LitMatch: Research Literary Agents and Track Submissions

Monday, August 10, 2009

Redesign Preview #2 - If It Ain't Broke...

Once the path to a new site was decided, the next task was arguably the most important one: in building a new site from the ground up, using new technology, we needed to make sure that nothing from the current site was lost. The site would have a lot of new features, but we had to take care that none of the existing features disappeared.

So we started development with the web version of the Hippocratic Oath: "First, do not harm." Plenty of things on LitMatch worked just fine the way they were, and we didn't want to make a lot of arbitrary changes that would confuse or alienate the thousands of users who already depended on the site as it was. We set out to keep what worked, change only what we had to, and wherever possible, improve on what was already there.

So, when you look, for example at an agency's profile on the new site, it should look very familiar. Submission status, contact information, genres...everything is in its place. The graphs are still there, along with the very same statistics you're used to seeing. In fact, if not for a few key additions (which I'll be discussing in later previews), you might not even notice that the listings have changed at all.

Other functions have undergone more significant changes, while still retaining that which was best about the original. A great example is the new submission entry page. Your feedback told us that you wanted a form that was less cluttered and more flexible, with the ability to enter more than just initial and follow-up conversations. So we took your advice and designed a form that looks a little something like this:

The New Submission Form (click to enlarge)

The new form turns every communication into an action. Send a query? That's an action. Get a response? That's an action, too. Send sample chapters, a full manuscript, a status inquiry, or just make a note. They're all actions, and you can add as many or as few as you need, all without having to save or refresh the page in-between. We'll be looking at submissions in greater detail in another preview, but for now, you get the idea.

Bottom line: if you already use and like LitMatch the way it is, you should have no problems adjusting to the way things are done on the new site. If there was something you felt was a little clunky, chances are good we've improved upon it. If you want to read more about the features we've added...well, that's a preview for another day.

I'll be back with another preview later in the week. In the meantime, I need to get back to coding, and you need to get back to writing!

Christopher Hawkins


Anonymous said...

One improvement: learn the difference between its and it's. Or maybe just proof your blog.

Christopher Hawkins said...

Good catch. We can use keen eyes like yours when it comes time to beta test. :-)

Typo fixed.

Anonymous said...

Here’s a thought. In punting my manuscript I submitted to thirty odd agents, of whom, eight where not listed with Litmatch. Ultimately, the agents requesting material and the agent I finally signed with, came from within these eight. It would have been neat to have been able to include these agents into my Litmatch system for me to track at the time. Maybe a method to do this, together with an e-mail link to inform them I’ve added them to my Litmatch database could be on the cards?

Keep up the excellent work …. Best tool for authors that I’ve ever come across!

Christopher Hawkins said...

Thanks very much for the kind words!

You've actually hit on one of the biggest questions we had to answer in building the new site: how to make it easier for users to initiate updates to our listings? I think you'll be pleased with the answer we settled on. Watch for a preview next week for all the details!