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.)
neveryourmask: (Default)

[personal profile] neveryourmask 2012-02-22 10:43 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for catering to the refugee hoard of RPers with madness in their eyes and fistfuls of gold. Speaking as one of them, both your business sense and customer service are thoroughly appreciated.
dragonspooker: (Excited)

[personal profile] dragonspooker 2012-02-24 01:43 am (UTC)(link)
Late as heck to this, but my feelings on the subject can be summarized with one image -

I love this place.
exodus: ({ black bandit)

[personal profile] exodus 2012-03-18 02:29 am (UTC)(link)
iorhael: (Default)

[personal profile] iorhael 2012-03-17 06:26 am (UTC)(link)
Really liking this idea! Also, thank you for taking the time to explain it clearly and get feedback before implementing such a feature.
Edited 2012-03-17 06:27 (UTC)
angel_of_death: (Default)

[personal profile] angel_of_death 2012-03-17 06:29 am (UTC)(link)
This sounds smashing!

I myself am a roleplayer, and so happen to have a short-term paid account thus far (gifted to me by a good friend). I should like to be able to gift them with icons in the future to repay all the kindness they've bestowed upon me.
aresvallis: (dressy)

[personal profile] aresvallis 2012-03-17 08:13 am (UTC)(link)
I don't really mind how all you do the icons so much as the tags. I really, really want a better tag system for icons, maybe like the tag system for entries.

So far, we can rename tags, but we can't really manage them separately of the icons, or say merge two tags into one. Merging tags is something I really, really want.

I'd love a page where I could see my current tags and tags I've used in the past, because changing tags around can alter older Role playing threads; icons are kind of important expression wise in RP so it loses something when the old tags revert to the default icon.
aresvallis: (Default)

[personal profile] aresvallis 2012-03-17 09:12 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, sorry, most people I knew in RP just said icon tags because it was easier and shorter.

If it was that computationally expensive to do such a thing, why do we have tags for entries? I mean I don't see how much of a difference between entry tags and what I'm suggesting... and the system seems to keep track of old keywords anyway via the comments made using said keywords.

On LJ at least, I changed my keywords for an rp account, then after a year I changed them back, and old comments that used the old keyword, showed the new icon with the old keyword.

Either way, the icon revamp definitely needs to do something about the keywords and management thereof, because that's part of what makes many icons so difficult to manage.

(no subject)

[personal profile] aresvallis - 2012-03-17 09:49 (UTC) - Expand
supreme_overlord: (FFXI - Tarutaru are cute)

[personal profile] supreme_overlord 2012-03-17 09:43 am (UTC)(link)

I really love the ideas here. I just finished uploading icons to a paid RP account today where it was like... If only I had like 5 more slots for those couple icons I didn't have the space for. SIGH. (Curse those characters who have WAY TOO MANY awesome faces. ;( ) So... this would be BEAUTIFUL. For those I don't really need 250... I just need 120 type situations. XD; It reminds me of a certain other site's loyalty pics... which I was really missing today. (I had like 20 wracked up on one account. ;-;) And being able to MOVE them if you wanted to? Man. ♥
jhumor: (Doctor Fireworks)

[personal profile] jhumor 2012-03-17 01:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Firstly, let me just say the flexibility you have built in here is AWESOME! I never 'added on packages' at other sites because adding 50 (or eve 10) at a time, when 1 or 2 would have been enough, seemed like a complete waste of money to me.

I have a couple questions about the ability to "move" icon slots. And maybe this might be opening a can of worms... but I'm going to ask anyway XD (And it may have already been asked, but late to the party and I only skimmed the other pages)

1) With the ability to move icons. What prevents a person from 'gifting' these extra icons from one person to a completely different person? (IE: I have an account that I bought extra icons for - or several accounts.) For whatever reason, I will be deleting that account (or no longer using the slots). I have enough icons in my other accounts, so I want to send my icons to an account owned by a different person.

Question A: In your example what would prevent me from doing that? (Or does it not matter to you on the business side?)

**Note: This is different from 'gifting services' as the icons are already paid for... the example continues **

That person and I have a 'falling out'...

Question B: who owns the icon slots? Me as the original purchaser or the person because it was 'gifted to them'? (NOTE: I like to think only a few people are this petty, but I'm just curious how you all see the 'ownership' from the business side XD)

2) A completely different can of worms! (I know, I'm odd I think of all these weird scenarios.)

I have a Seed account. I don't use all my slots. (I'm one of the "Less than 100" folks.) I have RP accounts... what would the feasibility/possibility of "Gifting" one/some of my unused slots to another account (Paid, just to keep with whats established already - **though gifting to unpaid would be AWESOME - since the slots are already part of a package paid for :P).

I mean, I wouldn't mind paying a small "Transfer fee" to say remove 10 of my unused slots from my Seed account and gift them to one of my RP accounts where sometimes even 1 or 2 more icon slots would make all the difference in those facial expressions :D

For this example, I think the owner of the Seed account and the owner of the "receiving" account would have to be the same person (verified via Email or something)...

Okay will stop 'making problems' and simply enjoy the awesomeness that exists here already XD

(no subject)

[personal profile] jhumor - 2012-03-17 21:38 (UTC) - Expand
gigglingkat: I'll be your distraction.  (easily distracted: ...)

[personal profile] gigglingkat 2012-03-17 02:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Hi - I'm an icon addict. I got a seed account because I feel "safe" leaving my content here - as silly and as fannish as it is. The icons were just a bonus.

I will most likely buy as many icons as you let me. I'm at 249 of 250 now because I CANNOT PICK THE LAST ONE. The contender list goes from 10 to 20 at any given time. I try to delete unused icons. I really, really do, but as soon as I've noticed I haven't used one, I have to use it.

I actually find it reassuring that there are so few of us. But yeah - I think you need to consider anyone at 235 slots as potential seed buyers of icon slots. Because with the addicts - the buffer slots are vital. Just because we're not maxed does not indicate we wouldn't buy a shitton more slots.

That said - we're addicts. We also don't mind periodic renewal payments on our drug of choice - any you are certainly consistent about working out the most even, fair method for charging.

Icon hovering!!!! It took me forever to hover over everyone's icons to see the hover text you mentioned in the news post. I find descriptions fascinating. I tend to use lyrics because I don't care about describing a visual to someone who may not have a reference point - colors for instance. So the description is more an emotional cue to me - what the icon makes me feel. But I love the feature and use it even though it is not an accessibility issue for me was the point.

Image Hosting!!!! I will help beta any kind of image hosting. I just really want to be able to tag images the way I tag entries. I have attempted to create that db. I know how insane it is. But - yeah. That's my wish list. I want to tag something stock, blue, crack - and then be able to see it, click on stock and see all my images tagged stock. Vs all my images tagged blue.

I'm insane.

I've also got 5 gig on LJ that I have to get off their ever imploding servers before it disappears completely. (That is not a slam - I adore the Scrapbook - but the recent attacks have made the scrapbook randomly eat images I no longer have on my home drives.)
birdplane: (Default)

[personal profile] birdplane 2012-03-17 04:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Two thoughts...

Firstly, while I appreciate the effort that went in to brainstorming out this particular icon package plan, I'm not entirely sure that it makes business sense. I've read through some (but not all) of Denise's comments to other users regarding similar questions and I'm still not exactly following? It seems to me that the vast majority of users who have been asking you guys for userpic packages will pay for them on a monthly (or bimonthly) basis quite happily. The cheaper, by-the-icon-slot packs would be interesting if you were having to create a market, but you're really not. I guess that's where I start losing the train of thought? Further, it seems really really complicated to have to explain to new (or new to paid account feature) users. That alone would deter a good number of people who might have a casual interest in upgrading from actually making a purchase.

Secondly, would you ever consider offering by-the-month packs to free accounts? If you wanted to create a new market, I can think of a few people in the RP and possibly more broad fandom world who would be very interested in buying packs of 20-100 icons without any of the other features or support of a paid account.
enemytosleep: Space man (Default)

[personal profile] enemytosleep 2012-03-17 04:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, this. The only feature of a paid account I am interested in is more icons, which is why I have not upgraded to a paid account. I would love to buy extra icon slots, but it seems this is not going to be an option for me (on LJ I can buy 5 icon slots for a year at $2 with my free account).
sharpiefan: Jack Aubrey as a Smurf, looking excited (JA excited)

[personal profile] sharpiefan 2012-03-17 04:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I think I'm in love. Seriously. Extra icon space? You just made my week! :D
material_guy: (Default)

[personal profile] material_guy 2012-03-17 04:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Sounds cool, especially the transfer feature. I think that's a great idea given a lot of people who want a lot of icons are using it for roleplay, and if after 4 years they stop playing a character (it is a long time), they can transfer their slots to a new one. That'd be something I think I personally would be willing to pay for.

Sounds like a plan that considers at least one major known userbase's uses!

Keep up the awesome work!
enemytosleep: Space man (Default)

[personal profile] enemytosleep 2012-03-17 04:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I am a free user with 15 icons who would be interested in buying a year of extra icons, but not upgrading my account to paid status. Will this feature be available for free users to purchase 15-20 extra icons for less than the cost of a paid account?
speakveryclearly: Kanaya looking down with shades on and a thin, grim glow. (Displeased)

[personal profile] speakveryclearly 2012-03-17 07:34 pm (UTC)(link)
From what I've read here, I don't think they're inerested in that. The mailing list pages linked as #1 and #2 by Denise explain why; basically, userpics are VERY expensive relative to DW's other services, and without the subsidizing offered by paid users who aren't userpic heavy, userpics for free users would have to be... almost, if not flat out exactly, expensive as a paid.
kaleidoscopeheart: (Drew: corset)

[personal profile] kaleidoscopeheart 2012-03-17 08:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I like this idea. I've maxed out my user pics, but it perpetually seems like JUST NOT QUITE ENOUGH and I HAAAAATTTEE having to delete icons. I don't foresee ever dropping to a free account, because I love the paid features and I want to keep supporting the site, and if I could purchase extra user pics and know they'd be mine permanently, that would be AMAZING.

The key will be finding the right price that balances between what you need as a business to make this sustainable and what users will find feasible financially. I wonder if you could offer a choice of several options: one slot at a time, and then several packages that offer some saving over individual icons. Like, for example, if you charge $1.00 per slot (which might be a bit spendy, but for the sake of simplicity in the example), then you could offer a package of 20 for $18.00, and a package of 50 for $45 or so. I don't know if that would be tenable for you, but it could offer some flexibility to the users. Some people like buying in packages, some would probably like to add one at a time. And some people might like to start with a package and then add more one at a time. IDK. It's just a thought.

I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea mentioned earlier about being able to choose which icons stay active when dropping an account level (a particular peeve of mine over at LJ). The notions of icon sheets in the image hosting for archiving and being able to categorize icons are also brilliant. And while I don't RP, the idea of having master/child accounts is really interesting. I'd like to see more about how that would work.

In short: ILU, DW. ♥

(no subject)

[personal profile] kaleidoscopeheart - 2012-03-17 23:44 (UTC) - Expand
cordykitten: © LJ awmp (awmp thinking)


[personal profile] cordykitten 2012-10-31 06:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Hello there,
I've checked the comments (but didn't read the collapsed ones). I have the following question:

What is the limit for icons to buy?
I have 250 at the moment, how many more icons would I be able to buy? 100, 200, 300 etc?
If I know more I can plan. :)
(Because I think there is a limit, as it was said, icons costs DW.)

Re: Question

[personal profile] cordykitten - 2012-11-02 16:32 (UTC) - Expand
starsfell: (Default)

[personal profile] starsfell 2013-07-02 01:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Hi! Sorry to be commenting on an old post, but I wasn't sure where else to ask this question.

Has this been implemented yet? I'd love to buy some extra icon slots for RP accounts, but I really can't afford to get paid accounts for the ones I'd like extra icons on.

(no subject)

[personal profile] starsfell - 2013-07-02 18:45 (UTC) - Expand

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