By now you probably know the story: A week ago Subhub, the company that hosts Dungeon A Day (and has, more-or-less flawlessly, since day one) suffered a catastrophic server failure, bringing down DaD and all their other clients’ sites. They quickly scrambled to move to new servers, but in so doing all the domain information somehow got scrambled, and there was no obvious way for users to find DaD. Our response was to hastily throw up the site you’re currently on, point your existing bookmark at it, and then provide a link to get you from here into DaD proper.
Here’s the funny thing: We were planning to do this all along. In fact, we were going to implement a site very much like this one over the course of the next few weeks—the Subhub catastrophe simply forced us to take action sooner than planned. If things had gone to plan, we would have actually built a complete, functional, and good-looking site, and then taken the wraps off it (so you wouldn’t have to watch us evolve from the mess that was posted Friday, through what you see today, to the complete, functional, and good-looking version we’ll hopefully have within a few days). But before we did that, we would have posted the message that I’m posting now.
Which is, basically, why. What this site is for? (Other than responding to unexpected catastrophic server failures.)
Here’s the rationale: Subhub is a great package for providing the utility Dungeon A Day requires. It provides everything we need to post and organize the encounters, maps, handouts, and extra bits we want to put in your hands, and maintain the conversation we want with the subscribers. And it gives us an excellent and flexible paywall to put it all behind.
But outside the paywall, Subhub is a dog. It provides almost nothing of what we need to make the site interesting or attractive to potential new subscribers. The utilitarian layout—perfect for our inside-the-paywall requirements—is cluttered, confusing, and unattractive to the newcomer, and the site is not flexible enough to easily fix that. As a result, the Dungeon A Day site does almost nothing to attract new subscribers. And as a result of that, Dungeon A Day as an organization has done almost nothing to attract new subscribers. It’s the best-kept secret in gaming—which frankly isn’t a very good business model.
The bottom line is this: What existing subscribers and potential subscribers need from the site are two radically different things, and there was no way to get the existing site to meet both needs. Our solution is to build an entirely new site, completely outside the paywall, to greet potential subscribers and tell the Dungeon A Day story. And that’s what this site is. Or at least what it will be, soon.
The basic Dungeon A Day URL (www.dungeonaday.com) will now point to this site, because we want people who are looking for Dungeon A Day to end up here before stumbling into the confusing morass (to a non-subscriber) that is the actual site. We’ve put a nice, easy-to-spot “Enter the Site Here!” button near the top of every page, so subscribers are only one click further from their content. (Yes, it’s ugly now, but all this stuff will get prettier once we have time to work on it a bit more.) If you want to skip this site and never see it again, simply update your Dungeon A Day bookmark to the main site’s new URL: http://dungeonaday.live.subhub.com/. The content on this side of the paywall is relatively static and not particularly relevant to you, the subscriber, so there’s no reason to keep clicking through it if you don’t want to.
Once this is done, we’ll turn the Eye of Sauron to the Subhub site. There’s a lot of stuff there that was originally put up to speak to the non-subscriber (and a lot of that is really obsolete or was never finished in the first place). No longer burdened by a need to sell the site to non-subscribers, we’ll be able to clean it up a bit and improve the navigation and functionality for you, the subscriber. In short, both sites will be able to focus sharply on their respective roles, improving the experience for existing subscribers as well as potential subscribers.
And we now have a redundant system in the unlikely event of a recurrence: If you can’t get on the main site, check here for news and updates. (We also try to keep people up to date through Facebook and Twitter. You might want to like and/or follow us if you don’t already. Links to the right.)
So there you have it. One of the ways in which we hope to grow the DaD community and increase the quality and quantity of the content and features is to continue to build the subscriber base, and this site is one substantial step in that effort. Last week’s outage forced our hand a bit, but ultimately this is a step we were headed toward anyway.
If you have any thoughts on this site (or anything else), please feel free to comment below!