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.)
algeh: (hmm)

[personal profile] algeh 2012-02-13 10:05 pm (UTC)(link)
That sounds like a well-thought-out plan, while not something I'd actually use (I'd basically like to be able to use all of the icons I already have and use on LJ, which is less than 50 but more than 15, here also without a recurring cost because I suck at those, and I understand why it doesn't make business sense for you to offer me some way to permanently up my quota to 40-ish icons from 15 without a recurring payment, so that's more of an "I want a pony, but definitely not to take care of a pony" want).

What I'd really like (in addition to being able to select *which* 15 I get to keep, which I see from the comments above is already in the bug database) is to be able to mark over-quota icons as "archival" or something rather than deleting them so that I'd be able to easily re-activate them with the same keywords (and have them thus again show up on old posts/comments) if I ever did buy a paid account again.

Right now, if I want to track that info for possible icon re-use if I buy a paid account again later, I have to make a note-to-self somewhere of what keywords I've used with what icon before I delete it and save the icon elsewhere with that info attached. Since the icon costs presumably come mostly from displaying the icon all over the site rather than from storing it on disk, I suspect only making it viewable to the user and no one else and only on their icons page (or even on a separate "archived icons" page to further reduce incidental loads) wouldn't add too much cost compared with deletion (and possibly add a temptation for users to re-buy their paid account again since they'd then be able to quickly use the old icon they remembered they wanted, whereas now they'd have to go look for it and might get sidetracked in that process).
ldybastet: (GazettE - hands)

[personal profile] ldybastet 2012-02-13 10:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh wow! That would be amazing!!! :D
noxie: friendly girl smiling (Default)

[personal profile] noxie 2012-02-18 11:20 am (UTC)(link)
+1

Love the idea of icon sets, [staff profile] denise!
algeh: (Default)

[personal profile] algeh 2012-02-13 10:25 pm (UTC)(link)
That's a wonderful way to handle it. I'd probably use such a thing if it came to be.
kerravonsen: (Default)

[personal profile] kerravonsen 2012-02-13 10:38 pm (UTC)(link)


I am hanging out for image hosting, and this "icon sets" idea has made it even better.
killua: <lj site="livejournal.com" user="parron"> // <lj site="livejournal.com" user="satura_te"> (goten: omg omg omg this is great!)

[personal profile] killua 2012-02-13 10:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Ohmygosh Dreamwidth is already amazing but it just keeps something better and better. I'm waiting impatiently (but very happily and actually quite patiently butiwantitwantitwantit) for the image hosting and this icon set idea just makes it sound even more amazing. *3*
bzero: (A-Team)

[personal profile] bzero 2012-02-14 12:02 am (UTC)(link)
$diety, you guys rock. =)
zaluzianskya: (Squee)

[personal profile] zaluzianskya 2012-02-14 01:00 am (UTC)(link)
Oh wow, that would come in real handy for RP accounts in games that have regular transformation-type events (genderswaps, anyone?). That would be awesome.
lorax: The Wall Is Cold (GoT - The North "The Wall")

[personal profile] lorax 2012-02-14 05:41 am (UTC)(link)
This would be amazing.
elialshadowpine: (Default)

[personal profile] elialshadowpine 2012-02-14 09:56 am (UTC)(link)
EEEEEE THAT WOULD BE AMAZING <3 <3 <3
drawnthatway: (Default)

[personal profile] drawnthatway 2012-02-14 07:27 pm (UTC)(link)
That is the single best icon related idea I have heard for journal sites. I am all for it.
lovesickkiller: (OMG!)

[personal profile] lovesickkiller 2012-02-14 08:15 pm (UTC)(link)
That would be wonderful!
snoopypez: (asp | :D with teeth muhaha)

[personal profile] snoopypez 2012-02-14 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
This would be AMAZING.
zellieh: two cats entwined in a heart shape, text: I heart you with kittens (cats: two cats: i heart you with kittens)

[personal profile] zellieh 2012-02-15 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
See, this is why I love you and Mark: You made a post about a really nice feature that I like the sound of, and then when I go through the comments, you're all, "oh, yeah -- and we're planning this other great thing, too! And this one! And this one! And this one..."

Happy Valentine's Day! @}->->--
shibaface: (Default)

[personal profile] shibaface 2012-02-16 11:14 pm (UTC)(link)
You guys are my favoritest.
tatsube: (Happier Times)

[personal profile] tatsube 2012-03-17 02:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I love this idea so much!
inabmovie: (Default)

[personal profile] inabmovie 2012-03-17 05:52 pm (UTC)(link)
oooh, I love this idea.
ocariness: (Ecstatically.)

[personal profile] ocariness 2012-03-17 11:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Bless you, Denise. Mark. Everyone!!

All of these, I'm so hopeful, I love this. These tiny things are so huge to me, omg. Holiday swapping and silly icons to archive and whatnot would be so awesome.

I have an icon addiction and the idea of swapping and changing things when they run out is absolutely wonderful akjshdg ;___;

also somehow I'm always logged in to this account when I go to comment on DW type things...
Edited (is marching even a valid word for that sentence) 2012-03-17 23:43 (UTC)
citymusings: (RAWR  - ILY in dinosaur)

[personal profile] citymusings 2012-03-25 05:48 am (UTC)(link)
:o

You're amazing! I didn't know I needed this until you mentioned the possibility!
got_swagger: (Default)

[personal profile] got_swagger 2012-07-23 06:10 am (UTC)(link)
...

For realsies? This would be glorious!