Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The FictionDB Visitor Satisfaction Survey

Thanks to everyone who participated in our recent survey!

I thought it would be fun to share the results and answer some of your responses on improving the site.

Overall, how well does FictionDB meet your needs?

These results make us very happy. We appear to be heading in the right direction!

How easy was it to find what you were looking for on our website?

In general, most of you find using the site pretty easy. Most of the comments we received on this reference the new site layout. Some people have been having trouble finding some of their most-used features. Almost every feature on the site can be found either in the footer or in the header under the Members dropdown.

What is the most important reason you visit FictionDB?

Not surprisingly, the biggest reason for using the site are the author and series lists. Everything else is in a tie for distant third place.

Would you like the ability to share your lists with other visitors and view other’s lists?

We have long considered adding certain "social" aspects to the site. This is the social feature most often requested through our help desk. While, the "Yes" answers are in the minority, this is a feature that we would like to add at some point in the future.

How visually appealing is our website?

Well, we're glad you like the look of the site.

How much do you trust the information on our website?

Another statistic that makes us really happy.

SUMMARY: You told us we're doing everything really well, which is always great to hear. As most of you know, we use the site as visitors just as much as you do. If there is something that frustrates us or we want to see, we don't hesitate to add it ASAP.

Do you have any other comments about how we can improve our website?

Most of you actually gave us some feedback in this question. Thank you for that! We take your feedback seriously. We can't answer every individual comment, but here are a few that fall into broad categories and our response.

Comments on keeping the site updated:

"Author lists need updating."
"Update author lists with new books."
"More indie & self published information."
"I find the website extremely helpful and the only recommendation that I can make is to continue to add authors to the database."

Our response: FictionDB has grown so much over the last couple years that keeping it updated has become a Herculean task. We add at least 20,000 new titles a month. It is almost physically impossible to keep up with every author out there. That's why we rely on our editors. If you would like to add authors and titles that you see are missing, please apply to become an editor. Editors can add authors, titles, series, genres, synopses and much more.

Comments on the new design:

"Go back to the way it was! Preferred the old way vs the new."

Our response: FictionDB has to change with the times and that means that the site will be redesigned on a regular basis. All of our editors were given the opportunity to help with the new design. If you'd like the chance to add input into the site's design, please become an editor.

Personal Book Tracking:

"have more lists for us to use to keep better track of our reading"
"more lists for use by me"
"make it so we have access to more lists in our accounts."

Our response: FictionDB has used the 3 list system since its inception. Adding new lists would obviously be a very big change given the site's design. If we can come up with a way to do it without compromising the existing site design, we will do it.

iPhone App / Android App / Mobile Site:

"I find the site difficult to use on a mobile device."
"The iphone app could be a bit faster and retain last items looked up."
"an Android app would be awesome"
"Would like to duplicate or match data to my iphone!!!"

Our response: We are in the process of creating an App that will be shared across both the iPhone and Android platforms. It is a complete overhaul, not an update to our existing app, so it's taking a little longer than we would like, but we are working on it. As for the FictionDB.com mobile site, we have done everything possible to accommodate a variety of devices with the same code, but obviously it's not going to work for everyone.

Requests for Existing Features:

"Allow users to add tags"
Our response: Tags can be added on any book detail page provided you are logged in to your account.

"Books to be published in the next 6 months"
Our response: The New Fiction page is one of the cornerstones of FictionDB and has existed from the beginning. New Releases

"I am not able to go directly to my favorite new book list."
Our response: The Favorites by Author and Series is available in the Members dropdown that can be found at the top of every page.

"Very difficult to just find my book lists."
Our response: The My Books link is available in the Members dropdown that can be found at the top of every page. The My Books link can also be found at the bottom of every page.

"Maybe be you can put a best sellers tab, broken down by genre."
Our response: Great minds think alike. We were actually working on this over the last month and the lists are ready. Bestseller Lists

"Being able to get an e-mail alert when a new book in a series is about to release would be great.especially the multiauthor series."
Our response: To get an email about a series all you have to do is click the gray heart next to the series name. It will turn red and the series has been favorited. Make sure you have updated your email preferences here: Update Account

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Status - Did Not Finish

Every year around this time, I take a look at my reading for the year. Unfortunately, this was a big year for DNF (Did Not Finish). In the past, I identified these books with a 1-star rating. Since I had so many of them this year, I began to think about it a little more and decided it probably wasn't fair of me to give these books one star. Maybe they are great books, but just not for me. Huh. So how I would I denote these books? I obviously needed a new status code. Lucky for me, I can add status codes whenever I want. You will now see the new Status Code (D) for did not finish.

What other status codes make sense, but are missing from FictionDB? Let me know and I'll see about getting them added.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Need to get in touch with us?

If you have a problem with the site and need some help, please use the help desk.


Just open a ticket and we'll answer any questions you may have.

The blog is not the place for getting questions answered. Most of the comments received here are SPAM and your question could get lost in the middle of it.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

FictionDB Gets an Upgrade

You might have noticed some minor changes around the site this morning. We upgraded the behind-the-scenes software last night.

With the rise of mobile browsing, it's important for the site to be useful in a mobile environment. The site will now automatically scale itself to the size of the device you are using. If you're using a phone, the main navigation bar at the top will collapse and the navigation bar will be available through this icon at the top right of the screen.

Visitors using really old browsers will still be able to access the site, but it won't be pretty. Older browsers may not be able to show our search pages. I would recommend using the Google site search tool on the advanced search page. If you can't view that page then use Google to find what you're looking for. To find an author type "Nora Roberts FictionDB" into Google. You can then link directly to the page you are looking for.

Please let us know if you are experiencing any other trouble with the site.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The New Search Is Ready for Its Close-Up!

We've just finished our preliminary redesign of the New Advanced Search. We think it's pretty awesome, but we won't know that for sure until you give it a good test drive.

You now have the ability to search on multiple genres and time periods at the same time. You can also exclude genres and time periods you'd like taken out of the results.

We've added a new section to the search page called "Refine Your Search". Take some time tabbing back and forth between all the genres and time period sections. You can add as many options from any of the tabs as you'd like. All genres and time periods are included by default, so if you're looking to do a quick search, you don't need to choose anything in this section.

In the example above, I've included Historical Mystery (a check in the first column -- green check) and excluded Historical Romance (a check in the second column -- red X) . Obviously, these categories are only as good as the underlying data, so if you spot inconsistencies volunteer to become a site editor!

Click on the orange Directions button for a quick reminder on what the columns are used for.

Please feel free to let us know how the New Search is working for you. Have a great idea for other searching options? Let us know that too...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Giant Robots Attack FictionDB!

Sounds like a science fiction plot, doesn't it? Unfortunately for us, it's been science fact for the last couple of days. You might have heard of Denial of Service attacks -- it's when a robot sends thousand of spiders at the same time to a website. Under normal circumstances, our infrastructure can handle spikes in traffic, but this was way out of the ordinary. So when will it end? Well, we don't know exactly, but we've done everything we can to minimize the site outages. Don't worry, the robots aren't interested in hacking into the site, they're just trying to be disruptive -- and they have succeeded!

What this has also done is made us assess our current hardware. We'd like to think that this was a one-time deal, but it's probably not. This morning we purchased brand new, sparkly, super-fast hardware. It will take us a couple of days to get FictionDB up and running on the new hardware. You can expect some downtime later in the week when we move your personal lists to the new machine. We'll keep you posted on that as we go along.

So, BAD for the short term and GOOD for the long term.

Monday, June 03, 2013

2013 BEA Book Bag Awards

With BEA over for another year and all the books added to our already overburdened shelves, we take a look at the most important part of the event -- the book bags! Before we go into what bags were the winners and losers I wanted to remind you of how we judge them.

The Anatomy of a Good Bag Handles — They have to be long enough to fit comfortably onto the shoulder, wide enough to not cut into you, and of a material (preferably fabric) that doesn’t slip. We can’t stress this enough. If a handle isn’t a good length and a decent width then the bag is rendered nearly useless for carrying a heavy load of books — unless you like holding the bag in your hand…which we don’t recommend unless you like numb hands and broken fingers.

Material – There are lots of materials for bags, but we feel that canvas is what it’s all about. Canvas is durable, washable, and comfortable against your body. We give a nod to bags that are made of a heavy duty plastic exterior. Unlike canvas, these bags have the ability to portray vivid colors and pictures, and with their slippery bottoms, are excellent for dragging along the expo floor. In general though, canvas is King.

Rigidity — A bag must be firm enough to stand up on its own, so that books can be placed into it without a fight. Sad, thin, slippery material that can't hold itself up is frustrating and it wastes everyone's time.

Shape — Since this is a book event and books are rectangular in nature, we like a square or rectangular bag. It just holds books better. Also the bottom MUST BE rectangular so it can stand upright. (please see above "Rigidity")

Size – Distribution of weight is a key feature to a good bag. Big is better right? No! When dealing with heavy items like books, a medium-sized bag is best. It stops the user from overfilling, bruising their shoulders and throwing out their backs.

Branding – We don’t really care about this as much as the other features, but it’s something we think about. Someone paid money to create the bag to market their product, so if you don’t know what that product is, or can’t tell who made the bag, well, that just seems sad.

Look — Like FictionDB, bags are a tool — a resource to use. Therefore, functionality is key which is why, just like FictionDB strives to look good while being the ultimate place for information on fiction, we expect a bag to look good while being functional too.


The “Everybody’s Using It” Bag

We saw the Workman bag everywhere! A little small for our tastes, but this little canvas bag was a favorite of many at the show this year.

The “Get’s the Job Done” Bag
This is the third year in a row for Ingram dominating this category. They have the same bag as last year and it meets the same specifications. A little on the large side, it’s well-proportioned with good branding. It’s functional and we saw quite a few of them around the show. Bonus, it's one of the best to slide along the floor...which you'll probably end up doing if you fill it up.

The "Nostalgia" Bag
Who doesn’t love The Hobbit? This simple black canvas bag with Smaug outlined in red ink is very eye-catching.

The “Sad Sack” Bag
To our horror we saw more bags in this category than usual this year, but the one that takes the prize is PaperCutz’s Nancy Drew bag. This bag is so flimsy I doubt it could carry much of anything, but we do love ourselves some Nancy Drew.

The “Where Did You Get That!” Bag
We think this bag speaks for itself. I mean look at it? How can you not say, "I must have one..."? This bag from Capstone, unfortunately, also wins the Epic Fail category. It looks great, but don't try filling it with books -- we had a whole load of books go straight through the bottom.

The “Not For BEA But Totally Love it Later” Bags
We have to admit to loving this bag even though it's a little too small for BEA. Made of a wonderfully thick and fully lined canvas, with long thick canvas handles, this DK bag feels amazing both to the touch and while hanging comfortably off one shoulder. It zips closed to keep all your stuff inside and has several pockets big enough for water bottles.

The Bag to Rule Them All
The red and white Abrams from several years ago has long been our favorite, but we have a new favorite! The Putnam 175-year anniversary canvas bag takes top honors. It meets all of our requirements and then some. I’m sure we’ll be seeing this bag as a big returner for future BEAs. Congratulations, Putnam, you are our winner!