Big news (and another waiting list update)

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I quit my job and in 2 weeks Jess and I are going to be working on Ravelry full time! This means that the site will be open to all sooner than it would have been otherwise. Hooray! It's definitely a gamble, but it really felt like the right thing to do. We are *really* proud of what we've accomplished in 5 months of working after dinner and on Saturday afternoons but now it's time to get serious. We want Ravelry to be great and we want it to be open as soon as possible. Jess and I feel really good about how the beta is going and how things are shaping up. The only thing that is really stressing us out is the waiting list. We know that people are getting anxious and it's hard to explain to people why they have to wait. The beta has been *really valuable* and I'm so glad that we decided to develop the site in this way. I feel bad about the waiting list but I still think that it was the best thing that we could have done. It's nearly impossible to let a site such as our grow organically, people find out about things SO FAST and we really need to have slow growth as we are building and testing. I know people often see the "beta" label as meaning "new", but Ravelry is really in a beta stage. There are bugs, there are things that are incomplete, there are important features of the site that we really want to have in place before we have tens of thousands of users. People have asked The site seems done enough, why aren't you open yet?. Here are the main things that we are working on:
  • Data. Ravelry contains a huge amount of user-edited and contributed content. We are still making lots of changes and improvements (thanks to TONS of feedback from beta people) to these aspects of the site. It's very important that everyone feels that our information (specifically patterns and yarns) is accurate, complete, and easy to navigate and discover.
  • Bugs. We've been so swamped that I haven't been keeping up. The biggest problem here is that there are lots of outstanding Internet Explorer and Safari issues. We tell our beta testers that using Firefox is their best option, but once open the majority of our users will be on IE.
  • Community features. We have a few very important features that need to be added before the # of users gets too large. We really want Ravelry to feel like a small and friendly place even after there are tens of thousands of people inside. It should always be fun (and easy) to meet and connect other Ravelers.
  • Performance. The site is built to scale and we are prepared to build it up and add servers as needed. However, there are lots of things that can be improved and now that we have a couple thousand testers, it's much easier to find and stamp out the bottlenecks.
  • Feedback. We're having trouble keeping up with the feedback from the 2500 users that we have now. We have to streamline things a bit, make improvements to the forums, help to improve the wiki/user's guide.
  • Advertising and other plans for earning money aren't in place yet. We'll need to spend more of money on servers and hardware when the site is open to the world and we can't do that until we have some money to spend.
Also, we'd like to wow you all with the awesome features that we haven't added to the site yet, but if we are missing some of those, it won't stop us from opening :) So when will we be open? We don't know - it's hard to plan when we're still doing this in our free time. Ask again in 2 weeks. In the meantime, we're still sending out about 1000 invitations a week. Many of you have been waiting 5 weeks for an invitation. We had SO MUCH interest in the first few days that the invitations being sent our are still from early/mid-May. We are into the invites from May 7th at the moment and after the next 1000 invitations go out, we'll be up to May 11th. We're going as fast as we can (maybe a little faster) and we thank you for your patience. There are currently 2505 users in Ravelry, 6846 on the waiting list, and 541 invitations that haven't been cashed in. Casey