You may have noticed that I haven’t posted to the blog in some time. No, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve been spending a lot of time and effort re-designing and re-developing the whole website. The new design is cleaner, easier to navigate and has a fresh colour scheme and logo. You can browse the new site using the horizontal navigation bar at the top of each page, some notable new sections include; tribadism information pages, featured producers and this blog which has a new name, new template and will now form a more focused part of the site.
I recently caught up with Mike, the webmaster over at Chickfight.com. As many of the avid trib (and sexfight) fans out there will know, Chickfight also under went a major site re-design recently. If you haven’t already, I suggest you check out the new website, and below Mike explains what led him to do the redesign and what new features you will find there.
Matt: You’ve recently re-designed your site, why did you decide to do the re-design and what are some of the new features/ aspects of your site?
Mike: For almost a year I had been looking for a way to cut expenses. When I started building my original website back in 1998 and opened it for business in 1999 it was my first attempt at doing anything on the Internet. I started with about 15 HTML pages and then grew it bigger with each new release. I was editing on an AVID/Macintosh back then so I built my website on Adobe GoLive, back then a Macintosh program.
In 2003 my website crashed along with my Macintosh and I couldn’t find anyone in South Florida who worked on Macs. I rushed to Best Buy and purchased my first PC and I’ve stuck with them ever since. There are almost too many people who are anxious to work on them. Contrary to what Mac owners say they DO break down and need service. At the television Studio I worked at back then we had a dozen macs and from time to time they would need service. Of course, we were a 24 hour News/Sports/Weather Station so they were never shut down. In my case, I wasn’t ready to pack up my Mac loaded with porn, and UPS it back to Apple. With my PC I have a Tech who drives out to my house and works on it here in my office.
I have always been annoyed by Pay websites. Its like going to a Strip Club and having to stand at the door and peek in. Do I pay the cover charge or not? I’ve always felt that you should get to view the merchandise first and then decide whether or not you wanted to purchase it. That is why my website has ALWAYS been free. Come on in, take a look around, have a taste and if you like what you see then buy something. That has always been my business model.
When I introduced the free sample videoclips to my website it changed everything. My original website cost me $49/month in hosting fees. Once I released the free sample videoclips it quickly jumped to $99/month. Within a year it jumped again to $199/month. By 2005 it was $249/month. In 2005 I heard the term “hotlinking” for the first time, a word that would change everything for the worse.
Hotlinking is when someone places a link on their website(s) that directs their members/visitors to content somewhere else on the web. The advantage to hotlinking is that it costs nothing as it uses the bandwidth of the website at the end of the link. This was what had happened to me. I found a half-dozen hotlinks located in Japan, Canada, Germany, Denmark and the US. A couple of the hotlinkers had links to my free preview clips located in their Members Area. This meant they were charging their members for the privilidge of viewing my free sample clips and I was paying for the bandwidth. At this point I strongly considered removing the free preview clips but can you imagine how many of my visitors would have complained? Unless you own a website and pay the bills you wouldn’t understand how expensive it can be. I decided to just eat the extra expense while hunting down the hotlinkers and threatening prosecution.
In 2008 a couple of things happened. I lost Ipayment, my payment gateway that had been processing my credit cards from the very beginning. They told me by letter that they had a policy change and were no longer servicing Adult websites. PayPal dropped me a month later for the same reason. I could have lied and told both companies that I was not an Adult website and kept them but that’s not my style. If I had lied I probably wouldn’t have changed websites so it turned out to be a good thing.
All of this happened at once so I started investigating oscommerce and CRE_Loaded which was recommended to me by another webmaster. My monthly bandwidth at the time was $299/month and was about to be increased to $399/month. Luckily, I found a Hosting Service called Level Ten Hosting that specialized in oscommerce and CRE_Loaded who now charges me $82/month for the same amount of bandwidth I was using with my old website plus they set me up with my template and the FDMS(File Distribution Management System) that allows me to GIVE every registered visitor to my website my free sample preview clips.
This was a turning point. Instead of visitors VIEWING my free preview clips off of my website and using my bandwidth to view them over and over and day after day, they now DOWNLOAD every clip to their own computer and view them whenever they like. My bandwidth usage has plumetted and my costs have as well. In this economy, if I was a PAY website that relied on monthly membership fees I would have had to close my doors and let my website go dark.
I nearing over 4,000 people registered since I switched and less than a dozen people have complained about the new template. I know that it isn’t perfect or anything like my old website but it is a work-in-progress. I’ve been working in HTML for 10 years and now I’m having to learn oscommerce PHP. It is like learning a new language without a text book. Documentation for CRE_Loaded is sparse and I have a lot to learn with a very steep learning curve. But, with patience, my website will improve with time.
You can get your hands on the free samples too by simply registering for a free acount. I will post more on my interview with Mike in the coming weeks.