/ Technology

We’re improving Which? Convo and we need your help

Question marks on web browser

Hi folks, I’m just taking a breather from redeveloping our beloved community website. We’re working on a whole host of improvements to Which? Convo and we need your help…

It’s sometimes hard to believe it, but we launched Which? Conversation five years ago. Like me, some of you have been on the site since the beginning. Others have only just dipped their toes into the deep ocean of discussions we’ve been having.

We’ve come a long way and I like to think that together we’ve built a vibrant community of different types of people from different backgrounds, each with differing points of view and expertise. It’s now time to super charge that. We want to attract even more people to our community, where they can debate the issues that matter to them.

Making Which? Convo better for you

So we’ve been working hard to rethink the site and what we need to do to make it better for you. Here’s just a flavour of what we’re looking to do:

  • We want to make it easier for you to find the issues that matter to you. If you want to chat about rising energy prices, you’ll be able to find those debates with ease. If you’re into exploring the ins and outs of returning faulty goods, we’ll help you get there too.
  • We want to reward you for the contributions you’re making and also encourage new people to become more active in the community.
  • We want to bring you closer into the rest of Which?. We’re proud of the community we’ve built together and we want to start showing the discussions we’ve been having together on other Which? websites.

That’s the big picture, but we’re also looking to fix some of the niggly things that have been frustrating you over the years. Why can’t you have access to a feed of all the comments you’ve made? Why can’t you log in when and where you add a comment? Why can’t you edit damned typoz in your comments!?

I’m excited and I hope you are too! I can’t promise we’ll get everything right first time, but we’re working hard to make this the best community website we can.

We need your help

Of course, the site wouldn’t be a success without you. So we’ve put together a little survey (it’ll take you under 10 minutes to complete) about what you think of the website now and what you’d like to see from the new site. We’re also looking for a group of Convo users who’d like to help us test things as we go – if you’re interested make sure to let us know towards the end of the survey.

Something I thought you could help us out with here and now is our new user levels. As you make more comments on the new Which? Convo you’ll move up the ranks, from a beginner to a regular to a super user. It would be nice to have some meaningful but light-hearted names for these new levels, whether it’s ‘Conversationalist’, ‘Champion’, or ‘Top CoCo’ (as Em likes to call Conversation commenters). Anyway, I’m all ears. And feel free to share any other thoughts about the improvements you want to see to the site below.

Comments
Member

The images used to accompany each Conversation are usually very clever, sometimes amusing, and actually quite memorable. I find I can recognise Conversations more by their associated pictures than by their titles and they help when looking for a particular item. Would it be possible, therefore, for a thumbnail version of the image to be included alongside the Conversation title in the ‘Search Results’ pages? This would be especially useful when trying to pick out a specific Conversation if there are several on the same subject.

Member

Great idea John, I’m sure Patrick’s jotting down all the feedback posted here 🙂 Do you have a “Top 3” Which? Conversation images?

Member

I find the images far more useful than titles in finding a Conversation that I am looking for. There are a few duplicate images thrown in just to confuse us. 🙂

I agree that it would be useful to have the images alongside the search results. Perhaps make the images normal size and remove what is currently in the right column. That’s not really needed on a search page since it appears elsewhere. But it’s a bit late to be making template changes if we are to see the revamped site in June.

For me, the most memorable image was the rather gory one that accompanied the Convo: ‘Sir, you’ll have to lose another leg for a payout’.

Member

Yes, that’s definitely a memorable one wavechange! 😀 For anyone else who’d like to see it, click here.

Member

I can’t pick out a ‘Top 3’ images from the thousands that must have been used over the years but I do like the one currently being used for the Conversation “Have you had problems with an online order?” showing a computer mouse cable describing the shape of a shopping trolley. Very clever. Who does the creative bit with these graphics? They deserve a credit.

Member

Hi John, we think the images are really important too so… we’ll be including them on Search results 🙂 We’ll also be removing the right-hand side elements from that page as Wavechange suggests, as all you care about on that page is finding what you’re looking for.

We also want to give images more prominence on the posts themselves, so they’ll be bigger than they are now.

John, we purchase images from a number of sources. The job of picking them goes to the site editors who also commission and edit all the Convos – that’s Paul and myself 🙂 Picking images is one of my favourite jobs, even though it can be quite time consuming finding a good one.

Member

I’m not sure we know of Paul, but do thank him for adding a little colour. I’ve noticed the images are sometimes replaced with something more suitable, providing a challenge to remember what was there before.

I hope we can have an update of he images under the headings ‘Get in Touch’ and Meet the Team’. They are not very good and don’t include all the team.

Member

We’ll have a new Meet the team page that’ll be much better than the current one

Member

I hope by “much better” you mean the page, not the team. I think they do a pretty good job. And they are seemingly replying to many more conversation comments than they used to. Still room for improvement though! 😀

Member

Mr Picky here. Is the pic for “Is your bank now putting customers before sales?” meant to be black felt tip pen through “BANK”, or is it meant to be a fractured name? If so, the letters should not be aligned and the bits of stone should have moved. If these are professionally-commissioned graphics then you might want your money back.

As they say in PEYE, I should get out more.

Member

It’s not the best pic. Any other ideas?

Member

The current Private Eye cover has a nice appropriate picture – a Greek Adonis with an arm and a leg missing.,

Member

Better not infringe copyright, Malcolm. It could cost Which? an arm and a leg.

Many of the images come from the large Shutterstock collection, so that could provide a source of inspiration.

Member

Perhaps you can find an image of a Mr Mainwaring-type figure in morning suit, raising his bowler hat and with a slight bow greeting customers at the bank’s doorway. That was similar to how I was introduced to an account with the Midland Bank fifty years ago and had my first experience of the full mahogany.

Member

Suggestions please: http://www.shutterstock.com/ 🙂

Member

Hi Wavechange, hopefully you’ll see my name popping up on the site. I’m writing some pieces as well as editing. Not sure about adding colour (you should see my hair colour these days) but happy to take the compliment!

Member

Thanks Paul. I realised after posting. I can’t wait to be able to edit my posts. 🙂

Member

Malcolm and Wavechange – I can’t see that you agreed to help us test the new site in our survey. Would you like to?

Member

I would love to help, Patrick, but I’m off on holiday tomorrow and dependent on mobile broadband. I will do what I can.

Member

Alright, I’ll include you on the list but no worries if you can’t. 🙂

Member

Patrick, must have overlooked it. I’d be happy to help.
Wavechange, have a nice holiday, watch your footing and don’t forget your camera. 🙂

Member

You’re on the list 🙂

Member

Thanks very much for your kind wishes, Malcolm. And thanks to Patrick for involving us in this discussion.

I’m looking forward to being able to correct my first missteak. 🙂

Member

Glad to hear you’re all on board 🙂

Wavechange – Off anywhere nice?

Member

I spent a week in rural Leicestershire, Andrew, away from people, cars 🙂 and mobile broadband 🙁

I’m back now and keen to test the new site.