With every day, PhotoBotanic gets better; and I am grateful for patient members who are helping me improve. All the experts told me issues would arise that you never expected, and you just have to launch the site and adjust.
Forget about writing books about garden photography, I should write a book about all the mistakes I have made and the long learning curve in putting this whole thing together. Fortunately most of the major mistakes were made before it was public and with input from good friends (thank you, you know who you are), but the best input now comes from those who are entirely new and have no preconceived idea of what the site is about.
I realize there is no good explanation, users manual, or help page. For my core group, the members, their personalized home page does not explain how to navigate, and the navigation is not as intuitive as I supposed. “Make no assumptions and recognize if one person has difficulty, others will too”. Lesson 1 for me on developing a member site.
So, until I gather more comments and create some better navigation, this is how it works:
The core of this experiment is the Learning Center a member area, with two sections. The Plants Celebrated section is free for members to drop in and read various articles and jump around to various categories as time or whim allow. I add new, in depth content at least twice a month. Over time, each of the categories will produce eBooks.
The Photography Workshop section of the Learning Center is a paid area, for those members who want the online garden photography course and comments. It’s called the PhotoBotanic Garden Photography Workbook and is already written, but being delivered on a “drip” schedule depending on when a member subscribes. Once the lessons arrive, they stay in that members’ Learning Center.
Now that the site has been live for a couple weeks and members are signing up (Thank You !) I am realizing there is some confusion on navigation and expectations. I certainly expected some glitches, and part of launching a site is a leap of faith that the glitches will get figured out – before the customers throw up their hands and walk away.
Instead, customers are reaching out to help for the sake of those who will come later, those who will not already know what I am trying to do, and might talk away silently. So, an even bigger THANK YOU ! for feedback received.
It will take a few days and perhaps weeks to add some better navigation and instructions with-in the member area but most importantly for the paid members: your lessons are delivered to you automatically on your schedule and require no downloads. They are seen in your Workshop section and stay there. If you try to move ahead, you get an error message that (gently) reminds you the lesson is not yet available to you.
And while you premium members are waiting for new lessons, don’t forget you are also a member of the Plants Celebrated section and new content is appearing there as well. And for all of you, free members and non members alike, you can also get the photography workshop lessons individually as iBooks or bundled as an eBook.
Every day so far on this new adventure I find unexpected issues and new ideas to improve the site. While it is indeed frustrating, it is actually fun to figure out how you, the users, are working through the pages and how I can improve the experience. Many compliments on the quality of the lessons keeps me going. Thanks !
Keep the comments and feedback coming….