Building WPVote Part 3 : Research

After receiving the WPVote domain and theme from Jean I moved on to stage 3. Researching ‘competitors‘ websites.

I must admit I tend not to do too much research when building a website, but this time I did decide to do some look into similar sites for inspiration.

WPVote is essentially a Digg clone, so I knew what to make, but at the same time I wanted to make it something a little bit different so I felt that looking at similar sites would be a good way to get me going.

Some of the sites I visited for my research included Digg, Reddit, Sphinn, Designmoo, Delicious, Slashdot and even the original WPVote.

When viewing these sites I was more interested in the structure and information architecture, ie what is on the homepage and where, as opposed to how the site functions. I am very interested in creating something new, but at the same time these types of sites have created a conventions of their own so I want to keep things within a recognised format.

Some of the things I took from looking at these sites include:

  • Use a right hand sidebar – keep the submitted content nice and prominent
  • Include vote buttons, and vote count (vote up and down, or just up?)
  • Display the article domain before the excerpt
  • Link to the submitted articles. A lot. Reward people for submitting their content
  • The front page is used to display the top voted content
  • Some sites also used the homepage to display recent submissions
  • Site categories are displayed in the main site menu
  • Design is simple, focus is on the content
  • Include images/ screenshots with the submissions where possible

These key points gave me a decent starting point for my site mockups. Again this isn’t something I do too often, generally preferring to jump straight into fireworks or freestyle the HTML, but this time I thought I should try to arrange my thoughts a little better.

Once I worked out what I wanted to display I had to decide which technology the site would run on. To be honest this wasn’t a very hard decision, especially since a lot of the work had been done by Jean for the current version of the site, but I (very very) briefly considered using prebuilt Digg style software such as Pligg. For me, though, it seemed best to use what I know – and since WPVote already had a voting theme made with WordPress, and since it’s a site ABOUT WordPress, it seemed logical to continue using WordPress.

Looking at the feature list it also seemed like my theme framework, Elemental, ticked a lot of the boxes from the off, so turning the existing WPVote theme into a child theme became incredibly appealing. Anything to save me some work.

Is there anything I’ve missed? What do you consider essential elements on sites like Digg?

Let me know what you think on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

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