– new look & where to from here…

Well, have whacked up the first draft of an redesign and figured that now is as good a time as any to ask what people make of it and also of where it might go in the future. small banner

At the moment I’m *fairly* comfortable with where it’s at technically – a few bugs (which should be easily sorted) aside and so feel kinda happy to leave the explanations for it’s ‘not entirely 100%’ state in the FAQ and we’ve also had some pretty rocky times with users getting deleted and stuff which I was able to sort out pretty simply so I feel like I can deal with most things there (with the invaluable help of the WPMU forums!)

So, where to from here… well, I figured that comes into three particular areas: purpose, functionality and sustainability.

In terms of purpose it’s pretty simple really. I want to provide free, high quality blogs for educational professionals. Why? Well, I reckon that having a blog is a valuable asset for people in a whole host of different ways (personal presence, conversation, empowerment etc. etc. etc.), that there’s value in having a blog as part of a broader professional community (as opposed to say, blogger, typepad or and that it’s a pretty darn useful experience for me :oD

Technically, while I’m pretty happy with the WordPress tool as it stands, there’s a lot that could be improved upon in terms of making the most of being part of a big community of educators. I’ve set up a (Drupal Based) ‘community’ area for bugs, issues and getting to know each other but it doesn’t really feel like this sis ‘the solution’. I’m endlessly hoping for the wpmu functions to get fixed so I can put up a list of ‘latest updated’ blogs and / or an automated aggregator of everything in If I had a bit more time I’d probably start playing with the ideas of tag clouds (cos they’re pretty) and I’d really like to figure out a way in which different groups of edublogs edubloggers can ‘self-organise’ – and, if they’d want to! In short, if I could get some of these community tools going, would it make a difference, or are people more interested in their own blog which they email to their friends / colleagues and add to their email sig.

Interesting stuff, would love to know what other people think!

Finally, there’s the question of sustainability. Currently in it’s 2 and a half months old and there are over 1,500 edubloggers. That’s up from 846 at the end of the first month so while there’s obviously a bit of a slowdown – it’s obviously not that much of one. Needless to say bandwidth issues are starting to appear and I’m estimating about 10 Gigs will last us until the end of this month – probably 8 will just do it – up from 2.84 Gigs for the first month. The introduction of image management has also put a strain on the MB storage area too… darn improvements ;)

I’m not even going to consider the possible impact of this getting a mention in any of the major educational press publications so without that if we keep on going as we are now we could possibly be looking at about 9,000 blogs by the end of 12 months, but more worryingly, something like (dodgy maths ahoy) 50 – 100 Gig bandwidth a month. Which all seems to be fine from a server perspective – there doesn’t seem to have been any slowdown with the increasing number of blogs – but could be a bit of a problem for me on the old bank balance front.

This is where I need a bit of help as my options currently look like this:

-Introduce advertising (yuk! don’t want to! would probably only make a pittance anyway!)
-Introduce fees (also don’t want to, for one I want it to be free and also it’d be too technically difficult ;)
-Hand out the begging bowl (tried this, lots of donate things around, 80 days later total number of donations = 1 (thanks Doug!!!))

So where to and what to do?

Well, I guess there’s always the possibility of inserting stuff into the actual backend of the blogs, so that your readers don’t see it but you do in the header of the back of your blog – I’d thought about this before in terms of communicating important edublogs stuff – works better than the dashboard. But what to put there and how would it recoup costs.

I could also spend some time peddling this to educational, non-profit organisations as something they could host in exchange for ‘ – brought to you by xxxxxx’ on the front page but I don’t really fancy my chances there.

There are also the ‘add ins’ such as being able to add your own themes or access extra functionality – but am not sure how much this is feasible to a simpleton like me.

Or I could just look at this like one big happy experiment that’s worth bankrolling myself, just for the heck of it!

Who knows? Any ideas?