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  1. 08 Jul '04 16:13
    I recently found this site after someone I played on Yahoo told me about it. I asked everyone I played if they had advice for how to improve, and the recommendation for this site is the best advice I have received. I don't recall having ever seen an ad for RHP, and wonder how people find this site other than by word of mouth.

    Pardon if this has been covered, but I found no mention of it.

    It seems to me that there are two main problems this site faces:
    - There are only 3,500 paying subscribers (I read this somewhere), which is not much of a revenue stream for the good people who run this site.
    - This site is missing many features that many other (non-chess) sites have which would help make it easier and more interesting to use. From reading the forums, I see no shortage of good ideas for improvements.

    I believe these two problems are closely related.

    Usually, the best way to find more customers is to work with the customers you already have. I wonder how many of the current non-subscribing users might be willing to subscribe? Perhaps the non-subscribers could be required to fill out a questionaire designed to determine what it would take to get them to subscribe. With 75,000 members (home page), it seems likely that even getting even a few percent to join would have a significant impact on this site.

    Maybe they are waiting for certain features?
    Maybe they need a different payment model or different levels of membership? (e.g. $10 / year for up to 20 concurrent games.)

    I have more ideas. If you are interested, please contact me.

    By the way, I am telling all of my chess friends (all 1 of them) about RHP.

    Best wishes
  2. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    08 Jul '04 16:46 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by zucchini
    I recently found this site after someone I played on Yahoo told me about it. I asked everyone I played if they had advice for how to improve, and the recommendation for this site is the best advice I have received. I don't recall havi ...[text shortened]... all of my chess friends (all 1 of them) about RHP.

    Best wishes
    zucchini,

    Thanks for your comments - quite interesting.

    First off, the corrections. Unfortunately, there isn't 3,500 subscribing users. In fact, there isn't even half that. But, we have a long term commitment to this site, and it appears most of our users do too (which is fantastic), so in time....

    Marketing is very expensive and the margins on a subscription, even after excluding my time, are very tight. I have considered ads in a few magazines, if only to get the name known in the real world. But as it is, plenty of people arrive at RHP's doors from search engines, links on other sites, and via 'viral' methods, such as word of mouth (as you did) and players inviting their friends to a game.

    There are lots of good ideas raised in the forums, but changes are very time consuming (development and testing), so I get done what I can. Things move forward at a fairly steady pace though - this site is always evolving. But, I am very curious about your comment "This site is missing many features that many other (non-chess) sites have which would help make it easier and more interesting to use." Please explain..? I am most interested.

    Different subscription models might work, but the more choice available the more confusing things get. As it is, $19.95 for a year of 'eat all you can' is pretty much understood by all.

    Please do spread the word to your one (chess playing) friend though. He might tell 2 more, and who knows where it may end..

    Cheers,

    -Russ
  3. Standard member Exy
    Damn fine Clan!
    08 Jul '04 19:16 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Russ
    Unfortunately, there isn't 3,500 subscribing users. In fact, there isn't even half that.
    -Russ
    Is it really as few as that?

    Perhaps, it's just a little too easy for people to carry on playing indefinitely without committment.
  4. Standard member thire
    Xebite
    08 Jul '04 20:15
    Originally posted by zucchini
    ...I have more ideas. If you are interested, please contact me.
    By the way, I am telling all of my chess friends (all 1 of them) about RHP.
    I am as well interested in your ideas! (if many people discuss a improvemnt here and most of them want it and nag a bit, Russ (our Santa Claus) brings it one days
    BTW: I tell it all my chessplaying friends as well: nearly 20 non-paying members and me and three other subscribers (not bad Russ, he? ;D )
    good night,
    th

  5. 08 Jul '04 20:31
    Originally posted by Russ
    First of all, it seems to me that creating and maintaining this site must be a labor of love. Many thanks to you and your team.

    Also, I will be leaving on vacation, so I may not have an opportunity to follow up soon. I wanted to get this thread going though in the hope that the community here can use its resources to help you.

    I have my own fledgling software business, and so, naturally, I am curious about how you are able to run this one.

    Let me share my first experiences of this site, and why I joined:
    After arriving at the site, I poked around a while, trying to determine how useful it is, how large the community is, how established it is, and generally whether it is a legitimate site.

    After playing a few games, I was put off by the 6 game limit, but appreciative that you allow people to "try before buying." This is also a very nice way to support those who can't afford to pay for a subscription. I doubt I would have joined had I not been able to try it first.

    A major reason that I chose to join is that people are much more civil in a paid forum (from which they may be removed if they are abusive). People here behave much better than in the totally anonymous Yahoo chess sites. When I subscribed, I did not appreciate the forums. But now understand that they help create and maintain a community here, which I think makes this site much more valuable. I also like that this is an international community.

    One issue that gave me concern is slow response time (most often 5-10 seconds per screen change). I decided to accept this though, given the quality of your site.

    Marketing is very expensive ...

    Yes. I have no experience with marketting on the internet, but I do have several friends in marketing. I will ask them for their ideas (after I return from vacation). My guess is that the "viral" methods are among the most effective.

    One idea that might work is targeting marketing to chess clubs and schools, if you can find out how to reach them.

    ... good ideas raised in the forums ... changes are very time consuming

    I appreciate how much time this must take. I am very impressed with how much there is on this site, especially given a small team size.

    But, I am very curious about your comment "This site is missing many features that many other (non-chess) sites have which would help make it easier and more interesting to use."

    I think there are a few main places for improvement:

    - Community organization.

    I am used to threads being moderated and organized by topic. I find this most helpful. As an example, I am going on vacation, and I have been worried about people timing out games I have every intention of finishing. The forums have had relevant information, but it is work to find, and there are many threads on this topic. Many people seem to be annoyed with yet another vacation question. Perhaps you could find volunteers to moderate and organize threads and forums for you. This way, the forums will serve multiple purposes: archives, help assistance with recurring topics, etc.

    I have found it frustrating to find information in the forums. Topics are often vague, threads go off topic, etc. I think that moderated forums would help with this too.

    Content search functions are very nice.

    Also, I mentioned in another thread, the issue of notification of activity in threads you subscribe to. See http://www.redhotpawn.com/board/showthread.php?id=12144

    - responsiveness

    I have cable access, and still have speed issues.

    - consistency and orthogonality of the user interface

    I think you have done a very good job with this. But I find myself confused at times. Some of this is me, I must learn the screens. But some of it may be that I expect functionality in certain screens that is not available. I realize that this is very subjective and difficult.

    - Help and Tutorial

    I would appreciate more help pages. I generally try to do things on my own using existing documentation before I bother others. Especially more user's guide and reference material.
    I think some profiles of typical users would help people decide how they might best use the site. For example, occasional player who likes to concentrate on a few games, someone who prefers more games and uses the forums. etc. This might not be useful for people already on the site, but would make the value of the site clearer to potential subscribers.


    I think that with all the work you have done, this site should be able to do very well.

    Thanks

  6. Standard member Ravello
    The RudeĀ©
    08 Jul '04 22:47
    Originally posted by Russ
    zucchini,

    Thanks for your comments - quite interesting.

    First off, the corrections. Unfortunately, there isn't 3,500 subscribing users. In fact, there isn't even half that. But, we have a long term commitment to this site, and it appears most of our users do too (which is fantastic), so in time....

    Marketing is very expensive and the margins on a ...[text shortened]... g) friend though. He might tell 2 more, and who knows where it may end..

    Cheers,

    -Russ
    I found RHP searching a chess site with goggle.
    I joined at the end of December,and I remember that people in player tables were approx. 2200,now they are 3600,but I didn't suspected that only the half of them are pawn stars.
    However it seems that 1400 new rated players in six months is a good increase,considering that in the previous two (?) years the site attracted 2200 of them.
    To Russ:is the number of people joining increasing at a good rate?what's the percentage of people who join the site and then subscribe?
    just curious........
  7. Standard member Exy
    Damn fine Clan!
    08 Jul '04 23:07 / 1 edit
    I thought the 3600 referred to the page number and there are 20 people per page which accounts for the 60,000 users mentioned on the home page of the site. What's worring is that of that 60,000 - many thousands are no doubt inactive - Russ has admitted that less that 2000 are actually paying members.
  8. 08 Jul '04 23:20
    Originally posted by Exy
    I thought the 3600 referred to the page number and there are 20 people per page which accounts for the 60,000 users mentioned on the home page of the site. What's worring is that of that 60,000 - many thousands are no doubt inactive - Russ has admitted that less that 2000 are actually paying members.
    No, the highest page number for the player rankings is 184 and there are 3673 active rated players on the site. I presume the vast majority of the 60,000 or so who registered are no longer/never were active.

    Dave
  9. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    09 Jul '04 08:53 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by zucchini
    - responsiveness
    I have cable access, and still have speed issues.
    This is always our biggest enemy - and the thing I wish I could improve over all others.

    Since day 1, when we started on a single $199 a month server, we have had countless upgrades to combat this. We have been running in a multi-server environment for well over a year – and with some very hi-spec machines with a very respected host since January of this year. Also, I have spent plenty of time on optimisations in an effort to avoid yet another (and costly) upgrade. But still, at peak times, the site can be slow – and it can be frustrating. This site, unlike your more typical reference/news site, is VERY dynamic. Information is presented to you on every page, and that has to be fetched from a database, or whatever. This takes time (when the machine is loaded).

    I wish there was a magic bullet to this, but the fact is, this is a very busy website. I suspect another upgrade will be on the way within a few months. To minimise the risk, maybe I’ll issue RHP bonds or something…

    -Russ
  10. Standard member Exy
    Damn fine Clan!
    09 Jul '04 08:56
    It's faster on my 56k dial-up at home then it is on the gigabit line at work! Bizarre!
  11. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    09 Jul '04 08:56
    Originally posted by Exy
    Is it really as few as that?

    Perhaps, it's just a little too easy for people to carry on playing indefinitely without committment.
    Actually, even though less than zucchini guessed, I think it is good - and a very impressive show of support for the site.

    -Russ
  12. Standard member NicolaiS
    Cannabist
    09 Jul '04 08:58
    Originally posted by Russ
    This is always our biggest enemy - and the thing I wish I could improve over all others.

    Since day 1, when we started on a single $199 a month server, we have had countless upgrades to combat this. We have been running in a multi-server environment for well over a year – and with some very hi-spec machines with a very respected host since January of this yea ...[text shortened]... ithin a few months. To minimise the risk, maybe I’ll issue RHP bonds or something…

    -Russ
    RUSS!!! ... Great idea .. RHP Stock .. we have been practicing a bit with the RHP 21 ... but REAL RHP stock??? Count me in for a few...
  13. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    09 Jul '04 08:59
    Originally posted by Exy
    It's faster on my 56k dial-up at home then it is on the gigabit line at work! Bizarre!
    We have been compressing all our pages for a little while now, so if you have a decent browser, it is possible that it would run quicker over dial up. Some big pages went from 200k to 8k over the wire.

    Also, you probably use the site at home out of peak periods? This makes a huge difference.

    -Russ
  14. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    09 Jul '04 09:02
    Originally posted by thire
    I am as well interested in your ideas! (if many people discuss a improvemnt here and most of them want it and nag a bit, Russ (our Santa Claus) brings it one days
    BTW: I tell it all my chessplaying friends as well: nearly 20 non-paying members and me and three other subscribers (not bad Russ, he? ;D )
    good night,
    th

    One gold star award to Mr Thire for his efforts. I should put an affiliate scheme in place so you could benefit from your actions.

    -Russ
  15. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    09 Jul '04 09:11
    Originally posted by Ravello
    To Russ:is the number of people joining increasing at a good rate?what's the percentage of people who join the site and then subscribe?
    just curious........
    The number of people coming to the site is fairly consistent day after day now. We are well placed in Google - and this is an absolute priority for any site - most surfers start there. But interestingly, a larger percentage of people subscribed when less people signed up each day. This is probably because one problem with a higher Google position is that more casual users arrive, who then start a game, and then leave – which helps no one. Interestingly, when people had to work a bit harder to find the site, they generally played their games out.

    -Russ