09 Apr 2012 07:36
09 Apr 2012 07:36
If I owned Wikidot
Sunday morning dreaming had me thinking of ways to improve Wikidot.
The other morning I was thinking about what I would do if I could buy Wikidot. I would like to whittle down that big list of user-requested features waiting to be added, but the only way to achieve that is to hire more developers. Developers, for some reason, are expensive. The obvious solution is to increase the user-base, with a proportional increase in income. More users in general, and consequently more sites, would increase revenue from advertising, and would also increase the number of paying (pro) users. Therefore, we need more mainstream appeal. How? Here's what I came up with.
It's time Wikidot got a new look. The current design has been around for years (from at least since I started using Wikidot1) and is starting to look dated. I'd implement a new theme to be used across the Wikidot brand of sites (www, blog, feedback, community), and give the interface elements (page editor, site manager, etc) a refresh.
Better theming system
For a large proportion of people, looks are everything. Themes need to be easy to use and great to look at. Currently that's not the case. Not only are the default themes available in the site manager hideous, the whole theming system is clunky and too complicated to use. It's time for a change.
The default themes need to be scrapped and new, better-looking ones put in their place. Themes on the themes site should be available directly from the site manager. Furthermore, the themes themselves need more flexibility - rather than a single CSS file, you should be able to define the HTML as well, with placeholders for where the content goes. Security wise, any script tags would be removed before the theme was available for use. Additionally, you should be able to define separate page templates that can be selected on a page-by-page basis in the page editor.
Having to iframe every bit of external content is annoying. Iframes suck. Not all external javajcript has a find-and-destroy evil intention. I would implement a new plugins system that allows the use of external content. For example, take my tweet button snippet. Rather than having to iframe the button, I could define its content on the plugins site, and then use the following code to include it on a page.
[[plugin TweetButton url="%%link%%" via="brycecammo" align="right"]]
That would inject the appropriate HTML/JS directly into the page with no slow-loading iframes in sight. Plugins could be reviewed before being publicly available to allay any security threats, and they could be enabled/disabled on a per-site basis as an additional security measure.
New forum, better comments
Currently, the only way to get a decent, flexible commenting system on your Wikidot site is to use some copyrighted-Kung Fu-ninja coding that uses iframes (see above). Not cool. It's time the forum got an overhaul and took the best bits of leiger's NoComment forum and integrated them 'natively'. Build your own website with a fully integrated forum is a fantastic selling point that should be trumpeted further.
Scrap the old sites, streamline the rest
There's a whole bunch of old Wikidot-made sites out there that used to be something, but are now defunct. There's a whole lot more that do much the same thing. Not only is this unprofessional, it's confusing for new users. It's time for a cleanup.
IronGiant. Iron what?
The IronGiant site of user-contributed templates is a great place for new users to start, but the name is way too cryptic. I'd change it for a more descriptive title, and make the templates available at the site-creation stage.
Prioritise the wishes, build a new roadmap
Now that half the world is using Wikidot for their collaborative websites, and we've got a steady stream of income, it's time to prioritise the current wishes and build a roadmap for where we go from here.
Wikidot is a truly fantastic platform. These changes might help make the rest of the world realise that.
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