The New Skratchworx is here
Posted by Gizmo on March 16, 2012 :
Today, I'd like to talk to you about something that I've been looking forward to for a very long time - 3 years in fact. But now I can finally share the next generation of skratchworx.
But first, some history.
Back in 2003, skratchworx was created so that I could bring together something I loved and had done since the early 80s, with something cool that I really wanted to get into.
Thus I welded DJing with web design and skratchworx was born.
Ewww… what was I thinking?
Originally, it was started to help scratch DJs get more focussed information about gear that mattered to them. So off I went, writing about turntables and mixers and slipmats. But we soon found a niche in a market, one where the only place to get this kind of information was from retailer sitea, where as you might expect, they say everything is brilliant and you must buy it all now.
But then the digital age kicked in, and suddenly the market was awash with all manner of new fangled products - both hated by the purists and loved by the early adopters. And yes, we covered them all.
What I saw was a changing market, one where DJ technology had become a big melting pot. Turntablists were using CDJs, EDM DJs scratching in DVSs, and now everyone has a controller of some sort. Everybody is dipping their toes in their respective technology pools.
And that's the path skratchworx has taken ever since - and despite the name, we've covered ALL styles of DJing.
We've broken more exclusives and reviewed more gear than I care to remember, long before our competitors even existed. Importantly we've built up an unparalleled level of trust and respect from the industry, and importantly you the reader.
But it's time for a change. I've taken a long hard look at what we're doing - what we write, the way we write it and how we deliver it to you.
And frankly, I'm not happy.
We can do much better. So it's time for an overhaul - a complete demolish and rebuild job.
Taking a step back, donning my objective hat and doing some deep self analysis:
• TOO SLOW: We get the latest news and write THE BEST reviews. But not enough of them, and certainly not fast enough either.
• TOO OLD: The website architecture does a great job, but looks and feels dated.
• TOO MANY ADS: There are too many ads and not enough content.
• TOO MUCH WASTED RESOURCE: We go to every major trade show, at great expense, but all I see is wasted cash that could be spent on more original content
Our competitors also do some really great stuff. But they did have a good blueprint to work from...
So I'm making sweeping changes, bringing focus back, and capitalising on what we're about. And that's eating, sleeping, and breathing DJ technology of all kinds.
All New Site
So the first thing - an all new website. We've stripped away all the pointless chaff, and left the basics - news, reviews and opinion, but want to make sure that we do them really REALLY well before moving forward. The new layout refocusses on what you come for - the content.
We've got new hosting, and the site is built on the latest Wordpress architecture, but importantly driven by the Genesis engine - super fast, highly tuned and search engine optimised.
For you, it means that everything is at your fingertips - broken up into neat categories, and also searchable by tags. Nothing disappears off the bottom of the page into oblivion anymore - it's all there ready to be clicked or easily located.
Playing to our strengths, we're focussing on imagery. We've established ourselves as leaders in DJ product photography, so the images are now of a size that do them justice onscreen and gives the site even more impact. And this is an area where you'll see great improvements in the future as well, especially with video.
Part of what we do is to encourage discussion, and we've made it even better than before. To get you to join in, on the home page you'll be able to see recent comments, with a snippet. There's even an RSS feed for comments as well.
But if you want to comment, you must login to the site. You can register directly, or login via Facebook, Twitter or Google+. There will be no anonymous logins from trolls behind a keyboard. If you have something to say, be accountable.
And with this comes perhaps the most requested feature - No security code. That alone should encourage people to get involved.
Something missing from skratchworx was a community. Yes, like any website, there is a hardcore of regular commenters, and yes there was even a dedicated forum called the skratchlounge, with a link to it on every page of skratchworx. But it was a different domain and largely frequented by scratch DJs.
But we want to provide a place where all DJs can come, where the boundaries between brands are broken down and all technologies can be discussed in the same place. So the new site has a full integrated forum.
The forums are broken down into product groups. We're about technology, not fanboy flag waving. You all have issues, and hopefully you can all share without starting pointless brand wars. I certainly won't tolerate such things.
And it's free of all the pointless screen fluff too, so no huge avatars or endless signatures either - just you and your words. That's all anyone wants anyway. It will however be getting a little more cosmetic attention fairly quickly.
Importantly for the integrated feel between content and forum, it's a single login. This is not a forum nailed to the side of a blog - it's been important to me to have a tight integration and I feel that's what we've got.
I urge you to get involved. The very highest levels of this industry come to the site to read your opinions. What you say really matters, so say it here, and if you say it constructively, it will be heard.
Web stats are an eye opener for sure. Apparently 12% of my traffic comes from phones and tablets. And that comes from a staggering 185 different devices.
So to address the growing mobile market, I've made an extremely mobile friendly version of the site. The standard version works really well on mobile devices anyway, but the optimised version works even better. You still get the same user experience, right down to a single login for comments and the forum.
Bearing in mind that I don't have 185 mobile devices to test with, feedback would be most welcome.
The site is nothing without a steady flow of quality content. So we've worked hard for a very long time to build the respect and trust of the industry. So we don't leak or publish rumours - ever - and while this sometimes means that we don't always publish first, we often get the exclusives, or at least a little more insight than most.
But I want the new site to be the only place you think of going to for DJ gear news. Why trail around tens of dozens of manufacturer sites when you can just come to one place and know that we'll have the very best information and opinion to go with it.
On to reviews - this is an area where I feel that we excel. It's how we made our name, and how we aim to continue building the trust of the reader and the industry. The detail is without equal, as is the photography.
But I feel that they can, and will be better.
We need to recalibrate, and draw a new line in the sand to highlight the great from the less so. We're also going to tighten up the schedules so that a review will appear when a product is near to, or does hit the shelves i.e. when you really need it. The reviews themselves will go mutipage to assist readability, and the imagery will not only remain of the highest quality, but will also aim to show products in a more accurate light. And expect to see video making an appearance too.
There's also going to be a lot of fresh content - articles that we haven't really tackled before, but are sure to prove useful and interesting. We're going to take you deep into the industry, to help you better understand how the gear reaches your doorstep. We're also going to create some truly innovative content. There's nothing like a controversial opinion to stir users up. And again, it's only through challenging discussions that the industry can move forward.
Yes I know - Skratchworx has come to resemble Times Square and Piccadilly Circus - lots of ads that people rush past to get to where they want to be - the content. This has happened due to reacting to requests, rather than thinking about what works and what doesn't.
This is no good for you, or the companies who place the ads. The one success has been the takeover campaigns. Where we've had complaints about the sheer volume of ads, I've actually had compliments about the takeovers.
So there's going to be a shift, to less but more effective ads, and more takeovers. These takeovers will be carefully designed and time to coincide with marketing activity, but only for days or at the most a week at a time.
Obviously, we would love to dispense with ads altogether. But we can't bring the best content to you without a revenue stream. It might not have a physical product, but still takes the same amount of work to put together as a magazine does. You can't touch it, but it still has real value.
But all you need to remember is that the content is still free.
The most important change
We've already discussed how DJ technology is now one big melting pot - where boundaries between genres have been eroded and DJs of all styles are using much the same gear. And we've been pretty damned good at covering as much as we can. But the perception of the site is one of being a turntablist site. Indeed, I hear stories of people coming across links in Google and not even clicking because of this perception, and the same is true for potential advertisers too. Understandable given its heritage, but this has to stop. So it's time to rebrand, and give the site a name and image that more accurately reflects the content and focus.
So as of today, we're rebranding from skratchworx to DJWORX.
But this isn't just a just a paint job with a fresh logo - the all new site allows us to start over, to build upon the solid foundation, but make the necessary changes across the board that will enable us to bring you the very best content that we possibly can. And a lot more of it too.
And we're starting over on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ as well.
But what of skratchworx? Having built such strong support, it would be foolish to cast it to one side. I strongly believe that as a brand, skratchworx has core support from the scratch scene - a scene that lacks cohesion and focus. Thus after a period of transition, it will remain as an archive, but return as a scratch scene focussed site. More on this another time.
So to wrap up everything in one bite sized snippet - skratchworx will become DJWORX, with a whole new site, more content, less ads, a built in community and a fully mobile version too. We'll be hitting you the best content when you want it, and taking coverage into all new areas. There's a planned upgrade schedule to tweak existing features and to add new ones too.
All reviews are moving over steadily, as have a handful of choice articles with more to come. But I wanted to launch DJWORX before Musikmesse next week.
As a creative type, I'm often hyper critical of my own work, but I'm really excited about what we've achieved here. Make no mistake - we're done being a half-arsed blog run by some buy in his home office - we are DJWORX and we are not messing around. The industry is 100% behind us. And this is just V1.
I hope you like the new site. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.