Submitted by Andrew Baldwin on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 21:35
Why did you change the site,
The old one was great, and this one is crap!!!
I will be looking for another site to give me my surf reports
Sorry you don't like the new website Mike. We've had an overwhelmingly positive response so far, which we're very stoked with.
We'll continue to upgrade and launch a wide range of new features over the coming weeks and months - hopefully we'll see you back soon.
how does the private message thingy work ? some instructions when you have time, thanks
No PM functionality yet, Udo - but we'll reimplement them shortly.
thanks thought that may be the case
the new site has some good features but........
- the forecast for wind and tides at the bottom is such small print it is unreadable on a small laptop and worthless on a mobile (what about a mobile site?)
- it is sooooooo sloooooooooow toooooooooooo looooooaaaaad
- on an aesthetics level the old one looked heaps better for layout and colours (but that is obviously going to be different for everyone)
Thanks Pointy, yeah we know that font size on the wind/tide is small (will be increased in size soon).
Need to point out (boom tish!) though - on the surf report page - the wind data you're referring to is actually the last 24 hours of 'wind history'. This is very useful in determining what early morning conditions might be like (ie light offshores at dawn may belie a lumpy ocean if it was 20kt onshore up until 5am). But I don't think we've done a good job at labelling that.. it's on the 'to-do' list.
As for the site being slow - that's a result of the gremlins we're trying to debug. As soon as we sort that out it should be back to white lightning (well, almost).
'There was a problem connecting to the wave/wind forecast service. Some data may not appear in this report'.
Mmmm, that's a problem, because that's what I come to Swellnet for, the wave/wind forecast service… the surf reports. Ever since the website has changed, I rarely get either, just that error warning I opened this comment with… oh, & a lot of blank spaces (that goes for the surf forecast too) that tell me absolutely nothing. Not much help when I need to know what the surf is doing, or going to do. I've used Swellnet for a long time, but now I've had to start using other means to get my surf reports. I have not experienced this before with your site. Not happy with the new site at all.
And again this morning… no surf report, no surf forecast information, just blank spaces. The site also takes forever to load. Completely fed up with it.
Where are you gford44? Surf reports have been updated for just about everywhere, and Craig wrote detailed forecasts for the whole country yesterday.
Yeah we're still trying to fix this annoying bug with the forecast graphs, but we're working as hard as we can. Surely three days of a slow website and a technical bug doesn't undo twelve years of the unparalleled free service we provided?
a few teething problems.......swellnet are trying to make a better site for all ......relax ..it will come good.
Ben, I can't get onto the reports, forecasts either
All forecast notes are available here, of which the SA notes are here (which were uploaded yesterday morning). So far we've got 24 surf reports loaded from around the country this morning, and all of our surfcams are working too.
Yes, the forecast graphs aren't working - I've tried to detail this in every single website post, Facebook post and feedback email over the last few days - but I totally understand that not everyone will see these messages. So all I can do (until the problem is fixed) is to reiterate where we're at, and what we're doing to remedy the situation.
"Need to point out (boom tish!) though - on the surf report page - the wind data you're referring to is actually the last 24 hours of 'wind history'"
I'd much rather see a wind forecast - I'd rather know what it is going to be not what it was.
As an expample you don't give swell history but give swell forecasts.
The future is where it is at!
Actually I agree with Andrew, the new site isnt as enjoyable to use as the previous model. Wish you would swallow your pride and go back to the old one. Less reports yes but easier to navigate and I also miss the swell and forecast notes that used to exist. Other than that keep punching.
Pointy, we do have a comprehensive 16 day wind forecast, located on the 'forecast' tab (however that's the part of the site that's experiencing problems at the moment).
What I wanted to point out was that the forecast data is on the forecast tab, whilst reports and observations are on the reports tab (excluding the tide data, which is a mix of both). As such the wind obs on the report page are previous wind readings.
sam_2 wrote: Wish you would swallow your pride and go back to the old one.
Nothing to do with swallowing pride. For a start, this website upgrade has been around four years in the making (and around eight years in planning).
But more importantly, it's a change we simply had to make to ensure the longevity of the business, because we simply couldn't compete on a level playing field with the other big international surfing websites. Sure, a lovely 'grass roots' site is great, but we're a business - and all businesses have to stay on top of their game to remain viable. If the company isn't able to grow, what other options do you have to stay afloat?
But even more relevant for the reason of the upgrade was the fact that the old website was a poorly designed, bloated piece of software that was impossible for me and my staff to use (all of you users didn't see it at the front end, but trust me - it was a disaster in the backend). We were denied a lot of simple but effective tools on the old site, because of the poor way in which it was built. It was impossible to upgrade it due to the major structural problems in the database. So, we had to start again with a brand new platform. Only a web developer could possibly understand the gravity of migrating an active website such as Swellnet from one platform to another, in real time.
sam_2 wrote: Less reports yes but easier to navigate and I also miss the swell and forecast notes that used to exist. Other than that keep punching.
The swell and forecast notes do exist. I must sound like a broken record, but to reiterate - we've still got the same written surf reports, detailed surf forecasts, surfcams, galleries, articles etc that we always had. We haven't taken anything away from the old site at all.
On that point, the forecast notes are slightly tricky to find right now but they're all here: http://www.swellnet.com/forums/swellnet-forecast-notes
Just a couple of other things. I've been running Swellnet for 12 years now, and always knew this was the change we had to make. And it's never an easy one to do either.
We totally understand that we can't please everyone, and we also knew that changing the website we'd annoy some people - but that happens with every website that attempts to undergo changes. I get it.
But over time we'll iron out the bugs, tweak the look n' feel and end up providing the best surfing website in the world.. that I am very confident of.
Swellnet has been my favourite website for years, and I hope that it will be so again ... however, to date I am not liking this new site:
1. Where has the "best days" section gone? (this was on the bottom of the forecast page in the old site) The recommendations for Torquay were excellent (ie if the site said that Saturday would be good, that was generally right - enabled me to plan my week!) ... but they have gone! Are they coming back?
2. Torquay always used to get rated as a score out of ten - again, that has gone. Is that coming back? This isn't essential (nowhere near as important as point 1) but I did like it.
3. The wave and wind forecasts aren't functional at the moment - I presume that this will be fixed.
4. There used to be a basic report and forecast for Westernport Bay (again, with a very helpful "best days" section), but that report seems to have gone - is the relevant guy on holidays or has this gone?
I have loved this site for years but the new site is (so far) a significant step backwards. Would be great to know when (and what) you will fix.
I have to agree with the others here Ben, the old site was functional and told me (very quickly) what I needed to know. I understand your business dilemma but remember the website was built around surfers getting information about what the surf was like, now it takes about four clicks to get to a surfspot and then another four clicks to get to the next break. I could check everywhere in under a minute on the last website, now I've lost interest after seeing there is no information up for Phillip island, (and there is a southerly blowing)
Ps I don't like the new website
mmclean wrote: 1. Where has the "best days" section gone? (this was on the bottom of the forecast page in the old site) The recommendations for Torquay were excellent (ie if the site said that Saturday would be good, that was generally right - enabled me to plan my week!) ... but they have gone! Are they coming back?
'Best Days' was simply a small text section. We had decided to incorporate it into the overall forecast notes, although we can add in a special 'section' very easily. I'll put it on the list.
mmclean wrote: 2. Torquay always used to get rated as a score out of ten - again, that has gone. Is that coming back? This isn't essential (nowhere near as important as point 1) but I did like it.
This is an oversight, and is due to be fixed ASAP (once we get through the current hurdles).
mmclean wrote: 3. The wave and wind forecasts aren't functional at the moment - I presume that this will be fixed.
Yes, that's the big problem at the moment.
mmclean wrote: 4. There used to be a basic report and forecast for Westernport Bay, but that report seems to have gone - is the relevant guy on holidays or has this gone?
This has been renamed 'Flinders' (again, something we realised shortly after launch that was an error) and will rename it back to Western Port. however the reports have been going in as normal for the last two weeks as always.
scottemmo wrote: II understand your business dilemma but remember the website was built around surfers getting information about what the surf was like, now it takes about four clicks to get to a surfspot and then another four clicks to get to the next break. I could check everywhere in under a minute on the last website
We've got a few ideas ready to go that will be launched shortly, all of which will greatly improve the site's navigation. They were noted just before launch, and were due to be rectified within the first week but this technical problem has obviously delayed all work on that.
We all knew the old site, knew how to navigate it, knew where to find our info quickly, why? cause we used it on a daily basis for years. The new site is a step in the right direction, once the bugs have been ironed out. I do hope some of stuff mentioned above returns ie best days, score out of ten, Craig's written forecasts and the explanation of what's happening down by Heard Island. These guys have provided us with free info for years, a site that we can be involved in, a community, somewhere where we can ask questions, vent our frustrations and share views, in real time, getting feed back straight away mostly. Keep plugging away SN. Patience people chill.
Also a lot of people won't remember, but when we launched the 'old' site back in about 2009 (?), we went through the same thing - just like this time around, there were lots of compliments and lots of complaints. But over a few months everyone got used to the new (old) site and all was good.
Simply, no-one likes change. Me either. But we didn't do this upgrade just for shits n' giggles, we've spent a lot of time planning, assessing, modelling, estimating the future direction for the business and how we can do it best. And we need this new platform to work as a base to allow the business to grow. Without it, we'd slowly whittle away. Happens to all businesses.
And yeah, these teething issues suck. But Swellnet is a very small company with limited resources, which means that it's difficult to get every single aspect of it bang on.
But, we're listening to everyone, taking all of your comments on board and will implement as many changes and improvements as we can humanely possible.
From the short time the forecast was working it looked excellent, detailed and with need-to-know info at hand.
Problems occur in every line of work, this is no different (losing clients because of it is usually because of lack of transparent communication, certainly not happening here as long as you read the forum)
Of interest will be the accuracy of the swell and wind forecasts over time, probably not a 'set and forget' system, more one that is continually refined?
One comment though, the top forecast graphic is left to right, then second forecast graphic is top to bottom, maybe try to align both so they are consistent? eg Sunday's forecast is in one column, and my eye scans from top to bottom getting all info for that day? Minor comment, and easier said than done with the expandable hourly forecast, just my 2c.
Are members of swellnet plus experiencing same forecasting probs? I was going to sign up just wondering if I should wait until the creases are ironed out.
Yeah they are grufnut, hold off for now until everything is sorted.
And heebgeeb, thanks, we find the new system relays so much more information in an easy to decipher format. And yes we'll be constantly refining the forecast system over time.
heebgeeb wrote: From the short time the forecast was working it looked excellent, detailed and with need-to-know info at hand. Problems occur in every line of work, this is no different (losing clients because of it is usually because of lack of transparent communication, certainly not happening here as long as you read the forum)
Thanks heebgeeb. In additon to replying to all forum posts, I've also responded to each and every Facebook post, and also personally replied to every email request that has come through during this period (rough count probably 120-130). I also personally emailed every single Swellnet Pro subscriber on Friday giving them an update and ETA. It's been a slog but it's the least we can do to make sure everyone knows we're trying really hard.
heebgeeb wrote: Of interest will be the accuracy of the swell and wind forecasts over time, probably not a 'set and forget' system, more one that is continually refined?
Absolutely. This forecast system is a long time in the planning (around 8 years from me), and has been around 3-4 years in (slow) development in the Swellnet office between Craig and myself, in and around the many other tasks we do. And it's not finished here. We've already got a dozen tweaks to make to the current system (probably won't happen for a few months, dur to the existing development workload) - however we're aiming to be as transparant with everyone about these tweaks, as much as we can anyway without revealing commercially sensitive IP.
heebgeeb wrote: One comment though, the top forecast graphic is left to right, then second forecast graphic is top to bottom, maybe try to align both so they are consistent? eg Sunday's forecast is in one column, and my eye scans from top to bottom getting all info for that day? Minor comment, and easier said than done with the expandable hourly forecast, just my 2c.
That's a good point. I suppose we were trying to satisfy existing users of other websites who use data across a number of formats. We'll have to play around with a few layout designs in this regard but I'll see what we can do.
Once upgrade I'm looking to implement in the near future - on the WAMS - will be the ability to select 4 chart panels of your own choice (rather than having them pre-set for you). So, you might want the large domain surface winds, the local domain surface winds, the medium domain wave heights and medium domain swell periods. That'll make it easier to customise the view depending on your own preference.
Cheers Craig ...some people can whinge eh, geesh, I like the new set up guys and look forward to making the most of it in the future, all the best with it.
As previously mentioned, I've been having trouble viewing some reports & forecasts for Portsea. But I've read all the comments since that time, so I understand it's not a perfect world, I'll just wait until those bugs are ironed out.
No worries… thanks for your efforts Ben.
Thanks gford44. A lot of our responses to this issue are also split across a number of article comments and forum threads (as well as Facebook posts, both public and private, and also email), so it's easy for someone to miss a particular comment and not realise it's been covered elsewhere.
The previous forum had VIEW counts beside each forum topic, how come the new forum doesn't.
I am in Newcastle and the forecast page has not worked for days. I am a long term Swellnet user and have put many people onto the site over many years. I used to enjoy being able to get the daily surf report and have the 5 day forecast chart on the same page. That was a bit of a 'ready reckoner' for me and it also suggested the best days and gave a surf score. This is no longer available and you have to sift through a fair bit of info to get the same detail. This extra detail is good if you want to have a surf comp or you a studying the charts to go for a surf trip somewhere but its a bit much for the average joe like me to decipher just to duck down to the local for a quick session.
Having read some of the posts, I can see your point from a business perspective moving to a new site. But for me the surfer and site user, I like the quick info that had been summarised onto a single page that allowed me to determine which beach should be working based on wind, swell size and directions. If I wanted the detailed info, it was simply another page behind the summary page with the longer range stuff just another click away. Very easy, especially as I set the Newcastle report as a favourite. It was the 1st thing I did every day when I get up. Surf report/forecast from one click.
Now I struggle to find all that I am looking for quickly and its not user friendly. I will give you time to work through the bugs but in the meantime I am going to Coastalwatch which provides me everything I need from the first page of the surf report. I will check back periodically in a hope of returning to Swellnet. Best of luck guys.
philosurphizingkerching wrote: Question. The previous forum had VIEW counts beside each forum topic, how come the new forum doesn't.
Space/aesthetic reasons. Who really needs to know that info anyway? It's superfluous.. over time the amount of repeat viewings per forum topic render the number of 'views' irrelevant.
chika74 wrote: This is no longer available and you have to sift through a fair bit of info to get the same detail.
Thanks for the comments chicka74. A couple of points - one of the first cabs off the rank is to get drop down menus from the homepage. That'll make accessing the surf report much quicker.
But we already tried to make it a little easier - see the 'set as favourite' button on the surf report page? Click on it and it'll add a direct link to that surf report, and the top of the page (whenever you're logged in). And then the surf forecast is literally just one other click away via the 'surf forecast' tab.
So in reality, it's only two clicks off the homepage to get the info you need (and if you use the 'favourite' button it'll be twice as quick).
Is two clicks one too many?
@thermalben...while this new format might have been good for business..it is pretty crappy in terms of functionality..Swellnet was popular because your average joe could just fire up the website and everything was right there in front of them.Easy access , very informative and pretty bloody accurate was your guys best asset..All this seems to have been overlooked by the design guys. Now you have the same inaccurate info as ALL the other sites like Magicseaweed etc..plus you have to click this-click that-click this again and the info is still buried !! and now you say you have to login?..
Maybe your priorities have changed? how many times will the average joe use the 16day forecasts? In my neck of the woods its basically useless! or is actually useless!
It may sound like a good idea to slug people money to use that stuff ..but most users aren't going to do that are they?
I can understand the new system having bugs..most new products do but I think what you have lost was what made the site so great.
Barley, we've got a whole bunch of small fixes being worked on right now that will drastically improve the functionality and therefore user-experience. We went through this with the previous website upgrade four years ago (thought we woulda learnt first time 'round, eh?), and these days no-one remembers the first month of horrible teething problems we had way back then.
In a couple of weeks everyone'll be sailing smooth and will have forgotton about these little glitches. It's incredibly annoying right now - more so for me than anyone else - but I'm confident they'll be fixed very soon.
As for Swellnet changing its priorities, they never have. We just have to become more efficient as a business. As I've said elsewhere (in another article comment I suspect), the old forecast system was manually generated which was extremely time consuming. And is Craig went on holidays it meant either (1) I do all of his forecasts or (2) no forecasts at all. Not a particularly solid long term business model.
As for the comparisons against MSW - if you use our new forecasting system against theirs, I think you'll find that ours is a lot more accurate, and useful. It'll take time for the benefits to really show though.. so hang in there.
BTW, we're not 'slugging people to use our stuff'. Swellnet's been a free site for the last 12 years, and still is. We're just now charging for some additional products that we've been working on in the background for the last eight years.
barley wrote: and now you say you have to login?.
Yeah, if you want the ability to create shortcuts and have favourites, you'll need to log in. Just like you login on Facebook everytime you use that (try navigating FB without logging in!).
I remember the last upgrade and I wasn't much of a fan. From memory it didn't bring much more info (apart from maybe the WAMs which were hidden away anyway). This upgrade is great, most seem to be complaining about to many clicks to get to their forecast page, or too much information. If they're the biggest problems you're doing pretty well (apart from the current tech issues). As SN have by far the most accurate forecasts I would, for selfish reasons, be happy for people to go else where for their forecasts but as most other sites tend to over predict and over hype the forecast this probably isn't a good thing. Anyway, great to see the additional information.
Ben, thankyou for all the work you guys have done over the years.
But I have to agree with most comments made about new site.
it seems like there is way too much info on one page and the text is too small.
the 16 day forecast should be on a second page for those who need it.
Please keep it basic cause that's all we need.
The new site is incredible guys. Good luck microwaving the gremlins.
tough times Ben.
the KISS principle is a good one to go by (Keep It Simple Stupid)
The old simple 5 day graph was sensational. It was the only tool that I used (apart from my eyes)
The new one has tooooo much info and it is not needed. It looks great but serves no use IMO
How many times will someone say 'Oh look a secondary swell from X direction - that's great'
Also, the more complex the website, the slower it is to load (this is taking into account that you currently have issues) and the slower it is to load the less people will use it.
PS take this as constructive criticism not bagging.
It sounds like you have put a huge amount of effort into something that you love and see as worthwhile but in business it only counts if the punters see it as worthwhile
Pointy, the old graph might have been sensational but it required massive (staff) resources to keep it updated regularly. And the best we could manage was three days a week. And this also meant we couldn't expand outside our 30-location database, without employing more full time forecasters.
Once the data problem is resolved, you'll see that it's a far more effective tool.
pointy wrote: How many times will someone say 'Oh look a secondary swell from X direction - that's great'
This was a big issue with the old site. Let's say we've got a south swell moving up the Sydney coast, 3-5ft at south facing beaches (say, Curl Curl) 2-3ft at open beaches (say, Queenscliff) and 1-2ft inside southern corners (say, Collaroy). What number do we put on the graph? If we put a 5, all surfers at non-south facing beaches accuse us of overcalling. If we put a 2, surfers at south facing beaches accuse us of undercalling.
But, this scenario only happens under particular swell directions. When the swell's out of the east, most Sydney beaches will see a similar size range. It's only these acute swell directions where we see such large differences in surf size across nearby beaches.
And our new forecasting system solves this problem perfectly, updating four times per day as the new model data is available.
@thermalben..I don't understand how you can say..or the old site was too many man hours?the most we could do was 3 days a week?isnt there 7days in a week? what do you do for the other days?surf?!!
Now you say that the new site updates 4 times a day..isn't that more man hours?
I think the KISS principle is spot on..Your most effective when you gave the right info in plain language that was easy to understand.
Now you seem to have too much info that it all gets lost .Plus you have added too many locations
It impossible to see how the old site was too much work when tis one looks at least twice as much.Having all these locations how are you going to maintain your accuracy?
What use is the tide graph? surely you just need to know height and times..same with the wind history..Why do we need to know what happened 3hrs ago?
I am not trying to bag out your site either..IMOyou can't just use one forecasting site..you have to get to know 2 or 3 and work out what they say vs what actually happens.Thenyou get more dialed in
barley wrote: @thermalben..I don't understand how you can say..or the old site was too many man hours?the most we could do was 3 days a week?isnt there 7days in a week? what do you do for the other days?surf?!! Now you say that the new site updates 4 times a day..isn't that more man hours?
The old system was manually updated by Craig or me (or one of our former surf forecasters). The new system is updated by computer models.
barley wrote: Plus you have added too many locations It impossible to see how the old site was too much work when tis one looks at least twice as much.
We'll improve the navigability shortly (once the forecast bug is sorted). It'll end up being very similar to the old site.
barley wrote: What use is the tide graph? surely you just need to know height and times..
Graphs are easy to visualise. That's the feedback we received anyway. And also seems to be the recurring request from people re: swell forecast offline (we've got written forecasts, but everyone wants the graph).
barley wrote: same with the wind history..Why do we need to know what happened 3hrs ago?
Great question - glad you asked. If you only display live winds, it doesn't reflect the true status of the surface conditions.
For example, if winds were howling onshore overnight until 4am, but then swing light offshore at dawn, a singular 'live wind' reading at 6am won't tell you what the surf conditions are like. But if you look at the past 12 hours you'll be able to see that the onshores were up, so even though it's offshore, it's still going to be lumpy.
And, 12 hour wind obs can also be used with live buoy data to assess the potential for windswell loading at the buoy. So, if local winds are howling onshore, then you can apportion a % of windswell to the buoy figures, to try to deduce how much groundswell is in the mix. There are some amazing correlations between live buoy data and live wind data once you start paying close attention.. and it all relates to the quality of the surf.
I've been using these techniques for the last 12-15 years and have found it incredibly useful when assessing surf conditions for the dawn patrol. So, I'm passing on these tools to you. I'm sure you'll find them to be useful in the long run too.
I think the problem is Ben that your old site TOLD people when to go surfing. Currently (without Craig's reports) the new site requires people to actually understand some basics of swell (and wind) forecasting in order for them to make an educated decision on which day is the best to go surfing.
Those (like myself and SN) who understand surf forecasting can easily see where SN is going with the new site and welcome it with open arms. Those that are brainless and previously required SN to tell them which day to go surfing appear to be the majority of ones complaining about the new site being too complicated.
Your new site scares me though Ben as once people understand how it works and see the wealth of information in it, I'm scared there will be even more people in the line up on the days I choose to go surfing!!! ;)
donweather wrote: Currently (without Craig's reports) the new site requires people to actually understand some basics of swell (and wind) forecasting in order for them to make an educated decision on which day is the best to go surfing.
Have you seen Craig's forecasting notes here Don? It's almost identical to what we have always provided (except we've now got the ability to include images).http://www.swellnet.com/forums/swellnet-forecast-notes
Come on now guys, the Swellnet crew put years and years into this new website and all you can do is dis it? For fuck sake, it's a free website, it gives (in my opinion) the most comprehensive and best surf forecasts and reports in the world and this hasn't changed. Swellnet is probably my favourite website of all time and even though I am not used to the new layout, I can already tell what a brilliant website this is going to be once all bugs are sorted and once everything is running like clockwork. Just shut up and appreciate it, it's hands down better than Coastalwatch, MSW and Surfline combined and just because there are some subsequent issues (which all websites face upon being redeveloped) doesn't mean it isn't the same, wonderful Swellnet we all know and love. I trust Ben and Craig and know that this will soon be the best surf website in the world.
And.. it looks like we're back up and running. A few little weird things with the graphs but the forecasts are back.
"This was a big issue with the old site. Let's say we've got a south swell moving up the Sydney coast, 3-5ft at south facing beaches (say, Curl Curl) 2-3ft at open beaches (say, Queenscliff) and 1-2ft inside southern corners (say, Collaroy). What number do we put on the graph? If we put a 5, all surfers at non-south facing beaches accuse us of overcalling. If we put a 2, surfers at south facing beaches accuse us of undercalling."
Anyone who knows their beach will know that a south swell will be bigger or smaller etc but I see what you are trying to do and will reserve judgement to when it is fully functional. I doubt that you have time to answer everyone's comments and yet you still have been - good luck
well done your back up and running. you did well not to crack the shits with some comments, keep trying to improve and grow. gosh ten years ago you get in your car and cruise the breaks to find a wave for me that could sometimes mean 15minutes or 2 hours, and now its a couple of clicks on the computer.