People dislike change. As a developer you get used to this. Whenever you make a change to a system that has been in place for quite some time you will always get messages that tell you the changes are bad, why change something that worked fine and requesting that you change them back.
Well we have just made such a change to one of our core systems, our website messaging service, and I want to explain why such changes are necessary and how they can benefit all users.
Firstly the existing messaging service was over 7 years old. In technology terms this is an eternity. It means that the technology is vulnerable to those who would choose to take advantage of it and it runs the risk of not working with modern browsers. You have to keep in mind that technology around us is advancing, if we like it or not and the likes of Microsoft and other tech giants release new versions of their software and Fridae is reliant on these technologies to run. So when a new browser came out like Microsoft Edge, we have to make sure we support it. These tech companies will try and make as much as possible backwards compatible, as do we, but there comes a point when they simply say, we no longer support this.
The new Chat Windows are fixed to the bottom of the screen and multiple windows can be open at once. Once the width of the screen is full a number will appear to show how many windows are open but not viewable. Clicking this number will show a list of these windows to enable you to select them. This is very specific to stop spammers opening multiple windows or getting automated message spamming systems to do it.
The method to see historic messages has not changed. On the profile menu (left hand side) click on Messages and you will see all new and past messages. Clicking on either the message box or the View link will open the chat window. You can then scroll up to see previous messages in this window.
Fridae has also launched two new mobile apps in the last two years and these have become very popular with the members. As a result most messages or chatting is done via the apps, and here was our other issue. The website was missing many features found on the mobile apps, including sending and receiving pictures. Many users rightly pointed out that this is standard functionality in many other websites of this type.
It should be noted that many of our competitors do not operate any service on a website and only operate through apps. This is not a direction we are looking to go in.
So we have launched Live Chat. We have been working on it for some time. This is the foundation for many new functions that will be coming to Fridae including a new Voice calling service through the app and website similar to WhatsApp but without the need to give out your telephone number.
We have tried to keep the format familiar, using the same format used by major systems like Facebook. This seemed sensible as we have also used very similar technology to the big chat giants in the market.
Live chat will also allow you to send messages back and forward without receiving a huge number of emails.
I want to also talk about spammers on the system. Recently we introduced an interim measure to ask people to confirm suspicious messages with a captcha code. This has radically reduced spamming on the system. However there were users that used the inadequacies of the message system to encourage you to send them an email to see a picture. Now you have the option to say no, send me a picture on Live Chat. We encourage you to be careful sending out your email address to people you do not know, once you leave our chat system we can not take action on a spammer.
We know that there will be bugs and that we will be releasing patches for Live Chat over the next few weeks. Already two patches have been release, one because of a formatting issue with Internet Explorer and one to increase the size of the area you type your message. (this now dynamically increases up to five lines as you chat.) We are currently looking at a way to make the chat window more obvious when it appears.
However if you experience an issue we would be grateful if you would let us know, giving us as much information as possible. Specifically it would be useful to know the browser you are using and the version of that browser. If you can send a screen shot it would also be very useful. You can find how to do this with a very simple google search, but it is different for different operating systems.
We have also launched a number of new functions on our mobile apps. These include, locking the app, updating your location when the app is in the background, the ability to request to view adult pictures, and a new abuse reporting system. The apps are now also in Italian. Do not forget to update your app to take advantage of these new functions.
We must move forward as a product, because our competitors will also. We face many challenges in advancing technology and we are already looking at new features including Apple Watch compatibility, An Apple TV app and integration with Car Play. If we are to compete in this ever changing market change is essential.
Some interesting Stats for you:
99% of all Chat is currently via the mobile apps
Since introducing the new website live chat we have seen a 78% increase in chat usage.
Update: We will be launching a further update today that will give an audible notification, a message in your browser title bar and a flashing header to the chat when new messages are received.
Update 3rd January: We have made a change to the background colour of the chat window to resolve an issues that members found it difficult to distinguish it from the website background.
We are very please to see that the use of chat has continued to increase today now up 100%, i.e double the usage we were seeing before the upgrade.