Biting more than you can chew, without realizing it!

As many of you who’ve read the previous entries in this blog know, I’m working on a new reviewing system for the site. I have the feature set ready and have already started with the implementation. However, I’ve hit few snags.

Let me tell you a bit about my way of developing features. I don’t work in a conventional manner. I learned programing on my own, as in no formal training, and over time have developed my own way of working. One of the most important issues for me is the user interface.

When designing something, I start with a feature set, then with the interface, then the actual implementation. The reviewing system has a feature set, but no user interface. While it was easy to decide on how to make the review submission system work and where to place the link to it (the end of the story of course), I still can’t figure out how to give the users access to already submitted reviews for editing (where do you put something like that?). How to display the reviews and where? How to manage the moderating system? where to access it from?

Another stumbling block is the fact that I’ve always wanted to implement multi-language support into the site. So I thought that I should start that by implementing the reviewing system in a way to allow support for multiple languages, and that lead to the start of the redesign of the site’s infrastructure. So this is taking way too much time; definitely more than I first anticipated.

One thing led to another and now I’m contemplating the redesign of the whole site, layout-wise.

While doing these separate things, there is always the day-to-day things involved, from helping readers to helping authors. It seems that no one can actually find the help page that cover everything most people would need help with. I typically answer about 25 – 50 help emails per day that contain nothing more than a link to the appropriate help page. Does anybody check the help link at the top of all pages before they email me?

I realized that the homepage, while it’s been working for the longest time, isn’t the best way that it can be. Most people with smaller screens don’t seem to bother scrolling down and it seems that author services extend way too low on the screen for most authors to find the services relating to them.

So what started as a project for a review system has suddenly turned into an extensive redesign of the site, from the basic layout to the main infrastructure of the site.

At this time, I have no time frame for anything. One thing for sure, the site’s interface will be changing and the thing that I’m dreading the most is the angry emails that I will receive for daring to change what people are already used to.

So the first thing you’ll see will be the interface changes, I’ve decided that there should be two distinct areas of the site, one for reading stories and one for writers. They’ll both be easily accessible by everybody, and two distinct areas will allow me to reorganize features and pages in a more streamlined and logical manner.