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View Full Version : Auction Site Ready - Need "Re-list" Terribly


GateKeeper
June 14th, 2006, 02:43 PM
In anticipation of a much needed enhancement, i.e. relisting auctions, I have put together a site focused completely on timeshare auctions (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/) using Photopost Classifieds. I added a mod to the category intro section to pull static data from the ReviewPost data on the same site. This mod gives me the ability to tweak the format of the intro by making single changes to one template and applying the template to the site. This mod wouldn't have broad appeal for most, so I won't put any information about it here. But I would very much appreciate feedback on the new rollout. WE ARE NOT LIVE YET! So if you put anything online, it may get deleted once we do go live. No feedback, bad! Any feedback, good!
Thanks,
GateKeeper

rcsmith
June 19th, 2006, 01:35 AM
I had to click about 8 different links just to see one timeshare and even that was hard because you can't tell the difference from google ads and the real site.

GateKeeper
June 19th, 2006, 09:51 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I had to take a hard look at how to lay out over 2000 categories (6K if you consider that each resort is now also a category), and it turned out to be 4 levels deep. What's nice about the way the category display works, though, is two fold:
1. The recent ads are "relative" to the current category. So if you select U.S. Resorts as the first level, the results in the "Recent Ads" show all recents ads in the U.S. As you drill into the second level, the "Recent Ads" is filtered by that category, i.e. State, and then City, etc. This is a really cool feature as it will provide a "short cut" to recent ads for a particular category. And of course, there's always the insatiable search!
2. Each category also gives a count of total ads in that category, so you won't waste a lot of time looking at empty categories.
The only users having to drill down to each category will probably end up being those placing an ad, but that's the problem with a large site.

I am very open to suggestions on how to lay this out better. We're not live yet, so any thoughts are welcome thoughts!

-GateKeeper

p.s. Google keeps bread on my table, man!

GateKeeper
June 26th, 2006, 09:00 AM
Considering the manner in which the timeshare resorts (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/) are organized, a search result that included categories would be a real plus. For example, I am looking for a resort name Orange Lake Country Club (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/showcat.php/cat/3327) in Kissimmee, Florida. There are two ways to get to that category currently:
1. Browse to it, i.e. U.S. resorts, Florida, Kissimmee, and finally on to the category for Orange Lake.
2. Start an auction, and from the 4500 choices, find the option for this resort. :eek:
What would be really cool would be to return categories that match a keyword search, based on the category name and/or description. This might offer a more direct way for someone to find the category of their choice. I think right now, the search only looks for ads, correct?

Sybaris
June 26th, 2006, 09:16 AM
Hmm yea i agree with rcsmith, your site is very nice look great profesional and well presented, It made me want to go look at an auction to see what it was all about.

It tool literaly 5 mins for me to navigate to an auction i liked the look of twice i tried clicking an image above a google adsense add thinking it would take me to one.

To be honest if i were a serious buyer i may indeed take the time to look round but more likely i would have a few more sites in mind and go to one of them because of the sheer effort required to get to the auction itself.

But fix that and i reckon you could be onto a winner because the site is great otherwise.....

GateKeeper
June 26th, 2006, 10:14 AM
Thank you for the excellent comments. I believe the confusion over Google Ads may dissipate with a couple of changes to the layout. One, once enough ads get online, there will be other means of presenting them, i.e. the recent ads is category specific, so there will be links to ads directly from each category page which should save a lot of clicking. Two, moving the frequent ads to the top of each category will also help with any confusion over the Google Ads. I'll experiment with this, but the whole project is on hold until I can relist an auction, so I imagine I have a little time to look in to this. ;)

GateKeeper
June 26th, 2006, 10:16 AM
I just move recent ads to the top of the page. Your comments would be appreciated.
Thank you.

Sybaris
June 26th, 2006, 10:34 AM
Looks better, it still takes a lot of clicks to narrow down the search, But as i am not looking for a specific section it may just be my perception, If indeed i were looking for a timeshare in Dogwood Hills at Alpine Bay then i may take the time to look.

However to my mind your being to specific and having all the auctions for alpine bay in one place and getting your viewers to look at them all would to me be easier and less fussy.

Also you get the added bonus that if somone wants a timeshare in say 'East Pines at Alpine Bay ' and they go into a generic alpine bay section they may find something else that suits right there instead of having to come out of one alpine bay section and enter another.

Oh and if you ask me having the 'Recent auctions' block on every page you traverse is a bit much, it looks nice on the front page but to be honest i think it could be done away with the further in the site you get.

GateKeeper
June 26th, 2006, 11:23 AM
Oh and if you ask me having the 'Recent auctions' block on every page you traverse is a bit much, it looks nice on the front page but to be honest i think it could be done away with the further in the site you get.
Oddly enough, the recent auctions narrow as you go to each sub-category. As such, and to your point about broader selections, as you drill down, you would actually see recent auctions for "Alpine, Alabama" (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/index.php/cat/173), in that category, and it would include ads for all resorts in Alpine.
I had the same impression you did about the recent ads showing up on each page, but they actually become category specific as you drill down (check out the title of the recent ads section, it actually shows the category of the recent ads.
Great feedback. Thank you very much!
-GateKeeper

Sybaris
June 26th, 2006, 11:31 AM
Its true they do go down with each cat but i stopped looking after a while and it just became a pain having to scroll past them to get to the catagory listing?

Still, just my thoughts :)

GateKeeper
June 26th, 2006, 12:22 PM
Didn't I see a thread on a module for vBulletin that did something with categories for Classifieds. I wonder if adding that to the front page of the forum and then tweaking it to only show categories with Auctions, if it would be a more direct link to those categories. If someone knows where to find the information for this module (if I'm not just dreaming), maybe this will give me something to work with.
We'll get this worked out.
Thanks again,
-GateKeeper

GateKeeper
June 26th, 2006, 11:36 PM
Check out the new index pages on the timeshare auction (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/) site. I went 2 levels deep (setting = 1), and other than some long pages in popular areas, it gives Sybaris a bit more of what he/she was looking for. Now you can see all of the resorts in one State or County, separated by the city in which they are located.
I suspect the search engines (Google) will frown at the pages wth over 100 links, but it will sure make the browsers a lot happier. Now your only 2 clicks from the top index to any resort level category.
Thanks Sybaris for getting me to think about this a bit.
-GateKeeper

Sybaris
June 27th, 2006, 02:02 AM
That is much better IMO, if i went to your site with the intention of purchasing, it is very easy to navigate to where the action is and see what cats i have to choose from.

Very good indeed, next perhaps is a featured auction feature that people pay to be listed on for the front page :)

[edit] Now all i need to do is save some money to buy one and my family will be very happy indeed :D

GateKeeper
June 27th, 2006, 06:43 AM
Very good indeed, next perhaps is a featured auction feature that people pay to be listed on for the front page

I was wondering how you flag an ad as "Featured". I know you can do the italics, bold, highlight, but is that enough to be able to determine if the ad should be included in a featured block? How would you get featured ads to work as a chargeable item?
Thanks,
-GateKeeper

Sybaris
June 27th, 2006, 09:20 AM
Well i presume there are things in the auction listing page that you have to pay extra for, if that is the case its just a matter of dupicating one of them, Or making an extra option in the listing page put it in the database and then flag anything in that part of the database to go to a featured auction part but only after they pay up/or it adds money to the end cost.

GateKeeper
July 6th, 2006, 12:44 PM
Hmm yea i agree with rcsmith, your site is very nice look great profesional and well presented, It made me want to go look at an auction to see what it was all about.

It tool literaly 5 mins for me to navigate to an auction i liked the look of twice i tried clicking an image above a google adsense add thinking it would take me to one.

To be honest if i were a serious buyer i may indeed take the time to look round but more likely i would have a few more sites in mind and go to one of them because of the sheer effort required to get to the auction itself.

But fix that and i reckon you could be onto a winner because the site is great otherwise.....

Sybaris:
Taking your feedback to heart, I created a page using vBAdvanced and added the inc_ads.php and inc_classifieds.php modules. In the header of each module, I added links to browse the full set of categories or only those with active auctions. Here is a link to the new timeshare auctions (http://www.timesharegateway.com/forums/index.php?page=timeshare-auctions) page. It then has links to the main index for PhotoPost Classifieds.
Very anxious to get your feedback on this.
Your feedback is very much appreciated.:)
-GateKeeper

Sybaris
July 6th, 2006, 01:19 PM
To be honest mate that is great, It is super easy to find a resort with only one or two clicks (which most people expect) it looks fabulous, profesional and exciting.

I think with the right advertising this could go very well for you..

sybaris

GateKeeper
July 6th, 2006, 01:47 PM
Thanks for the encouragement! I think the page can be embellished with some navigation links, but I'll try to keep it clean and simple. I think I read somewhere that the header logo should be linked, so I added a link to this page from all the internal pages for the PhotoPost Classified pages to make it easy for folks to get back to. When the auction section gets released, we'll add a menu item to the site, and, as you put it, ADVERTISE!:D
Thanks again,
-GateKeeper

GateKeeper
July 12th, 2006, 06:09 PM
To be honest mate that is great, It is super easy to find a resort with only one or two clicks (which most people expect) it looks fabulous, profesional and exciting.

I think with the right advertising this could go very well for you..

sybaris

Sybaris,
Check out this link:
http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/auctions.php/cat/128

then read this thread:
http://www.photopost.com/forum/showthread.php?t=125810
that last couple of posts from me are very revealing. I wasn't sure if your site qualified as having "many categories", but it sure helps TimeshareGateway. I'm hoping that the folks there will see this a real possibility for an enhancement, but I will work on something in the meanwhile. Either a cookie or global parameter might do it, but it is quite compelling for sites with a lot of categories.
-GateKeeper

GateKeeper
July 14th, 2006, 04:53 PM
Sybaris:

I think this tops the whole enchilada with a pound of sour cream!
I didn't know what the heck I was doing, but I kept swinging until I got it right.
A combination of cookie setting and redirects using javascript and I was able to add the option in the header row of the categories to give the viewer the option to either show all resorts or only resorts with ads. I put it in production as soon as I got the kinks worked out, so you can check out the timeshare auction (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/) site and let me know what you think.

GateKeeper
July 14th, 2006, 05:16 PM
I wonder which would be the better choice for SEO purposes? As the site grows, if the default is "Ads Only", the site would appear to be "growing" content without anything really having to be added. I say this because the ad will be new content, but with the Ads Only set, so would the category and the category intro page.
Food for thought!

Sybaris
July 17th, 2006, 09:14 AM
Your site as a whole is looking very smooth now very nice indeed, i tried clicking to where i wanted to be, It only took a few clicks there was plenty of things to keep me interested on the journey and on the whole was easy and enjoyable.

Now you need some actual sellers and buyers :) but like we both said advertising is the key....

GateKeeper
July 17th, 2006, 09:57 AM
Sybaris,
Did you check out the optioin to "Show Ads Only" or "Show All Resorts" ? I think this makes a big difference for the various types of visitors. Newbies will see the whole list of resorts (as will the search engines), but having the choice to trim down the display to only those resorts with ads seems a real benefit.
I guess I'm a bit pleased since I've never programmed much with javascript or cookies before, so the combo was quite rewarding.
BTW, I'm not "advertising" yet because I can't really launch in good conscience while the capability of relisting auctions isn't available. I'm counting/hoping that this will be a feature in a near future release. Quite a gamble I know. My backup is to convert the templates to regular ads, but this has consequences for my business model. All the same, I appreciate your feedback.

GateKeeper
July 26th, 2006, 11:33 AM
The issue of displaying ads on a non vBulletin or non Photopost page was raised a few weeks ago. The recommendation was to use RSS feeds (nicely done by Chuck) to perform this function. The example auction for Hotel Melia Playa Conchal (http://www.timesharegateway.com/timeshare-resorts/Hotel-Melia-Playa-Conchal.html) in Guanacaste Costa Rica is a perfect example of how to apply the RSS feed for a specific category to a non-Photopost/non-vBulletin page. :cool:

GateKeeper
August 8th, 2006, 07:10 AM
The mere number of categories was proving a challenge for even a dedicated server to keep up with the requests.
I modified the index.php and indexhead.tmpl files to serve up the categories in a drop down list instead of tasking the server to repeat the same queries over and over again just to show the categories.
Formatting aside (I can alway make the drop down list look better), I am interested in feedback on performance, ease of use, particularly with the category selection, i.e. Timeshare Auctions (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/) by Country or State, etc.
I also put a number of the menu choices from the Classifieds menu in a DHTML drop down from the main navigation bar. What do you think?
Any feed back would be appreciated.

GateKeeper
August 30th, 2006, 11:59 AM
It took a while for the ball to get rolling but we finally have some folks starting auctions using the PhotoPost Classifieds. We have the full suite of ReviewPost (timeshare reviews (http://www.timesharegateway.com/resort-reviews/)), Classifieds, and vBAdvanced running. Using the latter we put together this page for just active timeshare auctions (http://www.timesharegateway.com/forums/index.php?page=timeshare-auctions). Previous posts have links to other pages on our site that show off some of the other hacks and standard features. The ones we like a lot are to our main timeshare auctions (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/) page where you can choose from our fairly large selection of categories using a drop down list, and to our detailed category pages which allow you to choose to see all resorts or just resorts with ads. The drop down list in our main page improves performance significantly and allows us to use multi level displays for our lower categories. Of course we had to put together a page to show off the RSS feeds for our timeshare auctions (http://www.timesharegateway.com/home/timeshare-auctions.html) as well! :cool:

GateKeeper
November 17th, 2006, 04:21 AM
Think you can't drive some real integration using RSS feeds? Check out our Resort Reviews (http://www.timesharegateway.com/resort-reviews/showproduct.php/product/4168) (this is just an example). If you scroll below the resort description, you'll see a section for "Member Auctions". This section takes advantage of the RSS feeds Chuck put together some time ago for the Photopost classified ads. I modified it to make the feed "product" specific so that it feeds only ads for each review post product accordingly. Mix it up with a dash of RSS2HTML and viola!
Photopost is great stuff!

GateKeeper
November 17th, 2006, 04:34 AM
Think you can't drive some real integration using RSS feeds? Check out our Resort Reviews (http://www.timesharegateway.com/resort-reviews/showproduct.php/product/4168) (this is just an example). If you scroll below the resort description, you'll see a section for "Member Auctions". This section takes advantage of the RSS feeds Chuck put together some time ago for the Photopost classified ads. I modified it to make the feed "product" specific so that it feeds only ads for each review post product accordingly. Mix it up with a dash of RSS2HTML and viola!
Photopost is great stuff!

Marriott's Fairway Villas at Seaview (http://www.timesharegateway.com/resort-reviews/showproduct.php/product/966)

GateKeeper
May 5th, 2007, 10:15 AM
With 2.6 under our belt, we have finally launched our Timeshare Auction (http://www.timesharegateway.com/auctions/) website!!! Thanks to Chuck and his team, we now have the feature set that allows us to promote the photopost classified section of our site with confidence (and some pride)!
The relist auction requirement was paramount and with the addition of this feature, we are able to fully promote this section of our site.
We modified a number of areas including the index and category views to fit our viewing requirements, but the best part of PhotoPost Classifieds have been left in tact.
Thanks again Chuck!