Planet-9 Porsche Forum banner

1 - 20 of 49 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
34,502 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Dear Members,
With the recent changes to the Google site ranking formulas as well as the greater number of mobile users we receive I am contemplating some changes to the site and wanted to solicit feedback from you our member population. First let me state where we are at the moment. We are currently using Vbulletin version 4.2.2 (newest in the 4 series) which was a nice upgrade over a year ago from the old 3 series that we used for a number of years prior. The problem with VB4 is that it isn't current, VB5 I believe is the current platform, and it was never designed for mobile, anything mobile related is an add-on. For example Tapatalk is an add-on, Topify (mobile web view of the site) is an add-on, in essence trying to patch up Vbulletin to be more with the times. In addition Vbulletin is owned by Internet Brands, Internet Brands is a competitor to Planet-9 in that IB owns other automotive websites like rennlist and 6speed, etc. So when I am talking to a prospective advertiser who has limited funds I'm up against IB all the time. It irks me that I'm funding IB by still supporting vbulletin. :) Now with Google's recent changes to how it ranks sites we are getting dinged because Google doesn't like our mobile view of the site, for some reason the Google mobile determination engine doesn't pick up our mobile web display properly and doesn't even recognize Tapatalk, so in essence our band aids aren't helping.

I really see 3 options before us
1) Stay with the status quo, it's the cheapest option, it only requires that we continue to maintain the status quo, but will also cause us to fall further and further behind and hurt our rankings and most likely our revenue if we don't have the eyeballs that the advertisers/sponsors want to see.
2) Upgrade vbulletin to VB5, this requires both $ which will go to IB, as well as several add-ons that we use for VB4 do not exist for VB5 so we will either lose functionality, or we will have to pay to have that functionality custom developed.
3) Migrate from vbulletin to another platform, so far my shortlist is focused on XenForo (see www.xenforo.com ) This would change how things operate, sort of like moving into a new house, it still has bathrooms, kitchen, etc. they just aren't in the same place anymore. We would gain new functionality (much better mobile offering) but potentially lose some functionality (for example the garage may go away or change radically), but we are also on the newest platform the provider offers and not paying money to IB anymore.

I certainly haven't made any decision at this time, much more in-depth analysis of features, functions, costs, etc. needs to be done, but on the surface my initial reaction is that we need to do something and likely one of the 3 options I've depicted above. I would like to hear your opinions, if you have any, on where you'd like to see the site go in moving forward.

Thank you in advance for your input!
Sincerely,
K-Man S
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4 Posts
From K-Man S's descriptions above, it looks like a #3 vote from me.

This is a great forum!! Let's do what we can to keep it this way.

Lane
 

·
Next Porsche: 2022 992 GT3
Joined
·
4,105 Posts
I can only answer from a users perspective. I love the site and this one works for me. I agree the mobile version is not effective. I don't like it at all and do not use it. I don't know if you can give us links to other sites that are already using the proposed software to give us a feeling for the changes or not.

I would also solicit input directly and privately from your sponsors since I think they need to have an influential voice. Most of the forum users are not footing the bill.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,268 Posts
Since I don't visit the site via mobile, I'm pretty happy with it the way it is. However, it's not my revenue so if a negative impact to revenue is the result of staying with the current format then a move should be considered. It's all about ROI and I'm sure those of us that are regulars will adapt as necessary to continue to receive the benefits of our site visits. Thanks for asking our opinions.:cheers:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,776 Posts
Thank you, Ken.

I vote for whatever keeps this forum running, functioning and attracting sponsors and new members.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,432 Posts
i would vote for #3 - but agree with Hassaan - i think the big piece of the decision is what is best for you and your baby.

i know from experience that going from one platform to another may not always be smooth.

looking fwd to see how things evolve Ken.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
299 Posts
I think the best long term solution for your site would be to go with Option 3. People are going to need to take some time to re-familiarize with the new software and layout, but ultimately that will remove your reliance on VB4 and you won't be putting more money into your competitor's pocket.

The garage function is not a deal breaker and I personally think it's under utilized. Car forums have traditionally relied on people making new threads or have stickied threads in the Gallery section. I think most people prefer that method for viewing vehicles given the larger resolution and ease of linking images in that manner.

By having a better mobile platform, better Google ranking, more eyeballs, you will ensure the growth of this forum. Compared to other sites, I find this forum not as active with new posts. I'm not sure if that's a function of not as many Porsche owners versus other vehicles I have driven in the past or a nature of Google ranking and eyeballs.

That's my 2 cents. Whichever option is good for you, will be good for the community. Ultimately you are the one who is spending the money and time on this site, so ultimately you need to be happy with the direction you take.
 

·
Vendor
Joined
·
6,504 Posts
#3 seems an obvious choice for me. I don't really use the garage, and I prefer the standard full view, even when using on mobile devices (so offer to install Taptalk every time is very irritating). Just my 2c
 
  • Like
Reactions: acropora and 16984

·
Registered
Joined
·
734 Posts
I've never been on a XenForo site before, but as long as its not too radically different, I'd also go with choice #3.

Choice #1 will be like signing a slow death sentence.
Choice #2 will be the second best option. It really depends on what XenForo's layout is like.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
164 Posts
Seems like Option 3 is the best solution and also the most involved to implement. As others have written it's more about how this works for you in terms of effort and dollars expended and ROI in dollars and growth of Planet-9.

You might lose some members in the short-run that don't want to adapt, but you'll probably bring in more members (eyeballs on ads) in the long-term.
 

·
PCA Member and DE Instructor
Joined
·
3,107 Posts
FWIW

I like the to see the same layout, display whether I'm on a computer, tablet or phone. Right now I get differences between windows and android and have to adjust accordingly.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
287 Posts
I agree that is really your call on what you think would be best. And, I understand how help a competitor financially is not "fun". From your description it would seem that #3 is the best option....
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,618 Posts
I agree with all (??) here that the best ROI is the driver as long as XenForo platform is good for what you think the majority of members want/need. As with others if you can direct us to any sites using said XenForo platform so that we users might have a good feel for extent of change(s) that would be GREAT. I will never use mobile so that's never been an issue for me, but for younger folks and more play from Google I can see the need to get this fixed properly.

:thanks: Ken for asking our opinions and thinking of your customers - us - from the get go.

:cheers:
 

·
PCA member since 1998
Joined
·
295 Posts
#3 seems to be the logical next step.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,151 Posts
Here are the things important to building an online community:

  • Good community building (in which the software used is mostly irrelevant)
  • Good search (which no forum software* does well)
  • Good user experience -- ease of registration, access, navigation, and the ability for users that don't know Planet-9 exists to find their answer on Planet-9 (via Google, Bing or Duck Duck Go)
That's what matters. $200-250 going into IB's pockets is completely irrelevant, and is something that should not influence your decision. The above three things should matter, not what should be a rounding error to IB. If the above three is done right, whether or not you used vBulletin, XenForo, phpBB, etc. won't significantly matter. With that said, I'd choose the software that best improves one or more dimensions from the above list.

-----

* Discourse does its own search extremely well (super fast, excellent results), is awesome in modern browsers including phones/tablets, and has excellent built-in plays-by-the-rules SEO, but I suggest giving the platform another two years for the plug-in ecosystem and the core software to mature before considering it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,618 Posts
Ken,

You and the moderators have created a great experience! I use Tapatalk on iPad and iPhone almost all the time to access the site. IMO the Tapatalk experience is only fair, but I don't mind because the content is so great. Don't know enough to say anything more.

Thank you
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mike R.

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,726 Posts
3, as long as all old content isn't lost. Seems a good case for it from the overview.

current mobile site is pretty bad, but I actually like the tablet/web design. So upgrade is a safe bet.
 
1 - 20 of 49 Posts
Top