Long time, no chat (understatement of the year). I don’t want to spend a lot of time listing my reasons and excuses for Crawlr’s silence — they were all personal in nature and, either way, all 17,900+ of you deserved better. Period.
To recap the last 7 months:
- I graduated with my Master’s.
- I got married.
- I went on a stellar honeymoon.
- I dealt with some personal issues.
During this time, the incredible Alex, whom we call the Crawlr Social Media Human, was the single most important person when it came to this project. Without Alex’s constant enthusiasm, support and level head, I don’t know if I would have been able to bring myself to overcome the issues I was having and become serious about this project. If you’ve been hanging out with us on Twitter or chatting on Reddit (or any of our other social), you’ve been talking to Alex.
I know he wouldn’t want me to dwell on it for long, but Alex — thank you for believing in me and for believing in Crawlr.
Recently, the site was closed for maintenance. During this time, we made the following updates:
- Implemented a mail server system to allow for email notifications. Until we’re an actual app, email notifications are our best bet for helping you stay up-to-date on your inbound Crawlr activity. Users should be opted-in to receive the following notifications, which you can adjust via Account Settings > Notifications:
- Private messages received when you’ve been logged out of the site for one hour.
- Friend requests.
- Group requests.
- Set up new, specific-use forms. When you’re logged in, you’ll see these forms available under the new “Tools” header menu:
- Report a user
- Submit a support ticket
- Request to add a game
- Added a number of important new pages.
- Revised some preexisting pages.
- Reduced the use of yellow throughout the site. A number of you wrote in with very valid accessibility complaints about that vibrant yellow, so I’ve revised away from low contrast in favor of a more monochromatic color scheme throughout.
- If the site looks odd, I recommend clearing your cache and reloading. I saw success on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge with these aesthetic updates. If it’s still giving you formatting issues, please login and submit a support ticket with a screenshot.
- Or, if you’re not a member, shoot a message over to firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
- Slightly modified the homepage due to loading issues.
- Launched a Patreon, created a Crawlr PayPal and listed a few things we need help on over at Help Crawlr.
Additionally, there were a number of routine maintenance updates to ensure the backend was running green across the board. This ultimately broke my site when going from Staging to Live last Monday, which is part of why we had to delay the reopening. The other factor had to do with email becoming my personal enemy.
Here’s what I have on my radar for upcoming updates I’d like to make real by end of March 2020.
On My Q1 List:
- Create a dashboard for logged in users that’s easier to use than going to the profile view.
- Update our game list with all of your recommendations.
- Regularly send out newsletters via Mailchimp (see the footer to sign up!).
- Hire a developer to assist with creating a results map so that you can more easily find people near you. (Hit me up at email@example.com if this sounds up your alley!)
- Ideally, hit 20,000 users on Crawlr.
So, that’s where we’re at. Here’s where I’d like to take us.
Our 2020 Roadmap
Goal 1: Pay the Crawlr bills.
Since May 2019, I’ve paid for Crawlr out of pocket. For full transparency, it’s cost about $3,000 to date, not including any compensation for anyone’s time spent working on the site.
I’m not saying that to complain but to preface why goal 1 is, well, goal 1. As I mentioned up top, I graduated with my Master’s Degree in 2019, which means I’ve got student loans knocking on my door. My expendable income has been greatly reduced because of this, and it’s tough to justify the Crawlr line items without any incoming support to keep the site live.
To help with this, I’ve launched a Patreon and setup a business PayPal for donations. I would greatly appreciate any support you’d like to give, and do know that it is by no means mandatory. Crawlr is still a free service, and I hope it will always be one.
Timing: As soon as possible, ideally. There’s no hard “must have by” date; I can continue to keep the site live, even with my student debt.
Goal 2: Develop a UX model of a Crawlr app.
Before we can kick off a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds or before I can really interest investors in backing Crawlr, I need a visual representation of what we could expect from a mobile app version of Crawlr.
If you’d like to help, please feel free to send your resume and any details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Based on previous survey data, the majority of our users use Android over iOS, but the iOS share is not negligible (plus, that’s my operating system of choice!)
Timing: I am aiming to be aligned on doable models by the end of May 2020 so that we can spend the summer fundraising and finding investors.
Goal 3: Handle some legal must haves.
The stopper here is money, so any assistance in Goal 1 will greatly help move Goal 3 forward.
Additionally, anyone who has a background in copyright law and wouldn’t mind me bouncing a few questions off of them would be a dream. Send me a line at email@example.com to chat.
Timing: Aiming to complete by end of March 2020.
Goal 4: Launch a Kickstarter.
The amount will depend on the estimates we draw during Goal 2, which will be run past app developers to vet. I want to make sure we deliver a solid product, so I will continue discussing opportunities with investors for additional support.
Timing: Aiming to launch on Kickstarter by end of June 2020.
Goal 5: Begin app development.
Once we’ve got our money raised, it’ll be time to make a Crawlr app a reality.
Timing: I’d like to start development by end of September 2020. Timing is variable, but I would expect it to take three to four months. This would put us going live by the end of 2020 or in early 2021.
In the interim, I could use some help with current needs on Crawlr. If you’d like to help out, please visit Help Crawlr for more information.
Thank you for reading this long update and for sticking with us. If your 2019 was as rocky as mine, here’s to making it through. 2020 has to be the year for TTRPG — I mean, it’s a double nat 20, right?
All the best,
PS — I’ll be using @jzantow on Crawlr as my user handle so that you all aren’t having to be spammed by that awful, long number username.