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website feedback?

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Heraclitus
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Joined: 09/10/2013

Hi all.

I'm looking for feedback on the website for my game, Syrtis. The site is about ready to go public, I think, but I'd be grateful for any suggestions you pros have. What is important to add? The site is www.playsyrtis.com.

I'm also curious whether folks think that a website is generally an effective publicizing tool. Is there a better way to promote a new design?

Thanks in advance!
David (aka Heraclitus)

Steve
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Joined: 07/29/2008
Looks Good

The website looks fine. There's a bit of javascript dependency (a personal pet peeve of mine, most people don't care) but it looks as though you can navigate through the webpages without it just fine.

With a website, there's really no limit on the amount of pictures that you can display (there's no agonizing over the number of colors or size of the picture, for instance). I have always found that people, when learning a game, love pictures. Showing people how to do something is a great complement to explaining it as well. You've done a lot of that. I would almost say to add more pictures of the actual game pieces itself, as it looks fairly attractive and streamlined (the picture in "Create Your Own" looks very nice).

As for it being a publicizing tool... It definitely doesn't hurt. It appears that you have covered all of the basics - A downloadable set of rules as well as on-screen rules (so people can "try before they buy"), downloadable tile sets and a bunch of examples for people to see.

I haven't read the rules in depth but it seems like a fairly straight forward game. Perhaps one slight concern is the subtitle "A game of hidden depths" might be just a tad deceptive - It makes it sound like the game has some hidden information aspects to it (are you alluding to the "quicksand" aspect of taking away tiles instead?) that aren't there. Again, that's a subjective concern and most people probably won't mind.

All in all, a very nice website. Congrats on the game and the website.

Heraclitus
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Joined: 09/10/2013
java what?

Thanks for the feedback, Steve, I appreciate it.

Pardon my ignorance: What is "javascript dependency"? Web work is still very new to me.

You're right to point out that I don't have a ton of pictures of the game itself yet. I'll make a point of adding more in the weeks ahead.

And yes, I was alluding to quicksand with the subtitle. It helps to know that it sounds a bit misleading to you. I'm not at all tied to that subtitle, and I'll keep that in mind.

Thanks again!
David

CGB
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Joined: 01/06/2014
It's decent for a clean and

It's decent for a clean and basic website for your game. I think it will work better as it gets more content added to it over time.

You might want to give some extra attention to the homepage though. Try looking at it from the perspective of someone who has never heard of your game before and ask these two questions:

What is the first thing you would want them to know about your game?

What is the first thing they are going to notice when they come to your site for the first time?

Then try to come up with a way to align those two answers so that the first thing your home page communicates is also the first thing you'd want someone to know about your game to hook them and make them want more information. Then make sure it is clear where they should go from there to get more info.

I like to design websites to be targeted at first time visitors, guiding them through that first visit. It works well for making sure they get a good first impression - especially if you can find the balance of doing that while still making sure the site works well for returning visitors too.

As far as Javascript dependencies go, it just means that some of the features on your site require Javascript to function. Most modern browsers support it without problem, but some people either use older browsers or simply have Javascript turned off for various reasons. Depending on what the functionality is that relies on Javascript, you can often build in a "fall-back" mechanism so that if Javascript is off the page still works it just may not be quite as elegant.

Heraclitus
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Joined: 09/10/2013
Thanks for that thoughtful

Thanks for that thoughtful reply, CGB.

Those seem like sage diagnostic questions. And it's true that making things interesting to first-time visitors will be important for me to do. As it stands visitors to the site have be motivated enough to keep clicking. I'll put some thought into how to change the look.

CGB
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Joined: 01/06/2014
Glad to help!

No problem! I've got a bit of a background in web development and marketing and have more experience/advice to offer in that area than in actual game design. So I'm glad to toss in a bit of input on questions like these when I can.

I was also going to point out that a website can be an excellent marketing and publicity tool - but having a perfectly crafted website doesn't automatically mean you'll get publicity (kind of like having a hammer in your toolbox doesn't automatically mean your boards are nailed together) though many people assume the mere existance of a website will get them traffic.

When it comes to getting publicity to your product, you need more than a website. You need an overall PR plan. As you're developing that, you can see where your website fits into the equation. But with how inexpensive it is to get at least a basic website up and running, I can't imagine any serious plan not including a website as one of its facets.

I'm honestly still figuring out exactly what this looks like within the games niche, but I suspect word of mouth is the most powerful tool at your disposal if you can find a way to harness it.

donut2099
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Joined: 01/09/2014
I appreciate that your site

I appreciate that your site is simple and renders quickly and cleanly on my cheap android phone. Its the only internet connection I have out here in the woods and some sites even bog their 'mobile' versions down with too much clutter and ill-concieved features that don't work correctly. I don't know that it was intentional, but bravo :-)

Heraclitus
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Joined: 09/10/2013
credit to Squarespace

I'm glad to hear the site displays well on your Android. The credit has to go to Squarespace, which provides the site template and site-building tools I'm using. They do advertise that their templates work well across various platforms, so it was intentional on their part, at least.

I am thinking about changing templates in response to some of the other comments, but I think the clean look and usability on phones and tablets is something Squarespace aims for in all the templates it provides. (They're not paying me to say that!)

Enjoy the site, and if you've got feedback on the game, I'd be glad for that, too!

Heraclitus
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Joined: 09/10/2013
Word of mouth

I agree entirely. Word of mouth is a powerful thing.

As I see it, first you (i.e., I) need a solid, fun-to-play, genuinely engaging idea--without that, all is lost. Then you need to help other people discover how fun it is. The website can help with that, and also with helping those who have already discovered the game share it with others.

Not that I've figured out how to do all of that! But that does look like the best strategy to me. :)

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Don't forget...

Heraclitus wrote:
I agree entirely. Word of mouth is a powerful thing.

Just remember that a publisher can do upward runs of 10,000 game units. With distribution both nationally and internationally (like Canada) that is a lot of product. They are setup to deliver games to Brick & Mortar stores.

So while *word of mouth* may be good, it can't compare to an "infrastructure" geared towards SELLING a product. Obviously that means that all levels in the infrastructure make their percentage and are also interested in promoting games that will SELL.

So don't forget that the "Publisher" is your friend. And they KNOW PEOPLE... Plus they are experienced with all kinds of games. Self-Publishing may be the route you choose but don't forget to carefully consider the option to publish via a reputable Publisher!

Heraclitus
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Joined: 09/10/2013
getting a publisher interested

Thanks for that, questccg. My plan, such as it is, has been to generate initial interest via conventions and the website, and then to try to interest a publisher. My guess has been that it would help to already have a small fan base--either to help get a publisher's interest, or, if the publisher wants to test the waters via Kickstarter, to have a pool of people who already know and like the game and are willing to pledge early and attract other funders.

So my question for you is whether you think it is generally better to take an unknown game idea to a publisher first. And do you think it can hurt a game's chances of getting published if the designer self-publishes it first? If so, I may have goofed!

ilSilvano
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Joined: 07/31/2008
About your website

Random thoughts about your website (well, you asked for it!):

- as mentioned above, the homepage is nice and clean, but it does not look like the homepage for a game. I clicked on your link before reading any further, and the first thing that comes to mind in my case is "architecture". I think the homepage definitely needs a picture of the game, or of the components; the ones you have in your Facebook page look great. I would also switch the position of the 3 main buttons: IMHO you should have "How to play", "Free PNP version" and "Sign up for updates" in this order, otherwise the first thing you read is "Sign up for updates" ("updates" for WHAT?, you may ask yourself).

- maybe you should try to give more emphasis to the subtitle "a game of quicksand"; what about changing the color or size of the word "game", and see how it looks? This way, I see the game picture, I see the word "game", I am sure this is a website about a game at first glance. ;)

- in the ABOUT page you can click on the first picture (with black background) to... uhm... open it? Maybe it was not your intention.

- the CONTACT page is a bit "Meh!". Try adding a little more text to explain why someone would want to contact you (maybe ask for clarifications, or where-to-buy, or suggest game variants...?)

- I really think that "HOW TO PLAY" should also be one of the links in the upper right, otherwise it is difficult to remember how to reach that page while you are browsing other areas.

- in the "HOW TO PLAY" page, the "(Why? You might well ask.)" link does not work.

- finally, in the "HOW TO PLAY" page you can start with a nice picture of the game itself before starting the explanation. I do not really like the fact that the example text is part of the pictures, because it is difficult to read on a small screen, and with Firefox if you click on the image it opens on a black background, making for an unreadable text.

Anyway, nice game and clean website design, well done! Feel free to use/ignore any of this.

Heraclitus
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Joined: 09/10/2013
concrete suggestions

ilSilvano, thanks very much for these specific, concrete suggestions! This kind of feedback is very helpful. It's especially helpful to know how what problems with the display and links you've found.

I hope to make some improvements this weekend, and I will be using your thoughts as a checklist!

ilSilvano
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Joined: 07/31/2008
Much better!

I checked the website again today, and it already looks much better now!
Now this is - with no doubt - a site about a boardgame. ;)
I am glad you found some use in my suggestions; good luck with your game, it looks like a nice and fun abstract!

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