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View Full Version : New Features and Improvements - Coming Soon


Brent
August 24th, 1999, 5:34am
Many of you are familiar with LoopyNet (http://www.loopy.net), my other sweepstakes site. LoopyNet has been around for more than a year and a half and has remained largely unchanged since last fall. LoopyNet is a simple, static web site that works well for its intended purpose.

I created Online-Sweepstakes.com in January to experiment with different web technologies in order to eventually make the best sweepstakes web site possible. It's taken a lot longer than I would have liked, but it's definitely getting there - finally.

Currently, I am in the middle of converting this web site to a new set of scripts that will run everything off of a structured database. This will not only allow me to have much more power and control over the information stored in the database (e.g. the sweeps), but it will make everything much, much more efficient. I will be able to easily add a plethora of new features that I wouldn't be able to otherwise.

Hopefully, the conversion will take place later this week or the beginning of next week. Once the changes are in place, I will be shutting down LoopyNet and redirecting all traffic to Online-Sweepstakes.com. One of the reasons it's taking so long, is the amount of time I spend tracking down new sweepstakes and adding them to the database. I spend anywhere from 3 to 8 hours a day just adding new sweeps and performing daily maintenance which doesn't leave me much time for anything else. The new set of scripts and the closing of LoopyNet will save me a lot of time - time I can spend adding new features and functionality.

One of the biggest problems I have, is designing the site to look good for all the different browsers (IE, Netscape, WebTV, ect.), screen resolutions (640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, ect.), and color depths (256 colors, and 16, 24, & 32 bit). It's not easy especially with the amount of information that's listed with each sweeps - and soon I will be adding even more. So, I am getting rid of the big "Online-Sweepstakes.com" graphic that's on every page and have decided to start using frames - which I will need to do anyway when I add a new feature that will fill out entry forms automatically.

You will not have to use the frames to access the site. It will only be a convenience. The site will look a lot better to those with smaller screen resolutions (640x480) when using the no-frames version.

The frames will also allow me to increase the type-size of the descriptions which are currently too small and hard to read on some larger screen resolutions. Basically, the site will look a lot better for most people.

Some of the stuff I will be adding once the conversion is complete include:
<UL TYPE=SQUARE>
<LI>adding links to winner's lists for each sweeps that has one, including a winner's list feature similar to what's new and expires soon - a section that will list links to winner's lists which will be sorted by the day winners are posted to those lists
<LI>a feature that will automatically fill out entry forms (probably the most anticipated feature); I have spent a lot of time over the last year trying to find the best solution to this problem, a solution that makes everyone happy - both the sweepstakes sponsors and the sweepers. I still have some tweaking to do, but it works, and it works well. There's no program to download and it doesn't make use of some automated script that breaks the rules of almost every legitimate sweepstakes.
<LI>add more information/detail to each sweeps in the database
<LI>add more categories
<LI>add an archive of expired sweeps
<LI>greatly improve the add url form to make adding new sweepstakes much more efficient and the information more uniform when others make additions
<LI>finally add links to the resources and web sites sections
<LI>greatly improve the searching options that are available - you'll be able to search on any and all fields in the database (all, title, url, eligibility, expiration date, draw date, winners lists, archives of expired sweeps, ect., ect.)
<LI>finally start the newsletter which will be a true newsletter, not a cheap list of affiliate links :)
<LI>start several sweepstakes of my own, possibly with co-sponsors
<LI>convert mysweeps from being stored as cookies in your browser to a database on the server and add more features to it
<LI>promote the site - something I haven't done at all yet (I want to wait until I am happy with the site before I start promoting it)
<LI>and a whole lot more stuff, some major, some minor - as you can see I've got my work cut out for me for a little while, but I think once the conversion to the new scripts and structured database is made, most of this stuff will come rather quickly
</UL>
Whew!!!

Once I have most of these improvements in place, I can see 20 or more sweepstakes being added everyday (including weekends). Make no mistake about it, I have some very lofty goals for Online-Sweepstakes.com. I have no doubt that I will eventually reach those goals, it's just a matter of how long it's going to take.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll probably cut down on the number of sweeps I add each day so that I can get a lot of this stuff done as quickly as possible. I'll try to add at least 30 or so per week.

Well, there you have it - possibly more information than you ever wanted to know! But seriously though, I'd love to hear any and all comments, ideas, and suggestions any of you might have about my plans and/or the site. After all, I can't do it without you...

Brent

[This message has been edited by Brent (edited 08-24-1999).]