How to tell when your site is dead?
January 29, 2009, 1:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m coming to the conclusion that (at least) one of my side projects is dead, is a site I wrote to help people manage 5 a side football teams, it lets you pick teams and rate your team mates to help keep the teams fair.

The idea was to have the site free while people beta tested it, then charge people to use it once I was happy that it worked Ok, but no-one wants to use it when it’s free, so I doubt people would want to pay for it.

It’s been live for about 6 months and has gained less than 100 users users, none of them active. I’ve received 2 emails regarding problems on the site, both of which were fixed in quick order, after that, neither user carried on using the site.

I tried engaging the team organisers whenever I fixed major bugs, or improved the interface in such a way that might make it usable for them, but I rarely got even a log in from them.

I’ve tried gaining users by joining various 5-a-side groups on Facebook, but it’s hard not to look spammy when you’re the most active user on there. Some people signed up, but never got any further.

One of the users works for one of the major 5-a-side football pitch providers in the UK, but his experience of the site didn’t get any further than trying to invite a few players to join his team. I’ve even emailed the FA, but heard nothing back.

So now it’s beginning to look like the site is a dud, no active users even when the site is free, even when some of the users who signed up are your friends, it doesn’t appeal to people who hang out on groups aimed at the subject it covers.

So it looks like is in injury time, all the substitutes have been played, the referee has checked his watch and unless something happens soon I might have to blow the final whistle.


7 Comments so far
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I had already sent this around the office as they often organise five a side games and they all said it looked fairly useful.

However none of them used it in the end I’m afraid, the only reason I can think of is because they already had their own system that they were happy with it.

That and they didn’t like the idea of having to eventually pay for something that essentially costs them next to nothing when sending out text messages to everyone. I think they already have to pay for the pitch!

It’s a shame, as although I hate football, I really loved the idea and have actually thought about it myself.

Better luck in the future though – live and learn. :)

Comment by Fiona

It’s a good idea. Maybe you could generalise it so that it can be used for any kind of teams? You may still not get people to pay for it, but at least it might get used. :-)

Comment by Ric

… oh, and a tour of screenshots or a video might help. At the moment, you need to sign up to get any idea of what the actual app looks like. This itself is a cost: 1) it takes time 2) there’s a risk that you might spam them 3) they have to maintain/remember another user/password.

Good luck! I know from experience that you need to attract hundreds (if not thousands) of free users before you can expect to start getting paid accounts.

Comment by Ric

I agree with Ric on the pain of maintaining another user/password. Try to offer as much functionality without requiring that. Legend holds that Craigslist originally considered requiring users to sign in and then abandoned the idea.

But don’t give up. Give it another 6 months. Depending on your hosting costs, it might be another $100 but that’s pretty minimal.

Comment by Michael

I’ve voted for some screen casts

Some of our team just looked at it and we cant understand the user interface. The others dont want to use it for this reason. I will persevere though…

Intial thoughts:

1) Explain what Ringers are!
2) Why can I only add 10 of them?

We have a pool of around 20 players who I currently email at the beginning of the week. I dont want to have to paste all there addresses in every game!

How do I add them to the site so that I dont have to keep adding them?

Comment by rick

(Originally posted on our Uservoice forum)

Ringers are there for people who don’t have an email address, but mainly for when you have to add someone last minute who isn’t going to play every week.

When you invite players, you’re inviting them to join your team, not to invite them to play in a game. Each week you organize the match it uses that email address to invite them to play and they get a URL to click to say they can play.

Once enough people say they can play, Who’s Playing will choose 2 balanced sides, based on the ratings each player. You also get the option to swap players over if you think it’s not done a very goof job (which at this point could be quite likely, and with the help of people testing the app, it will get better)

You’ve also got the opportunity to just add players to a match if they sit next to you or something and it’s just easier to ask them.

Hope that helps!

I’m going to look at the text that goes with sending invites just to make it obvious you don’t have to enter email addresses for each and every game.

(Follow the rest of this conversation on our Uservoice forum)

Comment by Stuart Grimshaw

[…] I’ve written a Django app to help people who organise social 5 a side games, (yeah, I know I said it was dead, but I left it up and it started to get a few users, it’s still not a success, but it is […]

Pingback by Refactoring Django apps « Stubblog

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