quite a bit of discussion here at HQ as to the details of how to improve our communication. 

...well come on then , get Eric to communicate. I've asked him directly why you have screwed up the main page and hidden the answers section, and he hasn't responded.

This lack of respect for existing users is a major reason I feel like quitting the site. 
Regarding the  Answers button being removed, I can tell you from other sources that the "missing" button generated almost zero traffic to the Answers section.

Removing it is a visual tidying-up that does no actual harm to the site or its users.  The only "harm" was a lack of communication.

As for the main page - different isn't necessarily wrong. 
I counted three questions on the topic, one from me, one from Re-design and one from another member, plus all the comments here in "Bugs"  from other regulars - including you. .

I fail to see how this  "visual tidying up" was necessary - it was hardly cluttered there to begin with !

Like I said, its drip, drip, drip. If we hadn't made a noise about this change, I don't see that they would even be considering improving communication, and now they are, so that's a result then.

I agree with you, different isn't always wrong, but when once clearly labelled functionality is completely buried, then it is to me.

Removing the summaries has removed the annoying (and sometimes off-putting) "this is my first" comments.  Personally, the brief taster of the intro was never an influence to look at the project, but the title and image were.

I believe the removal of the text has made the front page much more accessible to the first-time visitor, and made them much more likely to explore the site.

Answers is not buried.  It is just accessed differently.  In fact, it is not different at all - the routes that people used are all still there.  The route that almost generated almost zero clicks was removed.  The number of questions does not seem to have fallen, so there was clearly no reason to leave it.

If you need a direct link to the Answers section, then do as I and others have done - customise your personal tool bar.

Pause and consider - are you annoyed at the changes, none of which affect functionality, and should increase revenue-generating traffic, or are you just annoyed because nobody asked you first?

Generated almost zero clicks was removed.

I didn't know there were any other ways to find it.  It is the only way I knew to find it.  Perhaps a bug in the link trackback polling?

If I had to venture a guess I'd say that a LOT of new user accounts are generated with the answers section - a good 20% of quesions are new signups with no past history.  A foot in the door in my opinion.
Eric doesn't have to guess about the traffic to/from various parts of the site, since he has all the data to hand.

keyword BUG - the data may not be correct;

Maybe I'm wrong, I often am - but to hear "there are near zero clicks" compared to the numerous complaints coupled with my personal experience that I literally did not know where else to find answers, and used the link 20 times a day...

I count less than a dozen actual people who have complained.  Compared to an unknown (to us) amount of traffic to the Answers page?

Certainly, even just amongst the active posters on the forums, those who have complained about the loss of the button are very much in the minority.

I cite the bystander effect....  ;)
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