Wednesday, August 6, 2008

WUGC CellMap: The Power of Top Level Links

More on the history of the WUGC CellMap.

When we first built the WUGC CellMap, the WUGC organizers were too swamped to link it (I'm a volunteer for Worlds, and I've seen how much work was put into this). So, I wondered: how can we promote this map so people can download it? I know it's something that will be extremely useful, especially for the international visitors that will be attending Worlds.

Then, I saw that the latest forum postings are shown as top level links, right on the navigation pane on the left. This is a great way to get people to participate in the forums, as all the latest messages are shown on every page (since it's part of the nav pane).

So, I made a post in the forum, and waited and see.

Now, I put the CellMap up in the afternoon of July 30. I didn't know what kind of traffic we would have. It was a bit of a "wait and see" approach, but trying to harness the top-level link.

And was it ever powerful.

Without any other type of advertising (other than its prime location), we had over 100 hits in a day!

I wondered how much traction it would've gotten if it was under the venue/competition sub pages, and I have a feeling that it would not get nearly as many. I didn't know whether the webmaster would have enough time to put it under there, so I made an effort to keep the link on the front page. I didn't want to make unnecessary bumps, since that's just bad etiquette. Thus, I made a concerted effort to have useful info and tangible updates to keep it near the top. I updated the schedule, revamped the download page (MUCH more user friendly now).

When it finally made its way officially onto the Venues and Competition pages, I stopped posting so we can see how much that would affect traffic. Interestingly, it didn't dent traffic too much (but it DID go down). That could mean a variety of things, and I have two hypotheses.
  • One, is that word of mouth has taken place. Some people are running around with a CellMap, and are showing it off. (We've had good feed back right on the forum).
  • Two, is that people are purpose driven. If someone is looking at the venues, and comes across a link for CellMap, they'll be intrigued, and check it out. If the visitor isn't looking for a CellMap, having a top level link won't attract them.
Ultimately, having it at the top level did make a difference, but only initially. Even after the link is officially on the subpages, I made a final post on the forum, so it stuck around on the main page for a bit more. Traffic didn't go back up. That could mean that people who are inclined to check it out has already done so, and the "top level-ness" was no longer as important as issue.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to drop us a line!

- Wayne

WUGC CellMap: Dissected

As an avid Ultimate player, it was with great pleasure that we are providing the WFDF 2008 World Ultimate and Guts Championships (that's a mouthful) CellMap. This map really taxed our abilities, both artistic and taxonomical.

First off, the map images out there of UBC (the venue) are so-so at best. Some of their resolution were not high enough, and others, while of sufficient clarity, had huge amounts of clutter (which is another knock against static maps like paper, pdf, images, etc.). We had to do a lot of cleaning up in order to reduce the extra information down to a minimum. It is important to only show the information that is useful for navigation, and hide/delete the rest. Like most things in life, the 80/20 rule applies. 80% of the time, you only need 20% of the stuff. It's even MORE important for this map, since the target audience likely won't care about every single building at UBC, and really only need the major ones.

Take a look at the original compared with the cleaned-up versions:


Cleaned Up

Most of the extra text is taken out, not only because the CellMap software can store the building names separately, but much more to keep the image clean. WUGC specific coloring and buildings have been added, to give the final map much more punch to guide the eyes to the areas of importance.

Next is the taxonomy. The directory needs to show both WUGC items, and UBC items. We had to come up with a categorical structure that best represents this. I'm a guy who likes things sorted, so that was an important task that we had to do.

Now, if you've played with CellMap before, you'll know that we have an Events Listing feature built in. It shows a list of events, and can show you on the map where it is. But what if there are HUNDREDS of events? Since Worlds has 6 divisions (plus Guts), and each division has an average of 16 countries, that's a LOT of events. Our current system has a flat list (don't worry, we're revamping it ;) ), which makes showing all of this unfeasible. You really don't want to scroll 329 times just to see when Canada is playing Japan on Friday.

So, what to do that's within the realms of our current state of technology?

We decided to Use the Map.

As in, build a schedule in the map image. We put a nice table of the days and divisions on the map image, and in each one's details (ie. 8/6, Open) is the full list of games for that day. This also allows up to put that in the Directory, so people can quickly find the games.

With that, we've built the most comprehensive events CellMap to date!

- Wayne