Don't miss
  • 12
  • 6468
  • 6097
  • 20

GAMESbrief: from blog to must-have resource

By on January 29, 2013
Print Friendly

GAMESbrief is changing.

If you are reading this on the website, you already know that. If you are reading (as about half of you do) on RSS or email, you might want to check out www.gamesbrief.com to see what I am talking about.

image

The GAMESbrief team sat down last year to work out what we thought the heart of GAMESbrief is. Of course it includes my analysis of what is happening to the business of games, but it is becoming much more than that. It is a resource. It has stats and data. It provides free tools like the free-to-play spreadsheet. I sells books and masterclasses. It was time for a change.

We ran through an exercise to decide what was important to us about GAMESbrief. This is what we are came up with:

  • Must-have
  • Free-to-play (although we also believe in paymium)
  • Authoritative and expert
  • Will help our readers and customers
  • Is approachable
  • Is a place where you can learn

The website redesign is all about our transition from being a blog to being a place packed full with stuff you need to know about the F2P game design. In fact, we tried to come up with a better word than Stuff You Need to Know and gave up, so that’s what you can see on the menu. We’ve made the free stuff more visible (and we will also improve the store over time as we create more products). We intend to add video to our content as well as the written words that so many of you enjoy. We’ve created a footer so that those of you who arrive from deeplinks will be able to find more of the material that you need.

Our measure of success is whether you spend more time reading the site (measured by page views). Not because we split articles to artificially increase the count. We want GAMESbrief to become a must-have a resource. The sort of website that reminds you of a well-thumbed reference book, a place that you return to again and again for data, for advice or for analysis.

We would love to hear what you think of the site, and also what you want to find on GAMESbrief in the future.

And I’d like to finish with congratulations to Elizabeth, Jay, Zoya and Rob for all the work on the redesign. Thank you very much.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • And neither did I realize that there is a lot of background activity.

  • Sik

    I could help if needed. Also take into account that most users don’t even bother to complain 😛

    …honestly I was going to point out how the home page felt extremely cluttered and then go onto each detail, but looking at it right now again to make sure of what I was going to say I ended up getting completely *lost*. That’s how cluttered it feels.

    For starters, unless you scroll down a lot, chances are the average user will only notice the articles in the “Analysis & Opinion” and “Latest Articles” and potentially ignore that below there are even more articles.

    The way each group of articles is designed is completely different from each other – the only match seems to be “Analysis & Opinion” and “Free to Play Forecasting”. “Self-publishing a game” looks completely out of place when compared to those two, yet it’s right in-between. And on top of that one there’s a scrollable list of thumbnails (obviously more articles), which of course looks nothing like the rest, and worse, I can’t tell if it’s part of “Analysis & Opinion” or its own group. And I think the “Latest Article” issue was already mentioned – it’s just too thin compared to the rest of the columns, completely losing any focus.

    There’s a search feature, but I had to look twice while looking for it because it doesn’t look like a textbox at all. Worse, right above it there’s something that looks like a textbox, but it’s for subscribing to the newsletter. Sure, if you actually bother reading the text it’s obvious, but given that putting the search box at the top right of the page is standard UI for sites these days, users may end up trying to use the wrong thing out of muscle memory.

    Also a nitpick: to see more articles of each group, I need to click on the name of the group. That text however looks nothing like a link, and even then it may feel unintuitive. A “more articles” link at the end of each group or something like that would be probably a better idea.

    This is all pretty much the home page. The rest of the site is mostly fine, really. Looking again, though, I just noticed a “Latest” link, which I somehow overlooked at first, since I was expecting the stuff there to be in the home page instead :/ And even then the home page ends up showing more information (including the beginning of the article and even a thumbnail in some cases), while the Latest page is just a plain list of links.

  • There’s a balance which we need to strike here between the blog and “resource” content, and I agree that we haven’t got it quite right yet. All the same, one of the problems we wanted to solve was that we’re really bad at showing our readers how much of our “old” content is actually updated on a very regular basis – there’s a lot of new data and information flowing into the background of the site every week, and up to now I think most people haven’t realised that (I know I didn’t, before I started working on the site).

    Hopefully we’ll get things working more clearly in the coming weeks as we tweak the design. We know this is just version 1.0 – feedback like yours helps us to make sure versions 1.1, 1.2 and so on are much improved. Thanks 🙂

  • robfahey

    Thanks for taking the time to respond! We’re still working on getting the balance between the blog and the other content right – based on feedback like this, there’ll be some tweaks to the front page in the coming days which are designed to make it easier and clearer to access both the most recent articles and the background content.

    As for the comments, that’s actually one of the things that we’re watching closely. Personally, I tend to navigate the site using the comments feed quite a lot – it shows me where there are interesting discussions happening – but we don’t know how many others do the same thing. The data we get from our metrics software over the next couple of weeks will show us for sure, and we’ll change the design accordingly. We’ve often expounded about the value of data-driven design for game developers, it would be hypocritical not to put the same ideas in practice on the site!

  • robfahey

    Hi Andrea – sorry for the slow replies! We’re taking on board lots of feedback to the redesign, and still in the process of trying to figure out what our next steps are (once the inevitable bugs and oddities are ironed out, at least).

    We’re definitely keeping an eye on all comments we get, but might be a little slow to respond while we figure out what action we’re going to take based on the feedback. Thanks for taking the time to let us know your thoughts 🙂

  • No reaction here to our 3 comments from the blog owners…??

  • I think the “Latest articles” column is too small as well. While the right column with “latest comments” is much too wide.

    Although I find the “Windows 8 style” arrangement pretty cool (=snippet here, other snippet there, here is that region, above that one), I think that the emphasis should lie on the newest articles nonetheless. And they have the smallest column.

    What should be left as it is now, though, is the numerous areas that present “older” articles. That’s really good and works as a “Hey, I remember that article from back then, but what was it about again? I’ll read it once more…” sort of reminder. That’s really great, I think.

  • Yeah, the site redesign reminds of the previous attempt when it suddenly became difficult to actually find the new stuff.
    I also wonder how many people aren’t regular readers and actually need to have the Must-Know told to them. I think we’re getting past that. Maybe just add a big button “New Reader?” which takes you to a sub-site designed to teach the basics?

  • Sik

    The part that usually updates more often though is the blog, and I think that’s the main reason to come back to the site often. Yet I look at the home page and the blog barely has any presence. I understand wanting to put emphasis on other things but make the articles more visible, please =/ If I didn’t have this site on my RSS reader I’d probably just stop bothering with it right now because of this design. It looks like a cluttered mess to me.

    Also, since the site is in redesigning stage: is it really important to put the recent comments in the home page? I mean, how many people look at them? I personally think it eats precious space that could be better assigned to articles.