Future of picWorkflow? Need your opinion

picWorkflow has been running now since 2011. In that time, the technology it’s built on has moved on, so I’m thinking what to do going forward and I really need your input.

The site just about makes enough to keep the servers up and running as-is, though they’re starting to age (we had some bumps last year as a result of them ageing). The more it ages, the more time it takes to maintain, but as picWorkflow is not my main income, it’s hard to schedule over paying work.

There are a few broad options available:

  1. Keep running as-is, no site changes, upgrade to new servers as needed, some unavailability (~hours). This is pretty much the ‘maintain business as usual’ option.
  2. Do nothing. Let it deteriorate until it falls apart and/or someone else builds a product to replace it, probably switch off credit purchases and will vanish in a couple of years.
  3. Minimal change rebuild just to move to ‘cloud’ infrastructure. Start splitting the site into different services, maintain existing data. Can just about find time for this without business model changes, though will take a few months and some unavailability (a few hours here and there).
  4. Full rebuild. Move to new technologies, native builds (or react-native at least) for mobile apps (Android for sure, probably iOS, possibly desktop) and a more basic web UI. Reduced functionality compared to current but will mean I can redesign to more modern/simple UX and focus on key-objectives (the current site IS hard to use). Database and data structures will need to change, data may not be portable across old/new versions so old histories would probably be dropped to move to more immediate-action data rather than lifetime display.

What’s the result?

Options 1 and 2 are basically change-free, interface won’t change but conditions might deteriorate.

Options 3 and 4 will certainly involve changes to the site’s interface to get used to, and would mean some promo content, new apps and ways of doing things. I like the pricing model at the moment so wouldn’t look to change the base 1c per upload or the captioning/keywording price models, but may look into additional opportunities (not just microstock) to support the cost of the extra time.

Based on site metrics and previous feedback, any new build would be limited initially to the batch-first image collections, FTP uploading, keywording and captioning services. I might be able to add support for automated submissions on some agency sites, though it’d be tough to maintain so I couldn’t guarantee at this point (so also still no model release support).

I’m not hugely committed to any particular option at the moment, I think the site deserves a rebuild but it’s pretty much down to feedback on what I’m going to do with it. I can find a month of dev time over the next six months or so, which is enough to sort out any of the options listed.

What would you prefer?

Any questions, concerns, or things you’d specifically like to see (or not see) removed, replaced or improved?

Please comment below, or email bob@picWorkflow.com or contact me on @bobbigmac on twitter

The results are in

Thanks everyone who answered the poll and sent me feedback. It’s looking like refactor/rebuild are pretty balanced, though there’s some resistance to needing to learn a new UI.

I’ll do some tests over the coming weeks on the best way to approach and will post again when I’ve a plan set.
Thanks 🙂
Bob

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2 Comments

  1. Francesco
    Posted January 4, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Good morning, I’m an amateur photographer working in microstock and I’d like to ask a question
    I often used http://research.picworkflow.com/ to check the rating of the photos.
    The tool, until recently, also reported the rating by typing two or three or even four different keywords.
    Today picworkflow seems to work at most with just one or two words so it is no longer useful for the purpose.
    If I type three terms and click “search” the tool does not complete the search, why?
    Thanks for the help and happy 2018!

    • bobbigmac
      Posted January 4, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately the agency who provided the underlying data have revoked my key, it’s not going to be possible in future to get data for new searches. Cached searches will still give results (for a while) but there will be no new data :/

      I’m looking at the possibility of putting all previous searches up as raw data or similar, but it’s highly unlikely I will be able to provide a replacement tool, sorry about that. I’ll push a replacement placeholder with links to whatever I can do with the archived data at some point in the coming weeks.

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