Topic: General Tripod News
Greetings Tripod users!
Welcome to a bold new era in web publishing -- and it's all thanks to you and your feedback!
Over the last several months, the Tripod team has been talking with you, trying to get a better understanding of what you want and what you need. The end result? A new beginning... kicked off behind-the-scenes by the inclusion of our new customer support team last December and which will be showing it's visible face very soon with the roll-out of a new Tripod Logo, a new Tripod design, and a new approach to working with our users to make our products and services their very best. The colors of this blog and the logo you see in the upper left corner represent the new visual direction of Tripod... but there is much more going on under the hood.
Last summer we put up a survey in the Tripod Control Panel asking you a series of questions. We wanted to know how you were feeling about our existing products and services and what you would most like to see us improve or offer. We had almost 1,500 responses. Let me share some of those results with you here.
As you can see by that chart customers are happy with our pricing, generally ok with our Billing Options, not as happy with our Support, and found our Help System to be average or a little below.
We were also interested to discover what new features and improvements you would like to see us add to our offering and these were the top contenders:
There was a lot more and all of it was interesting... thank you to all those who responded!
However, let's keep the focus on the two main areas represented by the charts:
2. what we should begin to offer
The New Tripod Website
Later this month we will be launching an all-new version of www.tripod.com. Redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up to be faster, simpler, and fully contemporary with the world in 2010. Some of the highlights of the new site include:
We brought all the Help options together in one page for easy access
Consolidated and simplified Account and Billing management pages
Account and Billing management pages also got the same treatment... consolidated, cleaned up, and simplified.
New Products pages
We now have specific pages with information about our products and services.
We've put a system in place to let you know in your control panel and on the Help page if there happens to be an outage in service. We'll update this as we fix things so you know what's going on.
Contemporary new design
The site has a new look and feel. In fact, as I mentioned above, this blog features the new Tripod logo and color treatment of the upcoming redesign.
As some of you may know we introduced expanded support last December. We now offer phone support for all paying customers from 8AM to 8PM EST, 7 days a week. Our support reps are friendly and knowledgeable and are doing their best to resolve customer issues as quickly as possible. We have instituted a new, 3-tiered customer support system that is built to fix problems more efficiently. To ensure that we had plenty of expertise available to work on any difficult customer issues we have moved more senior programmers into Tier-3 Support rotation. These are the same folks currently working to update and improve the tools you use here so they have a strong vested interest not only in resolving your problem but also in finding a way to keep that problem from happening again... to you or anyone else. We will continue to place a large emphasis on this going forward and will work to expand our support quality and availability as much as we can.
Help and Knowledge-base
Great support is very important. But so are good help files and tutorials.
Now that the new Tripod site is up we are beginning an overhaul to our knowledge-base. We will be updating it throughout the spring as well as adding a new series of comprehensive and detailed tutorials about our products... most specifically Webon.
Which makes a good transition to the subject of Webon. Since the release of Webon on Tripod last fall users have built over twenty five thousand websites with it. We've seen sites built about every subject you can think of. And we are very pleased to see it!
But things are not perfect with Webon. Since the Trellix Migration project last year it has had an unacceptable number of small re-occurring bugs and annoyances that have remained largely unfixed. We are aware of it and we apologize. We have not been ignoring it though! Far from it. In fact we've been reworking Webon at a very fundamental level to make the whole thing work faster, make more sense, and be more stable. Instead of frustrate you... which it does for some of you. For me even, as I have myself made many sites with it in the last 2 years. Things don't save sometimes, images act funny, text won't behave... there are others. The styles look great, it's relatively easy to use, and it has a ton of promise... but it's unruly.
As the Trellix migration was coming to a close last year I brought the team together and said, "To really move forward with Webon at the center of Tripod in 2010 and beyond... we're going to have to really make it work right." And since October they have been working very hard and making great progress. We're nearing the launch of Webon 3.0 and we are so excited! Take a look at some screenshots of the beautiful new User Interface:
The text formatting tools:
And more importantly even than the interface is the underlying way text and files are handled.
The underlying code for Webon has been completely reworked. We analyzed the whole structure and found several ways to improve the speed, scalability and organization of it. Webon now uses jQuery as its base, which provides great organization and nice effects and animations. The code base itself is significantly smaller and more efficient, which makes for a faster Webon.
This reorganization will allow us to identify problems quicker and more accurately. This will also allow us to provide more features faster. Adding new Add-ons will now take much less code and time to write. So expect some neat new ones very soon.
This is not a migration. This is an upgrade. Your websites and the files you have hosted with us will not be affected as we have been building the upgrade to work with live sites from the start.
I could go on at length about Help & Tutorials, the New Photo Album and much more and I will... in a future post. The focus of this post is primarily Tripod's overall changes. But you can believe we will be coming back to Webon 3.0 in this blog and discussing it with you in detail.
The Template Library
If you refer to the Feature Request Chart above from the survey you'll see that expanding the library of available templates was the most highly rated choice. So throughout 2010 not only will our talented in-house designers be working hard to design and expand our template library but we will also be bringing in guest artists every month to contribute. We're looking at your sites and your demographics and listening to your requests in this area and trying to offer a really comprehensive and ever-growing catalog of high quality templates to choose from. Additionally we will work later in the year to make it much easier to customize the templates without being an expert in CSS.
With the new Tripod site we have shifted all domain management for Tripod directly to Lycos Domains. Tripod is after all, a part of Lycos (as is Angelfire.com, Lycos Search, and Gamesville.com) and Tripod Domains have always been managed by Lycos Domains. The Tripod Domains tool pages themselves were merely wrappers of the underlying Lycos Domains tools. All we've done is removed the outer wrapper and given you access to the tools directly. The Lycos Domains team did a superb job last fall updating their User Interfaces to the very intuitive current versions and there is no reason Tripod users should not benefit from that. In addition the Domains team has themselves a number of plans for further improvements this year and will be occasionally posting to this blog and looking for your feedback.
II. What we should begin to offer that we do not now
Throughout the next year we will be continuing to overhaul systems and offer new features such as:
One of the first things on our list after the release of Webon 3.0 will be an upgrade to our Statistics offering.
We ran a succesful Beta test of our PHP/MySQL offering last year and now we're going to build out the interface and test the heck out of the security before re-releasing it later in the year. We know this is important to many serious site builders and we want to be certain to do it right.
Other tools and services we'll be bringing online throughout 2010 include:
- Updated Blog
- Shopping Cart
- Newsletter Manager
- More Domain Improvements
- Many additional Add-ons for Webon
- Mobile Publishing/Site Management Smartphone App
- Lots of other things we will discuss with you in the upcoming months
My team is fired up and can't wait to get Webon 3.0 out to you so we can move on to these additional improvements.
Before I sign off I want to be sure I'm being very clear about what is changing here at Tripod. It's the new designs, upgrades, new products... yes. But it's more than just that.
It's this post. And all the others to come after it. It's the discourse we all develop together.
It comes down to transparency, good communication, and steady, incremental improvements until every one of our customers is delighted with our products and services. That is our sincere goal.
Please comment at will on this post and all the posts to come, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, take the survey, and hang out in the Tripod Club. We are listening with ears wide open.
Senior Product Manager of Web Publishing