Open Letter to All Catsters: Notice of Some Upcoming Changes

 |  Jun 11th 2008  |   7 Contributions


Hi Everypaw,

It's Ted here. If you don't know me, I'm the guilty party who started this whole crazy furtastic thing. (Maybe you've purred with my dog Sparky?)

I wanted to personally write you, the amazing pawple who make this whole thing great, with an update about a small change, but significant changes coming soon, that will affect the header section of this site. The purpose is to offer search functionality on every page in addition to displaying a 728x90 (pixel) ad instead of the 468x60 (pixel) ads we currently show.

Please know a lot of thought and consideration of alternatives went into this decision as we balance keeping the sites great and making sure we can still afford to do that. I've posted some screenshot links below so you'll be able to see exactly what I'm talking about. Long story short, the header section of our site will become 15 pixels taller (roughly 3/8th inch.) The top ad will also be bigger (see details for why we have to do this below), and to account for this the login form will now be accessible via a link on the left instead of an already visible box on the right. To account for the moved login box we removed the 'Home' link (as most people know the big logo in the top left is the link to the homepage). Finally we're making the search functionality appear on every page for all visitors.

The reason we're switching from a 468x60-sized ad to a 728x90 one is that the 728 ad size has become the default for the online advertising industry. Most of our advertisers don't even make 468 versions anymore. We've dragged our paws on this for a couple years, but we're no longer able to get advertisers to work with the outdated banner format. Most every advertising-supported site made this move long ago (for example see ABC, NBC, iVillage, BabyCenter, WebMd, ESPN). In fact, you may have noticed most ads we serve in that slot are self-promotional because no one will buy the outdated inventory.

If this sounds like a decision made to make more money, I'll humbly share that yes, it is. Plus subscriptions and Zealie purchases are GREAT, and they really help us stay afloat, but only account for about 20% of our monthly expenses. Some months we even spend more money than we earn, and as much as we love doing this, we can't afford to lose money dong it.

The reason we're adding search at the top of every page is that it's really, really popular, but it's currently not easy to find unless you are logged in, so it's hidden to our customers who don't have an account. Since this new search bar only takes up 20 pixels (about 1/4 of an inch) we thought the change was well worth it. Please also know that making search more functional is high on our list. We'll soon have search results pages that show keyword hits from forums, groups, photos, videos, answers, local listings, pet pages and diaries all at once. So if you ever want to go back to something or learn something new we'll do the hard work for you.

Finally, the login box will only be visible on the homepage if you are logged out. Instead there will be a link on all pages beneath the big logo in the upper left that opens right on the page with an interface to login. We're bummed it'll be one extra click, but you won't have to wait for the page to reload so it'll just take a millisecond longer. Of course if you use autologin, you'll very rarely need to login.

Since this site is as much yours as ours, we wanted to give you a heads up. Below you'll find links to screenshots of the changes. We've also made a special group where you can share with us what you think about the changes. We'll be hanging out in there constantly during the change as we want this to be an easy as possible for everyone.

As always, we're working hard to make Catster & Dogster the best pet sites ever, and we know we aren't alone. We appreciate all of the time you spend with us making friends, creating groups and taking advantage of the exciting content found in forums, answers, breed pages, and pet manuals, just to name a few. Cat and dog lovers just like you are what make this place special.

Many meows!

Ted "Top Dog" Rheingold & the whole gang at HQ

Here's the Group we created where we'll be hanging out to hear what you think.

(Click each image to see full size.)

LOGGED IN MEMBER on GROUPS PAGE

Don Hairless

 

LOGGED OUT VISITOR on GROUPS PAGE

Don Hairless

 

LOGGING IN MEMBER on GROUPS PAGE

Don Hairless

Feel free to leave comments here or join the discussion at the Group we created.

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