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Trader Sam

October has always been a busy month for me. Even though Doorless Chambers is not happening this year, and I’ve decided not to do a haunt for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters (handing out candy is up in the air, too), I’m still busy.

I’ve been digging around through my personal archives for Disney objects that I could give away each month. Things that I’ve collected and never used, opened, and don’t need or want (they didn’t do so well on eBay). And, not just old things, but new things, too (check out next month’s giveaway)! So far, I’ve collected enough items for almost a full year of giveaways, which will be a great chance for guests to help support the website and get something cool in return. You can also check out the new “Monthly Giveaway” page for details and past & current giveaways.

Last night, I began reading Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability which couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been mulling around the idea of revamping the Disney Experience for a while, and I think it’s about time to get that started before the year is out. But, this time, I will be really looking at everything and asking myself important questions like, “Do I need this?,” “Should this go here?” and “Is this too hard to understand? One of my main concerns is ease of use, and site navigation. How easy would it be for a newcomer? Would they shy away after a while? Do they know what this site is and what it’s about?

I seriously need to rethink things. If you have any thoughts/recommendations, let me know what you think can be improved/changed/added, and let me know what parts are easy/hard/confusing. Post your responses here.

Halloween is coming up fast, and I haven’t even started on this year’s treat! I had an idea, thanks to Becky (shhh!), but I haven’t decided upon a design, and I don’t know if I would get it finished in time. The other problem is that it may not appeal to many guests; I mean, it’s not something that serves any purpose unless a previously-released item is downloaded. I need to think on this, though I don’t have much time.

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Robert Nava (aka Trader Sam) is the owner and operator of Doorless Chambers. Both the post author and this website have not received any compensation for writing this post. Both the post author and this website have no material connection to the third-party brands, products, or services that have been mentioned. This is being disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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There are 14 comments.

  • Becky:

    Well since I’ve given you a lot of prank ideas I can only imagine! lol But I also remember a few valid suggestions so I’d say go for it! If you’re thinking of doing what I think you’re thinking of doing, it will be great! If not, I’m sure I’ll like it too whatever it is just like everyone else!

    The only suggestion I’d make toward a revamp of the site is that if I were you I’d hype up the paper models more. In my humble opinion that’s your bread and butter toward repeat visitors so I’d have it loud and proud on the main page.

    • Trader Sam:

      It’s funny that you suggest that the paper models are under-represented. I always thought they took a tad too much of the spotlight.

      As far as everything else, the content will not change. It’s more about the experience that I’m concerned about. Is it intuitive, or does a person have to sit and think about what to click on? Is the site too noisy (either graphically or content-wise)? I have some new ideas that may work out for the better. Pages should seem a little more free and flowing rather than the jumbled mess that (I think) it is.

      Another thing that I am considering is the width of the website. Do many folks use 800 x 600 screen resolutions any more?

      • Becky:

        As far as paper model promotion goes, the recent generation of the header bar would be my target. If you didn’t know that they were there you wouldn’t find them as a first time visitor. At least not right away. It might be a good idea to separate them from the other categories in the “Activities For Everyone” dept by calling them “Build Your Own” or something similar. The wider format you’re working on would easily accomodate a separate column. Or, put the appropriate paper models, wallpapers and icon sets in a new group and call it “Theme Park…” But that may be a bit too specific.

        I just think that hands on stuff helps extend the magic and print and play is an excellent way to go. Kids love to make things and that helps keep the Disney lexicon alive. More coloring pages might be a good idea too.

        As far as the forum concept goes it is a good idea, but I think we do well enough right here in the comments area. Bringing the blog in-house and moving away from the Cannibal Soup version on an external site was a good idea.

        • Trader Sam:

          I have sketched out a beginning layout, and I can definitely say that I will be switching from a drop-down menu to a tabbed menu. A lot of things will get moved around and get their own tabs, like the paper models. So far, the tabs will be: “Welcome,” “Newest Downloads,” “Paper Models,” “Projects & Crafts,” “Customize Your Computer,” “Guest Participation,” and “Help.”

          I’ve been meaning to shut down the Head Shrinker, but I could never figure out what to do with the posts. A few might be transferred here, others might be transferred to Nava Designs, and the rest will have to disappear into digital oblivion. I do need to make sure to get my onion ring recipe written down first; I can’t live without that!

  • Brad:

    Robert;

    I have to admit… I have followed your stellar site for a long time and always look forward to your changes, gifts and ideas. I have to say for me, the most invaluable thing is your wondrous wallpapers… they are most always perfect and hence, displayed on my computer for a good long time. I am a graphic designer myself and own a marketing company, so I appreciate your time consumption plight. I want you to know that what ever you decide, I am certain it will be top notch and received with great joy by anyone who visits here.

    As for worrying about the site navigation… it is easy to use. Bill Gates keeps moving forward with his technology and so will the rest of us follow. Thank you for the HARD work and diligence that is your Disney Experience.

  • md:

    more icons, cursors, wallpapers and maybe a few screensavers would be awesome. or not change anything because your site is wonderful as it is.

    ps you could always just redo old icons to make them more vista/7 friendly. the graphics have really changed over the years.

  • George:

    I love this website, I check it daily. But even I have to admit I’ve become bored with the layout. Here are a few things that may spice up the experience:

    A little intro when you enter the website

    Games(?)

    Hidden pages

    User-Profiles

    A Forum

    I have this idea that you may like: You can get credits by browsing around the site. With those credits, you can “buy” virtual prizes that you can use around the site, paper models before they’re released, exclusive items that can only be “bought” with the credits, ect. ect. ect.

    I realize my ideas may seem a little too elaborate… But hey, they’re just ideas x)

    • Trader Sam:

      Well, thanks for your input, George. It’s certainly appreciated.

      I’ve been wanting to have a forum for quite some time, but from my experience, they can get hairy. Not only do I not have the time to moderate (I know others can), but I generally don’t participate. That means that nothing would be in my control as far as keeping to my vision. Then, you get folks (trolls) who like starting nasty arguments, which get way out of control. And, not to mention spam; tons of spam! It’s a headache I’m not ready to deal with right at this moment.

      As for hidden pages, there actually is one. It’s a little buried treasure that you’ll have to search for.

  • MrBadClams:

    I agree with Becky. While I love everything here, the paper models are my favorite and my preference is that they be more prominent. I love your site the way it is, but I’ve visited for several years and am used to where everything is. I could see how somebody new could benefit from some simplification.

    I do understand your fears about forums, but I frequent the Mousetalgia forum and in my 2 years there I don’t remember an argument or even a troll, but we’re a friendly bunch over there and look out for each other.

    I am really looking forward to the updates. Some of the above comments have some great ideas.

  • LeRoy Valadez:

    I love your site, it’s a great spot to visit, esp. the paper models. Hey, how come you don’t have a Doombuggy paper model available? *hint hint*

    • Trader Sam:

      That’s one on my looooong paper model to-do list.

  • Captain Halfbeard:

    Sam, I’ve been a long time watcher and downloader of your site, mostly of your icons, cursors, and your HM scrrensaver. The designs of the models are fabulous, but with kids and a job, I don’t have the time for the paper models. But love what I can do with the icons!

    I agree with the previous post by “md” that you have a lot of really great designs in your older icons, but the 16 bit format doesn’t look so good on Windows 7. Redoing many of them, like your old Pirates set for Tellnotales.com, or a good Hatbox Ghost icon would be awesome! I’m also still hoping some day to see an icon set from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!

    Thanks for all of the hard work.

    • Trader Sam:

      I agree. The old icons became outdated long ago, which is why I do not do them any more. I even have reservations about releasing ones that are still haunting the vault.

      I never thought of a Sleepy Hollow set! That’s really strange since it’s one of my favorite Disney Halloween classics. I guess it’s because I haven’t seen it in 10+ years. Yikes! My other Halloween favorite is Trick-or-Treat, starring Donald Duck. I DO have that one; I’ll have to dig it out and watch it tomorrow. Thanks for the ideas!

  • Captain Halfbeard:

    I love “Trick or Treat”! Since I haven’t seen Disney create a Halloween Classics volume for sometime now, I have been hunting for spooky Disney classics on Youtube, and have found good copies of Trick or Treat, Pluto’s Judgment Day, Donald and the Gorilla, The old Mickey cartoon “The Haunted House”, and the Skeleton Dance on there.

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