Managing Our Growing Website

Any time someone sets out to make a website, they envision that it will look like the best website ever created. Some people define their website’s beauty by the artwork, some by how user-friendly it is, and others by how tidy the back-end code is written. A wise old man once told me (That’s a lie; it was actually a 20-year-old know-it-all programmer) the customer does not care what’s under the hood. Make the website pretty and functional. Nobody cares if it has 300 lines of unnecessary php script on the home page.

This website began more than four years ago. The banner actually had hot air balloons all over it (anyone remember this?). This was before BFS had really ‘found itself’. The home page featured our newest game, Air Traffic Controller, for $5.99. Since then, the site has grown considerably. It has grown to the stage of an awkward teenager, who is half-way through puberty, wondering if he will ever grow facial hair.

Our website is like a house that keeps getting add-ons. Build a shed. Convert the garage. Expand the kitchen. Add a bedroom and a deck. Give it some new paint and put in hardwood throughout. Our website structure is still relatively tidy. Nav links are at the top left, and there are only six of them. You are never more than two clicks from any particular page, and the home page is always one click away. On the back-end, it’s a different story.

The back-end is a mess. We are obviously too busy making games to give it the TLC it deserves. Last week I added a facebook “like” button to one of the pages, and was alarmed by all of the bloated html code I had to scroll through. There were code snippets from various web services, many that I don’t even use anymore. A Google Ad? I thought I’d gotten rid of those in 2010. And what the heck is Stat-Tracker? A web service that I must have used in 2008.

Like I mentioned above, customers don’t really care about what’s under the hood. Does it work? Will it accept my money and give me Airport Madness 4? Good enough. The website works just fine. I’ve never had any complaints, aside from the occasional friendly email, to point out spelng erors or dead links. I still use PayPal exclusively for payments, because I think this makes the customer feel safe. There are cheaper services for sure, but PayPal brings the customer trust.

Earlier this year we gave the website a new banner image, that will likely change from time-to-time. We also categorized our games into three categories: Airport Madness, Radar Chaos, and Other. I’m not sure for how long we can use “Other” as a title, as we plan to expand beyond Air Traffic Control games in the next year.

We will likely be buying aviation games from other developers, and adding them to our site. These would exist in a sandbox of their own, separate from our stuff. We get a lot of requests for different styles of games, and feel this is one way of offering greater variety.

Website feedback is always welcome!

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