denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_biz2012-02-13 03:45 pm

feature design brainstorming: icon add-ons

We said last month that [staff profile] mark's next big project is going to be icon add-on packs to let people buy more icon slots if they want, and this week he and I have been brainstorming ideas to make it work in the quickest, easiest, and most usable fashion. This is what we're currently thinking the system will look like, for you guys to mull over and point out all the things we've no doubt forgotten to think about. ;)

Goal: To let people buy as many icon slots as they want (up to whatever limit we impose for overall performance reasons), as simply and easily as possible.



We started out with the idea that this should be something the user can decide (how many slots you want), not sold in pre-specified numbers of icon packs that stack on top of each other. We kicked around a few ideas for a while of how to make that work (such as paying per icon slot per month, etc), but everything we tried to come up with got really confusing very quickly: we would have had to track a lot of different things, and explaining pro-rating to people is really hard, and it would've been really hard to add more icons later if you decided you didn't have enough.

So, our current working theory: we will charge you up front for each icon slot you want to add, and paying for another icon slot will give you that slot permanently, for whenever you have a paid account. (We have a vague idea of what each slot will cost, but it's not set in stone yet, so I don't want to commit to anything; I'll use the variable $amount while I'm explaining, in order to avoid making any promises.) If your paid account expires, you'll go back to the number of icons a free account gets; if you renew your paid account, you'll go back up to the paid account icons + your add-ons.

It's probably easiest to talk through some practical examples of common scenarios, so everyone's on the same page: let's say that I have a premium paid account, so I have 250 icons. I want 270 icons. I pay $amount to permanently buy those 20 icons; my icon slots go from 250 to 270. In a year, my premium paid time is about to expire, so I renew it for another year; I only have to pay the $50 to renew the premium paid time, and my icon slots stays at 270, not the 250 a premium paid account usually gets, because I bought those 20 icons permanently.

Next year, my premium paid account expires (back down to 15 icons, curses!), and I'm kind of low on cash, so I decide to renew it as a regular paid account ($35 for the year; 100 icons), not a premium paid account. But! I previously bought those 20 extra icon slots. Those still exist, but they're applied to the paid account icon limit (100 icons), not the premium paid account icon limit (250 icons): I'd have the 100 icon slots a paid account usually gets, plus the 20 I permanently bought, for 120 icons.

After a few months, though, I decide I can't live with only 120 icons, and I decide to buy some more. I pay $amount to permanently buy another 50 icon slots. My new icon count is now 170: the 100 for a paid account, the 20 I previously bought, and the 50 I just bought.

When account renewal comes around, I decide I miss the premium paid account benefits, so I renew as premium paid ($50 for the year; 250 icons). I now have the 250 icon slots that come standard with a premium paid account, plus the 20 I bought a long time ago, plus the 50 I bought recently, for a total of 320 icons.

So, you're only buying the icon slots once, and they last forever -- but, you have to have a paid account to access them. (This is to avoid people buying just icon slots, which is bad for us from a business standpoint based on how we set our account limits. For an explanation of why you won't be able to just buy icons without a paid account, see two old mailing list messages I wrote back when we were in development: #1, which explains why you can't buy paid features a-la-carte, and #2, which specifically gets into icons.)

We'll be pricing icon slots based on the cost to support them over time, so you'd pay more up-front than you would in a yearly, expiring type deal. You'll never have to pay again, though, so it will be cheaper in the long run.

What if you want to switch to using a different account, though, the way we know roleplayers like to do? You'd be stuck paying the up-front cost over and over again for each account, which would not be very fair! So, instead we make it possible for you to switch icon slots from account to account.

Let's say I have two accounts, [profile] x and [profile] y. [profile] x is a premium paid account (250 icons) and I bought 50 extra icon slots for it over time (total of 300 icons). [profile] y is a paid account (100 icons). I decide I want to stop using [profile] x and switch to using [profile] y instead: I can go to the icon slot mover tool and say "switch my extra icon slots", and move the 50 extra slots from [profile] x to [profile] y. Now [profile] x has 250 icon slots (the standard with the premium paid account), and [profile] y has 150 icon slots (the standard 100 with the paid account + my 50 extra slots that I bought).

(We may charge a small amount to move icon slots from one account to another, especially if it's been a while since you bought them, like the way we charge for a rename token. But we haven't decided that yet; it will depend on what the numbers look like when we diagram the costs of all this out more fully.)

There will be a limit on how many slots you can buy at first -- this is because the system isn't very optimized for large numbers of icons, either for resource usage or for the user interface of displaying and selecting large numbers of icons. (We can fix that over time, and we will! But that will take time, and we'd rather release the feature with a lower limit now than wait. Whatever limit we pick when we release it will almost certainly be raised later once we can do the work.) It's also possible that we might have two limits, and charge $amount for each slot up to limit #1, and $amount*2 for each slot from limit #1 to limit #2, but that, too, will be up in the air until we can really plot out the technical and business details of this way of doing things.

So, if this is all still up in the air, why am I posting about it now? Simple: We know that we can't know everything about how people use their accounts and how people want to use their icons. So, consider this the open invitation to pick holes in this plan: what kind of usage are we forgetting to think about/account for? What problems do you see?

(Also, because I know a lot of people are really sweet about worrying what this will mean for us-as-a-business: we already did all the back-of-the-envelope feasability tests, and this should remain feasable over time. We're gambling that the cost of disk space, bandwidth, and processor power will continue to go down over time the way it's been going, historically, so the pay-once model for icons should work fine for us -- and because it will be tied to paid accounts we won't be promising future services without any additional income the way we would for seed accounts.)
chalcopyrite: A bunch of blloons against a blue sky (balloons)

[personal profile] chalcopyrite 2012-02-14 12:30 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm just gonna take a moment to fangirl you, this post, and all your comments. You explain things *so well* - I never understood this before.

I love the idea of icon sets being easily swappable -- I have more icons loaded than I use regularly, and yeah, it's in large part because if I delete one and then want it back for the holidays, I'm going to have to go through the whole rigmarole again.
rainfall: A pair of cartoony arms encircle the words "A huge hug for you." (huge hug)

[personal profile] rainfall 2012-02-14 04:33 pm (UTC)(link)
PLEASE DO THIS I know that's not the most constructive but omg I would buy icons forever.
kitsunemimi: (002 - i want your disease)

[personal profile] kitsunemimi 2012-02-14 07:26 pm (UTC)(link)
I have nothing of interest to contribute to this discussion, but:

DW, DW!

Will you be my Valentine?
photographing: (pic#)

[personal profile] photographing 2012-02-14 07:28 pm (UTC)(link)
This idea is good and you should all feel good. I'll definitely be taking advantage of this for more than one account when it's available!

Thank you guys, for always being so proactive and continuously making the service better. And for always explaining things so clearly!
earnedmystripes: (Default)

[personal profile] earnedmystripes 2012-02-14 07:42 pm (UTC)(link)
you people are absolutely amazing
ruffledraven: (fail // dramatic)

[personal profile] ruffledraven 2012-02-14 08:30 pm (UTC)(link)
This actually sounds amazing! I don't think I've seen this anywhere before, but so far it seems great. <3

Although I have to ask, will you maybe consider having some kind of an in-between for the current difference between the free and paid account icon numbers? Paying for a 100 while only needing 30 is a little much, especially considering it's a secondary one. I understand why you don't want to sell icons to non-paid account, but maybe there's some other approach that could be used?

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snoopypez: (tcr | PRIZE PLEASE.)

[personal profile] snoopypez 2012-02-14 08:41 pm (UTC)(link)
I have nothing helpful to add, but I am in love with this plan, and would absolutely buy icons forever. Because I am addicted and obessed, etc etc.

*__*

(current icon used in the nicest, most undemanding way, of course.)
easycompany: (party on garth)

[personal profile] easycompany 2012-02-14 09:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Guys. Can I love you more? I'm not sure I can. <333
hermetics: (Default)

[personal profile] hermetics 2012-02-14 09:48 pm (UTC)(link)
... This is beautiful for everything but my paycheck with all the accounts I'm gonna buy.
Edited 2012-02-14 21:48 (UTC)
slays: (Default)

[personal profile] slays 2012-02-14 09:51 pm (UTC)(link)
This is the most beautiful system I've ever seen in my life, because I know I personally have two accounts ([personal profile] slay and [personal profile] slays) for the same journal because I wanted 500 icons, and this system would make it so much easier to do this and I wouldn't need to log in and out.

Not only that, but for RP purposes, changing main characters as you become interested in new things, it would be much easier. On LJ, I was always massively depressed to change characters/journals because I lost my loyalty userpics, btu in this method with the icon slot transfer, we'd be able to keep those, which is absolutely fantastic.

I also like being able to pick our own amount (would it be in increments of 10? 5?) because sometimes arbitrary rounded lumps can be really frustrated because I know I personally hate having unused icon slots because it feels like a waste of money, but sometimes they're just not available, so you could get the perfect amount of icons for you.

Another reason I like this is because I have always loathed having icon packages and paid time that expire at different times, this way I will never have to worry about syncing. I also think it'll be great because I can impulse-buy extra icon slots due to a.) not waiting for the right time to insure it syncs with my paid time b.) one time payment, not something I'll have to maintain, it's like grabbing a package of cookies from the grocery store.

Having it as a one-time payment really encourages impulse buying from a business stand point, because it's not really committing to it. I won't be like MAN I'm really sad that I bought that extra icon pack because I won't be able to afford it next month, I can only afford regular paid time, so I'll have to delete the extra icons for it. People who've already budgeted their paid time will be encouraged to splurge.

In short, this is the absolute greatest purchase plan I've ever seen, for both consumers and you guys. You should be proud of yourselves, because god knows the lot of us are ecstatic. It's user-friendly, it meets our needs and flexes to suit them, and it DEFINITELY encourages spending on it, without putting you guys out because obviously you'll still be getting revenue from the paid time they're purchasing to get access to those slots.

Basically, this is fantastic, y'all are fantastic, thank you for being so beautiful and wonderful. ♥ I think that's ... everything.
slays: (Default)

[personal profile] slays 2012-02-14 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Also you win the award for best valentine's day gift.

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literacy: (Frak yeah! [One Piece])

[personal profile] literacy 2012-02-14 10:23 pm (UTC)(link)
This sounds amazing! I love that it would be a one-time payment (unlike lj where you had to keep paying for extra icons that did not always match up with the paid time). Also the fact we can choose how much extra icon/s we want is definitely flexible to us (and, I'd hope, not too much of a pain for you guys in terms of working out prices and the like for it). Transferring the icons between accounts would be awesome too, especially for those of us with multiple accounts for roleplaying. This is just amazing. idk when or if I would take advantage of it when this is available but the option to do all of this is just. So awesome. You guys put a lot of thought into this and we really do appreciate it, I know it's something that has apparently been brainstorming for a while. I'm sure a lot of us will be anticipating it's implemention once you guys have it all figured out!

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cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)

[personal profile] cesy 2012-02-14 10:35 pm (UTC)(link)
I am really excited about this. It will be bad for my bank balance, but oh wow, I could actually upload all of my icons and have them all available.

Then I will look at my icon collection and come back and put in a request for friends-only icons that don't show on the public /icons page, that you can keep just for locked entries.
youmissed: (chipped out 5)

[personal profile] youmissed 2012-02-14 10:44 pm (UTC)(link)
This sounds incredible, especially with the fact you could keep the icon slots and also the possibility of moving them over. I really like that idea myself. :) I feel like personally I'd be more likely to buy multiple accounts icons if I knew they weren't going to go kaput after two months or whatever.
phagocytosis: photocons (ˢʰᶫᵒᵖˢʰᶫᵒᵖ)

[personal profile] phagocytosis 2012-02-15 12:33 am (UTC)(link)
Yo me gusta. Will definitely use this option on my more permanent RP accounts!
darjeeling: Red | Transistor (Default)

[personal profile] darjeeling 2012-02-15 03:42 am (UTC)(link)
First: I really like this setup and I think it does suit everyone's needs, and the ability to move the perm slots around (even if it does accrue a moderate charge) to me shows that you're doing this for the users and not just the cash.

My only disappointment is that this still leaves nothing between the free account's 15 icons and the paid's 100. That's a huge gap. I read all the linked articles about why it's not cost effective and too much of a headache to offer extra icons on free accounts so I'm cool with that part, but would it be worth considering bumping the amount of icon spaces on a free account at some point?
muskets: (Default)

[personal profile] muskets 2012-02-16 12:05 am (UTC)(link)
Oh that would be perfect. D: I got so spoiled by having thirty icons.
zellieh: Xena & Gabrielle lying together in the surf, soaking wet. Text: GIRLS! (Xena Xena/Gabrielle Girls!)

[personal profile] zellieh 2012-02-15 04:58 am (UTC)(link)
I really like this idea.

Will you be making more improvement to the Icons page and the Manage Icons upload page to go with it? Both of those pages might need a rethink if you're going to let people use hundreds of icons.
haruka: (Default)

[personal profile] haruka 2012-02-15 01:08 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd love to see them do something like this that IJ has:

http://www.insanejournal.com/uploadpic.bml

I've got over 900 icons there, and this is a lifesaver. XD

Edit: I just realized it may not show up if you don't have an IJ account...
Edited (oops) 2012-02-15 13:09 (UTC)

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oshizemi: (Default)

[personal profile] oshizemi 2012-02-15 06:47 pm (UTC)(link)
I like this idea a lot. It seems like a great way to encourage people to keep their paid time too.

Are you guys still considering having image/document/media file hosting as well? Would it follow a similar pattern as this? I think that is what holds me back from using DW to the fullest potential (not having file hosting), as I have tons of personal photos, .pdf files I'd like to save (not necessarily share), video blogs, and the like.
guilefully: (pic#2316831)

[personal profile] guilefully 2012-02-16 04:45 am (UTC)(link)
What if you want to switch to using a different account, though, the way we know roleplayers like to do? You'd be stuck paying the up-front cost over and over again for each account, which would not be very fair! So, instead we make it possible for you to switch icon slots from account to account.

Dear Dreamwidth, you are totally free to take all my money now. This is just absolutely lovely.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2012-02-16 05:30 am (UTC)(link)
This-all makes me so happy!

I can't really think of anything that hasn't been covered in comments already.
eyesofstrength: (Default)

[personal profile] eyesofstrength 2012-02-16 05:36 am (UTC)(link)
I love this idea! I actually am coming close to filling up all my icon slots on this account and really didn't like the idea of buying a premium paid because I'll never come close to using 250 icons. Having some way to get a more middle range amount is a great idea and I like the ability to transfer to other accounts if I end up dropping this guy (not that that is likely to happen soon though). Seriously, you guys rock for being so willing to work with us that I had no hesitation at buying a year paid when I'd never do that on LJ because I got burned each time I did.

I just wish there was a feasible way you guys could allow for a paid account with just the added features and no extra icons for people who want to be able to edit comments and track threads and such but don't need 100 icons. I get the reasons behind it, but definitely would be on my wishlist and I'd probably buy a few of those if they did exist.

[personal profile] pussyfortono 2012-02-16 11:11 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm just commenting to say that I think this is a wonderful idea & that I really appreciate the fact that this shows you've been paying attention to your userbase. It's a great feeling to know that you guys are working hard for our benefit.
iamsosmart: Kaitou Kid from Magic Kaito. Laughing his head off. ([GLEE!] Magic Kaitou)

[personal profile] iamsosmart 2012-02-16 11:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh man, I am so on this bandwagon. The switch option in particular is going to be super useful ahhhh
thighbelt: (Nash is delusional.)

[personal profile] thighbelt 2012-02-16 11:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Please take all of my money.
unwieldyfate: smile, dere (Live up to expectations.)

[personal profile] unwieldyfate 2012-02-16 11:23 pm (UTC)(link)
I have nothing of value to contribute because other smarter people are already taking care of that, but this is such a fantastic idea! Thank you DW for everything you keep doing for your userbase! ♥
tonberry: (Your love is.)

[personal profile] tonberry 2012-02-16 11:25 pm (UTC)(link)
This is a great idea! And I really love how you've laid it out in a way that's easy to understand, and that you're letting people give feedback and ideas and kyaa. You guys are amazing. ♥

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